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Nuklon of Infinity, Inc. (DC Comics) with fists on his hips

Nuklon

(Profile #1 - the 1980s)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Nuklon (Al Rothstein) was part of DC Comics’ Infinity, Inc. Appearing in 1983 and coalescing in 1984, these were a “The Next Generation” sort of deal. They lived on Earth-2, where the Golden Age  super-heroes were approaching retirement age and it was time for new blood.

Unfortunately, the Crisis on Infinite Earths  wrecked the entire premise. Still, most Infinity, Inc. characters, including Nuklon, endured in minor roles.

This profile covers everything from Albert’s childhood to his career as Nuklon as an Infinity , Inc. member – until the death of Skyman. It is followed by a Nuklon I (the 1990s) character profile, which covers his time with the new Conglomerate and Justice League America.

And this one will eventually, some day, be followed by a revised Atom-Smasher writeup, which was the point all along.


Background

  • Real Name: Albert Julian Rothstein
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Terri Kurtzberg Rothstein (mother), Phillip Rothstein (father, deceased), Terrence Kurtzberger (aka Terry Curtis, aka Cyclotron ; grandfather, deceased), Al Pratt (aka Atom I, godfather, deceased), Danette Reilly (aka Firebrand II, godmother, presumed deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of Infinity, Inc, former player in the University of Southern California basketball team.
  • Base Of Operations: Los Angeles
  • Height: 7’6” Weight: 297 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Red


Powers and Abilities

Nuklon is huge, and has superhuman strength and durability, including a super-dense skin.

A trained athlete, he’s very fast and has excellent hand-eye coordination. His speed and agility have been further enhanced by his mutation.

Early in his career, he discovered that he could further enhance his mass and size to get more strength and reach, growing by about a meter. After he absorbed a large amount of thorium radiation, he further became able to control his density to some extend, and to phase  through solid objects.

Rothstein is also trained as both a car and airplane mechanic, and as an aerospace vehicle designer (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Scientist + Expertise). He’s a very good pilot, and has even flown experimental NASA Mach 4 jets.


History

As usual, I am keeping the original dates and not squeezing stuff within a 10 years timeline. Which means that Albert is now *chronologically* in his 40s. See the León Genetic Sequence article at writeups.org and the FAQ for more about ageing.

Irradiated mother

In 1942, when Terri Kurtzenberg was a newborn infant, she was inadvertently exposed to radiation from her father, physicist Terry Kurtzenberg (aka Terry Curtis). She became fatally ill. Desperate to cure the baby, Curtis accepted to join the Ultra-Humanite as the reluctant villain Cyclotron in exchange for the Ultra-Humanite healing Terri.

As part of Curtis’s dealings with the Ultra-Humanite, Terri was also briefly turned into a super-villain, though she was soon restored.

Ultimately Curtis, as Cyclotron, died while fighting the Ultra-Humanite. Cyclotron’s best-known legacy likely was his irradiation of the Atom, which later gave the mighty mite superhuman strength. When this occurred the Atom adopted a new costume that was a cross between the old Atom costume and the Cyclotron costume.

The orphaned Terri was left in the care of relatives. Her welfare was tended to by Golden Age heroes Firebrand II (a former lover of Terri’s dad) and Al Pratt, the Atom.

Terri’s son Albert Rothstein was born in the 1960s, the son of military pilot Phillip Rothstein. By that point Terri was a NASA engineer. When Al was 3, his father was killed in action in Việt Nam. The original Atom stepped in again to help Terri raise her child, and became a part-time surrogate father for Albert – who called him “uncle Al”.

As a child, Al was significantly smaller than other children of his age. He was also afraid of flying (and even of heights) since his dad had died in an helicopter crash. Because of those quirks he was often the butt of jokes and ridicule.

He was also one of the “JSA brats”. These were young children from the ex-members of the Justice Society who were playmates for a time.

Hava naguila

Terri Kurtzberg Rothstein likely passed on her genetic alterations to her son. Thus, Albert began to undergo significant physiological changes at puberty. Those started during a summer he spent with his “uncle” Al and other JSA members (as well as their kids) at the JSA mansion, in Virginia.

The Atom showed little Al how to use the gym in the basement, and the short teenager started working out in earnest. He was pretty successful. He also added eight inches to his height in the summer alone, amazing Dr. Mid-Nite.

Once he got back to school, Albert suddenly stop being bullied. He was now taller and brawnier than about every other kid his age. Pratt and Mid-Nite discussed their theories about the hereditary source of Albert’s powers with the Rothsteins.

Nuklon (Albert Rothstein) in an Atlas-like pose

By age 18, the previously diminutive Albert had reached a towering 7’6”. He became a basketball star at the University of Southern California . At that point he was also becoming super-strong and durable.

Those assets came on top of what was becoming a remarkable musculature. Albert had asked the Atom to train him using a variation of the regimen designed by heavyweight champion Joe Morgan. This regiment was the one Pratt had used to become the Atom.

Aside from his basketball career, Al was chiefly interested in mechanics. He trained as a gearhead with cars, motorcycles and even helicopters – his favourite kind of vehicle as they now positively reminded him of his father.

While his “uncle” Al was acting as his coach and pressuring him into becoming a basketball star, Albert was increasingly more interested in mechanics and airplanes than in being a basketball player.

Hava naguila

During a summer vacation to Trevor Island, he helped Admiral Trevor finish repairing his wartime P-38 . Trevor also taught him how to fly the legendary fighter. He later held summer jobs as an auto mechanic, though he started approaching burnout when he also became the star player of the USC’s Trojans .

After discussing the matter with Pratt, Rothstein quit the USC and transferred to the UCLA .

While he was in his second year at college, Albert received a card inviting him to take his Christmas break with Lyta and Hector, two of the JSA brats he had not seen in years (except for a brief encounter with Lyta the previous year). They wanted to become super-heroes and join the JSA, and invited Albert to come along.

As the three prepared to petition the JSA for membership, they were joined by Norda (Hawkman’s and Hawkwoman’s godson) and then by Jade and Obsidian (allegedly the children of the original Green Lantern).

However the bullheaded, brash Hector-led attempt to demand membership in the JSA went poorly. Thus, the would-be heroes found themselves drifting around the city on Christmas’ Eve. They ended up getting into trouble with a pimp at a MacDonald’s.

Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa

By that point the young Star-Spangled Kid, who had joined the JSA after having been rescued from temporal exile, decided to leave the Society. He wanted to organise the rejects into a new group called Infinity, Inc.

He was joined by another young JSA member, Power Girl (and, pre-Crisis, by her friend Helena Wayne aka the Huntress), and all the kids – including Brainwave II, who had just tried to join the JSA of his own. The Star-Spangled Kid later changed his name to the more mature Skyman.

One of the early adventures of Infinity Inc. was a conflict against several JSA members who had been drowned by the Waters of Ruthlessness and had turned evil. Nuklon’s mother deduced that the corrupt Atom would try to enhance his strength further with thorium.

Nuklon and Wildcat flew to an experimental reactor in Utah where they correctly expected to find the Atom stealing thorium. However, Nuklon was accidentally exposed to concentrated thorium radiation during the fight. Albert was then beaten up by the Atom and left to lie amidst the exposed thorium bars.

Like the Atom and his mother, Nuklon was not fatally poisoned by thorium radiation. Instead, it affected the young hero’s physiology, giving him the ability to change his density.

Reuniting, the second-generation heroes tracked the JSA to the Ultra-Humanite’s lair in Colorado and then into Limbo . They battled the evil JSA to a standstill, and the tide was eventually turned by the appearance of the Brain Wave, father of Henry King Jr. who gave his own life to defeat the Ultra-Humanite.

Hava neranenah

Infinity, Inc. then held a press conference to announce their public debut, in association with the City of Los Angeles. During the conference Power Girl (and, pre-Crisis, the Huntress) scaled their activities with the group back to honorary Infinitor status. Furthermore, Brainwave II chose to leave after a journalist aggressively denounced his father’s villainous past.

Hector Hall revealed his secret identity after the Ultra-Humanite leaked it from prison to journalists. Nuklon chose to reveal his own as well. This led Northwind, Jade and Obsidian to reveal theirs.

Nuklon was a core member through most of Infinity Inc’s adventures. He also tended to develop small crushes on his female teammates. Though his attraction toward the Fury or Jade led him nowhere, his crush on Yolanda Montez (who, unlike the other two, was single) was more promising and seemed to actually be reciprocated.

However, Nuklon was not sure what to do at this point. He was largely waiting for the brasher Montez to take the initiative. He continued being attracted toward Lyta, though, and after the tragic death of Hector Hall was seriously considering asking her to marry him.

Hava neranenah

Halfway through the career of Infinity Inc., Nuklon and the others learned of the disappearance of the JSA. The group had been summoned to fight what seemed to be an eternal fight to forestall the arrival of Ragnarok as summoned by Hitler in 1945.

Nuklon eventually proposed to Lyta Trevor. But she passed on his offer since he was just a friend to her – and since she was still mourning Hector and sleeping with a photo of him under her pillow.

Later that night, an ominous figure garbed in gold and red materialised in Lyta’s bedroom. The Trevors and Nuklon eventually managed to capture the peeping Tom – who turned out to be a resurrected Hector Hall, now the new Sandman.

Shortly after that, Nuklon was possessed by a macrolatt. A macrolatt is an extremely dangerous energy-devouring alien lifeform, who along with another of its kind was opposed by another alien entity called the Weird. Apparently, Nuklon was one of the few people powerful enough to house a macrolatt – perhaps due to his immunity to radiation.

The second macrolatt on Earth possessed Superman himself. The two super-powerful aliens engaged the Justice League and the Weird in combat. The Weird eventually tricked the two invincible macrolatts into abandoning the possessed bodies, then destroyed them – freeing Nuklon and Superman.

Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa

Infinity, Inc. then came to an end with the death of Skyman and the destruction of Stellar Studios.

Nuklon was, during the following few years, briefly seen among large groups of heroes during big events (such as Millennium  and the Invasion ). Nothing else is known of his life during that era.

But though it languished for years, Nuklon’s heroic career was about to take a new turn.


Description

Nuklon’s red mohawk is an homage to the costume of both his grandfather Cyclotron and his godfather the Atom. Both had a red fin on the head as one of their most distinctive features.

In his civvies Nuklon often wears a casual business suit. Suit and mohawk was occasionally done back in the mid-1980s.


Personality

Among the high egos and brash attitudes of Infinity, Inc., Nuklon is an island of common sense, politeness and reasonable contributions.

He tends to be a loner by inclination, and is not much of an orator. But he is also a pretty good team player. When relaxing with others and not working alone on an engine he’s laid back and keeps joking around.

Despite his impressive size and muscle, Nuklon is one of the least aggressive and violent members of Infinity, Inc.. He will sometimes try to talk rather than fight even if that means taking a few punches without counter-attacking. He was raised with an emphasis on the fact violence is often useless and is almost always a bad thing.

Nuklon will sometimes show off his strength and flex his muscles. But he’s mostly goofing around when he does that.

Gentle giant

His psych profile reads – “even-tempered, with a kind and gentle nature. A peace-maker due to his strong appreciation of fairness and harmony. Trustworthy, generally unselfish, and tough in the clinches – as well as a mechanical whiz. Tends to see himself as shy and socially awkward… a self-fulfilling prophecy. Cannot tolerate strife and arguments among his friends. Can be indecisive and somewhat naïve, especially in personal situations.”

Even thought she’s completely absorbed in her work, Nuklon loves his mother very much. He may even have become a pilot to spend more time with her at NASA had his life turned out differently. He will grow very, very concerned if she is in any kind of danger. Albert may do uncharacteristically brash and brutal things if his mum’s safety is compromised.

Generally, during this period, it is fairly obvious to people who know him that he can be summed up as being mommy’s good little boy. He’s dutifully applying her advice about being nice, not getting involved in unnecessary violence, being respectful toward women, never swearing, saying no to drugs, etc.

Nuklon occasionally uses Yiddish slang, but asides from that makes few references to his heritage.


Quotes

“’Uh… mind if I use your phone to call my mom ?”

“I’m not playing at anything, uncle Al. Your Justice Society nixed us for membership… so we struck out on our own. We’re not just a bunch of kids now ; we’re Infinity, Inc.”

“My mom brought me up not to fight with females — but this time, I guess I’ll have to make an exception.”

“I just know I joined Infinity, Inc. to try to serve my country — the same as my dad did. H-he was a chopper pilot in ’Nam. He went down — not long before we got out. He… well, I guess — I don’t have any more to say than that.”

“But sometimes I wish I weren’t such an unbelievably good sport.”

“Are you mishugah ? You’re lucky you weren’t killed pulling a stunt like that !”

“Never would occur to him I just plain don’t like violence… especially when… it’s completely unnecessary.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Nuklon

Dex: 07 Str: 08 Bod: 09 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Mechanic
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 019 HP: 037

Powers:
Density Increase: 02, Dispersal: 10, Growth: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • One AP of Growth is Always On, Form Function and Already Factored In ; the other two can be used normally
  • Dispersal requires complete concentration – Nuklon cannot perform any Dice Action while Dispersed
  • Density Increase is Minor Marginal

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 03, Artist (Tailor): 02, Gadgetry (Mechanics): 05, Scientist (Drawing plans): 02, Vehicles (Air, space): 06, Vehicles (Land, water): 05

Advantages:
Expertise (Aerospace vehicles lore, design and mechanics), Familiarity (Basketball, Jewish traditions, American movies from the 1940s to the 1960s), Life support (will not develop lasting damage from heavy exposure to most forms of radioactivity), Lightning Reflexes

Connections:
Infinity, Inc alumni (High), NASA (Low), Mister Bones (Low)

Drawbacks:
Public Identity, Distinct Appearance (size, mohawk), MPR (must eat about 3 times as much as a normal person), MPR (his physical condition is reportedly unstable due to his mutation, and he requires specialised medical monitoring to make sure he stays in good health)

Equipment:
As Al Rothstein, he usually drives souped-up cars he personally rebuilt. Later, as a Infinity, Inc. member, he was usually the one flying the helicopter and the old Star-Rocket Racer. All Infinitors started carrying a pager about midway through the group’s career.


Hero points among Infinity

Most early Infinitors initially started with about 25 HPs, and progressed toward 50 HPs during the run of the book. Those who had careers after that, such as Nuklon, continued to increase their HPs stock.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Nuklon (during the 1980s) — Averaged PL9.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
07 08 02 03 05 02 01 01

Powers

Nuclear power ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Radiation mutation
Immunity 1 (Radiation poisoning)

Size and density manipulation array ● 18 points ● Descriptor: Radiation mutation

  • Growth 3, Improved grab
  • Insubstantial 4 (Concentration)
  • Density Increase — Protection 1, 6 Ranks of Stamina become Impervious, Quirk (loses 1 Rank of Close Attack and Ranged Attack), Tiring

Combat Advantages

Close attack 4, Defensive attack, Defensive Roll 3, Improved Initiative, Interpose, Ranged Attack 2

Other Advantages

None demonstrated

Equipment

A pager (heh, it was the 1980s)

Skills

Athletics 2 (+9), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+11), Expertise (Tailor) 2 (+4), Expertise (Vehicular mechanics) 8 (+10), Expertise (Sports) 8 (+10) (Limited 2 to Basketball), Expertise (Jewish traditions) 3 (+5), Expertise (Cinema) 4 (+6) (Limited 2 to US movies 1940-1970), Insight 3 (+4), Perception 5 (+6), Persuasion 1 (+2), Vehicles 5 (+8)

Offense

Initiative +6
Unarmed +11, Close, Damage 7

Defense

Dodge 10 Fortitude 11
Parry 11 Toughness 11*/8
Will 6

* With Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Public identity Albert’s real name is public – and his size and mohawk make it hard to be discreet
  • Size Nuklon is 7’6″ and 297lbs even without using Growth
  • Special needs Nuklon must eat three times as much as normal, and receive special medical monitoring
  • Mommy’s boy Albert is very protective of his mum

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 9, Dodge/Toughness PL 11, Parry/Toughness PL 11, Fort/Will PL 9
  • Point total 128 Abilities 58, Defences 22, Skills 17, Powers 19, Devices 0, Advantages 12. Equiv. PL 9.


By Sébastien Andrivet based on Mayfair

Source of Character: Chiefly Infinity, Inc.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan

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