Who Is Electro? A Look at the Villains in the Spider-Verse - Comic Years
Comic Years Logo

Who Is Electro? A Look at the Villains in the Spider-Verse

author img
BY December 2, 2021

When Electro appeared in Amazing Spider-Man 2, audiences were mostly disappointed. Jamie Foxx was a fine choice for Maxwell Dillon, but the transformation via tank of electric eels and blue skin was a bit too silly, even for a comic book movie that also featured a dude in a giant armored Rhino costume. Yet when Foxx returned for the role in Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans were delighted – especially when they saw him in the trailers. No more blue skin. In fact, no more blue. Instead, he wore a more comic book accurate costume, all green (looking like an electrician’s jumper, which makes sense). Even better? He has the same yellow electricity from the comics, and it looks fantastic. But even though we’ve seen a version of him in the movies, his comic book counterpart is much different. So, who is Electro?

Real Name: Maxwell Dillon
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #9, February 1964
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Who is Electro? The First Blue Collar Supervillain

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

Supervillains, like many superheroes, rarely started with “normal” lives. Batman was rich. Superman was from another world. Lex Luther, also rich. Red Skull, a high-ranking general in the Third Reich. And so on. At the very least, they were extremely gifted in other ways, such as Captain America’s determination or the Riddler’s intellect. However, Max Dillon wasn’t any of these guys. He was an electrician who worked on power lines. Educated in his trade but not super intelligent.

Because of this, he’s a lot more similar to Spider-Man than most of his other villains. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s conceit for Peter Parker was that he was just some kid who got superpowers one day. Sure, Peter was more intelligent than the average teenager, but he would have never become a hero if it weren’t for that spider. Instead, he’d just go on to become a science teacher or a tech mogul, but a regular non-spirderized guy.

Likewise, Electro only gained his superpowers by a freak accident. While fixing powerlines, he was struck by lightning, which triggered a mutation. Was he a mutant? That’s unclear, but Magneto did try to recruit him into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But who would Max Dillon be if that lightning never hit him? Most likely, he would have remained an electrician with the occasional petty crime. Like Peter, he’d be a regular non-electrified guy.

Of course, where Peter began using his powers for good, Max immediately started a life of crime and never looked back.

Besides Spider-Man, Who Else is Electro Trying to Zap?

Like many Marvel villains, they fight multiple heroes. Aside from Spider-Man, Electro has battled several heroes. At one point, he was a member of the “Frightful Four,” fighting, as you might have guessed, the Fantastic Four. He also fought the Falcon, thinking he would be an easy target. He was wrong. But the villain who Electro seems to hate almost as much as he does Spider-Man is Daredevil. In fact, Electro was the first supervillain that Daredevil faced. Electro even formed his own supervillain team with the sole intent of taking Daredevil down, called the Emissaries of Evil.

What’s surprising is who hasn’t fought against Electro more often: Iron Man. When Max was first learning how to use his abilities, he stole Stark Industry technology to boost his powers. This might be why we see Electro with an Iron Man arc reactor in No Way Home. But he would make an interesting Iron Man nemesis.

Six Sinister Stories That Shows Who Electro Is

While Electro is one of Spider-Man fans’ favorite villains, he isn’t actually featured all that much. Mostly, he’s just another member of the Sinister Six. Sadly for Electro, nearly every villain who has tangled with Spider-Man is a former Sinister Six member. Yet, there must be something about him that makes him unique. These six stories might tell us what that is.

Recapture That Old Spark

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #1

In a way, we’re starting towards the end of Electro’s career as a supervillain. Instead of asking “who is Electro,” Recapture That Old Spark asks, “who cares about Electro?” After fellow supervillains mock him at the Bar with No Name, Max goes to the scene of his greatest crime: Ryker’s Island. He wants to set free all the prisoners as he did once before. But this time, it ends in tragedy. Max suffers from depression, and the ridicule triggers both rage and doubt. The result? He accidentally kills nearly everyone in the prison.

The Sin Eater Returns

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

The Spectacular Spider-Man #134-136

In the 1980s, Peter David pushed every boundary of the Comics Code Authority with this tragic three-issue sequel to The Death of Jean DeWolff. After Sin-Eater (Stan Carter) killed DeWolff, Spider-Man gave him a vicious beatdown, leaving Carter permanently crippled. A few years later, Carter is released from prison, and when Peter sees the result of his actions, it makes him afraid to attack anyone.

And that’s when Electro enters. He realizes that Spider-Man is afraid to hit back and starts to publicly humiliate him. He gets a bit – ahem – high on power. Finally, Carter convinces Spider-Man that he needs to accept that he will hurt people. But when Spider-Man goes off to finally defeat Electro, Stan takes a kid hostage, using a toy gun, so that he can kill himself by way of police. It’s a deep dive into guilt and depression. But Electro was the best choice for the villain here too. He’s literally power, something Peter lost for a few issues.

The Story That Really Answers “Who is Electro”: Gauntlet Origins

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

Web of Spider-Man Vol 2 #2

This one-shot fleshed out Electro’s origin, showing his ties to Stark and Magneto. It also gives us a better parallel to Spider-Man. When Peter realizes his powers can hurt people, he sees them as a responsibility. But when Max realizes the same, he just sees opportunity.

Rebirth of Electro

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

Amazing Spider-Man #422-425

Once again, we look at how Max Dillon’s depression gets the best of him. When a group of supervillains offers him a boost in power, he jumps at it. Anything to make himself feel seen and relevant again. And that power-up is big. He even figures out how to disrupt the electrical pulses in Peter’s brain, short-circuiting his powers. Spider-Man ends up enlisting X-Man (who was all the rage in the 1990s) to help him take Electro down. But when Spider-Man finally gets the upper hand, Electro throws himself into the Hudson, shorting out his own power, nearly dying, and worst of all – smelling like the Hudson River. The horror!

Power to the People

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

Amazing Spider-Man #612-615

One of the best story arcs for Spider-Man was The Gauntlet. It was actually a series of shorter arcs, each featuring a different villain. And the villain who kicked it off was, of course, Electro. Once again feeling dejected, he takes aim at the financial system. Yep – Electro not only joins Occupy Wall Street, but he also becomes a leading figure in the movement! Well, until he goes a bit too far and blows up the Daily Bugle.

Breakout

Who is Electro? Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man No Way Home, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Max Dillan, New Avengers (Image: Marvel Comics)

New Avengers #1-6

Finally, we have the story that gave Electro his most significant moment in comics. In Breakout, the Skrulls (unknown at the time) hire Electro to break Sauron out of Ryker’s Island, and maybe a few others. Electro does just that, setting free a who’s who of Marvel villains. It was such a big move that it forced the Avengers to reform. Max finally got to be the biggest badass out there…

Until the New Avengers surrounded him, and Spider-Man webbed up Luke Cage’s mighty fists. The sight of Luke’s web-fists makes Max faint on the spot. Well, he at least got his moment for a little while.

And that’s who Electro is. He was an everyday guy who wanted to make a name for himself and just so happened to get superpowers. So, what are some of your favorite Electro moments?

(Featured Image: Marvel Comics)

COMICSMarvelMovies

Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.

electroJamie FoxxSpider-ManSpider-Man: No Way Homethe amazing spider-man 2

Leave a comment

Related

Marvel
Great News Marvel® Fans: CGC Comics Announces Special Marvel Labels

Marvel Entertainment, LLC the owners of Marvel Comics®, recently licensed Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) with rights to create certification labels that will feature some of the most iconic characters of Marvel. Marvel legend characters that […]

BY Randy Brooks March 12, 2019
Movies
20th Century Fox Releases a New X-Men, Dark Phoenix Trailer

Recently, 20th Century Fox released another X-Men trailer. Dark Phoenix features Jesica Chastain. She acts as a mysterious foe. The trailer debuted in The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Many X men phoenix fans are […]

BY Randy Brooks March 14, 2019
Marvel
Serial Box: Partnering with Marvel to Tell New Serialized Stories of your Comic Book Superheroes

Serial Box is a publishing firm that has managed to gain the public’s attention by telling stories in several new ways. The firm is now focusing on telling stories that focus on superheroes with its […]

BY Randy Brooks March 11, 2019
error: Copyright Protection