Radioactive Man official movie adaptation (vol. 2 #8)
Bongo Comics (2004)
WRITER…I MEAN ADAPTATION: Batton Lash
PENCILERS: Jason Ho & Bill Morrison
INKER: Bob Smith
COLORIST: Joey Mason
LETTERER: Karen Bates
EDITOR: Bill Morrison
A mysterious new hero has arrived in Zenith City but nobody knows who he is. One professor even thinks he isn’t real, just something the people created to make themselves feel safer in their crime-ridden city. And yet others have seen him in person like reporter Gloria Grand and the people he saved from criminals trying to rob a ship’s payroll. Radioactive Man stopped that crime but the local entertainment, the Silly Sailor, was made to look like a fool and falls in with Doctor Clownius, who has decided that if clowns can’t be seen as funny they’ll be seen as scary. Meanwhile, young Rod Runtledge is hit with an overdose of x-rays and becomes Radioactive Man’s sidekick, Fallout Boy, though he has to keep the secret from his single mother. The evil clowns are defeated and the ringleader exposed as the city embraces their new champions!
Fans of The Simpsons know where this “movie” came from. In the episode “Radioactive Man” a Radioactive Man movie is being shot in Springfield. Krusty is brought on to play the Silly Sailor and other Springfield residents make cameos (though not the actual Simpsons) while Ranier Wolfcastle plays Claude Kane III/Radioactive Man. The episode’s plot was that Millhouse was chosen to play Rod/Fallout Boy, driving a wedge between him and Bart, who really wanted the part. As usual, the story doesn’t end with celebrating your friend’s success but by having Millhouse leave the role (leading to the movie already plagued by filming in Springfield to shut down unfinished) for the sake of his friendship.
I know The Simpsons is a comedy and whole episode, like this comic, is a parody but I’ve seen plenty of other shows do this as well legitimately, or find a way for the protagonist to include his or her friends, especially shows for little girls like Sophia The First, and to me this is a bad message to send to children. Don’t become more successful than your friends, and never achieve anything you can’t bring them along on because they have no right to be happy for you getting to do something awesome they can’t be part of. As someone who has watched his friends and family have successful careers and find love and a family while he hasn’t had those successes…that message is ten tons of bullcrap because I don’t want people I care about to not be able to do amazing things simply because I haven’t nor do I expect them to give up their jobs to be miserable with me or let me sleep with their wives. #$@# that message sideways and stop making it! Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Back to the review.
The thing is there are no technical problems and whatever the story gets wrong as an adaptation is part of the joke, at least for the comic. I don’t know how much the episode writer(s) knew about the comics and not a lot was told about the comic outside of the hero’s origin and that it was Bart and friends’ favorite superhero comic. The comic just takes a few of the scenes we saw shot in the episode and filled in the gaps. So the fact that Ranier Wolfcastle looks nothing like Claude (in fact the guy he saves at the beginning of the story is almost a dead ringer) or that Rod has a mom instead of being Claude’s ward, or even that none of the usual villains from the comic show up in the movie, which happened in the past unless you were Lex Luthor or Zod until the Batman movies.
As a parody of movie adaptations as well as on its own, this is a really fun comic. Give it a look even if you haven’t followed the Radioactive Man comics or if you liked that episode of The Simpsons.