- “Up and Atom!”
- ―Radioactive Man
Radioactive Man is a comic book superhero who acquired his powers after surviving an atomic bomb explosion. His sidekick is Fallout Boy, and his catchphrase is "Up and atom!" He is a member of the the Superior Squad (an Avengers and Justice League like organisation).
Radioactive Man has been portrayed in many media since his debut in "Radioactive Man" #1 in 1952*. In addition to comic books, he was featured in at least one 1940s or 1950s era black-and-white serial, sponsored by Laramie Cigarettes. The serials featured fictional actor Dirk Richter (a parody of Adam West and George Reeves) as Radioactive Man, and Buddy Hodges played Fallout Boy. Richter, reportedly born in 1922 (he was said to be 73 years old (and dead) in 1995), was apparently shot to death in a bordello sometime in the 1960s (a reference to the mysterious death of George Reeves, the first actor to portray Superman on television, but could also be a reference to the homicidal beating of Bob Crane, a noted womanizer). Sometime in the 1980s Troy McClure portrayed Radioactive Man in a Radioactive Man movie trilogy. Radioactive Man III featured Krusty the Clown as the presumably main villain Krusto the Evil Clown (a parody of the Joker) and featured Buddy Hodges as Fallout Boy's great grandfather. The trilogy consisted of:
- "Radioactive Man"
- "Radioactive Man II: Bring On The Sequel"
- "Radioactive Man III: Oh God, Not Again"
In 1995, a Hollywood studio attempted to film a Radioactive Man movie in Springfield. The movie starred Rainier Wolfcastle as Radioactive Man. The role of Fallout Boy was cast from local children. Bart Simpson, a huge Radioactive Man fan, tried out for the part, but it went to his pal, Milhouse Van Houten due to Bart being an inch too short. The origin of Fallout Boy was changed for the movie: Rod Runtledge acquires superpowers after getting run over by an x-ray truck and blasted in the face by the x-ray machine it was transporting. Still trapped under the truck, he meets Radioactive Man when the superhero arrives on the scene to lift it off him. Krusty the Clown was cast as villains Dr. Clownius and Silly Sailor. Wolfcastle is incapable of saying the "Up and Atom!" catchphrase correctly; it always comes out as "Up and at them," rendered as "Up and at zem," on account of Wolfcastle's German accent. The movie was never completed due to budget overruns caused by constant price-gouging by Springfield vendors, and Milhouse snapping from the pressure of the role, and refusing to continue to portray Fallout Boy - former child actor Mickey Rooney attempted to take over the role, with predictably miserable results. The unfinished project was presumably shelved. However, in Steal This Episode, the film was finally made, but a different director, budget, actors, locations, the title was called Radioactive Man Re-Rises, and story omitted Springfield involvement. There was also a campy early 1970s TV series suspiciously resembling the Batman TV series, and boasted the appearance of an extremely flamboyant supervillain called "The Scoutmaster", who resembled and sounded like Paul Lynde.
A knock-off of Radioactive Man exists. This comic book character is known as "Radiation Dude". Instead of using Radioactive Man's clever catchphrase "up and atom!" he just says "up and let's go."
- Radioactive Man's first appearance was revealed to be "Interesting Stories" #27 in Moms I'd Like to Forget.
Powers and Abilities
Very few references to Radioactive Man's actual super powers have been made. As a result, the extent of his powers are not known. It can be inferred that Radioactive Man has some level of superhuman strength and invulnerability to injury. In one Simpsons episode, Bart shows Lisa a comic where Radioactive Man is seen throwing a villain into the sun and quipping, 'Hot enough for you?'. Since the average man has a mass of 70 kilograms, Radioactive Man would need to produce at least 33.6 gigajoules or 33,600,000,000 joules of energy to throw a man into the sun. In the planned Radioactive Man movie, a stunt was filmed in which he easily lifts a van off Fallout Boy. The average mini van weighs 4,437 pounds.
Death and Return
In The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Fallout Boy and Radioactive Man are investigating the strange recent behavior of Pie Man, who has been Pieing Springfielders indiscriminately. Their suspicions of a mind control ray lead Fallout Boy to the brown house where he presses a button. This causes the brown house to blow up, killing Radioactive man, who was flying in from above to stop his reckless prodigy.
Later in the event Fallout Boy chooses the time is right to lay his fallen mentor to rest. A huge monument is constructed in Radioactive Man's honor but before it can be completed a strange radioactive glow forms around it and it springs to life. To protect the town heroes and morally questionable costumed characters alike spring into action and together they beat the living statue into submission.
With the statue on the verge of destruction Fallout Boy decides he must land the final blow but as he does the statue bursts open to reveal Radioactive Man. He explains that the explosion didn't kill him but left him a deep coma and that once he was placed inside the lead statue to rest his radiation slowly restored again. Upon this revelation Dr. Crab announces it was he who orchestrated the entire dastardly plan and that he's not finished, he may return with something more sinister to come.
Non Canon Appearance
Radioactive Man appeared in a real comic book intermittently published by Bongo Comics, which has also published, since 1994, a number of comics featuring Bart Simpson, the Simpson family, and other characters from the television show. Issue #1 of the Bongo comic differs from RM #1 as seen in "Three Men and a Comic Book". While featuring a similar scenario and accident (Claude getting his trousers caught on barbed wire just before a mega-bomb explodes), the Bongo series' Claude was not wearing tattered clothes. In the books, Claude's survival is due in part to a large thunderbolt shaped chunk of metal being attached to his head. Throughout the book series the shard of metal was always attempted to be removed, but each attempt has nasty consequences which results in it being put back in his scalp again.
Maintaining the satirical standards of the television show, these comics often parody genre comic books, and the reader can follow the evolution of Radioactive Man from a 1950s irradiated hero through the politically reactionary or radical years of the 1960s and 1970s, and the dark, troubled years of the 1980s and 1990s comic book hero. Indeed, one comic displays a startling similarity to Alan Moore's Watchmen, with Radioactive Man taking the part of state-supported hero Doctor Manhattan. The comics are published as if they were the actual Simpsons universe's Radioactive Man comics; a "1970s"-published comic features a letter written by a ten-year-old Marge Simpson, for instance.
Within the Bongo Comics, Radioactive Man is secretly Claude Kane III, a millionaire playboy whose personality was well-intentioned, but bumbling and not overly bright. In addition (which became a recurring storyline element), Claude's personality was permanently stuck in a conservative 1950s outlook on everything, no matter what the time era in question was. A running gag is that in order to preserve his secret identity, Claude is constantly wearing various types of hats, in order to conceal the lightning bolt-shaped shrapnel sticking out of his head.
In Simpsons Comics #145, Comic Book Guy is talking about the 1st appearance of Radioactive Man in Adrenaline Comics #1, which he claims is the rarest comic of them all, this is on page 10, which also shows the cover of Adrenaline Comics #1.
In the first segment of "Treehouse of Horror XXXI", a toy version of him is killed by Bart when is placed in the microwave.
- There is a Marvel Comics villain named Radioactive Man; he is unrelated to the Simpsons character.
- His archenemy is Dr. Crab, who originally looked like the Captain Marvel (DC/Shazam) villain Dr. Sivana, but then mutated into a humanoid crab. He is very much like most stereotypical mad scientist villains, even speaking in a German accent.
- In "Husbands and Knives", it is revealed the writer Alan Moore (fictionally) wrote issues of Radioactive Man. Bart Simpson claimed these to be his favorite issues, but when Moore asks if Bart "...liked that [he] turned [his] favorite superhero into a heroin-addicted, jazz critic, who's not radioactive?", Bart responds, “[He] doesn’t read the words; [he] just likes when he punches people.”
- The original design from "Bart The Genius" is much less human like with a blue face, blue mask, white eyes, green suit, purple gloves, an orange cape and an atomic symbol antenna (instead of a lightning bolt).
- See Radioactive Man (Bongo) for the real world releases
- Mentioned in The Simpsons episode "Three Men and a Comic Book".
- Advertised on the back cover of Radioactive Man #412.