Balladeer’s Blog marks the shortest day of the year with the shortest-lived comic book company ever!
It’s Atlas-Seaboard, to distinguish this publisher from Marvel Comics, which went by Atlas Comics in the 1950s. There IS a Marvel connection, however, in that Martin Goodman, Stan Lee’s old colleague, launched Atlas Comics through Seaboard Periodicals for
one brief shining moment several months in 1975.
Calling themselves “The NEW House of Ideas” clearly threw down the gauntlet at Marvel Comics’ feet. As it turned out, however, even Alan Thicke was a bigger danger to Johnny Carson than Atlas was to Marvel.
Secret Identity: Ed Tyler, Astronaut
Origin: Astronaut Ed Tyler was part of a three-man crew on the orbiting space station Threshold I. A leak in the main portion of the station forces the trio of astronauts to abandon their mission early and they evacuate in a shuttlecraft.
Complications cause the vessel to crash-land in the Arctic ice with Ed Tyler as the sole survivor. Tyler found himself in the hands of an alien race called the Deiei, who have been observing humanity from their underground Arctic base for untold millennia. The Deiei guided humanity’s evolution to make us more in their image.
The haughty aliens had recently decided Earth people are a failed experiment. They planned to preserve Ed Tyler for study to see what might have gone wrong but intended to wipe out all other human life on the planet and start from scratch. Tyler escaped custody, donned one of the high-tech battle suits of the Deiei and flew off, determined to thwart the Deiei’s genocidal plans
First Appearance: Phoenix #1 (January, 1975). His final appearance came in October of that same year.
Powers: The Deiei space suit worn by Phoenix enabled him to fly at thousands of miles per hour, to shoot atomic energy blasts from his gloves and to withstand high levels of energy and large projectiles virtually unharmed. The suit also granted him a modicum of greater than human strength.
The media named this hero Phoenix when they saw him emerge from the smoldering ruins of part of Reykjavik, where he drove off the first assault by Deiei spaceships.
Comment: After fighting the Deiei for awhile Phoenix encountered another alien race called the Protectors of the Universe. Magus, the leader of the race, disagreed with the Deiei’s desire to wipe out humanity and granted Phoenix an opportunity to prove the people of Earth deserving of a second chance.
Phoenix’s adventures combined elements of the Silver and Bronze Age Green Lantern with Adam Warlock’s “philosophy for pre-teens” approach during his Counter-Earth period. Personally I found Ed Tyler’s gloomy “Humanity is so awful maybe we don’t deserve to be saved” musings to be ridiculous. Compared to the genocidal and callous Deiei, the human race seems like the definite lesser of two evils.
All that aside, Phoenix had a certain charm. In fact he was one of the few Atlas characters popular enough to be given a second chance with 2010’s attempted re-launch of the title.
Secret Identity: Jay Hunter, teenager
Origin: When aspiring criminal Jay Hunter ticked off Max Raven, the crimelord he answered to, that gangster put out a hit on him. The attempt on Jay’s life took place at the lab of his scientist father Simon, who was working on a super-soldier formula.
Both men were mortally wounded, but Jay’s father – knowing there was enough formula to save one, but not both of them – gave it to his son to save his life. Jay pulled through, discovered he now had amazing super-powers and took to wearing a costume to fight crime. He called himself Destructor and was determined to atone for his criminal past. Continue reading