The Ultra-Humanite rescued Ronald Dawes from death row in New York City, where the felon was awaiting execution for the murder of a police officer. Ultra used his scientific skills to give Dawes superhuman strength as well as the ability to fly and project powerful blasts of electromagnetic radiation, powers similar to those possessed by one of Ultra's previous henchman, a reluctant villain named Cyclotron. Rather than name Dawes after Cyclotron, who had betrayed Ultra, he named the crook Chain Reaction.
After Ultra's defeat in New York, Chain Reaction was recruited by Death Spider to be part of his first Enforcers of Injustice group. Death Spider used his own scientific skills to greatly augment Chain Reaction's powers, but Dawes later learned that the increased powers would kill him within a year. After the the defeat of the Enforcers of Injustice, Chain Reaction went back to the Ultra-Humanite and offered him his loyalty in exchange for Ultra saving his life, but Ultra was again defeated and Chain Reaction was imprisoned.
With his year nearly up, a desperate and dying Chain Reaction broke out of Stronghold Penitentiary. He kidnapped reknowned scientist Dr. Leigh Trammel in the hope that she could cure him. Members of the Enforcers of Justice tracked him down after he stole several pieces of medical equipment and the hero Surge was able to talk Chain Reaction into surrendering. Surge promised to make sure that Chain Reaction would get the help he needed, and followed through on that promise by arranging for the villain to be held in the custody of S.T.A.R. Labs where the scientists there could work on a cure. Thanks to the efforts of the scientists, and the friendship and support of Surge, Chain Reaction was cured. Given a second chance at life, Chain Reaction was determined to make ammends for his past crimes. He was pardoned after a stint in the Suicide Squad and is now starting a new life for himself as a free man.
Powers and Abilities:
Chain Reactions' original powers were superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the ability to project beams of energy. After Death Spider's treatment, Chain Reaction's strength increased significantly, as did his resistance to injury. Death Spider also altered Chain Reaction's energy powers so that his energy blasts were far more powerful than before. Chain Reaction can control the nature of his energy blasts varying them from pure radiation which can poison living tissue or disintegrate inanimate matter, to blasts of explosive plasma energy. Chain Reaction can also absorb large amounts of electromagnetic radiation, making him immune to most forms of energy attack.