Not all super villains are A-listers – but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done; just take the rogues of Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber have created an offbeat outfit of minor league costumed criminals that are laudable, loveable and laughable without taking the edge off their villainous predispositions. In the recent Superior Spider-Man #12, Boomerang got the band back together (despite betraying them issues before) to pull a heist against the Chameleon to obtain the prized painting showing Doctor Doom’s real face. Along the way they must go through Chameleon’s video-game-esque lair full of booby-traps that shows off Lieber’s refined and relaxed storytelling, illustration and creative juices that readers would be hard-pressed to find in any other superhero book.
Newsarama talked with Lieber about the events of #12, as well as looking forward to upcoming issues of the series and dismissing the series as nearing an end anytime soon.
Newsarama: Superior Foes of Spider-Man isn't your typical superhero comic book – and readers and critics seem love it for that. Now that you're 12 issues in, has the
newness faded into something else?
Steve Lieber: It felt natural from day one. From the beginning, Nick's scripts featured a smart, funny mix of recognizably horrible human behavior with a deadpan appreciation of just how weird life must be in a world like the Marvel Universe. He's given me lots of great stuff to work with, and lots of room to come up with things myself. That's always a pleasure and it never gets old.
Nrama: That being said, has it evolved or changed for you from drawing issue #1 to now being in the double-digits?
Lieber: The biggest change for me was figuring out what Boomerang needed to look like. In the first issue, I was drawing him well into his 40s, with lines in his face and a receding hairline. As I realized he was going to be continually charming his way out of trouble, I started making him younger and better looking.
Also, I'm doing a lot more digital drawing in later issues. Manga Studio 5-EX has made working digitally a real pleasure for me.
Nrama: In the recently released #12, we saw Boomerang get back with the gang - and some new recruits - and get ahold of the prized Doctor Doom painting - sort of. To get to that, however, was the big adventure - can you tell us about designing this underground lair of the Chameleon? It reminds me of Get Smart, in a good way!
Lieber: I didn't think of it as designing the Chameleon's lair so much as coming up with what Fred/Boomerang would tell you is in the Chameleon's lair.
Nrama: So can you talk about envisioning what Boomerang would think of as Chameleon's lair?
Lieber: There's a lot of free-associating on Russian themes, and a sense that he'd just fabricate horrible things to make himself seem courageous for having survived his time in there earlier. I'm honestly not sure why the flat, side-scrolling video-game diagram seems like the right way to go. I guess it sort of indicates just how badly thought-through any plan of Fred's is likely to be.
Nrama: How much of that two page cutaway with the levels was planned out in the script in detail and how much was made up by you on the page?
Lieber: Nick left the contents of the lair entirely up to me, so I went and got really weird for two pages.
Nrama: What were you thinking when picking out what to show?
Lieber: I asked my studio-mate Benjamin Dewey to help me brainstorm obstacles, and he immediately- no pause whatsoever- said "Matryoshka doll full of spiders!" Ben is artist of and I Was The Cat and apparently this kind of thinking comes naturally to him.
Nrama: Also in this issue you had the Sinister Six swell up to the Sinister Sixteen, including some surprising B- and C-list villains like the Armadillo. Were any of those personal favorites of yours? IS there any you'd like to draw more of in future issues?
Lieber: They're all very cool. Man Mountain Marko would be great, with his '68 Comeback Special leather suit. Bi Beast is a hoot. The Human Fly could add a nice touch of the unspeakably awful to any scene he's in.
Nrama: Sinister Foes of Spider-Man has put a new shine on the Sinister Six, but particularly Boomerang. How do you feel about his trajectory over the course of the series and what you and Nick have built him up into being?
Lieber: I'll be honest; I hope he hasn't grown too much. I've always admired the Seinfeld rule: "No hugging, no learning." Fred is awful. He's a narcissistic d-bag, continually screwing over his friends for our amusement. I'd hate to water that down with any redemption or personal growth.
Nrama: Next month sees the release of issue #13 - what can readers expect come July?
Lieber: Redemption. Personal growth.
Sorry. Actually what issue #13 has is a whole lot of Shocker.
Nrama: In the solicits for August, it says #14 is the "penultimate hour"; does that mean #15 is your --- and this book's - finale?
Lieber: Nope. I'm working on the cover for #17 now.