Review: Scarlet Spider #21
That cover is no fakeout, my friends. The classic Scarlet Spider appears in this issue! Who else is super excited? Granted, it’s not Ben Reilly come back from the dead. That would be too much to hope for. But somebody does wear the classic Scarlet Spider costume, and that’s cool enough for me. As I mentioned in last week’s List of Six, I’m a big fan of the Clone Saga, and an even bigger fan of Ben Reilly and the Scarlet Spider. Why do you think I’m reviewing this Scarlet Spider series in this larger review format? Because a fanboy’s gonna love what a fanboy’s gonna love.
Scarlet Spider #21 is a set-up issue for the next big danger that Kaine must fight his way through. The fact that it features a call back to the original Scarlet Spider is the sweetest of icings on this cake.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Say what you will about the sleeveless hoodie, the visible webshooters and the pouches around the ankles, but I love the Scarlet Spider costume. It’s possibly my favorite alternate Spider-Man costume ever. You better believe I unlock it as soon as possible whenever I’m playing a Spider-Man video game. I like the sleekness of the design, plus I loved the character. And I like the visible webshooters. They’re a neat alteration. I even like the ankle pouches. So sue me. The 90s were a time when pouches were in, and I started reading comics in the 90s. We all like what we all like.
So anyway, Scarlet Spider is still going strong, and Kaine is still on a downward spiral of self-loathing. The guy feels like crap, and that carries over into this issue. He’s dealing with a lot of baggage. Of course, that’s the perfect time to start a new storyline, and this issue delivers in spades. Heck, if I didn’t know any better, this could almost serve as a grand finale, but I’m pretty sure Kaine isn’t being cancelled. A villain with ties to Kaine’s past returns and starts picking apart Kaine’s life, taking down the friends he’s made in Houston. This seems to be leading up to a brawl to end them all, and I’m very much of looking forward to that. After everything Kaine has been through lately, I want to see him just use all of that anger and pain to really kick some ass!
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review.
We open with Kaine freaking the hell out in his hotel suite because the genetic clone degeneration is back. Once again, his face is scarred and he’s dying.
Aracely is there to try and help, but Kaine is too far gone. He doesn’t want to listen. When she tries to peer into his mind to get a better understanding of what’s going on, Aracely comes face-to-face with the monster spider Kaine’s keeping locked in his brain pan. Aracely freaks out, and Kaine smashes a window and leaps out into the city to get away. He’s a monster, and he doesn’t want to be a burden on her or his friends.
While swinging through the city in the rain, Kaine suffers from a sudden headache, and he loses his grip on his web-slinging. He falls to the street below, right on his head, and people around stop and ask if he’s OK. Kaine gets pissed when they call him a ‘superhero’ and he smashes one of their vehicles, shouting, “I am not a %$#@ superhero!”
Then he gets sucker-punched.
Elsewhere, at the hospital, Dr. Donald Meland is attacked by an unseen assailant.
Back in the street, Scarlet Spider puts the whoopin’ on Kaine with a side order of taunting. He angrily throws punch after punch while accusing Kaine of misusing the name ‘Scarlet Spider’. Kaine breaks free and swings off to clear his head.
Elsewhere, Annabelle Adams is attacked by an unseen assailant in her apartment.
Kaine doesn’t get long to clear his head, with the Scarlet Spider hot on his trail. He even whips out some of the classic Impact Wedding! Good times.
When Kaine gets a moment, he pulls off his mask and starts apologizing. He admits to being a monster, and when Ben was still alive, he tried hard to make Ben’s life a living hell. But ever since he took on the name ‘Scarlet Spider’, he’s been trying to live by Peter and Ben’s example. And surely the real Ben Reilly would appreciate that and forgive him.
Elsewhere, Officer Wally Layton arrives at home, where he is attacked by an unseen assailant. Also, their dog has been killed. Not cool.
The two Scarlet Spiders continue to fight, but this time, Kaine gets the upper hand. He knows he’s going to die, so he doesn’t need life lessons from anybody, especially Ben Reilly! He has his foe at his mercy, but then hallucinations of Spider-Man and the Jackal show up and demand that Kaine do what he was born to do!
Back at Kaine’s hotel suite, Aracely has been following the fight with her empathy, but it’s a struggle. Then she’s attacked by a…seen assailant! It’s a vicious blonde woman with a knife, who slashes Aracely and takes her out. She says the hunt has only just begun. She’s definitely somebody we know.
Meanwhile, Ben fights back and tries to get the upper hard, but Kaine is in the zone. He smacks Ben away and then grabs him by the neck, ready to kill him – but Kaine can’t go through with it. He pulls away, but then falls over sick. He’s been drugged. Ben mocks him about the hallucinogen Kaine was secretly struck with in the airport last issue. Everything has been a hallucination so far, including Kaine’s degeneration scars. He’s not dying.
At least not yet. Even Ben Reilly was a hallucination. His real foe is…
Dun dun dun!
Kaine and Kraven have quite the history. Back in the 90s, Kaine killed Kraven’s son, the Grim Hunter. And more recently, Kaine’s blood/body was used to resurrect Kraven from the dead. The Kravinoff family had wanted to use Spider-Man, but Kaine sacrificed himself to save Peter, and Kaine’s clone blood wasn’t enough to bring Kraven back at full power. He’s been less of a person since. And I’m pretty sure he showed up earlier in this series. So this fight has been building for some time, and I’m excited to see it finally happen. I want the biggest knock down, drag out brawl that Scarlet Spider has ever seen. Here is a real villain, with a grand history in the Spider-Man franchise, and now Kaine has to fight him to save all of his loved ones. It should make for a fantastic confrontation, and something this title could definitely use.
Scarlet Spider is a fun, fine comic. I don’t think it’s anything special or spectacular, but it’s got a fun cast, a cool main character and enough fanboy glee to keep me happy. The art by Carlo Barberi and David Baldeon is to my liking. They draw a pretty great fight scene. The issue does a great job of delving into the character’s history and using it to set up the next, big issue. I can’t wait.