Well we’ve had a years worth of comics from Scarlet Spider and I thought it was time to put my thoughts on the series into words so here goes.
When I heard the Scarlet Spider was returning like quite a few other people my mind lept straight to Ben Reilly. Before the conclusion of Spider-Island I thought we were going to see Ben back in the webs which neither pleased nor displeased me. When it turned out to be Kaine that was when I became interested. I picked up the first issue a week or so after it came out and had no idea what to expect from the creative team. Yost and Stegman were completely new names to me at that point. As soon as I’d finished the first issue I was convinced Christopher Yost had nailed Kaine’s character. My main fear was that due to his major connection to Spider-man we might not get a unique character and end up with a Back In Black or Grim hunt style Spider-man knock-off, on top of that Kaine has undergone a lot of changes since the clone saga and finding a balance between them was going to be a real challenge but it was a challenge that in my humble opinion Yost passed with flying colors and the supporting cast he introduced were quite refreshing compared to some of the others in other series.
The original creative team included Ryan Stegman who as I said just now was a completely new name to me before this series. His art in Scarlet Spider 1-4 and number 6 was incredible and his exit in issue 6 was bitter-sweet. The art for that issue was phenomenal but knowing that he was leaving the series interiors was upsetting. I had hoped that he might have done another arc before moving on but unfortunately this was not the case. At least we still get to see his awesome pencils on the covers of Scarlet Spider which Ryan has continued to do since his departure.
From issue 6, Stegman was replaced by Khoi Pham and my initial reaction of course was to compare him to Stegman which is a fatal move due to the fact that it was Stegman’s art that really began and defined the character. Personally I do not find Khoi’s art as detailed as Stegman’s (this is just personal preference though) but he has shown that he can draw really well. During Minimum Carnage a few pages lept out at me. As a whole Khoi hasn't done a bad job.
The stories that have been put across by Yost and the various artists he's worked with has been of a high quality in my opinion. We’ve gotten a much deeper glimpse into who and what Kaine is and how he thinks. His past as an assassin was also an interesting thing to develop and gave us an explanation as to what the mark was originally conceived for. All in all I have no real problems with the story ideas or how they have been portrayed and how his past has been expanded upon to fit into this series. I’ve enjoyed seeing Kaine’s past come back to haunt him, be it in the shape of the Assassins Guild or the Kravinoff family. The new supporting cast has actually grown on me a lot. In the beginning I was a little pessimistic about them but as the series wore on and Yost pushed them into their various roles I started to like them more and more and as from Scarlet Spider 12 Aracely is officially my favorite!
Next I suppose I should look at the things that I didn't like so much and although there weren't many and most of them were minor there were a few things I didn't quite get on board with. My first was Kaine’s vast change in moral conduct between Spider-Island and Scarlet Spider. Before hand Kaine was selfish, cold, brutal and all in all not a nice guy. I am aware that Kaine is trying to better himself however going from a murdering psychopath to an anti-hero doesn't happen overnight and I felt that was what occurred here. I know it might seem a macabre thing to say but I had hoped to see Kaine kill someone by now and when Ana Kravinoff showed up I really thought that she was going to be the first to die. Scarlet Spider’s morals are supposed to be questionable and for the most part they are. He doesn't seem to have an qualms brutally harming his enemies however if I divert to the current Venom series we have Flash Thompson who is generally calmer and more collected than Kaine and yet we’ve seen Flash kill numerous times since his ongoing began. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Kaine isn't killing I just think it needs more building up and more of an explanation than what we got in these 13 issues. I was also not a fan of the Minimum Carnage story arc however that can be put down to it being a crossover event and i’m quite happy to overlook it. Another thing I can't make my mind up on is Annabelle. Now don't get me wrong I like her character however look very closely at her and ask yourself this. What other strong-willed, red-head with a thing for Spider-people do you know? It's plain to see where the basis of her character is from and I don't know whether this is a good tribute to the original red-head or whether it detracts from the differences that Yost is trying to build up. Either way thus far I've had a hard time caring about her due to the fact her character hasn't really been expanded on. Lastly was the slight disjointedness in some areas. The main one was between Scarlet Spider #4 and #5. Number 4 ended with Annabelle finding out that Kaine was the Scarlet Spider and yet in issue 5 where I would have thought a big discovery like this may have been addressed it was completely brushed aside and Kaine is suddenly running round Houston looking for a bomb. I honestly double checked I hadn't missed an issue because it threw me off so much.
Those things aside Scarlet Spider has been a brilliant read since its first issue back in March. It isn't just my favorite new ongoing but also my overall favorite series this year. I got much more of a kick out of reading this than I did Slott's Spider-man and Snyder's Batman. I also hope that the same caliber of story is kept for the next arc when it begins next year. I was worried that as Yost is now writing Avenging Spider-man (which is now on my pull-list because of him) he would be leaving Scarlet Spider but thankfully he isn't and is going to be on it through 2013. To top it off Reilly Brown the man responsible for bringing us the awesome pencils in Scarlet Spider #12 is staying on as one of the on-going artists for the series!
I am hoping to see the following things from Scarlet Spider in the new year:
- An explanation about Kaine's powers and resurrection.
- A wider look into his motivations about being the Scarlet Spider.
- Some character development for Annabelle.
Well i'll leave it there! Have a great Christmas everyone!