Monday, August 07, 2017

Real Name: Herman Schultz
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-man #46 (March, 1967)
Fight Club Ranking: #620

Featured Fights:
- vs SPIDER-MAN: Spider-man Adventures #9 (Aug 1995)
- vs AVENGERS: Marvel Knights: Spider-man #11 (Apr 2005)

Vulture may've got all the headlines, but could we really let Spider-man: Homecoming pass through theatres without highlighting the glorious ascension of another classic Spidey villain? I speak, of course, about Shocker -- the quilted, vibro-shocking menace you never expected to see on screen!

Keaton menace may've sold the Vulture pretty quick in trailers, but chances are Shocker still elicits a few snickers here and there. Which is kinda unfair, 'cause let's be honest: if you were in the street and some crazy mofo in a yellow quilted insulation suit came up buzzing like a power-line - you'd probably crap your pants. Maybe literally! Those shocker blasts are gonna do things to your body!

Homecoming kinda tries to have it both ways by alluding to the costume of the comics, but rooting it in a slightly depressing pseudo-reality of vests and sweatpants. For some reason, there's a pervasive theory that seams, goggles, and bits of metal make a comic book costume more plausible. I usually prefer when they just invest in the visual hook that makes the character stand-out as unique.

Not that a few intelligent rethinks and some experimentation ever hurt.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd been re-discovering and enjoying late nineties issues of Spider-man.

A few issues in particular, featuring Shocker, left me tickled pink! Not because they revolutionize the medium, or change the status quo for-EVER, but because they were just nice, modern minded monthly installments that applied a gentle rethink.

John Romita Jr may be one of the best artists to charge with drawing Shocker. His penchant for blocky human figures perfectly adds heft and dimension to the Shocker's outfit, and gauntlets.

Written by Howard Mackie; these issues announce their intent through the voice of the character. Shocker's sick of being laughed at and he's taken action! The conception here is Shocker as a hi-tech powersuit, rather than just a shock-absorbing "quilt-man".

He doesn't abandon the gimmick that makes him unique, or drastically change the classic design - it's just added to. The suit has means of aerial propulsion, increased firepower, and the ability to shock on contact. Nice, intuitive additions that increase the threat of a classic character! That's how it's done!

I'm reminded of a similar revamp around this time for Electro, who briefly ditched the mask, and got juiced up to be more electrifying than ever before. The nineties cartoon did a pretty good job of keeping classic villains in the zeitgeist, but I suppose it's easy to forget the way mid-nineties comics pushed some of the classics to the side. It's nice that these moments of classic reinforcement occur, but I do wish we could perhaps indulge the cycle with fewer deviations here in the 2010s.

Edit: July was supposed to be the month for featuring one of the revamped Shocker's fights from this very period, but 2017 has been unkind to a well planned schedule! Hero of the Week will record the moment Homecoming shocked the world. Keep watching the future for more Shocker goodness!

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