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Evil Geek Book Report – Scarlet Spider: Into The Grave + Hands Covered In Blood (Series Finale)

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So the Scarlet Spider series has finally ended. Yay(?) This book certainly had its ups and downs but started off so promisingly. We’re going to take a look at the final two arcs including the issue #25 series finale after the jump, so be forewarned you’ll be in spoiler town.

When we last left off with the Marvel Universe’s second favorite Peter Parker clone, we saw him and REAL Peter Parker aka The Superior Spider-Man (i.e. Doc Ock’s brain in Peter’s body…don’t you just love comic books?) cross paths because the Jackal was feeling diabolical and decided to snag some of that sweet ass Parker DNA. I wonder how much that goes for on the Marvel black market? After that, things get back on a track a little with Scarlet Spider issue #21 kicking off the Into The Grave storyline and offering us some classic comic book cover misdirection. This time showing Kaine face to face with his dead Scarlet Spider predecessor Ben Reilly.  It’s all just a dream…or more accurately emotional breakdown where Kaine is freaking out about not living up to the legacy of Ben and the title.

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That issue was more or less a prologue to the storyline which kicks into high gear with issue #22. Kaine wakes up in a grave (a call back no doubt to the classic Spidey – Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline). Kraven has returned because Kaine is one of two people in the Marvel U who can kill him. Way back, Kraven thought he killed Spidey thereby ending a long feud and then killed himself since his toughest prey had been captured. That didn’t last all that long, because he was resurrected by his family with the blood of Spider-Man. Well this didn’t sit well with Kraven because he didn’t ask to come back, in fact he was pretty happy dead. So his daughter Ana has been tailing Kaine as we saw in issue #6 because only the hand of Parker can kill Kraven…again.

Implementing a decent enough plan this time around, Kraven lures Kaine to the Zoo where the entire supporting cast of the series is tied up and held at bay by lions and the like. Kraven gives him the ultimatum that Kaine must kill him or each one of his friends will be tortured and then killed.  Well, Kaine and Kraven slug it out and Kaine laments that he doesn’t want to be the villain that Kraven is goating him to be by killing him so Ana Kraven takes a large chunk of flesh out of Donald’s stomach. Kaine flips shit and beats the hell out of Kraven. I’ll leave that alone if you want to read the series to find out what Kaine ultimately decides since that very decision has basically been the moral crux of the entire series. I think it was good idea in theory to make the last big story a high stakes version of that decision, the execution ended up being kind of dumb and laughable.

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That aside, once Kaine is able to free his friends, Donald is rushed to the hospital with fatal wounds. His husband Wally is a police officer with new found malice towards Kaine and decided to look up his police record. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have done this when he first discovered Scarlet Spider’s identity, but whatever maybe he was giving him benefit of the doubt.

This is where things get out of control. It’s unfortunate because it’s blatantly obvious Yost had long term plans for these subplots that were left on the back burner that he was forced to tie up in the span of 2 issues. Kaine laments that him being in Houston and trying to be a hero led to Donald being left in critical condition. We see the inevitable homage of the classic Spider-Man #50, Spider-Man No More panel with Kaine ditching his costume  in the garbage.

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Kaine and Aracely return to their hotel suite to find Annabelle there who promptly seduces Kaine. Wally bursts through the door with SWAT riot gear and a huge gun planning on decimating Kaine, meawhile another Annabelle is in the elevator on her way up to see Kaine with a black haired woman. While Kaine tries to talk Wally down and offers to be taken into custody, the other Annabelle and black haired girl also arrive. Ok, so the first Annabelle (aka the one Kaine slept with) turns out to Shathra. Confused? Me too, I had to google her. Turns out she’s some crazy Spider-Man astral plane villain from a decade ago. Oh. So that’s a little nutty. But guess what? The black haired girl was actually Zoe Walsh who you most certainly would not remember seeing since issue #9. She blamed Kaine for putting her dad in a coma at the end of the issue. Conveniently, she has a rocket launcher she plans on using.

Yea…so that’s where that issue ends and the next (and final) issue picks up and Kaine and Aracely are in Mexico and the story alternates between what’s going on there (beating up bad guys) and what happened where they last left off in Houston. I’ll wrap this up as quickly as possible for you, Zoe uses the rocket launcher and blows up the building, Kaine saves everybody with his webbing. Shathra attacks him and he turns into that gnarly looking version of himself known as The Other. Ultimately everyone is freaked out and him an Aracely retreat to Mexico where if you recall in the first issue that’s where Kaine was headed all along to live his live out in peace before getting mixed up with Aracely and staying in Houston.

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These last two issues were complete clusterfucks. We don’t really find out what happens to the supporting cast which is kind of interesting and leaves them open to come back I guess. We know that both Scarlet Spider and Aracely will be members of the New Warriors written by Yost (not mentioned in the issue, but announced for February 2014). So the huge gaping Aracely/Mexico/prophecy subplot that never really got fleshed out has potential to be carried on there.

I’m not even really sure where to start with all this. Besides the story being a complete rushed hackjob, they upped the price of the final issue by a buck for the sole reason to gouge consumers and they somehow spelled the second main character of the series Aracely’s name wrong…twice…on the same page. The Art by David Bladeon (who did the last 3 issues) is lackluster at best. If my count is correct this 25 issue series has had 7 different main artists. That’s insane. The most stable thing about the entire series besides Yost as writer was the fact that Ryan Stegman did all 25 covers, which I never dreamed would end up being the best thing about the book.

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So what started as a new, fresh and exciting book (not to mention one of my favorites) ends a completely unreadable, devoid of fun mess. As I mentioned before, I completely understand that when Yost found out the title was getting axed he did the best he could to get everything situated and to tie up loose ends for long time readers of the book in the best way that he could. Especially given the fact that he was already in the middle of a story arc. I’m sure he had a lot of ideas and things still left percolating that would have ended in much better ways if they were allowed to play out under their own volition. The truth is this book had taken a steep detour right around the Minimum Carnage crossover that it never recovered from and just continued to get worse. This cancellation obviously didn’t help much with that. What happened?

Kaine’s story will continue, hell no one expected it to last this long to begin with. We’ll have to wait and see if New Warriors is a hit and if Scarlet Spider is destined to be better off in a team book as opposed to a solo one. For right now, I’m glad we can give this title the Old Yeller treatment and put it out of its misery.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on December 30, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. After they started Superior Spider-Man, a book about a darker Spidey became redundant.

    It’s a shame because it built a decent cast and was able to get out of the over-crowded New York scene. The fact Wally and Donald were written as “characters that are gay” and not “gay characters” was great as well, they were actually people not a stereotype or heavy-handed agenda mascots.

    I’m a bit behind with my Marvel so I will be getting New Warriors and hoping its done as well as early Scarlet and avoids the cancellation curse of every team book I buy.

  1. Pingback: Evil Geek Book Report – Moon Knight Volume 5 By Bendis & Maleev | "The Brotherhood of Evil Geeks"

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