Saturday, April 21, 2012

Comic Review -- Scarlet Spider #3: Scarlet Fury! / Christopher Yost, Ryan Stegman, Mike Babinski, Marte Gracia, and Wade von Grawbadger

I have to say, I'm really liking the covers for this series so far.  It's like a parade of poster shots for Kaine's new persona, and they all look pretty bad-ass so far.  This one is particularly menacing, with the angry Scarlet Spider glaring at you with the full moon directly behind him.  Excellent posing, excellent composition, and wonderful execution.  This one's a win.

Kaine starts off foiling a mugging of one of Houston's citizens, scaring the hell out of the mugger and telling him to leave town before continuing his quest to take care of Aracely, the young woman he saved last issue.  He asks a local bartender, Annabelle Adams, for help watching over her, which she reluctantly provides after Aracely at first attacks her.  With a little help from Donald Meland, the doctor he spoke to who was treating Aracely, Kaine sneaks into the ruins of the hospital where he fought the Salamander to get medical supplies.

When an assassin tries to kill Meland, Kaine defends him and ambushes the killer.  In the ensuing fight, Kaine is gassed by the assassin, forcing him to remove his mask.  The assassin, who reveals himself to be a member of the Assassins Guild, recognizes Kaine, and escapes before Kaine can recover, leaving Kaine certain that the Guild will be coming for him, in force, very soon.  Apparently, our boy has really ticked off its leader, Belladonna.

This issue, even more than the last one, is establishing Kaine's supporting cast and major players.  Doctor Meland is given both a name and a basic personality; Wally Layton, his husband, is similarly established; Annabelle Adams is introduced; and, of course, there's Aracely, who's been Kaine's focus since things started. More interestingly, we get a glimpse of who his main nemeses are: the Assassins Guild.

Yeah.  The New Orleans-based, take-no-prisoners group of baddies that's given Wolverine, the X-Men, and even the Hand a run for their money.  Those guys.

Even though there are two action scenes in this issue, it still feels more like a breather for Kaine and company while the bigger pieces of the arc are maneuvered into place.  And that's fine by me; cover-to-cover action gets pretty exhausting pretty quickly, and good storytelling develops other areas as well.  One rather serendipitous moment from this issue that confused me was why the hell Kaine asked Annabelle for help.  What was his reason for picking some random, red-headed bartender hottie to ask for help?  All I can think is that, as Peter Parker's genetic clone, maybe he has a predisposition for redheads?  I dunno, it just seemed really random, as he didn't really know her and had no good reason to trust her.

I'm personally very curious to know just what Kaine did to piss off Belladonna to the point that he now knows the Assassins Guild will be coming after him instead of Meland.  I'm sure it'll be mentioned next issue, but I can only imagine it was something both vicious and vulgar, and perhaps a touch hilarious.  In any case, I'll be sticking around to see what it is.

Artistically, this series continues to delight.  Stegman has been really good at including at least one poster-worthy pose for Kaine when he's in costume, and he does both action and dramatic scenes very well.  I'm a little confused about how Kaine looks in a couple of panels, where it looks like his costume is... I dunno... cloaking and un-cloaking?  Is there some tech in that thing that makes him look like that?  Or is the heat in Houston just making the air sweat and swelter that much around him?

Overall, I like this issue and this story arc.  I'm sure it'll get intense as the Guild brings more assassins to town looking for him, and I'm eager to see how he handles it.  If we know one thing by now about Kaine, it's this: he won't handle it anything like Spider-Man would.  Highly recommended.

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