CCI: Comic Character Investigation #4

1 décembre 2010 Non Par Comic Box

[ENGLISH] This month: Electro – Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.

The Charges of Electro

There was a time when villains were not intricate. They lacked depth and dimension. They lacked innovation and like most things in earlier times, even their names lacked a creative, dare I say it, spark. Such was the case of Electro. A simple name and a simple power, over all electricity. Electricity?! C’mon. Make him nuclear, atomic, intergalactic, something with a real, dare I say this now, charge. Arguably lame? Possibly. Memorable and classic, however? Definitely. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #9 and possessed a newfound power that even made Peter Parker’s radioactive strength no match for him. Because when Max Dillon traded in his inferiority complex for a dose of AC/DC, discovering the powers of electricity in a way Ben Franklin could not have imagined, he became a deadly enemy in the Spider-Man mythos. Garbed in green and yellow, he ran like a current through the career of the world’s favorite wall-crawler and even managed to harass Daredevil on occasion. A good example is Daredevil #87 where DD warns everyone not to even touch Electro or they’ll die. Proving that while some of these older villains may not be intricate creations, they weren’t any less deadly. Notably, in the 1960’s Spider-Man series, which is a classic within the web-head’s world, many famous and not-so-famous villains made appearances but when Electro made his entrance as the villain, it always gave the show a little more, here we go again . . . juice.  He was the bad guy with an equally bad attitude. And Electro, while a simple, basic villain, was just . . . cool.

His power to shoot electric charges was cool. And the episodes he starred in almost seemed more like “Electro” episodes instead of “Spider-Man” episodes. Not that everyone didn’t show up to see Spider-Man swing through the city. Spider-Man ruled those classic shows. Yet Electro was a rare treat and maybe just wasn’t in enough of them so when he did show up, it was kind of an event to watch Spidey deal with him. Maybe it’s silly for fans in the 21st century to like such a simple villain. Maybe more innovative fare is mandatory in comic characters. Maybe, but I doubt anyone who watched that classic show or read his comic appearances would replace Electro with any modern villains any more than they would replace the invention of Edison’s light bulb with the developments its creation launched. Classic characters are what comics are built on and such earlier characters give us that sense of developing wonder in the entertainment we experience. Electro has had some laurels in his career too. He enjoyed a brief stint with The Frightful Four and most impressively, was a founding member of the famed Sinister Six. It’s worth asking ourselves some questions about such a character. Can one imagine such a simple villain as frightful? One whose electricity may not be seen as all that impressive today? As sinister? One whose currents do not light up the world of rogues as they once did?  The only answer is this: One should, because for everything which endures there is a strong beginning and the supervillains of today owe something to such predecessors. So if you come across a supervillain in the new millenium, one who might use all the power and energies of the universe, one who might be garbed in slick colors and who possesses a far more clever handle for a bad guy, remember that the first ember of his existence was named Electro. Dare I say it one last time in his honor? No shock there.

[James Parducci]

James Parducci is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.