Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Atomic Knights strip that ran in early 1960s issues of Strange Adventures was chock full of memorably off-the-mark predictions of a dire, post-nuke future. Medieval armor rendered bulletproof thanks to the healing power of radiation. Salt creatures drinking up scarce water supplies. Atlantean survivors attacking during Thanksgiving, 1990. However, the image that people most fondly recall wouldn't appear until midway through its sporadic four year run.
The Knights found a pair of giant mutant dalmatians that had managed to survive four years after the nuclear winter. When two of their members were captured, the dogs helped track the lost Knights down. Then, Gardner Grayle and Wayne Hobard mounted the dogs like horses, and rode them in a successful rescue mission. Best of all, the dalmatians were mixed sex, and soon gave birth to a litter of few rides. Today, if someone mentions the Atomic Knight, the first thing you recall are those dog mounts, and Jack Kirby appropriated the idea for his biggest hit of the '70s, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.
As an aside, when I was a kid, I had a coverless copy of DC Super Stars of Space #2. Most of the issue was turned over to a three part Adam Strange/Hawkman adventure that I never read. It helped to visually introduce me to Strange, but I wasn't interested in DC's Silver Age storytelling, and I've never liked Carmine Infantino's art. The only tale I did read was "The Origin of the Atomic Knights," because it was just such an oddity to see actual armored knights in the post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland of 1986. That's memorable unto itself, and the lovely Murphy Anderson art didn't hurt.
Check out more highlights from the past 75 years of DC Comics at The Truly Most Memorable Moments of the DC Dodranscentennial