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The Superior Foes of Spider-Man: Spencer and Lieber’s greatest work

Hey kids, it’s The Superior Foes of Spider-Man!

In celebration of everyone’s favorite web-head, July is Spectacular Spider-Month at AiPT! We have a series of amazing articles in store for the month. Movies, television, gaming, and of course comics will all be covered with great responsibility as we honor one of comics’ greatest heroes.

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man was an ongoing series at Marvel from July 2013 to November 2014. Spinning out of the events of Superior Spider-Man #13 during the era where Peter’s body and mind had been taken over by Doctor Octavius, the series follows the misadventures of the new Sinister Six, consisting of Boomerang, Speed Demon, The Shocker, Overdrive and Beetle. But Robyn you ask, why are there only five of them? Well, let me allow them to explain for themselves!

Credit: Marvel

Written by Nick Spencer along with pencils and inks by Steve Lieber and colors by the collection of Rachelle Rosenberg, Lee Loughbridge, Ruth Redmond and Rich Ellis, the series also had a short intermission by James Asmus with contributions by Tom Peyer and Elliott Kalan. This intermission had multiple artists covering short stories, including Gerado Sandoval, Terry Pallot, Nuno Plati, Pepe Larraz and William Sliney, who each did a short story or two alongside one of the previous writers.

So now that we got the summary of what the book is about out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff:

The Good Stuff

Credit: Marvel

Superior Foes of Spider-Man is a book that shows you from the start that it’s uniquely humorous and doesn’t take itself seriously. The first words in the book are “This guy, right?” while showing the classic Boomerang suit while he’s fighting Spider-Man. The book uses this to introduce any major players in the book such as Punisher at the beginning of issue #2. Another tactic to introduce a character is having a caption that links to their speech bubble which exclaims “Hey kids! It’s ___!” Spencer and Lieber’s unique brand of comedy and timing is done to great success with the book. The book itself includes many gags. One such is how Mach VII’s wings gets in the way by either knocking over something, ignoring someone or getting him stuck in a door. The luck of Boomerang followed immediately by some other form of unluckiness is one of my personal favorites as the whole book is about how he is and always will be a B tier villain at most and always fails. 

One of the biggest draws of the book and why it works so well is Steve Lieber, who manages to convey the physical comedy using actions and bubbles instead of words. Credit here must also go to the fantastic Joe Caramagna, who manages to help enhance that. Every joke and gag is executed fantastically and none of them fall flat thanks to the efforts of both of these creatives. Without Caramagna there’d be no gags through the lettering, no written gags such as “this guy right?”

The book’s protagonist is Fred Myers aka Boomerang who leads his brand of Sinister Six in their (often unsuccessful) quest for riches and fame. The primary plot is Boomerang’s quest to get out from under the thumb of the Chameleon and later also the Owl after being under the debt of both. One side plot is about the legend of the head of Silvio Silvermane, an old-time member of the Maggia who had become a cyborg so he could live forever, and the accidental discovery of it by Shocker after he’d been pushed into a river in the trunk of a car after finding out that Boomerang was working for the Chameleon who had busted up a meeting of the Six’s disguised as the Punisher. Phew, that’s one complex subplot that weaves into the main plot!

Credit: Marvel

So, these guys, right?

I’ve already listed the members before, so let’s jump right to it!

The entire book builds on every appearance of each character, such as how Shocker and Boomerang have been on the Sinister Syndicate, the B Team and the Thunderbolts together and despite that long formed camaraderie, Boomerang is just as willing to screw over Herman as anybody else.

First up is Beetle. She was created in Captain America by Ed Brubaker and Jackson Butch Guice, but this series is where her real name and background is revealed. She’s the daughter of Tombstone and is one of the most dastardly villains of all — after all, she is a lawyer! After years of prodding her father and him refusing, eventually, she got her costume as the Beetle, following in the footsteps of Abner Jenkins, the original Beetle who appears within the series as Mach VII. Beetle went on after this series to continue to appear in the Marvel Universe and most recently in Amazing Spider-Man during “Hunted” and in more upcoming arcs!

Next up, Speed Demon. Originally created for the Squadron Sinister as the Whizzer, a mirror of DC Comics’ Flash, James Sanders is a cowardly and petty villain who doesn’t often help others. He’s not had too much of a successful streak despite his history, earning his low tier rank within the villains. Also, present within the series is Overdrive, who hasn’t really had any success and has mainly been a throwaway joke character until Superior Foes. Even within the series, he’s the most minor member of the Six and doesn’t even have a real name.

Last and not least is Shocker, otherwise known as Herman Schultz. Shocker has always been a joke despite his relatively powerful gear. The Shocker is also the only member of the Six to have really been present in other media. He showed up in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the ’90s Spider-Man series, the PlayStation 4 Spider-Man game as well as multiple video games and TV shows. Herman’s always portrayed as a loser despite making his own gear that shoots waves of compressed air. He’s always been portrayed as more unfortunate than evil, and has the ability to go good but always ends up getting involved in some scheme that keeps him on the wrong side of the Marvel Universe. Herman’s biggest weakness is his lack of confidence, which always keeps him from being better than he thinks he is. 

Credit: Marvel

Thank you for joining AiPT! during Spectacular Spider-Month! Be sure to check back in every day for more Spider-Man content including interviews, features, opinions, and more!

Credit: Marvel

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