Alter Ego: Terry Curtis
Other Names: Terrence Kurtzenberg; Terrence Curtis
Classification: supporting character villain scientist
First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #21 (Feb. 1940): "The Atomic Disintegrator"
First Appearance (additional details): (as Terry Curtis) Action Comics (vol. 1) #21 (Feb. 1940): "The Atomic Disintegrator"; (as Cyclotron) All-Star Squadron #21 (May 1983)
Number of appearances: 15
Occupation: nuclear scientist
Terry Curtis (a.k.a. Cyclotron) is the source of power and inspiration for both The Atom and Atom Smasher. He is the grandfather of the modern super-hero Nuklon/Atom Smasher.
Terry Curtis is a rare example of a character from Superman's earliest stories being recycled and used in later stories. Nearly all of Superman's earliest stories in Action Comics and later in the Superman series were stand-alone stories. Nearly all of the characters appeared in only one story. Notable exceptions were Superman's small cast of supporting characters: fellow reporter and love interest Lois Lane, editor George Taylor, Jimmy Olsen (appearing first only as an unnamed but distinctively attired office boy), and Superman's arch-enemy the Ultra-Humanite. Nearly all other characters, even if they were major players in a story, were never seen again after their initial appearance.
Terry Curtis was conceived by Jerry Siegel as Joe Shuster as no different than numerous other fairly generic scientists who made one significant discovery or invention that played a major role in one story, and then were never seen again. But, who were apparently mining some of DC's earliest back-issues for ideas, successfully re-introduced Terry Curtis over 40 years after the scientist's first appearance as a single-story Superman supporting character.
In these much-later stories, it was revealed that the real birth name of "Terry Curtis" was Terrence Kurtzenberg. The character was actually Jewish, but had Anglicized his name in the way that many Jews (including many comic book creators) of that period did in order to better assimilate. Terry Curtis was tied into the origin and background of the super-heroes Atom and Atom Smasher.
With the additional stories and background details provided about Terry Curtis, it became clear that he was Jewish. This is an example of how a character whose religious affiliation was originally indeterminate was eventually classifiable after more material about him was published. This is actually quite common. Many characters would have to be classified as religiously indeterminate if only their introductory story is available. But as characters make more and more appearances, writers like to add detail and nuance and interesting experiences, and it often becomes possible to identify a character's religious affiliation.
This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Action Comics (vol. 1) #21 (Feb. 1940): "The Atomic Disintegrator"
Suggested links for further research about this character: