Reviewed by Who Now? Hey guys, Kevin Cushing here. Zach “Spideydude” Joiner definitely got this title started off right with his reviews of the first six issues from the undisputed biggest Clone Saga fan around himself! But the time came for a change, and I am very happy to succeed our friend Zach as the new regular reviewer of Scarlet Spider. Most of you probably know me already so I won’t bore you with introductions. Let’s get right into my first review of some great comics!
“The Second Master Part One”
Writer: Chris Yost
Penciler: Khoi Pham
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Stegman & Delgado
THE STORY: Several months ago, 5 miles outside of Galveston, Texas, at a Roxxon site, a drill broke, something went BOOOM!, there was a bunch of lightning, and a guy in a hard hat prayed for the Dear Sweet Lord to “Forgive Us.”
In the present, a Roxxon building is hit by a missile, and Kaine manages to save several folks including a particular girl – who he then promptly sleeps with. It’s good to be a newly Texan Spider-Clone. The girl, Zoe, then reveals it was she who launched the missile, having to do with “Galveston.” Kaine ducks out the window when some guys show up at her door. When he returns to her apartment, there is nothing there – nothing. Officer Layton helps Kaine look into it, but the internet seems to think the building was blown up by a gas leak, and it’s already nearly rebuilt. Kaine, of course, next breaks into Roxxon (with stealth!) and gets some info about the company from a peon. It turns out only the CEO can access the files about Galveston, so Kaine “schedules a meeting” (read also: breaks down the CEO’s door, bursting into his office). Kaine gets a big reveal that Zoe is actually the CEO’s daughter (a CEO, by the way, who is totally unfussed by either his daughter shooting a missile at one of his buildings or a Scarlet Spider breaking into his office), and then things get real when a REALLY Texan superhero team (well, trio) called The Rangers shows up at the window!
MY THOUGHTS: We’ve got a new artist and the first part of a new story, and Scarlet Spider is still going strong!
I’ll admit that I’ve not been the biggest fan of Khoi Pham’s art in the past, but I have to give the man some serious credit – his style has developed and improved an incredible amount since the last time I saw him doing some New Avengers work a few years ago. I really loved Ryan Stegman’s work on this book, but Khoi Pham is proving to be a worthy successor. He captures the movement, the emotions, and the looks of the characters all perfectly. And the stylistic change is not in any way drastic. Sometimes when you get a new artist on a book there can be a bit of a jarring experience with the new guy’s first issue. This is not the case here. It feels like a perfectly natural continuation of the same Scarlet Spider book we’ve been reading the whole time. I was very concerned when Stegman left, but I feel the book is in good hands and I am a satisfied customer!
But as far as Stegman goes, I have to mention that cover! That is a gorgeous cover, and, I feel, exactly the kind of striking visual that can help draw people to this still-fledgling book. Very well done to the team on that one!
Stingers! I love that even though the Spider-Man books have been ignoring Peter’s new powers for years now, Chris Yost is making full use of Kaine’s new range of powers. I’m not saying The Other was a great story or anything, but if you have the powers, use them!
I love that we’re constantly seeing just how different a character Kaine is than Peter Parker, even though he’s not “the evil clone” anymore. When Kaine see’s the building getting ripped apart, it takes him a second to realize – oh yeah, I should save those people below that are about to be killed. My favorite line in the issue, and very indicative of where Kaine is in his journey, was, “Does it feel like you’re with a superhero right now? Do you feel safe?” The answer, of course, was “No.”
We also get to see Kaine’s life continue to be complicated by the way he’s living it. Had he just saved the people from the falling pieces of building, that would have been the end of the issue. But no – he sleeps with a girl he rescued. And that leads to every complication thereafter.
I admit to being more than a little skeptical of The Rangers thanks to their character designs, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out next issue. Chris Yost hasn’t let me down yet, though, so I’m going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt.
RATING: 4.5 stingers out of 5. Frankly I’ve got no complaints with this issue, but it needs at least a half point to grow on, right?