Scarlet Spider #1

Scarlet Spider #1

Scarlet Spider #1

Written by Christopher Yost

Art by Ryan Stegman, Michael Babinski & Marte Gracia

Covers by Stegman/Babinski/Gracia, Stegman/Frank Martin Jr. & Mark Bagley/Mark Farmer/Gracia

It’s no secret that I’ve long been a fan of Kaine. That said, I haven’t been following the Spider-Man books recently, so the announcement that he’d become the new Scarlet Spider and get a spin-off series was cool, but wasn’t enough for me to pick it up, even with the talented Christopher Yost and Ryan Stegman named as the creative team. Then they said Kaine would be relocating to Houston, Texas, and that piqued my interest. And then Yost and Stegman said they wanted to “make Houston itself a character” and came to town to do research. That’s some pretty awesome dedication. I’ve lived about an hour away from H-Town all my life, have gone there innumerable times, and weekly drive an hour to the outskirts once a week to pick up comics. So the fact that two good creators were taking pains to recreate it’s authenticity, not to mention it starred a character I liked, meant that Scarlet Spider webbed it’s way onto my pull-list. So, how was the first issue?

Pretty darn good. It does an excellent job of laying out the character of Kaine, using a few flashbacks to inform new readers just who this clone of Peter Parker is, what he’s capable of, and his intentions. At the same time it sets up it’s own story very well, having him reluctantly becoming a hero and dealing with human trafficking. He never intended to stay in Houston, seeing it as a stop along the way to Mexico, but the Parker in him won’t let him walk away from innocents being threatened. With great power, yada yada yada. There’s also the introduction of a possible supporting cast and new flame-wielding baddie named Salamander, with which fisticuffs look imminent.

Yost does a fine job in balancing the first issue, catching up new readers while not leaving those already in the know bored. And yes, it’s pretty cool to see Houston represented. (Kaine’s on 59 South. I’ve been on 59 South! Two cool comic stores are on 59!) But I think the title’s secret weapon is the art team. There’s a fluidity to Stegman’s pencils that greatly conveys movement, and his work on the facial expressions approaches Amanda Conner territory. Babinski’s inks shade things nicely, and Gracia’s colors really get the moods across, be it the joy of web-swinging or the horror of a pile of bodies. There’s one sequence that really stands out to me as being superb and brings out the best of the whole creative team. Seeing an old lady about to get hit by an SUV at a crosswalk, Kaine leaps down from atop a building, landing on the hood and smashing the vehicle’s front while halting it’s momentum. As she thanks him for saving her life, he angrily curses her out for her inattentiveness. Then he notices other pedestrians pointing, and notices the driver laying a few feet away. Broken and twisted, the man is covered in blood and glass, moaning in pain, and Kaine swings off as an ambulance arrives. The whole sequence is fantastic. The depiction of the broken man is ghastly and beautiful, and the writing shows not only Kaine’s personality, but the fact that he inherited a little of Peter Parker’s “swing before you look” tendencies. (*cough*CatchingGwenStacywithawebline*cough*) The whole issue is wonderfully done, and I’m looking forward to what’s to come. Scarlet Spider #1 gets 4 out of 5 bags of cash.

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Who ARE these people!?

As one of the co-founders of Panels on Pages, Robert Eddleman will happily read any comic that catches his interest, regardless of publisher. Aside from comics and PoP!, his other passions include worshipping Joss Whedon, getting lost in TV Tropes, and watching muscled men hit each other with folding chairs.

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  1. John-Michael (Batman25JM) says:

    Good review. I completely agree. I loved the first issue and I am really looking forward to more.

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