Although nowhere near as light as Christmas week, the final week of 2013 wasn't known for heaps of comic books from most publishers. Once again, the book of the week is also the only pick of the week from December 30th, 2013!
Book of the week: Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7
Having constructed a "ten best of 2013" comic book list recently, this spin-off series to Dan Slott's "Superior Spider-Man" was always on the bubble for such a list; in the end it would have been number eleven. This series by Nick Spencer ("Morning Glories", "Secret Avengers") has often seemed like a super villains' version of "Hawkeye" in that it offers a look at some blue collar heist figures playing around in the wacky world of the Marvel Universe underworld. Most of the previous issues have focused on Fred Meyers/Boomerang, but this issue takes a different approach. In short, it is a standalone issue which offers the origin of the latest incarnation of the Beetle. She is Janice Lincoln, who as revealed last issue, happens to be the daughter of longtime superhuman gangster Lonnie Thompson Lincoln - a.k.a. Tombstone.
From the time she was a little girl, Janice seemed groomed towards crime. However, like most fathers, her dad wanted better for his daughter than what he had. So, while she begs him to help her become a costumed criminal, he insists she become a big shot lawyer for a major Manhattan firm. In Tombstone's words, "You'll steal more than I could ever dream of -- and the best part is, no one can eve arrest you for it!" Unfortunately, simple and legal white collar greed isn't enough for Janice, and she waits for her chance to fall into the costumed cartels of the Marvel Universe version of New York City. From stealing birthday presents as a kid to crippling college rivals as a young adult, she gets her chance when her law firm sends her to moderate a meeting between two members of the "Masters of Evil" - which soon leads to her chance at getting the gear she needs to make her mark.
Despite regular artist Steve Lieber being credited on the cover, fill in artist Rich Ellis actually handles the art for this issue. Considering this was the second issue to ship in December, it is a forgivable slight. Lee Loughridge provides the colors, and the pair do a great job of matching the tone of Lieber's artwork while still making their own mark. There is a lot of visual humor to these pages, from facial expressions to a look at Janice's daily life before meeting with the villains. While some viewers may take some offense at seeing Baron Zemo and Fixer depicted as a bickering couple, others will find it hilarious. Considering Janice is the newest character of the cast - newer even than Overdrive - such a summary of her life was essential.
This may be the sort of issue which grinds the story to a halt in terms of a long term arc which is collected in a graphic novel, but as a monthly issue provides a humorous breather and some much needed data on one of the most mysterious members of the cast. With sales being low, one can't bet on this series lasting much longer into 2014, but for the time being this cast of thieves and robbers often find themselves being easier to root for than "Superior Spider-Man" himself.