The Spectacular Sinister Six

Secret Sinister SixThere are a lot of bad guys in this particular Spider-Man novel. There’s Electro, Mysterio, the Chameleon, the Vulture, Dr. Octopus, and a girl named Pity (the Sandman, apparently, was kicked off the Sinister Six roster years ago). There are also a couple of nutty brothers named Gustav and Karl Fiers who profit in chaos and mayhem. And, for a brief moment, the Red Skull even pops up for a bit of evil cackling.

Thankfully (for Spider-Man and his crew), many of these supervillains aren’t very bright. In fact, according to Gustav Fiers, they are downright laughable. “The Sinister Six consider themselves to be master criminals,” he says. “But in reality they are just common thugs with the aesthetic sophistication and attention spans of common chimpanzees.”

Take the Vulture, for example. He’s a scrawny old man who acquired his powers late in life. His career as a supervillain is simply a way to keep himself busy in his golden years. Mysterio is a Hollywood has been and an effete degenerate fop, and Doc Ock is “just another seething, resentful fat boy who never grew up.”

Ironically, the dullest bulb of the bunch is Electro. He’s a human dynamo who can harness and project the power of electricity. But his desire to get married, have children, and rule the world is continually undone by a fatal character defect. “He keeps screwing up,” says Spider-Man, “because he’s afraid of having to deal with whatever comes next.” When push comes to shove, E-man just doesn’t want to win.

Despite their collective flaws, Spider-Man still respects the Sinister Six. They are, he says, “six of the deadliest human beings ever to walk the face of the planet.” And he should know. He’s been tangling with these pests for a long time. The Chameleon appeared in the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, the Vulture showed up in issue No. 2, and Dr. Octopus came along in issue No. 3. All of them are charter members of the Web-Slinger’s infamous rogues’ gallery.

Secret of the Sinister Six isn’t a bad book by any means. The writing is lively and the endgame lasts for an amazing 235 pages. But honestly, we were a little sad to see how tarnished the members of the Sinister Six have become. The author treats them like a gang of bumbling blockheads who couldn’t get away with jaywalking. If we compiled a list of our favorite supervillains of all time, two of these jokers would easily be at the top of the list. Even after all these years we have an undying fondness for the greatest supervillain team ever assembled.

[Spider-Man: Secret of the Sinister Six / By Adam-Troy Castro / First Printing: March 2002 / ISBN: 9780743444644]

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