All right, last pair of comics for a couple of weeks. One book has a guest penciler, the other one is getting back its usual artist.
She-Hulk #5, by Charles Soule (writer), Ron Wimberly (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - I have never tried that "tape all the pieces of evidence on the wall" thing you see people do. It always looks too messy and disorganized for me. I'd just get distracted by it.
We're into the "let's split up, gang, and look for clues" portion of the investigation. So Jen visits the Shocker, who is both more and less pitiful than he is in the book we'll be discussing further down. But Jen manages to avoid a fight, and the Shocker manages to remember a few things after he zaps himself with his gauntlets. Patsy goes to visit Tigra and they have a pleasant chat until Patsy mentions the name of the guy who brought the case against them. Then Tigra tries to kill her, and herself, though Patsy narrowly averts both those things. Angie's up in North Dakota trying to find the original documents, which she does, but the person at the courthouse is about to shoot her. Which means it's probably a bad thing Jen wraps up the issue calling Wyatt Wingfoot to discuss the case with him.
So we have post-hypnotic implanted suggestions, a mysterious person was up to something and needed two villains with similar shticks to help, and the resultant effort by the heroes to stop it destroyed a town. I have no idea how all that pieces together. I also don't know if it's significant that Wimberly used the same spiral in the eyes thing for the country clerk when he's getting ready to shoot, and for Angie and the monkey when they saw whatever it was they saw in the ruins of that town. Is she (or the monkey) connected to all this? Is there some sort of illusion cast over the town, and it requires a similar effect to the hypnotic suggestion to see through it?
Can't say I care for Wimberly's art. Everything's too wrinkled, and he draws things so I feel like I'm looking through a fish-eye lens, kind of like Tan Eng Huat does, which is not an effect I'm terribly fond of. He does good work with the sound effects, though. I especially like the SCREEEE when Angie hits the brakes, the way it follows her across the panel. Don't understand why he uses quote marks around them sometimes (like the THMMM when Jen lands on the fire escape. I like Renzi's colors. They're very, "Day-Glo" is the word that comes to mind, and maybe a little unusual, but they evoke the mood well and make sure things stand out. Angie's car against the frozen expanses of North Dakota, or that pink-purple sky over Tigra and Hellcat's heads. It's a good backdrop for their color scheme, and it looks odd enough to put the reader slightly on edge.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #12, by Nick Spencer (writer), Steve Lieber (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Hmm, I get that Wimberly is trying to make their costumes look like they fit as real clothes would, but no. He made the Shocker look even dumber than usual, like it's some common hood trying to pretend to be the Shocker with a custom made ski-mask.
After two issues of stupid time wasting crap, back to the actual storyline. I mean, jeez, did Lieber and Spencer think they were Fraction and Aja, going to stall for time with a bunch of stupid ancillary nonsense? Whatever. Boomerang manages to convince his team that it was really the Chameleon who screwed them over, which wouldn't have worked if the Owl wasn't there backing him up (because Spencer's Owl is about 1/100th as smart as Mark Waid's Owl). And the Owl wants them to help get back his painting from the Chameleon. He even went out and hired a bunch more super-villains for Boomerang to dupe, er I mean lead in an assault. Isn't this a little small-time for Bi-Beast, though? The others, sure, I could see them getting on board (maybe not Shriek), but I kind of thought Bi-Beast was into destroying humanity or taking over the world, stuff like that. Just being cannon fodder here, so I guess it doesn't matter. Boomerang suckers Overdrive into taking a fake of the painting (because Fred's such an expert on art he can detect forgeries now?), and that leaves Boomerang free to loot the safe. The other thread is that Hydro-Man told Hammerhead how Shocker has Silvermane's head, and now Hammerhead's guys are going to storm Hermann's apartment. Hmm, now would be a good time for She-Hulk to show up and ask more questions.
I'm still having a hard time buying Boomerang being smart enough to even come up with a scam like this, let alone keep it together this long. He's a putz. He's always been a putz. He couldn't out-maneuver the Beetle for leadership in the Sinister Syndicate, because he's a dope. Fortunately, everyone else in the book is an even bigger dope. It's like the Futurama episode where the giant brains make everyone except Fry complete idiots. But there are no giant brains to be seen. The book is still funny, but remember how I said a couple of weeks ago that I've grown really impatient waiting for fictional characters to get their comeuppance? I'm kind of itching to see his team kick his butt.
All that (extensive) complaining aside, credit to Spencer and Lieber for making me care about the Shocker. He's a chump, the guy who figures if you say you're a team or a gang, it means something, in spite of all evidence in his life to the contrary. I've always kind of liked the Shocker, because at his core, he's just a thief. He doesn't care about world conquest or bloody revenge. If he never saw Spider-Man again, I'm sure he'd be just fine with that. But he can't help himself being a thief. He either can't, or won't change, and so he's stuck. There's always going to be a hero there to ruin his day. Now he's got to deal with the fact the people in the same boat as him don't even treat him well. I'd really like to see him get a good moment here, just trounce Hammerhead and his guys, but it's probably not going to happen.
OK, that's weird. I was looking back over it, and the Owl says he hired more guys, and that Fred requested 11 more villains, Fred's response being that now they're the Sinister 16. Except with only 4 members (Boomerang, Overdrive, the Beetle, Speed Demon) to start with, that would only be the Sinister 15. But Lieber drew 12 villains, which would make 16. I'm confused. I also notice Speed Demons is nowhere to be seen during the attack on the Chamleon, so either he's got something planned with Fred, or he's hanging back, waiting to pounce when Fred tries his double-cross.
It's interesting how much more subdued Rosenberg's colors are here than on Nightcrawler. It fits; there's not weird magic, super-powered robots, or schools with training rooms that cost billions of dollars. It's a bunch of cheap crooks running around making fools of themselves. It's basic greed and stupidity, just dressed up a little.