Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #3

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This review was first published on: Apr 2012.

Background...

After the events of Spider-Island, Peter Parker clone Kaine is healed and looking to start his life anew. He initially decides to make his way to Mexico, but after spending a bit of time on the road, he takes a quick break in Houston. Of course, this leads to him finding and saving someone, in this case a young girl named Aracely. Before he can continue on to Mexico, he is talked into staying by a doctor and a policeman, who say that he can solve problems the cops can’t. Kaine takes Aracely, who is technically an illegal immigrant and thus has a risk of being deported, under his care and decides that he’ll stay in Houston for now.

In Detail...

"Scarlet Fury!"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #3
May 2012 : SM Title
Writer:  Christopher Yost
Artist:  Ryan Stegman
Inker:  Michael Babinski, Wade von Grawbadger
Lettering:  Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Andres Mossa, Marte Gracia
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Tom Brennan
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Review

Three weeks prior to the start of the story, Dr. Meland (same guy from the first two isses) is attempting to save a mother and daughter who were in a car accident. Unfortunately, he is unable to save either patient and must inform the husband (Terrence Mitchell) of his loss. Terrence immediately blames Meland and makes a threat against his life.

The scene cuts to present day, where Scarlet Spider stops a man from assaulting a woman. Proving again that he’s not like his “brother”, he makes some pretty intense threats to frighten the man. Meanwhile, an unknown person is observing and recording all of this. While satisfied with how he handled the situation, he kicks himself for not finding out where to get medicine for Aracely. Moments later he comes up short on buildings, realizing that the Houston skyline is not quite….full….as New York’s.

Back at the Four Seasons hotel, Kaine is trying to get help from the female bartender, Annabelle Adams (apparently these Spider-Man types have a thing for redheads). While she tries to get information out of him, he is unwilling to share. She agrees to help him anyways. Back in Kaine’s room, Aracely is just waking up and is surprised by where she is. As Annabelle and Kaine enter, Aracely attacks them, screaming she won’t let them kill her (I assume she jumps to this conclusion because she has no clue who they are and based on the events of last issue). At this point, Dr. Meland arrives looking for Kaine, which stuns Aracely enough to stop her from attacking Annabelle.

While Meland checks Aracely out, Annabelle assumes that Kaine is keeping the girl in his room for perverted purposes until Meland comes to his defense. Meland also tells her he needs supplies from the hospital, which is currently shut down from the attack. He picks up some medicine and then goes to his office, letting Kaine, in his Scarlet Spider gear, in. At this point it’s revealed that Dr. Meland is married to Officer Layton from the first two issues. Before they can leave a sniper takes a shot at Meland. Kaine pushes him out of the way and finds the shooter.

A fight between the two ensues, with the sniper managing to get some hits in. Much like his earlier attempts at heroics, Kaine’s attacks are all rather vicious, including breaking the shooter’s arm. When Kaine questions him as to his motives, the shooter tells him it’s against guild rules to reveal the client.

At this point, Kaine realizes who he’s up against, but a smoke grenade to the face prevents him from stopping the shooter. The shooter recognizes Kaine when he pulls his mask off toe breathe and takes the opportunity to flee. Later, back at the hospital, Officer Layton arrives and Kaine informs the pair that there’s a contract out on Meland and that “they” will be coming out in force. Who are “they”? The Assassin’s Guild and they’ll be coming after Kaine too now!

In General...

I tell you, writing these reviews has made me study the stories a little deeper than I might have before. Granted, I think I always had a bit more of a critical mind, but re-reading them and inspecting them in detail makes me question certain story points I might have otherwise ignored. That being said, my first read through this issue, I was pretty pleased with it. It had one point that irked me a bit, but otherwise I enjoyed it. And after re-reading through it, I still enjoy it and look forward to SS #4, but there are a few other points that sort of bother me.

The first thing, and this I caught the first time through, is how exactly Meland knows who Kaine is and where he’s living. At the end of last issue, Meland and Layton convince Kaine to stick around and be Houston’s vigilante hero. However, he never gives a name or location and just sort of jumps out the window. Now suddenly he knows where to find him? It’s details like that the bother me, because that’s kind of big story wise.

Second, why did Meland have Kaine join him at the hospital and why did he have him come in costume? He didn’t know he was under attack and it’s not like he needed Kaine’s abilities to get in. Granted this just seems to be a point to move the story along, but it seems a bit convenient.

Third, how did Kaine know the sniper was there? He couldn’t see the targeting laser dot and he has no Spider-sense. He just shoved him out of the way because Meland seemed surprised by something.

Ok, that’s enough nitpicking from me. These might seem minor, but every so often it is details like this that get to me, sort of take me as the reader out of the story. I suppose the only other issue I have is still with the series as a whole. Right now, I am having difficulty separating the idea of Kaine from Scarlet Spider. Writing about Spider-Man, I feel like it’s easy to say “Peter did this” or “Spidey did that”. The character’s history and personality let the writer easily separate the two. However, until this series started, Kaine has always just been Kaine. He had no other persona, no other side he hides in or pretended to be. So even though he’s in costume, he’s still just “Kaine” to me. Maybe as the series goes on, it’ll come naturally, but in my reviews so far I have to make a conscious effort to use “Scarlet Spider” or “SS” and even that feels forced.

Now, as for this issue, I still enjoy it. It’s nice to see Kaine getting his own cast of characters and having their own stories established, even if just a bit. We’re still only a few issues in, so there’s still time for growth. Now, I have no clue who the Assassin’s Guild is, or what Kaine’s history with them is, so the reveal this issue of their tie-in doesn’t do much for me shock wise. It’s time like these that make me miss the mid- to late 90’s gate fold covers with the character bios and story summaries.

The art this issue is still great, though a few panels (such as when Annabelle and Kaine are arguing) look a little…anime-ish to me. Still between the look of the characters, the Scarlet Spider scenes and the wonderful job on inks, this book certainly has a very appealing look to it.

Overall Rating...

Originally, I was going to give this a 3.5, but my gripes made me lower it a bit. Perhaps 3 might seem too high, but I am still interested in this series and I feel like it’s got a good bit of steam on it. Yost clearly is trying to establish some story here and wants to keep things going, and I hope he does. Maybe it’s because it’s still only early on, but I don’t feel like this book is just going from one story arc to the next, with little overall development. I guess what I am trying to say is I like that Yost is trying to create a little world here that doesn’t rely solely on Kaine and for the moment, he doesn’t feel like he’s trying to fit to a 6-issue, trade paperback form story. While I can’t speak for my fellow Spider-Fan reviewers, I personally am enjoying this series.