The first Rocket Racer appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #172 as a super-villain. He returned in issues #182 and #183 in a battle against the Big Wheel. His origin was finally revealed in Spectacular Spider-Man #104.
Rocket Racer appeared as a supporting character in Avengers Academy in issue #21 (Jan 2012) and issue #26 (April 2012).
Fictional character biography
Robert Farrell, born in Brooklyn, New York, was the eldest of seven children. He became responsible for his younger siblings when his mother Emma Johnson Farrell died. Robert was a scientific prodigy, and when he realized he couldn't earn enough to support his family, he turned to a life of crime as the Rocket Racer. He developed a super-powered skateboard which is propelled at great speed by small rockets and cybernetically controlled by a crude walkman-like device. He wore a weapon-equipped costume, including rocket-powered gloves which give him the ability to hit an opponent with a "rocket-powered-punch."
Early in his career as a burglar, Rocket Racer encounters Spider-Man.
Rocket Racer hires Tinkerer to redesign his skateboard after his first defeat by Spider-Man. At one point he is hired by Jackson Weele to steal evidence that might incriminate him. Robert uses the evidence to blackmail Jackson. Weele wishes to commit suicide but Robert stops him. Even then, though, he mocks Weele, calling him Big Weele. This is enough for Jackson to hire the villain the Tinkerer to create a literal 'Big Wheel', to chase Robert around town with. Spider-Man assists and Jackson seemingly falls to his death in the Hudson River. Later, Rocket Racer was saved by Spider-Man from the Bounty Hunter.
Repeated defeats at the hands of Spider-Man and several brushes with the law, including a short jail sentence, convince Robert to reform.[volume & issue needed] He goes through a high school equivalency course and his extremely high marks gain him a scholarship to Empire State University. This doesn't go well as his first few days are full with combating the efforts of a hate-group on campus. Though assisted by Spider-Man and sometimes, by other students who oppose the racism, Robert still struggles with his own rage during the entire ordeal.
Later, Robert attempted to prove Spider-Man innocent of a crime; and first encountered Silver Sable and The Outlaws. He joined forces with Spider-Man to stop the white supremacist, Skinhead. He was hired as a freelance operative for Silver Sable International to prevent two youths from stealing the victims' weapons at the Bar with No Name, the site of the Scourge massacre. He was again hired by Sable to stop the Speed Demon. He joined Spider-Man and the Outlaws against the Avengers and the Space Phantom, He was again hired along with the Outlaws to retrieve a Symkarian nuclear device in England. He was hired by Sable to stop a runaway subway maintenance robot. Rocket Racer finally formally joined the Outlaws, to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Canadian official.
Robert is identified as one of the 142 registered superheroes who appear on the cover of the comic book Avengers: The Initiative #1. As a registered hero, he reported to Camp Hammond for training. Despite this, he needed money to support his comatose mother and prevent repossession of their house, so he was seen working for MODOK. He appeared to have been tempted back into crime, and reduced to a state of stuttering nervousness by the situation. He turned out to have been working for S.H.I.E.L.D. all along, with a deal that they will give him the money he needs in return for the Hypernova - he failed in this and it's unknown yet what's happened with his mother.
Rocket Racer is part of the new class of students when the Avengers Academy moves to the former headquarters of the West Coast Avengers. Rocket Racer later leaves the Avengers Academy alongside Machine Teen to join child genius Jeremy Briggs.
Powers and abilities
Robert Farrell has a gifted intellect, but no superhuman powers. He wears gauntlets furnished with explosive mini-rockets, and utilizes a cybernetically-controlled, rocket-powered magnetic skateboard, which he designed and was later redesigned by the Tinkerer.