Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #19

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This story is part of an Arc: "Wrath"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Aug 2013.

Background...

After being contacted by the Assassin’s Guild to fulfill his debt, Kaine flew to New York and seemingly killed the X-Men’s Wolverine. Of course, being Wolverine, this proved to be more of a minor inconvenience than anything permanent. The whole thing though turned out to be a plan by Kaine, in which he would pretend to kill Wolverine, throw off the guild, and then team up with the irate mutant to take down the Assassin’s Guild. The plan appeared to be going well, until the arrival of the mysterious force running the guild, the Red Death, appeared.

In Detail...

"Wrath part 3"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #19
Sep 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider and Wolverine vs the Red Death
Arc: Part 3 of "Wrath"
Writer:  Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham
Pencils:  Carlo Barberi
Inker:  Terry Pallot, Walden Wong
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
Add. Art:  Horacio Domingues
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela, Julio Soto, Rex Lokus
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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Kaine amusingly laments his situation, at the complete mercy of Candra, the Red Death (who, unlike last issue, is now sporting half a deformed face. Also, I was quite wrong on the whole “Enchantress” thing. Whoops!). Wolverine recognizes her from a previous run in with the X-Men. Judging by the picture, this adventure took place at some point in the 90s, so it’s quite the call back we’re getting here! At that time, the X-Men had seemingly killed Candra, but she quickly explains that she is an External, and that while her body died, her psyche lived. She had learned to harness power from death, and has been using tributes from the Assassin’s Guild to reform her body.

She has taken a particular interest in Kaine and Wolverine, both of whom have been “touched by death. She plans to complete that for them and use that power to revive fully. Kaine offers her Wolverine in exchange for letting him and his friend go. Who’s his friend? Why a spider of course. Candra is freaked out by the spider, a plan Kaine is quite proud of. Silly? Yes. Amusing? …Yeah, it kind of is, but it does seem a bit weird still.

Distracted by the spider, Kaine webs her face, a move which incapacitates her far more easily than it does everyone else that Spidey has done that to. Belladonna, who is none too pleased to see Kaine and Wolverine still alive, order the remaining assassins to kill them. Wolverine begins killing the flunkies while Belladonna attacks Scarlet Spider. He attempts to convince her that she should let them kill Candra and free the guild to act on its own. She does not agree.

Meanwhile, Candra finally rips the webbing from her face, thus destroying it further. While she begins attacking Kaine, Wolverine manages to sneak up on her and stab her (not sure where, we only see the sound effect of popped claws). Now dying (and leaking….green..liquid), Candra begins killing flunky assassins to regain her strength. While Kaine debates running and letting someone else handle it, the remaining named members of the Assassin’s Guild contemplate the same thing. Kaine, however, has a change of heart and convinces them they will spend their lives running from her unless they stop her now. Candra kills Reaper (after the guy loses both legs…) and the former Hand member, but she’s losing power slowly. Belladonna makes one final attack against Kaine, but he is saved by Flower, the Assassin’s Guild resident creepy child.

Candra toys with Wolverine, but as with all villains, pays the price for not acting sooner- Kaine gives her a stinger through the back of the head. Belladonna attempts to have the remaining flunkies kill Wolverine and Kaine, but the whole thing is cut short by the Arranger, last seen in Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #12.1. The Guild is now under the control of Wilson Fisk! Before anyone can move, a fleet of his Hand subordinates arrive. Wolverine is ready to fight, but Kaine feels no need, as he is the one who called. What a twist!

Seems that Fisk owed him a favor (I didn’t think that was how 12.1 ended, but ok, sure), so he used it to cancel his debt with the Guild and help Fisk gain access. This whole trip to New Orleans was just to carry out his plan with Fisk and was planned back when Kaine came to New York to find Wolverine. Wolverine is understandably furious, but still takes Kaine back to New York with him. He warns Kaine that his deals will catch up with him soon. Kaine reflects that he’s both made deals with the devil (figuratively. He’s not Peter after all. BUUURN) and been the devil, and if anyone wants a piece of him, they need to get in line. Dark roads ahead, folks!

In General...

So here we are at the end of another arc. However, unlike most, I found this one to be a bit more pleasing than usual.

I am still unsure exactly as to how Fisk owed Kaine anything, but overall, I find this to be a more interesting development than simply having Kaine take down the Assassin’s Guild or have his debt continue. But again, this sets up more interesting potential for future Scarlet Spider stories. Although, after the events of Superior Spider-Man #14, I’m not sure how Wilson Fisk’s empire is going to stay standing.

With SpOck being violent and arrogant as Peter, Kaine’s world-weary cynicism and “I can’t believe this is happening” shock to the ridiculousness that is the super hero world provides a bit of humor (albeit dark humor) to the Spider-Universe. While this has the potential of wearing thin, I am finding it to be a nice relief in a time when the formally snarky Spider-Man is spouting his own excellence. It also makes Kaine seem a bit more relatable- while I always loved a well-written Peter Parker zinger, sometimes Kaine’s disbelief just resounds well with me as a reader.

I’m not sure why exactly Wolverine decided to help Kaine out at the end (other than plot convenience), but I wouldn’t mind seeing these two cross paths again. I think it’s a nice parallel to Peter, whose humor and morals often annoyed Wolverine, yet it was those same morals that brought out a better side. Meanwhile Kaine’s self-serving nature annoys Wolverine here, but it’s his ruthlessness that made the two so effective. I guess I wouldn’t mind seeing some more pairings of Kaine with other heroes every so often.

I will also say it’s nice to see one of the story threads started in this series reach something of a wrap-up for now. I take it we won’t hear much (if anything) from Belladonna for some time, so we’re not just left sitting waiting on yet another resolution.

I do think my main complaint is that both this and Superior Spider-Man are starting to feel a little…same-y. Both feature a darker, violent Spider-Man and both are setting themselves up for a spectacular (pun not intended) failure with the dangerous and grandiose moves they are making. For the moment, I’m going to enjoy the ride on both titles.

Overall Rating...

Maybe it’s just because I was expecting more of a let down, but I kind of liked this issue. Not a stellar ending, but entertaining enough and it keeps things moving. Next up is the cross-over I was saying was inevitable back when Spider-Man was still Amazing. I do wonder how these two will mix…

Footnote...

I received an email a little while back and was unable to respond, so I will acknowledge it here! A fan of the site emailed me asking that I mention Kaine and Wolverine’s conversation from issue 18, in which they talked briefly of clones. Seeing as how Wolverine has a few of his own, seems we have quite a number of fans wanting to see a team-up or showdown between discarded clone Kaine Parker and troubled youth X-23. Maybe some day!