What is willpower? Is it control exerted to restrain impulses? An "emotion" powering the Green Lantern Corps? No. Willpower is Herman Schultz. Herman Schultz is a grown man in a quilted, brown-and-yellow vibrating costume who calls himself The Shocker. Despite his suggestive moniker, Shocker wasn't always a joke. Seriously, during his debut in 1967's The Amazing Spider-Man #46 by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., Shocker uses his patented Vibro-Smasher gauntlets to beat Spider-Man within an inch of life. Granted, Spider-Man was fighting with a broken arm at the time, but it remains an impressive villainous feat for a dude wearing a quilt.
What sets Shocker aside from other trash villains? Well, Shocker represents the human condition. Despite being well-versed with defeat, Shocker refuses to stay down. Even after spending decades getting whooped by superheroes in Manhattan, Shocker just moves to New Jersey to accidentally open an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Shocker's battle cry is "Don't mock The Shocker!" This is a padded provocateur who will not quit, even when his bladder quits him on numerous occasions. And no, that's not a joke. Given his track record, it can be justifiably argued that Shocker rocks a brown and yellow costume to camouflage certain stains. We strive to be Spider-Man, because deep down we are all just a bunch of soiled Shockers. How shall we honor this criminal who converts defeat and tears into willpower? By chronicling The Shocker's most humiliating moments, obviously.
SPIDER-MAN'S PUNCHING BAG
Headhunter attempts to recruit Tiger Shark and Bombshell in Villains For Hire by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Renato Arlem. Tiger Shark asks what would happen if they refuse, prompting Headhunter to turn to the quilted man sitting beside her, Shocker. Which results in Tiger Shark's sly remark, "Shocker? As muscle? You're threatening us with Spider-Man's punching bag?"
Mind you, Tiger Shark is being literal: the padding on Shocker's costume not only allows him to wield his Vibro-smashers effectively, but also makes punching Shocker easier on the fists. For example, we then smash-cut to Shocker being thrown through the bar's window.
Adding insult to injury, Headhunter only then offers Tiger Shark and Bombshell sixty grand just to settle down and have a conversation. Tiger Shark points out how messed up that is: "You might've mentioned that before I put Captain Sparkplug through the wall."
Kicked out of his criminal crew, The Shocker threatens extorting his boss Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming. In retaliation, Toomes activates a reverse-engineered space-gun, accidentally disintegrating Shocker. Shocked, Toomes remarks that he thought he was wielding a (presumably) non-lethal anti-gravity gun. Brushing it off, Toomes exhumes a Vibro-Smasher from the dust that was Shocker, handing it off to Herman Schultz, or "Shocker #2" played by Bokeem Woodbine.
This scene was one of our favorite moments from Spider-Man: Homecoming because it properly reflected the humiliating legacy of The Shocker. In retrospect, the entire movie only happens because "Shocker #1" (or Jackson Brice, played by Logan Marshall-Green) wanted to shoot some space-guns during a weapons deal. Less ten minutes later, Shocker #1 is nothing more than a Vibro-Smasher in a pile of ash.
THE DEADLY FOES OF SPIDER-MAN
Pushed to the brink by super-bullying from Spider-Man, Shocker snaps in 1991's The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man by Danny Fingeroth and Al Milgrom. Throwing a tantrum, Shocker incapacitates Spider-Man. With a crumpled Spider-Man apologizing to Mary Jane before him, Shocker readies the quilted coup de grâce.
Suddenly, an unseen assailant shoots Shocker in the back, shouting "Justice is served," the catchphrase of the vigilante Scourge. Though his vibrating costume deflects the round, hearing Scourge's quote-unquote catchphrase convinces Shocker to flee. (For those unaware, Scourge was an uninspired Punisher literally created to cull Marvel's lame villains and is therefore literally Shocker's worst nightmare.)What's humiliating about Shocker turning tail is that this wasn't Scourge. The Kingpin reveals that this was a "Scourge imposter." We don't even know if this imposter was wearing a costume, as Shocker didn't bother verifying his assailant before fleeing.
THE SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN
Shocker operates with a sense of loyalty and pragmatism that makes him the Sinister Six's resident coward in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber. Serving as a human punching bag, Shocker is locked in the trunk of a car that is thrown off a pier, betrayed by his friend Hydro-Man, buried alive by his teammates and is whooped by Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Chameleon and the disembodied cyborg head of Silvio Silvermane. But perhaps worst of all, Shocker owns a couch that matches his costume.
Pushed to the brink, Shocker rolls up to a gang war in the Shocker-mobile. Screaming "Don't mock The Shocker!", Shocker hits The Punisher with a vibro-blast, sending him sailing just like Team Rocket. Wordlessly, every gangster present bends the knee to the Shocker, the sole member of the Sinister Six to get a happy ending.
THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL, BABY!
Tweaking out hard on a symbiote costume, Spider-Man hits rock bottom as he chases Shocker throughout a church in "The Alien Costume, Part 2" from the best scene ever in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Howling Shocker's name like a scorned lover, Spider-Man spooks Shocker so sufficiently that he runs straight through a heavy wooden door like Wile E. Coyote. (We're not going to lie, Shocker splintering that door is what inspired us to write this piece in the first place.)
After webbing up Eddie Brock for poor journalism, Spider-Man points at Shocker, growling "And you. You're the main course!" With his trademark Vibro-Smashers smashed, an emasculated Shocker swings at Spidey, claiming "You'll pay for this!" Catching both of Shocker's wrists, Spidey delivers the best line in the entire series as he dangles Shocker off of a ledge: "The check's in the mail, baby!"