Comic Reviews: The Return Of The Scarlet Spider!
Scarlet Spider #1 (Marvel)
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Ryan Stegman
The Scarlet Spider has never been a character I’ve particullarly liked. This may come as a surprise to you readers, as my love of Spider-man knows no bounds, but even as an eight-year old novice comic reader the dreaded “Clone Saga” rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was because I was being lead to believe that my beloved Peter Parker was the wrong character. Maybe it was the clone’s hoodie. Or maybe I was already averse to the chrome covers and 90’s hype machine (it was probably the hoodie though). Regardless of my personal feelings towards the Scarlet Spider and the Clone Saga, Marvel has decided that the 90’s are back, and with it, the return of Spidey’s sidekick. “But Ben Reilly is long dead isn’t he?” you say. Well you’re right. This time, it’s Kaine behind the mask, the other Parker clone who used to have a bit of a skin problem. As well as a “murdering people in cold blood” problem.
This opening issue finds Kaine arriving in Houston, Texas. His first order of business is stopping a dockside underworld deal. At first we believe he ‘s in it out of the goodness of his heart, until he steals their cash afterwards of course. Afterwards, he finds a cargo container filled with dead bodies, and after attempting to get the police involved, he spends the rest of the issue debating about whether or not he should get involved further with the case. Since the events of “Spider-Island”, Kaine has been cured of his scarring, and even has some new power to boot (including organic webbing). He keeps saying (numerous times) that he’s “not Parker”, yet we all know that he’s going to be a new vigilante by the end of the this storyarc.
I guess that’s what fills me with indifference towards the book. It spends literally almost the entire thing filling us in on what Kaine’s been through, who he is, and why he’s not the same as Peter Parker, even though we all know that he’s going to go on a path of redemption. While I understand this may be necessary for new readers, but I’d imagine that a majority of the people picking this up are coming from Amazing Spider-man, in which Kaine has played a pretty major role. Also, this issue never shows Kaine rocking that sweet costume he’s wearing on the cover. At all. In fact, he spends a majority of his fights out of costume, something that makes me wonder why writer Christopher Yost didn’t have ANY bystanders comment on the fact that some shirtless dude just swung down from a web. Seriously? NO ONE is going to bring that up? I know it’s the Marvel universe, but still.
Despite the script, the art by Ryan Stegman is fantastic. His panel layouts from the opening of the issue are awesome, in which we follow some spiders as they move across the page, guiding our reading. His two page spread describing Kaine’s origin is awesome as well, and the opening fight reminded me a lot of the first time we see Batman in Batman Begins. Stegman’s definitely going to be one to keep a lookout on in the years to come.
Scarlet Spider didn’t do enough for me this time around, but I’ll be keeping my eyes on it for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the pace picks up a little bit next issue, as the idea of Spider-man without the sense of responsibility is a great one. However, fans of the 90s could do worse than picking this guy up. I just think I’ll let this one swing by for the time being (zing!).
Green Lantern #5 (DC)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Now this is what I’m talking about! Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke crank the action up to 11 with the newest issue of Green Lantern. Hal Jordan and Sinestro make their escape from Korugar, and holy crap, the action is fast and relentless. Mahnke’s art is incredible here. His page where Sinestro uses his power battery to…well I won’t spoil it, but it’s gloriously gory and awesome. There’s a great twist involving the Sinestro Corps as well, and shows just how awesomely cold and calculating Sinestro can be. Sinestro’s long road to (possible) redemption is something that Johns has long been hinting at, and it seems now that we may be watching him start that journey (on his own terms, of course). Highly recommended.