(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Nick Spencer
Artwork by Steve Lieber
Color Artwork by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Clayton Clowes
Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have taken a team of D-list characters, most of who were not even appearing as blips on the comic book radar and created one the most entertaining, irreverently humorous and downright addictive series being published by anyone today. Month after month this creative team proves that intelligent humor, dynamic art and just plain good writing are enough to keep a diehard fan base of devoted readers happy, call us the Superior Fans of the Superior Foes… or not, just a thought. There is a certain Seinfeldian sensibility at work within the pages of Superior Foes; it’s the kind of humor that makes you laugh out loud when walking alone recalling a particularly hilarious scene, maybe it’s Silvermane’s head in a bowling bag expounding sage-like fatherly advice to Shocker, or as he calls him Duvet Man or perhaps its Mach VII taking out a vase and a sliding glass door while trying to maneuver the expansive wing span of his cumbersome costume to extricate himself from negotiating a deal on some particularly stylish furniture. Take your pick, any one of these scenes is gold and can be found in the current issue of this consistently satisfying series.
Writer, Nick Spencer is certainly not unfamiliar to anyone who reads comic books regularly; he has several successful titles at Image including the wildly popular Morning Glories as well as Thief of Thieves and Bedlam, at DC, Spencer worked on Action Comics and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and for Marvel, Spencer has served as scribe on Ultimate Comics: X-Men, Secret Avengers and Avengers World, to name only a few. His work on Superior Foes is something of a departure from his other endeavors which run the gamut from horror themed tales to suspenseful thrillers and lots of things in between. The comedic overtones of Superior Foes seems to garner the most attention but don’t be deceived, there is a solid story being told here and a darn good one. This is the story of a gang of would-be criminal masterminds that just can’t seem to get it together long enough to pull off a single caper. There is dissension in the ranks to say the least and no shortage of backstabbing, shady dealings among cohorts and deceptive practices aplenty, of course this is par for the course when your gang is made up of malicious malcontents and under-achieving ne’er-do-wells with delusions of grandeur. For the most part this misdirected mob has looked to Boomerang as their fearless leader however, lately there seems to be some reluctance evident in the gang’s willingness to follow him. This issue continues the tale of a painting of Dr. Doom unmasked, suffice to say this is a desirable object de’ art and several key players have expressed a keen desire to own this one of a kind portrait but, is it really what it appears to be? Shocker has become an increasingly interesting character of late as he makes his way from dilemma to dilemma all while toting the berating head of Maggia don Silvermane’s head safely tucked inside a bowling bag. This last detail has made Shocker fast foes with Silvermane devotee and henchman, Hammerhead who appears to at the very least have a huge man crush on the talking head of the mob boss. Wow! This book is absolutely a blast and must be read to truly be appreciated.
Steve Lieber’s art is a perfect fit for Spencer’s off the wall escapades. His stylized approach to storytelling is obviously influenced by the world of graphic design which lends itself to some pretty inventive page compositions and inventive use of panels. Lieber’s style may come across as a bit cartoony to some but there is a subtle sophistication to his work that is as witty and intelligent as Spencer’s narrative. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors work extremely well with Lieber’s style; the intentionally simplistic, yet visually stunning effect these two artists achieve together is nothing short of fantastic. This creative team work as well together on this book as Fraction and Aja do on Hawkeye, in fact that is the only other title that I would put in this category defying category.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man is one of those books that are hip and clever precisely because it doesn’t try to be any of those things; it’s just a darn good comic book and funny to boot. So when you see those people walking around by themselves laughing out loud; remember they aren’t crazy they are just thinking about that last issue of Superior Foes they read and recalling that one scene that you just have to see and read to believe. (4.5/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.