Writer: Chris Yost
Pencils: Carlo Barberi
Inks: Walden Wong
Colors: Rex Lokus
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Stegman & Delgado
Variant Cover: Max Fiumara
Editor: Tom Brennan
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: The Assassins Guild, who Kaine previously got out of Houston by promising them one kill whenever they asked for it, has returned to call in that marker. They want Kaine to kill Wolverine, and Kaine has no choice but to take the job. Taking Aracely with him, he returns to New York to make the hit. The pair, with Aracely in a new costume and wanting to be called Hummingbird, infiltrate the Jean Grey School and are quickly found out. Aracely can’t seem to stop unwillingly hurting the psychics but Kaine mops the floor with Beast and Iceman. When the headmaster finally shows up, Wolverine does well against Kaine – until his “Other” aspect seems to take over and he puts a stinger through Wolverine’s heart, ripping it in two.
MY THOUGHTS: This, I think, is more what people are looking for in a multi-part arc from this book than the not-all-too-well-received “In the Midst of Wolves.” Yes there’s some darkness. Yes there’s action. But the fun is retained as well. It almost feels like Yost is letting his newer assignment as writer of Avenging Spider-Man (soon to be retitled Superior Spider-Man Team-Up) seep over into his former assignment, as this really kind of feels like Scarlet Spider Team-Up. Sure, he doesn’t actually team-up with Wolverine & The X-Men so much as fight them to the death, but that’s more how things have been going in the other book with Octo-Spidey as well. Thing is, though – I had a LOT more fun with this issue than I’ve been having with Avenging Spider-Man of late.
First off, Kaine was just an awesome bastard in this one. When he meets Belladonna as requested, the first thing he does before even uncloaking is to slam her henchman’s head into the table, and when he recovers Kaine puts a stinger through his hand. This is not a Scarlet Spider looking to screw around. This is the kind of thing that differentiates Scarlet Spider from Spider-Man…or, well, it DID before Superior Spider-Man, anyway. Speaking of whom, we also get a good tease on that front. Superior Spidey swings by in one panel with Kaine thinking it’s Peter. Now that Kaine’s back in New York and we’ve seen future solicitations we KNOW that confrontation is coming, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
The one point in this issue that really gave me pause was Kaine bringing Aracely along on an assassination. Sure, she’s shown those fear powers now and she ended up accidentally handling the psychics, but this is a teenage girl Kaine means to protect. Plus he’s going to KILL someone, which is not really a part of his life he’d want her to see. It’s also just bad tactically. He’s used to working alone on things like this – adding a totally untrained teenager into the mix is a really big random factor to have potentially spoiling the works.
That said, even if I question the logic of bringing her, having her there does add to the fun and the humor of the issue. She’s the proverbial “are we there yet” teenager but in a more excited way and that juxtaposition with Kaine is where this comic lives. Her costume is a little strange, though. I honestly thought she was dressed up as Gamora at first (which, upon further reading, does not seem to be the intention). And, of course, we get more teasing of this Aztec god that she either is or is inside her. Rachel Grey-Summers (whichever last name she’s going by this week) seems to accidentally trip a wire or open a door in her mind and it’s apparently more than any of the psychics at the school can handle. The fear stuff is cool, but to be honest I’m at about the point where I’m sick of being teased about the Aztec thing and feel like it’s getting very close to poo or get off the pot time.
As for Kaine’s costume change back to its original look from Amazing Spider-Man – is this really intended to be stealth? Call me crazy, but I feel like dark red and black is stealthier than black and BRIGHT GLOWING NEON ORANGE any day. And since he’s cloaked most of the time anyway, what’s the difference? Sure, a silly costume change isn’t making or breaking my enjoyment of the issue, but it’s a change that’s called out in the narrative as something Kaine did intentionally, so I’d rather it made more sense.
Carlo Barberi takes over as the new regular penciler for the series with this issue and so far I’d say he’s doing pretty decent work. I’m not in love with his character work on any of the main cast, but interestingly when we get to the X-Men characters it looks EXACTLY like Paco Medina drawing them. The important thing is that he does a good job with the action, so he’s able to carry and move the story well. And for this particular story, at least, that is more important than having characters drawn so well that I want to stop and drool over them every page. I’m hoping his work develops as we move along, but if it stays at this level I won’t be upset.
GRADE: B+ In the end, this was a well done part 1 that will hopefully lead to a fun arc, just with a few bumps on the road that could have been addressed a little better. Solid comics.