Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #16

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This review was first published on: May 2013.

Background...

Kaine, who just recently came to terms with his life and darker nature, delved deeper into his more brutal nature and came back from the dead as a giant, spider-like monster. He managed to “save” Aracely, who was being hunted by the Lobos gang for the purposes of the mysterious Mr. Moctezuma. Before he can harm Aracely, she manages to break through his feral side and Kaine returns to his normal self. However, this seems to have left a permanent change in him that may have repercussions down the road…

In Detail...

"A Good, Ol' Fashioned Rodeo"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #16
Jun 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Scarlet Spider at the rodeo
Writer:  Christopher Yost
Pencils:  Khoi Pham
Inker:  Terry Pallot, Victor Olazaba
Cover Art:  Ryan Stegman
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Editor:  Tom Brennan
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Articles: Kraven The Hunter, Kravinoff, Ana

The very first page reveals the secret behind the letter Kaine received back in Scarlet Spider vol.2 #12- a cryptic message from Jessica Carpenter stating that she was wrong and that an unnamed “She” is coming back and will kill everyone, and urging Kaine to follow his original plan and escape to Mexico.

Cut to Kaine awakening to a feeling of dread, something unrelated to the Aracely mystery, his “brother” Peter’s odd behavior, or even the monster he sees in the mirror (literally). No, this feeling of doom is Houston’s annual Livestock Show and Rodeo, an event that his friends are dragging him to. However, potential flame Annabelle (potential here meaning “obvious”) greets him with a hug, but he quite obliviously does not reciprocate the greeting. Kaine attempts yet again to claim that the two can’t be together, but thankfully Aracely stops him before he can finish this thought. The scene cuts to a reporter (Trevor Noll) finishing a story about a rodeo star getting engaged to his model girlfriend Daisy (this is important later or I’d have just glossed over it). The reporter gripes that his assignments are terrible and hates his life in Houston.

Kaine runs after Annabelle and explains (yet again) what a terrible person her is and how it can’t work. Again, this does nothing to faze her and she counters that she too has “bad stuff” in her past- cue the arrival of her ex-boyfriend Ray! In typical romance story fashion, Ray is not a nice guy and is trying to take Annabelle back. Kaine steps in and is ready to fight…until his monstrous side speaks a single word to him- “Prey.” Kaine is horrified and attempts to back off. However, the scene is cut short by the arrival of the Armadillo.

The former hero charges in and it quickly becomes apparent to all that he’s extremely, extremely drunk. In his…less than steady state of mind, he’s come to the rodeo to win back his girlfriend Daisy. Kaine arrives on the scene in Scarlet Spider gear, riding a horse (much to his embarrassment and our amusement). He attempts to fight the Armadillo off, but has little luck. The Aramdillo explains his situation but Kaine tries to tell him to let it go- his life puts Daisy at risk and Kaine sees him a kindred spirit of sorts, a fellow monster.

Daisy arrives before Kaine can finish his thought and she and the Armadillo reconcile immediately, with her explaining she left him because he became distant after he was fired from the Rangers. With their misunderstandings put aside they rekindle their relationship. Kaine is left baffled, while Trevor Noll vows to discover his identity. Realizing he’s been something of an idiot for 16 issues, Kaine finds Annabelle and Ray, knocking the latter out with one punch. He delivers a passionate kiss to Annabelle, a moment which Aracely senses with her powers. Meanwhile, Kraven and his daughter have been observing it all from the crowd.

In an epilogue (which actually occurred two days prior to the story), Annabelle’s boss shows her the cryptic message from the beginning of the issue. Annabelle promises to look into it as her job at the bar lets her meet a lot of the guests. When the boss leaves, Annabelle burns the letter…

In General...

I enjoyed this issue! It was light, funny, and yet at the same time, addressed some of those same things I’m getting tired of hearing Kaine mention each issue- being a monster, no one should love him, etc. However….this is basically the exact same spot we found ourselves in after Scarlet Spider vol.2 #12. It’s essentially the same story- Kaine is wallowing in self-pity, something goofy yet dangerous happens, and Kaine has a moment of self-realization.

That said, I enjoyed this more than the past few issues. Of course, Yost has dropped yet another mystery in front of us (in this case, What’s Annabelle’s deal), but maybe that’s a sign he has hope for this series and this character.

The art this issue was better than Pham’s usual offering, though it still feels like he draws entire scenes at different times and forgets what he wants each character to look like between pages…but for an issue with this light of a tale, I’m not going to let if affect my rating.

I will say, I enjoyed that Kaine’s “Other” side hasn’t been written off yet. While I imagine this will continue to perpetuate the “I’m Kaine and I’m a monster” motif of the series, I am interested to see how this will play out as Kaine continues to fight increasingly tougher odds.

Overall Rating...

Again, some fun for those who’ve been sticking around, while also addressing some of Kaine’s self-doubt and whining. And then adding right back to it with the addition of a monstrous “Id”. And another mystery!

Footnote...

I have been trying to avoid spoilers lately, but I can’t help myself sometimes. According to recent rumors though, it seems a familiar face may be coming to this series soon…and if they’re true, I am quite interested in how it could affect this title as well as “Superior”.