Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #25

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This story is part of an Arc: "Hands Covered in Blood"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: Jan 2014.

Background...

Kaine was beginning to establish a life for himself and he had a close circle of friends. Despite his fears, they accepted him for who he was. Until Kraven came back. In a brutal battle, Kraven’s daughter grievously wounded Dr. Donald Meland, one of Kaine’s friends and the husband on Officer Wally Layton. After doing some research, Wally discovered the truth of Kaine’s past and has come to his room at the Four Seasons Hotel to arrest him. At the same time, Shathra, a mystical enemy of Peter Parker’s has come to get Kaine. And to add to the mix, Zoe Walsh returned, looking for revenge for her father (Roxxon C.E.O. David Walsh). Before anyone could move, Zoe fired a rocket into the hotel room, crowded with friend and foe alike…

In Detail...

"Finale"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #25
Mar 2014 : SM Title
Summary: Kaine leaves the hero life...for now
Arc: Part 2 of "Hands Covered in Blood"
Writer:  Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham
Artist:  David Baldeon
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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 finale begins after the events in the hotel, in Monterrey, Mexico. Similar to the beginning of this series, a shady deal is just concluding, only now, Kaine’s not alone- his partner, Hummingbird/Aracely is with him. The two stop the deal and Kaine makes off with the money. Aracely tries to stop him to discuss Houston, but he won’t listen. After all that happened, he blames himself.

The two continue their trip, Kaine acting more cold and distant than before. While they talk, Aracely sees the coyote from her dreams, telling her, “Mictlan rises.” Kaine, however, does not see it at all. Later that evening, Aracely tries to get Kaine to talk about what happened, but he still refuses.

We finally get a scene ourselves now: in the explosion, it appears all survived (that’s…odd) but are now plummeting to the ground. Kaine saves Wally and Aracely, but Annabelle and Zoe (misprinted here as “Areceley”) are too far away. Kaine silently pleads with God to make it in time. Creating a web-net, he saves them both and Annabelle punches Zoe as the latter begins a hysterical rant about loving Kaine. However, at this time, Shathra also appears, claiming to need Kaine to feed her children. Before he can finish stating he is not a hero, his tattered costume falls from the sky. In present day Mexico, Kaine callously walks by a couple being mugged, claiming he is not a hero.

We cut back to Houston, where Shathra was nice enough to give Kaine time to suit up. However, she proves too much for him and Kaine begins to feel that murderous urge take over. His stingers do nothing to her, though, as she just dissipates around it. As her wasps begin to tear at Kaine, Wally “arrives” and puts several bullets through her. Shathra turns her attention on him, causing Kaine to panic and mutate into his “Other” form. Mutated, he rips into her, though we are spared from seeing most of it. However, the crowd around the scene, including Wally, Aracely, and Annabelle have all witnessed what happened. Annabelle runs away, horrified. Wally tells Kaine to leave, but Aracely pleads with him, failing to understand. Kaine calmly asks her to stop, stating he is not a hero, before walking away.

Back in Mexico, Kaine convinces himself he can never have peace, nor a happy life. Feeling that he is done trying to be the hero, he sits on the beach, drinking a margarita as he had planned all those months ago. Next to him, Aracely tells him he saved the tourists from earlier. He gives her his usual gruff response and the series comes to a close as Aracely wonders why the water on the beach is red…

In General...

For a series finale, this issue was, in my opinion, a huge let down. We never got ANY resolution to Aracely’s story (something that was hinted at since the beginning), we get no real closure on the supporting cast, and everything that was built up to last issue just sort of sputters out. I wish there had been more time to resolve things or I wish this issue had been double-sized so that the whole “Shathra” thing could have been handled with a bit more detail and we could see what became of Donald, Wally, and Annabelle.

However, the issue tells us this NOT the end. That Kaine’s story will continue in “New Warriors”. Honestly, that doesn’t make me very happy because I feel that loyal fans of this series deserve more. However, as a marketing strategy it’s somewhat smart (I’ll refrain from saying genius until we see how this new series does in sales) because it’ll draw in at least some Scarlet Spider fans. As the reviewer of this series for this site, I’ll be at least one of them, so their strategy did work.

I was expecting a lot more from this issue. All the interviews I read with Yost really made me think this was going to be tragic, that this issue would have a big emotional impact. Aside from seeing others finally view him as the monster he thought himself, nothing of consequence happens here. Kaine finally escapes to Mexico, but the end of this series sets up for his next chapter. Yes, he lost his friends, but he blames himself for what happened in Houston…when, really, not a heck of a lot really seemed to happen there. Annabelle is terrified, for sure, but alive. The impact of Donald still carries through in this arc, but I guess I was expecting a bit more since in the end, he still saved everyone else.

I guess I wanted a bit more to happen here, but nothing was delivered because it’s not truly “the end”. Not right now, anyways. So maybe until I read “New Warriors”, this is more just a temporary hiatus on Kaine’s story. And while that means I can still read more of him (which is great), I still feel like it robbed this book of a better finale…or made it so that this book didn’t even REALLY need one. We’ll see what happens in March.

Overall Rating...

A very weak end, in my opinion. I had been dreading/looking forward to this issue to deliver on some very big things. I didn’t honestly think we’d get it all because there’s too much…but I wanted more than this. I also have to acknowledge that a book went to print with a spelling error or a major character's name while also incorrectly calling another character that name. I know mistakes happen and all but it did pull me out of the moment a bit.

Footnote...

After 2 years, Scarlet Spider comes to a close. It’s sort of sad because for as much grief and scrutiny as I gave this series, I really did enjoy reading and reviewing it. And reading Yost’s work on Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, I know he can write a good story and write likable characters. But alas, it’s not one of Marvel’s big name guys, so to get this far is pretty amazing nowadays. So a big kudos on the accomplishment and for delivering a series about a character most people don’t care about and making it a fun read.

Overall, I guess I’d give the series a 3. It had a lot of little flaws and such, but that’s what it was all about- the flaws. The guy who wants to be a hero and screws up because he’s not a thinker or a long-term planner. He’s a fun character because so many of us read or watch a movie and say, “Well I’d just do this” or, “I’d just kill that character I was the hero” and in a lot of cases, Kaine did those irrational sort of things. And it would almost always work out terribly. It was part of the charm. I can’t wait to see what happens next in his story though.

In the next installment, I hope we get to see some answers. I want more of Kaine. I want to see what Aracely’s past is. I want to see Kaine struggle with being a literal monster and I want to see him overcome it. And I definitely want to see him become the hero he previously accepted being- the one who gets the job done in a more vicious fashion than his brother, Peter. So please, Yost….give us that.

I’ve had a blast reviewing this series as well. I have quite a bit of pride in being able to say I’ve stuck with it and seen this thing through to the end. Thanks to the people who read these reviews and thank you to the small few who emailed me with helpful reminders and corrections. It makes doing this even more fun!