Scarlet Spiders # 3

Posted by bulletproofsponge 31 January 2015

Scarlet Spiders # 3
Spider-Verse tie in: The Hero

Since the first and second issue of Scarlet Spiders focused on Jessica Drew aka Widow, and Kaine respectively, this third issue focuses a little more on Ben Reilly, the perfect clone of Peter.

As with the first two issues, we have our mysterious narrator, quite likely either the Master Weaver, the Other, or some other mystical being like Madam Web, narrating the events taking place in the issue, while giving a little back-story to each character.

Ben Reilly, the perfect clone believed that if you never gave up, you would never lose. In his world, this Ben Reilly never lost, despite being beaten numerous times in his career as Spider-Man. We last saw Ben and Kaine face to face with Jennix, the mastermind behind the cloning facilities that seemingly grant the Inheritors eternal life.  The plan is to shut the place down, while Jennix’s plan is to kill the Spider-Clones.

As the two siblings fight Jennix, Kaine begins to lose control of his rage and ends up killing Jennix. Being able to clone himself immediately however, Jennix simply reappears. Ben tries to get Kaine under control as he is visibly transforming into something else. Ben’s efforts are successful for a while and Kaine realizes the wrong in his actions. As Kaine calms down, a new Jennix appears, but is soon disintegrated by some kind of plasma gun shot by Jessica.

Having killed Jennix twice now, Ben advises his teammates to stop killing Jennix as he would simply regenerate. They then focus on trying to trap their predator. Jennix, after being killed twice already, and realizing that the Other is residing in Kaine, begins to attack Kaine in hope to kill the Other and gain his father’s ultimate respect. Naturally, the beatings Kaine takes brings out the rage in him and he slowly begins to transform into the other, though still mostly maintaining his human form.  As the narrator points out, Kaine, still trying to control himself is losing the battle. He is unsure of himself, holding the rage inside him, attacking at a slower pace than he is capable of.

In a completely unnecessary few scenes, we see Black Widow spotted and attacked by the Johnny Storm of that world. This is not at all a problem or essential to the story as she very quickly gets rid of him with a single punch, sending him down the elevator shaft and making a dramatic entrance from the roof just as Ben and Kaine are being beaten to death.

Jessica runs to Ben’s aid who is brutally wounded by now. Ben however, urges her to protect Kaine as he is the one Jennix is after and even manages to fit a joke in while in pain. Jessica reluctantly agrees, leaving Ben some time to devise a plan. We get a little flashback of Ben’s life back at his world. 

While Peter lost Gwen and his powers among other things, Ben never lost. When Peter lost his powers, Ben became Spider-Man and saved the city countless times, even managing to gain favour with Jonah Jameson after successfully saving Marla Jameson from Smythe, something even our 616 Peter failed to do. Ben eventually decides to save the day, and prevent Jennix from killing his friends by sacrificing his life to destroy the entire lab, this putting an end to the Inheritor’s “Eternal Life.”



The story ends with Kaine coming to his senses after being beaten silly by Jennix before Ben came to distract him. Jessica explains that Ben sacrificed himself for their safety, to which Kaine grows furious. He claims that the Inheritors killed him brother and begins his transformation into the Other, letting go fully all of his humanity. As we saw in AmazingSpider-Man # 13, Kaine then journeys into the Loomworld, and kills Lord Solus before being killed himself by Morlun…



As the mysterious narrator tells us readers, even in his final moments, Ben thinks to himself that he might make it out of this situation alive. It is implied however that Ben did not make it this time... or did he? Regardless, yet his actions allowed the good guys to win once again.

Thoughts

This was an issue that was supposed to be about Ben Reilly. As we all know, Ben is the perfect clone of Peter, and on his world, he even succeeds Peter, accomplishing more than Peter himself. Unfortunately, it feels as though this issue is still about Kaine rather than Ben.

For an issue in which a lovable character dies, I did not really feel the pinch. This may be due to the fact that Ben came and left so quickly. It may also be due to the fact that in the last three issues in which he appeared, he mostly came across as a goofball, almost blundering around as he goes.

This issue tried to make it clear however, that underneath all his playfulness, Ben is the ultimate display of a good hero who never gives up, and thus never loses. Even to the end, Ben does not give up on his morphing brother, willing to sacrifice himself to ensure the well-being of the others. I am glad to see that Ben died under such meaningful circumstances and did not simply have his life sucked out of him in a normal battle as did many other Spider-Men.

Seeing Ben and Kaine work together to fight Jennix was also pretty awesome. Ben, being the embodiment of good was able to calm his brother down to bring him to his senses. Ironically enough, it is because of Kaine’s human strength holding back the power of the Other, that the spiders ended up in a losing battle against their enemy.


Overall, Ben Reilly coming back into the comics, even if for a short while was great, but I’m still loving Kaine’s character more. Goodbye again Ben.



Spider-Verse Team-Up #2

Posted by Donovan McComish


Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Spider-Verse Team-Up #2.  Once again we have two arachno-rific stories starring some of the many different variations on our favourite web-headed superhero. First, Christos Gage returns for a groovy outing that sees Miles Morales and the Peter Parker of the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show trying to recruit none other than the Spider-Man from the original 1960's animated show, the one that spawned that iconic theme tune we all know and love. "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can"...sorry about that (it's hard to shake it off when it gets in your head). Then after that, the legend that is Gerry Conway is reunited with the character he so famously killed off over 40 years ago, Gwen Stacy (an alternate, Spider-fied version of her that is), who faces a very different and more tragic Goblin than what we've come to expect.

Synopsis:


On Earth-6799 (the universe of the 1967 animated Spider-Man TV show) J. Jonah Jameson yells for Peter Parker, informing him that they've had reports of not one, but two Spider-Men swinging around the city. He insists that this means that the "web headed menace" has finally shown his true colours and put together a gang of crooks to terrorise the city. He orders Parker to get him proof (keep dreaming Jonah).

Nearby, Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of Earth 1610 and Wade- sorry, the Peter Parker of Earth- TRN123, are swinging around this version of New York to find this world's Spider-Man, which they are struggling to do as in this reality, the whole city seems to look the same. Thankfully for them, '60's' Spider-Man confronts them at that very moment, believing them both to be imposters and noting that they got the costume. He says they can either surrender, or he can web them up and they can do this at the police station. Ultimate Spider-Man, being the obnoxious buffoon that he is, tells Miles to stay back as he has figured this world out and can talk to '60's' Spidey in a language he can understand, proceeding to use a bunch of '60's' lingo. '60's' Spidey replies "the hard way it is" and subdues Ultimate Spidey with a web blanket. Miles quickly explains that they are from other dimensions and they need his help "to stop a menace only an army of Spider-Men can beat". Despite Miles thinking that what he's saying sounds insane, '60's' Spider-Man accepts his explanation and asks why he didn't say so sooner. Responding to Miles' surprise that he believes them, he elaborates that he met a bunch of spider-people from another planet once.

Shaking himself free from the web-blanket, Ultimate Spidey informs '60's' Spider-Man about the Inheritors and how they are going from dimension to dimension killing Spider-Men. He then does a Deadpool and talking to us, the reader, calling his '60's' counterpart "a babe in the woods" and saying that it's not fair to make him a part of the action. Naturally confused, '60's' Spidey asks Miles who Ultimate Spider-Man is talking to, to which Miles replies "I'm starting to think even he doesn't know". Teen Spidey-Pool's point is that they need '60's' Spider-Man to understand how serious this all is. '60's' Spider-Man says that he'd love to help, but he still has a job to do in his world. The dreaded Dr. Noah Boddy has escaped from prison along with Vulture, Electro, the Scorpion and the Green Goblin. As if on cue, this "Frightful Four" arrive and attack the three Spidey's, who manage to hold their own until Noah Boddy enters the fray and immobilises them with his "uranium-powered futuro rifle", and by "uranium", he means a meteor that fell to Earth from Uranus.

Declaring that he will rule the criminal underworld, Boddy is stopped from killing our heroes by the Green Goblin, who asserts that the glory of finishing Spider-Man belongs to him. As Boddy argues back, '60's' Spider-Man whispers to the others that, the last time he fought these villains, he beat them with ventriloquism, making them turn on each other. Miles replies that this is a serious matter, a matter of life and death, something he thinks neither of the other two are used to, only to realise otherwise when  '60's' Peter responds that he lost Uncle Ben because he didn't act in time, therefore he knows all he needs to know about death. Miles apologises for treating '60's' Spidey like an amateur and agrees to play it his way, but stresses that they'll only survive this together. Just as the Green Goblin relents in the argument, saying that since there are enough Spider-Men to go around, they can all have a hand in finishing them, Ultimate Peter fires a webline at his leg and yanks it forward. This sends Gobby careening towards Noah Boddy, who assumes he is trying to attack him and "retaliates", blasting both the Green Goblin and the Scorpion with his futuro rifle. Boddy is then immobilised himself by an invisible Miles, who hits him with his signature venom strike, leaving Electro and the Vulture to be dealt with by the other Spidey's.

Leaving the villains strung up for the police to find, the three Spider-Men prepare to leave this dimension. However '60's' Spider-Man wants to let his Aunt May, Jameson and Betty Brant know that he'll be away for a while. Ultimate Peter then decides to change into his civvies alongside '60's' Peter so they can save time, with both of them being surprised at the others appearance. Soon after, both Peter's return, having been successful in their endeavours. Miles wishes he could have helped, but adds that people probably would have a harder time accepting that he's Peter, unmasking himself. '60's' Spidey is shocked by Mile's appearance, but thankfully it's not because he's "old-fashioned in bad ways too" as Ultimate Spidey suggests to us. Rather, '60's' Spider-Man is amazed at the fact that Miles is a high-school kid, since he really seems to know his stuff. Bolstered by this comic, Miles declares that the three of them go and save the multiverse. After all, action is their reward! Peter "Wade Wilson" Parker, despite acknowledging that we'll be aware of this, informs us that the story will be continued in Spider-Verse...

A Spider in the Dark:

On Earth-21205, Gwen Stacy is pursuing what appears to be the Hobgoblin through the sewers. They have both been running from Verna and two of her "hounds", this time versions of Scorpion & Rhino. Using Hobby's pumpkin bombs, Gwen manages to put some distance between them and the hounds. Hobgoblin confronts her over her identity, believing her to be a stranger who is somehow aware of his secret identity. He removes his mask, revealing that he is this worlds version of Peter Parker. Gwen responds that Peter does actually know her, she's just not the version of herself he used to know. She then unmasks, which naturally shocks Peter.

It's revealed that in this universe, after Gwen was killed, during his final battle with the Green Goblin, Spider-Man never regained control over his anger and killed his nemesis. Unable to cope with both this and Gwen's death, Peter quit being Spider-Man and became the Hobgoblin. Gwen tells Peter that she understands as she blames herself for the death of her version of him. She adds that while she can't change his past, she can offer him a path back to the man he used to be, showing him her multiversal teleporter.

She explains that she was chosen to find him because of their history. Before she can explain further, they are blasted apart by an explosion from Verna, who orders her hounds to "fetch". Seeing Gwen on the ground unconscious, Peter believes once again that she is dead. Thankfully however, Gwen revives, but she is still groggy from the explosion, asking "hey Pete, how ya doin?" "I'm good" Peter responds "but I can be better". Donning his mask again he flies towards the hounds to buy Gwen time to recover, saying that maybe he can't be the man she thinks he ought to have been, but he can maybe be a better man than the one he became when he died.
 
Stunning the hounds with his pumpkin bombs, Peter is snatched from his glider by Verna, who wonders aloud what he is babbling on about. Slashing Peter with her claws, Verna tells him that he isn't a man, good or bad or better or worse, he's just her meat, and she eats spiders like him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Peter simply grins as he activates one of his bombs, which briefly incapacitates Verna, but leaves him fatally wounded. Gwen sadly cradles him in her arms, saying she thought she could save him. A still-smiling Peter replies "you did" before dying. As Verna recovers, an angered Gwen confirms that her prey is dead, warning her "You're next", before teleporting away to another dimension. Verna observes the body of Earth-21205's Peter Parker, not understanding why he has anything to smile about. "Pity though" she says, "all that life lost. Waste of a perfectly good meal"...

Thoughts:

Right now Spider-Verse is the gift that just keeps on giving. Not only has it brought back many familiar characters and spawned successful new ones, but it's tie-in series have also done a great job in expanding the conflict between the Spiders and the Inheritors. And after a strong debut, Spider-Verse Team-Up continues to impress with another great issue.

It's hard to describe Too Many Spider-Men with words other than "fun" and "awesome". I've always had a fondness for the original 1960's Spider-Man cartoon and it's clear that Christos Gage does as well. From the dialogue to the surroundings to the gimmick-named villains, to the very physics of that dimension, you can tell that this story is being written with absolute reverence. Like the previous story, this is a great match-up of Spider-Men. I was initially dubious at the inclusion of the Spidey from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon as I've never really warmed to the show. I found the wacky tone to be at odds with Spidey as a character as well as being rather annoying. But I have to admit I enjoyed what was done with him here, probably because the script makes sure to poke fun at his fourth-wall breaking and obnoxious personality. It also makes sense to have the latest animated Spidey alongside the first one. As a side note, I would love to see a splash page towards the end of Spider-Verse showing all the main animated Spidey's together (barring Amazing Friends Spidey and Spider-Man Unlimited who have both been killed-off already). With these larger than life personalities occupying the same pages, you need a down-to-earth and sensible individual to hold things together and Miles was the obvious choice for that role. I do think that Gage maybe writes him as a bit older and more confidant than how he's usually portrayed, but it never struck me as being really out of character. And hey, maybe being drafted into a epic, multiverse-sized conflict against an all-powerful family of glorified vampires ups your confidence a bit?

A Spider In the Dark also follows in the vein of the previous issues second story, Luck of the Parkers, by being a more offbeat and sad tale, only this one is dealing with the aftermath of a story that is arguably more devastating. Yes, Uncle Ben's death has always been a tragic moment in the life of Spider-Man, but very often it's Gwen Stacy's passing that has the bigger weight on out heroes shoulders and the fact that her death was depicted in last years The Amazing Spider-Man 2 after a brilliant and charming performance by Emma Stone makes it even more of a emotionally raw subject for us Spidey fans. I can say without hyperbole that The Night Gwen Stacy Died is one of the most emotionally gripping comic book stories ever written. Not just with the moment where Peter Parker learns that the women he loves is in fact dead, but also the final showdown with the Green Goblin and the intensity of their fight. The fact that Spider-Man beats the Gobby to a pulp when pushed too far makes it all the more easy to picture a reality where Peter never regained control of his emotions and murdered his arch-enemy in a fit of rage and Conway builds on that to great effect. Here we have a Peter who shed his identity as Spider-Man and became the Hobgoblin because he couldn't deal with the responsibility of both Gwen and the Green Goblin's deaths. That's just fascinating. Thanks to Gwen though, he gets the chance to redeem himself in death, finally taking responsibility for his actions, both before and after his presumed tenure as a villian. As for Spider-Gwen, she's just awesome! I love reading about this character! Despite the different backstory, this Gwen has the sparkiness that Stone embodied so well in the ASM films, with the added bonus of Spider powers and a really cool costume. She's ideally suited to deal with this Peter too, as she blames herself for the death of her realities Peter, which gives her more incentive to try and save him.

Dave Williams also returns as the artist for Too Many Spider-Men and he really captures the simple, flat art style of the '60's' Spider-Man's universe and Ultimate Cartoon Spidey and Miles look suitably out of place there, thanks to the various styles of inks from Dexter Vines and the colours from Chris Sotomayor. It is worth noting however that, when he's unmasked, Miles looks less like a teenager and more like he's in his thirties. I really liked what Steven Sanders did with the second story as well, particularly how he referenced that iconic final panel of Amazing Spider-Man #121 with how Peter holds Gwen when she's unconscious, and again when the roles are reversed. The crumpled, almost fractured look of the flashback scenes also looked great, especially with how they were framed behind the Hobgoblin, as well as the opening page showing the two characters depicted in shadow, which helps to open the story with a bit of intrigue.

Overall this issue could have maybe done with being a bit longer as the second story needed a couple extra pages to really flesh out Hobgoblin Pete and perhaps explain why the mask looks different from the regular Hobgoblin's, but regardless, this was a fun issue filled with spidery goodness...

Score: 4.5/5.0


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