Sinister War is the Spider-Man mini-event we didn’t see coming that plays into the ongoing Kindred storyline. It’s also a story that plays into ’90s kid nostalgia, utilizing Mark Bagley over all four issues in a fight-comic that features every Spider-Man villain to date. It’s Spider-Man vs. his entire rogues gallery, which is a simple enough hook to make this worth a purchase, right?
This book collects Sinister War #1-4 and is written by Nick Spencer with Ed Brisson contributing to issues #2-4. It’s drawn by Mark Bagley, with Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, Ze Carlos, and Marcelo Ferreira all chipping in too. Add in seven inkers and two-color artists and it’s plain to see this book was likely rushed. Often when there are this many creators involved, the book had a quick turnaround. It’s safe to say this collection could have used a bit more development. For the most part, it’s not really worth picking up.
The first issue features an entire issue drawn by Mark Bagley to perfection. A few storylines converge at the start as Spider-Man discovers Mary Jane’s movie director is none other than Mysterio, while Kindred puts all of his villains up to the task of killing Spider-Man. Of course, Spider-Man’s only wish is to keep Mary Jane safe even when he’s getting punched left and right. Seeing all these villains on the page, many of which haven’t been depicted in the same scene ever is quite cool. That’s the main selling point of this book.
The second selling point is what is done with Doc Ock and Boomerang. Avoiding spoilers, but both characters are changed by the end of the book. Boomerang was previously Peter Parker’s roommate in Nick Spencer’s run, but since then they had a falling out. In this story it’s made clear he’s reluctant to hurt Spider-Man, but given Kindred will send them all to hell if they don’t kill Spidey he still goes along with it. There’s an arc there for the character as he goes against his own wishes, and the friendship he built with Spider-Man, to do Kindred’s bidding. Doc Ock ends up being an important figure in the narrative further developing him since coming back after being Superior Spider-Man for so long.
A third selling point is that this does lead directly to Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 15, although you don’t necessarily have to read this to understand that.
The problem with this book is it’s nonsensical fight comics and not much more. Spider-Man gets punched and punches back. Action can be hard to follow and it’s even harder to care since the stakes aren’t very clear. More often than not this book seems to exist to fill its pages with tons of villains fighting Spider-Man.
Problems abound with the story itself, be it Kindred somehow motivating Spider-Man’s entire rogues gallery on a threat, to an issue that uses flashbacks to hide a thin plot so as to keep your attention. Given the years of empty threats coming from Kindred, it’s incredibly annoying to see how much sway they have over the villains here. Not to mention it oversimplifies every villain here, many of which have rich backstories. The plot is paper-thin, with little to draw your interest or move the story forward beyond punching.
Spider-Man’s villains are all drawn very well throughout the book, and even though the action can be hard to follow it’s cool to see Mark Bagley go off on the art. Sadly though, the story doesn’t really matter to the larger Kindred narrative nor does it amount to anything when it comes to Spider-Man. Instead, two villains get developed ever so slightly in what could have been a decent one-shot instead of a four-issue mini-event.
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