From: (Marc Singer)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.misc,
Subject: The Annotated RADIOACTIVE MAN #6!
Date: 21 Oct 1994 20:37:58 -0700

Hey, true-believers, this issue is ANNOTATOR-OWNED!
(of course, I had one of my studio apprentices do it on work-for-hire...)

Radioactive Man Issue #1000

Compiled by Marc Singer (
Note:  RADIOACTIVE MAN is published by Bongo Entertainment Inc.

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 the issues as if they were written over 
a forty-year span.  By issue #1000, they've caught up to the present day, 
and they provide a frighteningly accurate satire on modern comics.

In these annotations, I use the fictional numbering of the issues themselves.  
The second issue is called #88, the third is called #216, the fourth #412, 
and the fifth #679.

RADIOACTIVE MAN #1000, "Jan. 1995"

"in his own IMAGE" (an obvious reference to Image Comics, the 
financially-successful 90s comics group whose style and formation are 
skewered in this issue)

Steve Vance:  Story and layouts
Bill Morrison:  Inks
Cindy Vance:  Colors
Mike Sakamoto:  Vancoptics
Matt Groening:  Wasted a half-hour on Conan O'Brien hawking his new 

Cover:  Radioactive Man is tripping over his own cape, which is drawn 
super-long in the style of Image artist Todd McFarlane.

Inside front cover:  Rather than putting its credits on the opening or 
splash pages, Image puts them on the inside front cover, often with 
layouts similar to this one.

Page 1:  The woman is Gloria Grand (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), 
RM's one true (unrequited) love.  The man is Claude Kane III, also 
known as Radioactive Man.

Page 2, panel 2:  "Timely" is obviously a Time magazine parody, but 
Timely was also the name of the Golden Age comics company that later 
evolved into Marvel Comics.
	panel 4:  "something about a sled":  Remember, Claude's last 
name is *Kane*.  In the movie Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane 
reminisces about his sled.  Also, this shot is very similar to shots of 
Citizen Kane's palatial estate, Xanadu (which was really William 
Randolph Hearst's San Simeon, but that's another story...).
	Also, this panel refers to Claude's missing mother, which has been 
a subplot from the very beginning of this series.

Page 3, panel 5:  This is Rod Runtledge, aka Fallout Boy, RM's trusty 
	panel 6:  Dodd Runtledge, Rod's twin brother, who was saved 
from the clutches of Hypno-Head in RM #216... man, you *have* to read 
those back issues.

Page 5, panel 1:  I have a feeling these two are parodies of somebody, 
but I haven't the slightest idea who.  Some Image character's supporting 
cast?  Anyone?
	panel 2:  This worm is a parody of the Captain Marvel (the 
original, Fawcett Comics one) archenemy Mister Mind, a super-
intelligent worm.  But Mr. Mind had a little voice-box, and this one 
wears a Walkman.  The worm made a cameo in RM #1 (as page 20, panel 2 
of this issue suggests), but I don't have my issue handy -- anyone have 
page and panel number?
	panel 3:  Note the box that says "Fawcett Publishing," another 
Capt. Marvel reference.  And the comic pinned underneath it has the logo 
of the Golden Age Flash Comics (which was published by DC, not 
	This page has a very "modern" layout, not the traditional grid of 

Page 6:  "Prawn" is an obvious poke at SPAWN, Todd McFarlane's 
Image character (who also lives in an alley with a bunch of homeless 
people).  However, he's obviously an overly-mutated Dr. Crab, 
Radioactive Man's archenemy who we last saw in issue #412.
	Additionally, some of the word balloons have unconventional 
shapes or lettering.  This is a pretty modern trend, and one Image uses a 

Page 7, panels 1-3:  RM shows some awareness that time passes 
strangely for him (and every comic-book superhero), and Bug Boy 
develops an interesting theory that superheroes actually *cause* time to 
slow around them.
	This issue has characters acknowledging that time acts funny for 
superheroes.  Last isque (#679) had civilians acknowledging that disasters 
always strike comic-book universes.  Is this because since the 1980s 
comics have started growing more introspective and self-referential?  Or 
is it a subtle comment by the Bongo people that the superhero genre is 
starting to get so stiff and bulky that it can no longer support itself, and 
even the characters are noticing its excesses?  Or is it just a couple of 
funny gags that aren't worth eight lines of analysis?
	panel 2:  This is Bix Bentley, aka Bug Boy, the world's smartest
boy and RM's teammate on the Superior Squad.

Page 8, panel 3:  Apparently, these two guys are police department 
liasons.  If I had to make a guess, I'd say they parody two cop characters 
from Spawn (just because it's mostly Spawn and McFarlane who take it 
on the chin this issue).
	panel 4:  "that fake-eyelash magnate":  A reference to Revlon's 
purchase of Marvel Comics.  Marvel has recently become more interested 
in making profits rather than quality products (if you think that's just my 
subjective opinion, try reading EXCALIBUR... if you dare!), and 
similarly the new boss wants to make money off RM and the Superior 
	"your *image*':  Another unsubtle allusion to Image Comics.
	panel 5:  Most new heroes, including Image ones, aren't "nice 
guys" like RM.  They fall more into the "mean and nasty" school.

Page 9, panel 3:  McFarlane likes to draw huge capes for his characters.  
And that Z-in-a-circle is the WZEN symbol, sort of Zenith's own "Daily 
Planet" globe.

Page 10, panel 1:  Gloria has a new, nineties hairstyle; her hair has 
changed with the times in every issue of RM.
	I like the way Gloria's name is written in Simpsons/Bongo style 
lettering, rather than smooth TV news lettering.
	"National Public Radio":  NPR's noncommercial status and its, shall 
we say, more-liberal-than-David-Duke atmosphere don't exactly mark it as a 
decadent tool of the capitalists.
	panel 3:  Proof that the backwards-cap thing really does make 
people look like idiots.  (Okay, so Claude was an idiot before.)  Notice 
the cap says "treme"; the whole word is probably "Extreme," the name of 
Image founder Rob Liefeld's studio.
	Also, check out the way RM can't fit his big McFarlane cape 
inside his suit.

Page 11, panel 2:  RM notices the speed lines that are omnipresent in the 
works of all the Image artists and imitators.  Another joke about super-
hero conventions, "the abandoned warehouse district" seems to be where 
every super-battle takes place.
	A side note:  unless RM's into film noir (doubtful), I'd be willing 
to bet that the Fred McMurray movie he wants to see is one of the 
"Flubber" movies.
	panel 3:  The "McFar Lanes" bowling alley is a reference to Todd 
McFarlane.  But we've seen it before!  It was called "Finger's House of 
Giant Props" in issue #1, and "Kirbyco Giant Equipment Rental" in #88.  
Now it's changed once again, showing the shift from DC to Marvel to 
Image.  And RM and Dr. Crab had their very first battle here, back in 
RM #1.
	panel 4:  My choice for Most Deliberately Goofy and Noticable 
Sound Effect of the Issue:  SPA LAM!

Page 12, panel 1:  The new RM is done "Image style," with bulging 
muscles, bad attitude, spiky costume, the works.  He's even got an extra 
spike on top of his lightning bolt!
	panel 2:  Bleeding Heart's and the others' departure from the 
Superior Squad to form a "Hero-Owned Super-Team" mimics the 
original Image founders' departure from Marvel to form a creator-owned 
comics company.  BH's name change to Bloody Heart refers to the 
"Extreme" violence of most Image titles.

Page 13, panel 2:  Pneumatica, one of RM's major foes.  She was 
mentioned in #216, and we saw an alternate universe version of her in 
#679, but this is the first time we've actually seen Pneumatica... and for 
good reason.

Page 14:  The growing "doom Doom DOOM" sound effects were used in 
the first story arc of the adjectiveless SPIDER-MAN comic, which was 
done by, you guessed it, Todd McFarlane.  For some reason, for me it 
also connotes Doomsday, the creature who killed Superman.
	panel 5:  The kid is wearing a Punisher t-shirt.  And the 
backwards-cap thing makes *him* look dumb, too... it's not just Claude.

Page 16, panel 3:  More speed lines, but now RM's too busy to notice.

Page 17, panel 4:  Convenient how that lab coat gets mended, huh... :)
	panel 9:  "Holy Moley" was an expression used by Captain 
Marvel all the time.  And it's highly appropriate here, because...

Page 18, panel 1:  RM has turned into a Captain Marvel parody!  His 
short cape, yellow wrist-guards and cape-clasps, and that little pin-up 
front to his tunic are all parodies of CM's costume.  (Also, note that the 
lightning bolt has become an antenna.)  The "meeting with a radio 
repairman in the subway" refers to Billy Batson meeting Shazam in a 
subway and becoming Captain Marvel; the "cub radio reporter" refers to 
Billy Batson being a radio/TV show host.
	Furthermore, Dr. Crab has returned to his original appearance.  
*Now* we all know why Crab looked so much like Dr. Sivana, CM's 
arch-enemy, back in RM #1!
	I should point out that RM having a 1940s career as "Radio Man" 
is a complete fabrication; his first issue was in the 1950s as "Radioactive 
Man."  This is what's called a "retcon," or "retroactive continuity," 
changing the details of a character's past to revise or contradict what was 
bstablished before.  Retcons happen a lot in comics nowadays, so it's 
appropriate to include a retcon in a modern-day-comic parody.
	And one last, important detail:  on the next four pages, the colors 
are very bright and flat, and the layouts are very simple, in mockery of 
the simple four-color style of 1940s comics.

[One brief digression:  I think it's absolutely brilliant to include a parody 
of Captain Marvel and the Golden Age -- the only age RM hasn't 
lampooned so far -- in an issue where everybody is expecting Image and 
the present day.]

Page 19, panel 2:  Dr. Crab's Nazi career is also a retcon, although 
Sivana did work with the Nazis during World War II.
	panel 4:  "Radio Man" mentions the Superior *Squadron,* 
obviously the 1940s precursor to the Superior Squad (much as the 
Justice Society of America preceded the Justice League of America).

Page 20, panel 1:  "Mr. Mind Meddler":  Radioactive Worm is a Mister 
Mind parody.  And Mr. Mind did occasionally use a mind-control power.

Page 21, panel 1:  RM wins by his most trusty method... Dumb Luck.
	panels 2 on:  since the Regresso Ray is destroyed, the page layout 
slowly deviates from the six-panel grid that it had before.  Also, the 
colors are gradually getting richer, and more modern, signalling a return 
from Golden Age to... uh... Im Age.

Page 22:  The colors are much richer now, and a more modern panel 
layout is back.
	panel 4:  All that stuff about a trial and a worm-sized electric 
chair really did happen in Captain Marvel comics; Mr. Mind got 
electrocuted (although he somehow came back, of course).

Page 24, panel 2:  RM's mom is named Camellia, meaning the whole 
Kane family has initials "CK," just like you-know-who.
	panel 4:  Mom's/Pneumatica's origin is vaguely reminiscent of 
Steve Trevor's arrival on Paradise Island... except for the stuff about 
being brain-transplanted into a robot Nazi.

Page 25, panel 3:  The attorney strongly resembles Dave Sim's Cerebus 
the Aardvark; he even says "Aye" like Cerebus.

Page 26, panel 2:  The pincer indicates that Crab has reverted back to his 
less disgusting, 60s-through-80s body.  And the "[expletdve deleted]" was 
printed a lot in the transcripts of a certain corrupt President's secret tapes, 
to hide the fact that this certain corrupt President swore like a sailor; its 
presence here can only mean the speaker is...
	panel 3:  Richard M. Nixon!  He's appeared in every issue of 
RM yet, and even his death last April hasn't stopped him from showing 
up now!  I was wondering how they would work him into a comic 
printed after his death, and I'm glad they didn't shy away...

Well, that's it.  (Sob...)  Hopefully RADIOACTDVE MAN will be back, 
but even if it isn't, at least it made a good series while it lasted.  And this 
last issue was particularly rich.

If you have any additions, corrections, comments, or long, rambling, 
poorly-typed protests that Richard Nixon was the best thing to happen to 
this country since John Wilkes Booth, drop me a line at  Special thanks to everybody who wrote in with 
comments or corrections for the last five issues.

Until we see another RADIOACTIVE MAN series...
Better Believe it's Bongo!