Kaine has had his share of trouble since coming to Houston- originally planning on making his way to Mexico, his plans were put on hold when he stopped a human trafficking operation and found the mysterious Aracely. Since then he’s dealt with terrorist groups, weird energy monsters, Kraven and family, and most recently, Carnage. Now he’s starting to have some doubts about his place in life…
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Senior Editor:||Stephen Wacker|
|Cover Art:||Marte Garcia, Ryan Stegman|
As the comic opens, a group of men are meeting regarding the Connell Diamonds, worth $17 million, and how they just so happen to be stored in Houston for the next 48 hours. And to make things even more…convenient…they also happen to be stored at the Four Seasons Hotel! What a delightful set of coincidences!
At the previously mentioned hotel, Kaine is attempting to make a break for Mexico, but his new friends (Aracely, Dr. Donald Meland, and Officer Wally Layton) are trying to stop him. Kaine’s tired of the hero game and just wants to go to Mexico and disappear. The murders caused by Carnage have shaken him deeply and he’s not taking it well. However, it seems that he’s had a bit too much to drink (read: 3 beers) and he’s passed out. Seems those Parker boys can’t hold their liquor! And to make things worse, the hotel staff need him to leave because the Belgium ambassador needs the Presidential Suite.
Down in the lobby, Annabelle is talking to an unknown individual on her cell phone. Based on the context, it seems it may be a controlling ex-boyfriend. This is quickly interrupted as the men from the opening arrive, all dressed as Santa Claus and carrying guns! Annabelle leaves to call Kaine.
Back in his suite, Wally continues to be puzzled about who Kaine is and where he comes from, with Aracely simply stating they know everything about him. When the call from Annabelle comes through, Aracely is able to detect her fear. In the lobby, the Santas take Annabelle as a hostage to make sure they get what they want without anyone trying to interfere. Back in the suite, Wally decides it’s time for him to do his police duty and Aracely follows.
While the Santa gang tries to get into the safe, Annabelle distracts them by telling them about the guest in the Presidential Suite who has a lot of cash. Back in the suite, Kaine drunkenly tells Donald a bit about his past and how he’s killed before and was made to kill. Meanwhile, Wally attempts to take down some of the gang members, but to no avail. Aracely has better luck, but her ability to suddenly cause one of the gang to scream and cower in fear raises even more questions about who she is and what exactly she can do.
While Kaine continues to feel sorry for himself and the deaths he was unable to prevent, Donald finally gives him the verbal slap he needs: He saved Aracely, Donald himself, and all of Houston, not to mention the incident at Galveston…his past is past, and it’s what he does now that matters. And now, and in Houston, they need someone who’s “a little rough around the edges.”
At this point the Santa holding Annabelle breaks in, snapping Kaine out of his funk. After trashing him, Kaine dons his costume and proceeds to handle the rest of the gang. The hotel manager offers Scarlet Spider a debt of gratitude, which he uses to prevent hotel from allowing any Belgians from staying there. As the issue comes to an end, Kaine reflects that maybe his life is getting better and he can finally be happy. Down in the lobby, Kaine receives a letter from Julia Carpenter, yet the hotel staff don’t have a “Parker” on the list.
You know, I really, really enjoyed this issue. After reading it, I sort of re-evaluated my take on the series so far and where things have ended up after this first year. I was starting to get frustrated that each issue went back to the same monologue time and time again: Kaine is a bad man, he’s a monster, he’s going to try harder but he doesn’t care, etc. But after reading this issue it sort of feels like that was a lead-in, all part of an arc about Kaine coming to accept who he is. And now that this issue is out and done, we can move onto the rest of this series and see where this new found acceptance leads the characters.
I also found this issue to have a nice touch of humor. Something that I’ve always enjoyed about Spider-Man is when you get a nice mix of wit with your heroics. This issue delivered on that for me, between Annabelle trying to claim she’s not that pretty to avoid being a hostage, to Kaine passing out after 3 beers, to the end where Aracely helps solve Kaine’s potential homelessness problem. This is the issue I’ve been waiting for since the issue 2- I laughed, I cared what happened, and I’m more interested to see where things are going.
I also particularly enjoyed the art this issue. Brown has a good handle on the characters and captures some dynamic, Spider-style action in the last few pages. Personally, I like this more than Pham’s art from the previous issues, which had a very inconsistent feel within single issues.
Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit, but I’m feeling generous here. Given my earlier reviews, I feel like a 3 doesn’t capture the hope this issue gave me for the title overall. Yost has a tendency to start off strong and sort of lose his way, so I certainly hope he can keep this momentum going. Hopefully with the changes coming to the main Spider title, this book can keep the spirit of Peter Parker going in some small way.