Character from the Marvel Comics universe. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #9.

Max Dillon worked on power lines for the city. One day, while working on the lines, he was struck by lightning. The shock did not kill him, but instead bestowed upon him great electricity-manipulating powers. (Go figure.) What sort of powers, you may ask? He found himself able to fire bolts of electricity, surround himself with electrical energy that would shock anyone who touched him, and even the ability to fly. He decided to use these powers for crime, which promised to make him more money than fixing power lines ever did. He performed bank robberies, jewel heists, and other random villainous acts. Nothing too megalomaniacal. Occasionally, he would join a team of supervillains (for the company, I suppose). He was an original member of the Sinister Six, and belonged to the Frightful Four for a while as well.

Over the years, it's become very clear that Electro has a giant self-esteem problem. This was probably caused by an often-alluded-to mother, who often berated Max, and dominated every aspect of his life. During the Light Up the Night storyline from Spider-Man #38-40, Electro decided to attempt tapping into the city's power supply to increase his superpowers. It was an effort to show everyone that he was a major player in the super-villain world, but his self-doubts got the best of him. He tapped into the city's power grid and nearly used all of that power to kill himself. Spider-Man intervened, and saved his life. Electro seemed to feel better about himself, and for a while it looked like he might turn his life around.

But rather than take the opportunity he had to change his life, he became resentful of Spider-Man's interference. In his mind, Spider-Man kept him from going through with his plan to become more powerful. So he tried again, with some help from the Rose. He recreated the situation which gave him superpowers (with an electric chair instead of power lines) and indeed, became much more powerful than before. Drunk on his new power, he went on a bit of a rampage, humiliating Spider-Man as well as almost leveling New York City. He was stopped, but you can't keep a good supervillain down. Electro is now colder and more ruthless than ever before. He's intent on moving up in the crime world, and his power makes it likely that he'll succeed, as long as he can keep his neuroses in check.

Electro is a predecessor of sorts to techno. Its rhythms are very close to those of hip-hop. In fact, one could conceivably call it "space party hip hop" or something similarly silly; Dan Sicko calls it "switched-on" funk in his book Techno Rebels. The earliest electro tracks came from Detroit, from the likes of Cybotron with "Alleys of Your Mind", but the first huge electro success was "Planet Rock" from Brooklyn's Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, which was produced by Arthur Baker. Planet Rock sampled Kraftwerk liberally, taking the drum track from "Numbers" and some melodic bits from "Trans-Europe Express" to accompany the crazy lyrics of Mr. Bambaataa. You may have heard another Bambaataa song on the radio recently. It's called Renegades of Funk, and it was covered by Rage Against the Machine. Recently, electro has been experiencing an upsurge in interest, at least in the New York City music press, as the sound of the culturally elite. Artists like Miss Kittin and The Hacker, Adult., Dopplereffekt, and Chicks on Speed seem to be the rage following a festival called ElectroClash. Some critics on the 313 list have noted that this sort of music has more in common with New Wave than with funk or hip hop, and that it seems to be popular with people who like to dress up and do cocaine all night. Personally, I think an audience shouldn't drive one away from good music, so it's perfectly OK to run away from the Chicks on Speed.

I have also seen electro used in the context of industrial music, and I am told that it is usually meant as EBM.


with the gracious help of sakke

E*lec"tro, n.

An electrotype.

 

© Webster 1913.

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