Boomerang and his new Sinister Six have successfully re-stolen the priceless portrait of Dr. Doom's face. Their next move? Head to a predetermined safehouse. Shocker has just successfully evaded Hammerhead and the Maggia while toting the disembodied (yet still very talkative) head of Silvio "Silvermane" Manfredi. His next move? Head to a predetermined safehouse. What are the odds of both safehouses being the same? Pretty good.
In the time between the events of issue #9 and issue #13, Beetle and Overdrive apparently got into some trouble involving ninjas and a school bus. Both villains have been pretty hush about the incident but Boomerang is incessantly prodding his partners to find out the full story. As Shocker and Silvermane hide out in the bathroom of the safehouse, Overdrive starts by divulging his origin story to the rest of the gang.
As revealed in his first appearance in 2007's Free Comic Book Day story Swing Shift, Overdrive has always been a big Spider-Man fan and has sought to be a hero for years. Without having powers or special abilities though, Overdrive instead decided to take up Mr. Negative's offer of being his getaway driver. He rightfully points out that a number of Marvel villains have gone on to be big time super heroes and he figured that being a bad guy would get his foot in the door so that he could actually become a hero later on.
After receiving a good round of ribbing from Boomerang and Speed Demon, Overdrive finally tells the anticipated story of the tricked-out school bus. While driving around, Overdrive and Beetle were attacked by a group of Mr. Negative's ninja "bill collectors." After an exhilarating high speed chase, Janice Lincoln suddenly saw her partner in a new light and the moment of passion that was talked about last issue commenced. This is when we find out a little bit more about Overdrive's powers. Apparently when he exerts himself his powers are nullified until he is, you know, ready to go again. With ninjas bearing down on them, Overdrive and Beetle took off on foot until OD was ready to use his magic on the next vehicle he saw. That vehicle just so happened to be a bus full of kids.
Meanwhile, a docile Shocker is becoming more and more irate as he listens to the stories of those that betrayed him. After some encouragement from Silvermane, Herman Shultz barges into the room and uses his vibro-shock gauntlets to wipe out his former teammates. Standing above the carnage, Shocker shouts "This gang's got a new boss now!"
If you recall, my biggest complaint about Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 is that the unveiling of Beetle's origin story completely derailed the ongoing plot of the series. With Overdrive's origin, writer Nick Spencer has learned from his previous mistake and masterfully weaves the villain's backstory around the ongoing plot. Add in an intense chase scene, a bit of romance and then wrap it up with a touch of revenge and you may have the most exhilarating issue of this title yet.
While the plot is funny, exciting and just about everything in between, it's the art that really steals the show here. Artist Steve Lieber is stellar as usual, taking the whimsey that the book is known for and creating playful yet dynamic renderings of these richly developed characters. Additional art in this issue comes from Rich Ellis who again steps in to add some fun drawings to help spice things up. That extra spice includes the centerpiece of the entire issue, the two page spread chase scene that details Overdrive's attempt to escape Mr. Negative's men as they traverse the city. The spread is filled with unique little details (try to find Spider-Man swinging across the city and Daredevil jumping across the rooftops) and was apparently an idea that came straight from the mind of Ellis. Also, as I've said in the past, colorist extraordinaire Rachelle Rosenberg makes her presence felt in every panel as well. As she she's done from the start, Rosenberg knows exactly how to set the right mood for this book with her expertly chosen shades and colors.
We're now a full 14 issues in and it has become clear that when this all-star creative team is in tact, Superior Foes of Spider-Man becomes must read entertainment. This issue in particular does a great job of not only moving the plot forward but also gives Spencer a chance to flesh out some of the main characters of the series. I dare say that in the expert hands of Spencer, Lieber and Rosenberg, a group of after-thought villains have become the most interesting team in comics.
This is the best book that Marvel is currently publishing. If you call yourself a Marvel Comics fan and you're not reading this book, you're doing yourself a disservice. It's that good.