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.
The December solicits for Marvel Comics was recently released and it listed Scarlet Spider #25 as being the final issue joining the current Venom series in cancellation. I guess I’m not surprised; I’m sure sales wise a series about Peter Parker’s former evil clone isn’t a money maker, generally only appealing to a small niche audience. I just hadn’t expected the end to come so soon.
That old Parker luck isn’t just for the natural born; apparently it extends into the realm of cloning as well. I feel if you’re reading this you already have an idea who Scarlet Spider is. If not you can feel free to catch up with the beginning of his saga in Vol. 1. It’s cool, I’ll wait here.
Volume 2 covers issues #7-9 (The Second Master storyline) and issues #12.1-14. Issue #10 and 11 were compiled as part of the less than stellar Minimum Carnage crossover including Scarlet Spider, Venom and (surprise!) Carnage. It’s better off for all parties involved keeping that out of Volume 2.
Remember Carnage? After his decadent stay in Marvel Comics in the 1990’s, they eased up on him a little but couldn’t get rid of him. In case you couldn’t tell…he’s back and invading one of my new favorite series, Scarlet Spider. I was hooked immediately after reading Volume 1: Life After Death which covered issues #1-6. Now I’ve been waiting for Volume 2 to be released which has issues #7-9 and #12.1-14. But I’m still a few months away from that and found out that Minimum Carnage bridged the gap. What we have here is a Scarlet Spider crossover with the new Black OPs Venom, Flash Thompson. It spanned Venom #26 & 27, Scarlet Spider #10, 11 and 12 and was bookended by Minimum Carnage: Alpha & Omega. Written and drawn by Scarlet Spider’s regular team of Chris Yost and Koi Pham, Venom’s Cullen Bunn and Declan Shavey with additional art by Ian Medina.
*SPOILERS AHEAD SO PROCEED WITH CAUTION
As I wait a few weeks for the Scarlet Spider/Venom, Minimum Carnage crossover Trade Paperback to be released (and review it!) I thought I’d take a look at the storyline The Second Master which ran during issues #7-9 of Scarlet Spider. When we last left off, Kaine had taken the mantle of reluctant hero. He’s doing an admirable job, but still finding his footing.
Issue #7 opens with an explosion and a girl falling to her death. Scarlet Spider saves her and she has no problem immediately showing her gratitude and bedding Kaine. Unable to have anyone in his life that is normal, the girl reveals that she was the cause of the explosion at the Roxxon building. Disturbed and with someone beating down the door Kaine escapes into the city only to return to her apartment hours later and find it completely empty.
Scarlet Spider breaks into the Roxxon building and finds out that there had also recently been an explosion at a Roxxon oil rig off the coast of Galveston, Texas. Before he can uncover any more information he is apprehended by Roxxon CEO, David Walsh and his security team. Turns out the woman he saved earlier was Walsh’s daughter. To make matters worse, there’s a team of heroes called the Rangers at Walsh’s disposal waiting to snuff out Scarlet Spider.
The mystery deepens as Kaine doesn’t know who to trust or any Texas geography for that matter. As I’m sure you can guess, after brawling with the Rangers they later form an uneasy alliance to go to Galveston and get to the bottom of this mess. Things end up a little out of control for our heroes, but I won’t ruin the mystery for you.
What can I say, is it the best comic I’ve ever read? Certainly not, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It’s simple, engaging and fresh without an ounce of convolution…just like our dear friend Spider-Man. I had no idea the Rangers were an actual team that had been around for a few decades. I thought they were created as a parody of South West Super Heroes specifically for the Scarlet Spider series. Well, at least Kaine spends most of the issue making fun of them.
I should also note that the creative team switched starting with issue #7. Chris Yost had stayed on as writer but Robert Stegman has left to prepare for work on the Superior Spider-Man. Taking his place is Khoi Phom who is more than capable and does solid work, but I miss Stegman’s pencils. He was born for this book. Luckily, his art will still grace the covers.
That’s all for this time, but check in soon as we tackle Minimum Carnage.
All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.
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.