Atom-Smasher

Created by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway

+ History

Albert Rothstein is the grandson of scientist Terry Curtis (1st app. Action #21, 2.40), who became a reluctant villain in the wartime 1940s. Curtis and his daughter, Terri, were kidnapped by the Ultra-Humanite and he was forced to build an "atomic disintegrator" for the villain. His inventions also imbued Curtis with superhuman powers and he took the name Cyclotron. As the Humanite's minion, he helped acquire several powerful artifacts which were to have helped Ultra conquer the world. (All-Star Squadron #21)

These activities brought Cyclotron into conflict with a former lover — Danette Reilly, also known as Firebrand II, a member of the All-Star Squadron. (#22) During the struggle, Terry revealed to Danette that he had a daughter, and that Ultra was using the girl as blackmail for Curtis' assistance. Firebrand was able to appeal to Terry's inherent goodness and he ultimately betrayed the Ultra-Humanite.

But before the battle was over, the Atom had been irradiated by Cyclotron's atomic powers. This radiation later manifests as super-strength for the Atom. Cyclotron turned on Ultra and apparently destroyed them both. Unbeknownst to others, Cyclotron actually did not die immediately; he was thrust forward in time amid the chaos of the Crisis and returned to the instant he left. Danette then took custody of the infant girl, who was also often cared for by the Atom. (Squadron Annual #2)

Terri grew up to be a prominent scientiest herself and eventually married Phil Rothstein. The two had a son, Albert and the Atom became his godfather. Al was raised among other JSA progeny including Hank Hall, Lyta Trevor and Rick Tyler. Eventually, they formed a fraternity and set their sights on membership in the JSA. Al (who had super strength and the ability to grow in size) took the name Nuklon. But the young heroes were rejected by their elders and instead formed their own group, Infinity, Inc. Ironically, during Infinity's first case, they traveled back to 1942 and helped the All-Star Squadron win the battle against the Ultra-Humanite!

Al was a steadfast member of Infinity, and he revealed his identity publicly alongise his fellow Infinitors. (Infinity #12) After his friend Hank (the Silver Scarab) died, he became protective of Hank's fiance, Lyta and her unborn child. Al even offered to marry Lyta to act as a father for her child, a proposal she declined. (#49)

After Infinity's demise (#53), Albert was briefly affiliated with Maxwell Lord's Conglomerate (JLQ #12) and was seen in an encounter with Shrapnel in Seattle (Green Arrow #81). He then joined Wonder Woman's Justice League International with another Infinitor friend, Obsidian. (JLA #0) Nuklon was an optimistic foil to Obsidian's overwhelming pessimism, and the pair stayed with the League until it was disbanded by the UN after a controversial Extreme Justice mission. (JLA: Incarnations #6) He also flirted with Icemaiden (who turned out to be gay). After this, he changed his codename to Atom-Smasher (in memory of his mentor, the Atom and his grandfather, the reluctant villian Cyclotron) and joined the new Justice Society. (JSA #1)

 

Dark Destiny

Al's mother, who went on to work for NASA, fell victim to a terrorist bombing masterminded by Kobra. (JSA #11) Al was enraged, and during a subsequent battle with the time-traveling villain Extant, Atom-Smasher altered history so that Extant would die in Terri's place — restoring his mother to life. (#15)

In the new JSA, Al met the young Courtney Whitmore, Star-Spangled Kid II. The two became quite close, but Albert quit the JSA when they refused to take decisive action against the terrorist known as Kobra. (#45) (Some glimpses of the future suggest that Albert and Courtney will eventually marry.) Following this, he joined with Black Adam, Northwind and Brainwave to form a group to rival the JSA. (#40) This group executed Kobra after his escape from authorities. (#51)

In the war to free Adam's homeland, Kahndaq, Atom-Smasher executed numerous enemies but chose to also help his former JSA comrades in the end. When Adam agreed to remain within Kahndaq's boundaries, Al chose to honor his loyalty to Adam and remained as well. (Hawkman #25)

Al returned (somewhat) to JSA service when Per Degaton eliminated parts of the team from the timestream. Rip Hunter recruited him to travel back to 1951 and re-inspire the original JSA. (JSA #68-72) After his return from this mission, he asked the JSA to readmit him, but some members were still hostile towards Al. They held a vote but before the result could be revealed, Al was taken back to Kahndaq by Black Adam to help fight off the Spectre and Eclipso. (#73)

After this and the great Crisis were over, Al fell under the thumb of Amanda Waller and became a key member of her newest Suicide Squad.

In his absence, another hero took the name Nuklon (II). This young man was Gerome McKenna, a recipient of Lex Luthor's Everyman gene therapy who joined Luthor's Infinity, Inc.

 

The name "Atom-Smasher" was coined by Mark Waid in Kingdom Come (1996). It is another name for the Cyclotron — the name taken by his grandfather. It has recently been hinted that he will marry Courtney Whitmore, the Star Spangled Kid, sometime in the future (JSA #15).

+ Powers

Al is a metahuman whose powers presumably come from his grandfather's exposure to special radiation. He has superhuman strength and the ability to grow to over 50 feet tall. At one point, he did also discover that he could control his density, allowing him to phase through objects.

Appearances + References

  • Justice League America #0-113
  • Green Arrow v.2 #81

SERIES

  • Infinity, Inc., 53 issues (1984-88)
  • JSA, current (1999-)
ยป SEE ALSO:

 

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