Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Steve Lieber
Color Art: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: McGuinness & Hollowell
Villain Variant: Jimenez $ Gracia
Editor: Tom Brennan
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: After the crew decides that they do not need a sixth member to be the Sinister Six and Boomerang has a meeting with his lawyer, the group pulls a job on a fancy new restaurant. While they’re enjoying the spoils (they basically stole a really expensive meal) the Punisher crashes through the window and everyone runs away but Boomerang, who is just too drunk on expensive wine to really do anything. The Punisher is just about to finish Boomerang off when he (the Punisher that is) turns into Chameleon. Chameleon is upset that Boomerang and crew still haven’t pulled his job – bringing him the head of Silvio Silvermane. When Boomerang rejoins the crew, they think he’s a pure badass for getting away from the Punisher so they agree to the job even though they all thought the head of Silvio Silvermane was a myth. Only Shocker knows the truth, having been watching through the window when Boomerang was talking to Chameleon, but he doesn’t say anything. In the end, Boomerang must meet his lawyer again for a parole hearing, and he’s assigned a new parole officer – Mach VII, aka the original Beetle, and Boomerang’s former partner (now turned hero).
MY THOUGHTS: It’s funny, when I was about to start writing “the story” section up there, I was thinking it was going to be pretty short because not too much happened in this issue. But I look up there and I see a plot summary that is actually longer than a lot of them that I write. So it sure seems to me, given that, that Nick Spencer packed a good amount of story into this issue without making it feel overly dense, and that’s actually a plus where I thought I had a minus. That’s a pretty good way to start, if you ask me.
This is a second issue in a row that I really have almost nothing but good things to say about. Starting right from before you even open the cover – that is a great-looking cover by Ed McGuinness. A bit of an homage to other classic Punisher covers with the gun sight view, and just great aesthetics on our fledgling team inside it. It looks like this series, at least initially, is employing a rotating roster of great cover artists to do something new and creative each issue, and that suits me just fine.
And once again we have art from Steve Lieber that is both good looking and creative. There’s a brief sequence when Boomerang is meeting his lawyer that shows Boomerang’s daydream of taking the guy’s head off with a boomerang, and the little sequence is drawn like a child’s drawings. That’s a pretty funny commentary on Boomerang’s mind, I think. Beetle also continues to get a couple of nice little bits like captions of images coming out of her phone and when she counts to five (explaining why there should be a sixth member), it’s sort of illustrated (it’s hard to effectively describe – check out the bottom of the second preview page). Maybe my favorite panel is the last one on page 4, when the Sinister Six meeting is over, and all you see are the things each of the four sitting down has been toying with the whole meeting – Shocker’s sandwich, Speed Demon’s bottle, Overdrive’s toy car, and Beetle’s iPhone.
As for the debate about adding a sixth member since they’re called the Sinister Six, I’ve heard fans talking about that too, and personally I could go either way. It would depend entirely on who the new character you added to the mix was. But I like Boomerang’s point that if there’s only five of them it’ll make people constantly wonder who the mystery sixth member is. “It could be Dormammu!” he says. Pretty funny, and hard to argue with!
The writing of the lawyer is really funny here, going over the top on the totally fake cheap lawyer but not so over the top that it’s really out of the realm of possibility. It’s kind of how I imagine Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad might be with his regular clients, but that might just be because I’m catching up on season 5 of Breaking Bad right now.
I suppose this issue might be disappointing if you picked it up just because you were a big Punisher fan and he was teased to be in it. From that perspective you probably felt robbed since it turned out to be Chameleon. It worked for the issue, though, in as much as the timeline with the Chameleon is still very confusing (I neglected to mention it last issue, but I have no idea how this jives with Avenging Spider-Man/Superior Spider-Man Team-Up). Though we’re starting to form a pattern here where I’m just going to assume any guest-star in an issue is really the Chameleon. Hammerhead in #1 and Punisher in #2. Chameleon’s really going all-out for ol’ Boomerang. Should we assume that’s not actually Mach VII, either?
Speaking of, I admit I’m not terribly familiar with the character of Mach VII. Sure I’ve seen him in an issue of Thunderbolts here and there, but here’s my question – were there already Mach I-VI before him? Is he a prototype of a later-model Gillette razor? I know, I know, I’m just kidding. I’m just saying – it’s a stupid name. Not a great costume, either. And to be honest, I have to question the judgment of this decision on the court’s part. This new program of theirs wasn’t actually explained, but I’m assuming it’s super parole officers for super parolees. Fair enough and not a bad idea. But no matter how much Mach VII has come to be trusted as having turned hero, is Boomerang’s former criminal partner REALLY the best choice for his parole officer? From a story drama standpoint, sure, but I can’t imagine the court would want to risk putting old criminal buddies together. Surely there are several other former T-bolts or whoever that they could get for the job.
Finally – the head of Silvio Silvermane? Nice way to tie this all even more into Spider-history. As fun as these two issues have been, I think there’s real promise for this series to get even more fun. And at some point I’m sure I will stop being surprised by that.
GRADE: B+ Possible overuse of guest-stars turning out to be the Chameleon and minor logical problems with Mach VII’s appearance keep this from getting an A, but it’s still a really solid, fun comic that I’d be confident recommending to just about anyone.