Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #4

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This review was first published on: May 2012.

Background...

Kaine’s adventures in Texas are just beginning, but he’s already drawn quite a bit of heat! After foiling an assassination attempt on his friend Dr. Meland, Kaine has drawn the attention of the Assassin’s Guild, a group with whom he apparently has connections to from his past. Now he has to watch Meland, as well as his own back!

In Detail...

"Whoever Finds Me...Will Kill Me!"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #4
Jun 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider (Kaine) fights Assassin's Guild
Writer:  Christopher Yost
Artist:  Ryan Stegman
Inker:  Michael Babinski, Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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

The issue opens to a scene from Kaine’s past, though the timing is not given. Kaine stands over a body which bears his signature mark on it. This seems to upset the rather large group of masked assassins behind him. They present him with a holographic message from Belladonna, leader of the Assassin’s Guild. It seems that Belladonna is a bit upset because Kaine is a hired killer and has taken a few of the Guild’s contracts! She “offers” to let Kaine join them and make up for the kills (and money) that the Guild has lost. Kaine gives her a rather harshly worded refusal, which of course means they’ll now be after him.

Cut to present day, where the Scarlet Spider is in the middle of a battle with two Assassin Guild members. Even Kaine himself comments on the speed of the events here (apparently it’s been less than a day since last issue). He also begins to again bemoan the fact that he didn’t keep running.

SS uses the bullets fired from one of the assassins (who later calls himself Smithy, so I guess that’s his name? I’ve been trying to Google some answers here) to try and stop another. Of course, the one he tries to kill is a ninja of the Hand, and is a bit resistant to both the bullets and stabbing Kaine gives him. This does not deter him though and he throws the ninja off the roof of a building.

Meanwhile, Dr. Meland and Officer Layton make a visit to Terrence Mitchell. Meland wants to go to the police, but Layton brushes that offer saying he is the police and that they can’t just accuse Mitchell of hiring assassins without proof. Mitchell apparently owns half the real estate in Houston so such a claim could bring them trouble. While they do find Mitchell, he happens to have one of the nameless hired assassins with him, waiting for Meland. That’s some good foresight!

In a second interlude, Annabelle and Aracely are out shopping for the latter with money provided by Kaine. Aracely seems easily distracted by the many sights within the mall, which exasperates Annabelle. However, it is at this point that we learn there may be more to Aracely than previously seen: She can “feel” Kaine fighting out in the city, a fact she expresses in perfect English (rather than the Spanish she’s been speaking the previous issues).

Kaine meanwhile is dealing with his actions: His fight now may involve innocents because he threw the Hand Ninja off the building. He follows him, but Smithy appears behind him, apparently capable of teleportation! He manages to get a shot off, hitting Kaine in the shoulder before Kaine disarms him. Smithy is able to call forth any gun he wants and while he takes a moment to throw out some exposition, Kaine breaks both his hands! His victory is short lived though as yet another figure attacks. He now is facing a speedster in a skull mask and a little girl who is just echoing what he says.

Back at Terrence Mitchell’s house, the assassin and Offcier Layton are in a stand-off. Meland tries to convince Mithcell that he didn’t let his family die, but that they were dead before he arrived. He also tells him that he mourns each patient he loses and that, while he is haunted by that, they both need to find a way to move on.

Kaine is taking quite the beating on his end, but he demonstrates that he too has a rather snarky side, much like his “brother” Peter Parker. He mentally acknowledges that Belladonna has sent her top people after him and that he deserves to die after all he’s done. He does not feel, however, that he deserves it from this crew. He quickly activates his suits built in invisibility and dispatches of the Hand Ninja by…putting a hand through his head? Ew.

Grabbing a sword from…the ninja, I guess…Kaine then proceeds to cut off the speedster’s leg, taking another of his attackers out. When Flower (the child) tries to attack him, he trips her with his webs, knocking her out. Smithy tries to stand up to Kaine, but he is not afraid of him in his current condition. Kaine uses Smithy’s phone to contact Belladonna and call off the hit on Meland and himself. In return, he gives her an “offer”: She accepts and he does one job for her or she denies and he kills the entire guild, starting with her. She accepts. Back at Mitchell’s house, the assassin vanishes and Mitchell breaks down crying.

At the Four Seasons Hotel, Aracely demonstrates for Annabelle fluency in several languages. Kaine sneaks back in, though not unnoticed to Aracely. He is again haunted by the people he has killed, claiming that while he is healed, he can never be free of what he’s done. In the other room, the Scarlet Spider has made the news and Aracely is excited to see Kaine on TV…sharing his alter-ego with Annabelle!

In General...

I admit, I was a bit disappointed by this issue. Things happened very quickly, almost as if writer Christopher Yost did not want to do this issue, or had bigger plans that he needed to cut back.

The issue starts in the middle of a battle. Last issue ended with Kaine saying the Guild would be coming for him and Meland and then BOOM! We’re right there. No build up, no explanation for how they tracked him so easily or their attack….they’re just there.

Also, Meland pretty quickly picks up on the fact that Mitchell is responsible for this. No investigative work or anything! I mean, it’s easy for as the reader to know because we were shown it. Granted, Mitchell did threaten him, but that was weeks ago and the man just lost his family. I don’t think I would really rely on anything said in a situation like that, but this is comics. Also, is it just me, or does this guild full of super-powered criminals seem like an extreme choice to kill a normal guy?

I also admit to doing bit of internet searching for this review because I do not know anything about the Assassin’s Guild (besides what the name implies). I did not find much, but I did find that apparently, Terrence Mitchell is supposed to be the guy from issue 1 that Kaine stops from hitting the old lady. What? Really? Did I miss that? Also, where did Mitchell’s hair go from last issue to this one?

One other thing I wanted to nitpick…how does Kaine power his suit? When Spider-Man used it, he commented a few issues later that it was still charging and could not be used. How is Kaine handling that? Also, where does the suit plug in?

I am interested in seeing where Yost is going with Aracely’s history and hinted at powers. She obviously has more going on than we’ve seen thus far, but the details are scant. Here’s hoping the answer is worth the wait and dedication!

I also sort of like where this issue ended, with Kaine owing a debt to Belladonna. His willingness to go to these darker sides and harsher crime handling methods make this book a point of interest for me. I also enjoy that he has that same sarcastic side that Spider-Man has, but it definitely has a bit of a rougher edge to it. While I may have been a bit let down by this issue, I won’t let it stop me from enjoying what else this book has and can do.

Overall Rating...

This issue just moved a bit too fast for me. In a few pages, the entire Terrence Mitchell story was figured out and resolved. I feel like they somewhat failed in making him seem important. They just casually mention he’s rich and owns a ton of real estate, but other than that, there’s nothing else to suggest that. Also, a few lines from Meland are enough for him to break down and regret what he’s done? And seriously, where did all his hair go?!

On the Scarlet Spider’s end…other than his debt to Belladonna, there’s not much going on here. We already know he had a dark past, so this issue doesn’t really tell us much about that. This story was more about the side characters than Kaine himself, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. By focusing on something outside the title character, you have a bit more to invest in time and story wise. However, I wish the story was planned out a bit more than just the rapid series of fights and assumptions that we got. Ah, well…better luck next time…

Footnote...

Shout out to fellow SpiderFan reviewer Jesse for having his letter printed in this issue! Very exciting stuff!