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Remember to Forget – How Civil War Gave Us One of the All-Time Worst Superheroes

by  in Comic News Comment
Remember to Forget – How Civil War Gave Us One of the All-Time Worst Superheroes

In this series we spotlight comic book stories that I wish we could just forget. Here is an archive of past installments.

Today we look at the bizarre devolution of Speedball into Penance during Civil War…

In Civil War #1 (by Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines), the New Warriors were fighting Nitro when he exploded, killing hundreds of people (including most of the New Warriors)…

However, as we see in Civil War: Frontline #1 (by Paul Jenkins and Steve Lieber), one of the New Warriors, Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin survived, although the explosion sendt him flying miles and miles away, ultimately landing somewhere in upstate New York, with his powers now sort of shorted out…

He is in a coma, but when he wakes up, he is given some bad news (the whole “I hope you don’t have an attachment to the number four” is an odd line, no?)…

In the next issue, the government is holding him as an “unregistered combatant,” which really doesn’t make sense since the Superhuman Registration Act wasn’t passed when Baldwin was arrested and as far as anyone knew at the time, Robbie did not have his powers anymore, soooo….

But anyhow, they continue to try to get him to sign a confession, hoping he’ll essentially get the confession beaten out of him…

Robbie is adamant that he is not guilty.

This continues through the third issue, as Robbie rails against the system and refuses to accept guilt. Although, he is also not exhibiting any remorse, either, and clearly what Jenkins is going for here is that Robbie is just repressing it all. It comes up when his mother visits in #4, how he won’t even show any remorse…

Robbie is then incarcerated in the Negative Zone in the giant prison that Mister Fantastic and Iron Man built there. Mister Fantastic visits and offers Robbie a chance to testify in front of Congress. On the way there, though, he is shot….

And yes, this scene was based on the photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Is that tacky? Probably. But hey, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

While being transported to the hospital, Robbie’s powers sort of mutate and he kind of has a mini-explosion, leading to the ambulance getting into an accident. Robbie then sort of explodes again, and the next issue, Reed Richards explains that Robbie’s powers have mutated, but Maria Hill doesn’t particularly care…

Back in prison, another criminal tries to take Robbie hostage to break out of prison, but Robbie surprises him…

He ends the prison break and then makes a startling announcement…

Okay, go to the next page to meet Penance!

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