During Sony's presentation at E3 yesterday, we got an extended look at Insomniac's upcoming Spider-Man game for the PS4, out some time next year. In addition to giving us a brief glimpse of both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, Spider-Man also introduced a relatively new villain you may not be familiar with: Mr Negative.
While we know that Wilson Fisk will play some role in the game's plot, the group of hired thugs seen in yesterday's Spider-Man footage actually work for another NYC-based philanthropist-cum-crimelord named Martin Li. He's one of Spider-Man's lesser known adversaries, but given his interesting back story and connections to the larger Marvel universe, his role could make Spider-Man one of the more exciting takes on the web-head.
Who is Martin Li?
When he's first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #546, it's explained that the man who would eventually become known as Martin Li was actually an unnamed human trafficker working for the Chinese crime boss Silver Fang. When a ship full of undocumented Chinese immigrants almost crashes into a New York port, the unnamed man seizes the opportunity to escape and start a new life by stealing the real Martin Li's identity. This doesn't end well for him.
Who is Mr Negative?
When Li attempts to link up with a NYC branch of the Snakehead gang, he's captured by the Maggia crime family who, assuming that Li's undocumented, bring him to Simon Marshall, a mad chemist looking for test subjects to experiment on.
Marshall exposes Li to the volatile drug D-Lite, which not only imbues him with a connection to the Darkforce and Lightforce dimensions, it also splits his personality in half. While his Martin Li persona remains intact and generally benevolent, his Mr Negative self is your standard-issue maniac with a bevy of dangerous superpowers. Li becomes a major power player in both NYC's political scene and its crime-ridden underbelly, eventually establishing himself as the Kingpin of Chinatown.
What are his abilities?
In the Spider-Man video game we see Negative using a blend of his energy powers to create concussive blasts.
As Mr Negative, Li has a variety of powers derived from his connections to the Lightforce and Darkforce. He's able to heal and corrupt organic matter, imbue inanimate objects with energy to make them more resilient, and shapeshift his appearance to a limited extent.
In addition to his physical effects on things, Negative has also demonstrated the ability to bring out the extreme good and evil in a person with a single touch. For example, when used offensively, he's sent people into murderous rampages on his behalf. The one drawback to this aspect of his abilities, though, is the fact that he can only use it on a person once before it no longer works. He also just looks like a photo negative, which is nifty.
What are his connections to the rest of the Marvel Universe?
The same drug that gave Mr Negative his abilities also empowered Cloak and Dagger, two heroes with whom he's been known to butt heads with from time to time. Mr Negative is also directly responsible for the creation of Anti-Venom, a new symbiote that developed within Eddie Brock after Negative used his healing touch on him.
As of now, we don't know all that much about who else to expect to see in Spider-Man, though it's highly unlikely that Mr Negative will be the game's ultimate big bad. The gameplay footage that's been released so far lets us know that despite being behind bars, Wilson Fisk is still playing a fairly active role in New York's crime scene.
What's more, considering that the game picks up when a 23-year-old Peter Parker's been doing hero work as Spider-Man for eight years, it's safe to assume that we'll see much more of Spidey's rogues gallery when the game is released next year.