Review: Scarlet Spider #12
Sayonara, Minimum Carnage! And good riddance! You were a terrible story, you were terrible for the Scarlet Spider and you had an even worse ending! In fact, I’m not going to dwell on you for another second. Believe you me, folks, you do not care how Minimum Carnage ended. It was dumb, so very dumb. And hopefully we’ll never have to worry about it again. Because Christopher Yost comes roaring back to Scarlet Spider with what might be its best issue yet! I laughed! I giggled! I cheered! I’m very excited for the future of Scarlet Spider after this amazing issue.
After the mismatched everything of that unfortunate crossover, Yost settles in for a simple, done-in-one story that re-establishes all the characters and sends Kaine towards his next adventure. Yost also, to nice comedic effect, uses alcohol to simply wash away the stain that was Minimum Carnage.
Comic rating: 5/5: Great.
I almost get the feeling that Yost is just as glad to be rid of Minimum Carnage as I am. Kaine dwells for a little bit on what happened, but Yost wisely uses the events of the crossover as a springboard into a rather comedic and entertaining attitude for our main character. And that’s the most you can ask for from a big crossover, that it provides some new fuel or motivation for the characters. In this case, it’s Kaine getting drunk off his ass and wanting to just quit everything and flee to Mexico, as he’d originally intended at the start of the series. Which then gives us an opportunity to see how each of his supporting characters impacts his life to talk him out of it, and how, in the end, he’s damn good at being a hero. I got a really strong sense of community with this issue, how Yost has somewhat successfully built up this supporting cast into a real group of people, and how Kaine is a part of that group. He also does some fantastic work with mystery girl Aracely, really bringing her into her own as a clever ‘kid sister’ type character.
The art is also spectacular. Not as good as original artist Ryan Stegman, but fill-in artist Reilly Brown does a great job with the characters and with the action scenes. He especially does some good work with the comedy, of which there is a healthy dose. I definitely like this artist, and I hope he sticks around.
And did I mention it’s a Christmas issue?
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis of this wonderful issue.
In the end of Minimum Carnage, the heroes were able to push Carnage out of the Microverse and back into the normal universe without too much trouble, though all of that Radu/Redeemer garbage amounted to jack squat. When Carnage returned to the real world, he killed a lot of people before Scarlet Spider and Venom could stop him. In the end, Scarlet Spider stabbed one of his stingers through Carnage’s eye – but instead of killing him, it only lobotomized Carnage, which a doctor later says is even worse because that lobotomy stripped away any humanity that Cletus Kassidy had left. I realize that Marvel isn’t going to kill Carnage (for whatever reason), but the scene read like Scarlet Spider made the hard decision and killed Carnage. Why the hell they backed off only a few pages later to say it was just a lobotomy is beyond all reason.
We open this issue with a group of thieves meeting in secret to discuss the theft of some rich diamonds, which are being held in the vault at the Four Seasons in Houston. What a coincidence, that’s exactly where Kaine is staying!
Speaking of Kaine at the Four Seasons, his bags are packed, he’s very drunk and he’s ready to storm out and head for Mexico like he’d originally planned. He saw too much crazy stuff during Minimum Carnage, and he’s done being a hero. Aracely is standing in the doorway of his hotel room, and Kaine tells her to get the &$%#@ out of his way! Aracely then demands that Kaine put a dollar in the Swear Jar.
Wally and Donny are there too, all of them trying to convince Kaine to calm down. I really like the interactions between all of them, especially how Donny and Wally are getting along with Aracely. But Kaine is too stubborn to listen to them, his mind scarred by everything he saw and all the people Carnage killed. But the stress headache and the alcohol don’t mix, and Kaine passes out on the floor.
Wally and Aracely drag Kaine towards the bedroom while the three friends discuss what they’re going to do with him. Turns out, Kaine only had three beers, which means he’s a total lightweight, for some reason. Can clones not hold their liquor? As they’re getting Kaine into bed, a hotel employee shows up at the door and tells them that Kaine is going to have to leave the hotel’s Presidential Suite. It seems that the Ambassador of Belgium is going to be staying at the hotel and needs the room. Because Belgium! Also Aracely’s telepathy and empathy are pretty much accepted among the group.
Downstairs, Annabelle is on the phone with what sounds like an ex-boyfriend. They’re having a little spat, but their conversation is interrupted when the thieves from before burst in the front door. They’re armed to the teeth and all of them are dressed like Santa Claus. They shout for everybody to get down. Annabelle then tells the man on the phone that she has to make another call, and that, yes, she’s calling another man.
Upstairs, Wally, Donny and Aracely have gotten Kaine onto his bed and are sitting around discussing how little they know about their friend. Where does he come from? Where did he get his spider-powers? But Aracely tells the two men that they know everything about Kaine, including the fact that his costume can repair itself. She puts on the mask to show them.
That’s pretty weird, but I guess it explains how Kaine can get around having to repair his hi-tech suit. Donny, when questioning that kind of scientific awesomeness, casually drops the name of Horizon Labs, and that Kaine might have access to that level of technology, for all they know. So that explains how the costume can repair itself. For those of you who don’t know, Peter Parker works at Horizon Labs, a cutting-edge facility in New York that invents really awesome things. Peter has excelled at the lab, and one of his designs was this suit, which Kaine “borrowed” before he fled New York. But now I have to wonder, why does Peter still wear his cloth Spider-Man costume when he can invent/build self-repairing costumes? Or maybe he is wearing a newer, more hi-tech version of his Spidey suit, and just made it look like his classic costume. Who can say.
And if I could go off on a bit of a tangent, Horizon Labs has been bugging me. While I like that Peter Parker got a job where he could excel and enjoy some success in his life, I’m bothered by how casually Horizon has been inserted into conversations across the Marvel Universe. Horizon Labs is a recent invention by Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. But Slott established that Horizon has been around for awhile in Marvel’s New York City. we just didn’t know about it yet. So there’s been this awkward thing where nobody ever mentioned Horizon Labs before Slott invented it and Peter got a job there, but now everybody talks about Horizon Labs. It’s considered on par with the geniuses of Reed Richards and Tony Stark. And while this is a minor gripe, it’s just a really annoying retcon that’s been bugging me.
Anyway, Annabelle calls the Presidential Suite and Donny answers to find out about the Santas. The thieves trying to get the hotel owner to open the vault, but he’s dragging his feet, so one of the Santas grabs Annabelle and puts a gun to her head to convince the guy to cooperate.
Upstairs, Aracely continues to be adorable in the face of danger.
Wally, a police officer, is locked and loaded and ready to go downstairs. Donny tries to talk him out of it, but Wally isn’t listening. He’s got a job to do, and he’s going to do it. Wally tells Donny to focus on waking up Kaine, and Donny tells Wally to be careful.
Downstairs, the hotel owner continues to drag his feet when it comes to opening the vault. He talks about a time lock and other stalling tactics, but nobody is buying it, and Annabelle is getting pissed that this guy would take so long while her life is on the line. But Annabelle is not without her wiles. She convinces the Santas that if they really want some money, then the guy up in the Presidential Suite is loaded.
Upstairs, Donny tries to use coffee to wake Kane, who he’s managed to getting sitting up on the couch. Kaine is still mostly out of it, and he starts mumbling about how he was born to be a killer, and has killed many people in the past. It seems to be weighing heavily on his conscience, and it seems to be freaking Donny out a little.
Downstairs, Wally engages the Santa thieves after telling Aracely to hang back. He manages to take one of them out before the others notice him and open fire. Wally ducks behind a counter for cover. He called for backup in the stairwell, so hopefully more police will arrive shortly. Aracely, of course, doesn’t listen to Wally, and she engages the Santas as well. Only instead of a firefight, Aracely just walks up to one of them and uses her mental powers to freak him the heck out!
Upstairs, Kaine is sobering up thanks to the coffee, and he tells Donny about all the horrible things he saw against Carnage. The evil alien symbiote killed a lot of people, and Kaine feels bad that he couldn’t save them. He thinks he’s a terrible hero. But Donny correctly points out that Kaine is a great hero. He saved Aracely’s life, helped find and defuse that bomb, and definitely saved a lot of people when he helped defeat Roxxon’s giant electricity monster. Basically, Donny reminds Kaine of all the heroic things he has done in his series so far, and that seems to brighten Kaine’s mood – and just in time, because Santa bursts in the door with Annabelle as a hostage.
I love that little moment. That’s a prime example of why the art is just spot on with this issue. Reilly Brown’s comedic timing is fantastic.
Suffice to say, Kaine kicks the guy’s butt as Annabelle stands around and chuckles. Then we cut downstairs again as the elevator dings, and one of the Santa’s asks if the score was really “nice” in the Presidential Suite.
Scarlet Spider jumps out and says that it was actually quite “naughty.”
Badass one-liners? Yep!
The next page or so is a quick, brutal beat down of every Santa thief in the building. Brown’s art is good, though not as good as Ryan Stegman’s action scenes. Still better than previous artist Khoi Pham. I hope Reilly Brown sticks around. Scarlet Spider makes very short work of the thieves, and is soon standing over them victorious, with another badass one-liner prepared.
With the bad guys defeated and the cops arriving, Wally thanks Scarlet Spider for just happening to show up at the Four Seasons in the middle of a robbery. The hotel owner also thanks Scarlet Spider, and tells him that if there’s anything he can do to repay the hero, to just say so. Aracley then steps up to Kaine and whispers that he should ask that no Belgians be allowed to stay at the hotel ever (therefore keeping his suite from the Belgium Ambassador).
The epilogue sees Kaine upstairs on the hotel roof with his friends, having a good time and enjoying one another’s company. He seems to be in good spirits again, finally confident that perhaps he has found a home and can be a hero.
But all is not well in the world. Because downstairs at the front desk, a piece of mail is delivered for “Kaine Parker”, addressed from the doom-saying prophet Madame Web! Dun dun dun.
Great issue of Scarlet Spider. It was legitimately funny and the humor didn’t feel forced. Aracley is really coming into her own as a comedic character, and I hope we start to learn more about her mysteries soon. Wally, Donny and Annabelle are fun enough characters, and I finally got a real sense of camaraderie between them all in this issue as they try to talk Kaine out of leaving. Fate has randomly decided that they’ll all be friends, and you need to take your friends where you can get them. I definitely look forward to Yost building up this supporting cast more and more in future issues.
The action itself wasn’t particularly new or original, but it was a fantastic opportunity to spotlight our characters. Annabelle is brave in the face of danger, and a quick thinker. Wally isn’t afraid to do his duty, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Aracely is kind of crazy. And the Scarlet Spider is a total badass. I definitely enjoyed his tougher more brutal versions of Spider-Man’s usual quipping.
This issue was a definite palette cleanser after Minimum Carnage, possibly for writer Christopher Yost as well. I definitely got the sense that he used this issue to re-establish his character and his cast and put all that Microverse nonsense behind him. And I am definitely glad for that.