Spider-Verse Spoilers & Review: Scarlet Spiders #1 By Mike Costa, Paco Diaz & Israel Silva! On The Road To Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars With Ben Reilly, Jessica Drew & Kaine?

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SCARLET SPIDERS #1 (of 3) Spoilers & Review

Story by: Mike Costa
Art by: Paco Diaz
Colors by: Israel Silva
Letters by: VC’s Travis Lanham
Covers by: David Nakayama; Mark Bagley; Scott Hanna; Morry Hollowell
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

“The Widow” (20 pages)

Three spider-heroes. What do they share? They’re clones of the other. Of that they’re aware!

Shamefully, I haven’t yet read nor bought AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10 and this issue makes mention of it immediately in the recap page. It’s important to further the story in this mini-series. I’m kicking myself for not having looked at ASM yet.

At any rate, SPOILER!! Three like-bodied individuals happen to travel to a dimension where cloning is commonplace. Kwinkydink?!? I think not!! The team assigned to this mission are Scarlet Spider a.k.a. Kaine from the 616, Ben Reilly from his own dimension and the newly-christened Black Widow a.k.a. Jessica Drew from Earth-1610 better known as the Ultimate Universe. Personally, I find her codename much more appropriate than Spider-Woman. I like her new look.

As soon as the trio arrives, Ben is anxious to look at the outside world to ensure they’ve arrived in the proper dimension. Everything looks hunky-dory when Jessica pulls him back inside and reminds the two men that the device they carry may make them un-sense-able (I just created a new word) to the Inheritors but they’d still stick out like a sore thumb. Luckily, Kaine finds some white gowns and deduces that they’re in ‘some kind of hospital’. As the recap page stated, little do they know what they’re in for!

After doffing their costumes for standard patient-ware, Kaine opts to stay in his suit stating that he can literally be invisible. A wisecrack (get it?) is made by Ben when he asks if it’s the same tech he’s built that would expose his butt. Without a response, Ben retorts a rhetorical question. I fail to see the attempt at humour here, TBH.

The idyllic setting quickly turns into trauma territory when a series of male and female clones march mindlessly to the sound of Jennix’s voice. He spews Big Brother-esque sentences (from 1984, not the reality show!) while looking like a cross between Norman Osborn and Ra’s Al-Ghul. It takes less than two shakes when a lab tech/doctor notices that Ben and Jess look nothing like the standard clones in other clusters. Luckily, Kaine remains invisible and webs the man’s mouth before he can sound the alarm.

Out of nowhere and without any explanation whatsoever, Kaine informs the couple that armored guards are on their way to capture them. Conveniently, the costumes are put back on and fisticuffs ensue. Things seems to be on the upswing when a familiar face (Iron Man) flies in with his gold and ebon armour. How dumb can they be not to realize that this Tony Stark is not a friend/ally/saviour? He’s a minion of Jennix’s. He’s astounded that he’s encountered three Spiders. Jennix, his master will be pleased with the outcome. BLAM!! Uni-beam is fired and takes down Ben. Kaine stings Tony’s face since he opened his plate. I love how Jess said “Saw that coming.” I truly thought that’d be the end of Ben since it’s become customary to kill as many Spiders as possible for this storyline but then I realized this is a mini-series and Ben’s fate wouldn’t be determined that quickly and easily. He’s a fan fave no matter what dimension he hails from.

Suffice to say, after a pow-wow with this faux Tony Stark to determine what’s what, Jess concocts the plan to infiltrate Jennix’s stronghold in the all-too-familiar ‘take-me-to-your-leader’ trope. Ben is hidden within the Iron Man armour as he escorts Jess and Kaine. Jess quickly breaks free of her shackles and easily kicks butt while Kaine remains prisoner. It seems like a good plan — distract the guards with Jess’ escape while Ben and Kaine proceed to go deeper into the headquarters. One last snag: head of security Johnny Storm recognizes Kaine as Peter Parker. Uh-oh. Time for a hasty retreat.

I find this first salvo to be lacklustre. There’s nothing that really stands out. Although I’ll always be an admirer of Spider-Man and all thing spider, there’s nothing here that really reels me in. I was super-excited to read about this series and am totally ecstatic over Mark Bagley’s cover but that’s about it. Despite the common bond, I don’t feel the connectivity between the trio. Perhaps that is deliberate. They’re not technically ‘real’. They each share the common bond of having the true blue Peter Parker’s genes but the buck stops there. I’m assuming from the title of this issue that there’ll be a specific reference to the other two members. Jess seems to be more or less the focus of part one (aside from the title) but I’m not entirely enamored by her. I can only assume that Ben is the narrator. As to why, I don’t feel that it was needed. What insights are given here? Absolutely none!! I’m not reading ALL-NEW ULTIMATES and I never followed Kaine’s own title SCARLET SPIDER nor his continuing adventures in NEW WARRIORS. This Ben Reilly is from Earth-94 and was only introduced last month in ASM #9.

Mike Costa has a militaristic approach. This is evidenced in his past work on Wildstorm’s The Authority and Resistance as well as The New 52’s Blackhawks. He does a decent job having the three disparate characters interact. Some levity is used to break the ice but for the most part it’s obvious that these characters have a harder edge to them than the other Spider-characters. This is Costa’s first Marvel work if I’m not mistaken, therefore he delivers the premise.

Paco Diaz is another artist yet unfamiliar to me. I relish the opportunity to research and learn when doing the weekly review. I’m not just opining here. Case in point: I just read that Paco Diaz is a triple threat — artist, inker, colorist. Kudos!! He’s a busy man having done enough recent books at the House of Ideas. Paco’s art is befitting of these rough-around-the-edges individuals. I especially like Jessica’s new look. Her costume is more streamlined, she has a practical hairstyle, and the black mask reflects her newer perspective. Ben Reilly could easily pass off as the actual Spidey from 616 especially from the mid-section up. The mask has the right amount of web-lines and the eyes are of appropriate aperture. Kaine really looks like a military man with his square features and buzz-cut.

Israel Silva is definitely a brand new name to me. He’s so fresh on the scene that there’s nothing on him in the Marvel Database. Perhaps this is his inaugural work in the industry. Welcome!! His colours add the transfer from darker to lighter as the story picks up the pace. The classic red-and-blue is tried-and-true on Ben’s costume. The scarlet and black combo for Jess & Kaine’s costumes are distinct despite the same scheme.

Travis Lanham designed a really cool title card on the recap page. He is a real trooper at the extensive exposition from Ben’s thoughts with the white-on-red. Not much onomatopoeia but I squealed with glee when I saw the can’t-do-without-it “TWHIP!” on page 8, panel 3.

To sum it all, SCARLET SPIDERS is a very eye-grabbing book. Story-wise it has some interesting elements. I give this a 6 out of 10 on the scarlet spectrum.

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