Review by Frank Plowright
During the time Doctor Octopus spent as Spider-Man (see Superior Spider-Man), his first battle pitched against him against the Sinister Six, a group he’d originated and named way back in the day. The Beetle, Boomerang, Overdrive, Shocker, Speed Demon had never been among the first rank of Spider-Man’s foes, but they sent an inexperienced Otto Octavius fleeing before he decided the better of it and came up with a way to defeat them.
There are several reasons this motley bunch aren’t among the first rank of Spider-Man’s foes, but the primary one, individually or collectively, is stupidity. That continues here. There have been occasions when victory was almost theirs, but greed or self-interest always shoots them in the foot. This has its consequences. There’s the occupational hazard of the jail cell, dealing with lawyers, the parole officer… and then there’s the bail to be raised. How’re they going to get that when their last job went belly up? Fred Myers, Boomerang, considers himself a leader, but can he trust his crew when the chips are down? And should he tell them he’s in debt to a Russian mob boss? These are the sort of questions Nick Spencer investigates in what prioritises hilarity from start to finish.
If there’s a scene that sums up the presposterous incompetence of the crew it’s when they sit around discussing why they’re the Sinister Six when there’s only five of them (their sixth member having been decommissioned in Superior Spider-Man). They run through alternative names, with Boomerang fighting a lone battle explaining why their reduced membership is a positive point. He’s a lying, cowardly, manipulative creep, which cements the rest of the book, while Spencer enjoys himself playing fast and loose with more villains, and that transmits.
In Steve Lieber Superior Foes of Spider-Man has an artist who can take Spencer’s comedy scripts and illustrate them in a naturalistic fashion, so accentuating the idea that we’re looking at a funny fly on the wall TV style presentation of consistent ineptitude. He’s brilliant at the quieter moments, you can believe his cast actually wear their clothes, and they have a worn ennui about them.
Spencer plays fair with Marvel continuity, on occasion adding a moment here or there (like at the end), but anyone who wants to see the likes of Boomerang treated seriously isn’t going to find it here. Don’t really care about the cast one way or another and like a laugh? Then this is the series for you. It continues with Crime of the Century, and alternatively can be purchased in one oversized volume as The Superior Foes of Spider-Man Omnibus.