Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #14

Background

After finally seeming to come to terms with his place in life, Kaine runs head long into a problem that mindlessly attacking doesn’t solve: Los Lobos! The brother and sister duo show up in Houston looking for Aracely and Kaine does his best to protect her. Unfortunately, his best doesn’t go nearly as far as he hopes and last issue ended with him being defeated, and subsequently partially eaten, by Los Lobos.

Story 'In the Midst of Wolves, Part 2'

  Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #14
Summary: Kaine and The Other
Arc: Part 2 of 'In the Midst of Wolves' (1-2-3)
Editor: Tom Brennan
Writer: Chris Yost
Pencils: Khoi Pham
Inker: Terry Pallot, Tom Palmer
Cover Art: Edgar Delgado, Ryan Stegman
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Andres Mossa, Antonio Fabela
Articles: The Lobo Brothers

Kaine lies dying on a rooftop, moments away from death after his encounter with Los Lobos. While he begins to pray, Aracely flees from the impending danger, the crowd around her seemingly affected by her mysterious telepathic powers. When the Lobos attack, she is able to temporarily disable one using her powers, but her escape only buys her mere seconds.

Kaine begins what is the comic book standard “near death experience” afterlife/hallucination (depending on how you read it). He “awakens” in a church, where he is confronted with his sins- the murder of Louise from his past, his torturing Ben Reilly (nice to see the original Scarlet Spider!), and his betrayal of his father, Warren Miles. Having enough of the mind games, Kaine charges at the unknown entity, only for it to reveal itself as the controversial spider-creature, “The Other”. According to…it?...Peter eventually rejected the other, afraid of what he may become. The Other, however, found Kaine, who is also a shadow of Peter, and brought him back from the dead before (referencing the events of The Grim Hunt).

Meanwhile, Aracely continues to run from Los Lobos, all while the wolves discuss who she really is. Apparently, there are some who believe her to be the incarnation of a god called Huitzilopochtli (which I dread having to type more than once and surprisingly was not flagged by spell-check). Los Lobos briefly consider using her to their own ends when they are interrupted by Carlos getting shot. Aracely led them straight into gang territory.

Back in his spirit/dream world, Kaine is not faring well. The Other taunts him, saying that while Peter was the man who dreamed of being a spider, Kaine is the spider who dreams of being a man. And she/it will give him power if he only accepts the monster within. Kaine refuses (i.e. cuts off her head).

Los Lobos tear through most of the Shark’s gang, but their leader won’t give up the fight, allowing Aracely to run away.

Kaine continues to fight the spider-monster, claiming that if he is supposed to be dead, then all he wants is to be left to burn. While he plans to kill the Other and finally die himself, he realizes that by doing so, Aracely may end up killed. In the final few panels, he accepts the Other’s offer, frightened by how comforting it is to finally stop running from it. Back in the real world, he emerges from a web-cocoon, fully transformed into a hideous spidery creature!

General Comments

When I finished last issue, I was excited to see where this would go. In ASM, the whole “Other” storyline was pretty much left untouched due to Civil War, Back in Black, and OMD. The storyline was addressed in the other Spider-Man titles (namely Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), but we were never given any details about the Other or Peter’s new powers once BND started. And I thought this might finally give us some answers as to why Kaine was demonstrating said powers.

Well it did- The Other is responsible for Kaine’s return after “The Grim Hunt”. And I’ll admit, I like they briefly addressed why Peter seems to have stopped exhibiting these powers, though I wish there was more to it than “He eventually rejected them”. But still, more of an explanation than we ever got otherwise, so I’ll take it. I also enjoyed the idea that Kaine is more of the Spider than the Man. It’s not exactly a shocking revelation, but for a concept that was quickly disregarded in Spider-Man continuity, it was interesting to see it addressed again.

As for Kaine becoming a mutant creature at the end…well, that I could leave. It’s not what I wanted to see and it probably made me more unhappy than the events of Superior Spider-Man (which, for the record, I am actually very interested by). I also know that they’ll have him back to normal soon, because I don’t think they’ll be able to tell too many stories about Kaine if he’s a spider-monster from now on.

I am glad we got back to Aracely and her back story as well, though as I have said in the past, I want to see Kaine develop more of a civilian identity as well. But Yost is building on what he has so far, which is what I’ve been waiting for, so I won’t complain too much. I do feel this issue may have backtracked a bit, as issue 12 was about Kaine accepting who he is and the idea of him being a monster. I had thought we might be beyond him wanting to die and moping about the darkness in him, but this will either serve to push him past that or cause him to slide further back. Let’s see what the future holds.

Overall Rating

I felt a 2 or 2.5 might be too harsh. I didn’t hate this issue, but anything above a 3 might be too generous. It answers questions about how Kaine came back, where his powers have come from, AND managed to address Peter no longer exhibiting them. It does a lot right, but it still feels like it just keeps addressing the same points over again. That and the last panel with monster-Kaine…still not sure how I feel about that.

Footnote

As someone who spent 16 years in the Baltimore region and after their recent Super Bowl victory, I got a chuckle from this issue when I saw Shark was wearing a Ray Lewis jersey (especially given the controversy surrounding Lewis all those years ago).