Review: Scarlet Spider #22
How can you tell that a comic is scheduled for cancellation? The art quality starts to drop. Scarlet Spider is coming to an end in December, and so the art has started to dive-bomb. Three artists are credited on this issue, and it definitely shows. The art is all over the place – fortunately, the story is very solid. It’s the build up to Kaine vs. Kraven and it’s pretty darn cool.
I thought Scarlet Spider had staying power. I was wrong. But hopefully Chris Yost (and apparently co-writer Erik Burnham) can give us a grand finale.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
After this, there are only three issues left of Scarlet Spider. One of them will be the final battle against Kraven, but then what? The solicitations seem to point towards a sad ending to Scarlet Spider. That would be disappointing, but it would also be earned. Kaine hasn’t exactly been the best kind of hero. So I’m definitely excited to see how it all ends.
Fortunately, Kaine is the perfect kind of hero to take on Kraven in this issue. It’s been a blast reading his stories all this time, and I’m excited to see Kaine face off with a real villain with real history. Yost no longer has anything to lose. The series is over. So maybe Kaine will cut loose and give in to all the spider madness that Yost has been building so far. I want to see Kaine go wild in a real beat down, drag out knuckleduster.
And this issue is a great start.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!
Last issue, Kraven and his daughter kidnapped Kaine and all of his friends. Turns out, they took the group to the Houston Zoo, and I’m pleased to say that I Google ‘Houston Zoo front entrance’ and the drawing matches. So that’s just fun.
Anyway, Kaine wakes up in a grave.
He climbs out as Kraven taunts him over the loudspeaker. All of the animals nearby are dead, and Kraven tells him that he’s different from Peter and Ben. They were prey. They were weak. But Kaine is a predator and the Hunt will make him strong again!
Kaine vs. a tiger and a leopard sounds good to me!
We cut to Kraven, who’s got Aracely pinned against a tree. He’s got a knife on her, and explains that he has been following Kaine for some time now, studying both him and his friends. Then Kraven tells Aracely his history, catching her and the reader up on Kraven’s backstory. He’s a hunter, and when he bested all of the beats of the jungle, he started hunting Spider-Man. When he bested Spider-Man, he had nothing left to live for, so he killed himself.
Then his family tried to use Spider-Man’s blood to bring Kraven back to life, but Spidey and Kaine pulled the old switcheroo. Kaine sacrificed himself, and his impure clone blood ruined the ritual. Kraven came back, but he was cursed to some version of unlife. Poor guy.
Elsewhere, after Kaine defeats the big cats, he’s attacked by Kraven’s daughter Ana.
Kaine goes swinging after her, but loses Ana in the zoo. He finds a bleeding security guard and tries to help him, but the guard was a trap, and Kaine gets grabbed up in a net. The guard dies and Kaine feels a little worthless for failing to save him. But when Ana shows up to taunt him, Kaine angrily slashes through the net and attacks!
Elsewhere, Kraven continues to taunt Aracely with both his knife and with his calm, cold-blooded demeanor. He tells Aracely that he’s got his daughter taunting Kaine because he needs the Scarlet Spider pushed over the edge.
Back at the battle, Ana continues to taunt Kaine, until he gets the edge and grabs her.
He gets in her face and demands to know where to find Kraven – but then Ana stabs him with Wally’s police badge. Kaine beats on her some more, but Ana just smirks through the blood and tells him that all of his friends are already dead! And Aracely is next!
Since the comic is being cancelled, I almost believed her. Almost. But not even Scarlet Spider is that dark.
Kaine pulls back to his arm, intent on stabbing Ana through the head, but then he thinks back to Ben Reilly and decides that he’s not a killer. He grabs her and once again demands to be taken to Kraven, and so he is.
All of Kaine’s friends are tied up and Kraven issues his challenge. Kaine asks what Kraven wants, and Kraven says he wants Kaine’s rage. Kraven says that if Kaine refuses to fight, his friends will die. He says that if Kaine loses the fight, his friends will die. Kraven has done all this because he wants to make sure Kaine is properly motivated for their fight.
Those sound like some pretty awesome stakes.
I really want to see Kaine kill Kraven. It’s great having Kraven back and everything, I guess, but does he need to stay alive? Kraven’s life and death were truly great back in the day. Why did Marvel have to bring him back at all? Why not right that wrong by pushing Kaine further over the edge? Kaine could have a great future in the Marvel Universe. Marvel needs to sacrifice Kraven in the next issue to propel Kaine forward. The sacrifice would be worth it.
But, sadly, I doubt Marvel’s going to bother. Kaine will win the fight, but he’ll probably spare Kraven’s life. We’ll get a sappy, inconclusive ending, then Scarlet Spider will limp towards cancellation. Maybe once upon a time Marvel had hope for this series, but it barely made it past 20 issues. I doubt Marvel is going to bother giving Kaine such a cool ending. I can hope, but I can also be practical.
This issue was a good, mostly on the strength of the story. The art was all over the place, though at least it remained somewhat coherent and together. I could follow the story easily enough. But it’s a bad sign that the end is near when the art just falls apart. Nobody cares anymore. I hope Chris Yost has some good plans to say goodbye. Scarlet Spider deserves a strong ending. I’d even be willing to accept a dark ending.
Maybe Kaine should join the Thunderbolts. They have a black and red theme, after all…