This article is about the current Atomic Skull. For the previous Atomic Skull, see Albert Michaels.
A college student living in Metropolis, Joseph Martin was caught in the blast of the Dominators' Gene Bomb. The subsequent radiation endowed him with super strength and radiation-based energy blasts, while also rendering his skin transparent, so that his bones were visible. Dazed by the blast, Martin wandered the streets of Metropolis, where he was set upon by a group of thugs who were unsettled by his appearance. Unable to defend himself, Martin sustained brain damage in the struggle. This damage caused him to begin hallucinating, and he became convinced that he was a character from an old movie serial of which he was a fan, the Atomic Skull. Under this misapprehension he began fighting Superman, who he perceived as the villain of the film. Superman was able to defeat him, and he was sent to Stryker's Island.
Martin was created by Roger Stern and Bob McLeod.
Major Story Arcs
Imprisoned, Atomic Skull learns that his clash with Superman is to be turned into a movie, and the character based on him is to be portrayed as villainous. Disgruntled, he sells his soul to the demon Neron. In exchange, he is cured of his delusions, and decides to pursue a heroic career.
Atomic Skull confronts the Maximums, who have been brought into his reality by Mister Mxyzptlk. He is killed in the fighting, but later restored to life after Mr Mxyzptlk undoes all the events related to the Maximums' time in the main universe.
Atomic Skull becomes obsessed with an actress, and crashes her movie premiere to be near her. This leads him into a confrontation with Manhunter, who defeats him. Later, he joins Tapeworm and several other villains in attacking the Justice Society of America. When Superman is on New Krypton, Atomic Skull attacks Metropolis, causing some destruction and loss of life before being stopped by Mon-El.
Powers and Abilities
Martin possesses superhuman strength and invulnerability. He is highly radioactive, and is able to channel his radioactivity into controlled energy blasts. He has been shown to be capable of flight, presumably through manipulation of his radioactive blasts.
In the alternate reality created by Dominus, a Golden Age version of the character appears. Named Lawrence Dennis, he is an actor and Nazi sympathizer.
Superman: Red Son
In the Red Son reality, Atomic Skull is an experiment of Lex Luthor's, created to oppose Superman.
In the Flashpoint alternate universe, Atomic Skull is one of those imprisoned in the military Doom prison. Atomic Skull is the head of the meta-gang in the prison. He tries to stop Heatwave from escaping and while doing so lets it slip that his is working for the government keeping the status quo in the prison. Once his gang finds this out they kill him.
Atomic Skull appears in a number of episodes in the television series Justice League Unlimited, making his first appearance in the episode "The Cat and the Canary". He later appears as a member of the Secret Society. He is amongst those who survive the mutiny and Darkseid's subsequent return, and later takes advantage of the five-minute head start. He is voiced by Lex Lang.
Superman vs The Elite
Atomic Skull appears as an antagonist in this film. He is briefly used to power the prison in which he is held following his defeat by Superman, but manages to escape. Following a brief rampage he is recaptured, and executed by Manchester Black.