How Guardians of the Galaxy’s Grossest Enemy Twisted Spider-Man’s Legacy

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Today, we look at the bizarre connection between Spider-Man and the futuristic Guardians of the Galaxy villain, Ripjak.

In Remember to Forget, we spotlight comic book stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all, so you’re stuck in the same boat as me!

In case you are unfamiliar with them, decades before the Guardians of the Galaxy became a group of intergalactic heroes in the present day Marvel Universe, they were first a group of intergalactic heroes set in an alternate future of the Marvel Universe. In their reality, Earth colonized the other planets in the Milky Way following a long and devastating invasion of Earth by the Martians. Earth was still able to colonize post-Martian invasion, but things got much worse when the Badoon decided to attack. The Badoon slaughtered so many people that there were only a handful of survivors period amongst the colonies. Luckily, the survivors (Charlie-27, Martinex and Yondu, who was actually from a whole other planet) banded together with a powerful telekinetic astronaut known as Vance Astro (Astro had been sent in a suspended animation spaceship and so he was asleep through all of this). So the survivors formed the Guardians of the Galaxy and tried to bring down the Badoon. They eventually succeeded and then decided to just travel the galaxy, doing good wherever they could. Along the way, they added new members like an Inhuman, Talon, who had been studying under the then-current Sorcerer Supreme, and a former villain (and briefly member of the Avengers) named Yellowjacket, who had stowed away with the group during one of their many visits to the 20th Century (one of their visits was the inspiration for the 21st Century Guardians to call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy).

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One clever bit is how Guardians of the Galaxy slowly introduced Ripjak, by having him first referenced in Guardians of the Galaxy #49 (by Michael Gallagher, Kevin West and Steve Montano), by a couple of guys looking to find the mass murderer known as Ripjak…

Then, in a storyline from Guardians of the Galaxy #51-53, Charlie-27 of the Guardians of the Galaxy was falsely arrested under suspicion of being Ripjak himself, so the Guardians had to free their teammate and clear his name, which sent them on a journey to look for the REAL Ripjak.

As a quick aside, the name Ripjak is terrible. It’s an obvious reference to Jack the Ripper, but done 1990s style. It’s really not a good idea.

Anyhow, after the Martians were driven out of Earth, they quarantined on their own planet where they all died of a plague. The Guardians broke the quarantine to go look for Ripjak on Mars in Guardians of the Galaxy #54 (by Gallagher, Scot Eaton, Keith Aiken, Jim Amash and Mike Barreiro). Yellowjacket has a hard time learning about the terrible things that happened in the future of her world…

While on Mars, they visit a war museum where the Martians had displayed their trophies from the war with Earth, which sadly means lots of superhero costumes…

They had a very special place in the museum for Spider-Man, who turned out to be the last surviving hero in the battle with the Martians, and as such, they held him in very high esteem…

SO high that they kept his BODY!

And then, Ripjak, who had been spying on them, attacks and oh man, the costume design for Ripjak is straight out of the worst excesses of the 1990s…

It’s almost like Eaton even adapted his art style to make it seem like a heavily 1990s, early Image Comics influence to it. Perhaps it was a sort of ironic joke?

In the next issue (with West and Mntano back on art duties), Ripjak quickly cuts through the Guardians…

and he then escapes to seemingly commit some more mass murder…

With him gone, the other Guardians find their knocked out teammates (a subplot during all of this is that Talon keeps pushing the others to replace Vance Astro as leader. Astro, by the way, had taken the name Major Victory a while back) and find a file with Ripjak’s biographical information on it…

We learn that he was a preeminent Martian scientist who was looking for a cure for the Martian plague and decided to experiment on Spider-Man’s body…

Using Peter Parker’s blood, Ripjak was able to make it so that he was the first superhuman Martian and also the only Martian to survive the plague…

As it turned out, the biographical information was a trap. It set off a bomb designed to kill anyone who wanted to find out more about him. The Guardians luckily had teleportation technology.

However, meanwhile, Ripjak then wiped out a whole other planet at the end of the issue…

The Guardians track Ripjak to another planet in the next issue….

He is more than holding his own, but luckily for Yellowjacket, he missed that she stowed away on his armor and she was able to get a good blast close up on him…

However, we then discover a shocking twist!

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Ripjak was actually on this planet to try to SAVE its population!

Yes, as it turned out, all of these planets that Ripjak destroyed were planets that were all about to die from the same plague that the Martians died from, and it was all caused by one being…

An entity known as Bubonicus! Because….well, why not?

The Guardians had been recently warned about Bubonicus, who looks like a human-sized Celestial…

So Vance decides to team up with Ripjak against Bubonicus, despite the other members of the Guardians not being fans of working with a mass murderer….

In the end, Bubonicus escapes Ripjak’s attempts to kill him and Vance is knocked out in the fight…

When he wakes up, they’re BOTH gone and that’s just it for the storyline. The series was about to be canceled and Gallagher just dropped the Ripjak/Bubonicus stuff to do one last storyline where the team breaks up and has solo adventures but gets back together in a more or less classic version of the team’s lineup in the final issue.

This really didn’t seem like a good use of the Spider-Man connection.

If you have a suggestion for another comic book plot that is probably best forgotten (but it is fun to revel in how much we can’t help but still remember it), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com

KEEP READING: See How Disturbing The 1968 Batman/Lois Lane/Superman Love Triangle Was

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