A super powerful villain has Wolverine and Kaine at her mercy and is prepare to consume them to become more powerful. Sounds like pretty serious and dire stuff, right? Well, despite the dark villain and lots of blood, this is an issue that really thrives on its sharp script and pacing. No matter what the scene is, co-writers Christopher Yost and Erik Burnham manage to make matters extremely lively. From Kaine's internal babbling to his banter with Logan, he continues to be a thoroughly amusing character and proves he's more than worthy of holding his own title (but you've known that since issue #1, haven't you?). Honestly, where else will you find the line "But there you go. Half-naked lady zombie." You'll be happy to know Aracely does indeed get another shot at banter and once again it's a great dose of levity.
When it's not focusing on making you smirk, this issue provides one big helping of frenetic madness. Anyone and everyone is entering the fray and the hectic nature tends to be a whole lot of fun. There's yet another neck snap and, believe it or not, it's illustrated in an even more vicious manner than the last one -- it would even make Steven Seagal, the king of neck snapping, cringe. It doesn't hurt that a majority of the artwork is really solid, hitting us with crisp, vibrant and even detailed attacks. The colorists deserve major credit for this issue and there's one particular panel of Kaine being hit by a blast which looks terrific. Kaine's costume lights up the scene and provides a gorgeous contrast to the character's darker atmosphere. Plus, Wolverine always looks great under Carlo Barberi.
There's a lot of hands involved in the visuals and it definitely shows. Some transitions are slightly jarring as the style takes a noticeable change and the fray isn't as clear as the last issue. At one point, a large amount of blood is colored blue. Perhaps it was too much blood and they made the change to make the book less graphic? Or, it could just be a simple mistake. Additionally, the opening shows the speedster prepared for combat with an entire leg sliced off (courtesy of Wolverine in the last issue). I can't be the only one thinking that dude should be out of the fight, no? The Red Death's power levels are all over the place and she suffers from being your typical villain ("lethal powers against goons, take my time with the ones that matter as I reveal my secrets!"), but I can't really say I expected more from her. Lastly, the conclusion comes out of left field and seemed abrupt, but it's not enough to really take away from the sheer entertainment the issue offered.
All in all, this storyline has a somewhat abrupt conclusion but it does a thorough job moving Kaine forward and focusing on his future -- and if you read solicitations, you know there's A LOT to get excited about. SCARLET SPIDER is a book that regularly offers solid action with a sharp script and this issue is no exception. This continues to be one of my favorite Marvel titles and it definitely shouldn't be overlooked. Seriously, it's an insanely entertaining series that you should be reading.