Perhaps due to good sales, perhaps due to the ending being altered late in the game, or perhaps simply because the story of Captain Atom and Monarch deserved to go on, Armageddon 2001 received its own direct sequel in the form of Armageddon: The Alien Agenda.
The issue starts with a brief recap of the ending of issue #2 of Armageddon 2001 where Monarch’s mad battle against the heroes is shown ending with Captain Atom and he disappearing, seemingly killed. Unknown to the heroes, both Captain Atom and Monarch were thrown into the timestream, ending up millions of years in the past, in the late Cretaceous Period.
We find Captain Atom musing on what he’s going to do roughly 65 million years in the past but his reverie is interrupted by the appearance of that most famous of dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Promptly attempting to eat the Captain, the T Rex is eventually scared away by Atom’s blasts which, he realises, are nowhere near full power. Unknown to him, Monarch stands watching. Unknown to both of them, however, are a group of aliens in orbit above the Earth who have noted the only two intelligent life forms on the entire planet.
Later that night, Monarch attacks Captain Atom, blaming him for their living in the past, but their fight is interrupted by a stampede of dinosaurs, all of whom are fleeing from the arrival of the alien craft. Taken aboard the ship, the aliens offer them sanctuary, telling them that they are lost and attempting to return home
Captain Atom discovers that the aliens seek to destroy not only the Earth but the entire Solar System to create a wormhole through which the aliens can journey. Stealing the detonator, Atom forces the charges to explode prematurely in the hopes of destroying the alien craft and halting their plans. The blast pushes him through time once more and he wakes surrounded by Roman soldiers.
The aliens inform Monarch that they were not lost but actually fleeing from another alien race, one which uses the same metallic alloy that covers Captain Atom’s skin. For this reason, they are convinced, despite Monarch’s protests, that Atom is a spy of their enemies. As Monarch realises the ship is not a lone scout but part of a larger fleet, word reaches the leader of Captain Atom’s theft and activation of the detonator. The aliens strike a deal with Monarch: he, along with a handful of their warriors, will be frozen in time until a device in his armour recognises the signature of the detonator and wakes them. Monarch will then wake, kill Captain Atom and return to the stone age with the detonator where the aliens will send him forward in time again to his own time. Unknown to Monarch, the device used to return him to the stone age will also kill him.
In Rome, millions of years from Monarch and the aliens, Captain Atom is captured by the Roman soldiers and taken to the city. There, the detonator is confiscated by the Emperor Nero himself and, thanks to the translator given to him by the aliens, Captain Atom learns he is to be sent to the gladiatorial games.
Elsewhere, the descendants of the original aliens pray to the frozen Monarch and warriors; over the millions of years, they have come to worship them.
Back in Rome, Captain Atom is thrown to the lions. Even though his quantum powers are still not up to full strength, he is able to fight dozens of them. At the same time, the suspended animation chamber in the aliens’ ship opens and a warrior awakes. As Captain Atom is heralded for his victory in the arena, the alien warrior homes in on the detonator’s signal and teleports to Rome.
The warrior fights with Captain Atom as Nero dances around with the detonator; as the Emperor throws it at a collection of goblets (presaging the invention of bowling) it bounces off a table and into Captain Atom’s hand. Once more the detonator explodes, thrusting Captain Atom back into the timestream, at the same time igniting a huge fire that burns through Rome as Nero watches.
Things get worse for Captain Atom as he lands in front of a stampeding herd of cattle.
Dazed from the explosion and yet another trip through time, Captain Atom barely manages to summon his metallic skin before the stampeding cattle run over him. He is soon discovered, unconcious and naked, by one of the ranch hands who takes the detonator for his own before the trail boss, Matt Savage, decides to take Atom to their ranch.
Elsewhere, Monarch and the other warriors awaken, discovering one of the other warriors already gone (as seen last issue). Monarch realises that the other warrior was programmed to wake first to give him first chance at getting the detonator which, in turn, means that the original aliens double crossed Monarch.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch Captain Atom learns that the detonator has been taken into town to be traded and is accompanied by Savage and his friend, Johnny Thunder. In the saloon in town they meet up with several other Western heroes including Jonah Hex and Bat Lash, and it isn’t long before the entire place breaks into a fight. Amdist the brawl, Monarch appears with the detonator and an alien warrior. In short order, Captain Atom dispatches the alien but, while fighting Monarch, a stray blast from the alien’s rifle triggers the 1906 earthquake of San Francisco.
The release of geo-thermal activity upsets the detonator and it explodes once more, catapulting bother Monarch and Captain Atom into the timestream, depositing Atom into the Second World War.
Captured by the Nazis who think he is an American spy, Captain Atom is beaten time and again as they try to make him tell them what the detonator (which had travelled through time with him again) actually is. During the interrogation, he notices the date: 10th September, 1944. Receiving no answers, the Nazis throw him in with the other prisoners.
In the alien ship, a new leader has built his power on a belief that Captain Atom was the one who imprisoned them, locking them away from the wider world. He stirs his people with tales of freedom, promising that they will soon be released.
Somewhere in the Pacific, Monarch confronts Japanese soldiers on an island which allows him to realise where, and perhaps more importantly, when he is.
Speaking to the other prisoners, Captain Atom realises he is in a concentration camp. Overcome with anger at the treatment of the prisoners, Atom powers up and breaks out of the cells, taking on the Nazi soldiers and bringing down the camp. Reclaiming the detonator, and after making sure everyone was out, Captain Atom totally destroys the camp, freeing the prisoners.
Remembering the date, Captain Atom flies out to the Pacific island where, thanks to his military background, he knows there’s going to an atomic bomb test on an island . . . the same island that Monarch is on where he has just discovered the bomb. Captain Atom tries to tell Monarch of the aliens’ plans to destroy the solar system 65 million years ago but he doesn’t believe him. They fight once more and the detonator explodes, triggering the nuclear bomb.
The blast once more pushes Captain Atom into the timestream, this time dropping him back in the present of 1991. At the same time, the aliens’ technology detects his arrival and the leader swears to kill the Captain.
According to the final panel of issue #4, “the saga of Monarch” would continue “as the all-new Captain Atom returns!”
The story was clearly meant to be continued but, as far as I am aware, it was never followed up. Captain Atom’s on-going series finished around the time of Armageddon 2001 and while there may have been an intention to use this series as a launch pad to a new Captain Atom series, it obviously didn’t happen.
Captain Atom would next appear in the pages of Justice League America leading a government team called the Peacekeepers, pitting him against his former colleagues.
Monarch would next show up in the pages of Showcase ’94, a prelude to Zero Hour.