Storytellers: Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber
Color Art: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Steve Lieber & Rachelle Rosenberg
Editor: Tom Brennan
Not Responsible: Stephen Wacker (yes, that’s the actual credit in the book)
THE STORY: Boomerang goes on a date with the cute bartender of a few issues ago and promptly falls in love over a mutual hate of a baseball player. He is not invited up to her apartment. We then get Boomerang’s story of “The True Face of Victor Von Doom” painting, being that Doom hired an artist, but drank too much wine and got emotional, and when the artist captured a tear in the image, said artist was disintegrated and the painting was hidden in the dungeon, then stolen during the Kristoff regime. As the left-behind Foes are being threatened by the Owl (and the Beetle is threatening right back), Boomerang gets a visit from Mach VII who is getting suspicious. And while Boomerang is getting kidnapped by the Chameleon for not delivering Silvermane’s head, it turns out Beetle was not making idle threats when her father busts in – none other than Tombstone!
MY THOUGHTS: It’s another great issue for the Superior Foes! Or as Steve Lieber says he likes to think of them, the Sinister Several! Or as Boomerang wants to start calling himself since he thinks his gang is dead, the Sinister Singular Individual!
Getting criticism out of the way first (considering it is about the beginning) I found this issue to start surprisingly slow for an issue of Foes. Both on a first read and when looking back at it, devoting the first whole 5 pages to Boomerang’s baseball date with this girl just felt a bit excessive. There was some amusing stuff in there, including a page where Boomerang fantasizes about their life together, but frankly it just didn’t feel quite up to the usual hilarity standards of this book to warrant all 5 pages. I think cutting this down to a 3-pager and getting us to the hilarious story of Doom’s painting faster would’ve really helped to move this thing along. It’s incredibly rare for me to feel like an issue of Foes is dragging, but I definitely felt that at the beginning of this one.
That said, I already mentioned up top that it only took until page 6 for me to laugh out loud. That’s because after those opening 5 pages we got right into Boomerang telling the origin story of the painting, and if you’ve read any issue with Boomerang narrating a story of what may or may not have happened (Silvermane’s head and Mach VII’s history spring directly to mind) you know it is in no way played straight and we get to see some absolutely silly things since this is just Boomerang’s retelling, not the actual word-for-word of what happened. The line that made me glad I wasn’t drinking anything to spit out? “I want you to draw Doom…like one of your French girls.” Obviously not something Doom would ever say and Boomerang acknowledges that in the narration…but DAMN FUNNY! We also get to see Doom rolling out of bed in full costume on his upper half and boxers on his lower half. Outright silly fun like this is what this comic does best, and it’s one of the only comics out there that can really pull it off. This scene made the issue for me! Major props to Lieber for the grinning spiders in Doom’s dungeon and the insane journey the painting took from the dungeon to Boomerang.
Then we get a real payoff to last issue’s opening scene, which you may remember featured the Owl being a scary bastard with someone who stole from him tied up and at his mercy. So when we see Beetle, Overdrive, and Speed Demon tied up in Owl’s basement after their heist, we already KNOW how bad this can go. Props to Spencer on the storytelling there. And Shocker fans will also be glad to know that we see Overdrive as the TRUE pansy of the team in this scene. He’ll give up anything and anybody to get out of this alive, even if he doesn’t have his legs later! It’s also nice to see the continued characterization of Beetle here. She was a very new character coming into this book and she’s been shaping up to be the most serious member of this team (even if she is seen on her phone most of the time). Her take no crap attitude with Owl is a good extension of that, and it makes sense when we later see who she’s backing that up with!
Mach VII’s appearance here could have been superfluous really, but it’s made really hilarious by Boomerang’s always quick-witted scrambling to explain why someone with Boomerangs broke his gang out of custody. He instantly surmises there must be a new Boomerang out there carrying on the legacy and offers to help find him! “I’m the Hannibal Lecter of that @#$!” he says. And it’s perfectly capped off when Mach VII wants to give a last line and fly away, but can’t fit his huge wings out Boomerang’s tiny window. This is a perfect example of the kind of scene Spencer and Lieber can make sing that would feel like work (just a required subplot check-in) under most creative teams.
And of course, how can you not love seeing another classic B-list Spider-Man villain busting in like the man at the end? This is a great comic for the C-and-D-listers that make up the Foes as a straight-up comedy book, but it’s also proving great for high B-listers like Owl and Tombstone to get to shine as the high-level badasses next to these guys (and also the more A-list Chameleon). Finding out Beetle is Tombstone’s daughter is definitely a big revelation, and I look forward to seeing what that does for both of them going forward.
Finally, it’s unusual for me to point out for good or bad the way a book is credited, but I very much like seeing the switch to crediting Spencer and Lieber together as “Storytellers.” Lieber definitely seems to (I don’t want to pretend to know every detail of who does what, but he certainly appears to) contribute a lot to this series from his acting and facial expressions to countless small touches in the art that enhance the scene and make it that much funnier. When I talk about what this book is doing right, I tend to talk about it in terms of the “team” rather than the writer or the artist, because this book does feel like a true collaboration (in a similar way to Hawkeye) and I think that’s a big part of why it works just so damn well.
GRADE: A I can’t quite give it the ‘+’ this time for the slow start, but the rest of the issue shines just as much as you hope when you open this book. Superior Foes of Spider-Man has become a consistent A-level book that you can always count on.