What did Beetle, Overdrive and Speed Demon do before catching up with the man who double-crossed them last issue? What any lower tier villains would do: rob a bar and tell bad stories about past near-glory!
‘Trial and Terror’/’The Superior Adventures of the Speed Demon!’
WRITER James Asmus
ART Gerardo Sandoval, Terry Pallot, Carmen Carnero, Nuno Ploti, Siya Oum, Pepe Larraz, Andres Mossa
LETTERER VC’s Clayton Cowles
EDITOR Tom Brennan (presumably?)
EDITOR IN CHIEF Axel Alonso
The solicitation for this issue had us believing that the usual team of Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber would be the storytelling team on this issue. But that’s incorrect; someone reversed the polarity of the neutron flow. This month’s issue winds up being a filler with James Asmus writing and art by several people. Nick Spencer also took to Twitter to let fans know that he and Lieber won’t be returning until issue #12.
The story takes place sometime before Beetle and Overdrive caught up with Fred, which we saw at the end of last month’s issue. This month, both of them – and Speed Demon – knock over a bar and tie up the employees as they wait for the timer on a safe. While waiting the three tell stories about the most formidable opponents they’ve come across in their criminal careers. Beetle’s story is about Daredevil; Speed Demon & Overdrive’s stories are both about Hercules.
James Asmus’s story, while humorous, isn’t as subtle as Nick Spencer’s work. There are pee jokes in here as well as Speed Demon explaining that he arranged for Hercules to catch gonorrhea from a superhero groupie. The end result, while funny, feels subpar to what he usually get with this book. But – it’s the first of two fill-in months so I’m just glad I wound up somewhat enjoying it. However, though the writing isn’t the standard we’re used to with Superior Foes the artwork is well done. It’s hard to know precisely who did what on the book since the roles aren’t clearly delineated it’s hard to give specific credit out. Beetle’s story lists Siya Oum as ‘artist’ and while I really enjoyed her art style it was a little jarring to go from one style to the next. Thankfully it’s switching styles to tell a related story and not just switching styles in the middle of the same story, so it’s not overly distracting. Carmen Carnero’s work on the main story was also enjoyable.
I’ve never liked Overdrive. He was always one of the lamest Brandnewverse villains and to be honest he doesn’t get a lot of spotlight moments in this title. That’s probably a good thing; Overdrive is so lame he makes the Trapster look like Loki. And with this month’s book we’re shown what a lightweight he is. He has trouble going to the bathroom when there’s a Hercules poster on the wall and later wets himself when Hercules shows up. If he was a classic villain I’d feel a little sorry for how he’s represented here, but he’s not that so I don’t.
The issue is still filled with jokes and gags that do work, which is what we expect from this title. Probably the most enjoyable moment for me in here was Speed Demon making his losses against heroes like the Thing, Iceman and the Avengers sound like victories. But while most of the gags work here at least one story element does not. In Beetle’s Daredevil story she starts off talking about how Matt Murdock “repping a plaintiff against one of my firm’s clients.” This tells us that it’s a civil action; Murdock is representing a party that is suing one of her firm’s clients. Said client (who is not named) is shown in the courtroom to be wearing standard issue orange prison clothes. Makes sense; criminals can be sued. But when Murdock makes an excuse in court so Daredevil can stop an attack by the Looter in the courthouse, Beetle claims that with an angry judge and no opposing counsel she “got a twice-convicted psychopath back on the streets.” Now I’m no lawyer, sure, but if you’re in jail you’re there for being a criminal; not because someone sued you. So finding against the plaintiff in the civil suit shouldn’t result in someone getting out of jail. It seems more like Asmus may have forgotten that Matt Murdock is an attorney not a prosecutor, and that the scripting was changed last minute to divert from that. Unless Matt Murdock has recently become a prosecutor and I didn’t hear about it. Then again I lost interest in Daredevil over a decade ago so I can’t say for sure. But… because comics. Heh.
Editorially speaking, this fill-in book feels like a hot mess that was cobbled together as fast as was humanly possible. I had to go online to find out Terry Pallot’s first name and to find out that ‘Carmenero’ is not a last name but someone’s butchering of artist Carmen Carnero’s name. In the main story, which ties the three tales together, you’re simply left to decipher who did what aside from writer Asmus and letterer Clayton Cowles. The editor’s also not listed so we’re left to assume it was Tom Brennan. On Twitter, Marvel’s Digital Media Executive Editor Ryan Penagos blamed the snafu with Carmen Carnero’s name on Silvermane’s head. Unfortunately that’s not the only thing wrong with this book!
Good fill-in art but though the story is enjoyable the fill-in writing is problematic in some areas. The end result feels like this fill-in book resulted from a race against a deadline and it suffers for it. Even worse, it doesn’t move the story forward or flesh out one of the main characters the way Beetle’s story did back in issue #7. This was the first time I was mildly disappointed with this title; here’s hoping next month’s fill-in doesn’t feel as hastily cobbled together.