Last time around, we found out that the new Beetle is the daughter of the dreaded crime boss known as Tombstone. This time around, we find out exactly how Tombstone’s daughter came to be a petty criminal that sports a gaudy green and purple outfit.
Janice Lincoln has always been daddy’s little girl. From a young age she followed in her father’s footsteps. One time in particular sticks with Janice the most; her first heist. The time when she duped a young girl into thinking that she got her a new puppy, when in reality she was busy stealing all of the girl’s birthday presents. Janice would eventually get older, go to law school and become a bright professional young woman; but all she really ever wanted to do is be like her father. She always wanted to be a criminal. Not just any kind of criminal though, even fresh out of law school, she had ambitions to be a crime boss.
Those dreams never came to fruition though. Janice is now working at a shady law firm in New York representing pharmaceutical companies and the like (ok so maybe she did achieve her goal). That’s when her boss gives her an interesting assignment. Famed Captain America villain Baron Zemo is one of the firm’s oldest clients and Janice has been asked to mediate a financial situation. The daughter of Tombstone jumps at the opportunity with giddy fervor.
After receiving a call from her father, who reminds his little girl that today is the anniversary of their first heist together, Janice walks into a room that features Baron Zemo at one end of the table and the Fixer at the other.
The Fixer believes that if it was not for his actions, Zemo would not be alive today and seeks compensation. Zemo obviously refuses. Despite creating a poor working environment, these arguments have also stilted the super villain’s next scheme. That scheme is to kill the new Captain America (who at the time of this flashback story was Bucky Barnes). Janice clears up the money issues with talk about arbitration and profit sharing and then offers to be the next “super villain” to aid Zemo and the Fixer in their plan.
After being outfitted with “bleeding edge technology,” Janice emerges from the Fixer’s layer in her purple Beetle outfit. A super villain is born.
The new Beetle is the one character in this series that didn’t have an origin. She was the one character that the creators had complete control over. They had carte blanche; they could create her story from her childhood to present day. This issue takes the time to do just that. And while Nick Spencer does a fine job of crafting a compelling back story for the character, I don’t necessarily think that he needed to take up an entire issue to do so.
While I found the depiction of Janice’s impressionable years well executed, I found that the adventures of adult Janice to be a bit more tedious. Sure the interchange between Baron Zemo and the Fixer was humorous, but did it really need to take up three pages of the book? I certainly see the need to flesh out the Beetle’s character, but I wish that it could have been done without sacrificing the plot of the issue.
Despite Steve Lieber’s name being clearly visible on the cover of the comic, he actually did not provide any artwork for this issue. Instead we get fill-in artist Rich Ellis who does a fine job (despite the fact that I have no real knowledge of any of his previous work). I am a little confused about some of the skin tone coloring by Lee Loughridge though. Sometimes Janice’s skin is much too pale and sometimes Tombstone’s skin is much too tan.
It seems like a solid plot is sacrificed for the sake of fleshing out one character’s back story. Here’s hoping we get back to the rip-roaring fun that Superior Foes of Spider-Man has been when the entire cast gets involved.