The Radioactive Man (Marvel Comics)

Radioactive Man

Strahlentod und Mutation
Durch die Schnelle Kernfusion


The Radioactive Man is a veteran Marvel Comics villain. He has been around since 1963. He’s been everywhere and he’s fought everyone, though he is primarily associated with the Avengers and the Thunderbolts.

During his association with the Thunderbolts, he’s also received additional character development.

He’s flexible, rather powerful and can do smart if the story will let him.



  • Real Name: Chen Lu.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: People’s Defense Force; Formerly member of the Masters of Evil I, II and III, the Titanic Three, Thunderbolts, and agent of the Mandarin.
  • Base Of Operations: China.
  • Height: 6’6” Weight: 290 lbs.
  • Eyes: Glowing green. Hair: None (formerly black).

Powers and Abilities

A living nuclear reactor, Chen’s body can generate then manipulate a wide spectrum of radiation.

The changes made to his body have made him immune to radiation, and increased his durability and strength, so he can lift up to two tons of weight with ease. He has also been shown able to operate without need for oxygen.

He can harmlessly absorb radiations into himself, drawing them in from his surroundings, or absorbing it from those infected with radiation sickness, healing them. Absorbing excess amounts (say from a nuclear bomb) may require him to vent them or risk blowing up himself.

He naturally emits low level radiation constantly, resulting in his green glow. However he can consciously dampen it, to the point where he no longer glows, appearing to be a normal person.

He also wears a null-radiation harness within his costume, designed by him and modified by Heinrich Zemo, which absorbs his regular level of radiation, allowing him to be around others for long periods without endangering them.


Energies he emits may be used for a variety of effects, with the most blatant being projected blasts of radiation energy, or heat, the latter of which he also uses as a touch attack. Other effects include:

  • Emitting an electromagnetic pulse, damaging nearby electronics.
  • Emitting energies which can daze and nauseate targets (in DC Heroes terms, Flash).
  • Create hypnotic patterns which allow him to control others into obeying his commands (Hypnosis).
  • Giving a target radiation poisoning (Cell Rot), which can be contagious, targeted at a particular genetic type of target, and time delayed for up to a few weeks.
  • Produce low-level radiations which interfere with surveillance equipment (without as permanent an effect as an EMP would have).
  • And he can produce waves of radiation which protect him from damage.

Radioactive Man (Dr. Chen Lu) attended to by his robots as he watches TV

These protective waves (Force Field) allow him to repel physical attacks, both hand-to-hand and ranged, and have enabled him to survive direct hits from Thor’s hammer undamaged. These waves also protect him from falls of at least a hundred feet unscathed.

He can analyze the radiation in an area or on a person, allowing him to track someone by their radiations, or know whether they’ve been to a place before.

Studying a target, he can detect which radiations they’re most vulnerable to, allowing him to trigger their vulnerabilities, or just to make his own attacks on them more effective. In this way (along with his ability to deflect attacks) he’s been able to go toe-to-toe with far stronger individuals, such as Namor or Hyperion.

He can also try to neutralise a targets powers, which is easier if they’re radiation-based (such as She-Hulk and Spider-Man). This is also possible for non-radiation-based powers (such as him disrupting Moonstone’s Dispersal, or Arnim Zola’s Personality Transfer).


(A more detailed history of his time with the Thunderbolts can be found in the team entry.)

When Thor interfered with a Chinese invasion of India, the Great Leader called for his scientists to produce a means to destroy this enemy. Leading scientist Dr. Chen Lu promised to produce such a weapon. He’d already been working on a process of exposing himself to small doses of radiation over months, to prepare for the final massive barrage of energies which transformed him into the Radioactive Man.

Travelling to New York in search of Thor, he called the god out. His radiations proving invulnerable to attacks by Mjolnir and Thor’s lightning. Warning that striking him would cause him to explode, the Radioactive Man then mesmerized Thor, and ordered him to toss away Mjolnir, which Chen wished to examine.

Unfortunately, Thor tossed it too far, and Chen had to go in search of it, ordering Thor to stay where he was.

Without the hammer, Thor reverted to Donald Blake, and, no longer compelled to obey Chen’s command, departed to find the hammer himself. Recovering Mjolnir, Thor found the Radioactive Man, and conjured a tornado to launch him back to China where he exploded in an atomic blast.

Surviving the encounter, Dr. Chen apparently decided to work for himself or as a mercenary. There were claims that he was banished from China, although whether due to his failure, or the danger he posed, is unclear.

This appears to have been misinformation, though. Mach IV (Beetle) knew Chen was in New York during the incident at the UN. He’d recognised Chen’s handler from their time together in the Masters of Evil, which implies he was working for the Chinese government for at least a portion of the time he was supposedly freelance.

Master of Evil

Chen Lu was recruited into Baron Heinrich Zemo’s Masters of Evil – alongside the Melter, and the Black Knight (Garrett). He joined their attack on the Avengers. Armed with a pair of Adhesive X guns, he again faced Thor, but was defeated when Iron Man (Stark) trapped him in a lead straight-jacket, and ended up in prison.

Escaping, he runs afoul of Spider-Man. During their battle he was knocked into some radioactive ore samples which set off a chain reaction in him, threatening New York. Spider-Man tricked him into jumping onto a coal barge, where the carbon absorbed the loose neutrons, damping the atomic activity and shutting the chain reaction down. It also allowed him to be recaptured.

Radioactive Man (Dr. Chen Lu) on white background

Escaping again, he set up base in New York, building some robots to act as servants. When the Avengers announced a controversial new team, Chen saw a chance to take them down alone. Drawing Captain America to a trap, his servitor robots captured him by surprise.

The Radioactive Man sent a message calling out the ’real‘ Avengers, but Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch found his hideout, and engaged his servitor robots.

The commotion drew the Radioactive Man out to confront them, giving Cap the opportunity to escape. They then attacked him as a group, and the Scarlet Witch’s hex shut down his powers. He was again taken to prison.

Master of Evil II

Free again, he was recruited into the Crimson Cowl’s (Ultron) version of the Masters of Evil (alongside Beetle (Jenkins), Klaw, Melter, Whirlwind and the Black Knight (Whitman)). They attacked and captured the Avengers, but were betrayed by the Black Knight, and Chen ended up wrapped in lead panelling by Giant-Man.

Still working with this iteration of the Masters of Evil, he joined their attack on the Avengers during a Halloween parade in Rutland. They managed to subdue the Avengers, but were beaten by the Lady Liberators. Chen was knocked out when the Scarlet Witch causes a tree to fall on him.

The Titanic Three

Escaping confinement again, Chen travelled to Việt Nam. The authorities accepted him, along with other banished nationals from the continent, Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man. They formed the Titanic Three. They came into conflict with the Avengers when duped by the thief Slasher, but once they realised the truth they turned on him.

The increasing control the Vietnamese authorities tried to exert over them led to strained relations. After their defeat by Kang while looking for the Avengers, the group dissolved. Its members went their separate ways.

Master of Evil III

Chen again returned to America, joining Egghead’s Masters of Evil (alongside Moonstone (Sofen), Tiger Shark, Beetle (Jenkins), and the Shocker). They kidnapping Hank Pym from his trial, and Chen depowered She-Hulk in the fight.

The Masters made it appear that Pym was their leader, in order to further discredit him – so Egghead could force his service. Pym appeared to play along, but secretly built devices which allowed him to beat the Masters on his own.

Back in China, Chen became the unwilling henchman of the Mandarin. Given that he should have been able to defended himself better against the Mandarin’s rings, it seems possible that the Mandarin had intimidated him into service, and into not using his powers against him. This may have been an effect of Chen’s internal energy surges impairing his intellect, which would later see him relegated to a bruiser role.

Radioactive Man (Dr. Chen Lu) transforming

He oversaw the receipt of shipments on the Hong Kong docks for the Mandarin, which brought him into conflict with Iron Man (Rhodes). While he fared fairly well in the fight, the shipment was damaged, and the Mandarin punished him for it. When Iron Man tracked down the Mandarin’s base, Chen hid his approach, giving him the chance to face the Mandarin, whom he beat.

Apparently escaping, Chen got a job with Stane International, as he needed their resources to fund his research. In return, he built a hand-held neutron grenade launcher for them. Demonstrating it at a convention in New York, he was packing late at night when Spider-Man turned up investigating.

Interested by the organic radiation he sensed, Chen subdued Spider-Man, and took him to his Stane lab for experimentation. Iron Man (Stark) had been investigating Chen’s activities at Stane when he learned he’d kidnapped Spider-Man, and broke into his lab in time to save Spidey. Together they managed to beat Chen, again trapping him in lead.

Imprisoned in the Vault, the Radioactive Man helped the Avengers and Freedom Force prevent a nuclear meltdown at the facility during an attempted prison break.

Hired Muscle

Free again, he acted as hired muscle. He was employed first by crime boss Bono, and later by corrupt media tycoon Tiberius Stone. Working for Bono (alongside Whirlwind, Plant Man, and Lightmaster) he tried to recover a priceless vase in She-Hulk’s possession.

They didn’t fare well against her. Chen Lu didn’t bother trying to neutralize her powers as he had before, likely due to his decreased mental faculties. It went even worse when Death’s Head turned up hunting the vase, and they were pretty much trounced.

As bodyguard for Stone, he was equipped with a new costume – a picture of which shall not be included with this writeup while my name is still attached. It amplified his powers, and he again faced Iron Man (Stark), managing to do quite well against him.

Whether homesick, or recalled by his handlers, Dr. Chen returned to China. The authorities helped him gain treatments to siphon off his excess radiation, allowing him to recover his mental faculties, and stabilising his emotional state. They also helped him compile The Count, a calculation of how many his powers had killed or harmed over the years.

He became a more open operative of the Chinese government at this point.

War of the Iron Men

(The timing of this incident is unclear. Chen is working directly for the Chinese, but it occurs before Doom’s Venom Bomb satellites have a hiccup, which starts off the Mighty Avengers series. The series (Iron Man Legacy) is published after his time with the Thunderbolts, but before just before this period seems the most appropriate time in Chen’s continuity).

Radioactive Man's robots surround the Avengers

When a Chinese pipeline in Transia is destroyed in the troubles there, allegedly by Iron Man (Stark), Chen is asked to investigate. He soon found Iron Man, on the trail of stolen Iron Man tech, and they begin fighting. Before it got anywhere, they were attacked by a new Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, and had to work together.

The situation escalated when Dr. Doom (monarch of neighbouring Latveria) sent in an army of Doombots based on the stolen Stark tech to annex the country. This was ostensibly because he was asked to by refugees (although he had, of course, been responsible for inciting the recent troubles).

The Russians, poorly trained, with the armours being mainly controlled remotely, fell quickly, leaving Chen and Iron Man to face the army. Chen unleashed an electromagnetic pulse to try and stop them, but only succeeded in knocking himself out due to the strain. Iron Man, with help from local hero Svarog, managed to destroy the technology, and beat Doom.

New Thunderbolts

The Atlantean terrorist group At’la’tique sent their strike force, Fathom Five, to attack Beijing, killing thousands. Dr. Chen went with his handler to New York, where Prince Namor was addressing the UN about the attacks.

The session was attacked by members of the Great Game, the building was nearly destroyed, and the area was irradiated. Mach IV (formerly the Beetle), leader of the Thunderbolts, had recognised Chen’s handler at the UN. He deduced Chen was also nearby, so the Chinese could offer Chen’s assistance in dealing with the radiation.

Since the Thunderbolts were also investigating At’la’tique, the Chinese government ordered Chen to join them. As he would later learn, they were also uncomfortable with having someone so radioactive on Chinese soil. Thus, they had him stay with the team after the At’la’tique issue had died down.

At’la’tique attacked New York again, and Chen fought them alongside the Thunderbolts. He secretly infected Fathom Five member Llyron with a radioactive plague which would target Atlanteans.

The plague didn’t limit itself to the terrorists, and Namor agressively confronted him about the plague affecting Atlantis. Chen and the Thunderbolts travelled to Atlantis, where he eventually agreed to purge them of the plague.

Before leaving, however, he secretly hit Namor’s spy within At’la’tique, the alien Tamara Rahn, with a similar infection. It wouldn’t affect her physiology, and was time delayed to release after she’d returned to At’la’tique.

Continuing to serve on the team, Chen also developed a strong friendship with Songbird, whom he also became secretly attracted to.

Osborn’s Bastards

With the team coming under government control, Chen had to wear a containment suit. While it wouldn’t actually contain his energies, it was meant to assuage the fears of the American public. Unhappy working for Osborn, he found out he was stuck there as his government didn’t want him home.

Secret Invasion

Following the devastation caused by the Skrull invasion, China decided it wanted all the super-human assets it could find. Chen was recalled to China. Before departing, he admitted his feelings to Melissa (Songbird), but she told him he should leave.

He did, unaware that she’d sensed Bullseye nearby. Songbird knew he was coming for revenge as part of Osborn’s design to get rid of her, so she’d sent Chen away so he wouldn’t be caught in the middle.

The People’s Defense Force

Returning home, Chen joined the People’s Defense Force, the national super team (replacing China Force). He was allowed to return to his older costume. Other members include team leader the Collective Man, the Scientific Beast, Most Perfect Hero, The Ninth Immortal, Princess of Clouds, and Lady of Ten Suns.

Investigating reports of a superhuman in Tibet, the Force were defeated by the Unspoken, a banished Inhuman king. Accepting aid from the Might Avengers, they attacked him again, and prevented him releasing the Slave Engine, which would have transformed all humans into Alpha Primitives.


Calm and slightly aloof, Chen is slow to make friends. But he is a loyal team mate, and exhibits a dry wit with those he trusts. The Count serves to help him keep his temper, and he’s become conscientious about using his powers.

A patriot, Lu has become disillusioned by the Party, but continues to serve so as to protect the welfare of his people.

Brain damage

The excess radiations he held for so long appeared to cause a degeneration of his cognitive and emotional capacities over the years. It is possible that even in his first appearance he was already suffering from some radiation exposure.

In his initial appearance he was pretty much a maniacal super-villain, flaunting his power, and fully intending to conquer the world after dealing with Thor. He destroyed his research so that his country could never create another like him.

Despite his initial ambitions, he quickly fell into being a henchman, serving a number of masters. But despite a period where he worked for Stane, and actually built something (possibly the degeneration encountered fluctuations), his intellect was little in evidence. When working for the Mandarin, he was severely intimidated, and it took him a serious effort to raise a hand (unsuccessfully) against his master.

Following his treatments he has become far more even-tempered, and is in fact one of the more restrained costumed individuals, although he does still have flashes of normal temper.


“Surprised, Thor ? Have you forgotten that only my radioactive body can repel your hammer ? Against me, you’re helpless !”

Cop: “Freeze ! Arms up in the air ! You’re that radioactive guy— ? My dad saw you fight Thor once ! Hands up !”
R-Man: “I am with the Thunderbolts. There is an attack on Manhattan. I want to help stop it. Please drive me there now or I will render you both sterile.”

“I am not accustomed to, nor appreciative of, serving as a pawn of the politicians.”

“When I returned to China, I was forced to confront… some… difficult… truths. Truths… complicate lives, I think. My power kills people, Jenkins, far more often than I would prefer when I did not even plan for it to happen. I was given information on how many have died because of exposure to my radiation. We calculated how many had suffered long-term ramifications and how many stillborn children were brought into the world… all because of me. You remanded yourself to the authorities for the murder of one person, Abner. Would you like to know what we estimated my count to be ? Legally and morally, you have atoned for your sin. Tell me… how could I possibly atone for mine ?”

“Enough. There is much disharmony among us. We need to process our dilemma in a logical manner.”

Songbird: “You’ve got a lot of big talk for a guy whose first costume was a diaper !”
R-Man: “In my home country, they called me ‘The Glowing Love God’.”
Songbird: “I don’t believe you.”
R-Man: “Learn Chinese. Prove me wrong.”

“他媽的 your ancestors to the eighteenth generation.”

DC Universe History

Empowering himself following Superman’s intervention in Chinese affairs, his attempts to duplicate Kryptonite radiations never succeeded in stopping Superman. However he did manage to duplicate some of the more irritating, but less lethal, forms.

Since stabilizing his mental state, he’s claimed to be able to duplicate all kinds of Kryptonite, but hasn’t had the chance to display this yet.

The People’s Defense Force are easily interchangeable with the Great Ten, and the Socialist Red Guardsman is a fairly obvious counterpart.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Radioactive Man

Dex: 06 Str: 07 Bod: 06 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 06 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Super-hero; formerly scientist, super-villain
Inf: 06 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 018 HP: 070

Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent: 06, Cell Rot: 08, Damage Transference: 08, Detect (Radiation): 08, Electromagnetic Pulse: 12, Energy Absorption: 15, Energy Blast: 11, Flash: 07, Force Field: 20, Hypnotism: 12, Jumping: 04, Laser Beam: 13, Obscure: 08, Neutralize: 20, Sealed Systems: 20, Weakness Detection: 20

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent only works on Radiation traces (-0).
  • Cell Rot may be time delayed by 20 AP (+1), may be contagious (+5), and may be targeted at certain genetic types (+1).
  • Damage Transference only works on radiation damage (-1), and has the User Does not Suffer any Risk of Injury Bonus (+3).
  • Detect has the Discerning Bonus (+1).
  • EA has Range of 10 AP (+1), and only works against nuclear radiation (-2).
  • EB may have Area Effect (+1).
  • Flash is a non-visual, radiation-based attack, but also allows him to project light (+1).
  • Force Field is Personal (-2), doesn’t protect against energy attacks (-1), and has the Can Attack Through Field Bonus only for melee and missile attacks (+1).
  • Hypnotism is Serious Marginal (-2).
  • Jumping only protects from falling damage (-1), and is Contingent on Force Field (-1).
  • Laser Beam can be used with a Range of Touch (+0).
  • Neutralize only works on non-radioactive-based Powers with a Strenuous Universal Modifier (-1), has an Area Effect on all Powers of a chosen target (+1), and can only be used on individuals after a successful Weakness Detection (-1, see below).
  • Obscure only blocks electronic surveillance (-1).
  • Sealed Systems only protects against radiation (-1).
  • Weakness Detection can be used with Physical Attacks, Cell Rot, Energy Blast, Laser Beam, and Neutralize (+8, see below), only detects Attack Vulnerabilities to radiations (-1), and may also detect Loss Vulnerabilities to radiations (+1).

Gadgetry: 06, Scientist: 07, Vehicles (Air, Land, Space): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Special Credentials (People’s Defense Force), Expertise (Robotics), Language (Mandarin Chinese), Life Support (Doesn’t Need to Breathe), Scholar (Nuclear Physics).

People’s Defense Force (High), Songbird (High), Thunderbolts (Low), Chinese Government (Low).

Distinct Appearance, Serious Physical Restriction (gives off radiation unless he wears his body harness), Power Loss (All Powers and enhanced Strength are useless against lead).


  • NULL-RADIATION HARNESS [BODY 06, Energy Absorption (Radiation): 02].
  • As a member of the People’s Defense Force, he has access to an individual flying platform [BODY 05, STR 05, Flight: 05].

Design notes

  • The Radioactive Man could arguably have Strange Appearance among those aware that he’s dangerously radioactive and that being close to him can have plenty of dire consequences – but he can turn off his glowy thing and appear normal.
  • His Expertise in robotics is because we see him served by robots in a couple of his earlier appearances.
  • It’s unclear whether he needs to be aware of attacks to block them with his Force Field, so I’ve left it off, but he can’t make anything other than pure physical attacks while the Force Field is active.

Radioactive Weaknesses

Using Weakness Detection, Chen can determine the particular level of radiation a target is most vulnerable to, or the one their powers are based on. If their powers a radiation-based, a successful Weakness Detection allows him to try neutralizing them. He can also try this on non-radiation-based powers, but suffers a Strenuous Modifier (+3CS).

Otherwise he can emit the precise radiations to weaken his opponents, which can be used for ranged or physical attacks, so he can go toe-to-toe with far stronger opponents.

Radiation Absorption

The Radioactive Man is capable of harmlessly absorbing radiation into his own body, either from the fallout as the nuclear event happens (Energy Absorption), absorbing and curing those infected by radiation sickness (Damage Transference), or absorbing the fallout from an area after it has had time to settle in, for example if he arrives at a site after the nuclear event he can try to absorb the radiation in the soil.

Absorbing the fallout in the latter case involves using Neutralise against the Powers attributed to the fallout (without the need for a successful Weakness Detection attempt). To work out the radiation level use the APs of Poison Touch (Radiation) given to the associated element in the Elements of Doom entry, plus the area affected by the fallout (or the area he’s attempting to clear in one attempt), as the OV/RV against the attempt.

If he achieves RAPs equal to this AP level, then the radiation is permanently absorbed.

Previous Stats

While serving with the first couple of iterations of the Masters of Evil, he wielded one or two guns which shot Zemo’s Adhesive X. Adhesive X Gun [BODY 04, Glue: 12, Range: 02, R#03]

When his mental faculties were affected by his excess radiation, his MIN was 04 APs, his Mystical Stats were 05/04/04, his HPs were down to 30 HPs, and he had an MIA toward Overconfidence.

For much of his early career he had the Exile Drawback, although whether voluntary or forced is unclear (see History).

Prior to the treatments which stabilised his personality, he hadn’t exhibited the Powers Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent, Damage Transference, Electromagnetic Pulse, and Jumping, or use Cell Rot in anything but a direct and immediate attack. The likely explanation is that his clearer mind has allowed him to develop his abilities.

His use of Weakness Detection was also limited prior to this point, but I’m assuming this was due to his mental state making him too impatient to use it, so it would have been Minor Marginal prior to this point.

Servitor Robots

These 8 foot tall robots served him in his New York hideout, and managed to knock out Captain America by surprise. He had at least five serving him.

Dex: 04 Str: 06 Bod: 05 Motivation: N.A.
Int: 02 Wil: 00 Min: 00 Occupation: N.A.
Inf: 00 Aur: 00 Spi: 00 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 006 HP: N.A.

Growth: 01, Ultra Vision: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Growth is Already On and is Already Factored In (-1).

By Sébastien Andrivet & Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Dave Oaks,, Jackson, Brian Patrick Young, William Chamberlin, Roger, Eric Langendorff, Chris Cottingham.

Writeup completed on the 24th of February, 2011.