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NUKE

Real Name: Albert "Al" Gaines

Identity/Class: Extradimensional (Earth-712/"Earth-S") human mutate

Occupation: Adventurer;
                    formerly nuclear plant worker

Group Membership: Squadron Supreme (Amphibian/Kingsley Rice, Arcanna Jones, Blue Eagle/James Dore Jr., Golden Archer/Wyatt McDonald, Hyperion/"Mark Milton," Lady Lark/Linda Lewis, Power Princess/Zarda Shelton, Dr. Spectrum/Joseph Ledger, Tom Thumb/Thomas Thompson, Whizzer/Stanley Stewart)

Affiliations: AIDA, the Goldfarbs

Enemies: Institute of Evil (Ape X/Xina, Doctor Anton Decibel, Foxfire/Olivia Underwood, Lamprey/Donald McGuiggin, Quagmire/Jerome Michaels, Shape/Raleigh Lund), Null the Living Darkness, Scarlet Centurion (Nathaniel Richards);

formerly Chorus (Al Gentle, Theodore Kroeber, Philip le Guin, Georgia Orr, Over-Mind (through control), Ursula Richards, Mindy Williams), Defenders of Earth-616 (Clea, Devil-Slayer/Eric Simon Payne, Gargoyle/Isaac Christians, Hellcat/Patsy Walker, Hulk/Bruce Banner, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff, Silver Surfer/Norrin Rad, Son of Satan, Doctor Stephen Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Valkyrie/Brunnhilda, Vision/"Victor Shade"), August Masters

Known Relatives: Gilbert Gaines (father, deceased), Florence Gaines (mother, deceased), Scotty Gaines (brother)

Aliases: "Nukey," "the punk," "that squirt" (nicknames used by Doctor Spectrum)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
                                  formerly Squadron Supreme's mountain HQ, Northern Moreland;
                                  formerly Over-Mind's Moonbase;
                                  formerly Squadron Supreme satellite;
                                  formerly Motor City, Wyandota

First Appearance: Defenders I#112 (October, 1982)

Powers/Abilities: Gaining superpowers after being exposed to radioactive waste, young Albert Gaines became a living atomic reactor. Nuke generated nuclear energy within his body and through the process of nuclear decay, his output ranged from 32 to 48 megarad. He could mentally manipulate the energy and store it within his body. Nuke could project destructive bursts of radiation from his body, usually using his hands to guide his blasts though he could emit a 360 degree, destructive burst with equal ease. Nuke's radiation levels were strong enough that Nuke could fly through unrevealed ways. His body continuously gave off low level radiation which steadily increased during the last months of his life. He was forced to wear a Tom Thumb-designed containment suit to make sure he didn't contaminate those around him. Nuke was immune to the effects of his own radiation. Emotionally immature and somewhat vicious, Nuke had little qualms about using his potentially lethal powers on people. After inadvertently causing the death of his parents, he lost his grip on reality and went mad.

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 150 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blond

History: (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe II#19 (fb) - BTS) - Al Gaines lived with his parents Gilbert and Florence and his younger brother Scotty in a suburb of Motor City, Wyandota. Gaines was a young worker at a local nuclear power plant where he was accidentally exposed to radioactive waste products. The radiation mutated him, giving the teen super powers. Adopting the superhero identity of "Nuke," Gaines started to fight crime but decided to keep his identity hidden from his family.

(Defenders I#112 (fb) - BTS) - Not too long after starting his career as a superhero, Nuke was invited to join the Squadron Supreme.

(Squadron Supreme I#2 (fb) - BTS) - As part of Nuke's initiation period, Tom Thumb performed several tests to determine the limits of his powers. He was recorded by Tom's computer AIDA to have an output of 32 megarads.

(Squadron Supreme I#3 (fb) - BTS) - Nuke joined Dr. Spectrum for several nights out on the town. At one point, he took Spectrum back to Motor City, proudly showing him around the town before they had drinks at Don's Bar. However, the older hero soon found the youth to be a bit of a nuisance, like a kid brother tagging along, so he quietly stopped inviting him. Over time and unbeknownst to Nuke, his body began to give off increasingly higher doses of radiation. His parents Gilbert and Florence unwittingly received what would eventually turn out to be a fatal dosage and contracted cancer. When they were taken to the hospital for treatment, Albert's younger brother Scott went to stay with their neighbors, the Goldfarbs, while a concerned Nuke continued to serve with the Squadron.

(Defenders I#112-114) - The alien Over-Mind, working with the demonic entity Null the Living Darkness, took control of the minds of Nuke and the Squadron and forced them to help Over-Mind take over their Earth. Only Hyperion managed to remain free and he fled to Earth-616, where he enlisted the help of the Defenders and their allies Vision and the Scarlet Witch to help free his planet. The heroes made their way to the Moonbase that the Squadron had recently constructed for the Over-Mind from which he planned to conquer the cosmos. Nuke was the first to face Hyperion and his allies, carelessly blasting the Vision with his atom-blasts. The synthezoid avoided the lethal barrage by turning intangible. He quickly popped up behind Nuke and knocked him out by disrupting his physical form. Nuke's screams as he fainted drew the attention of the other Squadron members. After a long, convoluted fight, the Squadron was freed from the Over-Mind's influence. Together with the Defenders, Nuke assisted the Squadron in vanquishing Null the Living Darkness with some help from the telepaths known as the Chorus. The inexperienced hero had trouble wrapping his head around the notion of six disembodied telepaths bonding together to form one psychic entity. Hyperion told him to forget about trying to grasp such details and to focus on defeating Null instead.

(Squadron Supreme I#1) - Now free from the Over-Mind's control, the Squadron returned to Earth to find that the world was in shambles, in no small part because of their actions while under the influence. Nuke joined Power Princess, Arcanna and Cap'n Hawk on a fact- finding reconnaissance mission, rendez vousing at Niagara Falls. When they decided to head back, swapping stories of the tragedies they'd all seen, they spotted a group of citizens looting a toppled over food truck. They stopped to intervene, only to hear more sad stories about the lack of food, government and protection. Before they could calm the crowd down, two military trucks arrived and opened fire in spite of Power Princess' pleas for calm. This infuriated the already volatile Nuke, who didn't think twice about blasting the guns from the soldiers' hands, burning them in the process. Proclaiming it was "megarad time!," he told the "turkeys" to scatter, which they did. Power Princess pointed out Nuke's excessive force, the only defense he offered was the fact that "those trigger-happy rednecks got him riled." Nuke and the others returned to the Squadron's temporary mountain headquarters in Northern Moreland. After hearing all the disheartening reports on the state of the planet, Hyperion couldn't help but feel it was their fault, ignoring Nuke's comment that they shouldn't be blamed for things the Over-Mind made them do. The other Squadders didn't agree and felt they needed to help fix the world. Inspired by Power Princess, they concocted the Utopia Program: taking an active role to resolve all the world's problems. Nuke voted in favor of it, and sneered when Nighthawk (US President Kyle Richmond) quit the team in protest of the proposal. Hyperion set the junior Squadder straight, not interested in hearing any disparaging words about Richmond. Planning to launch the Utopia initiative with a televised press conference during which they would unmask, the individual Squadron members were given some downtime to check on their families and prepare them for the changes ahead. Nuke immediately flew home to Motor City, where he visited his parents in the hospital. Seeing how weak they were, Nuke decided not to tell them about his superhero identity, instead claiming he had been away to study for his midterms. He ended his visit with a big hug, unaware of the dangerous radiation he was emitting, and then went back to the roof to cry about seeing his parents so weak. A few days later, he unmasked in Capitol City along with the others. The announcement was seen around the world.

(Squadron Supreme I#2) - With the Utopia Program in its earliest stages, Nuke and the other Squadders regularly went on missions to deal with the most urgent of problems. One day, while out with the Whizzer in Southern Winnebago, Nuke asked to take a break to deal with some personal business. Sensing something was troubling him, Whizzer agreed to let Gaines go. Albert flew up to the hospital to see his parents, who by that time had deteriorated visibly. Feeling their end was near, they finally revealed to their son that their cancer had been caused by radiation poisoning.

(Squadron Supreme I#2 - BTS) - Fearing he was to blame, Nuke stayed out all night and even missed the regular Squadron meeting, though Whizzer was there to excuse him.

(Squadron Supreme I#2) - Nuke returned to the team's headquarters early the next morning to speak with Tom Thumb. He asked the Squadron's resident genius to check whether his energy levels had been increasing. Thumb had Gaines use the Energy Analyzer again, quickly concluding he was now producing 52 percent more radiation than a year before: 48 rads, which was well into toxic levels. This only confirmed Nuke's fears and, as he broke down crying, he told Thumb about his parents' condition, begging the diminutive mastermind to find a cure for cancer. Realizing that this was next to impossible, yet not wanting to break the boy's heart, Thumb promised to do what he could. Overjoyed, Nuke hugged him and left to go about his duties, though he warned Tom there was not much time left.

As time passed, Nuke grew increasingly erratic and unstable. While guarding a convoy of food shipments headed for Cosmopolis he lost control when he tried to disperse an angry, hungry mob by turning himself into a radioactive whirlwind. As the crowds started to panic, Lady Lark and the Golden Archer were forced to take down their teammate before the situation could turn into a deadly stampede. Nuke apologized for his behavior and begged them not to tell Hyperion about this blunder. Later that night, during the daily debriefing, Nuke was overjoyed when Lark and the Archer did indeed keep quiet about the incident. Afterwards, he approached Tom Thumb, eager to find if he'd made any progress with a cure. Thumb took Nuke to his work area where he presented him with the new containment suit he'd whipped up for him to make it safe for Gaines to be around others again. Somewhat disappointed, Nuke put on the suit and let Tom work. When Lady Lark asked him about the change in wardrobe, Albert lied and said he only wore the suit to help Tom test his power levels.

The next morning, Nuke found Tom asleep behind his work station. The emotionally exhausted Thumb apologized to Albert for not being able to find a cure for cancer. Instead of acting in a rational or understanding fashion, Nuke became furious. He claimed that because Thumb had lied to him the blame for his parents' death would be Tom's and that he'd make him pay if they did.

(Squadron Supreme I#3 (fb) - BTS) - Gilbert and Florence Gaines died on the 18th and 21st of June. Albert attended their funerals, ignoring his duties with the Squadron and failing to attend no less than 28 official meetings. He regularly vented his frustrations and grief by blasting the local landscape while he was slowly losing his mental stability. Because the team was so busy with the Utopia Program, they could hardly spare anyone to go look for Nuke. Power Princess eventually volunteered Dr. Spectrum to go look for Nuke, recalling how they used to go out. Spectrum reluctantly accepted the assignment and, thanks to Tom Thumb telling him about Al's ailing parents, started his search at the hospitals. After reaching Motor City and doing some research, Spectrum learned that Al's parents had died recently. Getting their home address from their files, he went to see if his teammate was there. Instead, he found his younger brother Scotty playing in the neighbor's yard. Spectrum revealed his older brother was actually Nuke, which was exciting news to the young boy, who offered to take the hero to Al. Scotty guided him to the cemetery where he found Nuke grieving at his parents' graves.

(Squadron Supreme I#3) - Nuke was in no mood to see Spectrum, ranting and raving about how Thumb had betrayed him and that his fellow Squadders never cared for him anyway. Doctor Spectrum tried to calm him down but his soothing words only angered the power mad teen further. When he lashed out with his atom-blasts, destroying several nearby headstones, Spectrum began to fear for his own safety and that of Scotty, who had become afraid of his brother. Nuke took off, giving Spectrum the opportunity to take Scotty home before using his power gem to track Nuke's radiation trail. When he finally caught up with him, the maddened Albert turned out to be more powerful than Spectrum, whose alien energies were being pushed back by Nuke's radiation. Fearing the fall out from their aerial combat would indirectly irradiate innocent people, Doctor Spectrum sealed Nuke in a force bubble. Beyond reasoning, Nuke furiously tried to blast his way out and while doing so, he burned up all the oxygen inside, suffocating to death in the process. When Spectrum realized what was going on, he tried to resuscitate Al with no luck. Heartbroken, Doctor Spectrum carried the body of Nuke back to Squadron headquarters where he explained to the others what had happened. Power Princess insisted Spectrum was not to blame but the hero felt so responsible for his death that he decided to quit using his powers in any offensive ways altogether.

(Squadron Supreme I#3 - BTS) - Several days after Nuke's death, Doctor Spectrum went to see Scotty to tell him that Albert had died. After learning his older brother had essentially perished by his own hand, the heartbroken Scotty told Spectrum that Nuke wasn't much of a superhero anyway. Doctor Spectrum however, insisted that the things Nuke had done during his time with the Squadron made him proud to have known him. Before he left, he asked Scotty to remember Nuke for all the good he'd done.

Comments: Created by J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks) and Mark Gruenwald (costume design).

Seeing as most of Earth-712's inhabitants are (loosely) based on DC characters, Nuke seems patterned after junior JLA member Firestorm the Nuclear Man. J.M. De Matteis was kind enough to reveal to the Appendix that the late, great Mark Gruenwald had an active hand in the creation of Nuke, who was indeed supposed to be Firestorm's counterpart. Gru even designed the costume and co-plotted Albert's first appearance.

Nuke received profiles in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition I#12 and #19.

Unless otherwise specified, all locations and beings related in this profile refer to Earth/Reality-712 versions.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Nuke should not be confused with:


images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#19, p2, pan1 (main image)
Defenders I#114, p4, pan5 (confused by Chorus)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition I#12, p39, pan3 (first Squadron costume)
Squadron Supreme I#2, p17, pan4 (presented with his new containment suit)
Squadron Supreme I#2, p7, pans 5,6,7 (parents reveal he is killing them)
Squadron Supreme I#3, p21, pan7 (accidentally kills himself)


Appearances:
Defenders I#112 (October, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin, (pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Defenders I#113 (November, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (writer/pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Defenders I#114 (December, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (writer/pencils), Mike Gustovich (inks), Al Milgrom (editor)
Squadron Supreme I#1 (September, 1985) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Bob Hall (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Squadron Supreme I#2 (October, 1985) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Bob Hall (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Squadron Supreme I#3 (November, 1985) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Bob Hall (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)


Last updated: 06/14/15

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