The Silver Age Debut of Electro in Amazing Spider-Man #9, at Auction

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Electro's debut in Amazing Spider-Man #9 might be viewed as inevitable.  With Marvel's penchant for mining atomic age hopes and fears for its heroes and villains, it was only a matter of time before the company did the same with the world-transforming force of the prior era: electrical power.  And while Amazing Spider-Man #9 was not the first time that a character called Electro had appeared in comic books, or even the first character of that name to appear in a Marvel comic, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee's 1964 version has proven to be the most enduring and iconic. There's an Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages featuring the first appearance of this Electro up for auction at the 2021 August 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122133 coming up from Heritage Auctions.

Amazing Spider-Man #9, Marvel 1964.
Amazing Spider-Man #9, Marvel 1964, featuring the first appearance of Electro.

Like the rise of the atomic age did some 50 years later, the Electric Age spawned mutants, monsters, and heroes.  One of the earliest hero characters who had electricity-based superpowers that I'm aware of in American popular fiction appeared in Do and Dare #50 in 1901, from Street & Smith, who brought us the Shadow in the pulp era and many comics in the golden age.  Lad Electric was an early superhuman in the modern sense — not based on mythology or the supernatural. He was also essentially a mutant in the Marvel sense, with many Marvel-like origin elements and plot devices involved. He has the power to deliver an electric jolt with his touch. In keeping with the now-familiar formula, there is even an alliteratively named scientist on hand, "Professor Potts", his uncle and guardian, to explain to him when the power emerges that such things are latent in all humanity and have from time to time manifested in exceptional individuals. In Lad's case, his mother had a difficult childbirth and a "strange young doctor" used electricity to help them through and thus triggering the latent power to manifest — another Marvel-like device, as electricity is used here in this era like Stan, Jack, Steve, and company used radiation in the 1960s.

The Electric Age was still in the process of reshaping the world by the dawn of the Golden Age, and Marvel's original Electro was likely inspired by the New York World's Fair exhibit that explained exactly that.  Elektro, the robot created by Westinghouse Electric Corporation was one of the most famous exhibits at the fair. He was used by Westinghouse as a walking, talking advertisement of sorts, and a symbol of the modern wonders of electrical power.  Marvel's first Electro was not at all like the Electro we know today but was rather a remote-controlled robot that first appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics #4 in 1939.  Meanwhile, rival comics Fox Features Syndicate also had a character called Electro in the debut of their Science Comics title whose powers were much more familiar and on point with the way we think of the character. Science Comics #1's Electro had such an incredible mastery of electricity it reminds one of Magneto's absolute control of magnetism. Unfortunately for Victor Fox, Marvel's original Electro debuted in Marvel Mystery Comics #4 — which beat Science Comics #1 to the newsstands by a mere two weeks.  With Marvel's version more inspired by the robotic aspect of Westinghouse's Elektro rather than the notion of electrical wonders like Fox's version, it seems likely that Marvel and Victor Fox came to a simple agreement.  Fox's version of Electro was renamed Dynamo with Science Comics #2.

Marvel revived the name Electro for the Silver Age, but the character's powers are more along the lines of the Science Comics version.  An iconic villain with a deep history in popular culture, there's an Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages featuring the first appearance of this Electro up for auction at the 2021 August 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122133 coming up from Heritage Auctions.

Amazing Spider-Man #9, Marvel 1964.
Amazing Spider-Man #9, Marvel 1964.

The Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel, 1964) CGC VG 4.0 Off-white to white pages. Origin and first appearance of Electro, who returns to the screen in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home movie. Steve Ditko cover and art. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $290. CGC census 8/21: 201 in 4.0, 1398 higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 1231888006 and purchase grader's notes if available.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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