Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Rich Ellis, Lee Loughridge
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 31, 2013

superiorfoesofspiderman#7Superior Foes of Spider-Man is everything fun about comics, putting the spotlight on the hopeless, gimmick-costumed bad guys that currently populate the Sinister (less-than-)Six. From its great sense of humor and unique visual storytelling to its quirky cast of failures, Superior Foes has resonated with fans as one of the best books Marvel’s putting out these days.

This issue steps back from the comic’s usual focus on Boomerang — the Sinister Six’s lying, cheating leader — and instead follows Beetle, the hyper-organized, ambition-driven financial lawyer who moonlights as a super villain.

Lieber is replaced by Rich Ellis, who tells such a distinct story with his work that Spencer’s words are almost unnecessary. He draws expressions and body language with clear-cut distinction and flair, a perfect fit for the issue’s confident, expressive star. He has no trouble drawing characters of various ages and proportions and costuming without struggling like some of his peers might in undertaking such a diverse cast, tackling the complications of drawing children, quirky costumes, and an array of smart outfits without a single misstep (except, perhaps, for graduation caps.) Food, cars, chibified flashbacks, a great two-page planner outlining Janice’s routine – Ellis’s presents it all flawlessly. The final page, however, while as consistent in its execution as the rest of the book, doesn’t hold quite as much pop as the lead-up asks for, the only visual disappointment in an otherwise truly concrete issue.

Loughridge is a perfect fit to Ellis’s art, deploying muted colors that set the book apart from so many others on the shelves that rely on heavy shadowing, gradients, and harsh colors choices. His colors compliment Ellis’s frequent use of backgroundless panels for key dialogue moments, making smart choices that give panels a little lift without taking the focus. He treats Ellis’s smart fashions with equally well-chosen color. His tans and blues give depth and emotion to scenes, and his color scheme choices help the transition between scenes become more noticeable. And his attention to skintones in particular is greatly appreciated.

Spencer weaves a great relationship between Tombstone and his daughter, twining Superior Foes’s usual humor with just enough real life that some readers may find themselves identifying with the father-daughter dynamic. This same combination is applied to the relationship between the bad guys Janice offers legal counsel to, with genuinely hilarious results. As always, the jokes are extremely well-timed in this book, and conversational exchanges feel real, even when characters are discussing super villain problems and plots. Spencer’s unique perspective on the Marvel universe – and real life – produce a consistently great read. The writing is almost too good, as by the end of the issue, it’s difficult not to feel cheated by its twenty-page length.

Superior Foes has few discernable flaws, and at this point it’s baffling to even need to say you should be buying this book, because you must not read comics at all if you don’t.

The Verdict: 10/10


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