5 essential Nick Spencer comics


  • Living
  • Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016

How about you put a sock on your, er, wok, Shocker?

Here is a selection of writer Nick Spencer’s recommended output:

Morning Glories

The one that made Spencer a star. It focuses on six new students at the Morning Glory Academy, a prestigious prep school that has a sinister secret. Imagine Enid Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl series, but with murder, torture and supernatural occurences; combined with a long mystery tale with more twists and turns than Lost, and all beautifully illustrated by Joe Eisma. It’s probably one of the best ongoing Image series right now, and well worth your time.

The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man

Sure, the title says “superior foes”, but the foes in this book are not exactly Spidey’s greatest threats. It revolves around Fred Myers, aka Boomerang (yes, Marvel has its own boomerang-throwing rogue as well), who forms his own version of the Sinister Six, but with B-listers Shocker, Speed Demon, Overdrive, and the new (female) Beetle.

Don't mess with the dog, especially one that is called Pretzel.
Don't mess with the dog, especially one that is called Pretzel.

Lasting 17 issues across 2013 and 2014, the title was one of the most entertaining series Marvel had in its lineup at the time, filled with witty and often laugh-out-loud funny dialogue (“DON’T MOCK THE SHOCKER!”), imaginative page layouts (check out Overdrive’s guide to the getaway), and a thoroughly original storyline.

This series earned Spencer and Steve Lieber an Eisner award nomination for Best Humor Publication in 2015.

The Fix is one of Spencer's latest creator-owned comics, together with Lieber.
The Fix is one of Spencer's latest creator-owned comics, together with Lieber.

The Fix

Spencer and Lieber team up once again for another hilarious look at crime, cops, and, er, sex toys. We’d explain the premise, but the official synopsis from the Image Comics website does a much better job: “A story of the crooked cops, scheming mobsters, and corrupt politicians that run things ... and the sex toy that can bring them all down. Oh, and the hero is a drug-sniffing beagle named Pretzels. ... If you liked classic crime comics like Criminal and 100 Bullets we apologize in advance for letting you down!”

Ant-Man/The Astonishing Ant-Man

OK, so this is actually two titles, but it could have been one if only Marvel hadn’t rebooted its entire universe and lineup with last year’s Secret Wars. In line with the movie Ant-Man that came out the same year, Spencer wrote an Ant-Man comic that was funny and entertaining, starring former criminal Scott Lang instead of the eternally angsty and screwed up Hank Pym.

In it, Lang moves to Florida to be with his daughter, and sets up his own security firm, hiring B-list villains such as Grizzly (essentially a man in a bear suit), and Machinesmith as his employees.

Equally fun is the currently ongoing Astonishing Ant-Man, which pits him against his old foe The Power Broker, who has created an app that allows people to hire a super-villain to do bad things at the click of a button.

Avengers Standoff was a Marvel crossover that has been largely overlooked.
Avengers Standoff was a Marvel crossover that has been largely overlooked.

Avengers Standoff!

Welcome to Pleasant Hill, where everyone is nice and friendly on the surface, but are actually some of the worst criminals the world has ever seen. They have had their realities altered by a fragment of the Cosmic Cube made sentient, that has taken the form of a four-year-old girl named Kobik!

S.H..I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill had used Kobik to create a prison where villains had their realities changed, which unsurprisingly backfired on her when Baron Zemo somehow managed to realise the truth.

A 2016 Marvel crossover event overshadowed by the ongoing Civil War II, Avengers Standoff! spanned other titles like New Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and All-New, All Different Avengers, among others.

Still, it was Spencer’s standalone Avengers Standoff issues that really formed the backbone of the story.

The fallout of the Pleasant Hill standoff had huge ramifications for the Marvel Universe, including Steve Rogers (who had been Old Man America up to that point) becoming young again (and turned into a Hydra agent), and Winter Soldier forming a new team of Thunderbolts with former Pleasant Hill captives.

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