I do not own the first appearance of Electro. I am not made of money. I guess maybe that’s not a good excuse given some of the insane things I have managed to score. This one’s never appeared at a price I could pay. The Spider-Man at the bottom always reminds me of the one on ASM 316. While the cover promises a book-length comic colossal, the splash promises a book-length triumph AND a book-length thriller. We’re really getting something that is both good and book-length, don’t you worry. Maybe they were worried people would think the brief return to 2 stories last issue was permanent. We open on Spider-Man zooming through the streets, surprising and scarring all kinds of people, but heedless of them as he races home.
Electro having a mechanical component to his suit is some forgotten lore.
It’s funny to me how people in the early stuff are always guessing immediately that Peter has some dark secret he can’t share just because he’s kind of standoffish. Spider-Man packs it in for the night, trying to study for school, but too worried about Aunt May to really do so. The next day, our ol’ pal JJJ happens to be at the bank when Electro shows up to rob it. As he zaps and toys with everyone inside, JJJ, ace reporter, thinks that, because Electro knew the name of a famous business mogul who routinely buys time on TV, it must be someone he knows under that mask, and as Electro makes his escape, he lets us know who. I mean, you know who.
“How could they print it if it weren’t true?” I’ve never understood why Peter refused to tell people about his non-Spider-Man problems. He keeps every challenge a secret. Even JJJ would probably be nicer if he knew it was to save an old lady’s life, but for some reason, Peter won’t tell. Soon, Spider-Man is desperately searching for Electro, and eventually finds him robbing someone’s apartment. He thinks he’ll just watch for now, follow him back to his hideout and recover all he’s stolen. He stops to get some photos while he waits.
Spider-Man really gets beat up in these early stories.
Egads! Cheating! But here comes Electro’s origin…
Due to the way he was holding the wires! Even for the time, that’s some goofy origin. But, an origin it is, and now Electro’s breaking into prison to recruit some goons. This makes the news on the radio, but Aunt May’s operation is about to begin, and Peter promises to stay with her. Betty shows again to offer moral support, and Peter thinks how lucky he is to have a friend like her. They head to the waiting room til there’s word. Meanwhile, at the prison, JJJ has arrived, crowing that the fact that Spider-Man hasn’t shown up yet proves he’s right.
Peter’s not the only one with secrets. Soon, Spider-Man is doing his surprisingly common move of breaking into a store for some supplies and leaving money behind on his way to the prison. JJJ sees him swinging in and realizes he’s once again going to be a laughing stock. Inside, after getting his camera set up, Spider-Man gets ready to do his thing. Electro is trying to organize the goons who didn’t flee into his gang, but soon Spider-Man’s diving into them, taking them all out in but 2 panels. Electro tries to zap him, but he throws some metal bearings in front of the bolt, which, we’re told, “acts as a lightning rod.” I mean… I guess. A “steel chair” flung at Electro’s head serves a similar function as Spidey moves in.
If you think the rubber gloves are working a bit too well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Spider-Man leaves to the top of the stairs the prisoners are running up, kicking a gun out of the leader’s hand and routing the rest into the waiting arms of some guards. Then it’s back to Electro, who’s retrieved the gun from a minute ago and wants to see if a bullet or a zap reaches Spider-Man first.
“I’ll unmask him… I have no idea who this is” is never not funny, but is this the first instance of this time-honored gag? Could be!
Real emotional rollercoaster for everybody on these last pages. I’ve noted before how early Electro isn’t the dumb-but-strong henchman type he eventually becomes. I guess to be fair, most villains talked in that kinda stilted Mad scientist voice in these days, but nevertheless, Electro doesn’t seem like just some goon yet. Here’s the 2nd cover, by Scott Kolins and an uncredited colorist doing like 95% of the work:
Kolins has come a long way from SMU 6, but even so, his stuff has never done it for me. The unnamed colorist is doing a lot to make up for it, but his stuff lacks depth. It looks like he inks with a ballpoint pen, no variance in line weight, no shading, no spot blacks, not much of anything, and generally just not a style I care for.