WRITER Nick Spencer
PENCILS/INK Steve Lieber
COLORIST Rachelle Rosenberg w/Redmond & Ellis
LETTERER VC’s Clayton Cowles
EDITOR Tom Brennan
EDITOR IN CHIEF Axel Alonso
Bullseye gets the upper hand on Fred and his girlfriend but just who is he working for? Meanwhile, Hydro-Man drops in on his old pal Shocker for movie night but finds out that Herman’s got a guest. Well, part of one really since it’s just Silvermane’s head. And when Fred runs “afowl” of the Owl which villain will he try to pin the painting heist on?
Superior Foes continues to excel. If we’ve said it before here we’ve said it a hundred times – this is the best Spider-Man satellite title Marvel has right now and one of the best titles Marvel has period. The storytelling is consistently fantastic and it never fails to entertain and amuse. If you’re reading this book then you know what I say is true. If you’re not reading this book then shame on you for missing out on the epic level of fun.
During Boomerang’s fight with Bullseye (more like self defense, really) he recalls how he’s always lost out on jobs to Bullseye in the past; how he’s always felt like a #2 behind Bullseye and that others have always passed him over unfairly, including the Kingpin. It’s moments like this where many readers can identify with Fred. At some point or another most people have felt like someone else towards someone or something. It’s basic human nature. The montages here that include the jobplace (Kingpin’s office) and social gatherings (supervillain bars) highlight that theme very well. These moments also allow us neat cameos from forgotten villains like the Vanisher and Doctor Bong. Maybe somewhere out there in the Marvel Universe Vanisher is thinking “Boomerang. That guy. I’m always second fiddle behind him, always a second too late…”
When Boomerang finally corners Fred and his girlfriend (whose name I still have not found) in a church I thought it might be curtains for her. Bullseye, a church, a girlfriend… it all sets off alarm bells. But here Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber turn that Karen Page death homage into a cowardly fight for survival as Fred throws his date in front of him. The entire scene oddly reminded me of Br’er Rabbit pleading with Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear not to be thrown into the briar patch. Bullseye expresses embarrassment for Fred over the act, right before Fred’s girlfriend takes him out of the fight herself. Later in the issue we’ll see Fred swear to her that he wouldn’t let Bullseye kill her though she seems unconvinced.
Across town, Hydro-Man has arrived for ‘movie night’ at Shocker’s apartment. But Shocker’s busy with a head that he’s trying to keep occupied and can’t have any friends dropping by. Hydro-Man finds this unacceptable as it completely throws off his weekly structure – something he rigidly adheres to in an apparent effort to stay out of trouble. When Hydro-Man muscles his way into Shocker’s apartment he’s – well, shocked – to find the Silvermane there, at least from the neck up. Silvermane’s quite short with Hydro-Man, whose entrance just shorted out the TV. “Who’s this supposed to be, Crybaby Man? Them princess tears you got all over my picture box, boy?”
Hydro-Man tries to explain the possibilities to Shocker that Silvermane’s head represents. He tells Herman that he could turn this predicament into power and become a major player. But Shocker’s hesitant; does this really make him a big shot now? While Shocker ponders the ponderables, Hydro-Man escapes his apartment via the toilet. What will he do with the information he just got clued into? We’ll presumably find out soon. In the meantime it opens Herman up to more verbal abuse from Silvermane’s head.
I know we’re all delighted to see the Owl come back to the story. Turns out that Bullseye was working for the Owl when he came after Fred – which makes me wonder if it was the girlfriend who actually got paid for the takedown. While this is a funny story the Owl had what is easily the darkest moment in this title several issues back when he had a man eaten alive by hungry sewer rats; here we get a couple of humorous moments that take us back to that scene. Fred does what Fred does best (lying) when he sells the Owl on the idea that the Chameleon impersonted him and was behind the theft of the Dr. Doom painting all along. He manages to convince the Owl to let him secretly tape the Chameleon inside his lair, proving that the Chameleon has the painting. It’s a safe bet for Fred since he knows the Chameleon took the painting last issue, and that’s something the Owl has no knowledge of. Owl agrees to Boomerang’s plan but also sends Bullseye along with him. Well – the Life Model Decoy pretending to be Bullseye, that is, which is revealed to be a gift from the Tinkerer (who also makes a quick cameo).
Easily one of the most disturbing things you will ever see the Chameleon do goes down towards the end of this story. While admiring his new painting the Chameleon switches his face back and forth between a pretty blonde woman named Donna and a handsome man named Roger. In a brief exchange the Chameleon alternates between the two and has them declare their love to one another, and proceeds to have them both move in for the kiss. “What has been seen cannot be unseen” is a popular phrase these days, and something Chameleon’s henchman knows all too well as he interrupts Chameleon’s dalliance. What the henchman imagines himself doing after had me laughing.
When Fred shows up to confront the Chameleon he plays right into Fred’s plan, showing the Owl all he needs to see. And just when Bullseye thinks everything is going his way, his old gang catches up to him. Why Overdrive and Beetle hijacked a school bus filled with kids and apparently drove it through Hand territory is something we’ll have to wait to find out.
Again, this is consistently one of the best Spider-Books Marvel has been putting out. Sure, with titles out there like Marvel Knights: Spider-Man any book would look good in comparison. But if you’re not reading this you’re missing out on one of the funniest and most entertaining Spider-titles Marvel’s thrown our way.