Friday, January 27, 2017

Re-Enter: Reactron! (DC)
The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9 When: July 1983 Why: Paul Kupperberg How: Carmine Infantino

The Story So Far...
The heroic Doom Patrol are on the path of a nuclear powered villain who shares a troubling history with team leader Tempest. The villainous Reactron is a soldier with absolutely no regard for the people he harms, and a power suit that grants him mastery over radiation!

Having escaped Doom Patrol in their earlier skirmish; Reactron is lured to Lake Shore University by an experimental nuclear reactor capable of enhancing his powers! It's the same campus attended by Linda Danvers -- student alter-ego of Supergirl!

Having watched the action from afar using her Kryptonian enhanced vision, Supergirl is ready to jump into action to put a stop to Reactron's meltdown! Does she have what it takes to stop the radioactive villain alone? Doom Patrol races to the scene with the fight already under way!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Supergirl 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 2 (Average)
Speed: Supergirl 5 (Super-Human)
Stamina: Reactron 6 (Generator)
Agility: Supergirl 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Reactron 4 (Trained)
Energy: Reactron 6 (Mass Destruction)

Every great superhero needs a rogues gallery to fight against, and today we're looking at one of the villains who's become a frequent foe for Supergirl!

If you know anything about the "Girl of Steel" it's that she escaped the grim fate of her home world Krypton to join cousin Kal-El on planet Earth. Enriched by the Milky Way's yellow sun, she possesses much the same powers and vulnerabilities as Superman: Flight, enhanced strength, speed, endurance, stamina, heat and x-ray vision, and super-breath.

We saw most of Supergirl's super-abilities on display when she battled a corrupt Mary Marvel in Final Crisis #6. We know she can hang with heavy-hitters like the Marvels - and she's going to have to, because her opponent is a fresh face brimming with newfound power in 1983!

Reactron was once Benjamin Krullen of the United States Army. An amoral soldier who gained an experimental hi-tech "StarSuit" that allows him to channel radioactive energy into concussive blasts. He would later be outfitted with a Gold Kryptonite heart, allowing him to sap the powers of Kryptonians, but that upgrade is a couple of decades away from our featured fight.

We're catching Reactron early in his villainous career -- just his second printed appearance! This is a pre-Crisis version whose design and powers are much less sophisticated -- but no less dangerous! He's double tough, can absorb and redirect radioactive energies, and has the potential to blow!

Strength and invulnerability give Supergirl a comfortable edge in this fight, but the exact effects of radiation on Kryptonians aren't always consistent.

We've seen Superman shrug off the routine nuclear energies of Atomic Skull [Superman/Batman #21], but in some stories, large doses of radiation have inflicted temporary ill effects on The Man of Steel.

We know the unique radiation signature of Kryptonite can sap Superman and Supergirl of their strength, and potentially even kill them. That's evident in the synthetic variety used by Batman [see: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1, Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1], and the strange green glow emitted by the Kryptonite Man [see; Superman/Batman #23].

This early in his career, it might be too much to expect Reactron to be expert enough in his abilities to simulate Kryptonite. "The Living Reactor" can offensively direct large waves of radiation, though. Expelling as much radiation as possible might be his best key to victory, but Supergirl is the favourite here.

We find them in mid-battle. Let's see how it went down...

The Tape: Supergirl Ranking: Supergirl (#90)

What Went Down...
Supergirl clutches at Reactron's wrists as she flies at the irradiating menace! The living reactor is strong enough to break her hold, sending the girl of steel recoiling as he yanks his hands free!

This time it's Reactron's turn to recoil as Supergirl rockets back at him like a Kryptonian missile -- smacking him right in the mouth with a devastating left!

The villain can't help but be impressed by Supergirl's strength, but he survives the rough treatment with a smile on his face. She attempts to wipe it off by slipping behind him and locking in a Kryptonian bear hug!

As he did before, Reactron summons his nuclear powered strength and throws his arms open with explosive force! The radioactive counter once again throws Supergirl from her opponent! The experience sharpens her mind toward tactics.

While Supergirl ponders the advantage of taking the fight away from the cramped confines of their reactor arena -- Reactron turns up the heat with direct blasts of radiation!

Bathed in nuclear beams, Supergirl laughs off their effects as merely cleaning her costume. She makes a beeline for an improvised skylight and escapes the experimental reactor's control room, even as it begins to malfunction!

Reactron takes flight, pursuing his prey into the sky where she attempts to take advantage of maneuverability. She tries a ranged attack, firing X-ray vision in his direction, but Reactron's suit allows him to absorb the rays and redirect them as a concussive blast!

The dangers of the modern world begin to occur to Supergirl as she realizes Reactron's suit could convert everything from the sun's ultraviolet rays, to communication microwaves into an infinite power source! That's also when she remembers the perfect defense against such phenomena: lead!

While the Girl of Steel disappears a super-speed, Negative Woman and Tempest of The Doom Patrol arrive to keep Reactron company!

Reactron scoffs at Supergirl for seemingly fleeing, and laughs at the supposed threat of the arriving Doom Patrol. Tempest gives his former military chum a sobering jolt of kinetic energy, while Negative Woman attempts to short circuit him with her uncanny phasing powers!

The shock of being hurt sends Reactron heading for solid ground. His radiation blasts keep Negative Woman at arms length -- a threat that further provokes the ire of Tempest!

The former soldier keeps Reactron on the defensive with kinetic blasts as Supergirl returns overhead with a section of disused, lead sewage pipe!

She dumps the tube on top of Reactron and starts to reduce it to slag with intense heat vision when suddenly Tempest turns his kinetic blasts against her!

The Girl of Steel failed to realize encasing Reactron in lead just provokes him to turn up his powers -- creating an energy that eats through led with explosive results! Realizing her error, she snatches the lead encased villain and heads for the sky -- attempting to clear the populate college campus before he explodes!

The nuclear boom is big enough to shatter windows for miles around -- and knock Supergirl out cold! Her uncontrolled fall is stopped by the stretching energy form of Negative Woman, who carries her safely to the ground.

The rest of Doom Patrol arrive on the scene as Supergirl comes to, ready to learn the secret origin of her newest nemesis and prepare for round 2.

The Hammer...
It had thrills, spills, and special guests, and in the end the bad guy had to essentially blow himself up! The tactics weren't pretty, but the hammer falls in favour of villainous victor: Reactron!

As you can probably sense, the fight is far from finished. There's a follow-up confrontation within the pages of this very issue -- which also contains a Lois Lane back-up story! Wowee!

At some point in the future I'm sure we'll come back to see how the rematch went. Reactron may not be a first or second tier villain, but you know how I love those recurring bruisers. The kinds of bad guys with a simple gimmick, flashy costume, and deep seeded desire to do no good.

Reactron was actually one of the key inspirations for making this our final featured fight for January! I mentioned last month that I've been enjoying something of a Supergirl renaissance, thanks chiefly to the newish TV series.

One of the things I like most about Supergirl is its incorporation of comic book characters. It isn't completely faithful to the page, but it wields its references pretty well. The show reminds me of past efforts like Superboy, Lois & Clark, and maybe even the 1990 version of The Flash, but it combines its light entertainment disposition with much more frequent, heavy comic book content.

Case in point: Reactron was the first bona fide super-villain to appear in the series, making an enemy of Supergirl in the third episode.

It isn't the character from the comics. He presents more like a dark vision of Iron Man, clad in gun metal suit with a glowing red nuclear heart. This version of the character, an engineer named Ben Krull, is a smidge more sympathetic. He owes his powers (and deteriorating health) to a terrorist attack that was stopped by Superman, but not before it poisoned him, and killed his wife.

This Reactron leaves Metropolis to pursue Superman's newly revealed cousin, who's still finding her way as a hero in the early episodes. It's a quest for revenge - family for family. It nearly works, too! Supergirl gets her butt kicked in a hard hitting fight that ends with a silhouetted Man of Steel arriving just in time to rescue his kin as she falls unconscious!

Within the context of the show, the episode and its events are economic world building. I can't help but see the ties to the comic, though.

Reactron's first comic book appearance was the issue before the one we featured today [Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8]. In the TV show, he's introduced as a pre-existing Superman villain, which functions a little bit like his shared backstory with Tempest. Who appears in our feature fight to rescue Supergirl with his greater knowledge of the threat -- kinda like Superman.

Just like the comic; TV's Supergirl figures she can beat the nuclear nemesis with lead. Things go a lot smoother in the show, though. Instead of encasing him in a lead pipe he explode out of, Melissa Benoist's character coats her hands in lead to prevent explosion when she rips the core out of Reactron's suit.

The comic book version only made it one issue further before his untimely demise. A death undone by the line-wide DC reboot of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which gave Reactron a second chance at life, and a role as recurring villain.

He appears much the same when he returns as a villain in Doom Patrol. I quite like the eventual suit revamp he gained, becoming a Supergirl villain once more after the character was reintroduced in the mid 2000s. With any luck we'll get to some of those chapters, as well.

In the mean time, we tick off a few more names on The Comic Book Fight Club "To Do" list! Last year I featured Robotman as one of our illustrious Heroes of the Week, inspired by the relaunch of Doom Patrol under DC's Young Animal imprint. I've been wanting to scratch the itch of DC's misfit surreal superheroes for quite some time. It's a modest start, but at least today's assist appearances by Negative Woman and Tempest have given us our first taste!

Looking for more obscurities from the DC Universe and beyond? Follow links throughout this post to find more on relevant topics, or dive in to the Secret Archive Index to browse past feature fights by publisher, series and issue!

Winner: Reactron
#302 (new) Reactron
#101 (-11) Supergirl
#510 (new) Tempest [+1 assist]
#511 (new) Negative Woman [+1 assist]

No comments: