Who is the Rev. Dr. Atomic? Is he some sort of demented figment of a handily damaged mind? Or, rather, is he a larger-than-life cosmic missionary of science and adventure? Perhaps a little of both? Rumors abound; it's been said that the good doctor is a scholar, author, musician, megalomaniac, collector, critic, and orchestrator of world events. They say he's built Shakespeare sets on remote South Pacific islands, and tested micro-sine capacitors in his grandmother's garage. His rapier wit has skewered not only political leaders, but also their more popular siblings. His theories on ego-enhancement among the world's vegetative masses-along with groundbreaking experimentation-have lead to both Nobel prize nominations and warrants for his arrest.
But maybe that's all a load of crap.
The early years of Dr. Atomic remain shrouded in mystery, as do facts concerning his actual date of birth and his real name. (Though some suspect that he was, in fact, born of one Mr. and Mrs. Atomic. This is less of a coincidence than one would imagine; if your last name was Atomic and you had a touch of ADD, might not you become a cosmic scientist and adventurer?)
In fact, very few people can say with any certainty exactly which branch of science Dr. Atomic has his doctorate in. While some suggest physics, there is no actual documentation that Atomic knows more about the field than the small nuggets of information he picked up while running wild with Einstein and, later, Oppenheimer. Chemistry, geology, and biology have also been ruled out as possible areas of expertise. When questioned, both Dr. Atomic and members of the ARC refuse to comment, and the exact nature of Dr. Atomic's studies remain, thus far, top secret.
So what do we know? Or, rather, since this is being written by Dr. Atomic (who, either through pretension or schizophrenia, chooses to use the third person), what is being voluntarily revealed?
The Reverend Dr. Atomic was active as early as 1918, though some references date his activities as starting even earlier. During the years immediately following WWI, he held a number of odd jobs, including that of merchant marine, presidential advisor, rabble rouser, medicine man, carnival freak (two instances, once as the invisible man, and once as Kobor, the Insect Man), journalist, house painter, CEO, movie star, and dog walker. Bored of such a shiftless existence, in 1921 Dr. Atomic attempted to contact various secret organizations within the government. By 1922, he dropped off the face of the earth.
It's at this point that we turn to an odd snippet of information. Written by an anonymous source, this bit of conjecture has scattered supporting evidence, and it is reprinted here out of some whim, but also a sense of biographical evenhandedness. Judge for yourself, reader, its validity.
The scientist, it has been suggested, is none other than Dr. Atomic.
Fast forward a number of years. The rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, and the world's subsequent plunge into war, set the stage for the next confirmed sighting of a man who may, or may not, be Dr. Atomic. As the war progressed, it became increasingly apparent to President Roosevelt and the United States government that Hitler was working on an atomic bomb. A letter from Einstein eventually convinced the president that the U.S. should itself initiate a program to develop the weapon; though he would later become a devout advocate against nuclear weapons, at the time, Einstein understood what it would mean to have the Nazis gain control of the atom. Thus, General Leslie R. Groves and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, along with hundreds of the country's top scientists, found themselves stationed in Los Alamos, New Mexico, with a single mission: complete the bomb.
Once again we turn to the anonymous source, and another apparent appearance of the elusive Dr. Atomic.
No trace of this original film exists, and the identity of either man is impossible to verify with any conclusiveness.
Dr. Atomic remained a random and discordant figure after the war and throughout the Fifties. Until 1949, he was often found in the offices of legendary science fiction magazine editor John W. Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction, Unknown, Analog), or with any number of sf writers, including Ted Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and A.E. Van Vogt. When Campbell began expressing an increased interest in L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics in 1950, however, his and Atomic's relationship became strained, and the doctor evidently began curtailing his visits. While the two would remain cordial, and Dr. Atomic would always admit to admiring Campbell's editorial prowess, the two never interacted on a social level again. Dianetics, it seems, was too weird for even the weirdest of men.
But Dr. Atomic maintained his connection to the science fiction community, befriending Galaxy editor Horace L. Gold in 1950, as well as such authors as Alfred Bester, William Tenn, Hal Clement, and other literary luminaries of the period. It's around this time that he began frequenting the homes of rocket expert Willy Ley and space artist Chelsey Bonestell (both of whom produced the legendary book, Conquest of Space). Hollywood also embraced Dr. Atomic in this period; he was a common figure on the sets of movies by producer George Pal. In fact, it's suggested that Atomic sat in on most production meetings between Pal and Heinlein on the movie Destination Moon.
But the Fifties weren't all fun and games for Atomic. Called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954, his testimony eventually became the stuff of political legend. It's rare to see a man like Senator Joseph McCarthy openly weep during a hearing. But while the many citizens applauded the doctor's performance during these trying times, the Committee was unimpressed. No legal ramifications resulted from their deliberations, but an angered McCarthy did attempt to launch a smear campaign against Atomic, a move that proved largely ineffective, due to the following events.
May 8, 1955. Dr. Atomic's house blows up. His body is never found, and the police report lists him as deceased.
McCarthy drops his inquiry, life moves on.
June 8, 1955. Needless to say, it was with some surprise, and no little consternation, that the world greeted the large floating sphere found hovering over the Capitol building. Some 1200 feet in diameter, and composed completely of a featureless silver metal, the ball proved an unsolvable enigma as it spend a week hanging in the air just like a large metal ball should not. Naturally, the nation's collective military, political, and scientific leaders first thought the unidentified object was a strange sort of Russian probe, until, on the seventh day, a small portal opened on the underside of the sphere. A thin line descended from this aperture, lowering a small canister. Upon investigation, the container was found to hold a note, which read (according to top-secret Army Intelligence files):
At this point, the General did his best to clear the area. His imagination, schooled as it was in the art of destruction, foresaw many possible outcomes of the next five minutes, none of them good. In fact, the sphere was already rising into the sky, a gleaming pearl that defied the very laws of physics, and, most likely, the United States. The fact that it was apparently manned by a mad scientist with a chip on his shoulder did nothing to sooth the general's thoughts.
The sphere quickly reached a mile high, judging by later analysis of the events. Suddenly, it seemed as though it's anti-gravity abilities cut out, for the unnatural object plunged straight towards the White House. People trampled each other in their attempts to get out of the area, knowing in their hearts that they were well within the blast zone of whatever type of nuclear explosion was about to go off.
And then it was over. The sphere hit the white house with a deafening bang.
And people stood stock still, staring in amazement at a White House suddenly gone purple. As thick color dripped lazily down the building's walls and the smell of paint filled the air, America knew, once and for all, that Dr. Atomic was nothing if not a man with a sense of humor.
Since that day, the Reverend Dr. Atomic spent the last fifty years in seclusion. No one is certain as to his activities or his whereabouts during this time. That he was engaged in work for the ARC is likely, though unconfirmed.
Then, quite suddenly, in 2001, he reappeared as the frontman to the band Atomic Box.
No, we don't get it either.