Radio Active


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Radior, the “X-Ray Powerman,” made his sole appearance in Dell’s Key Ring Comics #1, a publication that has a legitimate claim to being the industry’s first magazine with multiple variant covers.

The comic introduced five characters – “Radior,” “Sky Hawk,” “Greg Gilday,” “Viking Carter” and “Sleepy Samson” –  in separate 16-page adventures, a break from the already standard practice of one long feature and numerous, shorter back-ups.

Key Ring Comics was further distinguished by the inclusion of five separate covers featuring each character. (Paving the way for the future excesses of Marvel, Image and – of course – DC.) The real selling point, however, were the two hole punches on the side of the book that allowed readers to arrange the stories in any order they wish and place them in a school binder.

Theoretically, this would make Key Ring Comics easier to read at school and give kids the option to pick their own cover feature. Who needs the Internet to create interactive comics?!?

Dell unfortunately proved to be a bit too far ahead of its time as the comic only lasted a single issue, consigning Radior and his fellow “Key Ringers” to funny-book oblivion. The book is extremely hard to find these days, although the Radior story has been exhumed thanks to the intrepid scanners of the Digital Comic Museum.

From Key Ring Comics #1 (Dell, 1941), here’s “Radior, The X-Ray Powerman.” The writer and artist are uncredited.

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Golden-Age justice! Although, if I were the guy’s newly elected secretary I’d be careful not to trigger that temper.

As a bonus, here’s the three remaining variant Key Ring Comics covers that survived the ravages of time.

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