Thursday, 12 April 2012

Review: Scarlet Spider #4

                    Scarlet Spider #4 By Yost / Stegman

Taken at face value, the recently launched Scarlet Spider series does not seem to have a lot going for it. Unmistakably tied to the 1990's -  a bleak era for comic books - through its name and protagonist, and unable to boast the big name creative teams and glittering arrays of guest stars that seem to be a pre-requisite for success in the modern era of comic books. While its sales have been rather modest, the Scarlet Spider's first three issues were however an almost unprecedented critical success. No one seems to have anything negative to say about Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman's fledgling partnership, and while I found the series' opening far from perfect, it was certainly a solid foundation to build on.

It is with this issue, that I think that the Scarlet Spider has begun to truly come into its own and make good on some of the promise that its first three issues showed. The bulk of it is devoted to a fast paced action sequence, yet Yost also manages to fit in a couple of slowly developing subplots. One of my biggest criticism's of Yost's first issue was the lack of a supporting cast, a fact that now seems to have been remedied. Several of these characters have not yet been given much in the way of development, but there is enough there to make them intriguing presences in the series. The subplot featuring the assassination attempt on Donald and Wally is not entirely convincing, but they are well rounded enough characters to make it interesting to read.

The lions share of the issue's page count is reserved for Kaine's duel with the Assassins Guild, and it is a very well done sequence. Ryan Stegman's art is kinetic, energetic, and pops off the page. He seems to have the dynamic of the title character nailed, and is a terrific fit for the title. Yost's script too, elevates the action to a notch above bog-standard superheroics. It is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but well scripted and enjoyable to read.

Already any semblance of a negative stigma that may have been counted against this series is rapidly disappearing. Without many of the sales gimmicks that other titles take for granted, the Scarlet Spider has carved out a solid niche for itself and shows no sign of giving it up. There is some way to go if the character is to become a Deadpool-esque success story, but if Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman continue to create such dynamic, multi-faceted stories I see no reason why it could not happen.


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