Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Guang Yap (penciler), Aiken & LaRosa (inkers), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Roxxon develops a new synthetic vibranium on ESU’s campus, attracting the attention of the Kingpin and Ultron. Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Black Panther have also united over concerns about the synthetic vibranium’s instability. Joined by Roxxon employee Sunturion, the heroes face Ultron at ESU. When Ultron betrays Kingpin by hoarding the vibranium samples, Kingpin responds with a sonic frequency that incapacitates him. The unstable vibranium begins to melt all metal in the vicinity, but Sunturion refuses to destroy Roxxon property. Iron Man responds by creating a tunnel to the center of the Earth. As the floor collapses, the vibranium disappears.
The Subplots: None.
Web of Continuity: This is part three of “The Vibranium Vendetta,” a crossover in the 1991 Spider-Man annuals.
*See _________ For Details: Iron Man’s study of the synthetic vibranium was interrupted by Arthur Dearborn, aka Suntrion, in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #11.
Review: The annual mini-crossovers Marvel ran in the early ‘90s probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but I can’t think of too many of them that were particularly good. “The Vibranium Vendetta” does have Spider-Man teaming up with some of the Avengers and facing foes that are a little out of his league, but there doesn’t seem to be much else going for it. In fairness, I haven’t read the other chapters in years, so perhaps Michelinie hashed out some of the ideas he hints at here in the other installments. Aside from the superheroics, the story briefly touches on the influence science can have on economics (synthetic vibranium will cripple Wakanda’s economy, which doesn’t please the Black Panther), and shows the limitations a corporate-sponsored superhero faces, especially when he’s employed by the all-purpose evil corporation, Roxxon. “Briefly” is the operative word, as the plot is mainly concerned with getting the characters in place for the final showdown and finishing up the storyline. If there’s any meat to “The Vibranium Vendetta,” it’s not in the final chapter.
Fast Feud II: Speed Demon’s Revenge
Credits: Tony Isabella (writer), Paris Cullins (penciler), Dave Cooper (inker), Ken Lopez (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)
The Plot: After Speed Demon’s lawsuit against Rocket Racer is dismissed, he targets the hero for revenge. Rocket Racer defeats him in battle, but is concerned by how close he came to killing Speed Demon. Racer declares that he’ll become a better hero.
Web of Continuity: Rocket Racer can now use his rockets to increase the speed of his fists and create a “rocket-punch.” The attack is so brutal, Racer briefly wonders if Speed Demon is still alive.
I Love the (Early) ‘90s: Rocket Racer and Sluggo, his contact with Silver Sable International, stay in contact through a beeper.
*See _________ For Details: Speed Demon filed a lawsuit against Rocket Racer in Marvel Tales #242.
Review: I remember the days of new backup stories in Marvel Tales, but they were usually Fred Hembeck’s “Petey” tales, or short Spider-Ham stories. I never read the Rocket Racer backups, but now that I know one of them involved Speed Demon filing a lawsuit against Racer, I really want to. If Isabella wrote them in the same spirit as this backup, I bet they’re a lot of fun. Aside from the levity, this story also works in a message about true heroism, and builds up Rocket Racer’s character by chronicling his turn from hero/mercenary who needs money for tuition into a more legitimate hero. I’ve mentioned earlier that much of the character work done on Rocket Racer was squandered in subsequent years, which is too bad because stories like this show that he has real potential.
Outlaw Justice! Part Three
Credits: David Michelinie (writer), Alan Kupperberg (artist), Rick Parker (letterer), Ed Lazellari (colorist)
The Plot: Desperate to prove himself, Sandman works undercover to stop political extremist, Boussard. He has to fight Silver Sable’s Outsiders when they arrive to apprehend Boussard, but Sandman breaks cover in time to prevent Boussard’s escape. Impressed, Silver Sable offers Sandman a contract.
Review: This backup is mostly forgettable, although it does feature the oddest artwork I’ve ever seen from Alan Kupperberg. On almost every panel, Silver Sable looks like she’s a gummy version of herself. No shadows stick to her, she barely has detail lines, and her body is eerily flat. Strange. Anyway, this is the conclusion of a three-part backup series, which mainly existed to pay off a Sandman subplot from Amazing Spider-Man. Michelinie was teasing the idea that after a misunderstanding with the Avengers, Sandman would be lured back into a life of crime. In the final installment, we learn that everything’s okay and he’s firmly working with the heroes again. That is, until John Byrne informs us that Sandman was faking his reformation, even in his own thoughts, all along. Retro fever strikes again.