Real Name: Randy Vale
Identity/Class: Human technology user
Group Membership: None
formerly Carrion (Miles Warren clone)
Enemies: Carrion (Miles Warren clone), Spider-Amoeba, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), White Tiger (Hector Ayala)
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Carrion's Empire State University lair
First Appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man II#29 (April, 1979)
Powers/Abilities: Darter wore a costume that allowed him to glide on air currents; however, the wings that allowed him to do so were fragile. He carried a stun-gun (see right; which also had a "kill" setting powerful enough to blast through a gym mat) and had cutting lasers in the fingertips of his gloves. He also used a communicator device on a cord (see left)
He was a competent, albeit inexperienced, hand-to-hand combatant.
History: (Spectacular Spider-Man II#31 (fb) ) - Empire State University science undergraduate Randy Vale stumbled into Professor Miles Warren's abandoned laboratory and accidentally unsealed the clone casket containing the undead Warren clone Carrion. The clone awakened and grabbed Vale - initially confused, it soon realized that Warren had died in battle with Spider-Man, and demanded that Vale serve him. He promised him power if he accepted, and death if he refused! Vale accepted, and was assigned to watch over Spider-Man while Carrion stayed hidden, testing his new powers. Vale himself witnessed Carrion discover his powers of levitation and his death-touch. Soon, Carrion helped Vale construct the high-tech Darter costume he would use to serve the mad clone, but insisted that this was merely a prelude to Vale's true reward - the powers of Spider-Man! Unbeknownst to Vale, Carrion believed Vale too weak to handle Spider-Man's powers, and never intended to fulfill his promise.
(Spectacular Spider-Man II#29) - As per Carrion's orders, Vale ran into Peter Parker on the ESU campus and introduced himself, then reported back to Carrion. Later that day, as Peter's friend the White Tiger watched over him, Vale swooped down on him as Darter and blasted him with his stun-gun before he could react. The Tiger recovered even as Darter was reporting his progress to Carrion, however, and attacked him. Their battle sent them crashing through the ESU gymnasium's window, where Carrion and Spider-Man were locked in combat.
(Spectacular Spider-Man II#30) - The Tiger leapt into the gym's rafters; when Darter took off after him, the Tiger entangled him in climbing ropes. Unable to even reach his stun-gun, Darter sliced through the ropes with his fingertip lasers. Free, he fired on the White Tiger with his stun-gun, which was now set to kill, slicing through the gym mat the Tiger used as a shield. He'd missed the Tiger, however, and had swooped low enough that the Tiger was able to toss the mat on him, knocking him to the ground. Darter shook it off and dove at the Tiger - who ducked, sending Darter slamming right into Carrion instead. They both fell into an empty swimming pool, and Darter cracked his head on the side of it, knocking him out. When he came to, he saw the unconscious Tiger on the bottom of the pool, and mistakenly assumed he was dead. He soon realized that Carrion had abandoned him there, and concluded that the clone planned to renege on their deal; angered, he took off for Carrion's lab, intending to force Carrion to give him Spider-Man's power. Little did he know, however, that the White Tiger was following him...
(Spectacular Spider-Man II#31) - Darter burst into Carrion's lab, where he found that his master had given Spider-Man's powers to the shambling, mindless Spider-Amoeba instead of him. He fired on Carrion, but his blasts went right through the intangible clone. Carrion then hurled a handful of his red dust of death in Darter's face; shocked, Vale dropped his weapon, which fired when it hit the ground, freeing Spider-Man from his restraints. Pulling his mask off, Vale fell to the floor, pleading with Carrion as the dust ate away at his flesh before finally, mercifully, dying. Later, as the lab burned around him, Carrion tried to flee the Spider-Amoeba, which had turned on him; as he scrabbled for purchase on the floor, his fingers closed on Vale's bleached skull. He regretted killing Vale, who could have saved him; moments later, the Spider-Amoeba devoured him.
Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo, Jim Mooney, and Frank Springer.
Darter's Fruit Roll-Up-esque color scheme and Buck Rogers ray-gun doesn't really work with Carrion's macabre aesthetic, but I kinda dig him anyway. He is kind of a putz, though - he accidentally stumbles across Carrion, who press-gangs him into being his henchman, the White Tiger totally outclasses him, Carrion gives his reward to a lump of protoplasm, and then subjects him to an incredibly gruesome (yet awesome) death.
There are groups of birds, fish, and dragonflies all known as darters. If anything, I would guess that Darter is named after the latter, given his wings and bug-eyed goggles, but it's just as likely that he's just so named because he darts.
Big thanks to Jeff Christiansen for scanning this profile's images.
Profile by Minor Irritant.
Randy Vale, alias Darter, has no known connections to:
Spectacular Spider-Man II#29, p9, pan8 (Vale)
p10, pan1 (communicator)
p12, pan1 (main image)
pan 2-4 (gun)
Spectacular Spider-Man II#31, p9, pan4-7 (Vale's death)
Spectacular Spider-Man II#29-31 (May-July, 1979) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Jim Mooney (penciler), Frank Springer (inker), Al Milgrom (editor)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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