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Revenge Of The Sinister Six is the third, concluding chapter of The Sinister Six trilogy of tales that has spanned several decades of Spiderman's career. Once again, a collection of Spidey's most infamous enemies gather together to join forces but this time around your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman isn't the target! Oh no.....this time around The Six want revenge on their mentor, Doc Ock, for his betrayal in their last gathering that saw them all getting defeated once more.
This time around however, Dr.Octopus is bigger, stronger and even more insane and manages eventually, after proving his might, to convince his old colleagues that he is not their enemy! Setting them up against the Webslinger once more, it looks as though this time around he might actually suceed......except this time, Spiderman is the one who hasn't come alone. He has rounded up some allies to help him and what at first looks like an easy victory for the nerdy, spectacled and tentacled one ends up being a major league slug-fest with such big, heavy-hitters as The Hulk and Ghost Rider, The Spirit Of Vengeance amongst others....
This is a comic book mini-series, collected here in one volume, for those mainly who value quantity over quality. The storyline, such as it is, is tenuous at best and just an excuse for everyone to just start hitting each other continuously to the point where you almost wish they would just give it all up and have a great, big group hug! For a normally light-hearted comic book, it all gets a bit excessively violent at times and only Peter Parker's trademark humour and sarcastic remarks as Spidey manage to ease the mood, if only for a few seconds at a time, just to give everyone a breather!
Is it all a bit unnessecary? Maybe. But do I love it despite this story's many faults? Yes I do.
The notion of six of Spidereman's deadliest foes all banding together to do him in has always appealed to me and the fact that here, Spidey gets to even things up a bit with his own tag-team only makes things better! It's not perfect, it IS just a bit of an excuse for a massively violent slug-fest of epic proportions and nothing more but you know what? I'm actually alright with that!
Revenge Of The Sinister Six is a six issue collected comic arc by Erik Larsen that began in "Spider-Man" #15. Once again some of Spider-Man's deadliest foes are united under the diabolical leadership of Dr Otto Octavius (or Doctor Octopus to give him his proper sobriquet) and plotting outrageous and nefarious criminal capers. This is a sequel of sorts to Return of the Sinister Six but doesn't work as well despite having the same artist and most of the same characters. Larsen is my favourite Spider-Man artist and his art is big, bold, colourful and positively screams COMIC BOOK but this one is maybe just a bit too heavy on the action and mayhem and a bit too light on logic and storyline. What it does do though is understand the character in a way those live action films never completely managed to. The sad looking face and lackadaisical tones of Tobey Mcguire never truly captured the spirit of the Spidey/Peter Parker character for me. There is a panel in this comic where Spider-Man is the last spandex clad adventurer left standing after an almighty brawl between the Sinister Six and a slurry of costumed heroes. Not only that but Octopus has recruited a new member - a Godzilla/Dragon (or something) inspired monster named Gog who just happens to be from another dimension. "Ok, shall we call it a draw?" quips our outgunned hero. That's Spider-Man. The difference between him and most of the stoic square jawed Marvel Universe is that he's funny. A wisecracking New Yorker who just happens to have super powers and feels obliged to use them despite all the aggravation it inevitably causes. Spider-Man doesn't live with other superheroes in a compound. Out of his costume he's an ordinary Joe trying to make ends meet and find some time to see his flame haired wife Mary Jane.
What is the plot of Revenge Of The Sinister Six? Ahem. The Sinister Six, still smarting from their previous dealings with Octopus, swear revenge on the Elton John lookalike - this feeling of discontent especially evident with Sandman who believes Octopus killed the nice family he was boarding with. Sandman has a green Dennis the Menace jumper and can turn into sand as his name suggests! Along with Electro (fires electrical charges, master of magnetic fields), Mysterio (expert in special effects and illusions and looks like he has a goldfish bowl on his head!), Hobgoblin (grotesque version of the Green Goblin), and Vulture (has wings and looks like a deranged Larry David) he goes to confront Octopus in an abandoned warehouse. The reformed Sandman has asked Spider-Man to go as back up because he doesn't trust his former partners in crime (it took him this long!) and it proves to be a wise precaution. Dr Octopus has some spiffy new adamantium arms/tentacles that make him practically impossible to fight and exceptionally powerful. We see him half-inching the arms off an unfortunate inventor early on. Anyway, he fends off the Sinister Six with ease, batters Spider-Man to a pulp, and turns Sandman into glass with the same device he used in the previous Sinister Six arc. When the police arrive in huge numbers, the villains have no option but to escape with Octopus in his ship where he is soon drawing up contracts and preparing their next big scheme. "You've seen how pitiful your powers are against a mightier opponent. We'll be fighting a war. We'll need more. Weapons more powerful than you can imagine. Our next step is to raid an arsenal of such weapons... in another DIMENSION!"
"Spider-Man" was a new comic at the time and created for Todd McFarlane. McFarlane made a disappointing start with the Torment arc and left soon after with Larsen taking the reins. Both were great artists but their writing (at least back then) left something to be desired. Revenge Of The Sinister Six deluges the reader in action and while this is super power dispensing bone jarring sound bubble ("Zzap!" "Hwwack!" "Boom!") fun it feels less substantial than the other Larsen Sinister Six story (which wasn't exactly Crime and Punishment itself). It's like a sequel to a film that just throws more action at the screen without worrying about the script. No sooner has Dr Octopus had his showdown in the warehouse with his co-horts than the Hulk smashes through a door and another free for all brawl occurs with the Hulk coming off worse the wear after his encounter with Dr Ock's pesky adamtium tentacles. The Hulk can talk here by the way, a new innovation in the world of the green skinned character at the time. "I think I like you better as the thick-witted clod who ran around the mid-west yelling Hulk will smash in a pair of torn trousers," says the droll Octopus. Ooh, sarky. Incidentally, Octopus is slightly more alarming than usual here because there are a few panels where he looks uncannily like Jonathan King.
The domestic subplot for Peter Parker (it wouldn't be Spider-Man if he didn't have some sort of domestic trouble) is that Mary Jane has been given a part in the new "Arnold Schwarzenheimer" film but it will involve some nude scenes. Peter is mortified that the general public might get a revealing gawp at Mrs Parker. Larsen draws MJ very comic book with the biggest hair ever. Her hair fills entire panels in sweeping majestic ginger glory. There is a vast amount of mayhem and action here - perhaps too much at times - and many guest stars. Too much is crammed into a relatively short comic (the second issue is only 12 pages because Larsen lost some material in a fire) and the numerous guest aren't given room to be an organic part of the story. Ghost Rider teams up with Spider-Man at the beginning and end although what he is doing at the start is vague in the extreme. There's a time travel cyborg named Deathlok (or something) and The Fantastic Four also enter the fray for the battle royale although once again their appearance is brief and feels shoehorned in. Another cameo here is provided by Solo, an intense gun toting loner in the vein of The Punisher. I have no idea who Solo is to be honest so I presume he's a little known character who hasn't had his own comic or anything.
One thing that is noticeable about the comic is the violence stakes. They seem harsh for a mainstream Marvel comic. Rarely have I seen Spider-Man beaten to a pulp so often, his costume ripped to shreds countless times. It's quite nice to have a more vulnerable element to Spider-Man and the notion that he's in over his head but he's handled the Sinister Six before with his own ingenuity so it seems strange that he's suddenly no match for them. I do like the way though that they always groan in exasperation when he turns up. They can never seem to shake off Spider-Man, almost to the point of arachnophobia. The story is a weakness though and all the action in the world can never completely mask this. Octopus attains weapons from another dimension so they can rule the world. That's about it. Not exactly Auric Goldfinger or Blofeld when it comes to clever global domination schemes. Revenge Of The Sinister Six is fun with nice art but ultimately nothing special.