Atomic Mouse. Artist: Al Fago.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1953
Creator: Al Fago
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Atomic Mouse may have been a funny animal, but he was the most successful superhero Charlton Comics ever published. His …

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… 54 issues, which came out between March, 1953 and June, 1963, put him way ahead of Thunderbolt, Nature Boy, E-Man (even counting post-Charlton appearances), Captain Atom (same) and even The Blue Beetle (a surprisingly long-lived character, but only for other publishers). Not one of those guys was ever in print continuously for over ten years, like Atomic Mouse was.

He was Charlton's first funny animal superhero, but far from the last. A year later the company inherited Hoppy the Magic Bunny (formerly Marvel Bunny) when Fawcett settled the Superman/Captain Marvel lawsuit with DC, and got out of the comics business. Then there were Atomic Rabbit, Atomic Bunny (who were sort of, at least, two different guys), Atom the Cat, etc. In later years, the publisher even took a turn with Thunderbunny. But as a creation of Al Fago, whose Frisky Fables had entertained young readers for years, Atomic Mouse is probably the best remembered.

Atomic Mouse got his super powers by ingesting U-235 pills, provided by Professor Invento — a double no-no by today's standards, involving both drugs and radiation. But at the time they seemed innocent enough; and they did enable him to protect the citizens of Mouseville from the evil Count Gatto and his inept sidekick, Shadow (no relation).

Like Li'l Genius, Timmy the Timid Ghost and his other contemporaries at Charlton, Atomic Mouse ran his course and disappeared, leaving no cartoons, Little Golden Books, big little books or other paraphernalia in his wake. With those other '50s Charlton characters, he was revived in reprint form during the mid-1980s; but that, too, ran its course and went away. Now, the publisher itself is no more.

Unexpectedly, tho, Atomic Mouse has been re-revived anyway. In 2001, Shanda Fantasy Arts brought out a black and white comic featuring a mixture of reprints by Fago and new stories by Mike Curtis, Charles Ettinger and other modern practitioners of the funny animal arts. In this version, he was a comic book character within the comic book, transported into comic book "reality" through judicious application of comic book science, to protect the city of Rodentia from all that may threaten it.

Placing the old material next to the new makes a striking contrast. For one thing, in the old stories, the title character has the proportions of a funny animal (large head in relation to the rest of his body), while the new ones show him built like a superhero (smaller than average head). Still, there he is — Atomic Mouse, of all the unlikely characters, having brand-new adventures in the 21st century.

Maybe there's still hope for Super Rabbit, Fearless Fly, The Terrific Whatzit and Wiggles the Wonderworm.


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