Comic Reviews: The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Batman, Inc.!
Well, color me impressed. I wasn’t initially going to pick this title up, but since my pull list this week was a measly two titles, I decided to give this new #1 a go, and I’m glad I did. Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 focuses on the new “Sinister Six” of Boomerang, Beetle, Speed Demon, Shocker, and Overdrive that were briefly seen in the first issue of Superior Spider-man, and it’s safe to say that these villains’ lives haven’t gotten any better since getting trounced by the Doc Ock-possessed Spider-Man.
This issue primarily focuses on Boomerang, a C-list Spider-man villain who’s never been a very big threat for the wall-crawler. Writer Nick Spencer wisely acknowledges this by giving Boomerang a “one day I’ll make it” attitude towards life, which shows us just how out of touch he really is. While his origin is glossed over, the interactions between Boomerang and his other Six teammates is great, as is his awareness that this iteration of the Sinister Six only has five members (but is on the lookout for a sixth).
Much like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye focuses on Clint Barton’s life outside of the Avengers, Superior Foes takes a look at the everyday activities of these down and out villains. Shocker is a coward, always apologizing for his criminal activities while committing them, Speed Demon is a smartass, and the new, lady version of the Beetle is focused on her social media prescience whenever the team plans a new heist. There’s no crime too low for these guys: from a comic book store to a pet store, they all feel the wrath of these would-be supervillains.
The interactions between these characters is the driving force behind the book, and watching the issues’ plot unfold is a real treat, and pretty hilarious as well. Spencer has a strong sense of what makes these individual characters self-destruct, and they way he sets up sequences for them is both hilarious and kind of sad in a way. Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, and the rest are so delusional that it’s comical to watch them fail so miserably at being villains, and the fact that they’re all being played.
Steve Lieber’s artwork is fantastic, and really sells the grimy world these characters live in. On top of this, he’s also able to sell the funnier moments of the issue without them seeming out of place. His opening splash page of Spider-Man battling Boomerang is awesome, and the clever use of censorship will be very familiar to fans of Hawkeye.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man was an extremely unexpected surprise, and I sincerely hope that it finds an audience. This issue is well worth your money, and you get a lot of entertainment for your $2.99. Also, There’s no need to read any issues of Superior Spider-Man before you start this either. Between this and Hawkeye, Marvel has a one two punch of cool and original takes on heroes and villains that can easily appeal to longtime and non-comic readers alike. Give it a shot; we need more books like these on the shelves.
We’re almost done.
I’ve made it well known that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. since it relaunched after the “New 52” reboot. I’ve felt the issues have gone from “great” to “almost incomprehensible”, and while I like Morrison as a writer, I feel that recently he’s been allowed to get away with gaps in his writing simply because he’s Grant Morrison. Thankfully, this penultimate issue of Batman, Inc is fairly straightforward, and actually makes me crave the final installment.
After a detour to see the “Batman of Japan” last issue (the less said about that, the better), we finally get to see Batman take the fight to Talia after she ordered their son Damian’s death. What follows is an almost issue-long fight between Batman and the Leviathan, a gigantic clone of Damian that has been programmed only to kill. While Morrison’s dialogue is fantastic in this issue, the real star is artist Chris Burnham, who brings a lot of brutality to this throw down. In particular, the big reveal of Leviathan’s face underneath his helmet is horrifying, allowing Burnham to really freak you out and get under your skin.
Unfortunately the last few pages of the issue fall victim to the now all too common (and tiresome) Morrison trick of skipping panels and fast-forwarding the plot to keep the action going. In a page, he progresses from outside of Wayne Industries, then to Talia in a helicopter, all leading to her meeting Batman in the Batcave, swords drawn. However, this cliffhanger is excellent, and guarantees that I’ll be there to see Talia and Bruce finally face off (and to see if Morrison can stick the landing).