[Acquired Taste Book Club] Charlton Champions! The Question (1986-) #1-4 and Captain Atom (1986-) #1-4

Acquired Taste Book Club Week 3!


Welcome to the Acquired Taste Book Club! This time, we’ll be looking at Charlton Comics! When DC picked up their characters in 1983, they acquired Charlton’s “Action Heroes,” including the second Blue Beetle, Judomaster, the Peacemaker, Nightshade, and our two protagonists for today: The Question and Captain Atom!

The original plan was to deploy the characters in a certain graphic novel by Alan Moore you might have heard mentioned once or twice, but DC pulled them back because Moore’s plot would render them unusable in later stories. Instead, the characters were integrated into the main DC Universe in the-

Yeah, that. And pursuant to the Crisis on Infinite Clubs, that’s just what we’ll be talking about this week.

Shortly after the Crisis, three of Charlton’s characters each got their own solo series, all written by A-list talent. Legendary Batman writer Dennis O’Neil was paired with Denys Cowan on The Question, Superman and Flash scribe for more than a decade Cary Bates teamed up with artist Pat Broderick (and was shortly thereafter joined by co-plotter Greg Weisman) on Captain Atom, and Swamp Thing creator and prolific writer and editor Len Wein worked with Paris Cullins on Blue Beetle. Not to spoil anything, but we’ll be covering the latter series in about four weeks. In the meantime, we’ll be focusing on the former two.

Reading Assignment: The Question (1986) #1-4 and Captain Atom (1986) #1-4

The Question:
The Question (1986-) #1
The Question (1986-) #2
The Question (1986-) #3
The Question (1986-) #4
Captain Atom:
Captain Atom (1986-) #1
Captain Atom (1986-) #2
Captain Atom (1986-) #3
Captain Atom (1986-) #4


  1. What do you think of the Question’s reinvention? Is the transition to his new outlook a natural one?

  2. What was your favorite moment?

  3. Do you like the art?

  4. Why hasn’t anybody digitized Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter yet? It’s pretty lamentable, I’ll tell you that much.


  1. Did anything surprise you about this series?

  2. What do you make of General Eiling so far?

  3. If you read The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom with the main book club a week or two back, how do you think this compares?

  4. If you were about to have a nuke detonated underneath you, what joke would you tell?

For questions or concerns, contact me @BatJamags.

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Next week: A storm is coming. They tell me it’ll be pretty wild. Did you see what I did there? Were you watching what I did there?


First off, I wasn’t sure how you were going to tie this into Crisis, but damn if you did, nice going. :smiley:

Second, looking forward to getting into these. Haven’t read any of Captain Atom before, but have read the first arc or so of The Question back when they released the whole series in trade paperback, and looking forward to rereading it. :slight_smile:


Read a whole bunch of Captain Atom back in the day. I loved Pat Broderick’s art in Captain Atom, Ragman, and Green Lantern. His style was eye opening for me. Quite different from the “best” artists at the time. I can’t wait to dive back into this without the gaps.

I’ve been reading The Question just recently, and it’s pretty great. Honestly, I love the writing from this time period. There’s an obvious attempt at actual craftmanship. Nowadays, writing is all about the spectacle.


I just joined it to try to re-read Captain Atom. I got into it when millennium crossed over when I was a kid… they when I went into the back issues, I was hooked by Broderick’s art. And after that, I loved the stories!

It’s only recently I’ve figured out that Barry Windsor Smith was a definite influence on Broderick’s work. I wonder what happened to Pat Broderick after? I remember his fights with Major Force were something I looked forward to.

I am going to try to dive into some of the Question, as I’ve never really read that series…


I’m reading! :open_book: Finished the Question, starting Captain Atom now :smiley:

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What do you think of the Question’s reinvention? Is the transition to his new outlook a natural one?

It’s…okay. Like, I get the feeling that O’Neil just really wanted to use a character to talk about Zen and just happened to land on The Question at the same time. I believe O’Neil himself has even said that he wishes he didn’t change the character so fast. It’s also a bit disappointing that the way O’Neil translates the original Ditko Question into being just a simple, violent jerk. I get that guys like O’Neil don’t want to touch Rand or else get infected or somesuch, but a little effort doesn’t hurt.

That said, I do like that while he does end up with a new lease on life and a better understanding of the world around him, it doesn’t make him perfect – he’s still making mistakes, having flaws, and still being a bit of a sarcastic ass.

What was your favorite moment?

:musical_note: Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are callin’… :musical_note:

The way that The Question comes back was really well done, both in terms of just being badass, but being unique in that he’s not really sure what he wants the Reverend to do at that moment. It made him feel more human in that moment, and not just a standard strapping superhero.

Do you like the art?

I love the art, absolutely the best-drawn series of the two, I’d go even as far as to say the best art of the Acquired Taste Book Club so far. It’s clean when it needs to be, messy when it fits the mood, none of the characters really look alike and each looks unique and is just awash with mood and character.

Why hasn’t anybody digitized Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter yet? It’s pretty lamentable, I’ll tell you that much.

I can’t say I’ve read any of them, but after reading Richard here, I would definitely give it a shot. He kind of plays a cliche here of the wise kung-fu master, but he pulls it off well. He also has one of my favorite quotes ever when after Vic asks him if he’s learned everything, Dragon says, “You’ll learn everything there is to know in this world about ten minutes after you’re dead.”

Did anything surprise you about this series?

After seeing the conceit of it (and a very interesting one at that), I was surprised to see Adam’s daughter find out the truth at the end of the reading. I figured they would stretch that one out for a while. That should be interesting to see.

What do you make of General Eiling so far?

I’d say the words that come to mind, but I’m pretty sure they would just be bleeped by the decency police. Unlike in other stories I’ve seen of him with Adam, I don’t get the feeling that he’s really using him as his own force of good but feels much more scummy and did everything for his own personal reasons. Like, I get the feeling that Eiling is the actual traitor and he framed Adam as his fall-guy, just to get at his wife. It’s kind of a shame, because while he’s a pretty bad guy in the New 52 and Fall and Rise series, you can see that he at least is a good soldier in his own right.

If you read The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom with the main book club a week or two back, how do you think this compares?

Fall and Rise, after reading these issues, does kind of feel like the movie adaptation of this series. I appreciate that Bates tried to remix it around in that modern story and didn’t just try to act like it’s the 90s all over again and nothing else after him mattered (looking at you, Dan Jurgens), but ultimately the original feels far more interesting.

If you were about to have a nuke detonated underneath you, what joke would you tell?

I dunno, probably something dumbs about “f-bombs instead of a-bombs” and finally being hot for a change. Knowing my luck I’d probably think of one that really kills just as it ignites.

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I’m way behind on this and I’ve already read these, so I’ll piggyback off of your answers to provide mine:

1: Yeah, I included that question because the shift is a little abrupt, and it might help the rest of the series if we’d seen more of the “old” Vic for comparison’s sake. I still think it was well-written for what it was.

2: Agreed on favorite moment.

3: Huh. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cowan’s style. It kind of works with the series’ tone, but I think it’s kind of a weak point.

4: (In case anybody hadn’t noticed, the fourth question is always a joke. I appreciate the serious answer and I would like to read the original series, but it was the just the silliest thing I could think of.)

5: I was about where you were on this one.

6: Eiling’s level of sinister-ness kind of fluctuates. I’m guessing toning him down a little might’ve been Weisman’s initiative. Spoiler for much later in the run (which I’m hoping to eventually cover in its entirety): They do well enough later on to make the fact that you’re exactly right about Eiling having framed Nate almost surprising. Almost. There is more to it than that, though.

7: The original had more space to play with and some interesting subplots that had to be cut to pull of the Fall and Rise reworking. I think Fall and Rise might’ve been better if it led into an ongoing that could do something new with the quasi-restoration of his old backstory.

8: I’d probably go for the painfully corny “going out with a bang” joke, so you’ve got me beat.

Hi @BatJamags!

My favorite moment was every time Lady Shiva was in a panel.

I think the art has a gritty feel which matches the story.

This was the first time I met Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter.

  • Did anything surprise you about this series?

Elling marrying Captain Atom’s wife

  • What do you make of General Eiling so far?

Why is he soooo awful?! He is so much of a villain. I want to find a way to see his perspective, but I just see a dude with control issues, super manipulation, and no empathy. - but that makes him a good villain.

  • If you read The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom with the main book club a week or two back, how do you think this compares?

They both tell a similar story. This one is in the style of the 80s, where the newer one is in the modern style. Both stories hit the emotional notes of him with his kids.

  • If you were about to have a nuke detonated underneath you,

I’d probably just laugh, like Joaquin phoenix in the Joker


Shiva is great in this – so weird and enigmatic, yet very entertaining.


She’s cool in this series, though I find that O’Neil makes her very wordy for some reason. It’s sort of that Grant Morrison “Villain talks for twenty minutes about how awesome they are and how bad they’re going to beat you up instead of just doing it” thing.

I think of the Question as a more philosophical sort of fella, so I was surprised how much of a brute force he was in this issues. I did find his story arch natural and believable.

When, after hanging with Richard Dragon, Shiva shows up just to test him and see if she was right about him

I did like, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. Cowan’s work looked really, really good in the new Black Label book, too.

I know of the character, but not anything about him, other than he has a connection to Bronze Tiger & the Question. I hope they do put it out some day - I’d like to know more.

Yes - how good it way. I thought the story held up well. Also, I know Plastique from Firestorm. I know she remains important to Captain Atom down the road, but I didn’t realize she was in this series from the very beginning.

There’s some very similar character beats, like creating the fake hero angle, which I figure is because what works still works and they had screwed up the character so that was the best way to bring him back to basics. I can’t pick a favorite, though - I liked both archs.

  1. Have you ever tried eating a clock? It’s really time consuming, especially if you go for seconds.
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I missed the deadline on this but will be finishing The ? in a few soon and will be back. Really liked the first 2. I know The ? is an odd ball but he was kinda a dick in the first issue here.

I think that was sort of the point of his character development here.

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As always i am late… always%20late


  1. What do you think of the Question’s reinvention? Is the transition to his new outlook a natural one?
    I never read any of the Question prior to this but for a first impression i rather like him, he is to me a protagonist i can root for and he feels almost like an old fashioned detective. I think im a new fan now, so in my estimation i fell like the reinvention was probably well done!
  2. What was your favorite moment?
    My favorite moment was in volume 4 during the final confrontation with Hatch, I was fooled because at first i was sure Vic would kill him for attempting to kill the child.
  3. Do you like the art?
    I really liked the art, its a style that is clean and classic, my only complaint is actually with the eyes, often i saw they were drawn closed at moments that seemed odd or blacked out which always stood out to me.
  4. Why hasn’t anybody digitized Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter yet? It’s pretty lamentable, I’ll tell you that much.
    …Im not sure i know who this is… is it a reference to the man who trained Vic?

I am only doing the first set of questions as when i began reading Captain Atom i found i couldnt get into it. Thank you for another good week! eventually i will catch up… probably…

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That guy and Lady Shiva from the beginning are from an earlier series by the same writer.

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Thanks! :slight_smile:

I thought Shiva debuted in this series?

Post-Crisis, yes, but her (somewhat differently characterized, as far as I can tell from summaries I’ve read) Pre-Crisis incarnation first appeared along with Richard Dragon and Bronze Tiger in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, specifically in #5.

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Huh, TIL. Well, in that case I really hope they get digitalized at some point.