Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #22

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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...

After an upsetting team-up with Spider-Man, Kaine returned to Houston even more despondent than he was before. To make matters worse, he discovers his cellular degeneration had returned, putting an end to his new life. Soon after, he is attacked by Ben Reilly, who berates him for his years of torment. Kaine eventually succeeds in beating him, only to learn that he had been drugged- his cellular degeneration was a hallucination and the man he perceived to be Ben Reilly was really Kraven the Hunter. Meanwhile, all of Kaine’s friends had been attacked one-by-one by Ana Kraven. Their fate remains a mystery…

In Detail...

"Into the Grave: Part 2"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #22
Dec 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider vs Ana Kraven
Arc: Part 2 of "Into the Grave"
Writer:  Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham
Pencils:  David Baldeon, Patrick Olliffe, Tim Green
Inker:  Terry Pallot, Victor Olazaba
Cover Art:  Edgar Delgado, Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Chris Sotomayor, Lee Loughridge
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 comic opens to a zoo at night, where Scarlet Spider awakens in a freshly dug grave. He talks about a dream, in which the thunder became roars, which became drums. He quickly remembers the details of his fight with Kraven. As Kaine pulls himself from the grave he spots another grave…and then realizes he’s covered in blood…in the middle of some jungle creature’s cage (suddenly the roars make sense). Kraven taunts him, claiming a hero has made him weak, and that he is really a predator and will find strength in the hunt. At this time he is attacked by a tiger and a leopard, thus driving home the whole “hunt” thing.

We cut to Aracely, who is just waking up from…whatever knocked her unconscious. He tells her his own story, his battles with Spider-Man and final victory, and how it was stolen from him. He tells her how when Kaine was accidentally used for the ritual to bring him back, his “impure spirit” cursed him to never die. But since Kaine is now alive again, Kraven has something to hunt again. Aracely attempts to use her powers to manipulate him, but Kraven uses is knife to give her another dose of his usual jungle drugs (every Kraven story will involve these).

Meanwhile, Kaine manages to subdue the two jungle cats, but is immediately set upon by Ana Kraven. He goes after her and finds a wounded security guard. Despite clearly being a trap, Kraven goes after him and ends up caught in a net. The guard dies moments later, causing Ana to taunt Kaine’s failure. He gives her an ominous warning to start running, then bursts free from the net.

Back with Kraven and Aracely, the re-animated villain tells her that Kaine is like any other animal. All Kaine needs is to be pushed and the desire to kill will grow, which is exactly what Kraven is looking for.

Kaine begins to attack Ana, but she shows no fear, as she has already bested him before. He manages to momentarily stop her, but Ana is able to stab him…with a badge from the Houston Police Department. Kaine viciously returns the attack. Ana only laughs, taunting him that his friends are all dead, and Aracely is next. Kaine produces one of his stingers and gets ready to kill Ana when he thinks again of Ben Reilly and the conversation he had with the priest back in Scarlet Spider Vol 2. #6. He stops his stinger just before Ana’s eye, opting instead to tie her up. He knows his friends aren’t dead, because Kraven wants something from him.

Finally finding out where Kraven is, Kaine heads off to him. Upon his arrival, he finds that his friends are alive…but surrounded by loons and tigers and tied to posts. Kraven tells Kaine what he finally wants- for them to fight, predator against predator. If Kraven wins, or if Kaine refuses to fight, then he WILL kill his friends. What he wants is for Kaine to kill him.

In General...

All in all, I would say this was a pretty exciting issue. To me, it took a lot of what this series has done and been about (Kaine’s struggle to be a better man) and sort of streamlined it. That’s not to say this constant reminder isn’t getting a bit tired, though. It’s been mentioned it almost every single issue of this series. But the process is a bit faster and we still get to see Kaine’s darker side.

The “reveal” at the end of this issue isn’t so much of a surprise for anyone who read The Grim Hunt or the rest of this series up to this point. We all know Kaine is the one who can end Kraven’s…well it’s not really un-life. Either way, we know he can end it, but will he choose to? That’s one of the things I like about Kaine (and recently, Superior Spider-Man…we don’t know for sure if he will give in to that more violent impulse. Now admittedly, I may be a bit more gullible…with the recent news for this series, I was unsure if perhaps some of Kaine’s friends might not have made it to the end of this story. Something tells me Kaine isn’t going to get a story-book ending, so I could have seen one, or all, of his friends being killed.

There’s not too much else to say for this issue. A good continuation of what happened, but pretty light on story overall. Again, the art annoys me here. I would say I liked the majority of it, save for the last pages. The Kraven/Aracely pages were certainly well done, and an artist familiar to the Scarlet Spider/Spider-Man scene. This annoyance doesn’t affect my rating in any real way, it just is a bit odd to have 3 artists for one book when there’s no discernable reason to do so.

Overall Rating...

Again, a decent issue. I wouldn’t say it’s great only because it doesn’t progress the story really. It’s exciting enough and has some good character moments though. If a bit more had been done I would bump up the rating a bit. For now though, a good enough issue.