Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scarlet Spider #1

So a year ago, I didn't think that Marvel would be publishing a book made up of the detritus of the Spider-Clone saga. Let alone that I would enjoy it so much.

So I could explain the history of Kaine, but we don't have 3 weeks and a flow chart, so let's make it real simple. Kaine is a failed clone of Spider-Man that suffered from degeneration which made him crazy, scarred, and perpetually months away from dying. Like most of the ideas from the Clone Saga, he was wisely relegated to the dustbin of Marvel comics for years. He reappeared in a few Spider-Man stories over the past couple years, but the important thing is that after Spider-Island, he's back, no longer dying and no longer scarred. As bad an idea as it may have once seemed, this has worked ok. As an aside, its interesting how many elements of the clone saga aren't so bad when you remove the whole "Is Spider-Man a clone?" crap.

Essentially, the hook of the book is that Kaine is now living for the first time without death hovering over him or any of the scars that remind him he's a failed clone. Kaine can now actually live a life, but he's also a former super villain so he's heading for Mexico. He decides to rip off some drug dealers for some quick cash in Houston and then his struggles with Peter Parker's conscience kick in.

Again, nothing about this book should work, but it is fun to read and its surprisingly well done as a grittier Spider-Man book without over doing it. I'm a sucker for redemption books like this and the mix of Kaine's selfish impulses with the Peter Parker conscience, as well as his lack of experience in being a super hero all make for a very interesting character.

Christopher Yost is a solid writer but his book's tend to descend into unnecessary violence and gore (just look at his runs on New X-Men and X-Force), but this book just about hits the sweet spot. Yes there's violence here (also lots of corpses) but its not over the top and its actually really effective in establishing how Kaine is a different character than Spider-Man himself. Yost also deserves some credit for summarizing Kaine's incredible complicated origin in a very succinct 3 pages.

The unique setting of Houston helps as well. What I'm hoping is that Marvel uses this book as not only the opportunity to expand their universe beyond NYC a bit, but to create a setting with a unique identity like DC does with its made up cities like Opal City and St. Roch. At the very least its a nice change of pace from New York.

The art is by Ryan Stegman, who I'm unfamiliar with, but his art is great. His characters are expressive and the action sequences pop. I predict this guy is going to get yanked off this book within a year, tops, to work on some Avengers book. He's one to watch.

All in all, this wasn't an easy book to pull off considering how much baggage there was attached to it. But it was fun and a good introduction. I'm definitely looking forward to the next issue.

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