The Sinister Six make their comedic return to the Marvel Universe.
Humanizing dastardly villains is a difficult task to achieve without taking away the necessary evil of the character. How does a writer make a reader care about a character whose single purpose is to steal, maim, or kill? Nick Spencer aims to answer this question in his new humorous series, Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Superior Foes is not only a great introduction to the premise and cast of the series, but manages to pack almost every page with some sort of top-notch comedy element, from gags, to physical humor, to smart-aleck quips that tear down character after character.
Superior-Foes reintroduces a new brand of the Sinister Six, which is now composed of Boomerang, Beetle, Shocker, Overdrive, and Speed Demon. Spencer’s book is perfectly written to introduce his misfit cast of self-deprecating incompetent villains without ever dragging down the pace by forcing readers to slog through the formation of yet another “team.” The Sinister Six, moreover, is a five-man “team” in only the loosest of context, and their interactions portray a band of villains that can barely cooperate at best, and are at each other’s throats at worst. The most fun interactions throughout Superior Foes, however, are between the sarcastic Speed Demon and cowardly Shocker. An awkward and clumsy heist, for example, is barely pulled off by the two B-listers as they not only attempt to steal bird food, but manage to totally ruin an innocent child’s day with mere insults. It’s clear that Spencer has discovered how to keep Superior Foes humorous and light, while simultaneously focusing on the cast’s immoral, evil behavior.
Nick Spencer doesn’t hog all of the comedic spotlight, however, as artist Steve Lieber pencils some golden sequences that focus on physical comedy and poke fun at censorship. The aforementioned interactions between Overdrive and Shocker are obviously prime for great work, but an even funnier yet subtler moment occurs when the symbol of the good ol’ Comics Code Authority makes a triumphant return in a panel that represents everything it worked so hard to censor and control. As much as I look forward to Nick Spencer’s writings in the subsequent issues, it is safe to say that Lieber’s pencils will be a similar highlight.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 is a great first issue that not only introduces its cast but also requires absolutely no prior knowledge of the expanded Spider-Man universe. Superior Foes’ cast and tone are prime for some great comedy writing, and add to Marvel’s constantly growing amount of books that focus on pure fun. For anyone who is looking for a fresh and dynamic take on Spider-Man’s villains, look no further than Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s new title.
Nick Spencer (W), Steve Lieber (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99, July 3, 2013