Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Volume 3: Game Over Review (Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber)


Boomerang’s complex plan involving the rare portrait of Doom sans metal mask concludes - except the Sinister Six aren’t above backstabbing each other as Shocker, possessing the head of Silvio Silvermane, vies for control of the mob and the others look for ways to ditch everyone but No. 1 for a fortune. These supervillains, right?

And so the surprise critical success that is Superior Foes of Spider-Man comes to an end in this third and final volume (because critical success doesn’t always equal commercial success unfortunately). 

That said, I think Superior Foes worked well in that first book but over three volumes? It feels a bit too much - the one-off might’ve been preferable. Volume 3: Game Over IS superior to that scrappy second one though. 

The reason I think one volume’s better than three is because it feels like Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber are repeating themselves already - they’ve run out of ideas. There’s the “Shocker’s so silly” bits, they’re still doing schtick with Silvio, there’s physical comedy from Mach VII this time, and even Lieber’s doing the same visual tricks from previous books: the layout of the villain’s lair and the characters as cutesy Sunday-strip versions. I get it, Spidey’s supervillains are a goofy bunch! All that’s missing is a slide-whistle! 

It’s not all bad though. Boomerang’s plan was a bit convoluted but, like Ocean’s 11, the play was clever and fun to see unravelled. I liked the Punisher’s cameo, especially as it was more undignified than Frank’s used to! The Avengers-type callback cover where the Six (really five, har har) are sat around a table eating schwarma, with “chefs” Spencer and Lieber in the background, was really good. The Speed Demon/dog side story was cute and of course Lieber’s art is excellent for the most part - from a colouring perspective, it was maybe a little too dark at times. 

Mostly though, it was just an ok read. It’s well-written, especially compared to a lot of Marvel’s output, and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is always a plus, but still kinda average. I didn’t connect with these characters like they obviously did to a lot of their audience so I wasn’t as invested in seeing these guys succeed. 

I like the series concept overall - fleshing out characters who usually don’t get many pages and doing so in a light-hearted way (albeit obviously courting Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye audience). And I liked that an obvious cash-grab from the bestselling Superior Spider-Man could be so unusual and its own thing. Superior Foes definitely has its moments but it ended more or less at the right time (maybe even earlier would’ve been preferable). 

Compare this imaginative crime caper to the much darker supervillain-themed Forever Evil drek and its associated one-dimensional spin-offs DC are shovelling out and you can see why Marvel have the market share!

Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Volume 3: Game Over

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