Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #20

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This story is part of an Arc: "Sibling Rivalry"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: Sep 2013.

Background...

While in New York, Kaine decided to check in on his “brother”. Of course, what he (and the rest of the super hero community) does not know is that Otto Octavius is now Spider-Man. Long time fans will remember that Kaine once killed Otto during the events of the Clone Saga. Otto also remembers this little detail and uses this opportunity to not only label Kaine as an inhuman monster, but also to get his long awaited revenge. Before the fight can go on too long though, the Jackal arrives with some monster spider clones, now infused with mutant abilities. The two Parkers attempt to take him down, but a shot from a Gwen Stacy clone catches them both off guard, leaving them at the mercy of the Jackal’s crew.

In Detail...

"Sibling Rivalry Part 2"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #20
Oct 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider and SpOck vs Jackal
Arc: Part 2 of "Sibling Rivalry"
Writer:  Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham
Artist:  Bit, In-Hyuk Lee, Lee Loughridge, Paco Medina, Pat Oliffe
Inker:  Juan Vlasco
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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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Articles: The Jackal

As with most issues, we begin with the “My name is Kaine,” line, as the aforementioned clone recalls his “birth” and wakening in a tube to see a Gwen clone speak to him, as another begins to degenerate. He slowly regains consciousness to his current situation, as we have one more flash of him being thrown into a pit of discarded clones. As the Gwen clone from last issue begins to tell Kaine how his eventual escape brought them all happiness, SpOck cuts her off, making several biting comments about their “birth” and “condition”. At this point the Jackal arrives.

Spider-Man is not having the typical hero/villain banter time and wants to know what the Jackal’s plan is- this is all bigger than usual. The Jackal tells him that his plan is to put a piece of Peter’s DNA into every thing he allows to live, a response which seems to shake SpOck. Jackal is undeterred and wants his new samples, taunting Kaine with the idea of the perfect clone (Ben Reilly!). “Peter” mocks Jackal for not taking advantage of his time and using it to tell him the details of his plan instead. However, the Jackal has already taken what he needs- blood, hair, saliva, nail clippings…and “others, in case [he] decides to try something more old fashioned…” (uh….ew?). It’s at this point that Kaine, despite the supposedly reinforced chains, breaks free of captivity. He makes a snappy one-liner and attacks the Jackal, but is stopped by the mutant spider-clones before he can reach him.

Kaine leaps into action, but knows it’s only a matter of time until one gets him. Using one of the spider-clone’s eye beams, he frees Spidey. Carrion attempts to control Kaine, but is mentally stopped by “The Other” in Kaine’s brain. In the real world, Kaine drops Carrion with a punch and prepares to kill him, when a Miles Warren clone stops him. Spidey, in turns, stops the clone and turns his attention to the Gwen clone. He attempts to kill her, but is stopped by Kaine. SpOck tells them that all clones are “a worthless mockery of humanity”, stunning both clones.

Otto tries to think of a plan to stop the whole thing, and attempts to remember what Peter remembered about a smokestack (references!), but cannot recall. He is content to just let everyone present kill each other, but can’t allow the Jackal to steal his genetic material. Luckily a hydrogen tank is nearby, and SpOck throws a valve handle at to, causing it to explode (not sure when he detached the handle, but whatever).

Kaine is surprised by “Peter’s” actions, but assumes he has a plan. He attempts to save the Gwen clone, but she won’t go with him and is caught in the explosion as the whole facility is brought down. Otto is admiring how his one action has brought an end to so many things, but was not expecting Kaine to escape. Kaine questions what he was thinking and while Otto begins to give an explanation about efficiency, Kaine punches him in the jaw. Otto tells him that pretending to be a hero won’t change what Kaine has done to him, but Kaine leaves, telling him that Spider-Man IS a hero…and he should act like it.

Epilogue 1: Landing in Houston, Kaine refuses to talk or think about what’s happened. As he leaves a the plane, something “bites” him, but he’s more concerned about what “Peter” said. How could someone who believed in him before call him a monster now. He wonders what this could mean about his second chance at life, but not before being stopped by the new horror in the mirror- the return of his cellular degeneration!

Epilogue 2: Carrior and the Jackal return to the destroyed hide-out, looking to salvage what they can. He lost his Peter samples and his mutant samples were “off-site”. But he did find some samples from Kaine…and while he doesn’t like to make clones of clones, he’ll try it for…Spidercide 2.0!

In General...

A short story, but personally, one I enjoyed. It managed to wrap up all the details of this arc rather nicely without getting too caught up in extraneous details. It also provides yet another interesting future story idea- the return of Kaine’s degeneration and Spidercide 2.0 (fans from way back are probably rolling their eyes about that one).

Now, as I have been awaiting Peter’s presence in this series since it started, I was happy we finally got this cross-over, just not in the way I expected. There’s more of a personal dynamic here this time then in Superior Spider-Man Team-up #2, even if it is brief. I enjoyed seeing how Otto’s words so deeply affected Kaine. This is a man who supposedly doesn’t care what others think or even really LIKE Peter…so to see how much his opinion matters to Kaine is an interesting character quirk. I think my main complaint is that I never really saw Peter as having supported Kaine. Granted, I didn’t start reading Spider-Man until almost the end of the clone saga, but even during Spider-Island he was kind of nasty to him. Eh, whatever…to me it made Kaine more interesting this issue.

I will also admit I found this issue’s end to be genuinely intriguing and…potentially sad? What does the return of the cellular degeneration mean? It is of course most likely due to whatever “bit” him at the end of the issue, but we will see.

The art for this issue is pretty amazing, in my opinion. It’s not your typical comic style and it’s nice to see this title get some quality treatment! Sadly this is just a one issue thing, but it worked. I do wish Stegman was back on this title, but the covers he’s been supplying are top notch!

Overall Rating...

Another story/issue I liked. We see Kaine grow a bit by way of his own self-doubt. We also finally got the Spidey/Scarlet mix and a tease of future…unpleasantness…between them. Next issue teases the return of Ben Reilly, which we all know is some sort of hoax. But what KIND of hoax?

Footnote...

As of writing this review I have not yet read the already released issue 21. I know some of the details, but did not respond to them in this so as to keep the review relevant to this issue. Now, on to some big news, somewhat spoiler related:

“Scarlet Spider” is being cancelled as of issue 25. This is sad news for me, as I have been enjoying this title and have been excited by all the future plot points Yost has been dropping. In my review for issue 1 I didn’t think this title would last more than 2 years, just based on trends from other new series Marvel had started. I had hope based on interviews with Yost and the way he kept dropping hints at other stories, but sadly, it seems those did not pan out. My guess is Kaine will be showing up in the pages of Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, as it is also written by Yost. But still, sad to see it go.