Three members of the Sinister Six (the new Beetle, Overdrive and Speed Demon) were left for dead within the Owl’s layer after being betrayed by their leader Boomerang. After getting bailed out by the Beetle’s dad (who just so happens to be Tombstone), all three villains decided to head over to a Brooklyn bar before making their next move. That’s the premise we are given for this fill-in issue that sees Nick Spencer not taking on writing duties for the first time in the title’s small but distinguished run. Filling in for Spencer is former Gambit writer James Asmus who is accompanied by a slew of up and coming artists.
In a nasty graffiti covered bar bathroom somewhere in Brooklyn, Overdrive is having trouble relieving himself. Above the urinal in which he stands in front of is a poster of the super hero Hercules staring down at him. “He’s not really looking at you” says the super villain over and over to himself. Once Overdrive finally takes care of business he shimmies back into the bar where Janice Lincoln (aka the Beetle) and James Sanders (aka Speed Demon) are enjoying drinks. Behind them, the three employees of the bar are gagged and tied up. As the three members of the new Sinister Six plot what their next move is, they decided why not pull a quick heist as they enjoy a cold alcoholic beverage. Seeing as how the safe is on a timer though, the three begin to reminisce about their less than fruitful criminal careers.
Overdrive begins by relating the story about the time that he “got the better of Hercules.” Not long after getting into crime, Overdrive was able to hijack an armored vehicle before getting caught in the act by the hulking Olympian. As he fled the crime, Overdrive came across a parked motorcycle with a fully visored helmet. After putting the helmet on, the dimwitted Hercules did not recognize Overdrive as the criminal that he was after and instead asked him if he had seen the villain. To this day, Overdrive still wears that helmet so that Hercules won’t recognize him.
Janice’s story traces back to her lawyer days when she got the better of Daredevil or, more specifically, the attorney Matt Murdock. Pitted against Murdock in court, Janice knew that her opponent was actually the vigilante known as Daredevil and tried her best to use that against him. After her attempts at distracting his heightened senses failed, she decided to use his sense of justice against him instead. After a quick text, the Looter appeared on the doorsteps of the courthouse with his gun drawn. Obviously Matt couldn’t pass up a chance to take down a known villain and Janice won the case based on Murdock’s absence.
Lastly, Speed Demon gets the chance to tell his story. Though his tales of besting the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers are bit overblown, his story about getting revenge on Hercules is probably true. After getting clobbered by Hercules once, Sanders tipped off a “mask-chasing” barfly that happened to have a venereal disease that Hercules liked to drink at a specific bar. Getting an Avenger laid is apparently James Sanders greatest achievement as a super villain.
Shortly after Speed Demon’s story, a thirsty Hercules enters the bar looking for “a tavern that pours before midday.” In sheer terror the three villains scamper away from the colossal hero. Ironically, Overdrive appears to relieve himself at the very sight of his long time nemesis.
With Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber being on such a solid roll with this series, I thought that it would be hard to swallow an issue that does nothing but serve as a place holder for the original creative team. With fill-in talent this good though, it’s hard not to like the 10th issue of Marvel’s “sleeper hit.” Despite the fact that Boomerang (the title’s star) and Shocker only appear on a splash page to begin the issue, the three remaining members of the cast hold up this funny and entertaining story together quite nicely. James Asmus seems to understand Spencer’s direction for the book and artist Carmen Carnero, who pencils all of the bar scenes, captures the playfulness of the series in much of the same way that Lieber has done from the start. The other artists, Nuno Plati, Siya Oum and Pepe Larraz all do a great job capturing the tone of their individual stories. Other artists who added contributions to this talent filled issue are Gerardo Sandoval (who drew the opening splash page) and Joe Quinones (who penciled the fantastic cover).
Not only is the story fun and the art beautiful, but we actually get some insight into some of the cast members here by dipping a bit into their past. We saw Beetle’s origin revealed in Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 and here we take a peek at some of her lawyer chops in action. Asmus also punctuates the fact that Overdrive is a wuss and Speed Demon is a blow hard with their individual stories. Wrapping up the story with a hilarious visit by the well known tippler and fighter Hercules was an expected but none the less perfect ending. While I certainly look forward to Spencer and Lieber resuming their duties and moving the intriguing plot of the series forward, it’s hard to be too upset with a fill-in issue that’s this entertaining.
Even this title’s fill-in stories are fantastic. Hopefully we get back to the main plot soon though.