With Hunt for Reactron halfway done, I thought I would take another trip into the back issue box and review Reactron's first appearance as a Supergirl rogue. I already reviewed the first half of his 2 part story a while ago ( http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2009/05/back-issue-box-daring-new-adventures-of.html ) and figured it was time to wrap up his story as seen in Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9.
To catch people up, Reactron was a standard 1980's energy-wielding baddie who arrived in Supergirl's hometown Chicago and was planning on draining a nuclear reactor located on campus to increase his powers. Reactron had been on the run from the Doom Patrol, who had been chasing him cross country. Last issue ended with Supergirl confronting Reactron in the reactor control room.
Paul Kupperberg clearly has a love of Supergirl and makes her a powerful hero to be reckoned with.
On rereading these issue, one thing I really like is just how confident Supergirl is in her abilities. Reactron had showed of some impressive nuclear abilities last issue but Supergirl basically laughs them off here. She almost seems to be taunting him ... telling him his blasts are like spitballs.
In the meantime, Reactron speaks a sort of street level villain-speak which seems pretty in line with his current incarnation.
Despite clearly having the upper hand in the fight, Supergirl realizes that the tight quarters and the inherent dangers to the local environment from a fight inside a nuclear reactor control room only benefits Reactron. She decides to take the fight outside where she can get a better handle on him.
Once again, I have to comment on Supergirl's banter ... a mix of insults and put-downs which goad Reactron into following her. I mean 'Stop flapping your big mouth and let's see a little action!' is not a line I would typically think would be spoken by Supergirl. Sounds more like a standard Guy Gardner or Spiderman line to me.
Still, it is very refreshing to see Kara so comfortable with her powers, realizing that she is one of the most powerful beings on the planet.
Still, after a little more of the skirmish plays out in the air, Supergirl realizes that Reactron is an inexhaustible nearly unstoppable weapon. He can absorb any radiation ... cosmic rays, radio waves, solar radiation ... and throw it right back at his enemies. While she ponders her next step, the Doom Patrol shows up and brings the fight to Reactron.
I always like the Negative Man and Negative Woman. The energy spirit is just cool looking. Here we see The Negative Woman try to take out Reactron by phasing right through him. Unfortunately, it has little effect on the villain.
While the Doom Patrol spar with Reactron, Supergirl thinks she has come up with an easy solution to the Reactron threat. Why not just encase him in lead, thus blocking all radiation from even reaching him?
Ahhh ... but that would be too simple. It turns out that Reactron's personal radiation acts differently on lead than all other radiations. In fact, lead becomes an unstable and explosive element when subjected to Reactron's powers.
The Doom Patrol's Tempest tells Supergirl this after she dumps the molten lead on Reactron. As a result, she needs to get Reactron up and out of the way as quickly as she can.
Up above the city, the lead coffin does explode, knocking Supergirl briefly unconscious. Unfortunately, Reactron has disappeared. When Supergirl awakens, she asks Tempest how he knew about the lead reaction. He reveals that he knew Reactron before his days as a super-villain when they both served in the military.
It turns out that this Reactron is just as much a sociopath as the current one. Tempest served in Vietnam with Reactron. Back then Reactron was Sergeant Ben Krullen. While on patrol, Krullen led a massacre on a small village of elderly and children. Tempest couldn't allow that atrocity to happen. While enraged, Tempest's powers manifested themselves for the first time. He lashed out at Krullen with his energy blasts. To his surprise, Krullen seemed uneffected.
Not knowing what else to do Tempest takes off, in essence deserting the army. He has been on the run ever since.
He does learn however that Krullen was exposed to radiation during the early experiments with atomic bomb tests and that must be how he became Reactron.
With the exposition out of the way, Supergirl suddenly realizes that her worst fears from the earlier battle has come true. Her initial fight with Reactron did indeed damage the nuclear reactor and it is now running out of control, radiation and energy spilling out.
Unfortunately that is like ringing the dinner bell for Reactron who laps up the energy, becoming more powerful than ever before. And, now juiced up, he plans to not just defeat Supergirl; he wants to kill her.
Kara still has the welfare of the campus and the city as her primary mission. She tosses Reactron out of the reactor in hopes of containing the radiation leak.
With Reactron situated above the leaking core, Supergirl crates a massive vortex which accomplishes two things. First it draws up all the remaining radiation from the reactor and force feeds it to Reactron in one big dose. Second, it then sends the overfed and suddenly unstable Reactron into space where he explodes into nothingness. This is really Supergirl at her best ... saving people, thinking on her feet, defeating the enemy.
Of course, we have seen Reactron survive two similar episodes already so I don't think we can label this Kara a murderer.
Alas, the results of that explosion are different for some reason. Supergirl now has contracted a case of radiation poisoning which is effecting even her Kryptonian physiology! How will Supergirl survive?? Cue the dramatic music!
All in all, this is a pretty action packed issue. Unlike last issue where the Doom Patrol dominated the fight scenes, this is clearly Supergirl's battle. And throughout the issue she is always working out solutions to the problems she is faced with.
Again, I have to say I love the confidence she radiates here both in action and words. Even the way she interacts with the Doom Patrol shows that she considers herself an established super-hero, not a sidekick or a novice.
As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate Carmin Infantino's art more and more. His angles and perspective are a bit skewed but overall I thought he did a great job here. Although I did not post any panels here, he definitely drew one of the lovelier Linda Danvers.
And how can you not like a Daring New Adventures of Supergirl cover by comic legend Gil Kane!
While the science and solutions are a little fuzzy, this was a fun issue when viewed in retrospect. As far as I know, Reactron was never seen again in the pre- or post- Crisis on Infinite Earths DCU until he was reintroduced in the current title. As he now plays a big role in the current Supergirl mythos, these 2 issues would be a good addition to any Supergirl comic collection. The issues can be found for about $3 a piece at conventions.
Overall grade: B+