Spider-Man Part 8: Shocking

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 7, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 72 comments

After his date with MJ, Spider-Man gets out on the town to discover that his old foe Shocker has just been paroled and is already tearing up the city, stealing cash.

I really have to question the parole board of Spider-Man’s New York. Shocker can obliterate cars and shatter walls. He crosses the city by launching himself in the air with shockwaves, meaning he leaves a Hulk-style path of destruction in his wake. He could do a few million dollars of damage just crossing town, not to mention the mess he’d make when he got to the bank. I have to assume he’s done this at least once in the past, so I’m not sure how he’s out on parole. Or how he got his suit back. Or why there wasn’t anyone keeping an eye on him.

Shocker vs. Electro

Yes, Spider-Man has both Electro and Shocker in his rogue’s gallery. Yes, that can be a little confusing for casual fans. For the record, Shocker doesn’t shock people. Electro shocks people while Shocker uses shockwaves. I think maybe the writing team ought to have spent a little more time coming up with some alternate names. Maybe they should have spent a little more time on his costume, too. His suit looks very… quilted.

Dude, you are NOT his arch enemy. To be honest, I'm not even sure you'd make the top 10.
Dude, you are NOT his arch enemy. To be honest, I'm not even sure you'd make the top 10.

In the early comics I remembered they actually described his powers in terms of being “vibrations”. Maybe his name is innuendo now, but at least he didn’t wind up named Vibrator. I don’t know when they re-worked him from using vibrations to shockwaves, but that makes a lot more sense. As a kid I could never imagine how localized airborne vibrations could be as dangerous as they depicted. Isn’t that just really loud sound?

His origin story isn’t anything special either. His real name is Herman Schultz, which strikes me as a very pedestrian name. I realize not every villain can have a name like Otto Octavius or Victor Von Doom, but Herman Schultz doesn’t sound like a guy who would terrorize New York so much as a guy you vaguely remember from gym class in high school. His origin doesn’t have any cool twists or drama. He wasn’t driven to the dark side by injustice or outrageous fortune. He’s not suffering from any major personality flaws like a bad temper or a fragile ego. He just invented some “vibro-shock gauntlets” and decided the best use of them was robbing banks.

He’s not a terrible character. He’s an interesting character concept that could have benefitted from another writing pass before he hit the page. Then again, he was introduced in 1967. The business was pretty rough back then and creators did a lot of shooting from the hip. They had short deadlines, writers stretched thin over many titles, and there wasn’t a lot of quality control. Nobody was much worried about continuity and long-term branding problems back then. You just had to get the funnybooks out the door and deal with the bad ideas later.

Maybe you’re wondering why they didn’t call him “Shockwave”? It turns out there are already three different characters that go by that name.

Spider-Man vs. Shocker

Seriously Herman, why DO you wear those quilted yellow pants?
Seriously Herman, why DO you wear those quilted yellow pants?

When he hears that Shocker is running loose in the city, Spider-Man takes the news in stride. “No worries. Herman is just a big cupcake. I’ll have him back in Rikers by bedtime,” he says.

It’s not a boss fight so much as a boss chase. Shocker flees the moment Spidey drops in, and you have to chase him across the city. During the chase, Spidey has lots of fun dialog that manages to characterize both of them.

As a matter of taste, I’d have preferred it if this playful tone had hung around a bit longer before the story took a turn for the serious.

Sadly, this conflict is resolved in a cutscene rather than letting the player defeat Shocker in gameplay. I get why this is. Open-world environments are hard. What happens if the player keeps backing away and drags the fight away from the intended intersection? What happens if the player just decides to swing away? Those messages announcing “You are leaving the mission area!” are pretty annoying, particularly if you start bumping into them by accident.

In a contained fight the designer has enough control to make sure the player’s goals are clear and the AI behaves reasonably. They can put a roof on the arena to keep you from leaving. They can place lights in the right places so the bad guy is properly illuminated. They can make sure decorative clutter doesn’t get in the way of the action. They can have all sorts of cues and triggers to help the poor stupid AI behave in interesting ways.

Hey! You're punching me, not shocking me. I was promised shocking. Your name is false advertising!
Hey! You're punching me, not shocking me. I was promised shocking. Your name is false advertising!

In the open world, cars get in the way of the combat. Trees get in the way of the camera. Buildings constrain movement without containing the fight to a particular arena. The player can swing away or run up the side of a building. Maybe one intersection is so bright that the bad guy’s particle effect gets washed out and is hard to see. Maybe another spot is so dark that it’s hard for the player to see what they’re doing. There are decorative objects that can confuse or confound the AI like lampposts, mailboxes, cars, and trash cans. It’s okay if the mooks freak out and don’t participate in a fight, but you can’t afford to have something like that happen in one of your super-expensive boss-fight encounters. The player only gets a few of them in the entire game and every malfunction will end up on a highlight reel on YouTube.

It’s not impossible to make a fight work in the open world. It’s just… really hard.

I get why we can’t fight Shocker in the open world. I’d be a lot less salty about this fight taking a place in a cutscene if that wasn’t such a pervasive problem in this game. Even the proper arena boss fights end up culminating in a cutscene battle.

You do get to fight Shocker in a future mission. That fight takes place inside a bank so the gameplay designer has a proper area to work with. It’s not a bad fight, but it’s not particularly impressive either. Like a lot of boss fights in this game it ends up being pretty one-dimensional.

I’ll talk more about the bosses when we get to them. In the meantime let’s talk about…

Mr. Negative

Interesting, this mask is exactly like the masks worn by my vast army of bloodthirsty henchmen. Er, I mean, what a fascinating opera mask.
Interesting, this mask is exactly like the masks worn by my vast army of bloodthirsty henchmen. Er, I mean, what a fascinating opera mask.

Spider-Man recovered one of the Chinese opera masks from the auction house and he wants to know more about it. As it happens, Mister Li has an Art History degree. Peter isn’t very genre savvy and hasn’t yet figured out that Li is the bad guy, so he takes the mask to Li to ask about it.

Mister Li is actually a villain called Mr. Negative. He’s a relatively new villain by the standards of Spider-foes, being introduced just ten years ago. He was created by Dan Slott, who is credited as one of the writers on this game. Slott is also the guy that came up with the idea of having Doc Ock take over Spider-Man’s body and get his own comic book. I guess Mr. Negative and Doctor Octopus are his favorite villains to write, since they’re our two headlining villains in this game.

The strange thing is that the name Mister Negative is never used in dialog anywhere in the gameThe game does list his villain name if you open up the characters screen in the menu.. If you’re not already familiar with the character then there’s no way for you to know his proper villain name. What we end up with is a villain lineup of Electro, Rhino, Shocker, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and… Martin. That’s a strange choice.

On the other hand, his goon squad gets nicknamed the “Demons” based on the masks they wear. I guess that’s something.

Mr. Negative is our “main” villain for the first three-quarters of the story. He gets a lot of screen time, and yet I feel like the writer somehow short-changed him. We get to watch archive video of how he got his powers in a lab accident. We get to poke around his office and see that he’s got this yin / yang thing and he’s always torn between being a nice guy and being a murderous evil asshole. We get lots of dialog where it’s very clear he hates Norman Osborn. We even get some dialog that explains a bit about how his powers work.

This guy can't be Mr. Negative. Look at how positive he is!
This guy can't be Mr. Negative. Look at how positive he is!

And yet despite all the screen time, I never really cared about him. His grudge against Osborn is muddled by several factors I’ll talk about later. His plan to get revenge is stupid and counterproductive in ways I’ll talk about later. His good side / evil side never really made sense to me. Is this a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type situation? Or is he a really nice guy being occasionally possessed by an evil demon? Is he just a selfish cruel bastard who tries to put on a friendly face to throw people off the scent as he builds his army of sadistic goons?

At one point Li writes in his diary that he can’t contain the demon any longer. Is that a metaphor, or are we talking about a literal demon here? How do you suffer from demonic possession as a result of a lab accident?

I’m not saying these questions are plot holes or anything. It’s just that it feels like the story is assuming I already understand this guy and how his powers work. The story seems to think I’m going to care about this guy and his fall to evil, but I can’t tell how that fall worked or when it happened. I wouldn’t mind if Martin Li was another madman goof to punch in the face like Shocker, but the Mr. Negative story has this whole emotional angle that falls completely flat for me.

I’ll talk more about Li and his ridiculous plans once they’re in motion.

Octavius Industries

...and to test the prosthetic arm, we're going to challenge you to a game of beer pong.
...and to test the prosthetic arm, we're going to challenge you to a game of beer pong.

At work the next day, Peter helps Dr. Octavius fit a volunteer with a prosthetic arm. In the middle of the test, Norman Osborn shows up and tells Octavius that the city is shutting down his research. In the original comics continuity Osborn became the Green Goblin, but in this universe he’s become mayor of New York.

Again, this is a very cartoony story. Octavius is making this miracle technology on a shoestring budget, when in the real world the working prototype they’ve built would have investors lining up and begging them to take their money.

The mayor shows up to personally shut down this operation, despite the fact that no sane politician would do that. Osborn is shown to be a savvy politician, so he would know better than this. If a publicly-funded project hits success, then you don’t shut it down. Instead you show up and take credit for it. “I’m so glad these brilliant nerds were able to invent this technology thanks to my flawless leadership and staunch support for their funding!”

I'm not the bad guy, here. I'm just the motivation for the bad guy. Both of them.
I'm not the bad guy, here. I'm just the motivation for the bad guy. Both of them.

Even if the research was a boondoggle, you wouldn’t want to kill it personally. You’d very quietly cut its funding when the media was busy with other news. Shutting down medical research is not a photo-op. Your picture might get taken and wind up under the headline MAYOR AMPUTATES FUNDING FOR MIRACULOUS PROSTHETIC TECHNOLOGY FOR DISABLED VETERANS.

Instead Norman struts around the lab, mocking Octavius and twirling his non-existent mustache. This is fine in a cartoony universe, but to me it feels a little off when paired with these quasi-photoreal visuals. Again, I’m fine with the outlandish comic-book story, I just wish the visuals would join in.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The game does list his villain name if you open up the characters screen in the menu.



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72 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 8: Shocking

  1. Olivier FAURE says:

    Wow, this game is photorealistic. I took me a while to realize the second picture was a screenshot. At first I thought it was from some Marvel TV series I hadn’t watched.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      For me, it was the picture of Mr Li smiling. The skin texture of his face and cloth texture on his necktie look a bit too shiny and fake, but it took me a second before I noticed. :)

    2. Hector says:

      I’m always surprised by these comments, as I immediately notice that something was off. I had the same thing happen with Rogue One. Everyone talked about how great the Tarking and SpoilerCharacter effects were, but I thought they were hilariously bad and should never have been used.

      They did manage to trick me up in the finale of The Last Jedi, where I noticed that SpoilerChartacter2 looked off, but not quite why.

      1. Kylroy says:

        My take on the CGI’d Tarkin was that it was good enough that, if they’d left the character in shadows or some other form of partial concealment, it would have been fine. But instead they put it in an *extremely* brightly lit room, and the plasticky fakeness of the model was highlighted.

        1. parkenf says:

          It annoyed me no end that they used CGI Tarkin. Just cast a different actor! There are plenty that look similar. The one they chose for the voice looked similar enough and we’d have just worn it! Everytime CGI Tarkin came on it just took me out of the movie altogether in a way that another actor wouldn’t have. Perhaps the kids today would have cared more, I don’t know.

          Anyway the obvious point about CGI Tarkin and SpoilerCharacter is that they were just put in to support the “this film ends 20 seconds before Star Wars starts” farago, which was COMPLETELY pointless and damn near ruined what had otherwise been a very entertaining film.

          1. MikeK says:

            Leia, moments after a giant battle above the imperial tape storage world:
            “Uhh…this was a diplomatic mission?”

      2. Philadelphus says:

        Whereas these sorts of comments surprise me, since I didn’t notice anything off about them. I didn’t know Peter Cushing had passed away at the time I first watched Rogue One, so I didn’t think anything about it until I read about it later.

        Perhaps I’m just unusually unobservant, though, judging by all the times I’ll read about people complaining that such-and-such CGI looked “totally fake!” and I’ll be thinking myself “wow, I never noticed…”

    3. decius says:

      To be fair, that Marvel TV series would use CGI for that scene.

  2. Zaxares says:

    I hope someone with more knowledge about Mr Negative chimes in here in the comments! I’m now rather curious to know what’s his deal and story. :)

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Yin / yang, mind-control, electrical / lightning powers, healing powers. His least generic / vague power, and the one he seems to be named after, is being able to flip people on the character-alignment axes. (Good guys become evil.) So…he’s the embodiment of the “alignment” card from the Deck Of Many Things in DnD.

      1. GoStu says:

        Wow. So we don’t need a hero, we need a solid True Neutral to come in and handle him?

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      Until someone explains it properly, I’m going to assume he’s like the man from the argument clinic.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Yes he is! You take that back.

          1. decius says:

            You’re not arguing, you’re just contradicting!

    3. Syal says:

      Vengeance for his car battery commercial being replaced. Mr. Positive tried to cheer him up and he killed him.

  3. boz says:

    Superior Spider-Man series (where Doc Ock becomes Peter Parker) was interesting. More of an extended What-if scenario. It provided a relatively fresh look for both characters. Too bad it had to be cut short because a Spider-man movie (the one with the Andrew Garfield) was being released.

  4. Hal says:

    As long as we’re talking about boss fights, I really didn’t care for the way they were paced through the game. (And I’m not spoiling anything Shamus didn’t in the article.)

    You fight Shocker twice, then Li. That gets you about half, maybe 3/4 through the game. Then towards the very end of the game, you fight Vulture and Electro, Rhino and Scorpion, Li again, and then finally confront Doc Ock. It all comes on very quickly. It feels . . . rushed? Not like they rushed the game, but like they were trying to cram in all these big confrontations in the last 10 minutes of the movie.

    What I would have liked far, far more is more confrontations with the nemeses (not Li or Otto) during the first half of the game, like what they did with the Shocker. Stuff completely unrelated to the narrative with Otto and Li. You’re doing the main story, and then hey, Rhino is rampaging across town, go get him. You’re fighting thugs in Central Park, but suddenly Vulture is busting up a jewelry store. You’re about to show up at Oscorp when you find out that Electro broke in to steal some tech, because he saw a magazine article about them being a high-tech enterprise.

    This would have had multiple benefits. You’d confront these guys once early on, so your battles with them at the end of the game would feel more meaningful (rather than relying solely on the implied history of the setting.) It would have offered some more set-piece fights in the early part of the game where they’d feel more integrated into the gameplay. Then later, when Doc Ock has upgraded their capabilities, that would be more than just a narrative thing; you’d actually experience how much more dangerous they were.

    But like Shamus said, boss fights are expensive content, and I guess adding in four more fights would have been a big ask.

    1. Hector says:

      That sounds like a great idea. In order to keep the design cost low, they should make one “full” boss fight per major foe, and trim the complexity so the first is a learning opportunity.

      Maybe even just have the early versions randomly pop up if the player is running around having fun instead of immediately advancing the story. It’s OK if the player doesn’t get them all, or swings in and leaves before its over. The villain’s minor plan is disrupted or whatever and he runs off anyway. But the player can learn the mechanics without pressure now and the random element adds a little surprise.

      I’d also just have a number of informal arenas in the open world for bosses to spawn in.

    2. Syal says:

      That could make for an interesting narrative; Spider-Man is on the verge of making some kind of major breakthrough (“Otto’s out of town tonight, this is my chance to rifle through his office”), and then some other costumed supervillain starts rampaging through town and he’s got to drop the main quest to go deal.

    3. Christopher says:

      It’s a tried and true tradition to have brawler bosses show up multiple times, both so you can have fun fighting this unique enemy multiple times and so you can build up a familiarity with their character so the final fight is more personal(and also, like every game, so it’s a bit longer). I think my favorite is the God Hand bosses, where you fight almost every boss two times, but they change in some way between the fights to be harder. Spider-Man sooort of tries to do this with how you encounter Scorpion in his dream world before you fight him for reals, and Rhino has a stealth section first, and some similar stuff for Electro and Vulture.

      But they don’t do the super obvious and have them be fought in the first half of the game and get caught, only to team up at the end, and I dunno why that is the case. Like, the bad guys who do get captured and presumably sent to prison(Kingpin, Shocker, Tombstone) are the ones that don’t show up again later when the prison break happens. Onli Li is returning. It’s weird.

      I guess if I’m theorizing then either
      – They just ran out of time. You never have enough time to do everything you want.
      – They thought it was better to keep their screentime short to make them more unknowns/imposing, and keep the focus on Li.
      – The combat system is way too shallow to make repeat boss fights fun. The one dude you fight twice, Li, has completely different mechanics for each fight, ’cause if you can’t be good you can at least be brief and novel.
      – The game was too short, so they padded out the investigation section leading up to Li, messing with the game’s pacing.
      – The cutscene budget or whatever was already used up.

      1. guy says:

        I think they were probably worried about having the plot get too scattered with so many villains running about separately. They didn’t have an overarching conspiracy with all of them until late im the game, so it would be tough to work them in. Unless Martin Lee got to all of them, but then they’d have two separate masterminds using a band of other supervillains in the same plot.

  5. John says:

    Norman Osborn as mayor is kind of weird, but at least in this continuity he’s not a known supervillain. I believe that at one point in the comics known supervillain and crazy-person Norman Osborn was put in charge of one or more government-backed super-teams and ultimately SHIELD itself. I really hate when comics do stuff like that. It’s supposed to be dramatic, but I have a hard time appreciating drama when it’s accompanied by large amounts of stupid.

    1. Crimson Dragoon says:

      The problem with a lot of comics is that they can have a great concept for a storyline, but can be really dumb in setting that story up. However, I don’t think Norman Osborne’s rise to power was one of these situations. In fact, I rather liked it.

      The general idea of it was that Osborne had really, really good PR. He didn’t deny being Green Goblin, but got it attributed to mind control (totally believable in the Marvel universe) and convinced everyone it was no longer an issue. He got assigned to director of the Thunderbolts (I forget how, but probably money), a “reformed” team of villains, and had a lot of success with them. During the (not-so) Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, his team was the only one that didn’t have a skrull hiding among them, and they were the only team defending D.C. when it was attacked. And Osborne himself got the killing shot on the Skrull queen (with tech he stole from Deadpool – but no one knew that). So by the end of it, he was a big hero in the public’s eye, and a natural choice for the head of SHIELD’s replacement after Tony Stark was ousted.

      Mind you, this was all told throughout multiple series of comics, including a big crossover event, so the full storyline was more convoluted than it should have been, but overall it worked better than it probably should have. They wanted to get to a point to where Osborne and other villains were running the superhero world, and they path they took to it was pretty good.

      1. John says:

        Your explanation is both much shorter and much clearer than the one I found earlier on Wikipedia. Thank you. I still hate the whole concept, but it sounds a little less stupid when you put it that way. Big crossover events are the worst.

        1. Matthew Downie says:

          I was into the concept. A bad guy’s scheming has paid off, and he’s in charge. He’s got a bunch of villains and borderline villains working for him. Now he’s responsible for the Avengers stuff that would normally done by the heroes. That’s a huge hassle. Can he cope? Will he be forced to admit that the superheroes he used to hate were actually doing their best in a hard job? Is the world better off when it’s villains fighting villains rather than heroes fighting villains? Will he cross ethical lines the heroes wouldn’t cross, and if so, what are the consequences?

          1. John says:

            I’m gonna guess that the answers to your questions are no, no, yes, and melodrama, respectively. We’re talking about Norman Osborn (crazy, supervillain) in the default Marvel Universe here, not somebody’s revisionist take on supervillainy with original characters in a creator-owned book.

    2. Jason says:

      Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin) is currently the mayor of New York City in the Marvel comics universe. Of course, his whole deal is that he’s always been a little above the law. The heroes know he’s a bad guy, but they can never pin anything on him.
      And Lex Luthor was President of the United States back in the 90’s in DC continuity.

      1. John says:

        Yes. Those things are also bad, but for whatever reason they don’t bug me quite as much. It’s probably because neither Kingpin nor Lex Luthor are widely known to be or to have been supervillains. Lex was a well-known mad scientist type supervillain before Crisis on Infinite Earths, but he’s been the much less obvious evil businessman type ever since.

  6. Modran says:

    Somewhere in Web of Spider-Man, Shocker upgraded his suit so that his entire body could emit shockwaves, instead of just his gloves. That made it very hard to approach him. That’s also one of the few moments where he’s not paranoid of Spider-man.
    Also, he’s quilted to absorb the shockwaves and not hurt himself :D

  7. Vermander says:

    I like what they did with the two different version of the Shocker in the most recent Spiderman movie. They even subtly made fun of the name without getting too crass or silly.

  8. MadTinkerer says:

    I really have to question the parole board of Spider-Man’s New York.

    “Well, Mister Murderglee-”

    “DOCTOR Murderglee!”

    “Yes, Doctor Murderglee. You’ve legally changed your name to that. Anyway, we at the parole board have noticed absolutely no good behavior since you were arrested for murdering hundreds of people last time you were out of jail. In fact, while incarcerated, you’re murdered several no-name mook criminals that the audience doesn’t care about. But a few of the hero’s supporting cast have outlived their usefulness and the writers feel that letting you murder them will be good for pathos. So you’re free to go.”

  9. CrimsonCutz says:

    For the record, the name Mister Negative is actually used in dialogue once. Jameson comes up with it on a podcast (then starts freaking out about how brilliant he is for making up such a fitting name). They do the same kind of thing with Dr. Octopus later, he gets called that once in a podcast or a news report or something, but otherwise is always just referred to as Octavius.

    I actually kind of like it for Mister Negative. From what I gather, in the comics he’s got some split personality thing going on where at first, Martin Li doesn’t know he has a puppy kicking alter ego that calls himself Mister Negative. In this game however, while the exact relationship of Li to his negative side is a bit hazy (his diary, in addition to what you mentioned, even notes he was taking medication to try to suppress it), it’s clear he does know about it and considers it more a part of himself. He doesn’t actually consider himself “Mister Negative” or anything, he’s just Martin Li, a guy with a dark side that goes against his public persona. It makes sense that the name would go unused until the media tag it on him, because it’s not like he’s going to call himself that, so someone else has to be the one to invent it.

    1. Pax says:

      I seem to remember too, that there was something going on where Martin was doing all this charity work trying to make up for his dark side or some such.

  10. Matt says:

    I’m surprised that Mr. Negative is a recent creation – he sounds so much like one of those regrettable villains from the 80s. Even in the goofy realm of comic book names, Mr. Negative makes me wince a little. I’m sure the underworld quakes in fear at the whispered name of…what someone calls you when they think you’re being a downer. And the yin and yang thing? Does he really tie into the concept at all besides having a “light side” and a “dark side”? According to Wikipedia, his powers include a healing touch (“ooooh, ancient mystic Chinese arts”) and the ability to set up the dumbest plot lines ever – evil mind control powers.

    Sigh.

    1. Agammamon says:

      Mr Negative is, literally, Tyler Durden.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      All the good supervillain names were taken decades ago.

    3. Geebs says:

      His superhero nemeses are Captain Sunny and The Silver Lining

  11. Joe Informatico says:

    Maybe you’re wondering why they didn’t call him “Shockwave”? It turns out there are already three different characters that go by that name.

    But he predates all of those guys! (Also, it’s extremely likely both the GI Joe and Transformers versions were named by Marvel Comics writers.)

  12. Joe Informatico says:

    Maybe NYC is big enough and rich enough to be an exception, but it’s really weird to me that a municipal government is directly funding medical research like this. Maybe if this was a grant or tax incentive situation (set up your R&D outfit here and bring in some nice biotech jobs and we’ll give you millions in tax breaks!), or if the city was ostensibly benefiting more directly from the potential results (e.g. Toronto gets some waterfront brownfield land developed into a prototype smart city). But in these screencaps Octavius doesn’t look like a slick tech startup CEO–he’s a tinker working out of an old auto service shop. My dad’s shop looked a bit like this twenty years ago but it’s been a while since I’ve even seen an operational one look that dim and dingy*–and this is also supposed to be a medical facility?

    *In fairness my dad was a rebuilder whose customers were mostly other mechanics or dedicated DIYers. He wasn’t usually dealing with the general public like general auto mechanics or dealership service departments do.

  13. Scampi says:

    Maybe you’re wondering why they didn’t call him “Shockwave”? It turns out there are already three different characters that go by that name.

    I’m sorry to say, but this argument doesn’t really hold. Shame for even linking Wikipedia and not realizing that Shocker preceeds both (did I miss one at the Wiki?) Shockwave characters who were introduced in 1976 (Marvel) and 1984 (DC).
    If both characters named Shockwave were created later than Herman, he might as well have gotten that code name.

    Also: There are actual experiments and maybe applications of weaponizing sound, so the concept might not be as stupid as you might think.

  14. Christopher says:

    Shocker’s such a charmer. I want this guy to show up and rob something in every Spider-Man game. His whole appeal is that he’s so workmanlike. He doesn’t really care about Spidey, unlike a lot of these goobers that make up his rogues gallery. Since he’s so down to earth and regular, it’s a good contrast with all the megalomaniacal supervillains. The justification for his suit, which is a real good iconic look even it is a bit silly, is that it has to have the padding in those quilts for him to be able to withstand his own shocks. I wouldn’t mind it if they changed Shocker up just a little bit. I hear he’s real funny in Superior Foes of Spider-Man. My favorite Shocker is the Spectacular Spider-Man version, which combines his character with that of Montana, a cowboy-themed assassin who was an early Spidey baddie who never really showed up much since his first appearance. In Spectacular, Spidey fought him first with Montana’s hit team, and then he got the Shocker’s outfit later. It’s a good way to escalate, you know. Also made Shocker seem a lot more confident and in charge, as a professional merc essentially, which is a nice change of pace from his usual down on his luck C-tier moves.

    Shocker’s moveset confusion isn’t helped by the dude literally using electricity sometimes. I once read a story where he teamed up with Hydro-Man, and he got gloves that shot lightning in that story. Presumably so he could do some friendly fire to his partner, but still. Bring in Electro for that sort of stuff. It just reads like that panel of Justice League International where the writer had to have a big superhero party with all these characters he seemed to know nothing about, so all he could come up with was Power Girl telling Animal Man that men can be such animals. In other pointless superhero trivia, Spidey has fought another dude who used vibrations more recently. He was this one-off dumbass called Shaker.

    For the record, the chase in the game is alright, but there is a Shocker chase everyone agrees is way better.

    1. GoStu says:

      Shocker sounds great for a first-act or relief villain in this kind of superhero game. Someone who’s just there to make a few bucks and can be the straight man to a lot of high-end super-villainy.

    2. Guest says:

      My first intro to him was the game released for the Sam Raimi film. He was fun there, and I like the character. He’s a really working class crim, which is a nice contrast with all the colorful megalomaniacs.

      It also reinforces Spider-Man’s niche, Shocker is your standard rob a bank guy, and not the sort of guu the x-men or the avengers need to deal with

  15. Scampi says:

    Electro, Rhino, Shocker, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and…Martin.

    I like how you kind of made it a mix of two tropes in one sentence.

    Also: Wasn’t Scorpion part of the lineup? And Tombstone? I think I remember seeing them in a LP. Tombstone may have been a side mission, but I think Scorpion was part of the main plot.

    1. Christopher says:

      Shocker is sitting out of the Sinister Six so Martin can have his spot, so in that gang it’d be Scorpion, yes. Tombstone is… I have no idea if his mission is optional or not, but it’s a sidequest you get straight from the main plotline and it’s just a fight against him, so of course I did that right away.

      1. guy says:

        There’s a main quest where MJ infiltrates Tombstone’s hideout and discovers he’s building some kind of battle truck for the Demons to be used in their later attacks, and a sidequest where spider-man beats him up.

  16. Christopher says:

    Martin Li is definitely a point I think the game stumbles on. His arc is very much the filler of the game. A lot of shit happens after you get him and the intro with Kingpin is really strong, but you spend the vast majority of the game just looking for Mr. Negative. Additionally, they don’t really explain how he works or what his exact moveset is, which is criminal for what’s his firts introduction to a major audience. I read a bunch of Spidey comics and I couldn’t tell you myself ’cause I must’ve missed an issue where they explain it. I feel like I read some wiki once saying he took a drug and got his powers, but beyond being able to use “light and dark” to heal, harm and mind control, I dunno much about it.

    One thing I like about the game is that while Osborn is sort of responsible for both Dr. Octopus and Mr. Negative, at least in this game, he’s never given the full like, blame for it. He didn’t set out to create supervillains. Which I appreciate, ’cause that’s sort of his modus operandi now in every new take on Spider-Man, presumably ’cause he did it in the Ultimate comics or somethin’. Makes him seem a bit less like this mastermind who totally planned to make an electric man, a rhinocerus, an octopus man and a bird man.

    Although, the new reasons they give for him doing the things he does falls pretty flat for me. Like, his core motivation is theoretically good – but he’s like the Mr. Bean of Lex Luthors, creating other supervillains just by _accident_. It’s probably meant to make him less two-dimensional, but it’s just silly when your cures for cancer or whatever all end up having the side effect of creating old spidey bad guys.

  17. Sniffnoy says:

    Whoa, Shocker doesn’t use electricity? This is a surprise to me because my knowledge of Spider-Man comes primarily from the 1990s cartoon, where he does use electricity (rather than shockwaves). They seem to have briefly introduced Electro in that? I assume they dropped him quickly to avoid confusion.

    (Sufficiently lound sound can be quite destructive, though.)

    1. Scampi says:

      I’m not too sure he used electricity there. Cartoons have the tendency for their projectiles to look kind of samey, and while I thought he might use electricity, I think we might both have been mislead.
      Electro was only introduced late in the series (Season 5) and for only a short arc (I believe he only appeared in 2 or 3 episodes) involving Captain America and the American Warriors.

    2. Syal says:

      I’m also surprised; my knowledge of Shocker comes from the horror movie about the guy who…I think becomes electricity? And then he can jump through televisions.

  18. Agammamon says:

    The mayor shows up to personally shut down this operation,

    Wait, *cities* don’t fund research or run research labs. Publicly funded research is done at the State or Federal level.

    And if the mayor is *shutting down* the project – that means the city is actually running a research lab, not just doing grants. They could decide to not renew the grant, in which case the money Doc Ock has is still his to spend on ongoing projects until it runs out and he’ll have to find money somewhere else. Heck, if they were funding a grant to him they probably were never his sole source of funding to start with – he’s running off of multiple grants (public and private) and spends a decent amount of time scrounging up more money.

    The only possible way the mayor could shut him down is if he was employed by the city – and cities don’t employ research scientists.

    Isn’t that just really loud sound?

    KILLER FACT: Shockwaves are just really loud, really short duration sound.

    1. Nemryn says:

      IIRC Osborn shuts it down for (alleged) health and safety violations, not as a funding issue.

    2. John says:

      Also, why does the mayor shut down the lab personally? Why not have a city bureaucrat shut it down with a phone call or a letter?

      1. Hal says:

        Because Normal and Otto have personal and professional history together. In this universe, they founded Oscorp together, but Otto left for [spoiler] reasons.

        Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he came to do this personally as a means of softening the blow and trying to maintain some peace between him and Otto. I don’t think I have to tell you how much that isn’t the case.

      2. Isaac says:

        Because he wants to gloat in front of a former friend (Doc Ock) that he has bad blood with?

  19. Michael says:

    I don’t know when they re-worked him from using vibrations to shockwaves, but that makes a lot more sense. As a kid I could never imagine how localized airborne vibrations could be as dangerous as they depicted. Isn’t that just really loud sound?

    …in what sense is that a reworking? Shockwaves and vibrations are the same thing. Localized vibrations are in fact just sound. Shockwaves are just really loud sound. What’s the difference supposed to be?

    The strange thing is that the name Mister Negative is never used in dialog anywhere in the game[1]. If you’re not already familiar with the character then there’s no way for you to know his proper villain name.

    Isn’t he named in J. Jonah Jamison’s podcast?

    1. Shamus says:

      “What’s the difference supposed to be?”

      Shockwaves won’t be close enough to get anywhere near human audible range, so you’ll typically feel them rather than hear them. (Although the device that generated the shockwaves will no doubt generate audible sound as well.)

      A shockwave is something we don’t experience very often, and sound is something we experience continuously. Even as a kid, it’s difficult to imagine how sound could possibly be powerful enough to shatter a wall without also killing everyone in the room and making everyone in a hundred meters permanently deaf.

      Shockwaves are a little less familiar, and so there’s some room for the writer to play around with what they can do and how strong they can be.

      1. CrimsonCutz says:

        I love how Shocker ends up drawing out the different degrees to which people are willing to accept crazy comic book science magic. I mean, he’s a bank robber that built a suit that shoots shockwaves and uses quilts to insulate himself. He uses this to stage needlessly loud robberies rather than selling it and getting rich (because the comic book world would stop feeling like reality if you took into account the technological progress that would happen if anyone ever thought to SELL their crazy tech) even though all he really wants to do with his life is get rich and chill. This man doesn’t make a lot of sense by real world standards, but some of us can accept his existence just for the sake of it, some can accept it but only if they specify what type of nonsense he generates because the wrong kind is just too implausible, some can’t wrap their heads around this man and his suit ever existing but have little issue with the guy that run up buildings because a radioactive spider bit him, etc. It’s really interesting to see how different the breaking points are for different people.

        1. Hal says:

          Yes, thank you. This is a bugaboo I get on about frequently.

          There’s a Batman arc where Joker has infected the city with some new strain of his special Joker toxin/virus/whatever. Batman gets a sample, sticks it into a machine, and it starts pumping out vaccines.

          If that technology existed in the real world, you would have all the Nobel Prizes. Batman could eliminate Ebola, West Nile, Zika . . . take your pick, there’s dozens of horrific viruses out there that we don’t have good vaccines for because it’s fiscally (or scientifically) realistic to develop them. Batman here has a device which circumvents years of R&D, clinical trials, etc. Yet he sits on it because . . . Joker?

          Ugh.

      2. Michael says:

        But “shockwaves”, “vibrations”, and “sound” are the same thing. They haven’t changed what Shocker does — this is purely a change in the word you’re using to describe it.

        If you can imagine a shockwave being destructive, you’re imagining sound being destructive. One can’t be more difficult than the other.

        1. Shamus says:

          You’re arguing in circles. This is literally the same argument I was responding to. Yes, it’s a different word. I explained why I thought that was useful. Plus, the two different words refer to two slightly different concepts. (That’s why there are two different words.) I offered my explanation in the previous comment, and it either works for you or it doesn’t. Repeating your original argument isn’t going to lead anywhere new.

      3. IIRC it’s not so much about being strong as hitting the right resonating frequency that gets it to vibrate itself to pieces. When a rigid object resonates at the wrong frequency it comes apart pretty quickly.

  20. Mr. Wolf says:

    I know Marvel acientists are omnidisciplinary, but what sort of lab accident does a guy with an art history degree get in?

    1. CrimsonCutz says:

      Martin Li was the patient/test subject in the lab accident that gave him his powers, not one of the people conducting it (although the ones involved with conducting it definitely seem like they have degrees in Doing Things and Science! rather than any specific field)

  21. Randomscrub says:

    Point of order: shock waves are not just sound. The entire point is that it’s a change in pressure that travels FASTER than the speed of sound (in whatever medium you’re talking about). If you’re hearing the sound, the actual delta-P that constitutes the shock wave has already passed. Think of the boom as the wake of the actual shock wave. A product of it, but not the thing itself.

    1. Agammamon says:

      Sound is compression and rarefaction of a medium. Shockwaves are the same thing. A shockwave moving faster than the speed of sound in a medium (shockwaves don’t always do this) doesn’t mean you ‘don’t hear it’. If you’re in it, you hear it. Its like saying you never hear the bullet that blows your brain out.

      1. Guest says:

        You don’t hear the bullet that blows your brain out if it’s supersonic. The explosion makes the sound, which only travels at the speed of sound, over the same distance. Granted, not every bullet is supersonic.

        You’re right about the shockwave though. If you could feel it, even if it’s meant to be supersonic, then you’re experiencing the pressure wave, hence sound.

  22. Shen says:

    Y’know, I’m not really one for superhero sandboxes so tell me if anyone has done this before but: it would be interesting to see a superhero sandbox with more minimal cutscenes even for boss fights. You’ll hear that say, Shocker is robbing a bank and have to chase him down and beat him into submission sure, but there’s no interruption of gameplay and you can either fail completely or not even bother. Now consider all the damage Shocker and many supervillains do just moving around, imagine if that was persistent and real, so you’re “score” for how well you’re doing is precisely what state the city is in as you play. If you ignore him, maybe they’ll be fairly minor damage as he blows up a wall then jumps in his car. If you respond quickly and take him out effectively, there will likewise be not much of a problem. If you do engage but aren’t super competent, then the damage to the city can escalate very quickly and you’ll always see it (maybe in the process of incredibly long repairs) as you swing about for the rest of the game. Depending on the villain, you might want to lure them or chase them to less dangerous areas or even try to avoid detection entirely and tail them to their secret lair where only their stuff gets broken.
    Would be a fun concept for one of those Create-A-Hero type games, where your builds might push you to take different approaches with different villains.

    1. beleester says:

      It’s a cool idea, but it makes it harder to tell a consistent story – either the plot has to be able to continue even if you’ve let supervillains wreak havoc, or the damage has to be limited or regenerate to ensure that the city stays at a playable level the whole way through. You also don’t want the player to feel like they’re causing permanent damage just by roaming around the open world – that’s basically a punishment for playing a sandbox game like a sandbox. So there has to be some sort of reward as well as a punishment for encountering random villains – maybe succeeding lets you repair damaged areas, or maybe each encounter lets you make progress towards permanently defeating them.

      Maybe it could be one of those mostly-procedural games like Invisible Inc or Uplink where the story stays in the background until the end. You’ve got some sort of Thanos-ish endgame villain looming over you, but in the meantime you’re dealing with his B-list villains and building up strength for the finale, where you get a nice payoff for all the successful hero-ing you’ve done.

      The good news is, I don’t think anyone’s done this before, or at least not in a persistent way. Prototype had hives and bases you could destroy to clear out the enemies in an area, and it gave a nice sense of story progression as the infection kept spreading, but they always respawned after a while so I just stopped bothering.

    2. Syal says:

      Feels like that would be more of a Missile Command kind of game, a shorter game where the goal is to keep the city standing as long as you can. Otherwise, permanent negative effects are going to be a bad time. If you play when you’re tired, distracted or otherwise out of it you can end up ruining your playthrough.

  23. Pinkhair says:

    I always loved Shocker’s look; it managed to make an incredibly standard design totally distinctive with a tiny change.

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