This series is about the wildly entertaining adventures of the bumbling new Sinister Six (who happen to have only five members). Or is it? This issue marks the second consecutive installment that replaces original creators Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber with fill-in talent. Last issue was stellar despite the creative change (mostly because writer James Asmus did his best to maintain what Spencer had been perfecting). In contrast, this issue features none of the main characters from the first 10 issues. Does it hold up?
At Super Villains Anonymous (first featured in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3), the Grizzly relates his recent misdeeds to a crowd of other washed up criminals seeking help. Though the Grizzly has never been an awe inspiring bad guy, his recent run of capturing drunken guys just so he can hang out with them is pretty low by anybodies standards. After buying pizza for one of the guys that he has captured, the Grizzly goes into detail as to why he no longer goes after the big hits anymore. It appears that the Superior Spider-Man has struck fear into the hearts of most of the underworld and the Grizzly now works and lives in the shadows to avoid him. After letting his captured prey go, the Grizzly is suddenly drawn to a familiar song and climbs to the top of a building where the Doc Ock Spider-Man easily puts a beating on his lowly opponent.
After the Grizzly finishes his story, a bandaged man in a wheelchair rolls to the front of the room. His name is Norton and he is the Looter. The Looter had been beaten by Spider-Man more times than he could count in the past. After one especially humiliating defeat, Norton decided to leave New York and learn to become a more ruthless and powerful criminal out of the watchful eyes of the heroes of NYC. When he returned though, the Spider-Man that the Looter had known was no more. In his place was a person far more ruthless than the Looter could have ever prepared for. After the Superior Spider-Man mercilessly beat Looter to a pulp, he came to the Super Villains Anonymous meeting not to warn his contemporaries about the new look Spider-Man but to warn them about the disease that being a criminal entails.
Deadlines can be hard to meet. I get that. It’s frustrating to wait months for the new Hawkeye to come out. I know. With that being said, I would rather Marvel send out a heavily delayed issue that retains the best artistic team and continues the main plot of a comic rather than send out an issue like this one that totally strays from everything the title has been about up to this point. Nothing against all of the talented people that worked on this particular comic book (some of which were a big part of last issue), but writers Tom Peyer and Elliott Kalan have created something that is so far removed from what Nick Spencer had been deftly doing with this title that I would find it hard to believe that any fans of this series found anything of value out of this issue. Nobody wanted an issue about the Grizzly and the Looter that expounds upon the already tired fact that Doc Ock is terrorizing petty criminals and then ends with a puzzlingly sober look at criminology. Nobody wants to read an issue that abandons all of the characters that they’ve been following from the beginning in favor of two completely random and uninteresting c-list villains. I’m sorry Marvel, but it was a bad decision to put this issue out.
This is how not to do a fill-in issue. Hopefully Spencer and Lieber return to save the day soon and get this awful taste out of my mouth.