Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #9

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Second Master"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Oct 2012.

Background...

Scarlet Spider has found himself in the middle of a crazy scheme created by Roxxon, Marvel’s go-to in evil oil and industry people. After saving C.E.O David Walsh’s daughter from an explosion that she herself caused, Scarlet Spider discovers that the company has been hiding some incredibly shady practices at their Galveston drilling rig. With the Rangers on his tail, Scarlet makes his way to Galveston only to discover that the rig contains numerous dead bodies and a monstrous blue energy creature, who is contained in the body of another person!

In Detail...

"The Second Master Part 3"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #9
Nov 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider vs Mammon
Arc: Part 3 of "The Second Master"
Writer:  Christopher Yost
Pencils:  Khoi Pham
Inker:  Barry Ketcham, Julio Soto, Tom Palmer
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela, Edgar Delgado, Julio Soto
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Editor:  Tom Brennan
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Review

Scarlet Spider and the Rangers are facing down Mammon (the giant monster from last issue), while Kaine mentally notes his hatred for everyone who pushed him to be a good person. So far all his decisions to help people have led to things going completely out of control, and he’s not too happy with the results. As Mammon begins to tear the facility apart, Scarlet Spider, Shooting Star, and Red Wolf find the scientist who has been leading the…”research”. He explains that some time ago, one of their rigs had found a self-sustaining energy source buried in the waters below it. Walsh wanted it, and even after they discovered that it was a sentient creature that needed a host to live! Of course, it burns through the host (and at a faster rate each time), so they’ve been bringing in people from Mexican cartels to serve as hosts (perhaps, relating back to issue 1…?).

At this moment, Walsh arrives with his own armored troops, ordering them to send Zoe back to the asylum and to kill the heroes. Between Mammon’s rampage and the heroes working together, the troops don’t last long (about 3 panels). Scarlet realizes that Mammon’s host is about to die and launches himself through it, rescuing the man. This leaves Mammon to seek out a new host though. Fifty-One attempts to mentally connect to the beast, but to no avail.

Mammon turns his sights on David and Zoe, who are arguing about her return to the asylum (seems she’s got more issues than we thought). While Mammon heads for Zoe, David pushes her out of the way, becoming the new host. While Kaine is reluctant to help him because of the awful things Walsh has done, he formulates a plan- realizing that Roxxon pulled it out of the oil, he has the Rangers distract it so it can be lead to the oil tanks.

While the Rangers are getting its attention, Scarlet Spider uses his “Mark of Kaine” on Walsh to get it to follow him (guess he only needed it to focus on them for a few seconds). The Rangers realize that he might very well be sacrificing himself, as heroes are wont to do. Now that he has it near the oil though, Scarlet webs Walsh out of Mammon’s hold, causing the creature to attempt to use him as the host (I think that’s the plan). SS jumps out of the way just in time, causing a huge explosion and for Mammon to once again be trapped in the oil. And even better, both Kaine and Walsh survived! However, something is wrong and it seems maybe Mammon left a piece of himself inside Walsh. Either way, he’s rushed to the hospital, with Zoe at his side. A new C.E.O. steps in to cover up what happened.

Afterwards, the Rangers vow to keep an eye on Roxxon, but SS isn’t impressed, considering how they’ve done nothing so far. They begin to extend him membership, but Kaine instead chooses to give Texas Twister a fist in the face. They yell after him that all the people of Houston are his responsibility, something he realizes he can’t escape.

At the Houston Medical Center, Zoe has a new appreciation for her father after his sacrifice. She now controls his estate and has decided that the best way to repay all he has done for her? Get revenge on Kaine. And at the very least, she knows his face…

In General...

I liked this issue! It was good to see a story get fuller development and some closure, while once again, build more potential stories for the future.

I liked Scarlet’s interactions with the Rangers and his closing thoughts to them. I didn’t imagine he’d become a member, so I do hope to see his aggressive send-off to them have consequences in future issues. I am also interested in what will happen with Zoe now. Like all heroes, Kaine now has someone seeking to get revenge on him for personal reasons. It’s probably a bit less common that he literally slept with the enemy though. And because of this, she knows his face! That could be trouble, right?

I do hope that Yost isn’t biting off more than he can chew here though. Based on the stories so far, a lot of them end with someone seeking revenge, Kaine owing them something (the Assassin’s Guild), or an ominous threat hanging over his head. And every time I mention how excited I am for future stories, but unless they are able to get addressed at some point, then all that potential is going to be wasted. However, based on upcoming months previews, it does seem that this book will be continuing for at least a bit longer, so let’s keep our fingers crossed!

I was a bit distracted this issue by the glaring art/inking shift that seemed to occur for a few pages half-way through. Was it just me? Again, Pham’s art isn’t doing a whole lot for me, but of the three he has done so far, I think this might be the best.

Overall Rating...

A solid enough issue and a nice conclusion to this arc. While Yost may not be the best when it comes to fully explaining the details or seems to assume the audience will make the connections, I feel like here he did a fine job of tying things together. Let’s see how this “Minimum Carnage” story goes…

Footnote...

I received an email informing me that the Rangers have a bit more history than just this story. My bad! I remember seeing them in the final issue of “Civil War” and then nothing til now, so I spoke without having full knowledge of their history. Thankfully we have dedicated fans here and one of them was nice enough to politely point out my mistake and give me a quick comics history lesson!