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Review: Scarlet Spider #1 – “All of the Power, None of the Responsibility” Indeed

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Scarlet Spider #1
Writer: Chris Yost
Art: Ryan Stegman, Marte Gracia [Colors] and Michael Babinski [Inks]

The Scarlet Spider was one of the only aspects of the 1990s Spider-Man “Clone Saga” story arc that any fans remembered with much fondness.  Originally a clone of Peter Parker named Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider was basically Spidey’s sidekick through much of the saga and eventually went on to briefly replace Pete as Spider-Man at the story’s conclusion.

Eventually, he was killed by Norman Osborn.

In recent years, another Spider-Man clone, Kaine, returned to comics.  A villain and assassin during the clone saga, Kaine was a more powerful, but horridly scarred, clone of Peter who also had precognitive abilities.  He was killed a few years ago by Kraven the Hunter during the “Grim Hunt” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man, but revived by the Jackal and the Spider Queen during last year’s “Spider-Island” event.  During that same arc, he was healed and essentially became a more exact clone of Peter Parker — with all spider powers except for spider sense, apparently.

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He left New York City shortly after, and this book picks up several weeks later as he’s passing through Houston.  Though he plans on making it to Mexico, he feels the Avengers — or someone else — are likely on his trail and he constantly doubles back to cover his tracks.

As the book opens, he’s breaking up a Port of Houston smuggling deal that he overheard talk of at a bar he just happened to be at.  Kaine isn’t in this to be a hero, though.  He just wants the money.

The scene plays out more like a scene from Batman than anything else, with Kaine (sans costume) taking out a few of the smugglers from the shadows before taking out the entire group.  From the get-go, it’s made clear that Kaine isn’t a standard issue, friendly neighborhood type.

Overall, the thrust of this issue (and likely this opening story arc) is to establish that Kaine has a new lease on life and to give him a reason to be a hero instead of just a man on the run from his past.  Right now, as the book’s cover says, he’s got all of the power and none of the responsibility.

Writer Chris Yost, who has hit previous home runs on books like X-Force, does a solid job of building Kaine’s new status quo throughout this first issue, as well as making readers wonder when they’ll finally see Kaine in the spider suit he’s carrying in his backpack.  The art here doesn’t differ too much from what you might see in Amazing Spider-Man, which really helps further the feeling that this is an addition to that “family” of titles.

A little familiarity can’t hurt on a new title, right?  I’m onboard for now.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10

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Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.