Kaine has made a bit of a name for himself as the Scarlet Spider in Houston. He’s had a few rescues, a super villain fight, and took on the Assassin’s Guild, delivering his own unique, somewhat confused brand of justice. Though we’re less than half a year in, Kaine takes a quick break from the established story thus far for a single issue tale all about protecting his new home.
No time is wasted getting the action in this issue! On page 1 we open to scene of Scarlet Spider chasing down a truck, being shot at from a man in the passenger’s seat. Scarlet quickly throws him out the window, then hops sides and yanks the steering wheel, crashing the van. Before the driver can crawl away, the Scarlet Spider grabs him and demands to know where the location of a mystery bomb is.
Meanwhile, at the University of Houston, an unknown man requests access to the facilities. When he is denied, he has the security guard shot in the head. Pretty clear we’re supposed to take this guy seriously! But no idea who he is.
Back at the crash scene, Scarlet Spider is going into another of his rants about how he’ll torture the driver if he doesn’t help him. Officer Layton pulls a gun on him, causing Spider to snap, but ultimately release the suspect. While Layton tries to talk to the suspect, Spider turns around and stabs his arm and hand with his stingers. This is a pretty grim issue and its 5 pages in!
Apparently the suspect must have talked because Kaine and Layton are driving to an unknown location. Layton disapproves of Kaine’s methods, but the Spider-Man clone isn’t nearly as level-headed as his “brother” and believes his actions are justified. While he wants to get his friends out of Houston, Layton gives him attitude for not being a hero. This seems to convince him and we are given some back story to what is happening and why.
Apparently there’s a group of violent, right-wing extremists called The Watchdogs who have been targeting abortion clinics, homosexuals, and now that they are in Texas, illegal immigrants. One of their leaders, Ranier (same guy from the University scene), snuck a bomb into Houston and plans on detonating it. Layton figured Kaine could help, seeing as how he is the Scarlet Spider (a name which Kaine is quite perturbed to find is being used for him).
Scarlet Spider and Layton arrive at the University of Houston, but too they are too late: Ranier has already made off with the materials to complete the bomb. While Layton tries to call it in, Scarlet Spider begins to panic. The two are soon under attack, but manage to subdue the two gunmen and find out the location of Ranier. Meanwhile, the FBI calls in the bomb, notifying SHIELD (with new director Daisy Johnson and movie tie-in Nick Fury and Phil Coulson- but that’s a whole other story). Iron Man is also notified.
Layton and Scarlet Spider arrive at a small airport where they find Ranier. He explains he is only doing what he thought the Red Skull would want him to do and then shoots himself before Kaine can find out the location of the bomb. Kaine is ready to give up, causing Layton to question his character. While explaining his hopelessness, Kaine remembers he can talk to spiders (something else from “The Other”) and discovers the location of the bomb.
While Iron Man realizes he’s too far out to get to Houston in time, Kaine arrives at the bomb’s location, but has no idea to how to disarm it (and with no spider sense, no way of knowing the right wires). Rather than leave, he decides he should die with the rest of the city. While Layton calls Dr. Meland, Kaine has a last minute change of heart and decides to rip some wires out, disarming the bomb. His reasoning? They were going to die anyways, so might as well try. He and Layton share a laugh of relief. He goes invisible before the bomb squad arrives.
As Iron Man continues his flight, Coulson notified him that the bomb has been disarmed.
This issue was a bit…odd. It’s another great example of why Kaine is a different hero than Spider-Man: When the pressure started building, Kaine starting cracking. It was interesting to see him ready to give in rather than try to rise above it all. But other than that and the humorous end to the bomb, this issue didn’t offer much.
I like this character and I am interested to keep reading the series, but I think Yost’s writing is a bit sloppy. Rather than just show us what’s happening, he tends to assume the reader knows what is happening or will fill in the gaps when a scene ends.
While I like that this series isn’t getting caught up in cross-overs or making a 6-issue story right off the bat, I do feel like Yost is trying to do a lot of stories quickly, so they are not as fully developed as a story told over multiple issues might be. Then again, I am not usually a fan of the 1 or 2 part arcs that don’t really go anywhere.
I would like to see some more about this Iron Man situation though and whether his and SHIELD’s involvement will go anywhere. The issue ended extremely suddenly and nothing was really resolved with the Watchdogs OR the US government assuming they were about to lose an entire city.
Between this issue and the previous, I feel like these stories are meant to be longer but end up getting condensed for some reason, as if Marvel is afraid to invest too much time until it’s more certain the series will last. However, if the stories keep up this way, I’m not sure it can.
Another average issue. No developments on Annabelle or Aracely in this one and the story was a bit choppy. The art was decent enough, but nothing too special. I’ve stuck through worse though when it comes to comics, so this isn’t going to stop me from reading or looking forward to the next issue. I just hope the next one doesn’t have the same rushed feeling the past two have had.