The Atomic Skull is a name shared by three supervillains from the DC Universe.
Alias Albert Michaels. An enemy of Superman, a former STAR Labs director who discovered he had a rare nervous system disorder that short-circuited the electrical impulses in his brain, creating a sort of seizure. Distraught, he left STAR and gave his inventions to the criminal organization SKULL, which provided him with the means to correct his affliction with a sort of neural pacemaker. However, the radium-powered device malfunctioned, mutating his brainwaves so that his seizures would create blasts of strange energy. Serving briefly as the leader of SKULL, Michaels renamed himself the Atomic Skull and soon clashed with the Man of Steel. Unfortunately, his blasts were difficult to control, and each successive usage of the blasts worsened his condition.
Post-Crisis (Dr. Albert Michaels)
Alias Dr. Albert Michaels. A former employee of STAR Labs, he sought to make himself immortal, and enlisted the help of the criminal organization SKULL. With their assistance, Michaels became a "disciple of the atom," having his brain and skull altered to accomodate a radium-powered device which maintained his brain functions, as well as allowing him to transform his thought-impulses into blasts of radioactive energy. Raiding nuclear power plants to refuel himself, he was opposed by Captain Atom. Although he did overload the Captain's ability to absorb radioactivity- sending him 23 hours into the future- the Atomic Skull was ultimately defeated.
Post-Crisis (Joseph Martin)
Originally student Joseph Martin, he was mutated by the Dominators' gene-bomb that exploded during the Invasion crisis. Awakening from an illness induced by the bomb some time later, he awoke to find a discharge of energy had caused his hair to fall out and his strength to increase dramatically. After being attacked by three criminals in the street, he suffered head injuries and began to believe he was a movie serial hero known as the Atomic Skull. By the time he was found by Superman, he had fully fallen under the delusion, possessing transparent skin and the ability to fire energy blasts. He saw Superman as the Skull's enemy, Doctor Electron, and sought out the Skull's love Zelda Wentworth. Since being defeated by Superman, he has escaped and caused chaos multiple times, still convinced that he is the serial hero. Neron later gave him enhanced powers at the cost of his soul, although it's doubtful that the Skull truly understood that.
Character in a 1936 twelve-episode movie serial made by National Films Studios. The Atomic Skull was originally government agent Joe Martin, who investigated the evil Doctor Electron and was transformed into the hideous Atomic Skull by one of Electron's inventions. Despite that, he and Zelda Wentworth, the daughter of Electron, fell in love. Battling Electron and his minions (such as Rocketman) with his heat ray eyeblasts, the Skull eventually destroyed the mad scientist's plans and was transformed to his normal self.
- The concept of the Atomic Skull was created by Gerry Conway and Curt Swan where it made its first appearance in Superman v1 #303 (September, 1976).
- It's possible the first post-Crisis Atomic Skull was the same as the pre-Crisis Atomic Skull, but it was implied in his Captain Atom appearance that this was a first appearance. His history with STAR and SKULL (elements from the pre-Crisis version) was only established in The DC Comics Encyclopedia.
- The fictional version from the serial was designed identically to the pre-Crisis incarnation.
- Superman v1: (1976)
- Adventures of Superman v1: (1991)
- Action Comics v1: (1991)