Martin Li is a fictional Marvel Comics supervillain created by Dan Slott, Steve McNiven, and Phil Jimenez. He is an enemy of Spider-Man and The Punisher. Mister Negative was introduced in a cameo in Amazing Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007); a Free Comic Book Day issue set after the events of Spider-Man: One More Day. Mister Negative's first full appearance came in Amazing Spider-Man #546 (Jan 2008); the start of the "Brand New Day" storyline.
Fictional character biography
The story of Mister Negative is actually not a true one, although it is a sympathetic tale--Martin Li is an illegal Chinese immigrant from the Fujian province who tried to go to America in order to be close to his wife. However, he found out that the ship, the Golden Snake, he was using for transportation was a slave ship used for transporting Fujian slaves to 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.
The true story of Mister Negative (which only he is aware of) is that he was actually one of the crew members of the slave ship. When the ship crashed, he stole the identity of one of the deceased Fujian slaves, the real Martin Li, who was heading to America for the reasons Mister Negative claims to have been going to America for. Mister Negative 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 he became a combination of two men, the kindhearted Martin Lee, and Mister Negative, whose goal was to become the top kingpin of crime in Chinatown.
Under the name Martin Li, he owns a soup kitchen that Aunt May, the aunt of Peter Parker, volunteers at. Although he is secretly a criminal mastermind, he is a kindhearted person when he is under his Martin Li persona. Mister Negative first has friction with Spider-Man when he exchanges a bit of his blood to use in a "Devil's Breath" formula, the purpose of which is to kill all the New York crime families to make him the new Kingpin. He only gets the blood because he has agreed to keep the children of the families alive.
Mister Negative later recruits Hammerhead and offers to put his brain in a new robotic adamantium skeleton after Underworld shot him in the head. 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 Brock's cancerous cells to completely disappear and the remains of the Venom symbiote fuse with Brock's white blood cells, causing him to become Anti-Venom.
Powers and abilities
It initially appears that Martin Li has no knowledge of his dark 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.
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 evil and darkness 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 dark side to corrupt May Parker to keep it a secret. During an encounter in Amazing Spider-Man #548, Spider-Man notes that Mr. Negative possesses some degree of superhuman strength. 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 dark 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.
Powers & Abilities
Mr. Negative's seems to have the power to heal 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-like suit, and causing Eddie to dub himself Anti-Venom, and possess similar healing powers to Mr. Negative. Aside from this, homeless people who've stayed at Martin Li's shelter have rapidly recovered from any illnesses or injuries they suffered from.