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Return Of The Sinister Six is a classic Spiderman mini-series that saw our favourite costumed web-slinger once again facing off against a team of his greatest foes under the tutledge of arch-villain Dr.Octopus.
The original Sinister Six series had each of his foes uniting reluctantly to take Spidey on one at a time in different locations, gradually weakening him and hopefully dispatching of him for good after Dr.Octopus grew tired of always being defeated by his biggest enemy. In this follow-up, Dr.Ock plans to use a University satellite to dispel a deadly toxin and uses six fellow adversaries of Spiderman to distract him and keep him occupied elsewhere. These six include Electro, Shocker, Vulture, Mysterio and The Hobgoblin with infamous villain, The Sandman changing sides and actually deciding eventually to aid Spiderman in a bid to redeem himself!
This is a great little storyline with lots of awesome battles and a gripping plot that unfortunately is over a bit too quickly for my liking. Still the artwork is top notch as always and the writing just as good as you might expect from veteran Spidey writer, David Michelinie.
Why super-villains don't do this more often , team up to battle their greatest foes, is beyond me as it would appear to be a brilliant strategy. Still I suppose it wouldn't do to have comic books reflect real-life too much so it only makes sense that the bad guys are always destined to lose!
Overall, this is a nice, short-but-sweet Spidey tale that would be repeated once more a lot later in the Spidey universe. It doesn't add much to the Spiderman canon but is a whole lot of fun!
Spider-Man: The Return of the Sinister Six is a paperback graphic novel collecting together a famous six issue story arc of The Amazing Spider-Man comic from the early 1990s. Big trouble looms here for our webslinging hero because Doctor Octopus is back and hatching a very dastardly scheme indeed. 'The crowning caper of my criminal career!' declares the Doctor. Doctor Octopus (real name: Otto Octavius) is a fiendish supervillain with four metallic tentacles that move and expand at his command. They make him a pesky person to get on the wrong side of because the arms are made of Adamantium - a virtually indestructible steel alloy in the Marvel Universe. He does though, for reasons best known to himself, always sport a white suit and pudding bowl haircut! Anyway, Octopus is a nasty piece of work and a twisted genius to boot. Meanwhile, over at Empire State University in New York, Peter Parker (who lest we forget is a photographer, science student and the arachnid superhero Spider-Man) is involved in experiments to study magnetic ley lines to see if they can be harnessed as a new energy source. ESU is going to launch a satellite for this purpose and Octopus plans to get control of the satellite and place a deadly toxin onboard which can be released on his command and therefore give him the power to blackmail the governments of Earth. To carry out his plans, Octopus recruits five supervillains - all of whom are rather reluctant at first but find Octopus an impossible man to say no to for a variety of reasons. All are famous Spider-Man villains and they make a good team of baddies.
Octopus aside, the Sinister Six are; Electro (fires electrical charges and flies through the air on magnetic fields), Mysterio (a master of special effects and illusions and looks like he has a goldfish bowl on his head!), Hobgoblin (like a more grotesque version of the Green Goblin), Vulture (has wings and looks like a deranged Larry David!) and Sandman (a reluctant baddie who has a green Dennis the Menace jumper and can turn into sand). 'What have I stumbled into?' ponders Spider-Man when Octopus rescues Electro from him and he helplessly watches them depart. 'Something big must be in the works and I've got a feeling I'm going to wind up smack in the middle of it!' This is a fun Spider-Man story and benefits a great deal from the art by Erik Larsen. I love the Larsen era Amazing-Spider Man and still sometimes pick up these comics if I stumble across them. Larsen is great at bringing action panels to life and giving them a sense of momentum and there is all manner of mayhem in these six issues with Spider-Man constantly battling the Sinister Six plus a cavalcade of other guest stars who flit through the arc. I especially like the battle he has with some character called The Shocker in issue two in a music arena of some sort. The Shocker is firing energy blasts at Spider-Man but Spider-Man maneuvers him to a spot where the The Shocker is standing on some cooking oil that has leaked from a fast food stand. The Shocker has no traction and a bit of a tumble when he unwittingly tries to blast Spider-Man on this shaky ground - the force sending him backwards into the wall. 'I love science!' says our hero.
Larsen is great at drawing Spider-Man contorted at impossible angles as he swings through the air dodging bullets and laser blasts and his illustrations of the Sinister Six are great too. His only Achilles heel, for some reason, is that he can't draw other superheroes! Captain America and The Mighty Thor both have brief cameos in this story and neither look right. I quite like Larsen's style when it comes to drawing Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Both have huge brown eyes and are brought to life in a somewhat cartoony Japanese comic book style. Mary Jane's red hair is enormous! David Michelinie is a decent enough writer here too. Nothing great but he fashions a solid story and he's very good at giving Spider-Man his little quips as he battles villains. This was one Spider-Man quality that they never quite captured in those Sam Raimi films. Peter Parker is meant to have a great sense of humour. There are a few subplots here involving Mary Jane and Aunt May. Aunt May's finance Nathan is dying of a bad heart but Peter finds out he's cashed in his life insurance policy and is making secret trips to the bank. What is the old rascal up to? Elsewhere, Mary Jane, an actress on soap opera Secret Hospital, is worried because Jonathan Caesar is out on bail. The wealthy Caesar is obsessed with Mary Jane and kidnapped her once. He's bonkers!
These subplots don't intrude on the flow of the story too much and are actually used to provide a bit more incident in one or two cases. Peter trails Nathan and intervenes as Spidey when some thugs try to mug the pensioner in a park. There is a great bit where Nathan and Aunt May are at the christening of the 'Trask Duchess' on the Hudson River. Trask is billionaire based on Donald Trump and the Duchess is his new private yacht. What he doesn't know is that the Kingpin (New York crime boss) has hired the Vulture to kill him at the event and Spider-Man of course soon becomes embroiled in it all - especially when Nathan and Aunt May become in danger. Love the cameo by Doctor Strange here. He's hovering in astral form above the launch and not too impressed. 'Look at them massing to view a man whose salient skill is material gain. They honour not the man but his possessions. How typical!' I love the way Octopus manipulates his villainess comrades here. He's not to be trusted of course. He blackmails most of them into taking part. Sandman has gone straight and wants no part of it but Octopus threatens to blow up the kind family he boards with if he doesn't co-operate. Charming! There are some nice splash pages later on including one of Spider-Man completely enveloped in the metal tentacles of Octopus. Some of the big fight scenes involving all of them together having a pop at Spider-Man are great fun.
Humour is a big part of Spider-Man and there are some nice amusing moments in Return of the Sinister Six. One of my favourites in the story occurs when Iron Man shows up at Empire State University with a huge piece of machinery Tony Stark is loaning them. The white coated boffins are startstruck by the visit of Iron Man ('What form! What function!') and Peter is rather jealous. He immediately changes into his Spider-Man costume and shows up offering to move the heavy equipment for them but they hardly notice him. 'How humiliating. I've shown up here so often they are starting to treat me like a mascot!' Spider-Man: The Return of the Sinister Six is a fun read on the whole with some lovely art. Nothing (no pun intended) amazing but a nice purchase for Spider-Man fans. The only real drawback to this is that as it only compiles six issues of the comic it isn't terribly long. At the time of writing this is available new for under a tenner.