Radioactive Man, within the world of the animated series The Simpsons, 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!", a reference to Up An' Atom, the name of a B-29 carrier used during World War II to carry an atomic bomb.
Within the Simpsons universe, 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 72 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). Sometime in the 80s 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:
In 1995, a Hollywood studio attempted to film a Radioactive Man movie in Springfield. The movie starred Rainier Wolfcastle (Springfield's answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger), 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. 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 Paul Lynde.
In the episode "Husbands and Knives", it was revealed that comic writer Alan Moore had written several issues of Radioactive Man. He made Radioactive Man a heroin addicted Jazz Critic that was not radioactive.
Issue #1 of the Bongo comic differs from RM #1 as seen in Simpsons episode "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. This is a parody of Bruce Banner getting caught by the Gamma Bomb in Incredible Hulk #1), the Bongo series' Claude was not wearing tattered clothes. In the books, Claude's survival is due in part to a large thunderbolt-shaped shard of metal embedded in his head by the explosion. Claude would attempt to remove the bolt throughout the book series, but each attempt has nasty consequences which results in it being put back in his scalp again. Additionally, the bolt's presence would save his life numerous times in increasingly bizarre ways.
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 Bouvier, 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.
Simpsons Super Spectacular is a series published by Bongo Comics. It was first released in June 2006, containing 5 stories. The series acts as a continuation of Radioactive Man comics with the inclusion of the Springfield-universe superheros including Homer as Pieman, Bart as Bartman as well as Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl from Treehouse of Horror X. One of the stories has Bartman and his sidekick Milhouse meet their almost exact equals in Shelbyville.
In the series, Fallout Boy first appeared in a 1950s Radioactive Man film serial shown at a comic book convention in the episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", and it was implied that the actor who played Fallout Boy might have been gay. However, unlike many Simpsons characters, he has only made a handful of appearances since. While Radioactive Man is a broad parody of many superheroes, most obviously containing elements of Batman and Superman (and the comic incorporates an origin story similar to Marvel's The Hulk), among others, Fallout Boy is mainly a parody of Robin (with his costume, references as being the 'young ward' of Radioactive Man, and his younger age and sidekick status) with elements of Spider-Man (his fictional comic book origin, for example). His catchphrase: "Jiminy jillickers!"
Additionally, Fallout Boy also appears in a real-life comic book titled Radioactive Man, published by Bongo Comics (a comic created in part by Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons). In these comic books, Fallout Boy's real name is Rod Runtledge, he has a brother named Dodd Runtledge, and they live in Zenith City. Rod is a high school nerd living with his aunt, Aunt June, an obvious reference to Spider-Man's alter ego, Peter Parker, who lives with his Aunt May.
Fallout Boy was an average book worm, until one day, he was at a Radioactive demonstration, where he met up with Claude Kane (Radioactive Man). A tall piece of machinery fell towards them. Claude grabbed Rod and jumped over the rail, Claude holding onto the machine. The machine came to life, and as the ray passed through Claude, it hit Rod. Rod then got a pint sized version of RM's powers, and became Fallout Boy.
Milhouse was chosen to play Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man movie.
He is also the origin of the band Fall Out Boy's name.
Written by Batton Lash; publishing started 2001.
Despite winning an Eisner, volume 2 was cancelled, and Batton Lash and Radioactive Man were moved into writing smaller stories alongside Bartman stories and other miscellaneous Simpsons vignettes as part of Simpsons Super Spectacular.