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Radioactive Man
Cover0001
Cover to Radioactive Man #1.
Character Information
Real Name Claude Kane III
Group Affiliation(s) Superior Squad
Nickname(s) The Irradiated Crusader, The Atomic Avenger
Powers Superhuman Strength
Superhuman Speed
Nigh Limitless Stamina
Superhuman Senses
Heat Blasts
Nigh-Invulnerability
Near-Immortality
Flight
Hand-to-Hand Combat
Inexhaustible Wealth
Genius-Level Intelligence

Radioactive Man is a fictional character, the protagonist of Radioactive Man comics which exist within the world of The Simpsons.

HistoryEdit

The character debuted on The Simpsons in the episode Bart the Genius (in comic book form) as Bart Simpson and Milhouse Van Houten's favorite superhero. The episode Three Men and a Comic Book expands on Radioactive Man's history within The Simpsons and involves Bart, Milhouse, and Martin Prince fighting over a copy of Radioactive Man #1.

Not long after Simpsons creator Matt Groening founded Bongo Comics alongside Steve Vance, Cindy Vance, and Bill Morrison, the company started printing Radioactive Man comics, which expand on Radioactive Man's fictional history while at the same time spoofing real-life comics history. Most often, Radioactive Man—a fervent anti-communist—spoofs the political right.

NameEdit

As a character, Radioactive Man usually comments on superheroes in general; for instance, his real name—Claude Kane III—has the same initials as Clark Kent and rhymes with Bruce Wayne. More appropriately, his first name is homonymous with the word "clod." It also rhymes with his sidekick Fallout Boy's real name, Rod. His surname also allows for parodies of Citizen Kane.

Fictional BiographyEdit

Within The SimpsonsEdit

CommunistBlock

Interesting Stories #27, Radioactive Man's first appearance.

Debate exists over the Radioactive Man's first appearance. The character first appeared either in Adrenaline Comics #1[1] or in Boffo Comics' Interesting Stories #27. In the latter, he and his sidekick Fallout Boy fight the Communist Block.[2] Longtime Radioactive Man writer Morty Mann, for his part, contends that the character debuted in Boffo Mystery Stories #15.[3] Either way, Mann created the character by retooling a decade-old hero named Radio Man. In November of 1952, Radioactive Man got a comic series of his own,[4] penned by Mann, which has run more-or-less continually to the present day.

The comics themselves became known for Radioactive Man's catchphrase: "Up and atom!" This eventually inspired a knock-off character, Radiation Dude, who says, "Up and let's go!" Radioactive Man had another, less famous catchphrase: "Jumpin' jeepers!" At one point Alan Moore (within the show) wrote several issues of the comic, where he retooled the Irradiated Crusader as "a heroin-addicted jazz critic who's not radioactive."[5]

Other MediaEdit

Not long after his debut, the character got hit the airwaves in a 1950s TV series and some film serials, sponsored by Laramie Cigarettes. Dirk Richter (a spoof of superhero actors George Reeves and Adam West) played the Irradiated Crusader and Buddy Hodges played Fallout Boy. The series enjoyed massive popularity, at one point even having a crossover episode with I Love Lucy.[3]

Radioactive Man TV series

Campy 70s Radioactive Man series.

The character returned in a decidedly campier television series in the 1970s (obviously based on the 1966 Batman TV series), where he and Fallout Boy would battle villains such as the Scoutmaster.[6]

Later that decade, Radioactive Man would star in three movies: "Radioactive Man"; "Radioactive Man II: Bring on the Sequel"; "Radioactive Man III: Oh God Not Again." Each starred Troy McClure in the title role. The third film also starred Krusty the Clown as Krusto the Evil Clown and featured a cameo by Buddy Hodges as Fallout Boy's great-grandfather.[7]

In the early 90s, Radioactive Man would starred in "Radioactive Man: The Animated Series" (based on Batman: The Animated Series), with Paul Dini (fictionally) serving as writer and story editor. He also created Dr. Crab's minion Hallie Claw for the series.[3]

In 1995, filming started on another Radioactive Man movie, this time with Rainier Wolfcastle in the lead role, Milhouse van Houten as Fallout Boy, and Krusty the Clown playing two villains: Dr. Clownius and Silly Sailor. Budget overruns, on-set accidents, and Milhouse's inability to cope with the pressure of the role finally drove the filmmakers to shelve the project.[6]

Most recently, Radioactive Man appeared in a Broadway musical: Radioactive Man, Hose Down the Burn.[3] The musical spoofs Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and shares that musical's tendency toward injurious accidents.

Comics BiographyEdit

The son of Dr. Claude Kane II, a millionaire nuclear physicist, Claude Kane grew up in Zenith City. As a child, he lost his mother—an aviatrix—who disappeared in an around-the-world flight. Kane himself grew up to become a frivolous playboy and socialite. Five years after graduating from school, he overhears some communists conspiring to kill his father. (He would learn in Radioactive Man #400 that they worked for his future nemesis Dr. Crab.)[7]

In pursuing the would-be killers, he takes a wrong turn and ends up in a nuclear test site. A bomb detonates that gives him superpowers, but at a price: a lightning-bolt piece of shrapnel lands in his head which he can't remove. From that point forward, Claude wears a fedora to conceal the lightning bolt and vows to fight crime (especially that associated with communism) in Zenith City as Radioactive Man.[4] As a running gag, the origin story gets retold, redrawn, and retconned numerous times in different comics.

ContainmentDome

The Containment Dome, Radioactive Man's base.

Although very powerful, Radioactive Man's struggles often stem from his naïveté, ineptitude, and simplistic view of justice. As Claude Kane, he constantly vies for the affections of Gloria Grand, a journalist who openly hates his civilian identity (although Kane never realizes this) but has fallen in love with Radioactive Man. As Radioactive Man, he lives in a remote base he calls the Containment Dome (similar to the arctic Fortress of Solitude employed by Superman or Doc Savage). He later adopts Rod Runtledge (Fallout Boy) and raises him in the Containment Dome.

Claude has a very simplistic view of government, never questioning authority, especially when it comes to people he admires like Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan. During Reagan's presidency, he tries to ban every costumed superhero except Radioactive Man (taking a page from Watchmen). The Superior Squad continue operating in secret, and the ban eventually gets lifted.[8]

The next decade, Radioactive Man learns that the Superior Squad disbanded after getting bought out by corporate interests. Although this leaves him without a group to lead, he soon discovers that his aviatrix mother is still alive and is in fact his old enemy Pneumatica. Pneumatica returns to the family in a joyful reunion.[9]

Alternate VersionsEdit

Dark Radioactive ManEdit

DarkRadioactiveMan

Dark Radioactive Man in Radioactive Man #412.

At one point, Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy went to rescue their colleagues in the Superior Squad from his nemesis Dr. Crab. Although the heroes succeeded, Radioactive Man accidentally shot himself with Dr. Crab's accelerated particle blaster. He apparently died from the blast (although the comics make a running gag out of Radioactive Man appearing to die on many occasions). Before burying his mentor, Fallout Boy removed the shrapnel embedded in Radioactive Man's head. This "restarted" Radioactive Man's internal nuclear reaction, bringing him back to life as Dark Radioactive Man (a parody of Dark Phoenix).

As Dark Radioactive Man, Claude had considerably more power, but at the cost of his safety and sanity. He essentially became a walking 100-megaton nuclear bomb. He nearly exploded, killing all of Zenith, but Fallout Boy reinserted his lightning bolt shrapnel in the nick of time, turning Radioactive Man back to his normal, living self.[7]

Radioactive Man has since come to realize that he can never remove the shrapnel from his head without risking his own safety and that of millions around him. He nevertheless continually asks Bug Boy for assistance in coming up with new attempts. In Radioactive Man #575, Bug Boy tried to transport only the bolt to another dimension, but he accidentally split Radioactive Man into two people—Claude and Radioactive Man, the latter of whom went temporarily insane until the two re-merged.[10] In Radioactive Man #812, the two of them tried cutting the bolt to make it flush with his skull, but even with only the truncated bolt, Radioactive Man still ran the risk of losing control and immolating all of Zenith.[9]

Radioactive Man-BetaEdit

Beta

Radioactive Man-Beta in Radioactive Man #679.

In the Betaverse lives Radioactive Man-Beta, an alternate universe version of Radioactive Man (a parody of Earth-Two). The two have identical identities, power sets, and personalities. Radioactive Man-Beta only looks different because he has a smaller chest emblem. Radioactive Man and his Betaverse counterpart dislike each other because each considers himself the "real" Radioactive Man.[8] Nevertheless, soon after the two meet, Radioactive Man-Beta gives his counterpart a "Cosmic Communicator," a device that allows communication across time, space, and alternate dimensions.[11]

Radioactive BoyEdit

RadioactiveBoyGlowy

Radioactive Boy's Skybox trading card.

Radioactive Boy is Radioactive Man's counterpart on Substitute Earth, who debuted in April 1956 in Radioactive Man #27. He shares Radioactive Man's identity, but he got his powers as a child (in a parody of Superboy). He went to a nuclear test site with his father and got caught in an explosion trying to save a dog. Both the boy and the dog gained superpowers, and they started fighting evil together as Radioactive Boy and his dog Glowy.

Radioactive Boy has a similar power set to Radioactive Man, but he can only lift up to 1000 pounds and fly at up to 75 miles per hour.[12]

Radioactive Man (clone)Edit

This clone of Radioactive Man had existed for some time; the real Radioactive Man thought his clone died falling in to a barbecue pit in Radioactive Man #702. After a fake-eyelash magnate bought out the Superior Squad in 1995, the squad's marketing department attempted to replace Radioactive Man with the clone, who survived the fall. The clone served as a satire of then-extant trends in superhero comics: a superhero with cybernetics (Deathlok, the Cyborg Superman, Cable); using an antihero to supplant an existing hero (Azrael as Batman); clones (the Clone Saga); edginess and moral ambiguity (Spawn, X-Force); a focus on merchandising over quality storytelling.

RadioactiveManClone

Radioactive Man uses his lawyer to defeat his clone in Radioactive Man #1000.

The clone far outmatched Radioactive Man physically and possibly popularity-wise, so Radioactive Man pursued a different avenue. He had his lawyer—a Scottish aardvark—serve the clone with papers indicating an intent to sue for copyright infringement (a reference to the perceived unoriginality of such heroes and Todd McFarlane's decision to hire Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, and others to pen issues of Spawn).[9]

Robot DoubleEdit

RobotDouble

Radioactive Man and his robot double in Radioactive Man #136.

In situations where Radioactive Man felt needed in two places at once, he would occasionally make use of a robot double of himself. This robot could double as both Claude Kane III and Radioactive Man.

Radioactive Man made use of this to help protect the kingdom of Reinmania when its princess and father both needed protection. Unfortunately, the double malfunctioned and started acting like Claude whilst dressed as Radioactive Man and vice versa. Thankfully, the robot still allowed for a diversion that made it possible for Radioactive Man to defeat the would-be assassins and save the Reinmanian royal family.[13]

Hyper HedgehogEdit

HyperHedgehog

Hyper Hedgehog in Radioactive Man #222.

In 1972, a group of subterranean hippies kidnapped a then-depowered Rod Runtledge while he toured Friedrich University. In pursuing his erstwhile sidekick, Radioactive Man cleared his mind and became "plasmatomically aware" (although in reality, very possibly experiencing drug-induced hallucinations). He tracked the hippies down to their underground lair, where he found Hyper Hedgehog, a reporter who became a superhero and then subsequently became one of the hippies. During the ensuing fight, Radioactive Man realized that Hyper Hedgehog existed as nothing more than a figment of his imagination. The realization caused Hyper Hedgehog to evaporate and Radioactive Man went on to rescue Rod.[14]

Anti-Radiation Suit ManEdit

Anti-radiation

Anti-Radiation Suit Man in Simpsons Super Spectacular #4.

In a fight with the Cane Gang, one member used a trick cane with fear gas to give Radioactive Man an abject phobia of radiation. Radioactive Man then donned a radiation suit and continued to fight crime as Anti-Radiation Suit Man. This persona had identical powers to Radioactive Man in his main superhero identity, but the suit's thickness made his speech unintelligible. Radioactive Man eventually overcame his phobia and reverted to his original persona.[15]

PowersEdit

Radioactive Man's capabilities have remained nebulous and mutable throughout the comics' run. Among other powers, he has hyper-keen senses[16], he can fly up to 115 miles per hour, and he can lift up to 5000 pounds. He also has superhuman invulnerability; even tank shells bounce right off him. He still feels a sting from bullets and ammunition, though.[12] He also has the ability to emit light[14] and heat[16]. He can shoot nuclear heat from his eyes[17] and he has enhanced vision, both of which he refers to as his "atomoptics"[18] or "atomo-vision."[16] He attributes his powers to "pure, clean energy."[4] He is likely nearly immortal, as he has come back from death, completely healed, numerous times.

Radioactive Man initially struggled with nausea and motion sickness from flying, but Richard Nixon helped him overcome this by giving the hero Dramamine.[19]

NotesEdit

  1. Simpsons Comics #146
  2. Moms I'd Like to Forget
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Radioactive Man: Radioactive Repository, Volume One
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Radioactive Man #1
  5. Husbands and Knives
  6. 6.0 6.1 Radioactive Man
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Radioactive Man #412
  8. 8.0 8.1 Radioactive Man #679
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Radioactive Man #1000
  10. Radioactive Man #575
  11. Radioactive Man #100
  12. 12.0 12.1 Skybox Series II trading cards
  13. Radioactive Man #136
  14. 14.0 14.1 Radioactive Man #222
  15. Simpsons Super Spectacular #4
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Simpsons Super Spectacular #5
  17. Radioactive Man #4
  18. Radioactive Man #106
  19. Simpsons Super Spectacular #1