Albert Pratt (The Atom)

theatomfilmLet’s keep going with Lucy W.‘s list: today we meet another historical superhero from the DC Universe, the first AtomAl Pratt. As for now, Pratt only appeared in Smallville Season 9, portrayed by Glenn Hoffmann: in the show, he’s a physics professor who gains superhuman abilities and becomes a vigilante, later joining the Justice Society of America. When the police starts arresting masked heroes, The Atom saves his friend and teammate Wesley “Sandman” Dodds from some cops, and he’s arrested in his place; we know he’s been released at some point, but his ultimate fate remains undisclosed, albeit Doctor Fate riddles “The Atom is split”, thus hinting he might have died in the following years. Anyway, let’s now take a look at one of the first DC heroes, created in 1940.

Albert “Al” Pratt was born in Calvin CityConnecticut, from an unknown family, in 1920. Since his childhood, he had always been very short and skinny, being bullied by other kids who used to call him “Atom Al” for his size. Poor Al became a brilliant young man, a model student at Calvin College…but his size was still the laughing stock of his peers, and he simply had no chance to gain the affection of the girl he loved, Mary James. One night, while coming back home, young Al saw an old homeless man and, feeling pity for him, he bought him dinner. This proved to be the best decision of his life: the old man, wanting to repay him for his kindness, revealed himself as Joe Morgan, the disgraced box legend, and offered to train Al, promising he would have transformed him completely. With nothing to lose, Al accepted Morgan’s offer…and he never regretted it: in a year time, his skinny physique had turned into a theatomcomics1massively muscular one, and he also gained an unbelievable strength. A skilled fighter, Al didn’t become a professional boxer like his mentor, but rather he wanted to make the difference as much as he could: he tailored a costume to become one of the “mystery men” patroling the streets in those years, and chose as a moniker “The Atom”, the name other kids used to mock him with. In a matter of months, The Atom was already one of the most famous vigilantes around, using his combat skills to fight criminality day by day…but it was 1940 already, and World War II was turning Europe to ashes. Wanting to offer a decisive contribution to the war effort, President Roosevelt gathered all the “mystery men” he could find, Atom included, and organised them in the Justice Society of America, the first superhero team ever. Soon, the JSA members joined the All-Star Squadron and travelled to Europe to take an active part in the war, and during this occasion Atom met Wildcat, another masked hero who turned out to be a pupil of Joe Morgan just like him. The two became fast friends, and remained so even after World War II was won. Back to the United States, the JSA didn’t disband, and its members kept fighting crime together as a team, and as a family.

It was with the JSA that Atom fought against a powerful sorcerer, Ian Karkull: the villain was defeated, but the mystical energy released during the battle had some unexpected collateral effects, and Pratt and his teammates received the gift (or curse, depending on how you see it) of longevity, gaining a prolonged youth and life span. This was the first, but not the last time that Atom gained special abilities by battling some villain: while fighting Cyclotron, in 1948, the thorium radiation emitted by the criminal affected his physiology, giving him total immunity from radiations. Some time later, while on a mission with Starman, an accident at the Manhattan Project site filled the place with lethal amounts of radiations: without thinking, Atom ran in to save his friend, and as a result he was caught in an explosion. This extra amount of radiations, interacting with his already modified theatomcomics2body, mutated Pratt even more, and he gained superhuman strength. Wanting to learn more about what had happened to him, Pratt resumed his studies interrupted before the war, and came back to Calvin College to study nuclear physics; always the smart one, he obtained a Ph.d, and some years later he became his college’s nuclear physics professor. Also his private life had improved much after he came back from the war: he had finally declared his love to Mary James, and eventually he proposed to her, also confessing her he was secretly The Atom. The two got married, and after the government forced to retirement every superhero who refused to work directly for them and to reveal their identity (which included pretty much every member of the JSA), Al spent some happy years with his wife. After a couple of decades, another group, the Justice League of America, took the JSA’s place, but when a villainous group, the Crime Champions, proved to be too much for the JLA alone to handle, the old glories of the JSA decided to return to action to help the younglings. In this team-up, Al even met his successor, the new Atom. The battle over, the old heroes found out they still had some fight in them: it was time for the Justice Society to finally come out of the shadows once again.

Al Pratt is a brilliant and determined man, an old-fashioned tough guy who literally made himself from scratch. As The Atom, he is a superb hand-to-hand combatant, a skilled boxer and athlete; after a couple of “work incidents”, he obtained an extended longevity and a prolonged youth, as well as radiation immunity, superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina and durability. Already an extraordinary man when he was “merely” human, The Atom is now even more ecceptional, a genius with a caring heart and steel muscles: brain and brawn, all in one.

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  7. […] one from Apokolips. In the World Army, Heywood trained with other superpowered individuals such as Al Pratt, Alan Scott and Jay Garrick, and he adopted the moniker Captain Steel. He was at the orders of […]


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