Friday, June 22, 2018

Down Among The Dead Men: Part 3 of 4 (Marvel)
Marvel Knights: Spider-man #3 When: August 2004 Why: Mark Millar How: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson

The Story So Far...
The dual identities of Peter Parker and Spider-man have collided in the worst possible way! The nightmare began with his Uncle Ben's tombstone defaced. Peter soon received a call confirming the worst - that a malicious element has learned his secret identity!

With Aunt May missing, Spider-man begins a frantic chase to find the culprit and rescue his family! Unable to find assistance from his fellow heroes, he finds an unlikely lead from the returning mob boss: The Owl! He points Spidey in the direction of his old enemies Electro and Vulture!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super-Human)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Electro 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Spider-man 29 (Metahuman)

Time for a recharge and what better way to do it than by pitting Spider-man against one of his most electrifying lethal foes?

Electro was once the struggling electrician Max Dillon -- until a freak accident transformed him into a human capacitor! Now he can drain, store, and generate electrical energy to be utilized through a variety of malicious methods!

His most common attacks are simple arcs or bolts of electricity. His charge can reach significantly high voltage, more than capable of electrocuting a normal human being. He can also create fields of charge to manipulate metals, ignite explosive materials, and even levitate and glide.

Despite being a stalwart classic of the Marvel Universe, we haven't seen a lot of Electro on The Comic Book Fight Club! He nearly spoiled Christmas in the 1992 Holiday Special, but Spidey was able to kayo him with a giant star ornament! He was also back causing trouble in Marvel Knights: Spider-man #11 as part of the Sinister Twelve. He was seen maliciously zapping Black Cat, before he was swiftly neutralized by Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman!

Electro's criminal career is replete with defeats, largely due to his tendency to rely on firepower, rather than tactics. Periodically he receives a helping hand to super-charge his powers, or apply a superior strategy, which can yield results.

The criminal fraternity may just be one of Electro's greatest strengths, and in today's fight, he's out on the town with his old pal Vulture! We missed out on seeing more from him around this time last year, but we'll see if his assistance makes any difference to Electro's chances today!

History is rarely on Electro or Vulture's side, but you don't stick at the super-villain game this long without having a little success. Will this be the one that puts Spidey down for the count? Let's go ahead and find out!

History: Spider-man (2-0-0)
The Tape: Electro & Vulture Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Electro opens the door to find the spider's trap waiting to ensnare him! He asks his heroic nemesis to grant two minutes grace for his female acquaintance to clear the area, but Spidey's hip to the phony concern!

With the proportionate speed and agility of an arachnid - Spidey leaps clear of Electro's bolts and delivers a swift right-hand to his unmasked foe!

The blow sends them spilling into the hallway, where Adrian Toomes makes a break for a nearby window with a briefcase in hand! Despite a lack of flightsuit, the trench coated Vulture smashes through the window for an aerial escape -- but Spidey is able to snare the case with a jet of web!

Electro reacts to the loss of funds with a massive blast of electricity that sends Spider-man hurtling from the exploding building in a plume of smoke!

A levitating Toomes delivers the bad news: Their twenty million dollars is gone - scattered to the winds! Suited up for action, Electro instructs Vulture to go get his wings and join him in dismantling Spider-man for costing them their fortune.

Some slick acrobatics and conductive stationary cars help Spidey avoid wild bolts of charge from Electro! He bounces back, leaping onto an idle taxi to deliver a slobber-displacing left hook!

The punch is a momentary distraction. Electro rolls with it and fires back with raw power! Electricity pulses through Spider-man's contorting body! He cries out in agony - throwing his leg at Electro's chest with desperate intent!

The aggressive strike surprises Electro with pain. The spark of his electric energy launches Spidey vertically into the rain-filled sky! A momentary reprieve as Electro's charge fills the street and starts metal shrapnel levitating!

Spidey leaps and contorts to navigate the hail of electrically-charged metal flung into the street! He rips the door off a nearby car to use as a shield, and orders Electro to leave bystanders out of it. Enraged by his losses - Electro lashes out by igniting the car's fuel! It explodes right in front of Spidey!

Fire fills the street and cars rise into the air like toys! Ionized metal an electric suggestion from Doctor Octopus. Electro walks through the fire and brings the evening traffic slamming down on top of a still stunned Spider-man!

Amidst the carnage of twisted metal and exploding gas tanks - Electro gets cocky enough to call Vulture. While he does, a notably battle-damaged Spidey webs across the street and launches himself at his old enemy!

Electro doesn't see it coming as Spider-man rush tackles him from behind! They go smashing into a nearby building, where Spidey just focuses on continuing to hit him! Wild and vicious lefts until a massive finishing uppercut!

Blood trickles from Electro's nose, but the energized villain still crackles with energy. He prepares to flash fry his wild swinging nemesis - until he notices the sign on the wall: Gas & Propane. This time the explosion comes unintentionally!

Both a tattered mess lying in open air. Electro appears the worse for wear, lying amidst the rubble, when Spidey hunches over him to search for answers!

The wall-crawler squats over the exhausted villain and clutches at his suit, but it's no good. Electro and Vulture had nothing to do with May Parker's kidnapping. The Owl played him. The realization leaves Spidey open to one last jolt of electricity! The pooling rain around them the perfect conductor!

Spidey's broken and battered body is blasted from the open rooftop of the gas building. His mind wanders, reviewing the predicament as his limp body hurtles toward the street below. He knows he needs to sling a web - but nothing comes.

The fallen hero smashes into a police car arriving on the scene. The windshield cracks before his body bounces off into a puddle. An ambulance is called, but the threat to Peter Parker is far from over...

The Hammer...
A shocking result! The visual victory appeared to belong to Electro, but under deeper scrutiny, both hero and villain shared a significant amount of damage! Spider-man may've taken a plunge from a building, but they're both on a trip to the emergency room by issue's end -- or at least, that's the plan...

In the next issue: it becomes apparent The Owl's men have collected Electro to punish him for stealing the twenty million dollars. It's a fate he shares with Vulture, who was seen briefly during today's featured fight as his absconding accomplice. That's a story for another day, though...

I was inspired to return to Marvel Knights: Spider-man by last week's Sony demo at E3. Spider-man for the PlayStation 4 seems to be pursuing a confused aesthetic similar to Homecoming, which maintains the utter implausibility of super-powered villains, but little of the joy of iconic fantastical costuming.

Even I can acknowledge yellow & green aren't exactly the go-to colors of electricity. Not that it matters. Hollywood never really got to grips with the whole super-hero deal any way. It was either gaudy dayglow, or drab pleather. Somewhere between these extremes of yesteryear and today lies the happy medium. Pleasing fantasy, and good taste. Occasionally we get both, but these days Marvel Entertainment is selling the classics as short as anyone else.

Electro's costume has always been one of the more challenging designs in three dimensional reality. It's iconic on the page, but the mask and lightning shaped protrusions aren't readily accepted outside of a Mexican pro wrestling ring.

It wasn't entirely surprisingly to see Electro's design addressed when Mark Millar collaborated with Terry and Rachel Dodson. The twelve issue run was ripe for comparison to what Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee did in Hush a year earlier. They'd had creative license with the iconic characters featured. So did team MK Spidey.

Writers of Millar's ilk enjoyed laying the boots in to second-tier villains from time to time. Somewhere in this very issue there's a gratuitous reference to "that loser" Paste Pot Pete. They all had their preferred whipping boys, but it was mostly in good fun. This was a time when the pleather misery of The Ultimates still seemed like a good idea. Fortunately, Marvel Knights: Spider-man was still classic Spidey at heart - even if it had some edge.

Rather than drastically modify Electro's unique look, the circumstances by which it exists were reevaluated. The end result: A slightly more tactile costume, with a mask that clings to his head because of movement, environment, and static electricity. A pleasantly natural in-fiction inspiration for embellishing a classic design. It's still basically the look you know and love, with the subtlety of not having jagged bits sticking off his face in every scene. Not that I really minded.

Spidey still voices the opinion of those who'd diss Electro's fashion sense, but he gets as good as he gives. We should all probably accept the bad guy's costumes as readily as we do the classic red & blue of Spider-man. And we do accept it, whether it has a sporting goods origin story, or not. That's what happens when aesthetic conceits have been established for some eighty years.

Terry Dodson does a great job of bringing the classic into the contemporary, with or without  the rubber souled boots, and costume seams that came into vogue at the time. His work is inky and rubbery and full of volume and energy.

Rachel Dodson's inks no doubt deserve a heaping of credit. Sometimes the black & whites look better than final pages! I like confident blacks and [Terry]'s pencils soak that ink up beautifully.

["Avalon's"] Ian Hannin handled colours on this issue, and deserves a parade for keeping them sumptuous and bold!

His representation of lighting and colour interactions is quite superb, lending a strong impression of reality to the iconic costumes live-action is so reluctant to recreate. Images bathed in blues and reds bring exploding cars and electricity bolts to life better than any big screen blockbuster! The entire art team does a great job of bringing an ominous evening rain to life.

Time and again I'm reminded that good old fashioned Spidey nourishes the soul.

This issue plays rough in ways that won't be comfortable for every fan of the classics, but it keeps a whole lot more than it throws away. Some of what it adds is kinda nice, too. We'll have to make time to talk about what they did with Vulture, but that'll have to wait for another time.

A mean spirit isn't such a bad thing for a villain. Electro feels like a bona fide threat throughout this issue's fight, even if it ends in stalemate. It's useful to re-charge villains from time to time. It keeps their value.  The big action of explosions and floating cars is the good bit of what we saw at E3.

If you're looking for more Marvel Knights Spider-man to nourish your soul, you can check out featured fights from issues #1 and #11! There's a whole lot more to discover by following character tags below, links in this post, or by diving into the Issue Index Archive for all previous featured fights!

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Go one step further by picking yourself up a collected edition containing today's featured fight! By using the convenient purchase link provided, Amazon will contribute to the war effort at no cost to you!

Winner: Draw
#2 (--) Spider-man
#856 (+18) Electro
#540 (+1) Vulture [+1 assist]