For all that Fred Myers has done wrong; he must have done something right. After revealing his secret super villain identity to his lady bartender friend last issue, the two finally shared a smooch under a clear starry night. We can not forget, even for a moment, that our good friend Boomerang has screwed over a lot of people recently though. Thus, this particular kiss is being seen through the green-tinted lense of a sniper rifle scope. Holding the rifle is the greatest killer known to man, Bullseye.
Fred may seem dumb, but he has his moments. After hearing the gunshot of Bullseye’s sniper rifle go off, he launches a boomerang out into the night to intercept the incoming bullet. Boomerang has never been a fan of Bullseye, who constantly gets all of the good jobs while Fred has all too often sat alone in the corner of the bar nursing his beer. As Fred and the bartender flee from a barrage of bullets, they eventually find safe haven in a nearby church (which is probably not the best idea).
In another part of town, Shocker is trying to keep the grumpy head of Silvermane content. Silvermane is watching TV and sipping High Life out of a can when Hydroman comes knocking at Herman’s door. Shocker tries to keep Silvermane a secret from his ex-partner, but the body-less former crime lord is much too chatty and Hydroman barges into Herman’s apartment. Shocker explains that he’s not sure why he even took the head of Silvermane and that he has no intention of ever being a crime boss himself. After offering to team-up with Herman to help him utilize the talking head, Hydroman quietly escapes through the toilet. Images of grandeur are no doubt filling the head of yet another b-list Spider-Man villain.
As expected, Bullseye quickly outsmarts Boomerang and has his target dead to rights. That’s when the cowardice we’ve all come to expect from Fred Myers rears its ugly head. Fred grabs the bartender and uses her as a human shield. As shown in the previous issue though, the bartender knows how to defend herself. An elbow to the crotch instantly sends Fred to the ground and as a result both he and the bartender are captured. You see it was the Owl who hired Bullseye to take out Boomerang for stealing his prized possession, the portrait of Dr. Doom’s face. Fred did in fact steal the painting back in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #5, but last issue Chameleon (whom Fred double-crossed) stole the painting in retribution. Fred uses this unfortunate circumstance to try and weasel his way out of his current predicament. Fred blames the entire incident on “identity theft,” saying that it was Chameleon disguised as him that stole the painting in the first place. After revealing that Bullseye isn’t actually Bullseye but instead a robot designed by the Tinkerer (see I told you it would be addressed), the Owl actually allows Fred to prove that Chameleon is in ownership of the Doom painting.
With the portrait in question hanging front and center in his office, the Chameleon invites Boomerang in, unaware that the Owl in monitoring the conversation. Eventually, Fred is able to coax the crime boss into doing just what he wants. After goading the Chameleon by saying that he couldn’t have stole the painting if he wanted to and that he isn’t “fit to wear (his) rocket boots,” the shape-shifting villain morphs his face to resemble that of Fred Myers. “On the contrary,” says Chameleon “they fit quite well.”
Back at the Owl’s base, an irate Leland Owlsley kicks over his monitor in rage. It looks like the bumbling Boomerang knows exactly what he’s doing. He just created a gang war.
While last issue seemed to be all about the humor, this issue takes time to set up a bit of intrigue. Sure there are tons of laughs, because that’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from this series, but the impending war between two of New York’s crime lords, all set up by the man whom everybody thinks is a sad sack of a criminal, is the most exciting plot turn since the Sinister Six stormed Owl’s base four issues ago. Not only that but we get another cliff hanger on the final page of this issue when it’s revealed that Beetle and Overdrive have gotten into some sort of weird trouble that involves a school bus and kids wielding samurai swords.
The art is again top notch by the extraordinary Steve Lieber who plays a huge part in making this book the critical success that it has been. Rich Ellis, who did an admirable job filling in for Lieber on Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7, returns to help out on some additional artwork in this issue as well. Though the issue never loses the levity that makes this title such a fun read, there are a few more serious moments in this particular installment and the artistic team does a great job balancing the action with the humor.
We see more plot development in this issue than we’ve seen in a little while from this series. It feels like we’re not far off from seeing everything come to a head, and with the plot lines developing rather nicely, I'm excited to see how it will all play out.