"Sinister Stopover... Earth!": Ray Palmer and Major Mynah are one site of a high-altitude free fall test that the military is performing to see if Ray's new invention, a signal device, works. The test is a success, however on the way back, the military plane that was carrying the jumpers reports
Appearing in "Sinister Stopover... Earth!"
- The Physalians
Synopsis for "Sinister Stopover... Earth!"
Ray Palmer and Major Mynah are one site of a high-altitude free fall test that the military is performing to see if Ray's new invention, a signal device, works. The test is a success, however on the way back, the military plane that was carrying the jumpers reports strange UFO's flying by followed by the free fallers disappearing in mid air.
Ray decides to change into the Atom and fly on Major Mynah to find out what happened. Spotting the UFO's, Ray goes in for a closer look and is attacked by strange red tendrils that come out of the UFO's and attempt to ensnare him. The Atom is weakened almost to the point of blacking out until Major Mynah pulls the Mighty Might out of there. With his civilian identity needed back at the base, Ray learns that this isn't an isolated incident, that people have gone missing all over the planet. When most of the reports turn out to be happening out at sea, the military calls for a ban on all public bathing. Ray decides that they should call in his colleague Professor Alvin at the Ivy University Marine-Science Department. However, when he calls he learns that not only is Alvin out scuba diving, but his fiancee Jean Lorin is out with him.
On the beaches outside Ivy Town, Alvin is attacked by the same tendrils and is seemingly killed and dragged out into the water, while Jean manages to flee. Asking to be allowed to go an investigate the situation, the military only agrees to let Ray go if he takes along "Jonah" Wale, an expert military frog man. With no other choice, Ray accepts so that he can go and check on Jean. When he visits Jean in the hospital she turns out to be fine, and after telling the two men what happened, she insists on tagging along when they go to the beach to investigate.
Jean stays with the car when Ray and Jonah dawn scuba gear and go into the water to investigate. Just as they are leaving, Professor Alvin appears alive an well, but in some strange trance. He demands that Jean hand over her keys, but she refuses and throws them into the water, Alvin then knocks her out and begins walking to where he is intending to go. Meanwhile, all those who have been captured by these strange creatures begin rising out of the ocean, also under trances and head off toward a similar destination.
While under the water, Ray and Jonah are attacked by the same tendrils, while Wale is incapacitated by them, Ray manages to escape their grasp by changing into the Atom. Witnessing as Wale is shrunk down to size and pulled into the ship, Ray decides to allow the tendrils to capture him as well, returning to normal size and then shrinking to the size of the Atom to fool the creatures controlling the tendrils that the effects have happened and that he is knocked out. Inside the strange creature, the Atom waits for Wale to revive before they go exploring. They are confronted by a strange glowing creature. Intelligent and communicating through telepathy, the creature explains that it is part of an alien race called the Physalians.
He learns that the Physalians are made of molecular energy and they have come to Earth to feed upon nuclear energy, the only source that can keep them alive. However, in order to do so, they need to possess human bodies to operate as "vehicles" for the creatures. One Physalian then possesses Wale and he is sent off to find a reactor as well. The Atom, realizing that anyone who is used as a living vehicle for the Physalians would be exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, he fights the leader of the Physalians and destroys their vessel when he returns to his normal size.
Reuniting with a revived Jean Loring, the couple races off to stop Wale and Professor Alvin from accessing the Ivy Town nuclear reactor. Rushing inside and changing into the Atom, Ray stops the two men by using rubber cement to glue their feet to the ground, and then shutting off the reactor until the Physalians inside them die off. With the key to defeating the Physalians realized, the Atom sends out a call to the military telling them to have all the nuclear reactors in America temporarily shut down. With this command complied with, all the reactors are shut off until every last Physalian has expired.
- Following this issue, the series is renamed "Atom and Hawkman" due to flagging sales in both heroes solo titles.
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