By Paul Montgomery
|Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 cover by Marcos Martin|
That’s right, the Sinister Six returns with an updated roster. Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, the Beetle, and Overdrive might not possess the sinister intellect of Doctor Octopus, but together they’re thick as thieves, intent on evolving from goons to criminal tycoons. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber bring the seedy underworld to the fore beginning this July.
We spoke to Spencer about the superior art of high-stakes villainy.
Marvel.com: Boomerang, Shocker, Speed Demon, Overdrive and the Beetle. These guys wouldn't typically make it past the napkin stage when Doc Ock was forming new Sinister Six rosters. Does their shared history as third-stringers come into play here? Do they see themselves that way?
Nick Spencer: Oh, yeah. This is a book about the working class guys; these are not the
Marvel.com: Wait. Do any of these guys actually pay alimony? Is there truly honor among thieves?
Nick Spencer: You can mess with the Kingpin, but don't mess with your ex-wife. Even these guys know that.
Marvel.com: We know Spider-Man's upgrade to Superior status is a bit of an ego thing. Is it the same for these villains? Or can they look forward to other kinds of upgrades as Superior Foes?
Nick Spencer: Well, they certainly feel like they're moving up in the world, since the name Sinister Six carries with it a certain weight. But really, that's a bit of marketing hype; I mean, what stops any group of six—or in this case, five—super-crooks from taking up a title like that? They'll run into reality pretty quick. For hired guns like these, the really dangerous part of the equation is on the criminal side: getting on the wrong side of a boss, or being double-crossed by your partner. Losing a fight with Spider-Man is getting off light by comparison there.
Marvel.com: This sounds like a heist. Is this a heist? What's the score?
Nick Spencer: Lots and lots of heists. That was a big part of the appeal for me here. I got to stretch those muscles a bit on [my creator-owned series] Thief of Thieves, and it was fun to translate some of that into the world of capes and tights.
Marvel.com: What's the chain of command look like?
Nick Spencer: It's Boomerang's gang, though obviously, these characters being who they are, that authority won't go unquestioned. One of the fun dynamics we have is we have three guys with a lot of history: Boomerang, Speed Demon, and Shocker have run in the same circles and been in the same crews for years now. But then they've brought in two fresh faces: Overdrive, and the new Beetle. And these two might view the whole scene pretty differently. They haven't been beaten down quite as much, or they have new ideas on how to get things done. It makes for an interesting mix.
Marvel.com: Overdrive's gotta be the new wheel man, right? High speed chases aplenty?
Nick Spencer: Oh, yeah, of course. Overdrive's the wheel man. Beetle's the second-story man. Everybody's gotta pull their weight. Except Speed Demon—Speed Demon is just worthless.
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Marvel.com: What part, if any, does the Superior Spider-Man play in this caper? Do Otto's former associates sense something might be amiss with the web-head?
Nick Spencer: Yeah, definitely. Spider-Man is just something—as a concept, even, rather than a person—that looms very large in these character's lives. He's greatly impacted their career trajectories; he's put most of them in prison, more than once. Every job has to be planned with the expectation that he'll show up. And on the personal level, with the number of times Spidey's gone head to head with them, of course they're going to notice changes. In some ways, they know Spider-Man better than anyone.
Marvel.com: How much of their lives are wrapped up in their criminal identities? Does that differ from man to man? Is the Shocker the Shocker 24/7? Are these simple day—or night—jobs or are they lifestyles?
Nick Spencer: A big part of this book is definitely showing you the life behind the costume. A lot of the time we spend with them, the masks are off. That was actually my pitch here: that these guys, they're actually a lot like Spider-Man, in the classic sense of the character. They don't have the innate nobility or the desire to do the right thing, but they're hard-luck stories, just like
Marvel.com: We don't tend to think spandex when Steve Lieber's involved. His involvement immediately suggests something special, not just visually but tonally. What kinds of conversations have you had about the look and feel of this series?
|The Shocker vs. Spider-Man|
Nick Spencer: Steve was the first person I asked to work with on this; he was absolutely, 100 percent my first choice. I was so excited when he agreed to do it. This is a book I've wanted to do since I was a kid and I read the original DEADLY FOES OF SPIDER-MAN book; this and CLOAK & DAGGER are probably the two books I walked in the door at Marvel angling for—you know, the back-pocket passion projects everyone has. So for it to happen, and to get to collaborate on it with one of the best storytellers in comics is a thrill for me. The book looks so great. Steve thinks about every page in a story-first way, he pays attention to the details, and it shines through in the work. His acting is fantastic; the faces sell the lines so perfectly. I'm writing looser scripts than I ever have before, just giving him as much room as I can and it's working out better than I could've dreamed.
SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber kicks off ongoing this July. Keep checking Marvel.com for more news as part of Superior Spider-Week!