Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Shaken


Name This Marvel Villain??

For a character who was meant to shake things up a little and who certainly doesn't lack for power, you may find Vibro to be rather disappointing and two-dimensional as a credible (or memorable) villain. It should also tell you something that he rated an entry in the "Iron Man's Lamest Foes" section of the 1996 one-shot Iron Man: The Legend. It's all the more surprising, then, how often Vibro has been dusted off and reused in stories over the years. Mentally unhinged and obviously able to wreak havoc without warning, he's one of the many Marvel villains who can be inserted into a storyline without too much trouble and prove to be just enough of a threat to force the story's hero(es) to deal with him.  And given the nature and origin of his power, it stands to reason that his stomping grounds normally wind up being in various parts of California, though not necessarily in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault.

Vibro came into being following an accident that engulfed seismologist Alton Vibereaux, who had the misfortune of crossing paths with surveyor Franklin Fortney while seeking the means to test new equipment designed to prevent earthquakes. Fortney is a self-centered s.o.b. who only cares about his bottom line, so the fact that Vibereaux had concerns about using his equipment in an area prone to dangerous tremors didn't affect Fortney's directive to Vibereaux to finish the job he was being paid to do; on the other hand, one could argue that Vibereaux couldn't have asked for better conditions in which to test his machine. But regardless of whoever would be to blame if something went wrong, there's no denying that this scene is a recipe for disaster.

Vibereaux doesn't turn up again until days later, when Fortney makes the news as a hostage on an off-shore oil rig that's been seized by terrorists--and it becomes clear who the man now calling himself "Vibro" blames for the experience that changed him into something more, or less, than human.

Iron Man, who at this point in time is Jim Rhodes and not Tony Stark, is instrumental in saving the hostages--but also Fortney in particular, once Vibro appears and uses his power to destroy the platform. The fact that Iron Man has rescued Fortney makes Iron Man, in Vibro's mind, complicit in Fortney's continued survival, and the two inevitably clash, with Rhodey only pulling out a win by surprising Vibro with a punch to the jaw. Unfortunately, Rhodey makes the mistake of dropping off this villain with officials in a small-town police department, staffed by deputies who probably never saw a super-villain before--and, enraged by further news reports of Fortney's association with Iron Man, Vibro easily breaks out and attacks another small town about sixty miles outside of Los Angeles, threatening to destroy it if both Fortney and Iron Man fail to surrender themselves to him.

Fortney's response, as you might imagine, is short and not at all sweet:

As for Iron Man, Rhodey finds going up against this villain a little tougher than before.

But thanks to Rhodey's start-up business partners (including Stark), who have researched both Vibereaux and Vibro, it's deduced that the strength of Vibro's power depends on his proximity to the San Andreas fault. And so Iron Man's next tactic is focused on luring Vibro to a more distant location that removes that advantage.

Vibro would go on to menace Iron Man repeatedly (either in his own mag or as part of the West Coast Avengers), as well as other heroes--his vulnerability at being removed from proximity to the fault eventually discarded, presumably to make him a more mobile villain who had to be defeated by other means. But in spite of his other appearances, his status as one of Iron Man's lamest villains remains secure.


Justin said...

I first encountered Vibro in Captain America 340 (April 1988), when he was one of the escapees from the Vault.

It took Nomad one whole page to "defeat" him. (Actually, Vibro just did something stupid and fell down the side of a mountain.)

Comicsfan said...

Justin, yes, a little too much vibrating in that instance!

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