Houston, We Have A Problem: A Review of Scarlet Spider

 

Scarlet SpiderFleeing his checkered past with a desire to atone for his crimes in some fashion, Kaine finds himself in Space City, caught up in a new problem.  Unsure of his right to wear the spider emblem, Kaine reluctantly helps to take care of Houston to the point that he’s asked to stay by some concerned citizens.  Hesitantly, and almost as though against his will, he stays and becomes the superhero that The Big Heart desperately needs—now he just needs to become that superhero in his heart.

SPOILERS BELOW


Summary (Covering up to Issue #7)

Kaine overhears the details of a shady deal in a bar and decides to jump the participants for desperately needed money but discovers that the bad guys were dealing in human trafficking instead of drugs.  A lone woman survives, and he takes her to the hospital against his better judgment.  He thinks about running, but instead decides to relax a bit and checks into a nice hotel with the dirty money, drawing some attention from the staff.  Meanwhile, the police investigate the remains of the human trafficking at the port, but a Hispanic man with pyrotechnic powers burns them to a crisp before setting out to find the surviving woman.  Kaine once again considers jumping town, but when he sees an explosion at the hospital, he turns around.

The burning man—Xiuhcoatl—tears the hospital apart looking for the woman—Aracely—but soon is tackled by Kaine in his spider costume.  The two fight excessively, moving the situation outside, and eventually Kaine is able to web him for the police to handle.  Later that night Kaine returns to the hospital to check on Aracely, and the doctor—Donald—informs him that she’s going to be deported because she’s an illegal resident; both he and his police officer husband ask Kaine to stay and protect Houston, a situation that Kaine reluctantly decides to attempt, as well as taking Aracely with him.

Back at the hotel, Kaine asks the bartender—Annabelle—to watch over Aracely while he goes out to help Donald get some supplies from the now-trashed hospital.  While at the hospital Donald is almost killed by a sniper—a member of the Assassins Guild—and Kaine is recognized by the shooter after he takes off his mask.  The very next day several members of the Guild arrive in Houston to track Kaine down, while Donald and his husband—Wally—track down the man who hired the one assassin to kill Donald (a man who lost his family due to an accident that Donald couldn’t save in surgery).  Kaine is able to convince the head of the Guild to back off, for a one-time job he will perform for her, while Annabelle takes Aracely shopping (and she suddenly learns to speak English, as well as any other language that is put before her).

Later on, Kaine tracks down a nuclear bomb in the city with the help of Wally and disarms it just in the nick of time.  Not long after, Ana Kravinoff—the daughter of the Sergue (Kravin the Hunter)—tracks Kaine down and intends to do him vicious bodily harm, as well as destroying the people who are in his life . . . specifically, Annabelle, by burning down the church she’s performing in.  Kaine barely escapes before it collapses, but does not stop Kravinoff from running off into the night.  He questions the reasons why he’s been given a second chance, and, meanwhile, Madam Web has a vision about his life.  A few days later he sees an office building’s top floors explode, and he stops the debris from falling on civilians while catching a woman falling off of the building.  The two seem to have something pass between them, and a little bit later he wakes up in her bed to the sound of angry men pounding on her door and her explanation that she’s the one who blew up the building.  After hightailing it out of her apartment, Kaine tracks down information about the company Roxxon, infiltrates their offices, and confronts their CEO about the situation, only to come smack dab against the Rangers, Texas’ superhero team.


Personal Observations & Reactions

I’m not entirely sure what to make of the series.  There are certainly some good moments to it, but Kaine just tends to come off as the stereotypical “bad-guy-trying-to-redeem-himself” character.  While that does have a solid format, it has also been done excessively.  One of the most popular Marvel characters, Wolverine, already has this background, although, he’s been a “good guy” a lot longer than Kaine’s been alive, to the point where I don’t even see him as someone needing redemption anymore.  X-23 is another, more recent, example, and there are dozens more I can think of in several titles, and not just Marvel. 

The writers do a good job of describing Houston, including the weather—I’ve been there, though it was years ago—but they don’t really do a great job.  They don’t make me feel as though I’m actually there, experiencing the city, and for a lot of people who have never been there, that might not be a big issue, but I prefer some sense of realism and accuracy, even in comic books.  Also, the storyline seems to be perpetually focused on Kaine’s life, but even though he’s the main character, there should be some focus on the supporting cast as well. It seems as though they only show up if it relates to Kaine directly, and that doesn’t really lend itself to good character development.

I’m also rather put off by Kaine’s impulsiveness when it comes to his life—spending money when he wants to, going to bed with a woman he doesn’t even know, et cetera—and all of this while on the run from his old ways.  He’s also pretty cavalier about his “secret identity,” allowing several people he both trusts and doesn’t trust to see him without his mask on.  What is it with “superheroes” no longer caring who knows about their lives?


Final Thoughts

I really am not sure if I’m going to keep reading this title or not, as it doesn’t really draw anything for me aside from it being very loosely connected to the Spider-Man world.  I do like that it takes place in a city that is not New York or Los Angeles, the two towns in which nearly everything Marvel-related happens, though I don’t think Houston would have been my first choice.  Kaine as a character just doesn’t draw me in the way Peter does, and while that is probably the intention—since Kaine is very much not Peter—it just doesn’t seem to hold my interest.  In complete honesty, the thing that really makes the comic enough to keep reading is Kaine trying so hard to be good that there are those comical moments, but once you take that away, then I just find it wanting.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 27 December 2018 17:23

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