In many respects, the Marvel Universe is meant to be a mirror image of our own world, so it's citizens are also facing tough economic times. And just like in our world, the heads of several of the Marvel U's big businesses are looking for government bailout money. Due to any number of bad business practices, many of these corporations are responsible for the dire straits they find themselves in, so the gall shown by these corporate heads in asking for financial help has upset many of the Marvel U's citizens. It's also created an opportunity for a desperate supervillain.
That supervillain is Max Dillon AKA Electro, and in the current "Power to the People" arc of "Amazing Spider-Man," Electro has turned himself into a man of the people by creating a series of popular web videos in which he rails against big business. It's a scheme that has worked incredibly well, placing Electro in a position to blackmail one of the businessmen asking for a government hand out, the owner of the "DB" newspaper, Dexter Bennett. In issue #613, in stores now, Electro uses the blackmail money he gets from Bennett to pay for a life-saving operation designed to stabilize his electricity-based powers. The operation is a success, but thanks the interference of Spider-Man, Electro's powers aren't just stabilized - they're increased significantly, and the villain is ready to wreak havoc on New York City.
The final chapter of "Power to the People" takes place in "Amazing Spider-Man" #614, in stores December 9. CBR News spoke with writer Mark Waid about the arc and what readers can expect from the final confrontation between Spidey and Electro.
CBR News: Where did the idea to make Electro a "man of the people" come from?
Mark Waid: In the last Spider-Man creators' conference, we began talking about the real-world issues of the day, and someone mentioned government bailouts. From there, I ran with the idea that the "DB" would lobby for one, little knowing that in between the time I wrote the story and the time it was published, "The New York Times" would lobby for one for real!
At the end of "Amazing" #613, Electro sends out a call to his followers to help him attack Dexter Bennett and the offices of the "DB." This has some readers wondering just how Electro feels about his new status as a political revolutionary. Does he see the people that believe in him and hang on his every word as a resource to be exploited? Or is he genuinely starting to believe that he can make a difference for the people of New York?
More the latter. Not to any huge extent - and events will happen in 614 that might mitigate his perceived influence - but he is getting a charge out of being a populist hero. "Charge." See what I did there? See...? Oh, give me a break, I have the flu.
Just how powerful is Electro at the end of issue #613? Does he have any real limitations at his point?
Only one - like all electrical power, he needs a source of conductivity in order to travel.
What can you tell us about the plot of issue #614? From the solicits, it sounds like something important happens to a major New York City landmark?
Yes it's something that, as Peter puts it in #614, is the dividing line between everything that's ever happened to Spider-Man and everything that ever will from now on.
J. Jonah Jameson has played a supporting role in the first two chapters of "Power to the People," and it sounds like he plays an even greater role in issue #614. I know you're fond of Jonah, so what's it like writing him now that he's Mayor of New York City instead of a newspaper publisher?
It's the same kind of fun. JJJ still bosses people around with mad non-sequiturs and motivations that make sense only to him. He's a blast to write. In a way, it's even more fun to write him now, because as Mayor there are times when he and Spidey are actually having to work on the same side - which kills JJJ.
Artist Paul Azaceta is bringing your "Power to the People" scripts to life. What's it like working with Paul?
Paul's a brilliant storyteller and his character work is terrific and spot-on. I couldn't be happier to be allied with him, seriously - he's one of my favorite artists to work with, and his "street level" stuff is knockout material, but with this run, he's also showing that he's got the chops to do high-adventure superhero work.
"Power to the People" is the first chapter in "The Gauntlet," a larger "Amazing Spider-Man" storyline which sees the return of several of the Wall-Crawler's classic villains and runs well into next year. How does it feel to be part of such a big storyline?
I'm stoked to be part of "The Gauntlet" because I know where we're going with it - and you'll really be shocked by what we have in store for the Wall-Crawler.
Fans of your work know that in addition to your duties on "Amazing Spider-Man," you're also Editor in Chief of BOOM! Studios. Are there any BOOM! Studios titles in particular that you think Spider-Man readers might enjoy while waiting for the next chapter of "The Gauntlet?"
I'd be remiss if I weren't pumping my own titles, "Irredeemable" and "Incorruptible" - but if you're after relentless, brutal and exciting, then I'd also recommend "Nola," the story of a female vigilante in post-Katrina New Orleans, and "Dingo," a terrific love/horror/adventure tale written by rising star Michael Alan Nelson. I encourage you to visit boom-studios.com for preview glimpses!
With "Amazing Spider-Man," the writers often receive their assignments very early, and Marvel recently held a Spider Summit with the writers of the book. Are you able to reveal when your next Spider-Man story is tentatively scheduled for, and are you able to offer up any teases as to what it's about?
It's tentatively scheduled for issues #623-624, as Spidey encounters the new Vulture again and learns his horrific origin. Also, Peter gets dealt a massive personal blow by the manipulations of "The Gauntlet," and it's a development you can't afford to miss.