Spider-Man’s new game for PS4 from Insomniac looks like it’s delivering a lot between the new costume, new web-slinging combat, and a new spin on the Spidey mythos, but one thing no one expected it’s choice of villain: Mister Negative.
Here’s a recap on where he came from in the comics, what his power and abilities are, the supporting characters he brings along with him, and why he’s actually a great foil for Spider-Man.
Comic Book Origin
Mister Negative is a relatively recent addition to the Spider-Man villain lineup, debuting in 2008’s Amazing Spider-Man #546. Mister Negative is the literal dark side of philanthropist Martin Li. While the benevolent Li runs a homeless shelter, his alter ego is a crime lord who controls the Inner Demons, one of the most powerful gangs in New York City.
Like many Spider-Man villains, Mister Negative has a tragic origin story. Li came to the US from China aboard a slave ship that crashed on the New York shore. Originally, he claimed to be the only surviving passenger after the crew abandoned ship in a storm. But the truth is that he was one of those crew members and took the identity of Martin Li from one of the dead passengers. After arriving in New York, Li was captured by the Maggia gang and was experimented on with the same dangerous drug that created teen heroes Cloak and Dagger.
Since escaping the clutches of the Maggia, Mister Negative has devoted himself to rising up in the criminal underworld. Not an easy goal in the Marvel Universe, which is teeming with super villain crime bosses, but hey, he managed to hold his own against the combined forces of The Hood and Norman Osborn during the Dark Reign crossover in 2009.
Powers and Abilities
In his negative form, Mister Negative is incredibly strong, fast, and durable, and he can charge up blades with deadly electrical energy. He can also infuse his goons with those same powers. But Negative’s most useful skill is his ability to mind control anyone he touches. Even Spider-Man briefly became Negative’s pawn in the comics, transforming into a brutal, remorseless soldier.
In human form, though, Li’s touch has the opposite effect. He can heal others, as seen when he cured former Venom host Eddie Brock of terminal cancer.
Li’s healing touch also wound up transforming Eddie into Anti-Venom, a hero with the power to destroy symbiotes like Venom and Carnage. We’re not making any promises, but don’t be surprised if that new version of Venom makes an appearance in the game.
Mister Negative’s presence also comes with the introduction of a new hero… or at least a well-meaning vigilante whose methods Spider-Man doesn’t always agree with: Yuri Watanabe, an NYPD captain who becomes The Wraith, a costumed crimefighter obsessed with bringing Mister Negative to justice. We know that Yuri is in the game as an ally to Spider-Man, so don’t be surprised if the Wraith also makes an appearance.
How He Makes It Personal
Finally, what makes Mister Negative such a great Spider-Man villain is how closely he mirrors Spider-Man. They both live a stark dual-life with an unassuming civilian identity and an alter ego with great power to shape the fate of New York City. Their personal lives are even intertwined, with Aunt May unknowingly endangering herself by volunteering to work at Martin Li’s homeless shelter, which creates an intimate link between hero and foe in classic Spider-Man fashion.