Friday, January 13, 2012

Comic Review -- Scarlet Spider #1 / Christ Yost and Ryan Stegman

Okay, now I've gone and done it.  I went and shelled out $3.99 for a print comic book, mere days after it was released.  This doesn't happen with me very often these days, for several reasons:

  • $3.99 is damned expensive for a comic, and don't start on any talk of inflation.  The current prices for comics are way above the inflation rate for other goods and products.
  • I lost my first collection of comic books to time, circumstance, and distance, and don't really want to put a lot of investment in single issues for that reason.
  • There aren't a lot of stories that justify it, in my opinion.  I'd rather wait a bit, see them in collected editions, and read the whole story at once.
So why did I go and buy Scarlet Spider #1 today and read it for review?  A few reasons, none of which are particularly powerful by themselves, but together made a confluence of justification for me:
  • The action takes place in my town, Houston.
  • I find Kaine to be one of the more fascinating characters to come out of the whole Clone Saga mess.
  • I think Kaine's assumption of the Scarlet Spider mantle makes for an interesting story, considering that he's succeeding his former nemesis, Ben Reilly.
So, I went and picked it up.  Did I like it?  Oh, heck yes.

Kaine has recently proven himself capable of overcoming a stacked deck in terms of choosing between the dark and light paths.  He sacrificed himself to save Peter's life during The Grim Hunt, and ended up being a force for good in the Spider Island arc in spite of the intent behind his resurrection.  Now that he's on his own, and on the run, he's trying to figure out who he is, without the influence of external forces like Spider-Man or Miles Warren or the Queen.  At first trying to keep to himself and take care of only his own needs, he is repeatedly thrust into circumstances requiring him to make a choice between saving others and staying out of trouble.

While he's not above making a threat or physically intimidating someone who's inconveniencing him, in the larger context, Kaine still seems unable to keep himself from interceding when he sees people in danger.  When he says that things aren't his problem, transposed against the costume he apparently stole from Peter, we know it's a lie that won't hold up for too long.

I like the writing so far.  Yost keeps the pace flowing fairly well, and he demonstrates at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Houston area.  So far my favorite piece of dialog involves the heat there: "It's like my sweat is sweating."  We'll see how the rest of it holds up over time, but I got the occasional chuckle out of it.

Art-wise, I've got no complaints.  Stegman's Kaine is menacing, surly, and direct, both in looks and mannerisms, with or without the long hair and beard.  It's pleasant to look at, and definitely worthy of a Spider-family title (I imagine Kaine would take umbrage at my putting it that way).

Overall, a good read, and a worthy start to the reboot of this character.  I'm interested to see where things go, and may even continue buying these issues if the quality stays this high.  As it is, I'm pleased with this inaugural issue and can't wait to see where it goes.  Highly recommended.

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