Rocket Racer News Update June 2024

Rocket Racer has made another appearance! It’s even more than a single panel! In issue three of a currently-running miniseries of Jackpot and Black Cat, Bob gets into a fight with not one but two ex-girlfriends of his former friend Spider-Man.

I had not been reading this book until Bob’s appearance was brought to my attention, so I don’t have all the information needed. I’m going to have to wait until the story ends and then read the whole thing, so I will likely be back with a further update, but here’s what can I glean without knowledge of the overall story?

Well, Bob is back to just doing villain-for-hire gigs. That’s certainly in keeping with his abysmal downfall since his days with Silver Sable International. He’s always just trying to scrape by, and he’s proven his willingness to do crime more than once. His hair is not up to his usual finely-kept standards, another potential sign of money troubles. He’s currently using a wheel-less board (or, hopefully, one with retractable wheels). He gets his ass kicked pretty easily. Overall, it’s pretty in keeping with Bob’s character, so I can have no real complaints. I rate this a worthy Rocket Racer appearance so far.

Still, I can’t deny that this is a clear example of what I call “stickerbooking” a character. In superhero comics, where there are simply too many heroes and villains for any given creator to care about in detail, they get reduced to names, costumes, and sets of powers.Creators want to use some villains for a fight scene so they look at those names, costumes, and powers, and just like picking which sticker they want to put on their page, they pick one and stick it in their story. Their histories and personalities are unimportant. Even some of my favourite writers are guilty of it, and the only people who actually care are the obsessed fans. There is no denying I am Rocket Racer’s biggest obsessed fan. But here’s the thing: stickerbooking has happened to much bigger characters! I’ve seen it done to MODOK, to Taskmaster, and to Doctor Octopus just to name a few. So, sure, I’d love it if we got stories that actually treated Bob as a person, if some creators just like to use him as a colourful sticker now and then, I’ll have to be happy with that.

Just so long as none of them mess it up too much.

(Not Rocket Racer-related Thought: I had very little interest in MJ’s career as a superhero because I do think it says something how the genre holds “normal” people in contempt when any long-time supporting cast member becomes a hero or villain as if it makes them matter more now. But even aside from that I’m bothered by the identity being called Jackpot. I’m sure there’s some dumb in-story reason, but it seems so dumb to me that MJ based her superhero identity on that thing she said to her ex in her first appearance. She’s like “That was a good line, I should call myself that and fight crime or whatever.” It’s the sort of callback reference that takes the verisimilitude of the story down a peg for me. But whatever, it’s probably better than the Spider-Man games that basically just turned MJ into Lois Lane for some reason.)