By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
I suspect The Scarlet Spider #1 is a more fulfilling read if you have an understanding of the Kaine character, and what he’s gone through since his debut over 15 years ago. If you do have that knowledge, congratulations! You have more patience for unraveling tangled plot threads than I do! Either way, this book is alright.
A spinoff from Marvel’s recent Spider-Island storyline (which was then briefly continued in Marvel Point One), this new series tells the story of Kaine, a clone of Peter Parker who was deemed a failure by his creator, The Jackal. Kaine subsequently became a villain, but was ultimately redeemed. We’ve seen a few characters take on this Scarlet Spider identity, most notably Ben Reilly (also a Parker clone), but this is Kaine’s first crack at it. It’s also his first crack at being a hero. He’s got some lessons to learn, and he’ll need to curb his murderous instincts, but ultimately it looks like Kaine’s heart is in the right place.
This issue is more or less what I expected it to be: Anti-hero Spider-Man. He goes through the usual “I’m not a hero, this isn’t who I am, I’m not like [insert hero’s name]” sort of thing, but predictably starts to come around at the end. The story is fine, and the character is fine. It was just rather predictable.
I do have to take my hat off to Ryan Stegman, and whomever else was involved with the layouts on this issue. A few of the early pages in this issue have spiders pencilled on top of the art work, so it looks like we’re literally looking into a comic book that’s got spiders crawling all over it. I’ve never seen this done before, and it’s a really nice touch! Other than that, Stegman’s art can be a bit on the cartoony side sometimes, but all in all he does a good job.
Amidst the predictable stuff, we did get a lovely moment where Kaine saves an old woman from being run down by a semi, and then screams at her about what the &@#$ she was doing in the middle of the street. Yost and Stegman also do a nice job of summing up Kaine’s often convoluted history in only two pages.
All in all, I wasn’t blown away. But I’ve certainly seen worse.
This issue has one of the better first pages that I’ve read in the last several months. The first panel of our first page introduces us to Sam Webber, an obsessive compulsive, socially awkward young man who’s terrified at the prospect of touching the handle on the door into a coffee shop. He’s frantically arguing with himself about it. “All I have to do is go through the door. No–it’s not that simple. I have to make sure the door handle is safe before I can touch it. Please don’t let there be a spot, a stain, a blemish…” It may seem like an extreme scenario to some, but if you’ve ever dealt with any kind of mental illness, or know someone who has, you know it’s very much based in reality. It’s a fantastic hook, though how it will factor into the rest of Whispers, if at all, remains to be seen.
Shortly after breaking up with his girlfriend Lily, Sam discovers that his consciousness can somehow travel through space in a “ghostly” state, visiting people he knows, or has known over the course of his life. Though he can’t be seen while in his ghost state, he can apparently influence the thoughts of the people connected to him. For instance, when he sees an ex-girlfriend in trouble, he influences her actions, and thus the outcome. But now that Sam has discovered his gift, the question becomes: How will he use it?
I’ve always wanted to see a story like this. I’m not sure exactly how old Sam and his friends are, but the idea of a young person being able to see into the thoughts of others is such an intriguing concept, because the younger you are, the less developed your perspective on life is, and the more emotional and irrational you can be at times. Sam certainly seems to possess those qualities to an extent. His psychological disorder can send him to pieces in public, and as we see a couple of times in this issue, he’s prone to the occasional outburst. I’m definitely interested to see how some of these ghostly interactions effect him.
Depending on where Joshua Luna takes this story, it could really become a gem. I’m anxiously awaiting what’s next.
Interior image 1 from chasingamazingblog.com. Interior image 2 from ifanboy.com.
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