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Spider-Man: Sinister Six TPB Review

Comic Books

Spider-Man: Sinister Six TPB Review

Get a taste of the Sinister Six with their first two appearances.

Even though there have been numerous Spider-Man movies, we’ve yet to see the Sinister Six in action. But can you blame Sony? It’s hard enough to pull off a movie with one villain, let alone six. That said, with Marvel now in control of Spider-Man, it’s bound to happen. While we wait, why not check out the first two appearances of the team in the new release of their trade paperback?

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

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With six, you get chaos! While still in high school, the Amazing Spider-Man faced one of his most chilling challenges when a sextet of his most nerve-racking nemeses formed a cabal of crime: the Sinister Six! Already tough enough individually, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Sandman, the Vulture, Electro and Kraven gave Spidey a run for his money that he never forgot! Now, years later, Doc Ock has reunited the team for his most remarkable racket yet, and time has made them deadlier than ever – even as it’s made Spider-Man’s life more complicated! With the Hobgoblin joining their villainous ranks, can Spidey teach the Six a lesson, or will they school him instead? Guest-starring the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and more!

Why does this matter?

This collects Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original annual issue debut of the team along with David Michelinie and Erik Larsen’s six-issue story arc. Both stories employ different creative teams with Doc Ock leading the charge and some clever human moments for Peter to overcome.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Spider-Man: Sinister Six TPB Review

Note the placement of Thor to help sell his book.
Credit: Marvel Comics

It’s quite fun to read the classic from 1964 and see how it was pushing the comics medium to new heights. Ditko utilized highly dynamic full-page splashes to feature Spider-Man taking out each of the foes while Lee integrated nods to every major series running at the time. The X-Men, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange all pop up to remind us Spider-Man lives amongst some of the greatest heroes. It’s details like this that prepared readers for a cohesive universe only hinted at for the time. Lee plays up Aunt May’s innocent nature very well as she trusts Doc Ock and even prefers him over Spider-Man even when she’s being kidnapped by the bugger.

It comes as a shock it took nearly 30 years to follow this one up with a sequel in 1990, but it is a suitable sequel indeed. Larsen’s art is sharp as ever and suits the detailed look of Spider-Man. There’s an interesting, longer panel design being used that stretches the art well, creating creative use of space. Iconic characters like Hobgoblin and Mysterio all look fabulous too. The stakes feel so much higher in this story due to Doc Ock going full supervillain as opposed to his more casual take in the Lee/Ditko original. Ramping up the tension with a psycho super-fan that wants to kill MJ and a surprise turn as one of the villains has a change of heart helps complicate the narrative well.

Spider-Man: Sinister Six TPB Review

Interesting layout designs in the 1990 sequel.
Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect, can it?

The plan in both stories is quite lame. In the original Doc Ock decides the best move is to attack one after the other after choosing straws. Real genius move there, Otto. Then in the 1990 story, Otto wants to poison the world and hold them ransom. It’s fun to read this one knowing Dan Slott mimics it later, but even the other villains think it’s a bit over the top. Both stories effectively set up anticipatory fight sequences, but end up being a bit slim on the character and believability fronts.

Is it good?

Between the name alone and the idea of a ragtag group of villains banding together for a common cause, who doesn’t like the Sinister Six? It’s fun to revisit these stories, especially with the most likely movie version popping up eventually.

Spider-Man: Sinister Six TPB Review
Spider-Man: Sinister Six
Is it good?
Between the name alone and the idea of a ragtag group of villains banding together for a common cause, who doesn't like the Sinister Six? It's fun to revisit these stories, especially with the most likely movie version popping up eventually.
Two classic Sinister Six tales
Steve Ditko's full page splashes were revolutionary
Erik Larsen blows you away with modern detailed art
Both stories feature some bumbling villainous plans that are eye rollingly bad

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