In the first Marvel Legacy era issue of Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis and Oscar Bazaldua depict Miles Morales taking on a brand-new Sinister Six, with the membership consisting of Sandman, the new Electro, Spot, Hobgoblin, Bombshell and the mysterious new Iron Spider.
Bendis has described the team as being like “a real old-school, Oceans’ Eleven crew of criminals. All of them have a very specific skill set, and there is a whale of a score that needs all six of them. It’s a doozy. I can’t wait for you guys find out what the Sinister Six wants. But the story will be very personal when people find out who the Iron Spider is.”
So with the new Sinister Six finally making their debut, we thought it was the perfect time to look back at the long and complicated history of the villainous team within the Spider-Man comic book universe.
In many ways, the very first Amazing Spider-Man Annual in 1964 is one of the most tremendous testaments in existence to the stunning early work of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee on their creation, the Amazing Spider-Man. We say this for two major reasons. One, Steve Ditko somehow remarkably drew this 41-page story (plus 30 pages of pin-up posters of Spider-Man’s major villains and a couple of short stories explaining how Spider-Man’s powers and webs work) while maintaining his regular schedule on the Amazing Spider-Man comic book series and two, because in just a little over a year, Ditko and Lee had introduced enough classic villains to put them together onto a six-member supervillain team!
That’s just a remarkable achievement by any standard. The annual itself, though, is just a bit of goofy fun. After escaping from prison, Doctor Octopus decided to put together as many former Spider-Man villains as he could to form a new team. Since they ended up with six, they became the Sinister Six. The original lineup was Doctor Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Vulture and Mysterio. The issue was that each man wanted to defeat Spider-Man on their own to prove to themselves that they could do it. So Octopus worked out a system where they each would attack Spider-Man in randomly determined order and each man would wear Spider-Man down a bit for the later members. He held Aunt May and Betty Brant hostage and forced Spider-Man to go through the guantlet to rescue them.
The issue was noteworthy for the fact that Ditko did a full-page splash for each fight. Here are the first two, from the Electro and Kraven fights…
The issue also featured cameo guest-appearances by almost all of Marvel’s major heroes of the era.
In the end, after he had defeated them all, Spider-Man even mocked the villains for not attacking him all at once…
In a fun bit of “remember, these stories were over 50 years ago,” Aunt May is mostly irritated that she missed the newest episode of the Beverly Hillbillies while being held hostage by Doctor Octopus. At the end of the issue, Octopus has a new plan but the other villains no longer believe in him, thus severing their relationship and disbanding the Sinister Six. Remarkably, the team would then be defunct for over 25 years!
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