Buy It, Browse It, Burn It – Louis Santiago and the Gentleman Monster on the new “Scarlet Spider”
Louis Santiago (LS): I remember hearing about this comic during the ASM panel at NYCC last year. To a degree, I was excited–at the very least to have a new addition to the Spider family. But I then proceeded to forget about the title in lieu of other comics (and tons of games) I was interested in–probably made easier by the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Scarlet Spider or the Clone Saga that came with him. Still, I saw Scarlet Spider #1 at Midtown Comics the other day, saw that it was written by Chris Yost, and thought, “What the hell?”
Then I read it and thought, “I have to find out how Peter [the Gentleman Monster] thinks about this.” And so, here we are.
So, Peter, overall, how did you feel about Scarlet Spider?
Gentleman Monster (GM): If I may, I’d like to begin with the ending. Specifically, the Scarlet Spider Saga at the end of the issue.
GM: I couldn’t finish reading it because it brought back too many painful Clone Saga memories. Once I got the phrase, “May was actually an actress hired by Norman Osborn to impersonate her,” I put down the comic and realized something very important about Scarlet Spider #1. It’s not like the Clone Saga because it’s good.
LS: Ha! You couldn’t have said it better, dude.
GM: I can read it without rage consuming me.
LS: Yeah, I was not looking forward to this comic at all. Honestly. I’m a big Spider-Man fan, but not a fan of the Clone Saga at all. Not even really a fan of Kaine, to the extent that if you’d just told me the new Scarlet Spider was Kaine, I would not have picked up this book. Luckily for Marvel though, I did, and I was completely surprised.
GM: It’s a really solid premise for a spin off. Kaine finally has a shot at something like a normal life. It’s odd too because to make Kaine the Scarlet Spider, they had to jettison almost everything about the character that made him Kaine.
LS: Like what?
GM: His trademark scars and the clone degeneration disease. For a while, that completely defined him as a character. He was so much a part of the Clone Saga that I never saw the potential for anything outside of that story for him. However, dropping all that clone baggage from the characters leaves him in a fascinating place. He has to choose what to do with his life rather than let himself be a victim of circumstances and disease.
LS: Yeah, and that’s really what makes the comic book shine for me. When you said “everything that made him Kaine” and then explained the stupid veins and degeneration, I was about to say, “Oh, yeah, all the bullshit. They definitely did cut all of that out.” Of course, it was Dan Slott who got rid of all that in Spider-Island and I was really excited about that, but I still wouldn’t have imagined just how interesting he could be as a standalone character. Really, not only do you have the whole point of him trying to decide what it is he wants to do now that he realizes he’s not going to die, you have the whole side of Kaine that remembers all of the bad shit he’s done as a villain and a bounty hunter. Couple that with his own tweaked set of spider powers and the end product is… I want to say “refreshingly badass,” but… I guess “raw” is probably a better word? Rugged? Not goody goody? Serious! That’s… it maybe.
Anyway, what helps that along particularly is the way he finally cuts that goddamn Ultimate Spider-Man hair and super clone beard.
GM: I should come clean and admit that I wasn’t completely in love with this book. I’d just say it was good, but not great.
LS: I can totally agree with that. I’m just surprised that I’m excited for the next issue.
GM: In my eyes, getting a good book that stars Kains is a miracle. It’s good, and that is a total shock to any of us who grew up with the Clone Saga.
LS: Exactly. What’s wrong with it for you though?
GM: I wasn’t too interested in the villain.
LS: I can second that.
GM: I was much more interested in the fallout from Kaine trying to save the old lady rather than the firestarter in the hospital. This does lead to the compliment of “I WAS INTERESTED IN KAINE!”
LS: Ha! The old lady! “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!?” Sorry; I know it’s probably not what you were going for, but Kaine yelling at that old lady was the best part of the whole damn comic for me.
GM: I like how Kaine has no pracitce being a nice person. He has some of Pete’s moral instincts, but it’s all buried under the anger and loathing from his shitty prior life as a supporting character in the Clone Saga. It’s almost meta-commentary. “I used to have it really rough. I was a clone during Maximum Clonage. Being homeless and dying slowly of clone diseases was better than that.”
LS: Ha! Yeah, there are definitely those hyper-meta undertones in this book.
GM: I don’t think they went too far with it. Then again, too far on my Marvel scorecard would have been Deadpool talking at the reader about clones.
LS: Ha ha. But, okay, here’s my problem with the book… It’s such an experiment.
GM: Yeah. I like it, but man this is a gamble.
LS: Yeah. And ultimately, I’m really not sure where it’s going.
GM: Yeah. I would totally be interested in this as a mini-series, but I’m not sure it has the legs to go on for years.
LS: I agree–I’m excited for the next issue, but I feel like I’m on board for an experiment that’s inevitably going south. Like, I’m excited to see where the plot goes and get a few new villains (possibly), but I just can’t see where the plot can go. I want to be surprised, but I can’t help fully expecting this comic to somehow go under–not necessarily because the writing gets terrible, but just because… it still has Kaine’s name all over it. Really, thinking about it as a Miniseries may be the best approach for anyone who’s interested.
LS: Aaaaand now no one’s going to read this review. Thanks, Pete.
GM: The one thing I want to add–then I’m done: Marvel’s cancelled a lot of books lately, so I’m pretty shocked this is an ongoing. Based on issue 1, I wish them luck. I think if we bill it as that time Pete and Louis actually enjoyed a book with a Spidey clone in it, maybe that will peak interest.
LS: Too true. Overall, would you say this was a buy, a browse, or a burn?
LS: Same here–definitely Buy.
GM: Again, KAINE. I enjoyed a KAINE story. A KAINE SOLO STORY. There is no Peter Parker here. That is such a compliment.
LS: Seriously, that really is all that needs to be said.
Issue #2 of Scarlet Spider is hitting stores this Wednesday, so if you check out the new Scarlet Spider and like what you read, there will be a blissful amount of waiting you won’t have to do for a follow up.
Agree with our review? Disagree? Like commenting? Well, let’s here it below!