Forgotten Villains: Who's Atom-Master?

Who's This? Who's Who vol.VIII, page 25, features an entire team of villains no one much remembers, who once came together to fight Superman and the Forgotten Heroes (all former headliners we actually remember pretty well because they've appeared quite a lot since). Today is April Fool's, but I didn't want to do a prank post. Instead, I propose giving up a whole week TO fools. Forgotten Villains Week will be a special 5-part edition of Who's This?, in which we'll go back and look at where these foolish one-shot villains came from (only the Enchantress is safe, she was always too big for the Forgotten Villains). And we start with Atom-Master.
The facts: Before showing up in the Forgotten Villains, Atom-Master appeared in exactly one story, World's Finest Comics #101 (1959), by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, fighting Superman, Batman and Robin. That's it.
How you could have heard of him: The Forgotten Villains appeared in a flashback sequence in Resurrection Man #25, but I doubt that got any more play than DC Comics Presents #77-78.
Example story: World's Finest Comics #101 (May 1959)
In Metropolis, Superman releases giant alien animals into the streets causing a panic and a huge traffic jam. In Gotham City, the batplane buzzes the streets dropping dynamite. Have our heroes gone bad?
If they have, it comes as a complete surprise to Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne who each spring into action to fix the problem. As it turns out, there's no real damage, those things were... illusions? Once Superman takes the cars out of the jam, and Batman secures a dangerous construction job, the heroes tell the crowd to calm the hell down.
I don't know how this sequence would have gone down in the rebooted New52 universe where people don't trust any hero, much less Mr. Urban Legend up there, but the Silver Age was a different time. I blame Nixon. Anyway, let's meet the man behind the illusions:
No, there is no explanation for why this evil scientist has a large Egyptian collection behind him. He didn't use the confusion to rob a museum because he has yet to hire any henchmen, and he doesn't intend to sell it because he talks about robbing jewelry stores so he can finance his experiments. It doesn't appear again either. I guess everybody needs a hobby.

Soon enough, the Illusion-Master (so say the captions anyway) distracts the heroes with fake getaway cars and giant crabs while his goons get the loot. Yes, I did say giant crabs.
This bad case of giant crabs is an illusion, however, which causes Superman to destroy that dam. Don't worry, he knows how to fix it with comic book physics.
Yeah, that'll totally hold. Meanwhile, the Illusion-Master has put on the most awkward helmet in comic book history - and I'm counting all manner of Kirby headgear!
So yeah, there was a bit of redesign when he showed up 26 years later in DCP. Though Superman is a bit of a bonehead, Batman is much smarter. On the next robbery, he quickly notices the illusions don't have shadows and goes after the real culprits even though they look like illusions, all dressed in alien costumes. They get away thanks to some illusory help, but he gets his hands on one of their revolvers, and CSIes the location of their hide-out from mineral residue on the gun. But are they too late? Illusion-Master becomes Atom-Master as his experiments come to fruition. He can now make his illusions solid by aggregating the dust in the air. And by the time the World's Finest come calling, he's created a by ray-machine that can paralyze, or even kill, from thick air.
Superman folds, but then a dinosaur appears.
It's of course an illusion. I'll let Superman explain his brilliant plan.
So that's how the Atom-Master was defeated, off-panel, and went to a real jail for 26 years. He would have gotten out on parole earlier, but he somehow got forgotten in the system. Happens. I blame the helmet.

Who else? Stay with us, four more Forgotten Villains to remember this week!

5 comments:

Delta said...

I had only about a half-dozen DC comics when I was a kid, and a reprint of this story was one of them. Took a few panels to realize it, holy deja vu Batman!

Siskoid said...

Yes the story was reprinted four times to date!

World's Finest Comics (80-page giant) #161
A Tempo book of World's Finest in 1978
Showcase Presents World's Finest
and World's Finest Comics Archives

Yours must have been one of the first, published in 1966, or possibly the second.

SallyP said...

There just aren't enough Mad Scientists with giant green colanders on their heads anymore!

Jeremy Patrick said...

I like how, at the end, Superman knocks out the main villain and then uses the illusion machine to scare away the henchmen, instead of simply just knocking out the henchmen at super-speed to begin with.

Silver Age Superman was quite the prankster . . .

Siskoid said...

Superman can't resist a spaghetti strainer helmet...

 

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