Will Rosenthal ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Scarlet Spider #17 by writer Chris Yost and illustrator Carlo Barberi begins the new story arc for the anti-hero Kaine. After the previous arc, which brought Kaine ancient gods, werewolves, and spiders, Yost still has a few tricks up his sleeves, judging by the cover of #17. #17 also serves as an excellent jumping on point for new readers, as Kaine heads north to take on Wolverine, the Headmaster of the Jean Grey Academy.
After Khoi Pham’s impressive run, Barberi takes helm with the art and, to be honest, it takes some getting used to. Barberi’s art feels static, as though the characters were modeled rather than captured in motion; Pham’s art felt like an animation. Barberi, while having some great action scenes and poses, leaves the characters feeling still. But, while his motions might not feel as organic, his poses do. The characters seem comfortably positioned in the panels, whether it’s Aracely staring out the window of an airplane, or Kaine sitting nervously on the edge of his seat. His art avoids the awkward limb proportions or cut-offs that other artists might fall into. Although, as the newest artist, Barberi might need time to understand their characteristics, so I eagerly wait to see how Barberi interprets them further down the line.
Concerning the story, Yost finally reveals what the Assassin’s Guild had planned for Kaine nearly ten issues ago, and it’s nothing short of an impossible hunt. They ask Kaine to kill Wolverine, a feat which even Sabertooth couldn’t pull off in Wolverine & The X-Men. This leads to cameos galore in a range of single panel appearances from Superior Spiderman to Kid Omega. My personal favorite cameo was when Iceman confronted Kaine and called him a “Red Ninja Spiderman.” Although, the shocker was that, out of all the X-Men, Kitty Pryde is the one to really show Kaine not to mess with the X-Men. After Beast and Iceman get their butts handed to them, Kitty put her hand through Kaine’s head and threatens to scramble his mind.
I found it odd that the cover mutant got some of the least face time. I wanted to see a satisfying brawl between Wolverine and Scarlet Spider. Instead, Wolverine shows up in full costume in the last four pages, says a total of five words in the whole book, and then has a brief throw down with Kaine. After one slash to the face, Scarlet goes berserk and takes out Logan with a single stringer to the heart. Overall, I hoped to see less of Beast and Iceman and a stronger focus on Wolverine with a more satisfying battle. But I have a feeling we’ll see Wolverine up and running again, hopefully for a round two.
That being said, I hope Wolverine doesn’t hold this little assassination attempt against Kaine forever. I want to see these two team-up in the future in Scarlet Spider’s own title or Savage Wolverine. These two feral fighters would do well next to each other, as they’ve been shown to be rather equally matched. But, for now, I think Wolverine could offer a lot to Kaine, who could use some hero mentoring from the master of savage. Yost, yet again, shows that he understands who Kaine needs to bounce off of to become the sympathetic anti-hero which makes him a joy to read in the first place.
Besides Kaine, what kind of power is Aracely holding back? Clearly, she’s an extremely powerful psychic if she can put the likes of Jean Grey and Kid Omega through the ringer. Now donning her new persona Hummingbird, she’s a welcomed and active role beside her counterpart. Her sideline rooting might be done for a while, as her in the battle was far more entertaining.
Aracely and Kaine’s chemistry has always been a strong part of the Scarlet Spider series. Kaine’s brooding needs Aracely’s positive demeanor, and that dynamic is clear in the newest issue. As the two fly to New York, Aracely asks Kaine if they can go do a bunch of touristy things while they’re there, and, after Kaine reminds her that he’s on a murder mission, she simply says, “The whole time!?” This dichotomy might not be breaking new ground, but it’s fun, none the less, and a reminder of the humanity comics tend to lose to the violence of their situations.
Overall, Scarlet Spider #17 can be defined by that word: fun. Yost writes a story full of memorable and enjoyable conversations as well as strikingly captivating confrontations. With this issue, we’re given a look into a future arc plenty of actions, one-liners, and character building which have kept the series strong. This will be Kaine second big crossover after Venom and Carnage, and it looks to out due that one by a long shot.
I give Scarlet Spider #17 a 9 out of 10 for being a solid start with a stellar cast, and encourage new readers to check it out.