Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #38

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



Story Details

  Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #38
Summary: Electro
Arc: Part 1 of 'Light the Night' (1)
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Klaus Janson
Inker: Klaus Janson
Cover Art: Klaus Janson

We start with a man being strapped into an electric chair and then he lights up as the electricity burns through him. After a moment, he opens his eyes and the crowd in front of him scream and gasp. Then they start to cheer and Max Dillon feels like the biggest man alive. He is working as a carnival attraction for the Steuben Carnival in Kansas. Max loves the attention but doesn't like the way Steuben treats him. Before Max can go eat, Steuben makes forces him to put a lightbulb in his mouth and light it up. His boss makes a crude joke about plugging bulbs into any of Max's body parts and Max makes the bulb explode.

In New York, a crook named Charlie is holding a man hostage in a room at the "Top of New York" hotel. Charlie wasn't going to get much, as his captive only had forty two dollars and a credit card that reached it's limit. The guy offered to write Charlie a check, which insulted the crook. He was about to beat him when Spider-Man appeared in the window. Charlie immediately wants to give the money back if Spidey will leave him alone for once. He didn't even have a gun. The webhead was glad to hear it but was distracted when he heard a crash in the street below him. A car was out of control and veering dangerously in the street but Spider-Man stopped it with a webline. He went back to the man in the hotel, who told him that Charlie had run as soon as Spider-Man left. He promised to find the crook, he never forgot a face.

Spider-Man searched the area but didn't find him, which surprised and annoyed him. He let it go and made his way to the Daily Bugle, where he was late for a meeting with Jonah Jameson. Jonah immediately began to berate Peter for being twelve minutes late, despite Robbie telling him to lay off of him. Jonah continued to talk him down, forgetting that Peter wasn't in high school anymore.

The next day, Charlie was having a few drinks at a local bar, telling all of his problems to the bartender. He admits to being a thief but always petty crime and never hurt anyone. He'd always had bad luck and decided to turn to crime, but wasn't very good at that either. Even worse, he'd been captured by Spider-Man six times and he never recognized him. Charlie passed out, saying that being constantly looked past made him feel mighty small.

Back in Kansas, Max was walking to a diner to get some food and was thinking of his family. His mother was over protective and coddled him even more after his father walked out on them. She never wanted anything to hurt her little Maxwell or take him from her. Inside the restaurant, he tried to get the owner's attention but she was busy talking with a customer. No matter how many times he tried to get her attention, she kept talking with the customer. Max left feeling frustrated, telling himself that he wasn't a nobody. He'd felt ignored by other kids in his childhood and nothing changed after his mother died. He stayed in that house and got a boring job as a lineman for the electric company. He did enjoy being so close to the power in the electric lines, and he wished that he could tap into it. Of course, one day he was struck by lightening while working on an electrical line and somehow gained the ability to control electricity. He was Electro, not a nobody. When he robbed his first bank in his crazy costume, everyone noticed him. He was written about in magazines, talked about him on the news and he loved that people were afraid of him. Yet if he was so awesome, why was he always beaten by Spider-Man? He eventually gave up and hitched rides to Kansas and joined the carnival. It was at that point that he got an idea.

At the Bugle, Peter was talking with a public relations specialist, Sarah Klein. Her father had been a college friend of Jonah's and Jameson had recommended that Peter work with her as they covered the restoration of the "Top of New York" hotel. Jameson butted in and said that he had taught Peter everything that he knew and that Peter had been a "skinny bug eyed kid" that had wandered into his office. Robbie eventually interrupted Jonah's speech and reminded him that they had a newspaper to run. Jonah offered to give Sarah a tour and she asked if Peter was coming. He made an excuse to leave and silently cursed himself for letting Jonah walk all over him.

As Spider-Man, Peter was web swinging over the city when he saw a purse snatching in progress. It was Charlie of course, who was sick of being caught by the webhead. He drew a gun and threatened to shoot and Spidey dared him to do it. The gun clicked harmlessly and Spidey knocked Charle out. Again, Peter didn't recognize him.

At his apartment, Peter was woken from his sleep by a call from aunt May, who had been worried about him. She had been calling him until 1 AM and she started to get a nervous rash. He snapped at her that he was not a little boy that caught cold easily. Sometimes he actually sat in drafty rooms with the windows open. He then apologized and blamed his mood on a lack of sleep. He promised to come over for dinner that night and that he would wear a warm coat.

Max arrived back in New York, looking forward to pulling off his plan. As he walked down the street, he was asked for change by a guy, who turned out to be Charlie. Max coldly refused and Charlie got impatient. In frustration, Max shot a bolt at Charlie's feet, telling him to leave him alone. Max was surprised, as he hadn't meant to do that. Charlie assumed that Max had used some kind of gun on him, and blamed himself for panhandling. He was annoyed that Spider-Man had webbed him up but the police never bothered to arrive. He hung there until the webbing eventually dissolved. That's when he got an idea.

At the top of the "Top of New York" hotel, Max changed into Electro and said that if he pulled this off then no one would look down on him again. They'd talk about what he did for years. He was going to light the night.

General Comments

It's an issue written by J.M. DeMatteis and you can tell. I like his work, he's actually one of my favorite comic writers but he has a kind of predictable writing style. His writing is very heavy on trauma and psychology, which makes for more fleshed out characters. However, it does make things a little predictable. The bad guys are always deeply traumatized in some way, it's just a matter of how.

Everyone feels over looked or insignificant sometimes, and this issue covers that idea in spades. We get it from Max, Charlie and Peter. We'll see where it goes.

The art is very strange. It isn't pretty to look at. One of the first pages focuses on Max's eyes as he opens them in the electric chair and it's a well done image. Otherwise the art just feels ugly. At a distance the faces don't seem to have much detail, as if Klaus Janson decided that a few squiggles would be good enough.

Overall Rating

Nothing bad but nothing amazing either.

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