Monday, 2 June 2014

Scarlet Spider Vol. 4: Into The Grave (Review

Scarlet Spider Vol. 4: Into The Grave

World's greatest hunter can't spear
a guy who's a foot in front of him...
Writers: Chris Yost and Eric Burnham

Artists: David Baldeon and Carlo Barberi

Collecting: Scarlet Spider #21-25

Background Information:

Ever since Spider Island, Peter Parker’s formally evil clone, Kaine, has been on a mission of redemption. Cured of a genetic flaw that was slowly killing him, Kaine decided that he was going to live for something better. He’s been a fun character to follow; rejecting the notion that he’s a super-hero and trying his best to fight his demons. Those demons have won more than once and, the be fair, Kaine hasn’t exactly been successful at living a new life, but his devotion to protecting the hilarious Aracely (alias Hummingbird) and doing everything a spider can with a little more bloodlust than certain scientific web-heads we all know.

Review:

Let’s face it, it was never going to end well for Yost’s Scarlet Spider. It’s a pity that this series was seriously cut down in its prime, but when your previous volume features Wolverine as a guest star, your series is likely going to be cancelled. When your previous volume features Spider-Man (even the Superior Spider-Man), your series is likely going to be cancelled. When your previous volume features Wolverine and Spider-Man… You’d better start digging your grave.

And make it shallow- you won’t have time to dig a full six feet.

"Ha! Did you hear Scarlet Spider's book got cancelled?
What a loser.... He's right behind me, isn't he?"
That pretty much sums up my feelings on Into The Grave. Despite a very entertaining first three issues. This
is a cancelled series and Yost’s otherwise entertaining run on Kaine reads like a cancelled series. As such, it ends in a way that is both rushed and thoroughly unsatisfying.

Throughout the series, Yost has been teasing the involvement of Kraven the Hunter in Kaine’s troubles and here, Yost finally makes good on the set-up. Kraven and his demented daughter have captured everyone that means something to Kaine and the results are disasterous.

This story links into a Spider-Man story-arc from last decade called Grim Hunt. Reading Into The Grave, though, I was thankful that Yost hadn’t made reading Grim Hunt absolutely necessary. If you don’t know the story, don’t worry. Yost explains enough of the back story to bring you up to speed without making it feel out of place. The fight between Kaine and Kraven is thoroughly enjoyable, allowing us to see Kaine successfully fight off everything he’s been trying not to become and resist the urge to kill the hunter.

Aracelly is great as always in this volume, but she’s used less than she has been in other volumes and that feels like a wasted opportunity. She’s been the source of most of this series’ humour and also a source of mystery, so it’s sad to see her with less exposure than we’re used to seeing.
But what’s really disappointing is the second story arc in this trade. See, it’s about…

Um…

Er…

Well…

And things stop making sense right about... here!
Okay, I have no idea what it’s about, because it honestly tries to do too much in too short a time. In the last two issues collected, Yost tries to deal with the fallout of the first arc, introduce a monster that was hinted at in the first volume and finish the series. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this results in a final arc that feels rushed. The worst part, though, is that by the end of the series we still have no idea what Aracely’s deal is. She’s still hearing the “Mictlan rises” message and the fact that we know this isn’t going to be resolved doesn’t help anything.

The art here is fine. Artists change a fair bit here, so it’s not consistent artwork by any means, but the art here looks good, so that’s not a problem. The problem is that the art doesn’t compensate for the lackluster ending.

We know Yost is taking over New Warriors for Marvel NOW!, so it’s possible a lot of the abandoned plot strands will be taken up in the new series, but it’s still disappointing that Scarlet Spider fizzles out so much. Overall though, it’s still a volume you want to read, but only for that first arc. Into The Grave gets a three out of five shallow graves.

***

+ Great first arc.

+ Yost makes sure you don’t need to know Grim Hunt to understand what’s going on.

- Fizzled-out ending

Alternate Option: The other Scarlet Spider trades

It’s a good story, but I’d suggest reading the other three volumes.