Posted October 12, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Scarlet Spider #10

Reviewing Scarlet Spider #10 by Christopher Yost, Khoi Pham, and Reilly Brown.


Scarlet Spider.


Take any of those words and tell them to a comics fan, and (more often than not) they’ll tell you about a dark, nay, a GRIMDARK time in comics when variant covers, 14-issue crossovers, an overabundance of pockets, and ridiculously-oversized guns were all the rage. When Batman was broken, Superman was slain, and nobody knew who the hell the real Spider-Man was supposed to be.

The 90s brought many new readers to the fold – myself included – but comics veterans can tell you that it was a bad time to be a comics fan. The market was flooded with one X-TREEM title after another, and violent anti-heroes and anatomically-impossible art dominated comics books. In short, it wasn’t the most fondly-remembered era in comics history.

It takes a considerable level of skill to take elements of the 90s comics boom, put them together, and end up with a decent and even enjoyable story. It takes even more guts to go and brand your comics with an alternate take on an infamous crossover title that leaves fans groaning with its mere mention.

It’s very difficult, but definitely not impossible – just ask Chris Yost.

Scarlet Spider #10 is the second installment in a six-part comics crossover entitled Minimum Carnage.  This issue features a no-holds-barred battle between the current Scarlet Spider, the foul-mouthed, ill-tempered Spider-clone Kaine, and the current Venom, bully-turned-hero Flash Thompson.  Eventually, the two Spider-spinoffs decide that the best course of action is to work together to find and stop Carnage for good…a plan that works smoothly for all of five seconds, as they soon find themselves forcibly separated and facing completely different situations.

Yost writes the dichotomy between these two characters elegantly; while years of serving in the US Army have taught Flash patience and strength of character, the gruff, uncouth demeanor that Kaine has had for pretty much his entire existence serves as a front for the sense of responsibility he inherited from the original (and tries so very hard to bury deep inside him).  Flash is my favorite incarnation of Venom, and Kaine is quickly catching up as my favorite Scarlet Spider, too, even though I still like Ben’s costume better. Also. Kaine as the always-cursing, always-hating, I’m-not-a-superhero-so-f***-off Scarlet Spider is HILARIOUS, and I love it. The differences between Kaine and Flash are indeed significant, from the way they communicate to the way they think of Spider-Man (clue: one of them thinks he’s an idiot, and it’s not the guy covered in alien slime).

I loved Rick Remender’s entire run on Venom, and as a fan, I can say that Yost definitely does the character justice. The story itself is also compelling enough to make me want to read further. While I’m not so sure exactly how they can stretch it to six issues, given what I’ve seen with regards to the pacing so far, I’m confident that the creative teams involved in this crossover can pull it off nicely. There are no slow moments, no filler scenes – the story keeps moving in a smooth, steady flow.

While I miss Ryan Stegman’s work on this book, the art by Khoi Pham and Reilly Brown (heh, a guy named “Reilly” is working on Scarlet Spider) is crisp and beautiful. I’m enjoying the renditions of the two Spiders in this book, and this version of Carnage, while significantly different from Mark Bagley’s or Clayton Crain’s, is just as terrifying. Besides, Stegman hasn’t completely left yet; he still does covers for the title, and this issue’s cover in particular is gorgeous.

Don’t let the title of the crossover or the shadow cast over it by Marvel NOW! dissuade you from reading – there is really nothing minimal about Minimum Carnage, and this issue proves it.


You should be reading Scarlet Spider. There’s really nothing else to say. Believe me, this is really good stuff.

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Mikael Angelo Francisco