by Nick Spencer (Writer), Steve Lieber (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)
The Story: The Sinister Six gets in even more trouble as Boomerang manipulate the others and himself into bigger problems.
The Review: There are times in everyone’s life when we screw up. We might try to make the situation better, only for it to be even worse. It’s a fact of life that can happen in every situations: employment, love, money, friendship and so on. It’s never pleasant when it happens, whether it’s our own person or our friends.
Where it’s fun, though, is when it happens to the characters of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, as the misery and the constant struggles for success of these low-tier super-villains manages to reverse the trend. With their problems being our entertainment, Spencer understand that while they certainly aren’t heroes by any mean, it doesn’t mean that we can’t get attached to them. Written as some kind of hyper-dysfunctional family, the Sinister Six works in a way that allow for their vile nature to not only be very fun to read, but readers may find themselves anticipating what kind of figurative backstabbing will happen next.
With the collective misery of those characters being the main source of comedy for the series, potent examples of success need to be shown in order to draw a comparison, which makes the scenes with Luke Cage and Iron Fist particularly great. Even when they are getting beat down and they try to fight back, their very nature are being sent to the forefront to the readers amusement and to see exactly who they are, like when Overdrive has a fan moment with Luke Cage or when Shocker really do try his very best at fighting back. Not every writers are able to really mix humor, plot progression and character defining moments so naturally in their story, yet Spencer truly does in quite a few ways.
While the comedy and the manipulations are especially nice, it’s really the characters that sell this series, with those not-exactly loveable but thoroughly entertaining rogues being rather fascinating. Already moving forward some of the characterization and cementing some others, Spencer never misses an opportunity to show another side or to surprise the readers, with the evolution of Shocker as being a bit more brave or how Boomerang might actually be doomed to repetition thanks to his obvious lack of introspection. There might just be a single character that isn’t defined as clearly as the others, as Overdrive really hasn’t seen much in terms of analysis or personal moments. He still provide some fun moments, yet he doesn’t have the clear persona that others in the cast have, with the bossy Beetle and opportunistic Speed Demon. Still, the cast is for the most part solid enough to provide enough fun and reasons to be invested in where they might be going in the future.
This direction, of course, is provided by the story itself, which isn’t as strong as the latest issue, yet does manage to provide plenty of opportunities. Still focusing a bit more on Boomerang, the plot jumps a bit more around in this issue, yet it still does manage to connect everything together in a cohesive way near the end. Despite the heavy spotlight on Boomerang, the other members of the Sinister Six do get some very good moments here as their bad luck and their betrayal by their former leader gets addressed here. Never letting each scenes get stale, the title does not spin its wheels as the progression is moving at a steady pace, enough to show diversity in what happens and in the potential of where it might go. This is a surprising titles in more ways than one, which again speak well for Spencer.
All the praise shouldn’t all be aimed at Spencer, however, as Lieber really does a fine job here as well. The pacing of the script is perfectly drawn on the page as the narrative flow really move throughout the pages and the panels, making sure everything has just enough space to be interesting enough visually. The action is neat, the characters poses are very diverse and are incredibly evocative, yet there is perhaps a single weakness to Lieber’s style and it’s the faces. While he does manage to have a huge number of expressions for his characters, the lines are a bit too unfocused and murky for the effect to be optimal. It’s not something that crushes the issue, far from it, yet it does distract in a few panels. The rest is fine, though, with the backgrounds, front elements and the panelling does their job really well in showing the world those characters work in. It is a strong effort on Lieber’s part.
Rachelle Rosenberg worked hard on this issue too, I’m sure, yet it’s not the strongest she’s ever been. While the juxtaposition of the more out-there elements in rather banal settings do make things stand out, she does rely on this technique a bit too much in this issue, weakening the effect as a result after a while. The background colors are pretty pitch-perfect, though, as the mood of the characters and the script really comes forward thanks to this simple technique, with the cold shoulders given to Boomerang by the waitress being shown with an icy blue colorization, the anger of Chameleon represented by a warm yellow and so forth. There may be some small repetitions here and there, but it’s over all a nice effort on her part, to be sure.
The Conclusion: With some more twists, humor, misery and some surprising depths to his characters, Spencer shows how fun a book about losers and villain can truly be. With some strong effort by Lieber and Rosenberg, it also manage to be good-looking too. A thoroughly nice read.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière