Amazing Spider-Man #9
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #9
Review/plot: Spider-Man rushes home, ignoring a shoot-out between cops and a group of thugs, to give Aunt May medicine. She is very ill and needs expensive surgery that the Parkers can not afford.
Meanwhile Electro robs an armored car.
His electric attacks focus on the guards' wrist watches (as opposed to, say, just electrocuting them), but he can also create a ring of electricity.
Flash, having gotten knocked around by Peter last issue, is willing to try and be friendly, but Peter is too distracted by his Aunt's sickness to notice.
Betty Brant visits with Aunt May at the hospital. Peter can't take photographs to pay for his Aunt's surgery because it is raining and he can't get a clear picture.
The next day, Electro robs a bank while J. Jonah Jameson is there. JJ thinks the fact that Electro recognizes him must be a clue as to who he is - but why would he think that? JJ is a famous publisher and editorialist who has appeared on numerous television shows as well. Anyway, JJ sees Electro climb a building (using, er, electric rays like a magnet) and concludes that Electro must be Spider-Man, and he publishes a front page article to that effect.
Spider-Man goes after Electro, trying to get reward money, but is defeated when he tries to grab Electro and gets zapped. (Electro is actually kind of a nice guy about the whole thing: "I didn't mean to do that - but it was his own fault! He didn't give me a chance to explain the danger of touching me!").
With no capture, Peter resorts to doctoring photos to make it look like Spider-Man is changing costumes to become Electro. That seems very out of character for Peter, but his Aunt was deathly ill.
Spider-Man can't go out and fight Electro while he is waiting for his Aunt to come out of surgery. In the meantime, Electro has broken a number of inmates out of prison with the intent of creating a henchmen army. After Peter's Aunt's successful surgery, he runs out, leaving Betty to worry that Peter is becoming addicted to danger "just like someone else I once knew".
Peter goes off to fight Electro, leaving JJ discredited. Spider-Man defeats Electro and the escaping inmates with the help of some cute rubber booties and gloves, and a firehose. He pulls off Electro's mask and sees... a guy he never saw before, which is a nice touch. No explanation of the whole JJ recognition thing.
JJ is ready to fire Parker for faking those photographs, but Peter has new pictures of the Spidey/Electro prison fight that are "worth a fortune" so JJ is placated. It seems that Peter is giving away the pictures for free, to make up for the ones he faked. Betty is mad that Peter went and put himself in danger, and they fight but then they make up.
It may just be the size of the supporting cast, but the early Spider-Man stories still seem to have a lot more depth than the other Silver Age comics.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #146
Inbound References (3): showAunt May, Betty Brant, Dr. Bromwell, Electro, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Liz Allan, Spider-Man
That's funny how in his first appearaces Electro doesn't use epic white electric lightings, instead he just literally throws little yellow ones at his foes.
Posted by: SVC | August 24, 2013 6:30 AM
According to THE PHYSICS OF SUPERHEROES, the "electric rays like a magnet" thing actually would work. Go figure.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 2, 2014 2:08 AM
I don't think there should be explanation to Electro knowing JJ, since he really is a public figure. JJ just thought that was a clue because he's paranoid and wanted to connect Electro to Spider-Man.
Posted by: Enchlore | September 28, 2014 6:20 PM
I like that Electro also leads the prison break in New Avengers. I always wondered if that was an intentional reference to this issue.
Posted by: Time Traveling Bunny | July 19, 2015 12:47 PM
Electro is one of my favorite Spider villains, up there with the Scorpion. Unfortunately, neither has been used as well as classic Ditko villains should be.
Although Electro is no genius, he is better educated than most street level villains as an expert electrician. He's like a working man's villain. As an electrician, he was likely a union member, and I wonder if that subtly accounts for the large number of groups and partnerships he engages in (Sinister Six, Emissaries of Evil, Frightful Four, Masters of Evil, Blizzard, among others). He definitely believes there is strength in numbers.
I think one reason Spidey's rogues gallery is so highly acclaimed is that the Ditko villains are varied bunch in their powers and motivations. They aren't just people who hit the hero. Very wide power selection between them.
Posted by: Chris | August 3, 2015 10:53 PM
@Chris: Somehow with that image of Electro, I just imagine him and a group of Sinister Six just getting in a "rival union war" with the Serpent Society or something.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 4, 2015 8:41 AM
I absolutely love Electro's costume. It's just a gorgeous cascade of colors and screams out eggzactly what his power is.
All these attempts to make him look moar practical and realistic, as in Bendis' Ultimate Spidey or the just as shitty Amazing Spidey 2 movie, just end up taking away from what makes Electro so awesome.
Posted by: JC | January 24, 2016 1:46 PM
"That seems very out of character for Peter, but his Aunt was deathly ill.
@JC, I agree. I don't think I would limit that criticism to just Electro though as the modern creators tend to bow down to the 'dread god realism' far too much for my taste. The results are forgettable, pedestrian designs no one will be remembering decades from now like they do the classic Ditko and Kirby designs.
Posted by: Robert | February 4, 2016 1:16 PM
Oh and probably my favorite part of this terrific issue is that they go against expectations on the soap stuff with Betty and Peter at the end. Instead of the issue ending with their 'fight' being unresolved and Peter being a sad sack, Betty shows up at the hospital and we get a wonderful final panel of them walking off together to talk things out.
Posted by: Robert | February 4, 2016 1:20 PM
There's a neat little story in Web of Spider-Man 2 (2010) that takes place in between the panels of this issue. Electro is trying to amp up his powers, and Magneto, sensing a disturbance in the local electromagnetic field, pays him a visit, accompanied by Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. He offers to work with Electro ("both halves of the electromagnetic force combined"), but then changes his mind when he realizes what a loser Electro is.
Posted by: Andrew | October 2, 2016 8:04 AM
This issue also introduced a new reporter for the Bugle: Frederick Foswell.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 10:43 PM
Interesting that Ditko always used multiple issues to cover Aunt May getting sick. Here she needs surgery, in #10 she needs a blood transfusion from Peter. She gets sick in #17 and is still recovering in #18. She was having problems for a few issues before #31-33.
In this case, her illness led Peter to forge photographs for Jameson here, and then give his aunt radioactive blood which led to her greater illness in the Master Planner trilogy. The trilogy also brought back Curt Connors who was otherwise never mentioned after #6 during Ditko's run, and effectively ended Betty and Peter's relationship which truly began this issue, especially when he slammed Ned Leeds into a wall for questioning him a little too much in #32.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 30, 2016 12:12 AM
Ditko's knack for idiosyncratic costume pays off more often than not. Kirby did a lot of either baggy-jagged or round metallic costumed figures. Ditko uses webbing and ornate motifs. Look at the Vulture and Mysterio, particularly.
Posted by: squirrel_defeater | January 28, 2018 11:51 PM
Ditko's always been very clear that a character's costume should be recognizable even if you only see a part of it, a boot or a glove or something. Off the top of my head, Kraven, Chameleon, the Molten Man and Sandman are the only members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery who wouldn't be immediately identifiable in silhouette. Even there, Sandman would be obvious if he's using his powers and Kraven would stand out from his build and mane. Even the Scorpion and the Lizard would look suitably different. The Chameleon would stand out because he doesn't stand out.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 29, 2018 7:38 PM
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