by Nick Spencer (Writer), Steve Lieber (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)
The Story: After a few twists and turns, the Sinister Six are finally ready to go ahead and retrieve the head of Silvermane. How can things go right?
The Review: I’ll call it, this issue is Nick Spencer now hitting his stride with this series. Previous issues have been rather fun, some of them great, yet there were always one or two things that was in the way for this title to be the true force of laughter and foolhardiness that it could very well be. There were always a lack of focus on other characters, or one small aspect that kept getting in the way of its potential.
With this issue focusing on the heist, not only is Nick Spencer able to put on display all of his characters, but he is also showcasing all of the title strengths all the while. The humor, the crazy way the Marvel universe’s underworld function, how it is to live as a low-rent super-villain as well as the dysfunctional Sinister Six.
One of the stronger aspect, of course, is the humor as it uses the incompetence of the protagonists as well as the juxtaposition of credible elements with the more surreal ones to inject some ludicrous moments in the story. The fact that the Owl, a psychopathic man who eats rats, seems to love his Prius for some reason, or how the arrogance of Boomerang actually does him a disservice more than anything are only some of the aspects that adds hilarity to the whole that is this issue. The mix between absurd details along with a certain addition of common sense makes a lot of the moments here rather memorable, to say the least.
The way Spencer also use the narration and the perspective of Boomerang adds another level to this issue, making some elements not quite as they seem firsthand. It adds a note of unreliability to the character and to the issue that really add to the theme of scumbags and criminals that this series is good at portraying. The way he never seems to work well around his crew by either belittling their abilities or mistrusting them is solid gold.
The rest of the characters have a bit more presence here as well, with the seemingly optimistic Overdrive, the close to reluctant and laidback Speed Demon and the practical Beetle contributing a good chunk of the issue. Seeing them in action as well as arguing and interacting with the always more present Boomerang makes for a nice change of pace, especially considering the low amount of panels in the spotlight they had in previous issues.
What’s also really nice is the pacing, with close to the majority of the issue dedicated to Boomerang and his team during the heist. There is a short scene at the beginning along with another one that focus on other characters, yet those are just the right length to allow the humor and the desired effect to take place to set things right for the very next scene (or next issue in the case of the last scene). Everything move along without delving too long on certain subjects, letting the jokes and action pieces make the issue progress without anything being out of place.
This effect is largely due, however, to Steve Lieber who manages to have a particularly efficient page and panel layout, with some being rather inventive and fun to see. The pages featuring the heist and how the team is split up, with one being on a much more bitter predicament than the other is especially well done. This narrative flow is done efficiently thanks to a rather large amount of panels, with some of them being rather small without being too much that details are lost. This kind of panelling also allow the more rough style to actually shine, with Lieber managing the space in his comics rather brilliantly. Despite this, Lieber never really miss any of the important details in his characters, the expressions along with the scenery and background to work with Spencer and the general humor of this title. There are still some rough edges here and there, yet it’s a very minor annoyance this time around, which is a huge bonus for this issue.
Rachelle Rosenberg is also quite good in this issue as well and could as well be considering a huge bonus to Steve Lieber’s art thanks to her colorization. Her rather more dull approach to colorization, with a focus on the more normal aspects of real-life colors works rather well as a contrast to the more out-there elements, with the super hero costumes, the action and the traps in the Owl’s lair popping out of the page thanks to her work. One of the more impressive page actually has a different background color for every single room showcased, which is impressive all around considering it does achieve a certain effect, as if that page came out of another media altogether. The use of white backgrounds in several panels also allows for a rather quick change of pace, almost like a stop to allow the readers to appreciate the absurdity of what is happening. With a quick glance, Rosenberg’s work could be dismissed, but it’s actually rather brilliant which is something that do fit the themes of this book in terms of how a life of a super-criminal is.
The Conclusion: Bringing in plenty of humor as well as some truly memorable moments with its cast of loser super-villains, Nick Spencer simply brings a lot of entertainment for readers, which is only helped by the brilliant work of Lieber and Rosenberg. This might just be one of the stronger issue of this series so far. More of that please.
Hugo Robberts Larivière