Evil Geek Book Report – Scarlet Spider Vol. 1: Life After Death

Today on our Evil Geek Book Report we are going to take a look at the Trade Paper Back for The Scarlet Spider Vol. 1 – Life After Death collecting issues #1-6 from 2012. Christopher Yost is our writer with art by Ryan Stegman. Scarlet Spider is a relativley new comic with an anti-hero who has kind of a convoluted back story. Ready for this? The main character, Kaine was an early rejected Peter Parker clone created by the Jackal. He played an important part of the massive spanning Clone Saga that ran through all the Spider-Man titles in the 90s (for an excellent overview of this, check out the Comic Geek Speak podcast of Spidey in the 90’s here). Long story short, Kaine was a botched clone attempt that was discarded and decided to make the real clone’s (Ben Reilly) life hell all while his own body was slowly deteriorating. He spent some time learning how fun it is to kill people as a bounty hunter and attempted to frame Ben Reilly since they have the same finger prints. Peter Parker is the one who actually ended up in jail but switches with Ben Reilly. Confused yet? We all were. It was the 90s.

During the events of the much more recent Spider Island (of which I know nothing) the Jackal returns and mutates Kaine into some kind of crazy man spider. Peter Parker of course is able to cure him back to normal sans body deterioration and they go on to save many, many others lives. But guess what? You don’t really need to know any of that. He plans to head to Mexico and put the past behind him. This is where this series picks up.

Kaine of course never makes it to Mexico. He gets as far as Houston, Texas before stumbling into a human trafficking ring and saving a young girl’s life which puts a series of actions into play that result in him reluctantly donning the costume he took with him from Spider Island.This doesn’t stop him from being a quasi a-moral douchebag and that’s what kind of makes this book work. He’s angry and violent and has no qualms killing his villains. Supposedly, he’s reformed but can you really take the killer out of someone or forget the things that you’ve done? He tries to make it work, but knows that he can never live up to the man he was cloned from. In fact, he scoffs at being called a super hero and hates being referred to as Scarlet Spider even more (this being the name of the Parker clone, Ben Reilly’s spider mantle who was a righteous benevolent hero). I look at Kaine as being almost a hybrid of Venom and Spider-Man.

Scarlet Spider to quote The Cars was, “just what I needed”. As I’ve been slowly wading into the territory of newer comics I’ve been looking to pick up a new book that I could get behind and follow. I love Spider-Man but hate what they’ve been doing with him recently (despite that all being about to change with Marvel NOW). I don’t like that he has a young side kick either. This was a chance for me to dive into a character that for all intents and purposes has a similar skill set to Spidey and operates within a different city where he is the sole defender. You don’t have to feel trapped either by 50 years of back history either. Plainly put, Scarlet Spider is like enjoying a darker Spider-Man with a much cooler costume before everything got to be too much. It’s back to basics in the best way. Despite the character of Kaine having a long back story none of that is required knowledge to enjoy this series, it’s literally the perfect jumping on point.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on November 15, 2012, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I agree! I’m really enjoying this series. I’m a bit behind but looking forward to picking up the minimum carnage crossover trade with Venom that is going to come out in a few weeks. Check back, because you better believe there will be a review!

  2. This is one of my favorite comics every month. I can’t wait to see where they take Kaine in the next year.

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