Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #39

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 5 Sep 2022
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)

Background

The previous issue dealt with the tribulations of Max Dillon, Peter Parker and a small time crook called Charlie. All of them are suffering from low self esteem and feeling stepped on in life. Charlie has been captured by Spider-Man a half dozen yet Spidey never recognizes him. Peter feels bullied by J. Jonah Jameson and aunt May. Max has been controlled and laughed at by people for his whole life and he is tired of it. As Electro, he went to the "Top of New York" hotel and planned to do something that meant he would never be forgotten.

Story Details

  Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #39
Summary: Electro
Arc: Part 2 of 'Light The Night' (2-3)
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Klaus Janson
Inker: Klaus Janson
Cover Art: Klaus Janson
Articles: Aunt May Parker (BTS), Electro

On the roof of the hotel, Peter and Sarah Klein are examining some broken glass and fused metal. Witnesses claimed to have seen lightening hit the hotel sign, even though the weather was clear. As they inspected the scene, Peter had the feeling that Sarah was attracted to him. She even asked him why all of the good men were married. At that moment, Jonah arrived and demanded to know why Peter wasn't downstairs getting pictures of the party preparations. As Peter walked away, Jonah continued to berate him to Sarah, saying that Peter couldn't wipe his nose if he didn't hand him a tissue.

Max was looking up at the hotel, impressed by it's size. He had almost pulled off his plan the previous night but he lost his nerve. Now he was ready and no one would be laughing at or ignoring him. As he stood on the sidewalk, he was pushed aside by another pedestrian. He nearly shocked the guy but stopped himself. It would be tonight.

As Max walked away, Charlie walked past him. He walked into the hotel lobby and admired the art deco. When he had been in community college, he had wanted to be an architect but was kicked out for cheating on a chemistry test. He had wanted his designs to be remembered after he was gone but the only thing he'd be remembered for was being constantly dropped into prison by Spider-Man. Charlie made his way to the Beguine Ballroom, the scene of that night's party. He wanted to rob the wealthy party goers before heading off to Tahiti with an all girl crew.

Peter noticed Charlie sneaking around and he seemed familiar but he didn't get any warning from his spider sense. If the guy were dangerous it would have warned him. Peter was a little disappointed that he hadn't been a super crook for him to punch. He could have imagined it was Jonah. He wanted to tell his boss off but he couldn't risk his job, Sarah even thought there might be a book deal if it went well.

Just then, a guy came out of the elevator, dragging a woman by the hair and yelling at other people to get out of the way. A guard stopped him, saying he couldn't drag guests around and the man punched him, saying he could. The woman was his wife, who had run away from him and he came all the way to New York to find her. Spider-Man arrived and the guy had no idea who he was. Charlie was nearby watching the spectacle, annoyed that Spider-Man was there. He was at least glad to see the wife abuser get his own medicine. He hated people that picked on someone smaller than them, just like his father had done. He always smacked Charlie around, telling him he was worthless.

Meanwhile, the angry husband had thrown two punches at Spidey, neither of which fazed him. The webhead slapped him across the room, surprised at his his own anger. He told the woman that he wouldn't hurt her again and she ran to her husband, apologizing for leaving him. Charlie was amazed and told Spider-Man that his mother had been the same way, that his father had hit her and carried on with other women. Realizing who he was talking to, he walked away but Spidey stopped him. Spider-Man offered to carry his bag for him to the elevator. Charlie stammered that he was visiting his aunt and then tried not to vomit in anxiety. Spidey thought he was odd but forgot about him to go change for the party.

At his apartment, Peter was having trouble tying his necktie. Mary Jane was gone on a photoshoot so she couldn't help and he even considered calling his aunt. That idea was humiliating and he realized that Jonah had gotten under his skin. The phone rang and it was May. He was irritated by her constant worrying and told her that he didn't need a woman around to take care of him. After he hung up, he hated the helplessness.

On the roof a building, Electro was talking himself up to pull off his plan. He didn't honestly know if his plan would work and it could honestly kill him. He decided that he might as well be dead anyway. He had been meek and gutless as Max Dillon and had thought he'd be a big man as Electro. Instead he was still just Max, hiding behind a stupid mask. He might die that night but he screamed into the night that he'd die big. He took a moment before admitting that he was scared. Max's mother always told him he was so delicate and he couldn't play like the other boys. He never dared to risk anything until he became Electro and even then he always ended webbed up and waiting for the police. He flew to the hotel.

Inside, Charlie thought he was on his way to turning his life around. He wasn't going to be faceless anymore. As a wealthy couple stepped out of the elevator, he scared them back into it.

In the ballroom, Sarah approached Peter to apologize to him for making him uncomfortable. She hadn't been acting like herself as she was thirty four years old with a biological clock and couldn't find a good man. Peter came along and he was smart, responsible and talented and she got carried away. He appreciated the kind words and that's when Jonah arrived. He was screaming about how he was too kind to Peter when he was so lazy and dopey. Finally having had enough, Peter picked up a bowl of punch and spilled it over Jonah's head, yelling that he wasn't a kid.

As Jonah screamed at Peter that he was fired, the party goers began laughing at him. He was confused and then quietly begged them to stop. The scene was interrupted by Charlie, who was dressed in a bicycle helmet and what looked like sticks of dynamite. He called himself "the amazing, spectacular, incredible, fantastic Crook-Man!" He told them to drop their valuables into his bag or else he'd blow them all up, but not himself because he was invulnerable. (Too bad he couldn't pronounce the word.) Spider-Man showed up and could sense that "Crook-Man" wasn't rigged with explosives. He told Charlie to give up before he got into more trouble and Jonah yelled at him to stay out of it. Spider-Man dared him to hit the button and when he did, the lights went out.

Electro wore a harness and plugged himself into the hotel's sign. He began draining electricity from the city, causing a blackout. He let the power into every cell in his body from every building. He drank in his success as the city went black and he glowed with electricity. At the same time it hurt and he was scared, afraid he would die. It was worth it as he lit the night.

General Comments

This was a significant step up from the previous issue. The first part wasn't bad but it felt a little bland. This issue made me feel for Peter and Max. I could relate to Peter not wanting to ask for help, even though he needed it. Pride is a cruel mistress. It was satisfying seeing him knock the abusive husband across the hotel lobby and depressing seeing his wife run back to him. All too true.

This issue is the most interesting and fleshed out that Electro has ever been. Many villains have been given plenty of attention to their character, so much so that it became overwhelming and even contradictory. Electro on the other hand was a one note crook that Spider-Man defeated fairly easily. His inner monologue of frustration and self doubt was was very well done, he actually seemed like a person. Thank you J.M. DeMatteis!

Charlie is just kind of a clown. He's right, he's failed at everything and he never seems to learn. He's lousy as a street crook but he really thought he could rob a bunch of ultra wealthy people despite what must have been very high security. The bicycle helmet costume was funny though. "Crook-Man" is a terrible name but not much worse than "the Looter," so there's that.

I hope that Peter enjoyed having a job.

Overall Rating

The art is still ugly but the story is enjoyable.

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 5 Sep 2022
 Staff: Dave Sippel (E-Mail)