Maybe Electro just needs a hug?Posted: 12/04/2012
Max Dillon (aka Electro) can’t catch a break. Despite incredible powers, he’s a total loser. No matter how hard he tries overcome his comfy C-list spot, he’ll always be the one pummeled by Spider-Man during bank robberies and jewel heists. Plus, it certainly must hurt that his superpower may be among one of the most unoriginal in comics. Using just the electrical manipulation power alone, Electro has to compete with Thor, Storm, Black Lightning, Black Vulcan, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Surge, Aftershock, Sparx, Static, Spider-Woman, and those are just the good guys. Plus, the dude sits on a lineup with far more interesting and complicated baddies like Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man’s rogue gallery has some tough competition. Well, time to fall in love with Electro. This is where I come in.
Before we start, Electro has easily one of the silliest origin stories of all comics. Only in the 1960s.
Such a perfect Stan Lee creation. Dillon was a normal electrical lineman when a freak bolt of lightning struck him as he was holding onto the power lines. That’s it. Now he can control and shoot electricity. Comics were so much simpler when science didn’t apply. Now he can embrace his new abilities to commit all sorts of exciting crimes! For instance, check out his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #9, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko back in 1964:
Unfortunately, such a specific power comes with a specific weakness:
Do you notice the most important part? Those last two panels foreshadow Electro’s fate for the next fifty years. The dude’s a nobody. He can eletrocute who and whatever he wants, but he’ll never reach the level of Loki or Magneto. Though, as you soon realize, his personality usually gets in the way of his ambition. Speaking of Magneto, let’s take a look at a quick scene from Web of Spider-Man #2, written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Barry Kitson:
By the way, Electro may be the only person in history to use the slang “mutie” in front of Magneto and survive the conversation. Luckily, Magneto can see past racism when he sees superpowers that so beautifully compliment his own. The Holocaust survivor and the former handyman — the world’s greatest supervillain team or the world’s saddest sitcom.
His insecurities bubble up so badly, he can’t even hitch a guaranteed ride to permanent supervillain infamy on the Magneto train because his ego gets in the way. He needs to realize that for all his insane amount of power, he will always be the villain who can be taken out with a garden hose.
Next article, we’ll delve into the story I want to tell, but you have to appreciate Electro before you can appreciate the story. It’s hard to admire Martin Luthor King Jr. if you don’t know about the Civil Right Movement — a completely appropriate analogy for what I’m trying to do.
Look, I can scream and shout about how strong Electro is, but you’re not going to believe me without pretty pictures and word bubbles. We’re going to take a brief look at Young Allies #2, written by Sean McKeever and David Baldeón. The superheroes Gravity and Firestar, gravity and microwave energy manipulation respectively, go out looking for Electro. Y’see, the new teenage supervillain Aftershock claims to be his daughter.
To be fair to Electro, the kids are horribly unprepared for this fight. No SHIELD dossiers, no Google searches, nothing. So they make mistakes like this:
The charcoaled costumes and seared flesh? Probably could have been prevented if they looked him up on Wikipedia first. As you may know, the Marvel universe uses a sliding time scale for their heroes. This way, even with 60 years of comics, all their adventures fit nicely into about fifteen-ish years of comic book time. So if we assume Electro received his powers sometime, I dunno, thirteen years ago, and Aftershock being older than thirteen, well, Electro has a fair point. No need for Maury Povich on this one.
But for every awesome moment Dillon has, he makes up for it with an equally embarrassing moment. Hence why Electro scares superheroes about as much as Toad or Batroc the Leaper. New Avengers #1-4, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Finch, follows that formula perfectly.
A few months before this, the Avengers disbanded. The Scarlet Witch went crazy and wiped out half the team. It happens. The new series picks up with this scene from Ryker’s Island, the go-to New York City supervillain prison.
That’s bad. The cause?
Dillon just caused the largest supervillain prison breakout at Ryker’s Island in comic book history. Fortunately, a group of superheroes arrive separately to clean up the mess. Afterward, Captain America realizes that the perfect new group of Avengers just fell into his lap. Don’t you see what this means? Electro is totally, completely 100% responsible for recreating the Avengers. That amazing feat took Loki’s interference last time the Avengers came together, and he’s a few leagues above Electro in terms of ability and threat level.
How do they repay Dillon for his generosity?
Poor Electro’s terribly outmatched. He holds his own against Spider-Man because Spider-Man’s costume is practically underwear. But Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Luke Cage, and Spider-Woman all at once? Such a lost cause. Which brings us to that pathetic moment that must happen for Electro’s circle-of-life to reset itself.
How upsetting. Oh well. On Friday, we’ll read along as Electro takes a stand for the little guy. Figuratively.