Comic Book Starter Guide: Spider-Man’s Sinister Six

Sinister Six Starter Guide

The Spider-Man video game was just released by Insomniac Games and Sony for the PS4. Marvel’s Spider-Man has no doubt done an excellent job bringing the world of Spider-Man to life in video game form. That includes the villains that make up the iconic Sinister Six team. To commemorate the occasion it is a good time to highlight the best place to start reading about Spider-Man’s villain team, the Sinister Six, that play a part in the game.  

SINISTER SIX

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (ComixOlogy)

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 Starter Guide

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There have been many different incarnations of the Sinister Six over the years. To understand why Spider-Man’s villains first decided to join together reading their first time working as the Sinister Six is a must. That event takes place in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. The issue lays out everything you need to know about what the mission statement of the group normally is whenever they have shown up together since their first battle with Spider-Man.

Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #1-#12 (Amazon)

Marvel Knights Spider-Man Starter Guide

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Spider-Man has always had a difficult time fighting the Sinister Six but possibly his toughest battle with the group was during Mark Millar’s Marvel Knights Spider-Man run. Using the Marvel Knights banner, a more violent line Marvel used at the time. Over the course of the twelve issues Millar had the members of the Sinister Six push Spider-Man to a physical and mental breaking point. Everything from a highly violent fight with Electro and Vulture to Scorpion becoming a deadlier Venom pushed Spider-Man. It all culminated with Green Goblin forming the Sinister Twelve, a group that took not only Spider-Man but the Avengers, Fantastic Four and Daredevil to unite to defeat.

Spider-Man: End Of Earth (ComixOlogy)

Spider-Man End of Earth Starter Guide

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To get a better idea of where the Sinister Six currently stand End of Earth is the best story to find that out. The story is largely a Doctor Octopus story, as the Spider-Man villain executes a plan that is actually successful in pushing the world into a corner. And it is in this story that we see the entire Sinister Six elevated as Dan Slott presents them as a true threat to the Marvel Universe. They actually end up going up against Spider-Man and the Avengers and actually putting up a strong fight. That strong showing against the Avengers, at the height of the team’s rising popularity, elevated the group. Though they were defeated at the end, End of Earth accomplished its goal of showing the Sinister Six as a powerful group when united under a clear goal.

Now, there have been various incarnations of the Sinister Six made up of different Spider-Man villains. But to have a good understanding of the best Spider-Man villains that make up the Sinister Six these are the best places to start:

DOCTOR OCTOPUS

Amazing Spider-Man: If This Be My Destiny…! (ASM #31, ASM #32 and ASM #33)

Amazing Spider-Man 33 Starter Guide

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When it comes to Spider-Man stories the “If This Be My Destiny” story arc that takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #31-#33 is a must read. There are a lot of notable moments that take place in this arc, most notably Peter Parker’s transition to college and meeting Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy for the first time. But even more importantly this was the story arc that elevated Doctor Octopus to the #1 spot in Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery until Green Goblin took that spot by killing Gwen Stacy several years later. What helped elevate Doc Ock to the #1 spot was how he was able to break Peter Parker unintentionally as his plan as the Master Planner almost killed Aunt May. With Aunt May at death’s bed we saw a Spider-Man fight desperately to defeat Doc Ock and save his mother-figure. That all lead us to witness the most iconic Spider-Man moment, with him trapped under debris and forced to tap into all his strength to lift it, that was perfectly crafted by Steve Ditko’s incredible artistic talent that told the entire story through the art alone.

Amazing Spider-Man #600 (ComixOlogy)

Amazing Spider-Man 600 Starter Guide

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To get a better idea of what elevated Doctor Octopus in the modern era it all started with Amazing Spider-Man #600. After a decade of being defeated by the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America and others all the beatings Doc Ock took finally took a massive toll on his body. The damage to his body was so great Doc Ock was revealed to only have a few months to live. With his window for world domination closing Doc Ock fast track his detailed plans to take over the world. The entire issue sets in motion why Doc Ock in the years that followed executed plans, as seen in “End of Earth,” that would take Spider-Man, Avengers, Fantastic Four and others to team-up in order to overcome.

Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy (ComixOlogy)

Superior Spider-Man Starter Guide

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Doctor Octopus accomplished what no other Spider-Man villain did: kill Peter Parker. Not only did he kill Peter Parker but Otto Octavius did so by taking over his body to become both Peter and Spider-Man. During this era Otto set out to show how he could be the Superior Spider-Man to Peter. The way Slott got to this was not the smoothest but once he got the Superior Spider-Man series going he made a good case for why Otto is both a good and bad Spider-Man. This first story is a good barometer of that and will give you a better idea of why Otto is getting his own series in October, The Superior Octopus.

KRAVEN

Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (ComixOlogy)

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One of the most iconic Spider-Man stories is also the one that was not necessarily starring Peter Parker. In Kraven’s Last Hunt we saw the villain do what he kept failing at doing, killing Spider-Man. At least that is what we are led to believe in the beginning. Instead what we actually see play our is Kraven taking Spider-Man’s superhero identity and proving to his nemesis that he can be better at being Spider-Man then Peter Parker. When Peter finally escapes from being buried alive Kraven does not fight back. Instead the villain is satisfied with how he proved his point in being better than his nemesis. And in the end Kraven, satisfied with his honor returned, commits suicide believing he gave Spider-Man the ultimate defeat.

LIZARD

Amazing Spider-Man: Shed (ComixOlogy)

Amazing Spider-Man Shed Starter Guide

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One of the most underrated stories is “Shed.” This is easily the greatest story starring the Lizard. Its a story that defines the what makes the Lizard one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous villains and what happens when the monster inside someone wins. In this story we see Dr. Connors, after years of fighting it, giving into his Lizard persona. The story takes an even more tragic turn as the Lizard ends up killing and eating Billy Connors as Dr. Connors can not contain the monster inside him. The entire story from beginning to end is chilling, with an an ending that hits hard. With Dr. Connors becoming a main supporting character in Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run this is one of the stories that will shed light, pun intended, into the constant fight Dr. Connors is in with his Lizard persona.

RHINO

Rage of the Rhino/Endangered Species (ASM #617 and ASM #625)

Spider-Man Rage Of The Rhino Starter Guide

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Over the course of Spider-Man’s existence there has been a lot of standout comic books. Possibly the two best single issue comics are Rhino stories that took place in Amazing Spider-Man #617 and Amazing Spider-Man #625. These two comics took place during a larger “Gauntlet” story that was going on during the time. With Spider-Man taking on his villains that became even more dangerous than ever he ended up finding some hope in the form of the original Rhino, Aleksei Sytsevich, in Amazing Spider-Man #617. In that issue we learn how Aleksei turned his entire life around as he got a second chance thanks to finding his true love, Oksana Sytsevich. Its an unexpectedly heart warming issue that shows, when given a proper second chance, anyone can turn their life around in a positive direction.

Unfortunately things go from heart warming to heart breaking for Aleksei as in Amazing Spider-Man #625 Oksana is killed by the person that took over as Rhino. In that story we see the new Rhino hunting down Aleksei to prove who is the one, true Rhino in the Marvel Universe. Sadly there were a lot of victims in the new Rhino’s path of destruction, which included Oksana. Seeing his true love killed Aleksei was forced to become the Rhino again and kill the one responsible for killing Oksana, in the process putting himself back on the path to being a villain.

ELECTRO

New Avengers: Breakout (ComixOlogy)

New Avengers Breakout Starter Guide

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Easily Electro’s best showing is his action in being the one that caused the villain breakout at raft in the opening story to Brian Bendis first New Avengers run. While Bendis’ run on Avengers is very divisive there is no doubt that Electro being the one responsible for the big breakout of raft elevated his status. His show of force made him look like he could be one of Marvel’s deadlier villains when properly motivated. Unfortunately for Electro he isn’t able to maintain that motivation once he accomplishes his hired job as he is taken down by the New Avengers at the end of the Breakout arc.

Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 4) #17 (ComixOlogy)

Amazing Spider-Man 17 Starter Guide

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Though Max Dillon is well known as Electro he is no longer the person wearing the costume. In a sad turn of events for Max, during the “Dead No More” storyline Max was accidently killed by his reborn girlfriend, Francine Frye. In Max’s place Francine took up the mantle in Amazing Spider-Man #17 and she continues on as the person under the mask as Spencer’s run begins. Though Francine still has yet to find her footing as the new Electro given that she is featured in the cover of Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man #1 you’ll want to seek this origin issue out to understand why she is Electro and not Max.

SHOCKER

Amazing Spider-Man #578-#579 (ASM #578 and ASM #579)

Amazing Spider-Man 579 Starter Guide

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Of all of Spider-Man’s well-known villains Shocker has always been a mid-level boss to much bigger stories. Though Shocker was finally able to get some spotlight as he got the closest he ever got to killing Spider-Man as he trapped the hero and many civilians underground. Now I’ll admit that this two part story is carried by Marcos Martin’s incredible Spider-Man artwork. Martin’s artwork will remind you of classic Spider-Man comics as we see him recreate some of the more iconic Spider-Man scenes in this two part Shocker story. The story itself is an enjoyable one as we get to see Spider-Man showing strength he didn’t know he have. The fact that Shocker pushes Spider-Man to do this is noteworthy in itself.