Created by Ben Flinton and Bill O'Conner
NAME + ALIASES:
Mary James Pratt (wife, deceased), Walter Pratt (adopted son, deceased), Grant Emerson (Damage, son), Stacy (cousin), unnamed uncle (deceased), Albert Julian Rothstein (Nuklon/Atom-Smasher, godson)
All-Star Squadron, Justice Society of America
All-American Comics #19 (Oct. 1940)
The Original Atom
There is strong evidence that National's super-hero, the Atom, was inspired by a real-life strongman, Joseph L. Greenstein aka "the Mighty Atom"! The hero's early adventures were titled that way, exactly, though the character bore no resemblance to Greenstein.
Young, diminutive "Atom Al" Pratt was a student at Calvin College who struggled with self-confidence. One day he asked Mary James to the prom and the two were approached by a mugger. Al had no choice but to give over all his money... and Mary was appalled by his lack of masculinity.
As fate would have it, Al then met a down-on-his-luck boxing trainer named Joe Morgan. Joe returned Al's kindness by training the boy. Al left college and for a year he trained with Joe at a family farm. He built his body to become his strongest. In the first public test of his newfound strength, Al flipped a man into the air, and then broke the knob off a door! It seemed as if the training had unlocked super-strength in Pratt.
He returned to Calvin College in time to save Mary from kidnappers. He left the thugs with a calling card for the police, calling himself "The Atom." (All-American Comics #19)
Atom joined the Justice Society of America, and would serve on the All-Star Squadron during WWII. During the war he fought an atomic-powered man named Cyclotron, and would later gain superhuman powers from this encounter. After the JSA breakup in the 1950s, Al Pratt retired the Atom from full active duty and only donned his costume on special occasions. He devoted most of his time to teaching at Calvin College and spending time with his wife Mary James.
Al Pratt married his college girlfriend, Mary James, sometime after the JSA disbanded in 1951. They had one child, who, unbeknownst to Al, became the subject of an experiment in genetic engineering conducted by Vandal Savage. Mary Pratt was murdered by Savage shortly after the child's birth. Al was led to believe that she and the baby died in childbirth. In fact, the boy was raised by two of Savage's employees and grew up under the name Grant Emerson (now the neophyte hero Damage, a member of the Titans). Al never remarried and never knew of his son. Grant did not discover his true parentage until after Al's death during Zero Hour. Al did, however, become the godfather of Albert Rothstein (Nuklon/Atom-Smasher), the grand son of the reluctant super-villain Cyclotron.
Mary give birth to a child, but Vandal Savage killed Mary and abducted the child. Al was heartbroken, and he assumed that his child was dead.
During Zero Hour the villainous Extant advanced the ages of the JSA, including Atom. Atom's body could not take the shock, and he passed away. (Zero Hour #3)
Atom befriended Starman VI in the afterlife. Starman brought his brother Starman VIII to a banquet in limbo attended by Atom and several other deceased mystery men. (Starman vol. 2 #37)
In the pre-Crisis DC Universe Atom I lived on Earth-2.
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In Metropolis's Suicide Slum, young Jim Harper is taken in by Nat Milligan, who teaches him boxing and gymnastics. Harper is unaware that Milligan suffers from multiple-personality disorder. NOTES: In his other personas, "Nat Milligan" later trained Ted Grant (Wildcat) and, as "Joe Morgan," Al Pratt (the Atom). This is his first chronological appearance. A*SQ Annual #1 (1982)
Calvin University studnight returns to England to become Winston Churchill's bodyguard. He also mentions that the Seven Soldiers of Victory are ready to serve the Squadron. All-Star Squadron #13 (9.82)
The Atom, the Guardian and Wildcat discover that they were all trained by the same man: Joe Morgan (a.k.a. "Socker" Smith, Nat Mulligan), now possessed by a sphere of evil energy. NOTES: The war bond rally in this story was inspired by the cover of Comics Cavalcade #2 (1943). The Flash, Green Lantern were frequently depicted together on the covers of Comics Cavalcade, but appeared in separate stories inside. All-Star Squadron Annual #1 (1982)
The All-Stars and Infinitors take on Ultra and the Secret Society of Super-Villains. The Atom is irradiated by Cyclotron, who turns on Ultra, apparently destroying them both. The Secret Society and Infinitors return to their own era and Firebrand takes custody of Terry Curtis's infant daughter, Terri. NOTES: Cyclotron does not die immediately; he was thrust forward to the time of the Crisis (see All-Star Squadron #54) and returned to the instant he left. The radiation to which the Atom is exposed later gives him super-strength. This issue contains Jerry Ordway reproduction of the cover of All-Star Comics #3 and a reprint of the page from All-Star Comics #11 in which the JSA members join the armed forces. All-Star Squadron Annual #2 (1983)
The Atom is hospitalized for radiation poisoning. Meanwhile, Dr. Fate finds the Spectre, now under the mental domination of Kulak, who possesses the Ring of Life. All-Star Squadron #27 (10.83)
The Atom is briefly suspended from the JSA after his impulsive temper gets him, Dr. Mid-Nite and Wildcat into hot water. Trying to help, Dr. Mid-N
The Atom and Starman track one of Stalker's disciples to Los Alamos, New Mexico, the site of the Manhattan Project. The Atom takes another dose of radiation while rescuing the wounded Starman. Starman is horrified by the destruction made possible by atomic energy. NOTE: This story suggests that the Atom's previous radiation exposure in February 1942 (in All-Star Squadron Annual #2) somehow limited his vulnerability to subsequent exposure. Adventure vol. 2 #1 (May 1999)
ite gives him a post-hypnotic suggestion to control his temper, which causes more trouble when the JSA battles the Gambler. All-Star 80-Page Giant #1 (9.99)
Stalker is destroyed by the tachyons contained in the hourglass given to Hourman as a child by Hourman III. The Atom exhibits super-strength and shows his comrades a new costume he has designed. NOTE: This story bumps up the debut of the Atom's new costume, which 1st appeared in Flash Comics #98 (1948). Apparently, his metahuman powers increased gradually over time. All-Star vol. 2 #2 (L5.99)
"The Case of the Patriotic Crimes": The JSA are mentally enslaved by a new Injustice Society: the Fiddler, Harlequin, Huntress, the Icicle, Sportsmaster, and the Wizard. The Harlequin betrays her criminal comrades to help Black Canary free the JSA. Black Canary becomes a full member of the JSA. NOTE: This was historically the first time the Atom demonstrated super-strength. Reprinted in Justice League of America #113 (1974) and the JLA 100-Page Super Spectacular (1999). All-Star Comics #41 (6-7.48)
The Atom and Hawkman adopt new costumes. NOTES: According to various issues of All-Star Squadron, the Atom's costume was inspired by that of Cyclotron. Adventure Comics v2 #1 (1999) indicated that the Atom designed this costume in 1945, but did not adopt it until years later. Flash vol. 1 #98 (Aug. 1948)
"The Man Who Hated Science": The JSA battles Professor Zabor Zodiac, the Alchemist. NOTES: This was the Atom and Hawkman's first JSA mission with their new costumes. All-Star Comics #42 (8-9.48)
The Flash confronts The Rival, one of his teachers from Midwestern University, who has created a formula to temporarily duplicate the Flash's powers. Meanwhile, the Atom solves the mystery of "The Vanishing Lighthouse," the Black Canary defeats a murderous college professor, and Hawkman investigates "The Flaming Darkness." NOTES: Final Golden Age issue of Flash Comics and the last Golden Age solo appearances of these characters. Flash vol. 1 #104 (Feb. 1949)
"Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives": The JSA rescues four kidnapped detectives from the Key, who apparently jumps to his death. NOTE: This was the final Golden Age JSA story and the last Golden Age appearance of the Atom, Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman. DC only continued publishing Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin, along with Aquaman, Green Arrow and Speedy, Johnny Quick, Robotman and the Vigilante. This Key may be the same villain who later menaces the Justice League of America . All-Star Comics #57 (2-3.51)
Part 1: After the HUAC hearing, the JSA decides to disband. NOTE: Hawkman mentions that Sandman, Mr. Terrific, Starman, Wildcan and Hourman had already resigned or retired from the JSA. JSA #68 (2 2005)
Part 2, October 28, 1951: Future members of the JSA arrive to try to convince their predecessors to join them and Rip Hunter against Per Degaton. Ted Knight is still in treatment, Terry Sloane is off to rescue his brother from a kidnapper named Roulette, Al Pratt and Mary James are engaged, and Charles McNider is dating Myra Mason. JSA #69 (3 2005)
Hippolyta returns to her rightful "home time," decades hence. NOTE: Hippolyta has appeared in a few flashbacks to some JLA/JSA team-ups, which may suggest that she made several time stops along the way back to the future; but there has been no explicit evidence of this. Wonder Woman vol. 2 #133 (May 1998)
Prelude, October 17, 1951: Having tried operating covertly, the Atom vows to give up his masked adventures for good. JSA #67 (1 2005)
Al Pratt (the Atom) proposes to his college girlfriend, Mary James. They marry a year later. JSA #72 (6 2005)
27 Years Ago Birth of Albert Rothstein, the grandson of Terry Curtis (Cyclotron). The Atom becomes his godfather. Infinity Inc. #27) (June 1986)
17 Years Ago
Vandal Savage's company Symbolix uses the newborn son of Al and Mary Pratt to test a process for transferring the metagene from one human to another. Mary Pratt dies and the boy is raised by two Symbolix employees, who name him Grant Emerson. Al Pratt believes that his son died at birth. Damage #2 (May 1994)
Al Pratt reveals to his 12 year-old godson Al Rothstein that he is secretly the Atom. Infinity Inc. #48 (Mar. 1988)
Ray Palmer becomes Atom II. NOTE: This issue featured a text piece on the Justice Society, which may be considered their first Silver Age appearance (albeit not in an actual story). Showcase #34 (10.61)
Flash I and Flash II join forces to battle Captain Cold and the Trickster. NOTE: The JSA (the Atom, Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, and Hawkman) are seen in flashback, their first appearance in a Silver Age story. Flash vol. 1 #129 (June 1962)
and again when "Vengeance of the Immortal Villain": The two Flashes join forces to rescue the Atom I, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern I, Hawkman I and Johnny Thunder from Vandal Savage. The JSA comes out of retirement.NOTE: 1st Silver Age app. of Vandal Savage, Johnny Thunder and the Earth-2 Wonder Woman; 1st actual Silver Age app. of the JSA. Reprinted in the JSA 100-Page Super Spectacular. Flash vol. 1 #137 (June 1963)
The Atom and Atom II defeat the Thinker. NOTE: This story reveals that Al Pratt is now a physics lecturer at Calvin College. Atom #29 (Mar. 1967)
The Atom temporarily switches powers with Atom II (Ray Palmer). DC Comics Presents #30 (Feb. 1981)
Jade (Jennifer-Lynn Hayden), Northwind (Norda of Feithera), Nuklon (Albert Rothstein), Obsidian (Todd Rice), Silver Scarab (Hector Hall) (1st chronological appearances) and Fury II (Hippolyta Trevor) attempt to join the Justice Society, but are rejected. They leave angrily, accompanied by Huntress and Power Girl. NOTES: The Infinitors' first appearance in print was in All-Star Squadron #25, except for Fury, who first appeared in Wonder Woman #300. Fury II is the daughter of Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor (in post-Crisis history, the daughter of Fury I and the adoptive daughter of Miss America); Jade and Obsidian are the children of Green Lantern and the Thorn, Silver Scarab is the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Northwind is Hawkman's godson, and Nuklon is the godson of the Atom. Originally included the Earth-2 Huntress. Infinity, Inc. #1 (Mar. 1984)
"Home Again": The JSA attends a public celebration of their return from Limbo, but the ceremony is cut short when the Sandman has another stroke. The team returns home intending to retire, but afterwards, Flash and Green Lantern decide to return to active duty. First appearance of Jesse Chambers, a.k.a. Jesse Quick. NOTES: The Atom returns to his original costume in this story. Hawkgirl is introduced as a member of the JSA, the first time she has been so described. David Goyer, co-author of the current JSA series, said online (Nov. 1, 1998): "Our position is that Hawkgirl was indoctrinated into the JSA at some point — we've just never seen it." In this series, Alan Scott is again referred to as the nominal head of GBC (and the JSA meeting room is in the basement of the GBC building, accessed through a secret door in the lobby), but Molly is actually running the company. Justice Society of America vol. 2 #1 (Aug. 1992)
The JSA (GL, Flash, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat & Atom) aids the JLE against Sonar, who is attempting to take over Russia. NOTE: Mike Parobek also penciled portions of these stories. JLE #47-50 (2-5.93)
Grant Emerson (the son of the Atom I) becomes the superhero Damage. Damage #1 (Apr. 1994)
The Justice Society engages Extant, who uses his time manipulation powers to kill the Atom and Hourman, mortally wound Dr. Mid-Nite, drain the power from Green Lantern's power ring, and split Dr. Fate into Kent and Inza Nelson, stripping them of their power and returning them to their chronological ages. NOTE: It is actually the android Hourman who perishes here. Zero Hour #3 (9.94)
Iron Munro helps Damage search for the identity of his biological parents. NOTE: First contemporary appearance of Iron Munro. Damage #6 (9.94)
Wildcat, Ted Knight, and Jay Garrick meet Damage, the son of Al and Mary Pratt. Damage #15 (July 1995)
Jack Knight gets some advice from the ghosts of the Atom, Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hourman, Mr. Terrific, the Red Bee, and Zatara. Starman vol. 2 #37 (1
Wesley Dodds sacrifices his life to prevent Mordru (the "Dark Lord") from learning the identity of the next incarnation of Dr. Fate. Wesley's grief-stricken former ward, Sandy Hawkins, discovers that he has inherited Wes's prophetic dreams. Nuklon adopts a costume reminiscent of the original Atom's uniform and the name Atom-Smasher. Speed Saunders' niece Kendra becomes Hawkgirl II. Black Canary meets Jared Stevens (Fate) and Sentinel lectures the new Star-Spangled Kid about the JSA's history. Mordru's 1st post-Crisis appearance is Amethyst vol. 3 #1. "Atom-Smasher" was Nuklon's code name in Kingdom Come; it's another term for the cyclotron, the alias of Nuklon's grandfather, Terry Curtis. Jack Knight's adventures with the JSA all occur between the panels of Starman vol. 2 #61. In Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason (2007), Wes' death is said to be 1999, two years after Dian's death in Afghanistan. JSA Secret Files #1 (Aug. 1999)
Gog's forces amass near Kahndaq and rest. There Gog commands them to spread his word, which Damage does back in America. When Stargirl confronts him, he attacks her. Atom-Smasher steps in to squash him and takes Grant to his father's (the Atom's) house in Civic City. The JSA intervenes but Magog spirits Damage away. They argue and Grant destroys the house. Without his visions, Sandman fails to save a kidnapped boy. Inside the Earth, Sandman discovers that Gog is weakening the tectonic forces of the planet. As Danny Blaine, Starman applies for a job as a gravedigger in Metropolis. Superman meets with Wonder Woman. Gog stuns the JSA by asking his followers to worship him. NOTE: Contains a pin-up of the Earth-2 JSI by Jerry Ordway. 1st app. of the Earth-2 Sandy as Sandman II, and an unnamed "Hour Girl." JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom (1 2009)
Al Pratt was a kind-hearted man, but small, weak, and often bullied. One day he bought dinner for a vagrant who turned out to be Joe Morgan, former boxing champ. Morgan promised Pratt he could be made into a he-man with the right training. In under one year Pratt became a skilled and strong fighter, and he decided to use his new ability to protect the oppressed as the mysteryman Atom. (All-American Comics #19)
The Super DC Calendar 1976 gave Al Pratt's birthday as January 27.
Earth-2 (Post-Infinite Crisis)
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original Earth Two was merged into all other surviving Earths. After the Infinite Crisis, the multiverse of the DC Universe was restored, there was again an Earth-2. Their history seemed to have unfolded as if the first Crisis had never happened (picking up approximately after Infinity, Inc. #24). On it, Infinity Inc. and the Justice Society merged to form Justice Society Infinity, and the Atom was a member. (JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1)
Atom possesses superhuman strength and agility, and was a well-versed boxer.
Appearances + References
- Comic Cavalcade #22-23
- Flash Comics #80-104 (minus 81, 86, 88, 96, 101)
- Justice League of America vol. 1 #21
- Sensation Comics #86
- All-American Comics #19-72 (Oct. 1940–Apr. 1946)
- All-Star Comics #3-57 (Winter 1940/41 – Feb./Mar. 1951)
- Flash Comics #80-104 (Feb. 1947–Feb. 1949)