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Stephen Colbert kicks off 'Late Show' with boost from Captain America shield

The new host of CBS' "Late Show" jokes about Ashley Madison and the geeky stuff he keeps in his new studio at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater. Sadly, he doesn't have any Hobbit interns on his staff.

Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

Comedian and former pundit impersonator Stephen Colbert made his long-awaited return to late-night television Tuesday. This time, we mean the actual Stephen Colbert who's a sci-fi and fantasy junkie with an encyclopedic knowledge of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, a comic book hero and the star of his own series of sci-fi novels as the intergalactic hero Tek Jansen.

OK, technically, that last one isn't "the real" Stephen Colbert, but I'm secretly hoping Jansen will make a comeback with a movie, a radio play or an unexplained cameo in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Even though he has to reach a broad audience now as the host of a network talk show, Colbert and company couldn't resist sneaking a couple of jabs at technology and comic books into the first episode of CBS' "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company), which featured George Clooney, Jeb Bush and Jon Batiste as guests. Wednesday night brings Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Colbert's high-energy opening followed with the traditional late-night monologue that addressed some elephants lingering in the room, like which Colbert would be hosting "The Late Show."

"On this show, I begin to search for the real Stephen Colbert," Colbert said. "I just hope I don't find him on Ashley Madison."

The show eventually moved to Colbert's new C-shaped desk, where the host took his late-night audience on a virtual tour of his beautiful studio, from the cathedral-style ceiling to the keepsakes on his walls.

The most impressive technical decoration in Colbert's studio are the massive video walls behind his desk and the guest chairs. Colbert explained that the screen should come in handy "in case the guest gets boring, I can watch TV over their shoulder." Then he demonstrated his giant screen by flipping through the channels and pulling up his TiVo, where he got a special shout-out from one of his famous late-night friends.

Fans of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" and Marvel Comics should also easily recognize Captain America's iconic shield hanging on the wall that he described as a shield "made of indestructible vibranium but turns out not microwave safe."

Colbert explained to NBC "Late Night" host Seth Meyers in 2014 that Marvel Comics chief Joe Quesada sent him the shield following the death of Captain America in "Captain America Vol. 5 #25." The package also contained a note from Quesada that read, "We read Cap's will, and in his will he said there was only one person patriotic enough to wield the solid vibranium shield, and it was you Stephen Colbert."

Beat that, strange comic book nerd who claims to have one of Stan Lee's ear hairs in a plastic keepsake container.