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Supervillain Origins: Mister Negative

Mister Negative has a fascinating backstory and is a great addition to the Marvel universe and Spider-Man comics.

Who says you need a positive outlook? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the villainous Mister Negative.

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The man known as Martin Li, AKA Mister Negative, used to make his living as a “Snakehead."

He was a Chinese smuggler who specialized in illegally transporting people across borders. This particular Snakehead, whose true name remains a mystery, was transporting one such group on a ship that ran aground near New York. Panicking, the smuggler stole the name of one of his deceased charges, Martin Li, fearing that he would be caught and deported to China for previous crimes.

Swimming to shore, the Snakehead returned to his gang’s hideout in Flushing, where he discovered all of his criminal compatriots had been killed by Maggia Family crime boss Silvio Manfredi, better known as Silvermane. This was before Silvermane became a head on a robot body, FYI. Rather than send the man now calling himself Martin Li to join his fellow smugglers in the hereafter, Silvermane gave him to a criminal chemist who was in the process of testing a new designer drug.

Li was forcibly dosed with this drug, named D-Lite, along with several other unwilling subjects.

While many died, three of the test subjects survived and developed superpowers that linked them to powerful energy sources called the Lightforce and the Darkforce. These three test subjects managed to escape and used their newfound abilities in very different ways. While teenage runaways Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Power used their light and dark powers to become the heroes Cloak and Dagger, Li became something else entirely.

The drug split Li into two entities sharing the same body: the kind Martin Li and the more villainous Mister Negative. Mister Negative is able to control the Dark and Lightforce energies within him to various ends, augmenting his physical abilities and corrupting those he touches, turning them into evil inverted versions of themselves. In this form, the villain takes on the appearance of a photo negative, with dark blue or black skin and white hair. His Martin Li persona, meanwhile, has a healing touch and appears normal.

Using his new abilities, Mister Negative set out to not only destroy the Maggia crime family, but to become the new Lord of the Chinatown underworld.

Keeping true to his dualistic nature, Mister Negative even used the Martin Li persona as a front, presenting himself as a kindhearted philanthropist and self-made man. One of his fronts even included the F.E.A.S.T project, a community outreach program whose volunteers included Spider-Man’s Aunt May.

Mister Negative’s goal to become the new ruler of the New York underworld obviously brought him into conflict with Spider-Man, but also with The Hood, another super-powered crime boss with ambitions of becoming the new top dog of NYC’s criminal world. In many cases, his sinister ambitions are carried out by the “Inner Demons,” a gang of masked enforcers granted a portion of their master’s power.

They say everyone has two faces; the one we show to the world, and the one more rarely seen.

This sinister villain embodies that duality better than most, with his kind and generous exterior hiding the ruthless and bloodthirsty monster within. Mister Negative may be a relatively new villain in an already stacked Rogues Gallery, but he’s already managed to make his mark.

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