Rocket Racer of Earth-602636

There’s not a whole lot to report about this particular alternate universe version of Bob. He gets maybe ten panels in an issue of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, but hey, that’s more than the main version of Bob gets in some years. I can work with it.

He’s got the basic outfit and board that makes a Rocket Racer (though it is noteworthy that it is a wheel-less model of the board) and uses it to rob folks until Spider-Man stops him. Not much else to say about the events we witness.

I’ll note this: He’s not picking out the rich or the corporate as targets in particular, he’s just robbing people on the street who happen to have a purse or something else that he can easily grab. He also isn’t seen shooting mini-rockets and he definitely doesn’t have the magnetic clams that connect his feet to his board, because Spider-Man defeats him just by pulling him off the board with a web. I have to assume, then, that this is very early in this Bob’s career and he’s just getting started. If anything differentiates this Rocket Racer from others we’ve seen, it’s that’s he’s lower stakes. Smaller scale weaponry and pettier crimes.

Rick Remender’s Rocket Racer Pitch

I don’t have a lot of information about this beyond than what I’ve gleaned through Google searches over the years, but I’m still gonna be able to wring a post from it. It seems that around 2005, writer Rick Remender and artist Tony Moore sold Marvel on a pitch for a Rocket Racer series. This is, as far as I am aware, the closest that Bob has ever come to having his own book. As someone who wants so badly to someday write a Rocket Racer book someday, I am required to learn more and to opine, even if that series never actually came to be.

The most informative things I’ve found so far are the image to the right (the original source of which can be reached by clicking it) and the following paragraph of Remender’s thoughts (which comes from this interview.

“Because for me, at the time when I was reading comics in the mid-80s, the only skateboarding character was Rocket Racer and he was still on a banana board and he was like a Fat Albert caricature with a big ol’ headset. I remember thinking that he was created by a bunch of old men that don’t understand anything. Rocket Racer should be cool and speak to the scene. In fact, Khary Randolph and Tony Moore and I, that was the first thing we tried to get through at Marvel in like 2005. To redo Rocket Racer and make him a legitimate skate punk.”

Clearly Remender saw Bob as a representative of “skate punk” culture and was sad that he was such a loser. He wanted Rocket Racer to be “cool”. I can understand wanting that (although realistically I see Bob as a representative of “losers” everywhere and value that), though I think it depends on what counts as “cool”. I’ve said before that I think Bob got into his Rocket Racer career as a form of lashing out against the rich, and I also think that the reason he’s had trouble staying on the so-called “hero” side of things is because he craves something more groundbreaking than the standard superhero protection of the status quo. Bob is, I agree with this pitch, quite punk. But you can be punk without being cool.

But then there’s the image, which shows the kind of “cool” they’re going for. Completely black and white? What is that? Is this like when video games have to be grey and brown because any colour is “childish” kids stuff? I’ve found that attitude to be most common in people who seem to me desperate to be seen as “grown ups” and I find that the most childish of attitudes. In some other interview I found, Remender likened his take on Bob to the lead singer of the Bad Brains and, I’ve gotta say, the Bad Brains album cover with which I was most familiar was their 1996 one shown on this page and that thing is exactly the kind of bright yellow and red I expect in a Rocket Racer design. I simply can not get behind the kind of thinking that says bright colours are bad. The helmet and protective gear looking more “realistic” or grounded I could probably accept, although personally I prefer my Rocket Racer to be nearing cyberpunk in his style. But a lack of colour is unacceptable. Also, the image suggests that Bob would be working with Tony Stark and that’s not punk. That guy is The Man and if anything Bob should be railing against him (though admittedly I’m not sure Bob realizes that yet).

So, what if this series had actually been made? Would I have read it? Hell yes. This would’ve been right after the Zeb Wells stories where Bob got out of jail and was flirting with villainy but still wanted to be good. T’was an ideal time for him to go fully punk. 2005 was also well before I realized that I think Bob should be Asexual, so even though the series probably wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have cared yet. And maybe if it had happened we’d have a Rocket Racer who appeared more than one panel at a time these days. Or, equally possible, maybe we’d have had a Rocket Racer who got killed in Civil War instead of Bill Foster. We’ll never know.

Rocket Racer News Update October 2023

It’s that rare time once again when I get to announce that Rocket Racer has appeared in a real Marvel Product again. This time it is even MORE minor than most of these appearances, if you can believe it. This time, Rocket Racer appeared in the video game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2:

Of course, that game isn’t set in the main Marvel Universe, so this would be more of an Alternate Universe Rocket Racer. And also, it isn’t even the Rocket Racer as a person, it is just an amusement park ride you can see at Coney Island that is named “Rocket Racer” as an allusion to the character. But hey, at least that’s more than nothing. That is technically more than nothing.

I suppose I actually do have other news: I’ve been writing for the Marvel Appendix again, with a specific focus on Rocket Racer-related characters. I had already done the actual profile on Bob for that site, which I recently brought up to date, but I’ve also started doing characters like the Questionable Canonicity Bunch of The Vile Tapeworm, The Pink Sphinx, and She-Man-Thing, and a robot that Bob fought one time called C.I.T.Y. Over the next year or so, I intend to just exhaustively cover all the characters that are in Bob’s sphere and prove,even though nobody has ever challenged me, that I think about Rocket Racer more than anybody else.

The Rocket Ratser

You know Spider-Ham, right? Somehow we’ve become a world where I can reasonably expect that casual audiences might know Spider-Ham and that is not weird. Anyway, you know how Spider-Ham is from an alternate universe of cartoon animal people? Well, they’ve got a Rocket Racer equivalent over there don’t ya know? Let’s take another look Into The Rocketverse and see what he’s all about.

So we know this much: he’s a rat. That is all. And this is literally all we get to see of the guy. in this story Spider-Ham is all powered up and goes on a rampage of beating up his foes and the Rocket Ratser is one of them. We have to assume that, by the naming conventions of that universe, his real name is like Robert Furrell or something. And if the Ratser is still considered a “supervillain” at this point, we have to assume that either he hasn’t the nuances of his human alternate, or Spider-Ham in this story is just being pretty indiscriminate about whom he beats up. Honestly, either is likely.

For the record some of Bob’s known affiliations are also glimpsed. The Tinkerer equivalent is the Stinkerer, a skunk. Sandman is Sandham, presumably a pig. The Prowler is the Prowler, an owl. And the Will-o’-the-Wisp is still called that and is just seemingly vapour. Easy enough.

Anyway, let’s stick him in a movie and call it a day.

Was Rocket Racer in the Contest of Champions?

One of the Rocket Racer’s most prominent appearances in the last decade was in a backup story attempting to retroactively insert the character Deadpool into the Marvel Super Heroes Contest of Champions story, with intended comedic intent. When Deadpool became popular for being this irreverent naughty super-character, it was very popular to insert him places so he could mock things. But if the story was done purely for comic effect, does it matter to the Rocket Racer’s history? Well, I need to find out, because Rocket Racer is in this story, but not in the actual Contest of Champions story. So where is the truth?

Well, first we should take a look at the characters who have been retconned into the Contest of Champions to see if they could have canonically been there. Here’s the main characters:

Rocket Racer: Obviously we start with the most important one. Contest of Champions occurred in 1982, a point in Rocket Racer’s history that is largely unrevealed. His haircut is a flat top like he would go on to sport in his ’90s appearances, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have had that for a while back then. His gear looks a little different, but he’s always tinkering with that. Would he, at that point in his career, have qualified to be considered a “superhero” by these cosmic entities? Well, if they think about him the way I do then obviously, yes, he would. Overall, I see nothing that prevents Bob from having been there in canon.

Deadpool: Back when I strongly cared about Deadpool, I put a lot of thought into his chronology. Could he have been present in a comic set in 1982. Well, it’s complicated, but yeah. I don’t need to get into that here, but even before it came temporarily de rigueur to retcon Deadpool into the history of the Marvel Universe, I could have made a case for it. Anyway, this story is about him being there, so it’s not even worth debating. What is worth considering is whether he’d have been summoned among all the other heroes, given his less-than-heroic nature. Here’s the thing that explains both that and why it isn’t utterly impossible that these cosmic forces would bother to listen to Deadpool at all: Deadpool has a weird connection with the living concept of Death, this is established Deadpool lore, and one of the cosmic entities doing this Contest is Death herself. Certainly that gives us a way to pave over any problems here and lets me say that this could be canon.

Frog-Man: The timing seems to just barely work out for Frog-Man to have made his first appearance and then gotten scooped up into the Contest of Champions. The Frog-Man we see in this story is never unmasked and never says anything (except, for some reason “ribbit” once), but maybe young newbie hero Eugene is just nervous about being in a big superhero event all of a sudden. That said, his personality doesn’t really shine through here. Costume details are incorrect (most notably the boots) but I would accept either artistic error or maybe he just was trying some different things early on and that just happened to be what he was wearing when he got summoned to the Contest (his eye colour is correct, oddly). But here’s another theory: what if this isn’t Eugene? This guy is not as large as Eugene for one thing. What if this is his father, trying on the uniform again for the first time in a long time and getting summoned to this thing. Would the cosmic entities have made that mistake? I don’t know, but I like the idea that Vinnie got to have a weird adventure one time. Either way, I judge that there’s nothing here that can’t be canon.

Howard the Duck: The Contest of Champions is well after he first appeared and actually falls into a gap after the cancellation of his book and his more modern returns. He’s wearing pants and this is after he started wearing pants. Would the cosmic entities have considered him a “super hero” worthy enough to be summoned to this contest (even Howard questions that within the story), but he has fought villains and teamed up with other heroes and stuff. If the Hulk counts, why not Howard? I see nothing here that can’t be canon.

Doop: Doop would not make his first appearance for almost two decades after the Contest of Champions. But still, when he did finally appear, he was given one of those mysteries origins that stretches way back. The details aren’t known, but he probably dates back to the Cold War, so Marvel’s sliding timescale or not, he’d be around in the era of Contest of Champions. Here’s the one thing I noticed: He’s got the “X” insignia on his belly. If this appearance is way before he was in X-Force or X-Statix, why would he have that, right? So I checked out the story that the Internet thinks may be his earliest chronological appearance (aside from this one) and it was in “I (Heart) Marvel: My Mutant Heart” to see if it could help me. It doesn’t. Somehow that story manages to give us no clear look at Doop’s belly. I don’t see any sign that the X is there, but I also can’t confirm it isn’t. Is the X just a natural thing on Doop (well, as natural as anything about Doop could be)? I simply have no way of knowing. So either that or artistic error means I see nothing here that means this can’t be canon.

So that’s our main cast. I’m willing to say all of that works.

But what about all the characters in the background? Well, yes, this is where PDR find lots of continuity errors.

  • First, there’s some characters who ought not to even be there. Rocket Raccoon and Groot for example, and with both appearing as they would in the modern comics rather than they would have in 1982. But those two specifically I can write off. They appear in a panel that kind of looks like the character selection screen for a fighting game and the scene also includes Dr. Doom. Doom definitely should not be at the Contest of Champions. If he had been summoned there, he would have made it known. Doom is not one to stand at the back of the crowd. So, if Doom wasn’t there, I say we can write off all the Select Screen characters who don’t appear in the actual story, including Rocket Raccoon and Groot. I write it off, I say!
  • What else? Well, Ares, the god of war is there for some reason, and he’s in the costume he wore in the then-modern era. The cosmic forces pulled a handful of gods into this thing, so gods can apparently count as superheroes. But Ares? I thought he was mostly treated as a villain back in those days. But then, I’m not overly familiar with that side of the Marvel Universe. Looking at the comics that he appeared in on either side of the Contest, it seems like he may not have been actively supervillaining, just hanging out among the Olympian god. Maybe that counts? The costume still seems wrong.
  • And speaking of incorrect costumes: Storm is shown in the background with her iconic mohawk look, but in the actual Contest of Champions book, she had a different look. And here’s the thing: one the “Select Screen” image she has the look she’s supposed to have! That’s frustrating. So even within this story Storm’s costume is inconsistent, and the correct one is the one I wrote off.
  • And then there’s Shamrock, a character who first appeared in the Contest of Champions. It makes sense that she’d show up in the background for this story. What doesn’t make sense is that they’d have her in a costume that isn’t the one she wore in Contest of Champions. Someone gave this artist a reference for Shamrock that WAS NOT the Contest of Champions book they were specifically aiming to imitate. It makes no sense.
  • Also, the Hulk’s pants in this are ripped shorter than they are in Contest of Champions. Look, I’ll allow it. He maybe ripped the pants some more. Hulk wasn’t chosen to fight in the Contest. Probably got bored..

I could go on, but I’m reaching even my limits here. All the main characters of the story could have conceivably been at the Contest of Champions, and the background crowd shots are full of errors we’d have to write off as artistic license or something. So have I answered anything? Not really. Whether the story is in canon or not is up to the owners and creators of the Marvel Universe and, frankly, I don’t think any of them care about the matter.

But this is all about the Rocket Racer and nobody cares more about him than I do. So do I think he was at the Contest of Champions? Well I’ll say this: If the cosmic forces came along and brought all the superheroes of Earth to their game and they didn’t bring Bob there, then they did it wrong.