Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #21

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This story is part of an Arc: "Into the Grave"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Nov 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. After breaking up a Jackal cloning ordeal, Kaine and SpOck parted ways, with Kaine deeply shaken by the experience and Ock-as-Peter’s words. Upon arriving in Houston, Kaine is bit by a bug, and returns to his life in the hotel. Later that evening, he discovers his scars marking clone degeneration have returned…

In Detail...

"Into the Grave: Part 1"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #21
Nov 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider vs "Scarlet Spider"
Arc: Part 1 of "Into the Grave"
Writer:  Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham
Pencils:  Carlo Barberi, David Baldeon
Inker:  Terry Pallot, Victor Olazaba
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman, Zach Howard
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Chris Sotomayor
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

The front desk of the Four Seasons Hotel receives another call about the “man in the presidential suite” making noise. The man in question, Kaine, is having a break down after discovering that he is once again dying from clone degeneration. Aracely does not understand why Kaine is reacting so violently, but can feel his emotions. However, when she tries to enter his mind, she is attacked by his “Other” and she backs off. Kaine, feeling even more guilty now, puts on his mask and swings away. Before he can get far, Kaine blacks out, and angrily strikes out at a random citizen while claiming he is not a hero. It’s at this point he’s confronted by possibly the greatest ghost of his past: Ben Reilly, the original Scarlet Spider!

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Donald Meland is finishing an operation and is called to his office regarding a frightened phone call he received from Aracely. He has his assistant call his husband, Wally, while he tries to contact Aracely. However, before he can, his office loses power…and a knife flashes in the dark…

Back with Kaine, Ben begins assaulting his “brother”, talking about all that he has taken from him and how he tormented him. Kaine flees the scene to think.

We shift scenes again, as Annabelle Adams also receives a call from Aracely. When she goes to her bathroom, she is attacked by an unseen assailant.

Out in the rain, Kaine tries to rationalize what he’s seeing as a result of his brain degenerating. Ben returns and continues his assault (both verbal and physical). Kaine begins to talk back finally. He freely admits he was a monster and that his time in Houston has been his attempt to fix that. He also realizes the real Ben Reilly would appreciate that and calls “Ben’s” bluff…until he removes his mask and confirms his identity.

At the home of Donald Meland and Wally Layton, Wally is just returning to found the power out there as well. He leaves a message for Donald before discovering their pet dog has been killed. Before he can investigate further, he too is attacked.

Kaine, having enough of Ben’s abuse, decides to attack him head on. His “Other” begins to talk to him, telling him to kill him. At this time, Spider-Man also appears, telling Kaine to kill Ben before he can steal Kaine’s life too. The Jackal also appears and goads Kaine into murdering Ben.

Back at the hotel, Aracely is panicking, urging Kaine to “fight it”, and that “It’s not real”. Before she can do anything else, she is attacked by Ana Kraven.

Eventually, Kaine is able to best Ben, but won’t kill him. At this point, he begins to collapse, realizing he’s been drugged. And his cellular degeneration? A hallucinogenic effect of the drugs- he's fine, of course. “Ben” explains it wasn’t a bug at the airport (REALLY?!), but a blow dart that security would not be looking for. And of course, it’s not Ben…it’s Kraven the Hunter, seeking an end to the life bestowed upon in The Grim Hunt. This time, Kaine is more than ready to oblige.

In General...

Well, let’s get this out of the way first…we all knew that Ben was not in fact returning, and we all could guess it was NOT a mosquito which bit Kaine. Ok, we’re done with that then.

I liked this issue because we did get to see some sense of closure on the whole “Ben/Kaine” dynamic. Granted, it’s the same thing we’ve been seeing since day 1 of this series, but it was good to see Kaine stop moping and realize he’s making amends and that his past can’t keep haunting him.

We also get to see some resolution to Kraven- since his return, he has not been used in Amazing or Superior Spider-Man, making it all seem rather pointless. He was in this series way back in the beginning, and then quieted back down again. I don’t think that’s a bad thing necessarily, since most fans were content to leave him dead. Kraven’s death is arguably one of the most iconic moments for long-time Spider-Man fans, so it’s probably best to either keep him out of the spotlight.

I do want to address Kaine’s companions for a moment. One of the things that I liked about this book was how readily it established a supporting case for Kaine. I felt like that may help it survive in the long run. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a lot of time on panel, and neither has Kaine’s personal life. Does this mean we’ve seen the end of them? Probably not, but Yost may be taking a more grim turn here than expected!

The art in this issue does bug me though- yet again we have multiple artists, and this creates a bit of visual whip-lash when going between scenes. Still, not a huge problem, but I prefer one artist per book…the multiple artists thing works sometimes for flash-backs or for multiple stories within a double sized issue, but here, it sort of distracts.

Overall Rating...

A decent issue. It’s all set-up for what’s to come, but it flows from last issue very nicely and prepares for what’s to come next. My biggest gripe is the art…too very different styles. It’s a bit jarring for me, but I’m just one person.

Footnote...

Apologies for the delays in reviews. At this time I HAVE read #22 (review very soon), but not #23. I will soon and will have a review for that when I’m done!