Cover Date: February 1964
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
“The Man Called Electro!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
A new villain, Electro, is making headlines as he starts a one-Man crime wave. Where is Spider-Man when the city really needs him? Well, he is at the bedside of Aunt May, as she deals with a serious illness.
- A new super-villain named Electro is making a name for himself in the city.
- Aunt May has been very ill, and her condition takes a turn for the worse. She now needs surgery; unfortunately, she and Peter don’t have enough money to pay for it.
- Worried about his aunt, Peter misses an opportunity to make peace with his school bully, Flash Thompson.
- At the hospital, Aunt May gets a surprise visitor: Betty Brant. Betty and Peter have been getting friendly at work, so she stopped by to offer some comfort.
- Elsewhere, Electro robs a bank while J. Jonah Jameson is there. Electro recognizes him (he is a public figure, after all, and his mustache is, uh, memorable), so JJJ concludes that he must know Electro.
- When Jonah hears that Electro fled the crime scene by scaling a building (he ran up a steel girder, using electromagnetic powers), he concludes that Electro is actually Spider-Man in disguise! The next edition of the Daily Bugle makes the claim, despite offering no concrete support.
- Realizing that capturing Electro would get him some reward money and disprove JJJ, Spider-Man tracks down Electro and interrupts him, mid-crime. It…does not go well for Spidey.
- After defeating Spider-Man, Electro decides that he needs some flunkies. He heads to a prison and frees some criminals, with the intention of creating a gang. He’s not the most inspiring leader of men, but some of the inmates agree to follow his lead.
- The jailbreak is big news, but Peter stays at the hospital with Aunt May until she is out of surgery; the procedure went well, and she will recover from whatever unnamed health problem she was suffering.
- With Aunt May recovering from surgery, Peter leaves to go fight Electro. Betty Brant fears that Peter is becoming an action junkie (or something); Peter heads to the prison anyway.
- Spidey managed to stop the jailbreak, defeat Electro, and proved that he and Electro were different people —- all at the same time!
- After the fight Peter sells some action pictures to J. Jonah Jameson, and that presumably covers Aunt May’s hospital bills. However, Betty is upset that Peter put himself in danger to get the pictures; Peter gets upset at her telling him what to do, and says some dumb things because he’s a teenager.
- Peter regretted his words, almost immediately. Luckily for him, Betty came after him, and it looks like maybe there’s romance in their future.
Is It Good?
This is another good Spider-Man issue from Stan and Steve. I like that Peter’s civilian life has been developed enough that it feels just as vital to the character as the super-heroics do. Betty and Flash had moments that really helped flesh out their characters, and it’s those little things that separate this title from the rest of Marvel’s books.
- This is the first appearance of Max Dillon, AKA Electro.
- Electro gained his powers through a freak accident involving lightning and power lines.
- Betty Brant is not necessarily older than Peter Parker, despite having a full-time job. She is a high school dropout.
- No one comments on Peter’s improved vision. Flash Thompson broke his glasses last issue, and that was enough to instigate a fight between the two boys. It looks like Peter is just going to go without glasses going forward.
- A letter writer asked why Marvel characters always use exclamation marks when they speak, and the answer makes good sense. I had wondered about this, too.
- One of the oddest aspects of this edition of the Spider-Man letter page is that Marvel chose to print multiple letters that criticized Steve Ditko’s art. Steve freaking Ditko’s Spider-Man art!!! What was wrong with that generation?
- It’s hard to believe that anyone ever believed this:
Comics Are Goofy:
- I can’t decide if Electro’s mask is incredibly stupid, or pure genius. On the one hand, it looks dumb, and it probably took a lot of effort for him to sew it and make the lightning bolts stick out from it like that. On the other hand, if you’re going to be a criminal, giving witnesses something distinctive to focus on would probably skew their memory enough to not recognize you out of your costume.
- Betty, you have some dramatic thoughts.
- Stan Lee could write the occasional clever line.
- One of the great things about J. Jonah Jameson’s character (at this point in the series) is that you never feel bad for him. Maybe it’s the Hitler mustache, or maybe it’s his unwavering hatred of Spidey, but it is genuinely fun to see him getting conned by Peter.