SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN once again takes a break from the main story to offer a standalone issue. This time, two writers and are given the opportunity to show how Superior Spider-Man's actions have impacted New York's lesser-known villains. While there's definitely a lot of characters to choose from, this issue is broken into two stories: one revolving around Grizzly, and the other focusing on the Looter. Having Steve Lieber illustrate the therapy room scenes between these narratives is a nice touch for fans of the series as well.
Grizzly's story, written by Tom Peyer, illustrated by Carmen Carnero, and colored by Chris Sotomayor, aims to present just how much fear SpOck has created in the Big Apple. Everyone was cool with getting webbed up and mocked by Spider-Man. Getting viciously beaten by him, though? Not so much. It's a short yet pretty amusing study of who Grizzly was (it's a decent contrast to his appearances in THUNDERBOLTS, but I can live with that) and how this new threat has forced him to adapt his ways. There's nothing here that made me burst into laughter, but there's some well-written remarks and ultimately, you just may walk away viewing the character in a different light. The segment primarily takes place in an alleyway, but that doesn't stop the bit from looking good. The coloring of the fire and how it illuminates everything is topnotch and the splash page will definitely make you feel for the dude. The detailed work with his eyes really gets your empathy going, too. There's a great close-up as the character makes a depressing confession and you can really see the sadness in his face.
Looter's tale, written by Elliott Kalan, illustrated by Nuno Plati, and colored by John Rauch, is a more extensive study of Looter's drive to become a better criminal, only to have it shattered -- literally and figuratively -- by this new version of Spider-Man. While it mostly focuses on Looter climbing the criminal ladder and doing what he needs to do to improve, Kalan manages to include a decent laugh here and there ("sigh"). Given the fact we know the outcome, the journey winds up feeling a little drawn-out. That said, this is definitely made up for with a surprisingly serious final message. Is the problem really a more violent version of Spider-Man? As for the artwork, environments are mostly non-existent in this plot, but that's mostly countered by some strong character work and a few interesting page layouts. They opt to go particularly heaving on the shading when a bleak moment strikes and it really delivers on the tonal shift.
The biggest problem here is this issue feels dedicated to hammering home the point that Spider-Man has changed. He's become more stern, more violent, and more fearsome. The timing of this focus feels odd since Superior Spider-Man has been around for so long now and is even coming to a close soon. The little point in the end is nice, but again, prior to that, the whole focus revolves around simply reminding us Spider-Man isn't how he once was... and that's something that's been made abundantly clear for quite some time now.
The last issue was "filler" by a different creative team, but it was still hysterical, duplicated the series' style fairly well and even mocked the fact it was essentially a substitute chapter. This one, however, doesn't boast nearly as many strong laughs or creative gags. It feels like more of an attempt at a legitimate character study. This is fine and all, but when SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN is slapped on the cover, you expect the character depth to be properly balanced with a steady dose of hilarity, too. Additionally, the study is of two characters you're likely to forget and have nothing to do with the main roster -- and I say that as someone who enjoys Grizzly's classic encounters with Spider-Man. What?! Pete letting him win to feed his ego was priceless!
Grizzly had an updated costume in THUNDERBOLTS yet in this he's back to the classic look. But honestly, I doubt that's something that'll bug too many people, anyway
SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN #11 offers a nice set of visuals and ends on a strong note, but aside from featuring non-A-list villains, it doesn't really feel like another chapter of the book. The overflowing creative humor and feeling of originality just doesn't have a strong enough presence in this one. It's an amusing character study of a villain's mentality, but when all is said and done, you probably won't be able to shake the feeling this is ultimately a filler issue that just doesn't pack the same kind of brilliant punch as Nick Spencer and Lieber's issues.