Ok, so there's this painting. Well, it's a portrait actually. A portrait of the unmasked face of Victor von Doom. This painting is worth a lot, so the Chameleon (who first appeared in ASM #1, remember?) hired Boomerang and his newly assembled Sinister Six to steal the painting from the Owl. Boomerang double crossed everybody though and planned on keeping the portrait for himself. This forced the Chameleon to come and take the painting by force. Knowing an opportunity when he sees one, Boomerang tricked everyone into thinking that the Chameleon was the one who stole the painting in the first place. So, with the Owl's aid, Boomerang and the gang stole the portrait back. On top of all of that, Shocker is in possession of the legendary head of the crimelord Silvermane. This doesn't set well with Hammerhead, the head of the Maggia crime syndicate. B-list villains get into some A-list action in this edition of Superior Foes of Spider-Man!
Abner Jenkins (former Beetle and current Mach VII who happens to be Fred Myer's stern but fair parole officer) is shopping for furniture in his full battle suit when he receives a call from a bound and tied villain known as Mirage. In a scene of pure comedic gold, Abner accidentally lays waste to the front entrance of the store while attempting to exit with his giant wings erect. "I have to go fight crime now," he says to the clerk while standing atop a pile of shattered glass.
Back at the Chameleon's base, we find that someone has tipped off the police and the place is swarming with New York's finest. The Chameleon himself escapes by impersonating a first responder but captures a raving Mirage in the process. The Owl meanwhile is, as expected, less than pleased that Boomerang has screwed him over once again.
Overdrive, with the priceless painting in tow, meets up with the new Beetle in an underground sewer. Apparently, during the whole ninja bus ordeal, both were involved in a tryst that was somewhat of a regrettable experience for the Beetle. Boomerang overhears the story, much to the chagrin of the Beetle, and the three set off for one of their safehouses.
In another part of town, the Shocker is facing down Hammerhead and a whole gang of his goons. The current leader of the Maggia wants his mentor, the disembodied Silvermane, to be returned to him. Shocker realizes that he is both out-powered and out-manned so he offers to give up his chatty friend but Silvermane doesn't want to go back. From within the gym bag that he is being carried around in, the old man shouts "He's not gonna give me up until you make him head of the Maggia!" This, of course, forces all of the mobsters to begin firing into Shocker's apartment.
Seemingly trapped in his apartment, Shocker absorbs a round of insults from Silvermane and begins to devise a plan. After figuring out just the right trajectory he needs to be able to propel himself (and his disembodied friend) out of the window and to safety with his gauntlets, Shocker escapes the clutches of Hammerhead and his mafia and heads for a safehouse.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang are all together again and heading for a safe place to hide out. Once they get to the safehouse, we see that this is the same house that Shocker is hiding out at. Herman Shultz is about to come face to face with his former teammate, the man that tried to kill him.
In the second issue since the return of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber, whose hiatus a couple of months ago threatened to derail the series, Superior Foes of Spider-Man seems to be firmly back on track. With the Sinister Six finally breaking away from the grip of both the Owl and the Chameleon (at least for the time being) and the promising reunion of all five members of the team, it seems as if the well plotted threads of this title are coming together. Boomerang's master plan is still unknown (what exactly was behind the safe last issue? How does he know that the painting is a fake?), but Shocker's wild adventure appears to be coming full circle. It seems rather obvious that Boomerang will try to lie and smooth talk his way past what should be an ordeal between him and Shocker. Maybe Silvermane will become Herman's voice of reason. I think I'm more curious to read what kind of insults that Silvermane will come up with to demoralize the rest of the Sinister Six when he meets them.
I mentioned in my review for issue #12 that it might take an installment or two before Spencer gets his comedic timing back. Well, it's back. Lieber's superbly drawn Abner Jenkins scene early in the book is absolutely hilarious. Spencer also added some humorous intrigue, and the opportunity for lots of "bad in the sack" jokes, by pairing up Overdrive and the Beetle off screen. Giving Silvermane more dialogue only helps the comedic factor as well. That sharp tongued old man comes close to stealing the show in this particular issue. Who'd have thought that an ex-crimelord turned android could be so damn funny?
I'm certainly anticipating the reunion between Shocker and Boomerang next issue, but in reality there are a lot of different possible plots that this issue sets up. Will the Owl team-up with the Chameleon to take down Boomerang? What about Hammerhead? Is there an even larger gang war on the horizon? I for one can't wait to see what these loveable losers are going to get themselves into next.
Remember when I was throwing a fit over that fill-in issue? It seems like that was ages ago. This series has already hit its stride again.