When they’re done properly by storytellers who really understand character, villain books can prove to be a more entertaining time than their hero counterparts. DC published Secret Six for a number of years and it was one of the best books in their line up, both critically and lucratively. Lately super villain books haven’t come nearly as close to capturing that magic. While Dark Avengers was decent, this new iteration of Thunderbolts has been nothing to rave about. Hopefully that’s all about to change with the debut of Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1.
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man is the first new book to launch during Superior Spider-Month, and features a new banding together of Spidey foes looking to take the mantle of the Sinister Six. Superior Foes is more grounded and focused on flawed characters with less flashy powers. It’s more like a memoir/crime drama with costumed characters than a supervillain comic book.
Where Superior Foes doesn’t quite measure up is in the overall team dynamic. Writer Nick Spencer has yet to define unique voices for each character. We see a cast that includes Beetle, Shocker and Overdrive but Boomerang steals the lion’s share of attention in this first issue, as his attempt to negotiate a deal while locked in prison forms the conflict of this issue. Boomerang’s ongoing narration explores his struggle to be taken seriously as a major bad guy and it helps relate him more as a human being than a maniac.
The humor and self-containment of the book resemble Hawkeye in a lot of ways. It feels like the only thing we are concerned about is what these guys do when they’re not being pummeled by Spidey. That same encapsulating Hawkeye formula works well for these D-list characters.
Steve Lieber, who drew part of the Hurricane Sandy issue of Hawkeye handles art duties here. His style fits the dark underbelly of Marvel New York theme of the book. It’s subtle, elegant, and captures so much emotion in the characters.
Going in I didn’t know what to expect from Superior Foes of Spider-Man, but I’m happy to say this book is extremely pleasing to read. If Spencer continues to focus on the inadequacies and nuances of these characters then they’ll definitely have readers adding this to their pulls.
9 out of 10 Excellent!
“Similar to Hawkeye in tone, with just a little bit of voice left to find.”
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