Comics Question Answers – where I answer any questions you may have about comics (feel free to email me questions at [email protected]).
Longtime reader Hunter S. always has some interesting (and often vibranium-related) questions, so let’s see what Hunter is asking himself this time:
What is the melting point of Vibranium? I know that metal is an ultra-durable metal that absorbs vibrations. With those properties, how were the Wakandans able to shape the metal assuming that Vibranium can melt? So at this point what is the temperature at which Vibranium can melt?
I think there are really two questions here, the most notable being the question of whether vibranium can be melted (and if it can melt, what is its melting point?), But also, how, exactly, was vibranium extracted? ? I have an answer for one, but the other honestly remains a mystery.
Actually, it is a bit shocking how little information there is about vibranium. Heck, even their introduction is a bit strange, as Stan Lee and John Romita had already introduced a metal called vibranium on the pages of Daredevil that had COMPLETELY DIFFERENT properties than the metal introduced in Fantastic Four # 53 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott). It’s fair to say that there were certain names that Stan Lee would use more than once (and later writers, of course, would hold onto those pieces of confusion and act like they had some meaning, like “Well, he mentioned the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and then he mentioned the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, so it couldn’t be that he just repeated the name, it must be attached! “), but things were different in the Fantastic Four. Given that Jack Kirby was doing so much of the Fantastic Four plot (maybe even all of it at this point), the fact that this metal absorbed vibrations was almost certainly determined without Lee’s involvement. I suppose Lee could still have insisted that it be called vibranium, but I suspect that that was simply a coincidence that Lee had already created a metal by that name.
Anyway, when we first saw vibranium, it was like, “Hey, it’s this amazing metal. You want to know more than that? Shut up! Oh, and apparently The Thing is a super racist jerk.”
It wasn’t more than a decade before Jack Kirby decided to give some background on vibranium in Black Panther # 7 (by Kirby and Mike Royer), where we first learned that vibranium is of extraterrestrial origin …
But that comic, which is clearly THE PLACE to reveal it if it was going to be revealed, was pretty vague about how, exactly, vibranium was mined. It seems that the pieces of the meteor broke, so I can only imagine the idea being that the ancient inhabitants of Wakanda used the broken pieces of vibranium to cut the other pieces. But again, this is all very vague and has no real answer.
Heck, years later, in The Rise of Black Panther # 3 (by Evan Narcisse, Paul Renaud, and Stephane Paitreau, with consultation from Ta-Nehisi Coates), the comic explicitly points out that the vibranium extraction method is practically a SECRET . !
However, that same comic seems to suggest that it’s almost more of an art form than exact science, right? So perhaps there is some mysticism involved in the original vibranium extraction back in the day.
That said, what I DO have, at least, is an answer to the fusion question. And the answer came, from all places, from the Official Manual to the entrance of the Marvel Universe about … Defender ?! As I wrote recently, the Official Manual of the main mission of the Marvel Universe seemed to try to find meaning where it had not, coherence where there was no coherence and a lot of that came from giving scientific explanations on how things worked. .
At the Contest of Champions, we met a bunch of new international superheroes (all were originally intended to be featured as part of a tie to the 1980 Summer Olympics, but when the United States dropped out of the Summer Games, the comic had to be reworked into a new story a couple of years later called The Contest of Champions and all those international heroes that showed up were just a coincidence). One of the heroes, from Argentina, was Defender. He was not a good character. However, it had vibranium armor and so we learned some facts about vibranium …
Defender wears a suit made of vibranium; an alien metal brought to earth by a huge meteor and found only in the African kingdom of Wakanda and in the hidden jungle of Antarctica called Savage Land. Wakandan vibranium has the ability to absorb all forms of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum, making it impervious to all radiation bombardments. In addition, it has an extremely high melting point (5,475 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it extremely resistant to heat, and an extremely low freezing point (crystallization temperature of -395.4 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes its tensile strength be extraordinarily high at low temperatures. Vibranium is also capable of absorbing around 50% of the inertial impact (due to an unusually tight molecular crystal lattice matrix in the form of a composite helix), preventing the penetration of any ballistic projectile up to a large anti-tank armament.
In an edition of Iron Man from that period, we saw an island with a vibranium base loaded with enough explosives to remake Hiroshima multiple times and when it exploded, the vibranium WAS destroyed, so it’s clear that there IS a point where vibranium can be destroyed …
The problem, of course, is that how the hell would the ancient Wakandans manage to get a fake temperatures of 5,475 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s about twice the most popular modern blacksmith’s forge! Obviously now, we can just shake it up and say that the Wakandans used vibranium to build a fancy machine to mine vibranium, but I don’t think the Manual’s answer really solves the problem of how it was forged centuries ago.
Still, at least now we know the melting point!
Thanks for the challenge, Hunter!
If anyone else has a question related to the comic, please email me at [email protected]!