It’s true. The horrible news that everyone expected and yet was still devastating to hear is true. Marvel's best book will be ending with issue #17. Despite the glowing reviews from myself and others, the lack of readership has apparently done this book in. With that troubling information in mind, the 15th issue of Superior Foes of Spider-Man features a cover that represents (in a censored manner) how the Sinister Six feel about all the people that haven't been picking up their book. Maybe the trades will do better.
Last issue, Shocker had just manned up. With the encouragement of the disembodied head of Silvio Silvermane, Herman Schultz built up the courage to blast his former teammates and declare himself leader of the gang. Boomerang's immediate reaction is to try and lie his way back into the good graces of his former teammate. Shocker quickly realizes that the man who tried to kill him back in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4 is only patronizing him and swats Fred Myers away. It ends up taking the beguiling charm of a woman to finally do in the raging Shocker.
With the rest of the gang writhing in pain on the floor of the now seriously torn up safehouse, the new Beetle takes it upon herself to restore some order. After building up Shocker's ego by explaining that he should indeed be the gang's new boss, Janice turns and blasts him in the head at close range. With Shocker now out of the picture, the attention of the Sinister Six squarely turns to the legendary and very valuable head of Silvermane.
After a quick Wikipedia search, the gang figures out the procedure that they need to follow in order to use Silvermane's head to take control of the Maggia. The team's first step is to bury their old buddy Shocker alive and then head to the bar to have a drink in his honor. At the bar, a bunch of b-list villains that aided the gang when they stormed Chameleon's base back in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #12 just so happen to waltz in. This brings on an intense bar fight that seems to actually bring the four members of the gang closer together.
Things aren't at all what they seem though. Each member outside of Boomerang (who is inevitably plotting his own scheme) is shown screwing over the gang in favor of a more beneficial relationship. Elsewhere, the Chameleon and the Owl have formed an uneasy relationship themselves in order to exact their revenge on Fred Myers.
Rather than dwell on the unfortunate fact that this series is ending well before it should, I'm instead going to gloat about just how good this issue and this book is. I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but the creative team of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber are a perfect pair. Spencer's hilarious dialogue and earnestly suspenseful plot is brought to life by Lieber's rich yet playful artwork. There aren't a lot of comics that features art that so perfectly matches the story being told. This book has had that in spades. I'm not sure what Spencer, Lieber and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg plan on doing once this series gasps its last breath, but I hope they find themselves doing something as a team.
As far as this particular issue goes, Spencer does a great job setting us up for the final two installments of the title. We've got lots of excitement, some intrigue and even a few mysteries that are sure to reveal themselves as this final story arc moves forward.
One of those mysteries is the fate of Shocker. Surely his tenure in this book isn't over. He found a way to survive the first time Boomerang tried to kill him and I'm sure he will find his way out of this one as well. Is the good hearted Shocker going to end up being the hero of this narrative or is Boomerang going to take back his role as protagonist as he squares off against both crime lords and teammates alike? I don't know about you but I can't wait to find out.
Marvel's best book is coming to an end soon. Let's enjoy it while we still can.