Captain Atom has been cast back to 1996 by his quantum powers. Without any way back to the future, he makes the best of it, and the best proves to be not half-bad. He parlays his scant knowledge of sports results into a modest income, buys fake credentials and gets a job helping people.
He also meets the woman he wants to spend his new life with, but won't marry her without a few reassurances.
These are theories. Neither Nathaniel Adam - now calling himself Vince - nor Professor Rathaway can say whether they're correct. But they reassure our hero enough to give marriage a shot.
He still has a sense of foreboding, though.
Those are the bullet points; after a gorgeous-looking first issue that didn't excite me enough to review it, here's a second that has me determined to persuade a few other people to buy it. The art by illustrator Will Conrad and colourist Ivan Nunes is once again a feast for jaded eyes; add in a more intriguing, accomplished narrative and this mini-series becomes truly compelling.
Cary Bates scripts to a plot he's worked out with Greg Weisman. Given they wrote most of the excellent Eighties Captain Atom book, it's no surprise they've nailed a convincing character for him; he's a matter-of-fact military man with compassion the core of his being. And it's that love of fellow man that gets him into trouble twice this time. What makes this instalment so interesting is the way Bates and Weisman play with time and narrative, not in a tricksy way but in a manner that serves the story they're telling. And they make Nathaniel such a great guy that I truly wanted things to go well for him. I'm not saying they don't...
Nathaniel's opening narration shows just how good Bates can be, as what could be a list of things the Nineties don't have sets up an important story strand. And the scene with Prof Cyril Rathaway - even were we not in Central City I'd expect former Flash writer Bates to be linking him to Pied Piper Hartley Rathaway - is just fascinating.
And yes, there's that art. I don't know if Conrad and Nunes work closely together, if they actually know one another, but I do know that even if they're not a deliberate partnership, they're a superb pairing. Every panel is well composed - look at the variety of viewpoints on the Rathaway page - and Conrad's draftsmanship impeccable to my amateur eye. Nathaniel doesn't appear once as Captain Atom and I didn't even notice, this is such a terrific comic book.
Even if you've never been a fan of Captain Atom, give this issue a shot. It's beginning to become apparent just how, For DC Rebirth, Bates and Weisman are making the New 52 version more akin to the popular Eighties hero. And two issues in, I think we're in for something special.