Kaine returns from New York a broken man after his encounter with Doc Ock Spidey and the Jackal and the return of his degeneration scars that mean the clone’s days are once again numbered. However, things really pick up when the frustrated Scarlet Spider is confronted by his namesake – the original Scarlet Spider who proceeds to kick our hero’s ass.
Without giving too much away, despite Kaine’s untrustworthy perception the clues to the identity of the other Scarlet Spider not being Ben Reilly are impossible to ignore well-before the character is unmasked. I’d have certainly preferred the return of Reilly in some form of another to the switch we get here, but the joy of getting two Scarlet Spiders in one issue helps mollify that disappointment (and the return of the Jackal’s clones certainly doesn’t rule out Reilly’s return sometime in the future).
Most of the comic centers around the fight between the two heroes one clad in black and red and the other in crimson and his trademark blue hoodie, but we also see several of Kaine’s friends being attacked as well as if someone is systematically hunting the former assassin and all who he loves down.
And that’s exactly what’s happening as the comic’s final panel answers a variety of questions and, sadly, give us the expected twist of revealing the the identity of the man under the original Scarlet Spider suit as someone other than Ben Reilly. That said, I love seeing artist Carlo Barberi put that 90s costume back in action and give props to writer Christopher Yost for finding a way to shove the character into the ongoing story.
Even if it wasn’t everything I wanted, Scarlet Spider #21 was more than I ever expected so I can’t really complain too much, can I? (Yes I can, I still want that awesome costume back in the Marvel Universe! C’mon, Marvel prove you really are the House of Ideas and find a way to give us two Scarlet Spiders every month!) Worth a look.