SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "The Amazing Spider-Man" #17, in stores now.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" #17 is the second part of "Before Dead No More," a lead-in to this fall's "Dead No More" storyline by Dan Slott and Jim Cheung. As part of the wind-up to the upcoming event, Slott, R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto are doing their best to show readers how high the stakes can get. And with two supporting characters in Spider-Man's life having died by the end of this issue, there's no mistaking that things are definitely getting dangerous.
As we saw in the first part of "Before Dead No More," the man who's been bribing villains to his side is none other than the Jackal, best known for his cloning abilities that have wreaked havoc with Peter Parker's life over the decades. Characters who recently appeared to have been resurrected from the dead have turned out to be clones, and that pattern continues with the depowered Electro being dragged into his schemes thanks to his girlfriend Francine being alive and well. Considering that Electro had accidentally killed Francine with his own powers, it was a nasty lure to be certain. This is obviously a long game Slott's been planning when you consider that Electro's depowering happened two years ago in the previous volume of "Amazing Spider-Man."
That said, Electro has also been a bit of a whipping boy for Slott and company in recent years. He was one of the villains brainwashed by the Superior Spider-Man (aka Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker's body), he accidentally killed his girlfriend Francine, and Black Cat used Electro as part of a revenge plot against Spider-Man that made his already uncontrollable powers more erratic than ever. And then, of course, Electro was depowered entirely and sent off to jail.
So with all of that in mind, it probably won't surprise too many readers that Electro has one final humiliation in store. After all that he's gone through, the Jackal is finally offering him a bit of dignity, and as part of that will even restore Electro's powers... or rather, tries to restore them. Electro can't catch a break and his powers won't return to him. If the paragraph ended there, it would be bad enough for everyone's third-favorite electric-fueled super-villain. However, as it turns out, Francine's clone material interacts strangely with the attempt to repower Electro -- since it was his electrical powers that killed her -- and she ends up stealing his powers.
Oh yeah, and she kills Electro in the process, too. Oops.
On the Prowl
Electro's death is witnessed by Hobie Brown, aka the Prowler. Over the years he's been a bit of a b-grade hero, using his suit to fight crime and occasionally work with Silver Sable and her crew of mercenaries. At the start of the recent "Amazing Spider-Man" series last year, though, Hobie got a new gig: pretending to be Spider-Man on occasion so that people will see him and Peter Parker in the same place at the same time. Add in that Hobie is a smart inventor in his own right, and he's been a good addition to Team Spider-Man.
With the New U organization claiming to be able to create organ replacements out of clones that are free of any genetic maladies, though, Peter sends Hobie into the proverbial fire by asking him to spy on the organization to figure out what's really going on. The end result is that Hobie is the one hero to witness Electro's death at the hands (or rather, lips) of Francine. Hobie is able to fend off the Lizard using his intelligence (and his suit's technology), but it's the all-new Electro who ultimately takes down Prowler.
Oh yeah, and she kills Prowler in the process, too. Oops -- again.
Day and Night of the Jackal
As for the guy who's behind all of this, the Jackal's schemes clearly have only just gotten started. He's holding the potential cure for Aunt May's husband Jay Jameson as a lure to pull Peter Parker and his family closer into his sway. And considering that he was able to draw in Rhino, Lizard, and (the admittedly now deceased) Electro, let's just say that the Jackal is rather persuasive.
This is, after all, the same man who turned Peter Parker's life upside down by creating clones of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (and just about anyone else you can think of), as well as spreading the dangerous Spider-Virus throughout Manhattan. He's a genetic-sequencing genius, but he's manipulative and methodical as possible these days. His latest plan, after all, is more than just creating clones.
The final pages of "Amazing Spider-Man" #17 reveal Jackal's latest villainy with a special little twist. Similar to how the Jackal brought back the loved ones of Rhino, Electro and the Lizard, the sting here is that Jackal uses his cloning abilities to bring the just-deceased Prowler back to life. (Electro isn't quite so lucky, but that's probably because Francine is seen wearing her own Electro costume.) It seems that these clones aren't quite as shelf-stable as the juice boxes you see in your grocery store, though. Because the final image is of the Jackal holding up a pill and explaining to Hobie that he has to take one every day in order to remain alive. And just like that, the trap snaps shut; the Jackal can bring you or loved ones back to life, but if you don't get your daily pill from Jackal, it's the end of the line.
Could things get any worse for Peter Parker? This looks like a doctor's prescription for a big helping of, "Yes, it can." Good luck, Peter. It's the night of the Jackal, and quite possibly the day, too. Whatever's in store for readers in "Dead No More, " it promises to be a wild ride.