Marvel's Metals: Our pick of the top three alloys in the comic book franchise
There are some pretty strong fictional metals mentioned in Marvel’s comic books, the most popular of which are vibranium and adamantium. But there are many more, lesser-known alloys that have had a major impact on the storylines so many of us have come to love. Let’s take a closer look at our top three.
The fictional metal was created in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Significantly stronger than steel, but less so than adamantium, it was manufactured during the Soviet’s attempt to create a supersoldier that could rival Captain America. Because of this, the story of carbonadium is also the story of Omega Red — also known as Arkady Gregorivich Rossovich — a serial killer who served in the USSR's Spetsnaz (border patrol commandos) during the late 1950s or early 1960s. His crimes were discovered by his fellow soldiers, who tried to execute him, but failed due to his mutant nature. Rossovich was court-martialed, but was subsequently drafted into the USSR’s super-soldier project.
According to Marvel:
“By 1968, Rossovich, now dubbed Omega Red, was stationed in Berlin, East Germany, where the USSR transformed him into a cyborg via implanted retractable tentacles of radioactive Carbonadium (a less durable but more malleable imitation of Adamantium), created by a Carbonadium Synthesizer, or ‘C-Synth.’ However, before his transformation was complete, the C-Synth, needed to stabilize the interface between his mutant powers & his bionic implants, was stolen by Team X members Wolverine (Logan/James Howlett), Sabertooth, and Maverick (Christoph Nord). Eventually Wolverine hid the C-Synth in the grave of Janice Hollenbeck, a double agent slain by Omega Red.”
Omega Red has carbonadium coils that he could use to transmit his ability to drain life energies. As such, carbonadium is the only metal that can neutralize the "death factor" of Omega Red. Although it is less durable than true adamantium, the alloy is still nearly indestructible. It’s also highly radioactive, which can slow down the healing powers of other mutants, such as Wolverine and his son. It is, however, toxic, and therefore dangerous.
Adamantium’s older and funner cousin, adamantine was first introduced when Thor traveled from Asgard to Mount Olympus and met the demigod Hercules, who wielded a “golden” mace of adamantine that rivaled Thor’s hammer when the two faced off. As such, the metal’s origin is considered to be divine. This explains why it tends to be used on magical objects, such as Neptune’s trident, and has mystic powers that protect against psychic attacks.
But, the metal was also used on Earth. During WWII, American metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain was assigned to work on military research and development for the United States government. A metallurgic accident led him to unintentionally create the indestructible Vibranium-steel compound that was used in the synthesis of Captain America’s shield. In the years that followed, MacLain spent endless hours trying to duplicate the process, but — in the 1960s — managed to create True Adamantium instead. Though the government attempted to keep the formula for the alloy a secret, the information leaked and contributed to the invention of carbonadium in the USSR.
According to Marvel:
“Extraordinarily expensive to produce, Adamantium is created through the mixing of certain chemical resins whose exact composition is a closely guarded government secret. For eight minutes after the resins are mixed, Adamantium can be molded if kept at a temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Its extremely stable molecular structure prevents it from being molded further, even if the temperature remains high enough to keep it in liquefied form. Hardened Adamantium can only be altered by rearrangement of its cellular structure. Given sufficient mass, Adamantium could survive a direct hit from a nuclear weapon or a blow from the most powerful superhuman. The only known substance able to pierce Adamantium is the compound known as Antarctic Vibranium, also called anti-metal.”
Interestingly, there is not a ton of information about the ancient material. What we do know is that it has been around since the creation of the universe and comes from the first moon in existence. Allegedly, it is unique to Nidavellir, one of the Ten worlds, and resembles a stone that features metallic properties. Because it is so insanely strong, Uru can only be shaped in the heart of a star or an enchanted forge, which is why it is the main ingredient in Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir. Aside from its durability and physical strength, it also holds enchantments, which give it powers, like absorbing or throwing thunderbolts. Its ability to store and channel magic was discovered by none other than Tony Stark.
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