While in college, I pluggedin a faulty-wired microscopeto examine human body tissue,and alternating current leaptfrom the exposed wires, throughthe barrier of my epidermis,along the neural paths, sendingmy body flying into the labtable behind me, leaving a blackline up my forearm, tracing itsoutside arc and point of penetration,and as the professor helped meup from the floor, he suggestedI step outside into the hallfor a smoke. I assume he meanta cigarette.
In Amazing Spider-Man #9,a similar fate befallsa similar man, (admittedly,at greater wattage, as is oftenthe way in the Marvel Universe)and he walks away with the abilityto electrify others, send lightningbolts from his finger-tips.Since this is Spider-Man’s worldthe victim could have gone either way.When he appears, his spandex outfitis a taste-impaired green and yellow,lightning bolt suspenders and all,and his mask—a jagged-edged,starfish-shaped contraptionmaking him appear as if he should beat Mardi-Gras, instead of Manhattan--tips us off that Electro will usehis powers for wrong-doing.
There is also another Spider-Manvillain called The Scorpionwho has a mechanical tailhe uses to destroy thingsdramatically, like chimneys,windows, foundations. He was notstung by a scorpion to get these [End Page 54] powers. Even super-villains havelimits to what they can endure.
Of the two, there are days I wishI was Electro. I would even tug onthat questionable suit for suchpowers, but I would use themwith good intentions,
okay, mostly good intentionsand only the occasionalvengeful zap to the ass,but strictly for those who deserve it.
At those homes denied electricityon the reservationby the powers that bebecause we are Onondaga,I would reach up, touch insulator,conductor, weld the deadwires leading from their homesback to the lines carrying powerfrom the city, light their homes,and if someone shot outtheir capacitors again,I would be back. I mightblow out a few of my own.
I could give and I could take away.
You see here how easy powercorrupts, why there are approximatelytwenty super-villains for every one super-hero.
But let’s take the Human Torch,for example, a man with the abilityto engulf his body in flames at will,take to the sky--though the physicsof that relationship are not clear--and he does not feel it at all. He choosesnever to grab someone who has done him wrong,hold that person close like a lover, utterhis catch-phrase “Flame On!” and dispatchthe offender with one powerful burst of ignition,instead using his power judiciously for the greatergood. Would we all be sogenerous with similar abilities? [End Page 55]
If we leaned into Johnny Storm,the Human Torch, risked our liveswith his temper, disposition, would hesmell of cinders, charred flesh,the pungency of singed hair?
Is he resigned to this odor like acceptinga side effect totally worth the risk,like those Cialis erectionslasting more than four hours?
Does any man really drive himselfto the Emergency Room with that problem?
I mean, come on. Really?
I have told this storyto many people over the years,as sort of an introduction. Somehave heard it even before I revealto them my tribal status, or that I ama professional poet, both claimsof which at times, elicit vague looksof sympathy. When I recite the taleof my date with a ficklemicroscope I used to tell everyoneI was electrocuted in college, untilI realized this word is the splicedhybrid, the bastard child of the word“electricity” coupled with the word “executed.”
Now, I only tell selected people.
They always want to knowif I saw a bright light.As it was electricity tossingme around, I say, “of course,”and leave it at that.
Some things, you need to keepto yourself. [End Page 56]
Eric Gansworth (Onondaga), a writer and visual artist...