Minor Villain Showcase: PHOTON

A while ago I wrote my second bio for this site. Afterward, I happened upon my first one and realized that both times I had made a point of mentioning obscure 1970s Marvel super-villain Photon as a formative part of my comics-loving childhood, yet somehow had never written about him. So here you go:

 Has anyone ever uttered a true statement on a comic book cover?

Has anyone ever uttered a true statement on a comic book cover?

Photon appeared in a two-part Spider-Man/Nova team-up, the setup of which is pretty well-summarized by this splash panel:

 The eternal question. Asked from time immemorial

The eternal question. Asked from time immemorial

Here are some facts about Photon's only adventure (to date):

- Rich "Nova" Ryder's scientist uncle Ralph gets murdered.

- Uncle Ralph is a wordplay enthusiast, and so we learn that Peter Parker anagrams to "Kree Trapper". We also get the above photo in which the murderer is revealed to be Jason Dean by dint of tricky calendar arrangement.

- Peter Parker is ostensibly on-hand in order to study Dr Ryder's physics library, but really he's there to team up with Nova. We all know it. 

 In unison: "Goodbye fools!"

In unison: "Goodbye fools!"

Here are some things that I thought were true about Photon until I revisited him for the purpose of writing this:

- I thought that he worked for AIM, because there are little AIM goons running around. Also because AIM is totally the sort of organization that would give one of their middle-management guys a laser gun and a code name instead of, say, dental benefits. Turns out that one of the OTHER suspects was an AIM middle-manager, and Photon was just too lazy to do his own hero-killing.

- As a corollary  to the last one: I thought that he, and not the little AIM goons, came up with the above anchor-based death-trap, which has long been one of my favourites if only because it was one of the earliest I ever encountered. Can you blame me? That ASM cover is very misleading.

 "Like I was some sort of... bug-man!

"Like I was some sort of... bug-man!

- I misremembered him as wearing the classic big-time super-villain colour combo of purple and green but it turned out to be more of an off-red. A shame, really, because one of the things about Photon that I DID remember correctly was:

 No quip, quote, quibble or quiz! No diatribe, debate, discussion or dirge! No fanservice, filibuster...

No quip, quote, quibble or quiz! No diatribe, debate, discussion or dirge! No fanservice, filibuster...

- He may be a two-bit jerk punching above his weight class, but he has the villain-speak DOWN. I can only assume that he spent his evenings leading up to this one just watching and rewatching old footage of the FF confronting Dr Doom and taking notes. This is a guy who has some assumptions about how successful a super-villain he is going to be.

Finally, something that I didn't remember about Photon but that kind of makes me like him more:

- As I said, he didn't turn out to be working for AIM, where about one in three guys who aren't in beekeeper outfits have villainous identities. No, he was a Maggia guy, which makes it much more likely that this is just something that he came up with on his own, that it might be a decent second job - in addition to his main gig as a mobster - to be a goof in a green mask that he probably sewed himself. I have to admit: fairly endearing.

SO, that's the secret behind my affection for generic 70s super-villain Photon: misremembering a lot of details and affection for dumb goofs. Until next time, I remain,

JOHNATHAN