Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 06 October 2013


So last time, would-be criminal mastermind, Fred Myers, aka the Boomerang, ended up being voted off the Sinister Six due to the level heat placed on him for having his former partner and Thunderbolt, Abner Jenkins, aka Mach VII, as a parole officer. In revenge, Boomerang ratted out his own team to Mach VII, who turn told the Avengers. Of course, this may not have been the most brilliant of ideas since Boomerang still has yet to obtain the head of Silvio Silvermane for the Chameleon. Not to mention, how can we readers still have a team book when there's no team? But as we'll see, Fred's knows exactly what he's doing...or so he claims.

THE STORY
We began moments before the last issue ended. The Beetle is now the new leader of the Sinister Six, and she demands that the rest of the team shape-up and get serious about their planned heist to steal Silvermane's head from the Owl. After Beetle leaves, Shocker states how she's gotten a lot “meaner” since being put in charge, while Overdrive defends her, saying she's “under a lot of pressure.” Speed Demon wants to know who made Beetle the boss in the first place, to which Overdrive reminds him that they unanimously voted for her five minutes ago (and a brief one-panel flashback confirms this), although Speed Demon claims he doesn't remember this. Speed Demon then suggests that they vote to cut Beetle out entirely as it would better to split the take three ways instead of four.

When Beetle returns from upstairs, and tells them to move out, Speed Demon states how he misses Boomerang, to which Shocker interjects and proceeds to explain about their earlier run-in with “The Punisher” from issue #2. But before he can reveal “The Punisher” was really the Chameleon in disguise and that Boomerang knew this, the Heroes for Hire—Luke Cage and Iron Fist—burst through their hideout wall. When Cage explains to Iron Fist that the villains are the new Sinister Six, Iron Fist points out how there's only four of them. Cage states the other two members could be hiding somewhere and for Iron Fist to watch out as “they could be anybody.” Speed Demon, nauseous from being hit in the head by debris from the wall, tells the others “See?” implying that he and Boomerang were right about their gimmick of calling themselves the Sinister Six but having less than six members.

Overdrive then tells Cage how he's a huge fan of his, that he's followed his entire career, and that he's flattered that someone like him would come after guys like them. Cage, more than a little creeped-out by this, knocks Overdrive out cold with a folding chair. Cage demands to know who their leader of the Sinister Six is, to which both Shocker and Speed Demon tell them it's Beetle. When a panicked-stricken Beetle doesn't know what to do next, Iron Fist tells her this is part where she's supposed to shout out “get them!” So she does.

Iron Fist fights with the Beetle while Luke makes easy work of Speed Demon simply by placing his hand on his head and holding him away as he swings wildly. Not so much the Shocker, who uses his sonic gauntlets to intensify his punches and then bleach to blind Cage. However, Beetle accidentally hits Shocker with one of her stun beams while trying to hit Iron Fist. Iron Fist then trips up Speed Demon, while Cage knocks Beetle out by throwing a brick to her head. Cage then contacts the NYPD to pick up the Sinister Six, then he rips off Shocker's Thunderbolt badge. All this time, Inspector the dog has been barking at them, to which Iron Fist nonchalantly says how the Sinister Six's dog is “cute.”

Meanwhile, we see Boomerang, as Fred Myers, visiting the Chameleon in prison. Not only is the Chameleon unhappy with Fred over having still not stealing Silvermane's head from the Owl, but also for Fred having told him that he sold out his own teammates. Fred reassures the Chameleon that he has “everything under control” and indignantly states how it was his own team who fired him in the first place. Fred also reminds the Chameleon that he wouldn't have known about Silvermane's head if hadn't told him about it in the first place, and that they're in “the business of relationships.” When Fred claims that even if his team managed to get Silvermane's head without him, they wouldn't have handed it over to the Chameleon anyway—to which Chameleon points out that he would have just killed them himself. Fred then retorts that he still needs his crew, that the Chameleon, like other Russian mobsters, can't appreciate understand the “frontier spirit” of the American criminal. He reassures the Chameleon he'll make his crew will come back and that they'll still get Silvermane's head. The Chameleon says Fred has “twenty-four hours” to do the job, and that one way or another, he's getting a head, either Silvermane's...or Fred's.

We then see Fred back at the bar he went to last issue only to find that, instead of the usual bartender, its a woman wearing glasses (and no, it's not Carlie Cooper or Debra Whitman). Fred immediately tries to flirt with her, but with no success. Fred then tries to properly introduce himself, but the bartender says she already knows who he is.  Much to Fred's relief, she doesn't know he's Boomerang but rather how he used to be pitcher for the Mets and even lists off his stats. Fred assumes she's a fan, until also tells him how he holds the record for the shortest time playing in the major leagues before receiving a lifetime ban from the game. Fred defends himself by saying he “voluntarily left.” The bartender, however, points out how he applied and failed to be reinstated twice, to which Fred claims he was “drunk both times.” The bartender then gives Fred his drink and charges him nine bucks. Fred, still trying to pick her up, asks the bartender how “a girl like [her] knows baseball?” This doesn't impress her at all, as she sarcastically says how Fred really is a “modern man” and thinks (quite literally) that he's a jackass.

Changing tactics, Fred asks her what happened to the old bartender, claiming they were “pretty close.” The new bartender explains that the old one retired due to his wife having cancer, to which Fred goes “he was married?” Fred tells the bartender that, for a Mets fan, she has a real bad attitude. This really angers her as it turns out she's a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. This makes Fred say how that explains everything as she has “very muscley arms.” Furious, the bartender tells Fred to get out, not because he came in with his “washed-up, cokehead, bull****,” nor for costing them the division the year he played, but for insulting her hometown. Fred, incredulous, points out how he overpaid for his drink, to which the bartender smirks and says, “Yeah, New York is great, huh?”

The scene then shifts to the captured Sinister Six in the back of a police van. Overdrive is still gushing over how Luke Cage and Iron Fist captured them, much to Speed Demon's annoyance. Beetle states they need to escape, only Speed Demon says that his ankle broke during the fight. Shocker states how they should never have sold out Boomerang, explaining how he was their boss. Only as he acknowledges that Boomerang wasn't really good at being in charge, that he was jerk, and that he was going to get them all killed, he then realizes he completely lost the point he was trying to make.

Suddenly, the back door of the van blows up, and we see that Boomerang has come to free them (which he describes to the reader as a “total Heisenberg moment”. He then tells them a set of conditions: first, that he's in charge from this point on and that they owe him for his bailing them out; and that second, he's moving up the timetable of the heist and that they'll be hitting Owl's place “first thing tomorrow.” After Overdrive uses his powers to alter a motorcycle, Boomerang tells the Sinister Six that guys like the Owl think they run New York and being able to buy their services means they get treated them like suckers, and that he's through taking their orders and doing their dirty work for them, and that after tomorrow it won't be “Charles who is in charge, but the Sinister Six!” (To which Speed Demon comments “Did he just seriously make a Charles in Charge joke?”)

The Sinister Six then head back to the bar they hang out at, and Shocker tells Boomerang he needs to talk to him in private. Once outside, Shocker tells Boomerang that he knows about the Chameleon, much to Boomerang's growing sense of panic. When Shocker demands to know why Boomerang lied to them, Boomerang claims he paid the Chameleon to disguise himself as the Punisher so that the others would be impressed with him, that if they believed he survived a run-in with the Punisher, they would be more willing to go along with Silverman heist. When Shocker then asks about what the Chameleon meant by giving Boomerang “a few more days,” Boomerang claims that it was for the Chameleon's “appearance fee.” He then tells Shocker not to tell the others about out of fear of being embarrassed. Shocker agrees, and Boomerang states how, even though it hasn't always been easy between them, they've experienced a lot together, that they know what it means to be part of a gang than the others, and he's glad he and Shocker are on the same team. Fred then narrates to the reader how he "kinda" meant what he said. Even though he's a hardened criminal whose done his share of stabbing others in the back (and “stabbing in the front” and “stabbing in the neck”), the last 24 hours taught him that guys like him “are in the business of relationships,” and how because they're always chasing the next big score that they sometimes they lose sight of this.

We then see Fred drive over to the other bar and the female bartender, saying to himself how “it's time [he] focused a little more on [himself]” and “not just Boomerang.” He tells the bartender that the Philly's are going to be in New York next week for three games and that he can get them some tickets. When she sarcastically asks whether he's still even allowed to attend games, Fred says insists they're going. And after a pause, the bartender rolls her eyes and says, “Fine.”

Pleased over having finally got himself a date, Fred drives off toward an overpass under construction. He narrates how that since he's the leader, he's going to start acting like one, and that the Sinister Six are trying to build something together, that none of them can do it alone, and that loyalty should count for something. He then goes on to say how they will when they pull off the job tomorrow, they'll do it as a team, that they'll “play it straight,” “watch each other's back,” that “everyone will get their share,” and that, from now on, he and his crew will stick together. However, as he narrates this, we see Fred is pushing his car over the bridge and into the river, and that last page reveals that the Shocker is tied-up and locked inside the trunk.

THOUGHTS
Wow. Just when you think Boomerang couldn't be any more of a jerk to his own teammates if he tried, he manages to sink to an all-new low. Yes, I know Fred is a super-villain, but he has heard of “honor among thieves” before, right? And even though Fred likes to think of himself as such, he's no Walter White by any stretch, and I can't wait for the eventual comeuppance he's bound to receive over his attempted murder of the Shocker. Because you know Herman will survive and be royally pissed. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Fred, in spite of being a backstabbing hypocrite, is someone you really can't stay mad at. Whether it be convincing the Chameleon to give him one more chance, his latest scheme to get his team back on his side, or hitting on the new bartender, Fred's rather lofty ambitions, tenacity, and over-confidence manage to come across as likable. Just as Spider-Man is considered Marvel's “everyman superhero,” Nick Spencer is doing a fantastic job in transforming Boomerang into Marvel's “everyman super-villain.”

Likewise, Spencer amusingly makes the point that the Sinister Six really have no other option but Boomerang when it comes to having a leader. The Beetle, for all of her bravado, is indecisive during battle; Speed Demon always manages to find something to complain about; no one takes the Shocker seriously, even though he's the most competent and experienced fighter in the group; and Overdrive, we learn, is actually a superhero fanboy. Through these character insights, we're reminded that these so-called “superior foes” are still very much in the bush league. Yet pathetic though they may be, Spencer manages to make it so you don't think any less of them.

Also equally enjoyable is Steve Lieber's illustrations, and he's proving to be a perfect fit in establishing the comedic tone of the series. Whether it be showing Iron Fist dressed in a full-on business suit or the info-graphics of Chameleon coping off heads, it shows he's willing to get silly and ridiculous when he needs to, and doesn't feel either gimmicky or overdone. And for those who have been patient enough to see a more traditional fight scene happen, Lieber also delivers. Although the fight between the Heroes for Hire and the Sinister Six is brief, it is also crisp and energetic.

Once again, another fantastic issue from one of the best comic book series Marvel is putting on the stands right now.

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