Spider-Man: How Erik Larsen Gave the Sinister Six Their Revenge

Spider-Man Sinister Six Erik Larsen feature

The Sinister Six is a concept and team that many Spider-Man fans may take for granted these days. The villainous ensemble has appeared to plague the friendly neighborhood web-slinger semi-regularly over the past several years, including appearances in virtually every animated series and the recent Spider-Man video game for the PlayStation 4.

However, the Sinister Six occupied a very different place in Spider-Man's world in the early '90s. The concept had been dormant for decades before being revived by the acclaimed Amazing Spider-Man creative team of David Michelinie and Erik Larsen marked their return before the team returned again in Larsen's Spider-Man. Now, we're taking a look back at this iconic team of Spider-Man foes, their revival and how the fearsome group tried to get their ultimate revenge against Spidey.

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Who are the Sinister Six?

The Sinister Six were first created in 1964's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. After Doctor Octopus escaped custody, he puts out a call to his fellow supervillains with grudges against the wall-crawler. Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter and Vulture would respond to Doc Ock's call to arms, but none of the assembled villains wanted to share the honor of Spider-Man, instead opting to fight him individually.

Kidnapping Aunt May and Betty Brant to lure Spider-Man into their gauntlet, Spider-Man would fight and defeat each of his old foes one-by-one, taunting his enemies in their foolish decision not to confront him simultaneously. While the villains would periodically team up against Spider-Man in the future, the decision to form a full team known as the Sinister Six was tabled for decades.

The Return of the Sinister Six

Spider-Man Return of the Sinister Six

Kicking off in 1990's Amazing Spider-Man #334 by Michelinie and Larsen, the acclaimed story "The Return of the Sinister Six" had Doctor Octopus reform the eponymous ensemble, replacing Kraven with Hobgoblin due to the Hunter's recent death in the seminal Kraven's Last Hunt. Brought together to presumably take over the planet, Ock was revealed to have been secretly planning to rule the world himself, manipulating his associates into releasing a toxin in the atmosphere that would cause severe pain to heroin users while selling a cure to the rich.

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Sandman, who was in the middle of a heroic redemption that even saw him briefly join the Avengers, alerted Spider-Man to Doctor Octopus' plan after being blackmailed into reuniting with his old villainous teammates. The two former enemies teamed up to take out the remaining members of the Sinister Six, culminating in Spider-Man releasing the cure into the atmosphere to thwart Ock's plot and stop the toxins from destroying the ozone layer.

The Revenge of the Sinister Six

Spider-Man Revenge of the Sinister Six

Larsen returned to handle the writing and art duties on that story's sequel "The Revenge of the Sinister Six" beginning in 1991's Spider-Man #18. In an ironic twist, the original impetus to reassemble the team was to get revenge on Doctor Octopus and Sandman for their previous betrayal instead of Spider-Man. Bombing Sandman's home and framing Ock for the crime, Sandman reluctantly reunites with his former teammates while secretly tipping off Spider-Man about the group's return.

In the ensuing confrontation against Ock, the multi-armed villain reveals he has since gained adamantium arms which he uses to defeat his estranged allies and nearly beat Spider-Man to death. Incapacitating Sandman for his betrayal, Ock coerces the rest of the team to submit to his orders and launches a crime spree across the globe, recruiting the alien enemy Gog as the latest sixth member to replace Flint Marko. To combat them, Spider-Man creates his own team of six, joined by the Hulk, Ghost Rider, Deathlok, Solo and Nova, with additional support from the Fantastic Four, to stop the Sinister Six before they could acquire deadly weapons by raiding a Hydra base.

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