Today saw the release of the super-hyped Superior Spider-Man #14, the super-hyped Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #1, and the not-at-all hyped Scarlet Spider #19. I’m happy to say I actually enjoyed both of the hyped issues, which is not always the case with those series. In fact, I think this was an unusually strong week of comics in general. So how does Scarlet Spider fair? Ok, I suppose I’ll tell you. Read on!
“Wrath Part 3”
Writers: Chris Yost & Erik Burnham
Pencils: Carlo Barberi
Inks: Wong, Pallot & Bit
Colors: Lokus, Soto & Fabela
Additional Art: Horacio Domingues
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Stegman & Delgado
Editor: Tom Brennan
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
*A note on art in this post: My reviews are always accompanied by the officially released preview pages of the issue, but Marvel did not release a preview of Scarlet Spider #19. Rather than have this entire post be text-only and therefor maybe a little hard on the eyes, I decided to hop over to deviantart.com and check out the Scarlet Spider fan art. So the art you see here (minus the cover up top, of course) is all fan art with the artist credited below. Feel free to visit their pages and compliment them if you like it!
THE STORY: The Red Death who came to kill everyone at the end of last issue is someone named Candra who was apparently a nineties X-Men villain who was supposed to be dead but is immortal. As she lays the smackdown on Scarlet Spider and Wolverine, the Assassins Guild mostly stands around sucking their thumbs and wetting themselves until Candra starts picking them off to power herself. This prompts most of the Assassins to join the fight against her, except for Belladonna who would rather attack Kaine for daring to fight the lady trying to kill him. Once they take out Candra, it seems for a second that our heroes have just left the fire for the only slightly more comfortable frying pan of the Assassins Guild, but the Kingpin’s “Arranger” shows up to tell Belladonna to stand down. Kaine reveals that he made a deal with the Kingpin to wipe his debts to the Guild if Kaine made it easier for Fisk to acquire. Wolverine is not overly happy about this.
MY THOUGHTS: The short version is that this is a very pedestrian issue of Scarlet Spider. And by that I mean it’s still better than any issue of Venom ever even aspires to be, but for this series it’s a bit below what I’ve come to expect. And really, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you look at the credits page. This issue was put together by 2 writers, 2 pencilers, 3 inkers, and 3 colorists. One wonders, frankly, what in the heck was going on behind the scenes for that to come to pass. My guess, primarily because this is the first time Yost has needed a co-writer, is that this one may have had to be thrown together quickly to keep the schedule on track for the more important Superior Spider-Man Team-Up crossover issue coming up next. But I must stress, that is only a guess and it’s only based on the same information you guys are looking at. Either way, whatever the explanation, it certainly seems from that amount of creators involved in trying to get one issue out that we may have actually lucked out in getting an issue as good as “pedestrian.”
The main thing, I suppose, is that this issue is a fight scene. Not a terrible fight scene, but nothing more than that, either. There’s a lot of slashy-slashy, back-stabbing (literally), and indignance going on for 20 pages, and that’s pretty much it. The highlight of the issue, though, has got to be the 3/4 page panel of Kaine leaping at the reader with Wolverine and the Assassins Guild behind him, his stingers popped and ready for action. Never been a fan of the Tron costume, but this looks genuinely cool and is probably the most badass this outfit will ever look.
Candra is definitely a disappointing resolution to the whole Red Death thing. This is a woman who was built up as terrifying even a hardass like Belladonna, but she’s just an old X-villain that doesn’t really seem too special when stacked up against that lot. This issue also doesn’t give a whole lot on her, just a quick flashback of when she ‘died’ previously (and the X-Men’s costumes in that flashback panel tip you off that it was a 90s comic) but it spends more time reinforcing “Belladonna looks like she’s going to wet herself” (that is a quote from Kaine, I swear), which runs into something I feel like we’ve been saying a lot lately here at the Crawlspace – show, don’t tell. Stop telling me how much this woman terrifies someone else and show me why. I just didn’t get enough of that here.
The art, thankfully, turned out alright considering that we had 8 people doing 3 jobs. There’s a point near the end of the issue where there’s a noticeable change for a few pages (which I’m assuming is the “additional art” – which is a vague enough credit it can barely even be called a credit), but we seem to be back to Barberi by end, and Barberi’s still doing solid work. The inkers and colorists, likewise, did a good job keeping things consistent, as there was no other place I thought I felt a visual shift (though the color also looks different on the few pages that I’m assuming are by Domingues, so I’m betting one of the colorists was devoted to those).
I’m afraid there’s not much more to say about this issue, except that I’m starting to worry Scarlet Spider can’t stick the landing on the end of an arc no matter how promising the build up is. This is the second arc in a row where I’ve been thrilled with all the previous chapters but let down by the end. I sure hope this isn’t a continuing trend, and I REALLY hope that won’t drive readers away from this book, because the majority of issues are still phenomenal and it doesn’t have enough readers to begin with.
And with that, I’ll just remind you Kaine fans to make sure you pick up Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2 next month by our man Yost for part 1 of “Sibling Rivalry” and then check back here for part 2!
GRADE: C As I said at the top – pedestrian. Average is the best way to describe this issue, and even though that makes it disappointing since we’re used to so much better, it would still be unfair to call the issue anything lower than that.