“Amazing Spider-Man” #614 is the final part of the “Power to the People” arc which is nested inside the larger arc known as “The Guantlet.” Even so, this issue stands pretty firmly on its own, setting up and then wrapping up a pretty-clear conflict between Spider-Man and Electro.
Though this ain’t your daddy’s Electro. Or even your Electro. This is the 2009, Glenn Beck version of the character — a pundit of the people, raging against government abuses and greed, calling people to take to the streets in protest of the stimulus package. No, really, that’s what this “Power to the People” arc is about.
So this Electro — who is the same guy as the old Electro, just more mentally unstable and powered-up thanks to the Mad Thinker — brings his hate and popular support amongst the easily-influenced, against Dexter Bennett, owner of “The DB” (formerly “The Daily Bugle”).
But, since this is an “Amazing Spider-Man” comic, and not a “Electric Windbag Libertarian Criminal” comic, the good ol’ webslinger comes in to save the day, save Dexter Bennett, save the Daily Bugle building, and show how full of hot, crackling air Electro really was. Spider-Man doesn’t actually accomplish all of those things, but 2 1/2 out of 4 isn’t bad. Well, it’s pretty bad. But just normal, Spider-Man level, bad, because if he was completely successful and heroic and perfect he’d have to change the first syllable of his name to “Soup.”
This has been kind of a silly arc, what with the all-of-a-sudden political ranting of Electro, and that tattoo on his face in the shape of his old mask. (I guess the character is a big fan of the work of Colin Farrell and Mark Steven Johnson.) But Mark Waid does a nice job with the character work once we buy into Electro’s change in attitude, and the amazingly talented Paul Azaceta brings a chiseled realism to even the most ludicrous scenes. Azaceta is some kind of disciple of Mignola and Lark, and I’ve enjoyed his work since 2005’s “Grounded,” from Image Comics. And, of course, he’s worked with Waid on “Potter’s Field” for Boom. It’s great to see him take on higher-profile work, and his Spider-Man looks great.
“The Gauntlet” continues next month, with the return of yet another of Spidey’s old enemies. (The whole premise of “The Gauntlet” is that these musty old characters get “leveled-up” to challenge the web-slinger as part of a larger, devious, supervillain scheme.) I don’t know that Waid and Azaceta really made Electro much more interesting than he used to be, but it was fun watching them try. All-in-all, this is a solid issue of what has become a dependably enjoyable series over the past two years.