I feel like it is important to note that Bob Farrell, the Rocket Racer, is at least as old as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, if not a year or two older. The only time we’re given an exact age is Spectacular Spider-Man #104, in which a newspaper article notes that Bob is twenty-three years old. This is in an era when Peter was in university, and so probably only around twenty-one himself.
But some of the stories that came after that had a tendency to act as if he were a teenager. When they told the story about Bob going to university, they felt the need to include a line about him passing a high-school equivalency test first, forgetting that he was already an adult high school graduate when he first appeared. When he tried to register with the government as a superhero, they stuck him in the “Avengers Academy” for training alongside a bunch of teenagers. And later, when one of those same teenagers tried to gather a bunch of other young heroes to fight a threat that could control adults, they included Bob on a list of potential recruits.
It’s clear that people, both inside and outside the Marvel Universe, think of the Rocket Racer as if he were a teen.
There’s something to be said about the way society treats Black men simultaneously as naive children when it wants to and other times as dangerous adults, but I don’t think that even I can say that’s what’s been happening in Rocket Racer stories. I really just think that people have an understandable tendency to assume the skateboard-themed character is a teenager. If I were to start telling someone about a skateboard-themed character from superhero comics, I’m confident most would assume “teenager” until told otherwise. And, indeed, the idea that he’s got an embarrassingly “childish” style is one source of Bob’s self-esteem issues.
I don’t have much of a deeper thought behind this post. I’d just like for writers to remember Bob’s correct age when they write him. For posterity I must note: Bob’s appearance on the 90s Spider-Man animated show did indeed treat him as a teen. Perhaps that’s correct way to have taken the Rocket Racer, but I think his adult failures in the real Marvel Universe make him a more compelling character.