It’s the hallmark of a great event comic when the tie-ins can be compartmentalized to the extent that reading them becomes optional, but preferable. Getting a whole, complete story out of each tale is, of course, of paramount importance and while I can’t say that the SCARLET SPIDERS mini-series will be as enjoyable to read without investment in the rest of Spider-Verse, it functions as a great tie-in. Mike Costa is charged with a (very) limited series about a squad of Spider-Totems that must put a stop to the Inheritors' endless ability to place themselves in fresh clone bodies and return to their hunt even in the face of death, and who better to deal with clones than clones? There’s an interesting twist at the end of a very straightforward issue that recontextualizes the intellectual Jennix as one of the more interesting members of the Inheritor family. The interplay between Reilly and Kaine is the real highlight of the writing here as they’re both clones of Peter Parker, but also both complete opposites in the way they get their business done, and even how they’ve had to live their lives and this makes their conflict actually resonate and feel genuine, particularly as it never gets too much in the way of their obviously critical mission. There are few things worse for character interplay than constant, ham-fisted reminders that they dislike one another and this issue side-steps that trope entirely.
Paco Diaz’s linework is jagged, kinetic and incredibly stylized, a great fit for this strange, futuristic utopia the Inheritors apparently originate from. There’s a lot of action in this issue, and it comes off looking like it has a real sense of impact and force behind it, while never looking too rushed. The small details, paticularly as regards the characters, from panel-to-panel are great, but the overall bombastic aesthetic is where the art shines, and those are in large part due to Izrael Silva’s gorgeous, bright colors. There’s a one-page splash of this universe’s Johnny Storm and Kaine that perfectly illustrates these two artists’ style and could practically be a single image pitch for the entire issue.
There are a TON of text blocks across the whole issue, and while they correspond to Kaine’s color palette, they’re not in Kaine’s voice. They’re in the voice of a narrator we either haven’t met or who isn’t actually a character (I’m leaning toward the latter) and it’s a voice that has zero sense of subtlety. We hear clunky metaphors and reference to poetry and literature, but it’s always talking about how this impacts Kaine or makes him feel and react, lessening the character’s mystique and inner-turmoil, as well as any sense of ambiguity. They’re also peppered across some major action scenes, slowing them page of them significantly.
This is a perfect side-story for those looking for something more out of the main Spider-Verse title, though I’d be hard-pressed to recommend it as a standalone. It’s good enough that I’d love to see this trio travel either other dimensions, or even the 616, on their own adventures, and that says quite a bit. The writing doesn’t always serve the story in the best ways, but the character interactions get plenty done and the tale is paced briskly enough to keep things interesting, particularly leading into the final issue of the mini series.