The comic book history of Vapora, the enemy of all humankind, but mostly Daredevil from one issue of a Marvel PSA comic.

It’s the end of a long day and you just want to relax, but what happens? Your kid brought gum in on their shoe. So, of course, you go to the garage and get a gallon of gasoline to get the gum out of the carpet.

Gotta Step on the Gas (because it's in your carpet)

Now, to me, this seems like solving a problem with another bigger problem and when you Google “get gum out of carpet with gasoline,” the only thing that comes up is how to get the smell of gas out of carpet, which is a problem if you accidentally track it in after filling up your car of if your partner in your meth-making business turns on you. Still, I suppose at one point this was seen as a viable solution, so you go to the garage to get the gas and after you’ve thoroughly soaked the carpet next to you child’s playpen, you decide to take the edge off with a smoke.

This is ridiculously dark. Like I said, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association goes hard. Image copyright Marvel.

And now you’ve summoned the supervillain Vapora, the evil gas vapor that just wants to bring you pain and also the consequences of your own terrible choices when it comes to house cleaning.

I’m not sure how much of a thing they are now, but back in the day there was such a thing as PSA comics, comics that would serve as a warning for a particular common problem, like drugs, asthma, land mines, or soaking your own carpet with gasoline and then lighting up. I guess if you were a big non-profit with a lot of cash to throw around, you could have the Avengers say whatever you wanted them to say.

Vapora? More like va-pour-a me some more gasoline to clean stuff.

According to the comic, gasoline vapors are the real danger as they’re heavy and it takes only a spark to set them off, so Vapora is the personification of gasoline vapors, gliding around a house saying only some variation of hungerpainterrorgrowhungerpainpower. The story started when Daredevil rescued a girl from a burning building and then Matt Murdock, Daredevil’s secret identity of an attorney who was also blind, was hired by the landlord who was accused of arson. The guy had, of course, been cleaning his tiles with gasoline when the evil Vapora found a spark in a bulb or pilot light and ignited the whole house.

But for real, are the vapors still there? They seem like they would have dissipated by the next day. Image copyright Marvel.

The next night, everyone was getting into trouble with gasoline. There was the mom using it to clean her family’s carpet before that relaxing smoke right next to her baby and an open jug of gasoline and there were kids using it to clean their bikes. Things got very dark, very fast.

I had to read it twice, too, because I thought the story just didn’t pick back up on the part where the mom was cleaning the carpet but no…the mom and baby…they did not make in through the ensuing blaze. Yeah. The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association who sponsored this comic was not messing around.

Anyway, Daredevil saved the day against the sentient cloud of gasoline fumes that only wanted to bring pain and death to the world around her by, yeah, a fire extinguisher. Not flashy, but Vapora had the life choked out of her in a garage…which not only sounds incredibly bad, but also, how does that work? How do you defeat gas vapor with a fire extinguisher? Regardless, the kid who was helping her brother clean his bike was safe.

The art in this PSA comic is surprisingly solid. Image copyright Marvel.

Matt Murdock, the attorney who was blind, also helped the landlord beat the charges of arson which I looked it up and it’s not arson if it’s not intentional…but the landlord was cleaning his floor with extremely flammable liquid, the vapors found a nearby pilot light, and he collected the insurance money…so…po-tay-to po-tah-to?

The whole courtroom was treated to a lesson on gasoline safety from Matt Murdock including such pointers as…don’t use it to clean stuff, don’t start fires around it, and don’t use it indoors at all. This comic must have been effective, because all of these things sound very obvious to me and I can’t think of anyone who does that sort of stuff nowadays.

The Season For Tears

The story ends of bright note. When Matt and the landlord were leaving the courthouse, discussing the years of therapy and reconstructive surgery ahead of the girl he accidentally burned – once she gets out of intensive care, of course. Which, yeah, that’s the happy ending.

Matt senses a presence behind him and shudders. He knows that Vapora is gone, but not defeated. She was only hiding, biding her time because, quote, spring, summer, winter, fall, it doesn’t matter. It’s always the season for tears.

"It's always the season for tears." Image copyright Marvel.

Yeah, once again, the now-defunct Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association does not mince words.

Holy Comic Book Sources, Batman!
  • Daredevil vs. Vapora #1

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