Oh man, what a ridiculously fun issue. SCARLET SPIDER has taken a pretty dark turn with The Other and focusing on human trafficking and mass murder, but #16 instead aims to plant a smile right on your face, just like the brilliant Santa robbers issue.
This issue is ultimately all about Kaine and his relationship with Annabelle. She clearly has feelings for him and they're certainly mutual, but Kaine firmly stands by the whole "but I'm a monster!" routine. The turn of events may be a tad too cheesy for some of you out there, but I have no shame at all in saying it was both a heartwarming and cheerworthy set of moments for me. There's so much death and chaos going on in this book, so you can't help but soak in and really appreciate these lighter and totally joyous moments.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Armadillo's appearance and all of the remarks about him is probably a 10.5. No lie, watching him ride a bull is quite possibly the best panel this week. Solid laughs aside, I love how writer Christopher Yost used this issue to tease so much! We see two villains return (I've been anxiously awaiting for 'em), a new relationship is sure to bring an interesting dynamic to the book, there's a nosey (and intentionally unlikable) reporter now on Kaine's trail, and finally, the content of the letter is revealed -- as is whether or not the dire message reaches Kaine. So yeah, despite it feeling like funny filler, a lot goes down and the pace never slows.
Khoi Pham's art is a mixed bag (look below), but there's plenty to love in this one, too. Like I said above, the truly hysterical moments are illustrated well, letting us fully appreciate the slapslick nature behind a good chunk of the physical humor (like an intoxicated Armadillo waddling to his ex-lover). The man can also draw the hell out of The Other. Every little cameo it has looks appropriately frightening and all kinds of awesome.
While Pham's art does shine here and there, a fair amount of the work feels rushed (most notably at the rodeo). There's a significant lack of detail with a lot of characters, heads and necks sometimes give the impression thumb people are in the comic, and legs appear to go on forever. When it's good, it's good. But when it's not, let's just say it's really noticeable.
Yost clearly has long time plans for Kaine and his friends, and I'm definitely stoked to see how he carries it all out. Some visual gripes aside, SCARLET SPIDER #16 rocks. It's sharp, wildly fun, laugh-inducing and serves as a huge tease for the major events that are sure to hit this book soon. If you haven't been following along, pick up this issue and hopefully I can welcome you to the Kaine fan club And, if you have been following along, this should be yet another obvious purchase for you and, as usual, it'll be well worth the cash.