Art by Steve McNiven.
|First appearance||actual: Amazing Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007)
full: The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (January 2008)
|Created by||Dan Slott
|Alter ego||Martin Li|
Healing by touch
Ability to switch between reversed and regular appearance
Mister Negative (Martin Li) is a fictional comic book supervillain, appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, usually as an enemy of Spider-Man and the Punisher. Created by Dan Slott, Steve McNiven, and Phil Jimenez, Mister Negative first appeared in a cameo in Amazing Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007), a Free Comic Book Day issue set after the events of the Spider-Man: One More Day storyline. Mister Negative's first full appearance came in The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (Jan 2008); the start of the "Brand New Day" storyline.
Fictional character biography
Martin Li is an illegal Chinese immigrant from the Fujian province who attempted to travel to America to be with his wife. However, his mode of transportation, the Golden Mountain, was a slave ship operated by the Snakehead gang as a way to sell Fujian captives as overseas slaves in Kenya. During a storm, the ship's crew evacuated, leaving the captives alone to make a break for the New York shores. Li was the only survivor and spent the following years building a large fortune and dedicating himself to helping those less fortunate.
However, this story is later revealed to be somewhat false, though only the Mr. Negative persona appears aware of it. It is revealed that Mister Negative was actually one of the crew members of the Golden Mountain and when the ship nearly crashed onto the New York shores, he stole the identity of one of the deceased Fujian slaves, the real Martin Li, who was heading to America for the aforementioned reasons. This gang member was eventually captured by the Maggia Don Silvermane and experimented on with a synthetic drug created by Maggia chemist Simon Marshall that could be more potent than heroin. He escaped with the help of two other experimental inmates and was soon transformed into two men, the kind-hearted Martin Li and the villainous Mister Negative. The Mister Negative side dedicated himself to becoming Chinatown's Kingpin of Crime while the Martin Li side attempts to run the F.E.A.S.T. center with humility. 
Martin Li operates a soup kitchen in Chinatown, the F.E.A.S.T. Project (Food, Emergency Aid, Shelter and Training), where Peter Parker's Aunt May volunteers. Neither Peter nor May are aware of Li's dual identity as a Chinatown crime boss under the name Mister Negative. Despite being a crime lord, Li is a seemingly kind and generous man. The F.E.A.S.T. Project has displayed healing powers for people of various illnesses, although the cause of this healing has yet to be revealed.
During the first story of the Brand New Day, Mister Negative first comes into conflict with Spider-Man when he makes a power play toward taking control of New York's criminal underworld by attempting to wipe out all existing members of the Karnelli and Maggia crime families using a DNA specific bioweapon called the "Devil's Breath". In exchange for leaving the Maggia families' children alive, he takes a sample of Spider-Man's blood to use in a Devil's Breath formula. Mister Negative later tries to use the Devil's Breath formula to kill Spider-Man during a fight with the Maggia, but Spider-Man is able to hold his breath long enough to escape alive. Spider-Man then recruits the Black Cat to help him steal his remaining blood from Mister Negative and replace it with a vial of pig blood so Mister Negative is unaware of his loss.
Martin Li endorses Bill Hollister for mayor of New York City, putting him against Randall Crowne, who has him added to a list of opponents (many of whom become targets of the villain Menace, who is actually Hollister's daughter, Lilly). It also causes him to become the target of a smear campaign by Dexter Bennet, editor of The DB and supporter of Randall Crowne. After Menace is revealed to be Billy Hollister's daughter Lily and he resigns as mayor, Li unsuccessfully runs in a special election, losing to J. Jonah Jameson.
Mister Negative later recruits Hammerhead and offers to put his brain in a new robotic adamantium skeleton after having been shot point blank in the head by Underworld. Hammerhead agrees to that and Mister Negative has his surgeon Doctor Tramma perform the procedure.
Mister Negative eventually comes across Eddie Brock and gives him a job at his soup kitchen. A touch of him causes his cancerous cells to completely disappear. Also, the remains of the Venom Symbiote fuse with Brock's white blood cells, causing him to become Anti-Venom during a conflict with Mac Gargan, the then current Venom. After the F.E.A.S.T center is torn apart during the fight between the two, Li discovers from a group of sweatshop workers (from a shop owned by Crowne) that they were experimented on with drugs from Oscorp. Later, Mister Negative and his Inner Demons encounter and battle Anti-Venom. In the aftermath, Brock watches Negative turn into Li, becoming the first to be aware of his dual identity.
During the Dark Reign storyline, Mister Negative refuses to submit to Hood's rule during his conquest of New York's criminal underworld. During a meeting with Hood's henchman White Dragon, Negative corrupts him and sends him to attack Hood's headquarters. In retaliation, Hood decides to attack and kill him. H.A.M.M.E.R. seals Chinatown on Hood's behalf and an all out brawl erupts around Li's estate. Hood's gang gets the upper hand until Spider-Man arrives to rescue Martin Li. However, he too is corrupted and sent into battle on Mister Negative's behalf. Spider-Man attacks and pummels the members of Hood's gang who are attacking the villain's headquarters and Mister Negative then sends him to kill Betty Brant, who is interviewing the real Martin Li's widow and is coming close to the truth. The Hood himself then confronts Negative at his Chinatown headquarters and battles him. During the battle, Mister Negative tries to corrupt Hood, but fails. Norman Osborn ends H.A.M.M.E.R.'s blockade of Chinatown when Hammerhead hands him papers implicating Oscorp in the aforementioned drug tests on immigrants. An irate Hood decides to kill Negative anyway, but he escapes. A later conversation that Norman Osborn has with his own darker side the Green Goblin reveals that he now has an alliance with Negative similar to the one with Hood. However, Spot slips in and steals back the evidence of Oscorp's tests, revealing that he is actually Mister Negative's mole in the Hood's gang under the promise that he will be cured once they get their revenge on the Maggia.
During The Gauntlet storyline, Mister Negative corrupts Spider-Man's Aunt May when she walks in on him punishing an Inner Demon. However, Aunt May manages to break free from Mister Negative's corruption when Peter went to her for moral support after the Lizard devoured Billy Connors and essentially 'killed' his human side.
During the Shadowland storyline, Mister Negative takes the advantage of the conflict against the Hand in a plot to set up a criminal establishment there, only for him and his Inner Demons to run afoul of Spider-Man and Shang-Chi.
Mister Negative later has an encounter with Jackpot and Boomerang. During the "Origin of the Species" storyline, Mister Negative was among the supervillains assembled by Doctor Octopus to secure some items for him.
During the "Big Time" storyline, Mister Negative is targeted by both Anti-Venom and the new Wraith. When they, along with Spider-Man, interrupt a heroin-smuggling operation, Wraith uses visual recognition software, linked to every television broadcast in New York, to publicly out Mister Negative as Martin Li. When the police approach, Negative and his men retreat. Li is later seen locked in a room by Negative's men, who wait for him to change back into their master.
During the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Mister Negative and his henchmen invade a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility as a way of taking an advantage of the war between the Avengers and the Phoenix Five, but Hawkeye and Spider-Woman defeat them while having a discussion about their relationship. It is later revealed that they were informed about Mister Negative's plan by Madame Hydra, who wanted to get rid of her competition.
Powers and abilities
It initially appears that Martin Li has no knowledge of his evil side. During "New Ways To Die", Li took Eddie Brock into a back room he calls his inner sanctuary, where he claims to play a game of Go day by day against an unknown opponent who he has never seen, claiming that he has "learned that it's okay to enjoy the game." When he transforms into Mr. Negative, Li's appearance resembles that of a photographic negative. He also speaks in a reverse colored text bubble, although it's unclear what (if anything) this indicates about the sound of his voice.
Prior to his transformation, "Martin Li" was a member of the Snakehead gang, whose true name has not yet been revealed. Both the Martin Li and Mr. Negative personas are the result of experimental drug tests done by Maggia chemist Simon Marshall, the same tests that powered Cloak and Dagger (namely Cloak's association with the Darkforce). However, unlike the two heroes, who were each given a power over light and dark, the gang member was given both a light and dark side. As such, Mr. Negative considers himself an embodiment of black and wickedness and both of his personas view the balance of good and evil as a necessary part of the universe. The two halves, while fully aware of one another's existence, take no steps to interfere with one another, with the Martin Li persona even taking such drastic steps as allowing his bad side to corrupt May Parker to keep it a secret.
During an encounter in The Amazing Spider-Man #621, Mr. Negative displays a degree of superhuman strength high enough to send Spider-Man flying through two buildings with a single blow. Mr. Negative also demonstrates superhuman reflexes during his battle with the Hood, dodging bullets or cutting them in half with his sword. He also has to power to charge up knives and swords with black electrical energy, and he can corrupt people he touches in the same manner, bringing them under his control. A corrupted person's clothes change their colors to their photographic negatives, and all who are corrupted praise their new master with proclamations like "Mr. Negative was never born, so he is ever living," or "He is attached to nothing, thus he is one with all." It's shown his corruption is more effective the more good the affected person was before his conversion: White Dragon, a villain himself, gained vastly increased stamina and endurance, but was still easily dispatched (interestingly, his clothes reverted to normal once he was killed). Conversely, Spider-Man, a hero in every respect, was corrupted into a spiteful and angry villain, despising every value he held dear (even his Uncle Ben's memory) and no more above killing. Spider-Man is able to break the hold his malevolent side has over him when he is on the verge of killing Betty Brant, as he remembers the love he once had for her upon getting close. Mr. Negative's corrupting touch appears to be ineffective against beings with supernatural powers, as Hood is unaffected when Negative attempts to corrupt him; Mr. Negative claims that this is because the Hood's soul belongs to a being even darker than he is.
Mr. Negative's alternate Martin Li persona seems to have the power to cure others: in The Amazing Spider-Man #568, a simple touch from Li completely cures Eddie Brock of his cancer, and combines the remnants of the Venom symbiote in his blood with his white blood cells, creating a new symbiote named Anti-Venom that possesses similar healing powers. Aside from this, homeless people who have stayed at Martin Li's shelter have rapidly recovered from any illnesses or injuries they suffered from. It is possible that his healing touch is supposed to be the opposite of Mr. Negative's corrupting touch. It is revealed that Anti-Venom can be affected by Mr. Negative's energy because it negates his healing ability.
Mr. Negative also has access to advanced technology and secret laboratories, in which he is able to give his subjects medical care far more advanced than that available to the general public.
Mister Negative is often accompanied by several henchmen, known as his Inner Demons, who wear Dragon-style masks and use high tech electrified versions of swords, knuckles and various other oriental weaponry such as gun staffs and Nunchakus. They are able to regenerate from even the most lethal wounds within a matter of seconds, as they've been shown almost immediately recovering from impalement, gunshots to the head, and even getting torn apart or decapitated. It has been implied that the Inner Demons can be killed under the right circumstances: at one point, Anti-Venom claims to have killed some of them, possibly by suffocation, which he later notes to be an effective tactic against them. Mr. Negative also orders the murder of two Inner Demons who have failed him.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- In The Amazing Spider-Man video game, Mr. Negative is first referred to by reporter Whitney Chang as a mysterious person leaving his signature next to a homeless shelter named FEAST, leaving photo-negative imprints on objects like a bench, a phone booth, etc.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game, it was mentioned by Shocker that Mister Negative's crew are in fear of Cletus Kasady's killing spree.
- Oh no! Is it splitsville for Spider-Man and MJ?
- "Comic fans fume as Marvel erases Spidey-MJ marriage" By David Colton, USA TODAY
- Dark Reign: Mister Negative #1
- Dark Reign: Mister Negative #3
- The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (Jan. 2008)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #548 (Jan. 2008)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #546-548
- The Amazing Spider-Man #620
- The Amazing Spider-Man #621
- The Amazing Spider-Man #558
- The Amazing Spider-Man #591
- Amazing Spider-Man EXTRA! (July 2008)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #569
- The Amazing Spider-Man #572
- Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #2
- Dark Reign: Mister Negative #2
- The Amazing Spider-Man #618
- The Amazing Spider-Man #633
- Shadowland: Spider-Man #1
- Web of Spider-Man vol. 2 #10
- The Amazing Spider-Man #642
- The Amazing Spider-Man #664
- Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger #1
- Avengers vol. 4 #30
- The Amazing Spider-Man #547 (Jan. 2008)
- Mister Negative at Comic Vine
- Inner Demons at Comic Vine
- www.spidercoms.com - Dark Reign: Mr. Negative Reviews