Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #6

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This review was first published on: Jun 2012.

Background...

Kaine continues to make a name for himself, performing heroic deeds, though with an admittedly darker twist. While he’s become the talk of the town (well, Houston, really), he still personally struggles with his own identity and being his own person.

In Detail...

"A Mighty Hunter Before The Lord"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #6
Aug 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Kaine vs Ana Kravinoff
Writer:  Christopher Yost
Artist:  Ryan Stegman
Cover Art:  Marte Garcia, 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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Issue
Review
Articles: Kraven The Hunter, Kravinoff, Ana

All of Houston is rallying behind the Scarlet Spider and all he’s done for the city, from random people on the street, to the police, to the mayor’s office. Despite his methods, Kaine has become quite admired in Houston! However, he still seeks his own individuality, leading him to get himself a tattoo. He is irked by the fact the populace has taken to the name “Scarlet Spider”, seeing as how he took Spidey’s stealth costume because it was black. Seems the new Madame Web did something to it that makes it red now though. While he muses on that, Aracely sneaks up on him and begins to drop more of her weird psychic powers, detailing Kaine’s emotions as the conversation progresses. From the shadows, a girl watches the pair.

While Kaine and Aracely dine on some barbeque, she tells him how the blue hoodie she wears annoys him, but also reminds him to be a better person (eh, get it?) and that thought reminds her of him. Kaine begins to get angry with all the mysteries surrounding her and her “abilities” (for example, she speaks English now because he can…but the other languages she knows?), but she can provide no answers. She does, however, tell him that she can also see “The Darkness”, which is coming for all them. Frustrated with her, he goes off to church to find Annabelle.

This is probably a good time to mention that Annabelle sings for some punk rock band at a church! This is also new information for the audience, so don’t go looking for other indicators of this information. While Kaine is moping again because he’s a danger to people like Annabelle, he is confronted by Ana Kravinoff, who has been absent since Amazing Spider-Man #637. Before Kaine can really properly react, she attacks and then runs off. When Kaine pursues her to the scaffolding, she again diverts him, this time throwing a Molotov Cocktail off the side. When Kaine attempts to save Annabelle, he realizes he’s been drugged by Ana’s initial attack.

The crowd disperses, leaving Kaine and Ana to fight. Kaine manages to shrug off the effects of the poison and proves to be quite a match for Ana. She refuses to give up, swearing to kill him again, just like she did to her brother (continuity!). The floor gives out beneath them and they fall into the basement. Kaine notices that Ana’s fighting is off, that she’s more savage. Before he can go contemplate this too much, the ceiling begins to collapse and he ends up saving Ana. She continues to rant about how weak he is and claims The Hunter is coming. While she continues to make threats, Kaine decides to flee, growing weaker from the poison.

Outside, Annabelle runs to Kaine’s side, worried about his injuries. He tries to warn her how dangerous he is, but she refuses to leave his side. The next morning, Kaine approaches the Reverend of the church, asking for help and answers as to why he, a bad person with a horrible past, has been given a chance when his brother (eh, get it?) was not. Of course, cue the joke about his name, and the Reverend takes him in. Kaine leaves feeling better, because while Scarlet Spider is not his name, he is trying to be a better man.

Meanwhile, in an undisclosed prison, The Salamander is approached by a mysterious figure who is calling him home to prepare “The Mexica”, leaving Aracely and Scarlet Spider to The Wolves. Once this is done, The Darkness will come.

In New York, the new Madame Web enjoys a quiet day with her daughter, until she is interrupted by an intense and dreadful vision. The only details we are given- SHE is coming back.

Finally, Ana reports back to Kraven on what she has seen of Kaine…and she knows it all- where he lives and who is most important to him. But he’s also changed, grown softer according to Ana. Kraven seems displeased by this and Ana asks him to kill her, but he refuses. There is hunting they must do….

In General...

I feel like this issue was a bit better than the last two. We’re finally starting to see some story development and movement here. I was happy that right out of the gate this series wasn’t trying to get caught up in a 6-issue story arc format, and I think it helped to approach it from a casual point so Yost could establish the characters, the connections and some points of development. But I am also happy to see he’s ready to move forward and he’s building some points up for later. What is this Darkness? Who is the man talking to Salamander, what is their connection to Aracely and the Darkness, and how will that affect future stories? Who is this “She” (please not the Queen again so soon)? A lot of story potential here and I hope to see Yost use it.

Kaine’s self hate is still pretty strong, which I suppose is to be expected- it’s part of the character and we’re only half a year into his own book. It’s also a nice contrast to Spider-Man: Peter has self hate because he feels guilt and burden, and at times, unworthy of respect. Kaine has self hate because he has done so much wrong and he wants to change, yet he always falls back on 1) running away or 2) violence. I would like to perhaps see this self-loathing get played down a bit more as Kaine begins to accept his role as well as become more comfortable with the methods he uses.

I also enjoy that despite his tendency to be very extreme, Houston seems to love the Scarlet Spider, while New York still has mistrust for Spider-Man, basically the nicest super person in all of Marvel. If this was done on purpose or not, I cannot tell, but it’s another nice little contrast. However, I do take issue with the fact that this issue implies Scarlet Spider is the only hero operating out of Houston, only because all the interviews before this series started mentioned that we would be seeing the Houston team from The Initiative. Ah well, it’s nice to have Ben Reilly officially recognized again in a series, since Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers only seem to want to mention clones in side comments about how much Spidey hates clones.

I also was happy to see that the end to The Grim Hunt was brought up here. Many times characters are left in definitive situations, such as being killed off, or in prison, or maybe trapped in some inescapable situation (such as Carnage in Amazing Spider-Man #431) only to just sort of show up again (such as Carnage in Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #10). This time though, Yost actually brought it back! Unfortunately, we don’t get any of the details or story as to what happened, but he does acknowledge the fact that Ana was told to kill Alyosha…and she did! I hope to see some Kraven action here, though I do feel like he belongs fighting Spidey…perhaps that will cause the obligatory cameo?

Overall Rating...

I am willing to rate this one a bit higher. The story is a bit choppy again, but I feel like this time its open for growth as well. That’s not to say this issue is without flaws- I would love to see more detail about the Kravinoff family and what happened to them (what did Ana do? How did they get back to America? Why come after Kaine and not Spider-Man?), but I also want to give this a chance to develop and see if the answers will come in time. I do wish that whole Iron Man thing from last issue was cleared up…one of the smartest men in the world didn’t do some follow-up on a nuclear threat?

Also, good bye to Ryan Stegman with this issue. Khoi Pham takes over next, so hopefully he can bring as much style to this book as Stegman did.

Footnote...

A...fond(?) farewell to Alyosha Kravinoff, star of the beloved (?) Spider-Man: Get Kraven.