15 years ago, I was a little kid with my dad at a grocery store in Texas. On that day, he picked up an issue of Spider-Man. Spectacular Spider-Man 223 it was to be exact. It had the Scarlet Spider logo on the front, with characters such as the Jackal, Kaine, the third Peter Parker, and Mary Jane. From that moment on, I was hooked and the Clone Saga in all its epic style that sucked me into Spider-Man and has yet to let me go. Today, I endured a puppy named Benji (wonder where that came from) despising being stuck in a car for over an hour, 30 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 40, spitting snow, and severe crosswinds on my way to my ‘local’ comic shop. I was determined to pick up Scarlet Spider #1. It was the most anticipated issue of the year in my opinion. The Point One issue wetted my appetite, and finally I got the main course. Brad Douglas essentially said: Scarlet Spider+Kaine+Texas=You.
Written By: Chris Yost
Art By: Ryan Stegman
Inks: Michael Babinski
Colors: Marte Garcia
Review By: Zach “Spideydude” Joiner
1:00 AM in the port of Houston, Texas. Smugglers are going through the port, and they’re receiving the payment, that is, till Kaine shows up and ruins everything. Kaine doesn’t kill them, but beats them brutally until one remains. He takes the money and tries to walk away. Kaine thinks its drugs, but in reality, it is far worse: Humans, being trafficked and the majority of them are dead. I say majority, because there is one, sole survivor. Kaine takes her to the hospital, where he meets with a cop and wins. Kaine is on his way to Mexico before he thinks to help and lay low. (Lay low to him means the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown.) We get a back-story on Kaine though his own eyes and starts to begin his new life. He saves an old lady, (Kills the guy who was going to plow into her with his car, but that was an accident.) Cuts his hair, shaves his beard, and meets a pink haired barmaid. The issue ends with the Villain making his appearance.
Let me be clear: I loved this issue, for the characterization, the style of the beginning of the book. But there are three things I
didn’t like and I would like to point this out at the beginning of the review because I feel it needs to be said:
Marvel… you frustrated me on this one. Because I loved it and was disappointed by it at the same time.
Firstly, Yost does a wonderful job in the “getting to know you department” but there is a catch: The rest of the story suffers because of it. This really is part one, or act one of a play or TV show. I feel like we got the first half hour and the second half hour comes a month from now. While I feel that it was necessary to spend a good chunk of the issue fleshing out the character of Kaine’s back-story for new readers, I feel that the extra four pages that were the backup could’ve been spent developing the villain, maybe shedding more light on the secondary plot. Secondly, the fact that the Scarlet Spider didn’t show up in costume in the first issue annoys me. I know it is an accepted premise given the current style that comics are written today, but come on. I’d loved for Kaine to be like… yeah this might work. Leave us wanting more I guess. Thirdly, while I get the last four pages were needed by the powers that be, come on. We got an adequate recap in the actual story. This was unnecessary. Plus, don’t you want people to pick up the Clone Saga Trade Paper Backs?
In terms of characterization, this is top notch. Yost gets the character in a way that fundamentally Slott did not during Spider Island. There are no jokes here. Kaine’s intense nature is retained. From the saving the old lady, to nearly killing the smugglers, he is all Kaine and I like it. I loved that he took the money and ran. He isn’t supposed to be a hero, but he is likeable enough to carry the role. They could’ve made him Ben Reilly late. (Or dark) But he retains his character, and is still fundamentally tortured by his own scars-the difference is, you can’t see them.
In this issue, he develops Night Vision, doesn’t have a spider-sense, and apparently has the ability to cut his own hair with his bare hands. (Looking at that scene over and over. Still can’t figure it out) He also has organic web-shooters, and Stingers. (Which may be how he cut his hair?) The villain of the piece is…. Incomplete. We don’t know his name, motivations, or why he looks the way he does. But he’s going to take front and center next issue.
In terms of Artwork, there are a lot of things to love. In fact, I’d say that other than Stefano Caselli, this is the best artwork in a Spider-Related book in the last six months. It’s that good. In the letters page, he said he poured his heart out on every page. I thought his work on the infamous Betty issue from last year he did was good. But he has elevated his craft to another level.
As for Ben he is not forgotten. The epic Splash Page that has Kaine, Peter and Ben is currently my wallpaper on my phone. The 2 page splash with Kaine’s back-story is gorgeous. The Ben Reilly backup was nice, but unnecessary. I hope that we might see some characters from the Ben Reilly Era.
FINAL THOUGHTS:In terms of Artwork, Characterization, and new plot points this issue was
strong on the Kaine stuff, with awesome artwork, and there wasn’t enough in this writers opinion, of the Smuggler plot. I have high hopes for next month. So Yost & Stegman, you have me as a reader.
3.5 out of 5 Webheads. Room for improvement, but a solid start.
For more, check out Spideydude.com for your latest Clone Updates.. and stay tuned for more Spideydude goodness on the next Podcast, where he joins the gang of Brad Douglas, George Berryman, Josh Bertone, and Donovan Morgan Grant!