I am a child of the 90s. The two big series I remember actively collecting are 1) the Clone Saga and 2) Deathmate. I barely remember what either are about (did they really have “plots”?). None-the-less a Scarlet Spider book featuring not Ben Reilly but third-string-Peter-Parker Kaine peaked my interest. So far scarlet spider has generally been an entertaining book, which, although initially fueled by 90s nostalgia, has established it’s own voice quite nicely. It has however been uneven at places and last issue (my least favorite of the run) had more than a couple cringe-inducing moments. This is issue Is a return to form though still with a few bumps along the way.
Issues 5 and 6 comprise a pair of stand-alone stories. This issue is immediately more enjoyable for a couple reasons. Artist Ryan Stegman returns (unfortunately for what seems to be his last issue) after being absent last week and, while Neil Edwards’ art was serviceable, I find I find his art more consistent with the tone Chris Yost has infused this series with. This issue also benefits from not being bogged down by SHIELD continuity. Last issue shoehorned cameos by Daisy Johnson, Ironman and newly introduced into mainstream continuity Phil Coulson and Nick Fury jr., none of who served any role in futrthering the plot. The story seemed to want to establish Scarlet Spider as a hero who could operate at the world stage however it was poorly executed.
We return to Houston, in a more grounded story, this issue. Scarlet Spider #6 does’t really tell a single cohesive story but is composed of a series of vignettes. One of the things this book nailed off the back was establish a well rounded and likable cast. All the vignettes, most which feature Kaine, take a couple pages to nourish some of these developing relationship. They also set continue to setup the Aracely plot which has anchored this whole run.
While this book spotlights the interpersonal dynamics of it’s characters it is not bereft completely of action. Anna Kravenoff shows up and a pretty nasty battle ensues. These scenes featured an out-of-costume Kaine, which adds nicely to the low-key feel of the book. Kravenoff’s appearance also alludes to previous continuity but in a way that isn’t detrimentally deferential so as to be inaccessible to the uninitiated reader. This is something else that this series has managed gracefully through out its short run.
This book isn’t high concept. The tag line says it all: “all the power. None of the responsibility.” This book boils down to what “what if spider-man was a tortured anti/reluctant hero. But, god damn it, it works. Especially if your fond of the source material.
Final Grade: B+