Scarlet Spider #21 review

Scarlet Spider 21One question has been on everyone’s minds about this issue: IS THAT REALLY BEN #%$^@*& REILLY?! Read on to find out!

Into the Grave Part 1

Writers: Chris Yost & Erik Burnham

Artists: Carlo Barberi & David Baldeon

Inks: Pallot & Olazaba

Colors: Chris Sotomayor

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover Artists: Stegman & Howard

Editor: Tom Brennan

Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker


Scarlet Spider 21 p1THE STORY: Kaine is distraught about his clone degeneration scars returning and swings out of the hotel in a rage after nearly attacking Aracely. Dizzy, he falls to the ground and finds himself confronted by the original Scarlet Spider! As the two fight and hurl insults at each other, we see Donald Meland, Annabelle Adams, Wally Layton, and Aracely each at the beginning of a threatening scene that probably indicates an attack. Once Kaine starts hallucinating Spider-Man and the Jackal telling him to kill Ben, it becomes apparent that he’s been drugged, and it’s revealed the he was hit by a poison dart in the airport last issue. It is Kraven in the Scarlet Spider costume, not Ben.


MY THOUGHTS: Everyone who had a hand in marketing this issue did it a colossal disservice. Because this is actually a very good issue. We’ve been waiting for the showdown with Kraven for something like a year and a half now and we’re finally getting it, and Kraven’s plan is very good. It evokes both the Clone Saga and Kraven’s Last Hunt in the best ways. But that’s not what people are mainly going to be saying about this issue or what a majority of people will feel after putting it down. No, instead all the hype was given to try to fool people into hoping against hope for the incredibly remote chance that Ben Reilly would actually come back. And of course that was all a hallucination. End result? A lot of people will feel let down, ripped off, or just ambivalent about it, and that’s really sad.

Scarlet Spider 21 p2I will say this issue didn’t offer any surprises for me, though. After my Scarlet Spider #20 review, the fifth comment was from a poster named sthenurus who said: “I dont think the degenerescence is back. Since Kraven is advertise in the next few issues, i believe it was some sort of halucinagenic dart that stung kaine in houston, not mosquitos.” And as soon as I read that I felt like a complete moron for not realizing the same thing. And once that point had been brought up, it seemed pretty clear that this dart would likely not only be responsible for the scars, but for Ben’s appearance as well. And we now know that all turned out to be absolutely true. So this was not exactly the most twisty and surprising story possible. but still a good one, I think.

The fact that there are two artists on this one issue is less noticeable than usual. It seems the creative team keeps growing, or at least shifting in different ways. Right now we have 2 writers, 2 pencilers, and 2 inkers. But the art actually blends together pretty well. Some pages and panels look better than others to be sure, but overall there’s a consistent look and feel and the majority of the proceedings look damn good. I’m happy that, while we may not have Ben back for real, we do have some pretty cool professional art of the two Scarlet Spiders together. Chris Sotomayor’s coloring talents shouldn’t be discounted here, though, considering his colors probably helped a lot to keep the tone consistent among the 2 pencilers and 2 inkers.

I think the biggest negative for me here storywise is actually “The Other” in Kaine’s mind. That plot point has gotten really undefined and is just sort of hanging around these days. Aracely looked into Kaine’s mind and saw the huge spider-monster yelling “Prey!” and of course recoiled from it. And later I think The Other is telling Kaine to kill Ben, though that little narrative voice may actually be the hallucinated Spider-Man. Either way, this sort of undefined presence in his head is just not really fitting into things for me and frankly is only serving as a reminder of the very poor resolution of that story back in Scarlet Spider #15. Something either needs to be done with it or not.

Scarlet Spider 21 p3What I really enjoy is the serious threat and palpable sense of looming doom in this issue. Even if you know it’s not really Ben, the fact that this is how Kraven chooses to screw with Kaine means you know it’s SERIOUS. Kaine is NOT going to want to let someone walk away from doing this to him. And as the fight rages on, one by one we see Kaine’s friends put in danger. I admit I’ll be upset if any of them actually dies, because the book needs to get back to more focus on Kaine with his supporting cast anyway rather than killing them off, but at least legitimately threatening them does a great job of heightening the stakes. You made Kaine think his degeneration was back, made him think Ben Reilly had come back to kill him, AND you’re threatening his friends? If you make it out of that with just a limp, you’ll be lucky. Of course, we all know Kraven isn’t going to die in the Scarlet Spider title, especially so soon after being resurrected, but I still can’t help but feel that when Kaine is his opponent as opposed to Peter Parker, Kraven shouldn’t even get the CHANCE to kill himself – Kaine should already be taking care of that for him!

And if Ben’s return was going to be just a tease, I’m happy that we at least got a full issue of it in a pretty great battle between him and Kaine. It’s not like Ben just showed up, knocked him out, and then turned out to be Kraven. We got substantial page space of a grudge match we’ve been wanting to see here. We even get to see Kaine getting smacked in the face with some impact webbing! Sure I would have liked to have actually gotten Ben back, but knowing that was never going to happen, this Clone Saga fan is pretty happy with what I got.

I would be remiss if I left without giving props to that cover, too. The colors, the textures, the whole composition – it’s safe to say that is the most beautiful cover we’ve gotten to date for Scarlet Spider. Stegman and Howard really outdid themselves on this one.


GRADE: A  I understand why you might feel let down, but on the merits of the issue itself rather than how it was marketed, this is actually a very solid comic and a very strong start to a new arc. Now we’ll just have to see if Scarlet Spider can so something it hasn’t done in awhile with a multi-part story: stick the landing.

(23) Comments

  1. Pepe

    I think The Kravinoff know about Ben as the same way they knew Ezequiel in the grim hunt: the original madame web. Maybe, she told them everything but its not very clear why.

  2. hornacek

    @20 - Maybe this will be explained in the next issue(s) depending on how many issues this arc is. But my confidence in Marvel is such that I wonder if they won't and just hope no one cares.

  3. DPFW

    @19- EXACTLY what I was wondering and am confused on. And what I was trying to get across in my other posts. Thanks for putting it more clearly than I was able to!

  4. hornacek

    @16 - Ok, but I still don't know HOW Kraven and the Kravenoffs know about anything about Ben. The only one that met him was Vladimir but Kaine killed him almost immediately after so I don't see him calling his family and telling them all about "this Scarlet Spider character I just fought when I was trying to avenge Father by tracking down Spider-Man". Vladimir was brought back to life in Grim Hunt but as an animal which Kraven quickly killed, so they didn't get any info about Ben from him then. Kraven knowing who Kaine is makes sense because he met him (in the GH backups) and he can tell from his scent that he is related to Peter. But without some serious retconning I don't see how he knows anything about the original Scarlet Spider and that it would freak Kaine out to dress up as him. From Kraven's point of view, wouldn't it make more sense to dress up as Spider-Man to attack Kaine? Wouldn't Kraven and the Kravenoffs think that Kaine has a much stronger connection to Spider-Man then some Scarlet Spider character that none of them met and from their point of view disappeared? (when Ben donned his new costume when he took over as Spider-Man for Peter) I guess Kraven is trying to disguise himself with a character that's dead to freak out a drugged Kaine ("oooh, I'm a ghost, you're freaking out! Booga-booga!"), but again, how does Kraven know that the original Scarlet Spider is dead or has any connection to Kaine? Ben died in Revelations in civilian garb. As far as the public is concerned, the original Scarlet Spider disappeared a long time ago. Maybe it's something that gonna be revealed next issue. It's great story-telling. But for right now it just doesn't make sense.

  5. Sbee

    After reading this issue I'm actually really excited after the abortion that was into the grave. Thank you yost and burnham!!!

  6. sthenurus

    @11 and 12. During grim hunt, Anna CLEARLY states that Kaine is Peter sort of brother. If they know about kaine being a clone of pete (which isnt public knowledge), why would they not know about ben? It's sloppy writing granted but it has already been implicitly stated.

  7. hornacek

    I know that in the Grim Hunt the Kravenoffs used Kaine (thinking he was Spidey) to bring Kraven back to life (back to reality) but because it was Kaine it didn't fully work (i.e. undead). But Kaine "died" during that process (or they killed him), Spidey found him mounted on the wall, didn't he? ("HUNT ME") So Kraven and the Kravenoffs (worst band name ever) thought Kaine was dead. When did Kraven find out Kaine was still alive? Was that in this SS issue, something between GH and this issue, or maybe explained next issue? And as far as Kaine being the only one that can kill him, I thought when Spidey and Kraven fought in GH that Kraven said "only you can kill me!" Why does he now think that only Kaine can kill him? And didn't he want Spidey to kill him in that fight? Now he wants to kill Kaine because he doesn't want to die?

  8. RD

    @ Nick MB FYI, the Kravinoffs used an Arcane ritual to bring back the dead ones. First, they tried Vladimir, the Grim Hunter (Also, ironically enough, killed by Kaine) using Mattie Franklin's blood. Buuuuutttt, it didnt quite work. So they needed the blood of the "real" spider, Peter Parker. Kaine somehow figured this out, and k.o'd parker and took his costume. So the Kravinoffs killed him, which brought back Kraven, but he was not reborn, but undead, with the condition being that only the person who supplied the blood to bring him back could kill him, which in this case was Kaine. I know it wasnt REAAALLLY Ben, but it was fun to see the original Scarlet again, even if it was only a few pages.

  9. Nick MB

    According to Yost in CBR here - - the Grim Hunt arc established that only Kaine can kill Kraven, which is why Kraven wants to take him out. That makes fair sense - I don't remember that plot beat in Grim Hunt but it's been ages since I read it.

  10. hornacek

    @2 - That's my question too. I can understand that Kaine and Kraven have history (from the Grim Hunt back-ups) and Kraven can tell this is Kaine from his scent even though he's never encountered this new Scarlet Spider before. But why would he dress up in the original Scarlet Spider costume? How would he know this costume would have an effect on a drugged Kaine? Both Spider-Man and the original SS appeared together in the 90s clone saga, so Kraven knows the original SS is not Peter. He was dead during that time so he never met Ben. Vladamir (?) did and then got killed by Kraven but didn't he get brought back to life in the Grim Hunt? I suppose he could have told Kraven about Ben and that his scent was similar to Spider-Man's, but it doesn't seem to be a vital conversation point to discuss with your resurrected father (plus Ben was dead so it doesn't seem important). Plus wasn't Vladamir brought back in Grim Hunt as some animal creature that couldn't talk? I can't remember the specifics of that story, so many Kravens running around in it. Besides, the original SS "disappeared" as far as the public was concerned when Ben took over as Spider-Man. So how would Kraven, or anyone, know that he would have that deep a connection to Kaine? Or an effect on him? Yes they are both "spider-men" and look similar, but they were seen in public together so people know they're not the same person. I just don't understand Kraven's reasoning. He is after Kaine for ... reasons? Ok, and he's thinking "I shouldn't go after him as myself, I should poison him to mess up his mind and then disguise myself as someone that will freak him out." Wouldn't it make more sense, from Kraven's point of view, to disguise himself as Spider-Man? How did he come up with the choice of the original SS? Maybe I missed something in another title or I'm not remembering something, but it just seems confusing.

  11. DPFW

    @#4- How would anyone know there is a connection between Peter and Ben? I don't think there's public knowledge that Ben was a clone of Peter. So, there'd be just as much connection between Peter and Spider-woman or Spider-woman and Kaine. Other than the "web of life" thing, there doesn't seem to be much connection and nothing to make dressing up like Ben seem personal to Kaine. Or am I mistaken and there IS public knowledge that Ben had a connection to Peter?

  12. Philthec

    Kaine and Kraven have a past which was revealed during the "Grim Hunt" story arc back in ASM #631-634. Ultimately, Kaine posed as Spidey and was killed by Kraven's family so that he could be revived. So...there is a bit of history there...

  13. Jack Brooks

    I forget why Kraven even cares about Kaine. Isn't Kraven trying to get "Peter" to kill him, so Kraven can return to a peaceful after-life? Does he think having Peter's clone do it would count? I seem to remember Kaine running away from Ana Kravenof like a whipped pup.

  14. Dr. Pooper

    Going into it, I was figuring it was Kraven dressed as Ben (since this was the 1st part of the Kraven arc & all). This marks the 3rd Spidey outfit Kraven has donned! Classic red & blues, black suit, and now the original Scarlet Spider suit.

  15. Kevin Cushing - Post author

    @5 Sorry if I didn't make it clear in the review, but his degeneration scars have NOT actually returned. That was just a hallucination brought on by Kraven's poison dart.

  16. webhead

    I hope bc of the return of his scars we don't have him turn to dust like Ben did or have him become a villain again. I've been really enjoying the Scarlet Spider series, it also helps me forget about SS

  17. sthenurus

    @2 DPFW: Kraven knows of the connection between Kaine and Peter. So it isnt to much of a stretch for him to know about Ben. After all, first rule of hunting is knowing your prey ;)

  18. DPFW

    I haven't been reading Scarlet Spider, so maybe I'm missing something, but here's what I don't understand... Why would Kraven dress up as the old Scarlet Spider? What makes him think there's any connection at all to the current Scarlet Spider? To me, that charade would only work to mess with Kaine's mind if there's a *personal* connection between him and the old Scarlet Spider! Otherwise, it'd be just as effective to run around in ANY kind of costume.

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