From: Marc Singer <>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 1994 21:16:38 -0500
Subject: Re:  Annotated Radioactive Man


In this annotation... SOMEBODY DIES!

Radioactive Man Issue #679 (fifth issue of the limited series)

Compiled by Marc Singer (
Note:  RADIOACTIVE MAN is published by Bongo Entertainment Inc.  
These annotations are written without their permission.  Let's just keep 
them our little secret, okay?

A few general notes:  RADIOACTIVE MAN is a six-part limited series 
published in 1994.  However, the comic RADIOACTIVE MAN, which 
was first introduced on the TV show "The Simpsons," has supposedly been 
printed continuously since the 1950s.  The current series is maintaining that 
facade, by printing each issue as if it were written many years ago.  Thus, 
the fifth issue, which was supposedly written in 1986, is told in the style of 
the dark, realistic, "grim and gritty" superheroes that took comics by storm 
in the late 1980s.  It also spoofs the world-shattering multi-hero crossovers 
that have plagued comic-book earths annually since the mid-1980s.  Did 
you ever have this nasty feeling that the 1980s would never end?  Well, 
guess what... in the comic-book scene, THEY DIDN'T.

In these annotations, I use the fictional numbering of the issues themselves.  
The second issue is called #88, the third is called #216, and so on...

NOTE:  My comics collection and I are no longer living in the same 
house (that bastard stiffed me on the rent), so I won't have exact page 
numbers (or in some cases issue numbers) for many of these references.  
Help is always appreciated, and if *your* contribution gets into the 
revised annotations, you receive a free membership in RADIOACTIVE 
MARC'S MUTANT IRREGULARS, which gets you...
absolutely nothing.

RADIOACTIVE MAN #679, "Jan. 1986"

"Who Washes the Washmen's Infinite Secrets of Legendary Crossover 
Knight Wars?"
(A parody referring to -- hoo boy -- Watchmen, Crisis On Infinite Earths, 
Secret Wars, Legends, and Dark Knight Returns, all gritty revisionist 
heroes and/or crossovers of the mid to late 80s.)

Steve Vance:  Script and layouts
Tim Bavington:  Finished art
Bill Morrison:  Additional inks
Cindy Vance:  Colors
Matt Groening:  Media consultant... hey, wait a minute, he's also a major 
shareholder in Veidt Industries... and he trashed Earth-Two for the 
insurance money... and he gave the Beyonder directions to Earth!?!

Page 1:  The whole page parodies the very first page of Alan Moore's and 
Dave Gibbons's WATCHMEN, almost word for word.  There, the button 
was face up (and it was a smiley face).  It was also floating away in 
blood, not gutter juice.  The captions belong to "Heart of Darkness" (as 
shown by the initials), and they parody the moody, evocative, poetic, 
overwritten tripe of Watchmen's Rorshach.
	panel 4:  In Watchmen, there was also a "doomsayer" carrying a 
picket sign.  Since that man turned out to be Rorshach, it's entirely 
possible this man is really HoD, aka Miles Mando.  The hair color is 
right, and the attitude matches Mando's new outlook.  Presumably, 
Mando has lost his fortune.  Again.
	Also, note that this page has a "nine-panel grid" layout like that 
used in Watchmen.  All of the pages which primarily parody Watchmen 
use this panel layout.

Pages 2-3:  The red flashbacks to the button falling parody the numerous 
flashbacks to the Comedian falling in Watchmen.  Also, the matching of a 
caption of dialogue to an unrelated picture is a stylistic hallmark of 

Page 2, panel 2:  Yup, that's Ronald Reagan.  Of course you knew that.  
	panel 6:  The ban on superheroes was done in THE DARK 
KNIGHT RETURNS, where Superman worked directly for Reagan, and 
all other heroes were banned.  Heroes were also banned in Watchmen 
(there, in the year 1977), and RM seems to occupy a position similar to 
that of Dr. Manhattan, a government-sponsored hero (Manhattan even 
faced a harsh media appearance Watchmen #3 -- note how the aide tells 
RM to look out for the media in panels 4 and 5).
	Ronald Reagan also enacted a superhero ban in the 1986 
miniseries LEGENDS.

Page 3, panel 1:  This is Gloria Grand, ace journalist and RM's would-be 
paramour.  Although her hair used to change from issue to issue (and 
time period to time period) this hairstyle is basically the same as last 
issue's, as it's still the 1980s (shudder).
	"Who washes the washmen":  parodying "Who watches the 
watchmen?", the anarchic phrase echoing through Watchmen.
	panel 3:  Sam Donaldson?  I think so....
	panel 7:  Nancy Reagan, or as Ronald calls her, "Mommy." :-)
	panel 8:  This button lampoons the happy-face button in 
Watchmen.  Also a reference to Nancy Reagan's wildly successful "Just 
Say No to Drugs" campaign, which has eliminated all drug-related 
violence as we know it.  This button will keep reappearing, just as the 
smiley button did.

Page 4:  The layout has shifted, from 9-panel Watchmen style to a looser 
16-panel permutation used in THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.  And 
the subject of the parody has shifted to that work as well.  The TV 
screens with floating dialogue captions, the moody atmosphere, the terse 
dialogue, the storms, and Ronald Reagan were all used by Frank Miller.
	panel 1:  The jagged Z is the WZEN radio tower.
	panel 4:  "Gibbons amendment" refers to Watchmen artist Dave 
Gibbons.  The Nicaragua comment is a backhanded crack at the Iran-
Contra scandal which became public in late 1986.
	panel 5:  This is Gretchen Grille, the society reporter we last saw 
in RM #1.  And her comments parody the way comic-book citizens 
always endure disaster after disaster; after so many, you'd think they 
*would* be pretty blase about them.
	panel 6:  Michael Milken, real-life stock swindler.

Page 5:  A parody of the sequence in Dark Knight Returns #1 where 
Batman remembers his parents' murder.  (The mugger grabbed his 
mother's pearls, pulling them loose.)  It should be noted that this scene 
did not appear in RM's origin in RM #1; it's a bit of mild revisionism, like 
Miller's take on Batman's origin.

Page 6:  A really, really funny parody of a dramatic moment in DKR #1 
(was that also the cover?).  Of course, there the lightning didn't actually 
*hit* Batman... that Frank Miller has no sense of humor.

Page 7, panel 5:  Heart of Darkness, last seen as Bleeding Heart (RM 
#216 and 412), and originally known as Purple Heart (RM #88).  He's 
gone through another metamorphosis with the times; now he's a grim 
urban avenger like Rorshach or Miller's Batman (his costume even has 
Miller's Batman color scheme).
	"Claude":  RM is really Claude Kane.  HoD is Miles Mando.
	panel 8:  "Heart of Darkness":  in addition to sounding really 
spooky, it's the name of a Joseph Conrad novella.
	panel 10:  There's those words again!  "Grim and gritty."  Even 
thickheaded RM can spot the new trend.

Page 8, panel 2:  HoD's refusal to quit superheroing mimics Rorshach in 
Watchmen and Batman in DKR.  His anger at RM also apes Batman's 
antagonism with Superman, and Rorshach's hostility to everybody.  And 
HoD is now a conspiracy theorist like Rorshach.
	panel 7:  "...selling weapons to the Ayatollah..."  Good old 
	panel 13:  "Hurm."  Rorshach says this all the time.

Page 9, panel 1:  Bug Boy (last seen in RM #412) occupies a position 
similar to Ozymandias in Watchmen -- "World's Smartest Boy."  Like 
Ozy, BB cashed in on his name.  And the composition of panel 1 mocks 
page 18, panel 4 of Watchmen #1, which had Ozy in the very same pose.
	"Fabulous Four/Alvin Keene":  A great double-entendre.  This 
sounds like the name of a superhero group (Fantastic Four) *and* the 
Beatles ("Fab Four").  Alvin Keene is obviously Allen Klein, the sleazy 
manager whom the Beatles couldn't trust (the Beatles also got the Rolling 
Stones to sign him, just as the Fabulous Four hooked the Superior 
Squad), and the "suing each other" is a definite Beatles joke.  But 
"Keene" is also the name of the Senator who starts the superhero ban in 
Watchmen.  Layers within layers, I love it....
	Note that BB has his own action figures and computer (the 
"Bentley"), just as Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt had his own industry.
	And finally, now that it's back to Watchmen satire it's a nine-panel 
grid again.
	panel 2:  Note that RM's button has disappeared; it never returns.  
This could be an artist's goof, but it's also likely that RM would take off 
the button before visiting any "costumed thugs."  Also, this panel 
parodies Watchmen #1, page 17, panel 5.

Page 10:  Now it's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS parody, and so the 
pages are done in George Perez style -- lotsa long panels filled with 
explosions, superheroes, and other goodies.
	panel 5:  Mocking the many universes that DC had until Crisis, 
resulting in multiple heroes.  Also looking at the old DC zaniness that 
Crisis ended.
	"Radioactive Man-Beta":  Earth-2 Superman, who was indeed the 
*original* hero -- presumably, this RM is also the original (note his 
emblem is smaller and his lightning bolt is backwards; the Earth-2 
Superman had similar costume differences from his Earth-1 counterpart).
	"Grrk-Grrk":  a parody of DC's use of gorillas in the 1960s.  
There was a Beppo the Super-Monkey, but this guy reminds me more of 
Solivar, leader of Gorilla City (not an alternate Superman).  Solivar was 
even in early issues of Crisis.
	"Radioactive Boy and Glowy":  Superboy and Krypto.  The 
"Substitute Earth" may be a much-deserved crack at the "Pocket 
Universe" DC tried to use to explain away Superboy (and Krypto) in 
Legion of Super-Heroes continuity.

Page 11, panel 2:  Again, Gloria is being very blase about all this "parallel 
universes" stuff, and the idea that Congress would legislate against them 
is a riot; but since comic-book people encounter parallel universes about 
once a year, why not?  (Btw, back to Dark Knight layout).
	panels 3-7:  "G. Gordon Gadfly" is G. Gordon Godfrey, the 
demagogue who encouraged the superhero ban in the Legends miniseries.  
His attitude is a parody of right-wing economics/politics.
	The 22nd Amendment prevents anyone from serving more than 
two terms as President.  Some people really were talking about repealing 
it at the end of Reagan's term, and it *was* repealed in Watchmen and 
DKR, to allow Nixon and Reagan to stay in office.

Page 12, panel 6:  This is Plasmo the Mystic, a Dr. Strange-ish member 
of the Superior Squad.  "Naloc and Oktid":  that's "Colan" and "Ditko," 
two Dr. Strange artists, spelled backwards.
	panel 7:  We know RM will never get used to those "nutty 
powers."  He's said so before, verbatim, in RM #88, way back in "1962."
	panel 9:  The interminable Capt. Squid-Lure Lass "romance" is 
still going on....

Page 13:  Similar to a scene in Crisis #11, where the Earth-2 Superman 
discovers that Earth-2 and its universe are completely gone.
	panel 4:  "plentiful panels of Perez..."  :-)

Page 14:  The Negativityverse:  a little like the FF's "Negative Zone," but 
more like the anti-matter universe in Crisis.  A group of heroes ventured 
there in Crisis #7 and #12.

Page 16, panel 1:  "Nega-Pneumatica":  The Anti-Monitor, big baddy of 
Crisis.  And as for her line about remaking the universe in her image... I 
really, *really* wish this issue had come out the same week as Zero Hour 
#0, so we could all see just how cliche-ridden Hal Jordan's drivel was.  At 
least here it's played for laughs.
	panel 3:  My choice for best goofy sound effect of the issue:  

Pages 18-22:  Parodying the heroes' final battle with the Anti-Monitor in 
Crisis #12, almost punch for punch.  Alexander Luthor was working the 
portal (well, he was the portal), two Supermen and a Superboy and 
various other heroes were battling the A-M.

Page 18, panels 5-8:  The Anti-Monitor was presumed dead, and got 
back up in a similar sequence.

Page 19, panel 3:  In Crisis, Earth-2's Superman willingly stayed behind 
to battle the A-M.  Here, Radioactive Man-Beta is understandably less 

Page 20, panel 3:  Superman did lob a nice hunk of rock at the A-M.

Page 21, panels 2-3:  You can tell this is in the 80s, because today even 
the noblest heroes would show no hesitation in killing the enemy (and 
they didn't in Crisis, either).
	panel 4:  Nixon has appeared in every issue of RM so far; here he 
is now.  Checkers was Nixon's dog.  And of course, Nixon is the one 
behind this conspiracy against superheroes.  He's operating the Nega-

Page 22, panel 2:  A "Wizard of Oz" reference, indicating Nixon is 
running Nega-Pneumatica.
	panel 5:  In Crisis #7, Supergirl died; here, the dog gets it.

Page 23, panel 3:  Another parody of the overused line, "With great 
freedom comes great responsibility."  RM also twisted this line around in 
RM #88.
	panel 4:  A reference to Superman cradling Supergirl in his arms 
on the cover of Crisis #7?

Page 24, panel 5:  "Doc Broome's Stairclimber":  The cosmic treadmill, 
used by the Silver-Age Flash (who was written by John Broome) and 
featured prominently in the Crisis.  This may also refer to Doctor Doom's 
time machine, which he used in his very first appearance.

Page 25, panel 3:  Another button has cropped up, just as smileys kept 
appearing in Watchmen.  Note that the top two-thirds of the page are in 
Watchmen layout; the bottom is DKR.
	panel 4:  Is it me, or does HoD look a little like W.C. Fields?

Page 26, panel 3:  Reagan said the homeless were "homeless by choice."
	panel 4:  Reminiscent of that pose of Batman and the new Robin 
leaping above Gotham City in DKR #2.

Well, that one was awfully long... if you have any questions, comments, 
additions, or long cryptic journals that begin "Dead carcass in alley this 
morning, tire tread on burst stomach", send them to me at  I'll have my idiotic assistant Seymour randomly 
pick ONE submission to be printed shortly after a major international 
cataclysm.  Well, I'm off to annotate Tales from the Black Freighter....

Special thanks to these members of RADIOACTIVE MARC'S 
MUTANT IRREGULARS for noticing lots of stuff I didn't:

Jhemon Lee, for identifying the Stairclimber as a Doctor Doom reference.
Gavan A. McCormack, for putting the first four RM Annotations on ftp!  
Just follow these handy-dandy instructions from Gavan himself:

ftp   (or ftp
Login: anonymous
Password: (your address here)
 [blah, blah..]
cd simpsons/articles
get Bongo-RMguide.txt

A few ftp caveats:
1. The IP number (ie: ftp can change in the future
2. The path may change in the future.
3. The filename probably will change in the future for new versions.
In fact, even the site may change.  Gavan may eventually move FTP over to

[Author's note:  This annotation is far too grim and gritty to have a Stan-
Lee-ish closing line.  Instead, I shall agonize over my dead sidekick, 
Footnote Kid.]