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Vibranium
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceDaredevil #13 (February 1966)
Created byStan Lee
John Romita Sr.
In story information
TypeMetal
Element of stories featuringBlack Panther
Captain America

Vibranium (/vˈbrniəm/) is a fictional metal appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, noted for its extraordinary abilities to absorb, store, and release large amounts of kinetic energy. Mined only in the kingdom of Wakanda, the metal is associated with the character Black Panther, who wears a suit of vibranium, and Captain America, who bears a vibranium/steel alloy shield. An alternate form of the material, known as Antarctic Vibranium, or Anti-Metal, has appeared in the Savage Land.

Publication history

Vibranium first appeared in Daredevil #13 (February 1966), which was written by Stan Lee and illustrated by John Romita. Here, vibranium was seen to be an unusual metallic element with decidedly strange properties. Since that point in Marvel Comics continuity, it has been established that there are a few variations of this element which can be found in isolated regions all around the world. The variation first introduced in Daredevil #13 eventually became known as Anti-Metal. This variation is different in that it can cut through any known metal. In the Marvel Universe, Anti-Metal can traditionally be found only in Antarctica. Later in Fantastic Four #53 (August 1966), by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, a new variation of vibranium was introduced in the isolated nation of Wakanda. This variation had the unique attribute of being able to absorb sound. This is the variation which is most often identified in continuity as simply "vibranium".

Fictional history

In the Marvel Universe, vibranium was first deposited on Earth by a meteorite 10,000 years ago. In the comics, the first documented discovery of vibranium was during a human expedition to Antarctica. This particular isotope of vibranium was called "Anti-Metal" due to its property of dissolving other metals.[1]

In the comics, a different variety of vibranium found in Wakanda absorbs sound waves and other vibrations, including kinetic energy. Absorbing sound waves, vibrations, and kinetic energy makes this metal stronger. To protect this resource, Wakandans concealed their country from the outside world. Wakandan king T'Chaka funded his country's education by occasionally selling off minuscule quantities of the metal. As a result, Wakanda is one of the world's most technologically advanced nations.[2]

During the early 1940s, a small amount of Wakandan vibranium came into the possession of the scientist Myron MacLain. He tried to combine vibranium with iron to form a new tank armor, but was unable to fuse the elements. One morning, he found that the two materials had bonded on their own in an unknown manner. The ultra-resilient alloy was used to create Captain America's shield. MacLain worked for decades (without success) to duplicate the accident. However, during an experiment in the 1960s, he developed the virtually indestructible metal adamantium.[volume & issue needed]

When T'Challa became the king of Wakanda, he strove to end his country's isolation from the rest of the world. Making the existence of vibranium known to the outside world around the mid-1980s, he sold small quantities of it to foreigners who, he believed, would not use it to harmful ends. T'Challa used the profits to enrich and modernize his nation.[3]

Over the years, many have tried to obtain or affect the mound of vibranium at Wakanda, but for the most part Wakanda has kept it safe, and become quite powerful in the process.

During the Secret Invasion of Earth, the Skrulls assumed the identity of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and enslaved natives of the Savage Land to mine Anti-Metal.[4] They also invaded Wakanda.[5] The Wakandans successfully repelled the attack.[6]

When Wakanda was politically overtaken by the xenophobic Desturi, they granted Doctor Doom access to the country's vibranium vaults. Fearing Doom would use it to amplify his mystical energies, T'Challa activated a failsafe he had developed that rendered all processed vibranium inert.[7]

The rumors about its alien origin had later been proven true, as while most of earth's vibranium had been all but liquidated, certain planetary systems carry an ample supply of the element deep within certain extraterrestrial biospheres, as was the case with a refugee planet that the Spartax Empire tried reclaiming during Captain Marvel's space travels.[8] In the wake of the continuity-wide spanning reboot of the Marvel multiverse chronicled in Secret Wars: Battleworld, vibranium's abundance in Wakanda and beyond has re-flourished to sizable quantities, and the mutant criminal Vanisher was absconding and selling Wakandan vibranium on the black market in New York City.[9]

When a small sub-molecular imperfection was introduced into Captain America's shield, each impact over the years spread to neighboring molecules. It grew until the molecular bonds of the shield were completely broken down, shattering the shield. The shattering effect continued to spread to other vibranium, unconnected to the shield. This created a vibranium "cancer", a shock wave propagating throughout the world. It violently detonated any vibranium it found, from mineral deposits to components of ships or equipment. The shock wave was traveling to the "Great Vibranium Mound" in Wakanda, where the resulting explosion could destroy the world. With the unwitting aid of the villain Klaw, Captain America was able to stop the cancer and restore his shield.[10]

Properties and known abilities

In the Marvel Comics Universe, vibranium is a rare metallic substance of extraterrestrial origin.[11] It exists in many forms:

Wakandan variety

Wakandan Vibranium is the most common variety, and is often referred to simply as "vibranium". It is a rare substance native only to the small fictional African nation of Wakanda.[12]

The Wakandan isotope possesses the ability to absorb all vibrations in the vicinity as well as kinetic energy directed at it.[13] The energy absorbed is stored within the bonds between the molecules that make up the substance. As a result, kinetic energy is dissipated within the bonds instead. There are limits to the capacity of the energy that can be stored, and although the exact limitations are not yet known, there have been a few examples. One such instance was when the Roxxon Energy Corporation discovered that a small island in the South Atlantic had a foundation composed of vibranium. Due to this, Roxxon found it necessary to destroy the island with explosives. Unable to absorb the force of the explosions, the vibranium was destroyed, but it succeeded in entirely absorbing the sound made by the explosion, preventing damage to the surrounding area.[14]

This variety of vibranium is also a powerful mutagen.[2] Vibranium exposure led to the mutation of many Wakandan natives.[volume & issue needed] Its radiation has also permeated much of Wakanda's flora and fauna, including the Heart-Shaped Herb eaten by members of the Black Panther Tribe and the flesh of the White Gorilla eaten by the members of the White Gorilla Tribe. Both give superhuman abilities to whoever eats them.[volume & issue needed]

It is also believed to dramatically enhance mystical energies.[15]

Antarctic variety

Better known as Anti-Metal, this isotope is native to the Savage Land. The variation produces vibrations of a specific wavelength that break down the molecular bonds in other metals, causing them to liquefy. It was first discovered by the famous explorer named Robert Plunder; the father of Kevin and Parnival Plunder during his initial jaunt in the primordial environment untouched by time.[16]

His more villainous son, who went on to become The Plunderer, would seek to find his father, who had dubbed the Plunder Stone and all recorded knowledge of the family relic only accessible through his inherited medallion fashioned from the stone, to pillage and terrorize the world by liquidating all armaments used against him.[17] Wakandan vibranium is able to become an artificial and unstable form of the Anti-Metal variety of vibranium through certain particle bombardments on it. If huge quantities of Anti-Metal are gathered together, the vibrations increase exponentially.[18] One such case occurred with the most stable reactionary transformation baryon beam bombardment.[19]

Much like natural Wakandan vibranium, Antarctic vibranium can cause human mutations. One person who donned an Anti-Metal full body suit for protection against Moon Knight and his arsenal began to emit the same metal-melting radiation he had intended to weaponize.[20]

Artificial variety

There are at least two forms of man made vibranium created outside of Wakanda through various means. The first variant is called NuForm which featured in the Vibranium Vendetta event of Marvel Comics imprint, created by the Roxxon Corporation for unknown reasons,[21] It was an alchemic blend made through the combination of organic and mineral elements, the properties of this Vibranium brand mimicked natural vibranium but had the tendency to degrade into Antarctic vibranium unless tempered through use of microwave bombardment, and even then that was only a temporary solution.

The second is a particularly dangerous artificial brand created at Horizon Labs by Professor Sajani Jaffrey called Reverbium.[22]

Unlike standard vibranium, this faux material rapidly amplifies and projects sound and vibratory energy in pulse waves which would only strengthen over time before violently detonating. Max Modell, head scientist of Horizon at the time, ordered its immediate dissolution given how dangerous it was but Sajani held on to some of it without her team's knowledge.[23] Reverbium would turn up again in the hands of A.I.M Scientists under the influence of Klaw, who had used it in a new scheme against Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda; the faux vibranium also had the effect of enhancing his sonic powers to unknown degrees.[24]

Living variety

Famed Wakandan scientist and Wakanda University professor Obinna Nwabueze discovered a new form of vibranium. Testing its subatomic structure, he concluded that the metal had some kind of sentience.[25]

The naturally occurring sentient metal came from the echo caves of the Dora Milaje, the king's personal guard.[26] Each recruit who entered the caves imprinted upon the Living Vibranium;[26] each trainee took some into their bodies. The metal would sometimes take the form of visitors. The Dora fashioned weapons to control Living Vibranium, including the Talking Drum to guide a devastating weapon called the Mimic-27.[27]

The Dora Milaje also use the treated Living Vibranium in special spears they wield to better bond with and access the domain which stores their special vibranium's sentience.[26]

Other properties include, but are not limited to, having a natural symbiosis with both its contents and the environment around it.[28] Being capable of causing all manner of disruptive geological phenomena like earthquakes and sending local wildlife into a frenzy.[29] As well as other effects like emitting carrier waves which allow it to sync with other vibranium caches to activate or depower it, show the recipient users visions of their future, as well as emit vibrations instead of absorbing them for the purpose of entering and exiting a separate dimension where the Mimic's conscious mind awaits those who seek its use.[26] The metal itself is incredibly volatile because of this, coming with the risk of running rampant and causing all manner of havoc and devastation if improperly handled or making contact with an errant character template.[28][29][25]

Uses

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Vibranium appears frequently in the Marvel Universe.

In other media

Television

Film

Video games

Vibranium appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. A nanite-based artificial intelligence known as "the Fold" attempts to harvest Vibranium in Wakanda in order to construct communication towers around the world, spreading its control signal globally. While the heroes manage to thwart the invasion, they are unable to prevent the Fold from constructing enough towers to make it a global threat.

Music

Vibranium is referenced in the 2019 single Take Me Back to London by Ed Sheeran (featuring Stormzy) in verse 3, where Stormzy raps "I drink super-malts and vibranium / I got an RM11 titanium".[45]

It is also referenced in the bridge of the 2020 track Love Is a War by Jeremy Renner, who played Hawkeye in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films. The line is "To hit me harder, I feel nothing / And all my armor is vibranium".[46]

Real-world material

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In 2016, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies developed a real-world smart composite material that they named Vibranium. The lightweight carbon fiber material for the Hyperloop pods is reported to provide the passengers double protection against damage to the exterior. The company says that its Vibranium is 8 times lighter than aluminum and 10 times stronger than steel alternatives. The smart material can transmit critical information regarding temperature, stability, integrity and more, wirelessly and virtually instantly.[47]

Journalists have drawn parallels between Wakanda's vibranium reserves and the mining of coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Coltan is an ore containing niobium and tantalum, two rare and valuable metals, and its exploitation is linked with child labour, systematic exploitation of the population by governments or militant groups, exposure to toxic chemicals and other hazards; see coltan mining and ethics.[48][49][50] Historian Thomas F. McDow draws a parallel to uranium, found in the mine Shinkolobwe in Haut-Katanga Province, also in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[51]

Scholarly analysis

The concept of vibranium as an extremely valuable material, monopolized and mastered by the African civilization of Wakanda, has been subject to scholarly analysis. Several studies have looked at it from the perspective of cultural studies and literary criticism, including tying it to the genre of afrofuturism.[52][53][54] Alessio Gerola noted in the context of the 2018 movie Black Panther, that "Fundamental disagreements about vibranium’s existence and use drive the film’s plot, but the mythology and history of vibranium are even more essential to understanding how and why characters like Klaue, Killmonger, T’Challa, and Shuri treat vibranium the way they do", concluding that "Vibranium, from a narrative point of view, simply represents the power of possibilities and the disagreements that arise about the “great responsibilities” that follow from such “great powers.”[54]

It has been also analyzed with regards to its physical properties as a type of supermaterial. In 2017 Mark J. Whiting concluded that vibranium, as described in fiction, is not unrealistic, and resembles "a high-entropy shape-memory alloy composite, reinforced with a ceramic", beyond the ability of our current material science to produce, but not beyond the ability of our current theoretical science to explain.[55] It has been suggested that the popular culture impact of this material can make it useful as a teaching aid when attempting to interest students in material science and related fields.[56][57][58]

See also

References

  1. ^ Daredevil #13 (February 1966)
  2. ^ a b Booker, M. Keith (2010). "Wakanda". Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Greenwood. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-313-35746-6. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  3. ^ Alt, Casey. "Imaging Black Superpower! - Marvel Comics' Black Panther" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  4. ^ New Avengers #41
  5. ^ Black Panther (vol. 4) #38
  6. ^ Black Panther (vol. 4) #41
  7. ^ a b Doomwar #1–16
  8. ^ Captain Marvel (vol. 8) #4–6
  9. ^ a b Black Panther: World of Wakanda #6
  10. ^ Captain America (vol. 3) #20-21
  11. ^ a b Captain Marvel (vol. 8) #5
  12. ^ "Marvel brings back first black superhero". Star-Gazette. Elmira, New York. February 18, 2005.
  13. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (May 5, 2010). "7 Things You Need To Know About The Marvel Universe Before Seeing Iron Man 2". CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  14. ^ Iron Man #121
  15. ^ Doomwar #1–6
  16. ^ Daredevil #13
  17. ^ Daredevil #14
  18. ^ Namor the Sub-Mariner #53
  19. ^ Iron Man Annual #5
  20. ^ Marc Spector: Moon Knight #51
  21. ^ Amazing Spider-Man Annual #25
  22. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #648
  23. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #650
  24. ^ Black Panther #166
  25. ^ a b Black Panther: Long Live The King #5
  26. ^ a b c d Avengers: Wakanda Forever #1
  27. ^ X-Men: Wakanda Forever #1
  28. ^ a b Black Panther: Long Live The King #1
  29. ^ a b Black Panther: Long Live The King #2
  30. ^ Dan Glaister (March 8, 2007). "Wham! bang! Marvel kills off Captain America". The Guardian. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  31. ^ Moreels, Eric J. (2006). Marvel encyclopedia: X-Men, Volume 2. Marvel Pub. ISBN 978-0-7851-2396-5. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  32. ^ "It's all in the super-gear". The Gazette (Montreal). May 2, 2008. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  33. ^ Captain America #332
  34. ^ Captain America #342
  35. ^ Captain America #354
  36. ^ Thunderbolts #7
  37. ^ The New Invaders #1
  38. ^ Filmfodder, ed. (September 1, 2007). "Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Fantastic Four 549". Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  39. ^ Dave Richards (July 24, 2009). Comic Book Resources (ed.). "CCI: Hudlin and Cowan on "Captain America/Black Panther"". Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  40. ^ Goggin, Joyce; Hassler-Forest, Dan (2010). The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essays on the Form. McFarland. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7864-4294-2. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  41. ^ Venom (vol. 2) #1
  42. ^ "Conqueror Kang". Marvel Future Avengers. Season 1. Episode 21. February 28, 2020. Event occurs at 16:34. Disney+. Vibranium, the essential ingredient for the crystal, had been over-mined, so it was no longer available on Earth in 3,000 AD. I crossed through time. Vibranium still exists here in the 21st century, the Earth of the distant past. Here, I shall harvest my power to renew my conquest.
  43. ^ Captain America: The First Avenger Clip 2 on YouTube
  44. ^ "Wakanda Forever: Namor's Kingdom May Have Discovered Vibranium's True Secret". 16 January 2023.
  45. ^ "Ed Sheeran – Take Me Back to London lyrics". Genius. July 12, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  46. ^ Jeremy Renner – Love is a War, retrieved 2021-05-03
  47. ^ Hawkins, Andrew J. (24 May 2016). "Hyperloop startup selects Vibranium for pods because it's good enough for Captain America". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  48. ^ Rugambwa, Douglas (18 March 2018). "Vibranium is Real and it's called Coltan". Medium.
  49. ^ "From Coltan to Vibranium: How Marvel's Black Panther Mirrors Real-Life Issues in Africa Today". geeks.media.
  50. ^ "Coltan". Nation19 Magazine / APDTA.
  51. ^ "Searching for Wakanda: The African Roots of the Black Panther Story | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective". origins.osu.edu. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  52. ^ The Editors (2019-09-04). "Vibranium, Nigerium, and the Elements of a Pessimistic Afrofuturism". Retrieved 2022-08-04. ((cite web)): |author= has generic name (help)
  53. ^ Pérez, Edwardo (2022-01-11), Pérez, Edwardo; Brown, Timothy E. (eds.), "The Value of Vibranium", Black Panther and Philosophy (1 ed.), Wiley, pp. 203–209, doi:10.1002/9781119635871.ch20, ISBN 978-1-119-63584-0, S2CID 246167735, retrieved 2022-08-04
  54. ^ a b Gerola, Alessio (2022-01-11), Pérez, Edwardo; Brown, Timothy E. (eds.), "Vibranium Dreams and Afrofuturist Visions: Technology, Nature, and Culture", Black Panther and Philosophy (1 ed.), Wiley, pp. 175–183, doi:10.1002/9781119635871.ch17, ISBN 978-1-119-63584-0, S2CID 246170354, retrieved 2022-08-04
  55. ^ Whiting, Mark J. (2017-09-01). "Is it a Ceramic? Is it Graphene? No it's Vibranium!". In Lorch, Mark; Miah, Andy (eds.). Secret Science of Superheroes. Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 93–110. ISBN 978-1-78262-487-5.
  56. ^ Roush, Matt (2019-04-26). "Using Black Panther's 'vibranium' to teach kids about chemistry—second LTU paper published". TechCentury. Retrieved 2022-08-04.
  57. ^ Collins, Sibrina N. (January 2020), "Inorganic Chemistry: Vibranium and Marvel Studios'Black Panther", in Jones, Rebecca M. (ed.), Inorganic Chemistry: Vibranium and Marvel Studios' Black Panther, ACS Symposium Series, vol. 1370, Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, pp. 87–95, doi:10.1021/bk-2020-1370.ch008, ISBN 978-0-8412-9858-3, S2CID 229262565, retrieved 2022-08-04
  58. ^ "Where would Black Panther's wonder-metal vibranium fit on the periodic table?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2022-08-04.