The nightmares of Kindred take a back seat in Amazing Spider-Man #26 as Peter Parker tries to teach his sloppy roommate Fred (aka reformed villain Boomerang) how to be a better friend and a decent human being. That’s going to be tough when Fred becomes the target of the Syndicate, an all-female crime organization looking to level the playing field in the criminal underworld.
The Syndicate is as awesome as it is absurd. Writer Nick Spencer crafts this like a legitimate job with forms to fill out for HR, a retirement plan, and a break room. This is a far cry from a shady warehouse lair. It’s like a Silicon Valley approach to organized crime.
It’s also telling that this kind of sophistication and organization comes about with an all-female group. If there were men involved, it would become more of a fight over attitude and macho supremacy. Although we’re dealing with some C-level villains like the Beetle, Scorpia, and White Rabbit, they really have their act together, so it makes you wonder what they’ll be able to accomplish. Also, don’t think I didn’t notice that there are six characters on this team. That’s a pretty important number in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.
Artist Kev Walker brings this quirky concept to life, mirroring the structure of the Syndicate’s setup in his organized panel layout. It’s funny to see these costumed villains in an office like a start-up company. Seeing the likes of Lady Octopus and White Rabbit arguing about the food in the break room is just the right amount of crazy and hilarious. Letterer Joe Caramagna amplifies this humor with some smaller font here and there to show words said under a character’s breath. It’s like a workplace comedy with criminals.
Colorist Laura Martin adds to this, contrasting the bright colors of the Syndicate’s costumes with the metallic greys of their workspace. This emphasizes the clean and organized style of this group. Just in case you had any doubt about the villainous quality of these characters, there’s an awesome shot towards the end of Amazing Spider-Man #26 that shows them emerging from the shadows that works so very well.
Walker’s style leads to some very expressive characters, particularly with Electro. She’s very much like an exposed nerve, ready to lash out in anger at a moment’s notice. This fits her personality and power set very well. When she really lets loose, she explodes with energy and gritted teeth. This works well for the Syndicate, but falls a little short with Peter and Aunt May. They look a bit off, particularly Peter, who looks about 10 years too young.
One thing you can say about Peter Parker’s life is that it’s never dull. Just when he gets a moment to breathe and starts to learn to like his roommate, a new threat emerges. It will be interesting to see how this budding friendship develops and if Fred learns about Peter’s life as Spider-Man. For now, I’m eager to learn more about the Syndicate as they make their mark on the criminal scene.