Scarlet Spiders #2 Review

4269819-scarspiders2014002_dc11-0“Yeah…start explaining some stuff right now, please.”

The Scarlet Spider Strike Squad continue their infiltration mission and begin to learn how depraved Jennix really is!

Writer: Mike Costa

Artist: Paco Diaz

Color Artist: Israel Silva

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Cover Artist: David Nakayama

Production Designer: Idette Winecoor

Editor: Devin Lewis

Senior Editor: Nick Lowe

Story: Kaine and Ben, who is disguised as Iron Man, get their cover blown by this world’s Johnny Storm, who is head of security for Jennix. They make a break for it and come across a lab technician whom they force to let them inside a multi-leveled lab that houses a thousand clone bodies. They are trying to figure out how to destroy it and stumble across the lab housing the failed clones. As they deal with their revulsion, Jennix walks in! image

Thoughts: Well, I don’t know quite what to make of this issue. Halfway through I was disliking it, but by the end, I wound up enjoying the insight into Kaine.

Starting off with the cover, I felt it was very strong. The concept of the Scarlet Spiders trapped inside a maze that resembles a web works well. Jennix lurks ominously in the background, overseeing what clearly are lesser beings to him, and all the Spiders are very clear. No Bagley variant this time out, which disappointed me. Speaking of Bagley, a lot of his Ultimate Spider-Man covers, whilst beautiful, were often not indicative of what transpired inside, especially the early ones. It makes it difficult when looking at back issues to remember story contents sometimes. This cover does a nice job of figuratively representing the contents within and I appreciated that.

When Johnny realizes something is up, he flames on. His fire swirls around him and reminds me of the Golden Age Human Torch. I thought it was a cool interpretation of the character, although the panel where Kaine knocked him out looked a little disturbing. Johnny’s eyes are rolling back and a very long trail of blood gushes from his nose. I thought he was dead until two panels later when Kaine says he’s not going to kill him.

Jessica gets seven panels this issue. SEVEN. Most of which is spent looking at her wrist terminal. She continues to remain all business about her job, realizing the seriousness of their situation. It’s a good thing last issue focused on her because she contributes practically nothing to this story. image

Speaking of not contributing, Ben Reilly continues to just be along for the ride with his witless, juvenile remarks. For a character whose return I was anticipating, he’s been a big let down in this series. He should be the most experienced of this team, yet he acts the most clueless. I’ve always understood Spidey employing humor to distract and frustrate his opponents, but it comes off to me as ineptitude in this issue I’m sorry to say. Whilst Kaine goes out to secure the area and investigate, Ben just hangs out and juggles web balls. In his reality of Earth 94, he was cloned from Peter and continued as Spidey when Peter lost his powers and moved to Oregon. Realizing that 20 years of real life is not equal to 20 years of comic time, he still should have tons of experience as a hero, not even counting all his memories of when Peter wore the webs before the Jackal cloned him.  Jessica, who’s only been in existence a short time has far more competence than he. Given how Spider-Verse has already wiped out fan favorites like MC2 Peter and the equivalent of the Spider-Friends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben is the one who meets his demise (again) at series’ end. The cover for issue 3 shows a red figure falling from a web resembling a pulse wave which makes me think of Kaine as he’s the most scarlet of the Scarlet Spiders, but he’s “The Other” and I just see Marvel trying to wipe out Ben just to drive fans crazy and give false importance to the story.

Kaine gets the best treatment in this issue. Makes sense, given how this issue’s title is named after him. Diaz continues to alternate on how we see his suit in stealth mode. At times we get the digitization effect (when he goes into the mode or it gets disrupted) and then we can see right thru him in other panels. Modern comics technology is great as I like this depiction far more than just a blank silhouette drawn in. image

The part that turned the issue around for me was when Kaine went off solo to take out the counter measures and discovered the lab of failed clones. Costa really gets you into Kaine’s current headspace. I particularly liked the line “Kaine is a spider, and his life is stillness and blinding violence.” Not only is it an apt description, but it harkens back to me to J.M. DeMatteis’s run on Amazing when Peter retreated into the identity of “The Spider” to deal with the pain from Lifetheft and the start of his life unraveling at the dawn of the 90’s Clone Saga. I still would’ve liked to have gotten some insights into his feelings on this version of Ben, as he was bitter enemies with the one from his Earth, but I guess none are forthcoming.

We briefly see this Earth’s Dr. Miles Warren, Spider-Clone creator and Jackal on our Earth. When I say brief, he actually has more panels than Black Widow! It may be only by one, but still. What Jennix’s exact hold on the people of this world is remains unclear, but there is some influence that he is exerting, one that apparently Warren has fought on occasion. Regardless, he seems to be in a slightly stupefied state when he reports to Jennix. Given Warren’s penchant, I wonder if he has a Gwen Stacy in a lab there somewhere, ready to surprise our heroes in the final issue.

Jennix spends most of the issue sitting in his Dr. Evil chair in his control room. He does come off like a Bond villain, overconfident that his plans cannot be thwarted and content to let his minions handle the heroes. Once they do get past security, he does get involved and monologues for a bit. Presumably, he’s a big fan of Alien: Resurrection, keeping his failed experiments preserved in a lab, much like the various deformed Ripleys on display in that film. He details how in order to be civilized, one must be able to cultivate food and whilst he can clone their bodies and minds, he cannot get their essence, therefore, leaving them short in the Inheritors’ food supply. It’s an interesting question as from what I know of his brethren, they don’t seem civilized in their encounters hunting down Spiders and I don’t see having an unending bank of Spider Essence changing that about them. After all, they are EEEEEEVIL as Slott continues to point out with every Spider death in the main title.

This issue was a mixed bag for me, but it definitely improved in the second half. Worth the $3.99? I think that depends on what you want to get out of it. If you want Ben or Jessica, certainly not, but if you’re a fan of Kaine, I think you’ll enjoy it. Next issue is the conclusion which should logically focus on Ben and I admit I’m filled with trepidation over it. Will he die? Will he be written as an unsure, inexperienced juvenile? Guess we’ll find out soon…image

My Grade: B-

Javi’s Huh?: So, the lab tech who helps Ben and Kaine is very similar looking to Dr. Warren. Change his glasses and shave him a bit and there’s a pretty decent resemblance. Is he a clone of Dr. Warren and did the Spiders just not recognize him?

(4) Comments

  1. scarletspider77

    Issue 2 was a big step up from the first one, but I'm pretty let down. I was waiting forever for this and its just been dumb.

  2. Ben

    Certainly better than issue one. But like Hobo-Goblin said, this story could literally feature any three Spiders and still be exactly the same. It's had zero impact on Ben and Kaine's characters so far. Also that narration about Kaine sleeping in his suit was seriously hammy, and bordered on being somwhat funny , which I'm guessing was not Costa's intention when he wrote it.

  3. Hobo-Goblin

    I'm disappointed. You'd think Ben and Kaine would have plenty to say to one another, but no...I was looking forward to this series to see interaction between characters who can't interact anymore. But it's been all-business so far with them.

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