Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 08 September 2013

So just how did Silvermane lose his head anyway?  And just how does someone like Boomerang even know about a missing head to begin with?  And why would Chameleon, or anyone for that matter, even want the head of Silvermane?  Plus, how is Boomerang going to cope with having his ex-partner and the original Beetle, Mach VII, as a parole officer?  Well get ready, folks, because these questions will be (somewhat) answered in another tale of lies, betrayal, and Machiavellian schemes of in the third issue of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man.  

Boomerang begins the issue by explaining the legend behind the head of Silvermane. He explains that Silvermane was an Sicilian mafia boss named Silvio Manfredi, who was nicknamed "Silvermane" for obvious reasons. He was also the head of the Maggia crime family whose power rivaled that of the Kingpin. Unfortunately for Silvermane, he was also getting old, so to prolong his life, he attempted to make himself younger with an anti-aging serum (as seen the classic Amazing Spider-Man "Tablet of Time" story) and when that failed, he turned himself into a cyborg. However, during a meeting with rival crime boss, the Owl, at a junkyard, a fight ensued and, in spite of the best efforts of his right-hand man, Hammerhead, Silvermane was caught by a giant crane magnet and dumped into a trash compactor where it was assumed he was crushed to death.
However, the legend goes that, unbeknownst to the gangsters, Silvermane survived by clawing his way out of the compactor, only for his head popped off his body due to the pressure of the compactor's lid closing. None of the other gangsters noticed what had happened, and because Silvermane's main battery and life-support systems were contained in his head, he was able to stay alive. This means that Silvermane is (literally) still the head of the Maggia crime family, and whoever possesses the head also controls the Maggia. According to the rest of the legend, the head was found by the son of the woman who owned the junkyard while looking for parts to build his own robot. He then took the head home with him, making sure to hide it from his mom. Silvermane tried to escape and even attempted to kill the boy, but over time, Silvermane and the boy became friends. Eventually, the boy showed the head of Silvermane to his mom when she was threatened by local gangsters, and Silvermane was able to scare them off. And in return, the boy made Silvermane a new body out of an RC car, and Silvermane learned how to live a life in which he wasn't feared, but loved and was part of real family. And Boomerang reveals that none of the story involving the boy is true, saying that "hopefully you learned something about how stupid the kind of people I work with are."

What really happened was that while the compactor did indeed pop Silvermane's head off his body, it was found by the Owl and his gang. The Owl imprisoned the head in a secret location only known by the Owl's most "trustworthy lieutenants"--which Boomerang (in spite of not being trustworthy by his own admission) used to be one. As for why the Owl decided to keep the head instead of just killing Silvermane? It's because the Owl enjoyed subjecting the head to torture and humiliation. Boomerang then adds that Silvermane wasn't some "great, magnanimous don that commanded respect" but a "mean, demented old geriatric" who was "weirdly racist" and who kept putting hits out on the wrong guy because he was becoming so senile. It was only after Silvermane died that anyone stopped hating him.

We then see Fred meeting up with newly assigned parole officer, Abner Jenkins, aka Mach VII, for breakfast at a pancake house. Abner tells Fred that he wants them to be friends again like they once were in the Sinister Syndicate, but Fred still holds a grudge over Abner having sold him out. Abner, however, says that's all in the past. He explains that when the new pilot program was announced, Abner didn't think it was for him because he didn't want to play the part of the typical "hard-ass" parole officer. It's only when he found out that Fred would be the first defendant of the new program that Abner decided it was his chance to help Fred out. Fred can barely contain his frustration as he drowns his pancakes in syrup.

Fred then narrates how Abner used to be the original Beetle and was his partner in the Sinister Syndicate. Abner would also double-cross Fred on a regular basis, although Fred claims he could respect since "a crook is a crook." Then Beetle became part of the original Thunderbolts, which was actually a "long con" orchestrated by Baron Zemo, in which the Masters of Evil would get themselves new costumed identities and pretend to be superheroes to lull an unsuspecting public into a false sense of security. Only it backfired because the Thunderbolts wound up becoming superheroes for real. Abner went even further, becoming a born-again Christian and turned-in state's evidence against other super-villains, including Boomerang. And while Fred claims he can somewhat understand what Fred did, the one thing he and other super-villains cannot forgive is the fact that Abner and the other Thunderbolts became super-heroes themselves. For that, Fred will always see Abner as "a traitorous, back-stabbing, turncoat ******!"

After their breakfast, Abner asks what happened to the other criminals who became the Beetle, and Fred says that one is in prison and the other was killed. Abner states that maybe what happened to them is a sign that Fred should retire from a life of crime and suggests that Fred come with him to met some people. When Fred sarcastically asks if it's the Avengers then reminds Abner how he didn't make the cut, Abner explains that it's really just "an informal get-together" with similar experiences to Fred. He then hands Fred his business card for him to call him any time and then flies off, saying he knows Fred can be a hero because he's been one before. Fred then explains via narration that he, himself, also used to be a member of the Thunderbolts, only it was "different" because he the government hired him and that he only signed up because he was looking at "twenty years in the Raft."

We then see Fred at the hideout of the Sinister Six, where the other members tell him that, because he's now being shadowed by Mach VII, they've unanimously decided to vote him off the team. Fred protests that they can't vote him off because he's the leader, and insists that Mach VII won't be a problem. The other members say it's still too risky, to which Fred points out they can't be the Sinister Six if there's only four members. Speed Demon (who has kept Inspector, the dog from issue #1) suggests Fred can always go back to being henchman, but Fred wants none of that. Fred then singles out Beetle and Overdrive, saying that he has been pulling jobs long before they came along, and reminds them that he survived an attack from the Punisher. Shocker, who really knows that the "Punisher" who attacked Fred was really the Chameleon in disguise, almost reveals this, but stays silent, especially when Beetle squeezes his shoulder. She tells Fred that while they respect him, they can't have any "distractions" when they steal the head of Silvermane from the Owl. Fred points out that he's the one who came up with the idea, and that they don't know where the head of Silvermane is. Beetle, however, points out that Fred told them exactly where the head was being kept. She also pulls out a map of the Owl's hideout in which Fred had marked the head's exact location with large red "X."

Having now been kicked off his own team, Fred sits alone in a bar. He decides to call up Mach VII and go to his "little get-together" after all. Turns out the "get together" is at church and that's it's a 12-step program called "Super-Villains Anonymous" which is comprised of some of the d-list supervillains of the Marvel Universe, including the Hippo. When the Hppo asks Fred if he wants any coffee, Fred takes the Hippo's own mug and spikes it with whiskey, as his getting liquored-up is "the only way he can get through this."

The meeting starts off with Mirage, whose real name is Desmond, explaining how he became a super-villain. He was once in love with a girl named Amy, and that had "a real good thing going"... that is until Fing Fang Foom attacked the city during the St. Patrick's Day parade and abducted her and she was saved by Iron Man.  And to add insult the injury, Iron Man told Desmond to “Keep an eye on her for me next time, yeah pal?” This resulted in Amy no longer finding Desmond attractive and developing a crush on Iron Man.  And when she asked Desmond to wear a helmet while in bed together, that was when Desmond knew it was over.  However Desmond, figuring that "chicks dig bad boys" decided to become a super-villain. As the Mirage, he started off his career by robbing the wedding of Betty Brant and Ned Leeds, only for Spider-Man to show up. Then, he and some other villains ended up getting killed by the Scourge of the Underworld, and that Captain America wore his costume in order to trap the Scourge. Then Mirage was brought back to life by the Hood along with other super-villains, only to be killed again this time by the Punisher. However, Mirage somehow managed to survive and was in a coma for the next three months. When Desmond finally woke, the doctor told him how this was his "big second chance." Desmond realized that it didn't matter if this was technically his "third big chance"--no one even knew or cared that he was still alive. This results in everyone in the group, save Fred, breaking into tears and having a group hug. The Hippo then asks Fred to join them, and Fred finds himself being reminded of that in scene Fight Club where Edward Norton is hugged by Meat Loaf, only in this case he's being smothered by "big, sweaty, hippo manboobs."

After the SVA meeting, Mach VII takes Fred up to top of the Brooklyn Bridge. Abner thinks that even though Fred didn't speak, he's made real progress, and Fred claims that some of what was said hit home. He then tells Abner about a job the new Sinister Six is planning, claiming they tried pressure him into joining them but that Fred wanted to "stay clean." Mach VII then asks where their hideout is, getting ready to fly over at arrest them himself, when Fred points out that since Abner is his parole officer, the Sinister Six will know he was the one who snitched on them. Instead, he suggests Abner can get in touch with the Avengers to take care of it because "someone needs to" and that "people could get hurt." Cue the last page in Luke Cage and Iron Fist bust into the Sinister Six's hideout.

Now I thought the first two issues were funny, but this? This issue was absolutely hysterical. Just seeing the image of Silvermane's disembodied head on a remote control car, and also the entirely of “Super-Villain's Anonymous” meeting, makes it worth getting this issue for those moments alone. Once again, Nick Spencer's dialogue is brilliant, from Boomerang's innuendo-laced dig at how Mach VII's “new costume makes him look like something your wife says she doesn't own,” to Speed Demon's “Did [Mach VII] just skip six?” to Overdrive's being upset at having Mad Men spoiled. It's just clever and sharp writing all around.

Steve Lieber once again offers some excellent artwork. He knows how to visually convey humor, as the scenes showing Silvermane's head are appropriately absurd. Yet, he also knows how to show character emotion as well, even though such things as the drowning pancakes with syrup, or a simple squeeze on a shoulder, or sitting alone in a bar. You may not find any overly-dramatic or epic fight scenes one would expect to find in a superhero (or in this case super-villain) comic, but it's has genuine comedy and drama that most other titles would kill for.
Some maybe wonder what the point was in Boomerang's anecdote about what criminals believed happened to Silvermane's head vs what actually happened, or Mirage's recounting his rather sad life story as a super-villain...aside from the fact that they're both incredibly funny. But if you couple this with Fred's account of how Abner went from being the original Beetle to the hero, Mach VII, then it offers a revealing insight into how Boomerang views personal redemption. And yet as cynical and above-it-all as Fred appears, it clear that his own life as a costumed criminal is nowhere near as glamorous as he would like it to be. Also, it's clear from his double-standard about villains turning hero, along with the art accompanying his narration, and we that Fred is a pretty lonely guy. Of course, it's a loneliness brought about by his willingness to sell out his own partners while hypocritically chastising them for doing the same thing to him. And yet, you still manage not to hate the guy. Who would've thought someone like Boomerang had the makings for a interesting protagonist for a series?

Obviously, Boomerang somehow has to get his crew out of jail and convince them he didn't rat them out to the other heroes. After all, he still has to pull off the heist of Silvermane's head for the Chameleon, who will no doubt be none to happy with this little setback of Fred's own making. One thing is for certain—hilarity will ensue. 


Superior Foes of Spider-Man #2

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd

So in the debut issue of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the leader of the new Sinister Six, Boomerang, orchestrated a "brilliant" scheme to trick his own teammates into bailing him out of prison.  Yes, there is the minor inconvenience of him now having to work for the Chameleon, and he managed to get beat up by another parole that he insulted, but I'm sure everything going to work out okay for Fred Myers from now on.  So what evil, diabolical plan does Boomerang and the rest of the four members of the Sinister Six have in store for the unsuspecting city of New York?  Well read on and tremble with fear as the Superior Foes of Spider-Man strike once again!   

Fred begins his narration by explaining how the Punisher is "one of the worst things about being a costumed criminal super-villain," saying how unlike other the other "hero vigilante types," the Punisher is more likely to kill you than merely beating you up. However, the Punisher is apparently NOT the worst thing about being a super-villain. The worst part, according to Boomerang, "are all the stupid meetings." And we cut to one of these very meetings, where the new Sinister Six has just approved a measure by 4 to 1 that the bathroom at their secret hideout will stay unisex.

Overdrive then asks what they're going to do about the empty chair, i.e. the spot at the table reserved for their sixth member. This prompts Shocker to say that he misses their former teammate, the Living Brain, and Beetle to point out that they can't call themselves "the Sinister Six" if they only have five members. Boomerang states that calling themselves the "Sinister Six" is a "better deal," with the added benefit of being able to split the money five ways instead of six. Speed Demon, who is getting increasingly drunk, also adds that having six employees gets "tricky" because of Obamacare. When Beetle points out people will be confused, Boomerang reminds them about the "air of mystery" angle they have, that others will wonder who the sixth member is and realize it could be anybody--even Dormanuu--and that this is "way cooler" than having an actual sixth member. Beetle says that this "is the stupidest thing [she's] ever heard a real person say." Shocker then suggests they can call themselves "The Sinister Syndicate," which Boomerang and Speed Demon adamantly tell him "No," with Speed Demon adding that the Sinister Syndicate were a bunch of losers. Overdrive however points out that Boomerang, Shocker, and Speed Demon were in the Sinister Syndicate, to which Boomerang says yes they were, but they're the Sinister Six now, and can't believe how none of them understand this. 
Boomerang then narrates how hard it is to be an "executive" and then says that meetings are actually not the worst part about being a super-villain. The worst part is actually having to deal with lawyers. We're then introduced to Boomerang's defense attorney, Partridge, and see that Fred is at Partridge’s office. Partridge also introduces Fred to his attractive young secretary, Janice, who is also his wife (even though Partridge points out that she can still technically sue him for sexual harassment regardless). When Partridge asks what he can do for him, Fred gets furious, saying that he's out on bail, which shouldn't have happened as Partridge had reassured him on the night of his arrest he'd have him out by morning.  And then Partridge stopped returning his calls. Partridge explains he couldn't return them because he was on vacation in Cancun, and when Fred tells him that he paid Partride in advance, Partridge says, "How do you think I was able to afford to go to Cancun on such short notice like that?"  Partridge, however, claims he can still fix everything. He tells Fred that the good news is the district attorney's office is willing to drop most of the charges against him. The bad news, however, is that when Fred was last arrested, he was already out on bail and thus violated the terms of his parole. Because of this, Fred has to "play nice" for his upcoming parole board meeting and must "keep his nose clean" for here on out.

However, we next see that Fred as Boomerang has planned a new caper with the Sinister Six. This one involves a high-class restaurant that the Zagat guidebook calls "the ultimate in absurdly decadent Manhattan dining." However, it opened right across the street from another high-class restaurant that was already there, and the older restaurant has now lost all its customers to the new restaurant Thus the chef of the old restaurant has hired the Sinister Six to rob his place and rough him up in order to get the restaurant shut down just long enough to be considered "old news." And as payment, the Sinister Six, in addition to their usual cut, can have whatever they want from the kitchen for free.

So while, Boomerang treats himself some expensive wine as he trashes the kitchen, the rest of the Sinister Six, save Overdrive, order from the menu. Speed Demon tells the waitress to bring him "the most expensive meat thing" they have, only to later chew her out because it's not cooked medium. The waitress tries to explain they're understaffed and that Boomerang broke the chef's arm, but Speed Demon still forces her to send his dinner back. Beetle says they should let Overdrive in on the meal, but Speed Demon says that because Overdrive is the Lookout, he has to stay outside, even though Beetle states she's pretty sure the coast is clear. Speed Demon then attempts to hit on her, asking what does she needs a "weird leather guy" like Overdrive for and he's got super-speed. He also suggests that, to make a proper name for herself, they make a sex-tape together in the restaurant--only for him to immediately back off and say they can just be friends when she charges up her hand blaster and points it directly at his head.

Shocker gets up from the table to ask Overdrive whether he'd like to dine with them, only to see him take off in his car at high speed. It's then that Shocker sees why--the Punisher is right outside. The Punisher then opens fire on the restaurant, and Beetle, Shocker, and Speed Demon (who almost forgets his doggy bag) escape, only to leave an intoxicated Boomerang behind. When Boomerang comes out from the kitchen to see what's going on and sees the Punisher, he immediately falls to his knees in fear of his life. The Punisher then tells Boomerang that worst part of his job is hearing a criminal's last words, "not because they make me feel anything...just the **** repetition of it." When he then asks if Boomerang wants to "say anything he's heard before," Boomerang takes off his mask, saying he doesn't want to die with boomerang on his head. The Punisher says that a new one and turns into the Chameleon.

Annoyed, Boomerang asks the Chameleon if he gets tired of pulling the same shtick, which results in the Chameleon smacking him across the face with his sub-machine gun. The Chameleon sarcastically says how it's a "shame" that Boomerang's "well-planned heist" has come undone now that his crew has bolted and the cops are surely on their way, reminding Boomerang of their agreement and that he still needs to fulfill his end of the deal. Boomerang says that to pull off the Chameleon's assignment, he needs his crew, and in order to keep his crew, he has to keep them paid with small-time scores such as this. Chameleon however states that this is no concern of his, that's he's been more than patient with him, and that it's time Boomerang gave him what he promised--the head of Silvermane.

We then go back to the bar the Sinister Six frequent, in which Boomerang is finishing his account of how he "survived" his tussle with the Punisher. This, of course, impresses his teammates tremendously, as very few super-villains have gone toe to toe with the Punisher and lived to tell the tale. Boomerang feigns modesty, saying he was lucky because the Punisher's gun jammed and that he used one of his gas'rangs to escape. Boomerang then says that, having come so close to death, made him see that he's "let them down," that as the Sinister Six, they're supposed to be feared and respected, that they should be "running this town" and "thinking big." So he announces that their next caper will "put them on the map" and "[give] them an empire" will be stealing Silvermane's head. The Sinister Six, however, say that Silvermane's head is myth that "gangsters tell their gangster kids" as a bedtime story. Boomerang tells them that not only knows for a fact that is the head of Silvermane real but that he knows where it really is. Once again, the Sinister Six are in awe of their leader and agree to join in on the caper. However, the only hold out is the Shocker, who is getting himself drunk at the bar. Unbeknownst to Boomerang, the Shocker was hidden outside the restaurant and saw the him talking with the Chameleon the whole time. Eventually, Shocker decides to join in with the others, although Boomerang now suspects something is definitely wrong.

The next day, Fred is at his parole board meeting, with a black-eye from the Chameleon and completely hung over. After Partridge offers him his bottle of "freshly-squeezed," which Fred declines, he then reassures Fred that "everything will be a piece of cake" (but not chocolate cake because that's too rich).  All Fred has to do is "play nice" and convince them how much prison has reformed him. As he's before the parole board, Fred launches into his appeal for sympathy, which includes how it all when wrong for him when he was six years old, how he found the love of a good woman, the lessons he's learned from Scientology, how much he's missed his father, and concludes with "at least that's what my therapist thinks." 

The parole board, although not the least bit swayed by his sob-story, inform Fred that they have decided to ignore the violations of the terms of his parole but with one caveat. He will now be part of "pilot program" specifically designed for super-villains such as himself, and has been assigned a new parole officer. When Fred says to agrees, the court reveals that it's none other than his former partner from the Sinister Syndicate and the original Beetle, Abner Jenkins, aka Mach VII of the Thunderbolts. And after Mach VII greets Fred with an enthusiastic hello, Fred, overcome by his hangover, literally throws up in a wastebasket.

For me, this issue had the same feel as the last one, mainly because it resulted in Boomerang once again conning his own teammates thanks to a little help from the Chameleon. Only this time, it appears that Fred's previous actions are starting to come back around when he least expects it just like his chosen super-villain name. Also, Nick Spencer makes it abundantly clear that the reason Boomerang's tendency to manipulate others stems from being a constant victim of being manipulated himself. Not only does he initially fall for the Chameleon's deception just like his other teammates, but he's even taken advantage of my his own lawyer. And speaking of Partridge, while he does come across a bit like the Saul Goodman character from Breaking Bad, the scenes between him and Fred are priceless, what with his over-analyzing of his own metaphors and his horrible puns (how the arrived at saying “You're in the Partridge family!” and “You're my little angel” just cracked me up to no end). It's no wonder super-villains like Boomerang keep getting caught if they have guys Partridge as their legal counsel.

Much of the humor also comes from the comic's own sense of self-awareness. Reading the scene in which the Sinister Six get into a debate over the logistics of their own name given how many are actually in the group comes across like an actual debate among comic book fans, and Speed Demon's horrible flirting with the Beetle can be interpreted as Spencer making a biting critique over how female members of a team are automatically regarded as nothing more than a designated love interest for someone else. This is yet another advantage of having a title consisting of low-tier characters as they be used to effectively satirize what other superhero comics take so seriously.

And again, Steve Lieber's art is used to great effect, particularly in his usage of facial expressions and adding little touches such as the Shocker sniffing whatever he's about to eat during the scene at the fancy restaurant, not to mention his use of visual gags like showing arrows and numbers as the Beetle counts her fingers. And moments like Boomerang fantasy of killing Partridge via stick figure-drawings and the panel arrangement gives a great example of how unique and effective comics can be as a storytelling medium.

Just like Mark Waid and Paulo Riveria's run on Daredevil, and Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye, Marvel appears to have scored yet again on a series with its own unique sense of style and “indie book” feel. These are definitely the kind of comics worth reading and how, sometimes, getting off the beaten path is sometimes worthwhile.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd

Boomerang? The Shocker? Speed Demon? A female Beetle? Overdrive?! These guys are the so-called Superior Foes of Spider-Man? Didn't Otto Octavious pretty much already defeat them? And why are they still calling themselves the "Sinister Six" when they only have five members?  This has all the making of being...the dark horse hit of Marvel NOW!

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. And to find out why, you'll have to read on and see what these low-level super-villains truly as "superior" as the title claims them to be.
We begin with Fred Myers, aka Boomerang, narrating how Spider-Man is the only guy anyone ever talks about, yet no one ever asks “What about Boomerang?” or what he's like or his escapades as a costumed super-villain. Fred then recounts his origin, that he was once a professional baseball pitcher who, in order to keep up various vices, accepted bribes to intentionally lose games. Unfortunately for Fred, he got caught, and the scandal ended his career. Just as he was contemplating suicide, members of the Secret Empire showed up at his apartment and recruited him. Because of Fred's pitching skills--and his claim he was born in Australia--the Secret Empire dubbed him “Boomerang.” This, Fred explains, is also why everyone hates Australia, as it's "an entire nation boiled down to what you can remember from that time you got high and watched Crocodile Dundee," and he's thankful that he didn't up being called "The Kangaroo." 

However, someone (and Boomerang insists it wasn't him) ratted the Secret Empire out to SHIELD. Fred managed to keep his gear and, after years of tangling with the likes Spider-Man, saved up enough money to get himself a new costume and his own crew, who readers of Superior Spider-Man know to be the new Sinister Six—Overdrive (who Boomerang describes a “pretty boy”), the new female Beetle (the “pretty one” and a text-messaging addict), Speed Demon (the “advance guy” who is also a foul-mouthed, cocky jerk) and the Shocker (who Boomerang labels a “coward,” and who also has a crush on the new Beetle).  And yes, Boomerang is well aware they have only five members.
Yet, in spite of things starting “to look up for old Fred,” Boomerang still winds up being caught by Spider-Man. Thus, our story proper begins with Speed Demon and Shocker, in their civilian identities, visiting Boomerang in jail. Boomerang has asked them to get some birdseed for his pet parakeet, which doesn't appeal to them at all because his apartment is way out in Queens and way too creepy for even “smart hookers” to enter. Speed Demon asks if Boomerang having a parrot means if he's going to adopt a pirate-themed gimmick. Boomerang says no, much to Speed Demon's relief as, having once called himself “the Whizzer,” knows from personal experience that costume-changes so late in one's criminal career “hurts the brand.” Boomerang then tells them that they don't even have to feed his bird—all they have to do is pick up the bird seed at the pet store and give it to the landlady looking after his place while he's away.

The next scene has Speed Demon and Shocker in costume, (but also wearing fedoras and trench coats over them as a disguise) at the pet store. There, a little girl and her mom are buying a dog, which prompts Speed Demon to say he once had a dog named “Skippy,” but that his mom sold it to buy more drugs. (Shocker reacts with “Dude?!” to which Speed Demon goes “What? Too dark?”) When Speed Demon then asks the girl what she's going to name her dog, she says she's going to call him "Inspector." Speed Demon thinks that's a stupid name, which makes the girl say “you're stupid,” prompting Speed Demon to say “No, you are” and so forth. Angry, Speed Demon tears off his “disguise” reveal his costume and declares he and Shocker are robbing the pet store. The Shocker politely requests the special bird seed from the owner, and Speed Demon also steals the little girl's dog out of spite.

The two super-villains then head back to Boomerang's apartment, which is rather exhausting for both because Speed Demon is having a hard time settling Inspector down, while Shocker has to carry the bulky bag of bird seed while wearing his insulated costume. Shocker asks why Speed Demon doesn't just take the bird seed up at super-speed to which Speed Demon says, "Do things get lighter for you when you run up the stairs while your holding them? Yeah, me neither!" When they finally get to Boomerang's front door, they realize that neither of them have the keys. This forces Speed Demon—who would rather just leave the birdseed outside the door than run through traffic—having to go all the way to Manhattan and back just to get them. However, once he returns, Shocker finds the door of the apartment already unlocked.

Once they get inside and call out if anyone is home, they accidentally find Hammerhead in the bathroom sitting on the toilet and reading the Daily Bugle. Turns out he was the "landlady" (and apparently he's so evil he doesn't even flush) and the bag of birdseed Speed Demon and Shocker were delivering was being used to smuggle diamonds—meaning their robbery of the pet store was utterly pointless. And if that weren't bad enough, Hammerhead, upon inspecting the diamonds (while Inspector eat the birdseed) wants to know where "the rest" of the diamonds are.  Speed Demon takes this as his cue to high tail it out of there, leaving behind a very scared Shocker.

We then cut over to a hospital, where Speed Demon is on his cellphone talking to Boomerang while Shocker, having been beaten-up by Hammerhead and in traction, grumbles incoherently in his bed. Speed Demon tells Boomerang how pissed Shocker is having been “sold out,” but Boomerang tells them they wouldn't have gone to his apartment otherwise. He also says that he needed to pay Hammerhead his cut for being on his turf and to stay in the loop on an upcoming heist at the docks. Apparently, there's an even bigger shipment of smuggled jewels coming in which got delayed by the “Origin Bomb” story from the first arc in Marvel NOW Avengers, and that this is their big chance for the new Sinister Six to get in on the action. But first, Boomerang says they have help pay his bail, claiming that he's the only one who can talk to the “ship rat” who can let them in on the heist. Plus, he's not making many “friends” behind bars, and we see that one them is making throat-slashing gestures (and something else off panel which makes Boomerang go “that's code for two different things.”) 
We see the new Beetle talking to Speed Demon on her wrist-communicator, who wonders why they should help out a "prick" like Boomerang. Speed Demon, however, convinces her it's all worthwhile because of the upcoming big job Boomerang has planned. We then see that the Beetle, in order to get the bail money, is robbing a comic book shop, and she demands from the two guys working the counter their most rare and valuable issues. (And to her frustration, the bags and boards are "impenetrable.") When she isn't sure which ones to select in spite of counter guys many suggestions, she tells them to throw them all in a box. She then escapes with Overdrive, who's been waiting outside in his getaway car, who can't believe comic books are still being printed.

Boomerang's bail is posted, and on the day of his release, a guard tells him that a prisoner wishes to see him before he leaves. At first, the prisoner appears to be Hammerhead...then changes into Kraven the Hunter...until finally revealing himself to be The Chameleon.  It turns out that Boomerang had hired the Chameleon to pose as Hammerhead, that the diamonds hidden in the bag of birdseed were fake, and that there is no big shipment of jewels being smuggled into the docks--it was all an elaborate con-job Boomerang cooked up to trick the Sinister Six into paying his bail money.  However, in return for Chameleon's services, Boomerang has agreed that he and the new Sinister Six will now secretly work for the Chameleon “without charge.” The Chameleon, however, expresses "concern" over just how long Boomerang can live up to his end of the bargain, especially once the Sinister Six find out they've been duped.

As Boomerang leaves, he flips the bird to the inmate who threatened him, then is given back his boomerangs, which are now unloaded. He's then picked up by the rest of the Sinister Six dressed in their civilian identities, and they all go out to celebrate his parole at a bar. Boomerang concludes his narration by addressing how someone like him keep doing what he does. It's because he "knows" that one day, he will defeat Spider-Man once and for all, beat the wrap, and then become the new Kingpin of New York. Only it sure isn't going to happen any time soon, as the issue ends with the very same inmate Boomerang flipped-off, having also gotten an early parole, showing up at the same bar, who then knocks Boomerang out with one punch.


I'm sure when we all saw the new Sinister Six in Superior Spider-Man #1, the last thing we ever expected to happen was that this group would wind up with their own monthly series. After all, these guys are on the B and C list of Spider-Man's rogues gallery and nowhere near the same level of the original Sinister Six. And that's exactly what makes Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber's first issue so funny—because in spite of their colorful costumes, gadgets, and super-powers, the new Sinister Six are really nothing more than a group of small-time crooks whose ambitions far exceed their actual talents. This is particularly the case with the team's leader, Boomerang, who even though he's definitely the smartest, he isn't nearly the criminal mastermind he believes himself to be. After all, tricking his own teammates to bail him out of prison isn't exactly on par with the schemes of Doctor Octopus by any stretch.

Yet even though the characters are thieves with no respect for any one—or even each other—Nick Spencer, through his witty and sharp dialogue, manages to portray this new Sinister Six as a surprisingly charismatic group. It recalls the Chili Palmer novels of Elmore Leonard, the films of Quentin Tarantino, and Guy Ritchie's film, Snatch—stories which also portrayed the lives of criminals in humorous, tongue-in-cheek manner. In fact, reading Boomerang's narration, I actually imagined him having the voice of Jason Statham. Speed Demon and the Shocker's misadventure involving the bird seed was terrific, and their conflicting personalities make them to be quite the comedic pair. Less effective, although still pretty funny, was the new Beetle and Overdrive's robbery of the comic book shop, partly due to the fact these two characters are still relatively new to the Marvel Universe. It just goes to show what great writing can do for characters you wouldn't think you'd have much interest in or even empathize with.

The illustrations by Steve Lieber is also a perfect fit given the tone of the series, using a seemingly simplistic style that conveys both light-hardheartedness and a bit of a rougher edge. It helped to enhance and work in tandem with the Spencer's writing rather than distract from it, and that while minimalistic in detail, it also was clear and concise. A particularly clever touch was the use of word balloons containing symbols and images as a means of expressing the characters emotions or what they were really thinking. It's a perfect example of just how much in synch both Spencer and Lieber truly are. 
This is a fantastic debut, one which I was pleasantly surprised and very glad to read. If you're in the mood for an offbeat, fun title with a different take on the other-side of the superhero tracks, you definitely need to give this one the chance it deserves.


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