Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A (Very Late) Review of Scarlet Spider #1

Scarlet Spider #1 By Yost / Stegman

The decision to publish a series titled 'Scarlet Spider' is nothing if not a bold move on Marvel's part. The name immediately harks back to darker days - The Clone Saga, widely recognised as one of the worst periods in Spider-Man, if not Marvel itself's history. There are those who would argue that the storyline was unfairly reviled, but it cannot be denied that it is one that Marvel would rather brush under the carpet.

Their attempt to revive the, admittedly popular, Scarlet Spider name stars Kaine, a failed clone of Peter Parker,  a character who till now has been largely villainous, attempting to bring some semblance of purpose to his life. Although I have always felt that Kaine would be a fascinating adversary for Spider-Man, I think that his move to the side of the angels is an interesting one too. From the off, Yost establishes that Kaine is a very bad man, even if the idea is put across in a bit of a heavy handed way throughout. Kaine's characterisation is spot on and complex throughout, but it is difficult not to be reminded of the rash of 'anti-heroes' that broke out in the 1990's, with the issues tagline 'All Of The Power. None Of The Responsiblity' seeming particularly cheesy. From this issue it seems that Yost is doing more to make Kaine himself an interesting character, but I do hope that we aren't beaten over the head with how 'bad' he is constantly.

The plot is what you would expect from a first issue - it sets the scene, establishes the central character and introduces a couple of subplots. There is little room to manouver for Yost and it does feel a little formulaic at times, but it is still very readable. Some semblance of a supporting cast, or at least hints in that direction would have been welcome, but that aside this ticks all the boxes. The tone of the issue is dark, but not overly so - a fact helped by Ryan Stegman's soft, rounded pencils. Stegman's storytelling is great throughot, and the issue has a very cinematic feel.

If all goes well then it seems as though Yost is close to perfecting a formula that many writers struggled with in the 1990's. Kaine has been mishandled over the years, but Yost seems a good choice to give him a more consistent voice and motivations, although I think he will struggle to carry the series on his own. This issue was mainly build up and exposition, but handled very well by an undoubtedly talented creative team.


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