Christopher Yost returns to Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. Is the comic any better?
The Wrecking Crew (the Wrecker, Piledriver, Bulldozer, and Thunderball) attacks Alchemax, looking for the Quantum Particle Engine. (If you think Alchemax is a corporation only featured in the 2099 books then you haven’t read Superior Spider-Man #19 in which Oscorp and Allan Chemicals merge into Alchemax with Liz Allan as CEO.) Miguel O’Hara, who is secretly Spider-Man 2099 and currently working at Alchemax, checks with Lyla, his hologram ‘bot, to see what the QPE is. (If you’re wondering why Miguel O’Hara is working for Alchemax in 2013, then you haven’t read Superior Spider-Man #19.) Lyla tells him that “in three days time” the QPE is “going to destroy the majority of old New York. (I think that means the majority of 2013 New York, not old settlement New York areas like Wall Street.) Sun Girl steps in to combat the Crew. Of Sun Girl, SpOck thinks, “I vaguely recall punching her once.” (He did this in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #1, September 2013 which was, apparently this new Sun Girl’s first appearance. Beyond that, we know nothing about her.)
Miguel starts to change to Spidey 2099 until he hears a taunting call. “Attention, imbeciles known as the Wrecking Crew,” the voice says, “I advise you to surrender, you foul-smelling, thick-necked morons…as you are outmatched in every conceivable way! But specifically in intellect and power.” The speaker reveals himself. He is the Superior Spider-Man and he finishes with “bring it on, you pansies.” Enraged, the Wrecking Crew charges and runs right into Sandman, Mysterion, Vulture, Electro and Chameleon. With SpOck, they are the Superior Six!
Inside Alchemax, Liz Allan wonders how any of these criminals even knew about the QPE. The villains battling villains also throws her. “I don’t even know which ones are trying to rob us now.” Miguel, no longer bothering to change to Spidey 2099, prepares to secure the QPE. But one member of the Crew is not battling the Superior Six. Thunderball uses his wrecking ball to separate Miguel from the QPE and grabs it for his team. The Crew prepares to pull out. When Electro tries to intervene, the Wrecker slaps him with his Asgardian-fueled crowbar, which sends him falling back against Sandman. The electricity causes “feedback from Sandman’s control piece” disrupting SpOck’s concentration. Without Otto focusing, he loses control over his teammates who are not reformed criminals but mentally controlled ones. The Wrecking Crew starts pounding on the Superior Six. Spidey fears that “the trial was too soon. Worse I can feel them fighting me.” He prepares to retreat when Sun Girl zaps Thunderball causing a blaze of light that seems to free the Six from SpOck’s control. But before they can act, the Wrecker cleaves a deep fissure into the city street, the Crew retreats, and Otto is able to reassert his control. Sun Girl, however, lies unconscious at his feet, the QPE next to her.
Liz Allan and Tyler Stone run out of Alchemax to retrieve their device but SpOck tells them he is taking it “until I determine why the Wrecking Crew wanted it.” He also takes Sun Girl to give her medical attention. With the Superior Six standing behind him (in a great low-angle panel that emphasizes how intimidating they are), Liz and Tyler can’t do anything to stop him.
Back in Spidey’s secret Battery Park lab, he puts the five villains back in their tubes, then turns off his control device. Back to their own free will, the villains scream that they are going to kill Spidey (except for Mysterion, who is not the real Mysterio and whimpers, “Please I just want to go home.”) SpOck tells them “each of your cells is specifically designed to negate your powers.” They are not going anywhere. A shocked Sandman declares, “He’s worse than we ever were. He’s turned into some kinda monster.”
And over on Spider-Island, Sun Girl awakens to find herself amongst armed masked men with spider insignias on their tunics. Seeing she is in “some kind of evil-looking secret hideout,” she lashes out with her sun powers until encountering a huge robot spider and Spidey himself. “You need to tell me who you are and where you got your equipment,” he says (so I guess Sun Girl’s origin is forthcoming).
Elsewhere, the Wrecking Crew confront their employer; a man in a lab coat. He is displeased that his men failed to get the QPE. When the Wrecker objects that he needs more men, the employer says, “No, you need a team,” then reveals himself as Lightmaster. “If Spider-Man wishes to interfere with my plans again, then he’ll face Lightmaster and his Masters of Evil,” he says. “We getting’ the band back together?” asks Thunderball. “Ohhhh, yeah. Time for a bug hunt,” says the Wrecker.
Like Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #1 before it, this issue is mostly composed of fight scenes. It has far less in the way of plot than the tedious two issues before it and yet it stands out as far superior. Why is that? Well, partly because Chris Yost writes this book so well. His Superior Spider-Man lines are lots of fun. Here, for example, are his descriptions of the Wrecking Crew: “There’s Bulldozer, with the idiotic ability to crush things with his head. Piledriver with the power of punching. Their leader, the Wrecker, with the power of using a crowbar. It’s hard not to cower in fear. Thunderball is the smart one. You can tell from the giant metal ball.” As usual, Ock thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, then almost has the whole thing fall apart around him when the fight temporarily wipes out his mind control of his colleagues. His manipulation of others and his overconfidence in his own plan is classic Doc Ock and often the recipe for his failures. It is mostly luck that keeps him from failing here. And let’s face it, Ock’s previous defeats were not because he was a guy with metal tentacles while now he is Spider-Man. Most of them came from his own flaws. It is nice to see those flaws on display in a way that really should have cost him this fight and Otto’s lack of understanding beyond thinking that “the trial was too soon.”
It’s also worth repeating Sandman’s comment that “He’s worse than we ever were. He’s turned into some kinda monster.” As much as we, the readers, deplore much of SpOck’s methods, we still see things from his standpoint, as we usually do with any main character. It’s nice to be reminded of how he appears to an outsider, how shocking his transformation. Even to a villain like the Sandman, Spider-Man has inexplicably become “some kinda monster.”
Marco Checchetto does a great job with mayhem: Thunderball’s wrecking ball smashing through the window with people scattering on page 1 panel 5; the general battle on page 2 panel 1; Sandman’s disintegration by Thunderball on page 8 panel 4; the crater the wrecking ball makes as Miguel recoils on page 10 panel 3 (hmmm, maybe I just like the wrecking ball’s mayhem); Sandman’s melting fingers on page 11 panel 2. (But page 5 panel 1 is confusing. The Wrecker swings his crowbar at Spidey. A black spatter seems to imply that the Wrecker shed Spidey’s blood. But did he? There’s no evidence of it later on.) Marco’s characters’ facial expressions are nicely detailed too. I particularly like the look on Sandman’s face on page 16 panel 6 when he utters that “monster” line; just right for the situation.
I love the cover with the Treasure Chest Claw Machine motif. The machine has Ock’s tentacles instead of claws and Spidey plays the game, snatching up the Sinister Six members while other villains (Green Goblin, Kraven, Venom, Kingpin, Rhino, Shocker, Lizard, Jackal) observe. Mysterion has apparently escaped one “claw” by disappearing in a puff of smoke while another “claw” creates a divot across Sandman’s face. A clever and imaginative work by the Riveras.
And if the “Next” illustration can be trusted, it looks like next issue’s cover will feature a variation on the original Sinister Six cover back in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, 1964. I enjoy little tributes like this.
Instead of feeling like nothing more than a big fight issue, the story feels like it’s building here. The return of Lightmaster, the Masters of Evil, and Sun Girl’s origin all seem promised for next issue. And don’t forget that Lyla told Miguel that the QPE would destroy New York in three days. So I have high hopes for next issue.