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The Shocker

Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

As tumultuous as the '60s were, socially, they were also a more innocent time. Just look at Stan Lee's Spider-Man stories. Sure, they were intended for kids, but can you imagine someone today unironically naming the main character's girlfriend "Mary Jane?" Or one of his enemies "the Shocker?"

Petty criminal Herman Schultz developed a pair of powerful wrist-mounted vibrating units while working in the prison machine shop - and used them to become the shattering Shocker! The Shocker's vibra-units allow him to blast his way through solid metal, or hurl long-range vibrational punches! But the only thing they haven't allowed him to do is defeat his eternal nemesis, the amazing Spider-Man!

Seriously, the cover of his very first appearance says "you and Spidey are about to be jolted by the sinister Shocker!" Wow, both of us? At once? There's no preparing for the Shocker!

Shocker's name always gets pulled out whenever you start talking about Spidey's lamest enemies, but that's really not the case. Just like Peter built his webshooters, Herman built his power gloves. Despite all the times he's had his butt kicked, he's never lost sight of his true goals: he wants to rob banks, not kill Spider-Man. He isn't mentally unhinged, and he doesn't want to kill anyone; in fact, he built his gloves specifically as non-lethal weapons. Meanwhile, he recognizes his own limitations, and is afraid of one day falling to someone like the Punisher. He's a remarkably well-rounded character.

That said, he's still kind of a loser. To begin with, he creates vibrations with supercompressed air - what about that says "Shocker?" Doesn't "shock" imply electricity? It makes him sound like a superfluous Electro. He should have called himself the Rumbler or the Vibrator or the Hummer or something. Secondly, the costume he designed himself was terrible. He needed a padded suit to protect him from the feedback caused by his gloves, but he looks like a quilt. Or a pineapple.

The sculpt on this figure is good, giving us a more modern version of the Shocker. The yellow padding used to go down his legs, as well, but now it's just his shirt - he's wearing big-boy pants. The texture on his clothes is really nice, and the criss-cross pattern of his quilted, three-ply absorbent suit is sculpted with double lines, so it looks less like a piece of clay that someone carved up and more like a real item of clothing that somehow got small. The paint is good all around, but his right arm seems to pop off easily; there's a little bit of extra flashing on the shoulder peg, but trim that off and the arm will be more secure.

The Shocker's articulation is pretty good, honestly. He has most of the ML-standard joints, despite carrying two action features. The figures moves at the toes, ankles, boots, knees, thighs, hips, waist, biceps, shoulders and neck - no torso, no wrists, no elbows. The first action feature is missile launchers in his arms. For some reason he has four of the projectiles, which are silver pods on the end of a brown stick. The buttons to launch the missiles are on the top of his gloves. Secondly, you can wind the knob on his back and he'll vibrate pleasantly for a few seconds. Truthfully, the vibrator makes more sense than the launchers. For the Shocker.

Now, normally we raise holy hell about action features that take away from articulation, but Shocker really isn't that bad. His arms have a nice, neutral pose - neither too straight nor too bent - and the fact that he's got bicep swivels means you can actually do something with him. It's not a lot, but it's better than Electro. At least his pose looks like what he does in the comics all the time. Yes, the Shocker would be better with wrists and elbows, but he's not bad. You should relax, and give the Shocker a chance. Try it out. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. By the Shocker.

Shocker doesn't get much respect as a Spider-villain. He's generally considered to be the real bottom of the barrel, which is why he barely squeaked in at the end of the Spider-Man line. But if you look at his appearances over the years, he's got a pretty impressive win/loss record. He regularly gets the upper hand when the two fight, and even once had an opportunity to kill Spidey, but walked away. He's a good villain, and he's got a good toy, no matter what the haters say. We give the Shocker a big thumbs up!

-- 11/29/06

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