Even before I knew exactly how deeply this would delve into Spider-Man’s history, I was excited just by the idea of it. Christopher Yost and Marco Checcetto (with Rachelle Rosenberg providing dark-yet-vibrant, understated-yet-explosive colors) writing and drawing the first meeting between the still newly minted Superior Spider-Man and the relative neophyte Scarlet Spider was an idea so great that I can’t believe Marvel had the patience to wait THIS long to unveil it. This was BEFORE I realized/remembered the history between Kaine and Doc Ock (it’s not pleasant...some snapping occurred...Octavius’ neck was involved), a history that Spider-Man certainly remembers but Kaine isn’t aware of affecting this current interaction. So what we wind up with is Doc Ock attacking Kaine with murderous intent, but Kaine being none the wiser. And when a crew of Jackal’s freakish spider-mutants make an appearance, it seems Ock may have the perfect cover to enact his vengeance...but there are still a few more twists left to delve into, some that stab at the very heart of Doctor Octavius’ dark past.
The dialog in this issue is absolutely pitch-perfect. I love Dan Slott’s work on Superior Spider-Man, but if he ever needed a vacation or a torch pass, Chris Yost should be the frontrunner (and is as far as I’m concerned). He so perfectly nails Doc Ock’s self-aggrandizing inner-monologue and arrogance, but even better is when he gets the subtle nuance of the good doctor trying to approximate Peter Parker’s mannerisms. Naturally, as Yost is writing Scarlet Spider, Kaine sounds as he always does: determined to do the right thing, even if he has to do it through clenched teeth and a harsh disposition. The book is mostly about these two, but the few lines that Jackal cackles are pitch-perfect as well, reminding the readers that Spider-Man definitely has two green-skinned, pointy eared villains he should be concerned with at all times.
Marco Checcheto has always been one of those artists I’ve enjoyed, but after his sublime run with Greg Rucka on The Punisher, he’s now an artist I look forward to. His linework is jagged and harsh, but never too visible, lending his characters a very palpable edge. His action moves smoothly from panel-to-panel and his characters approximate movement so well, you can fill in the blanks that the medium provides for yourself. Rachelle Rosenberg, as I mentioned earlier, provides absolutely pitch-perfect coloring for a book like this. It’s an interesting exercise in juxtaposition and that’s what Spider-Man has always been, but the colors have been flipped. Where before he was mostly light tinged with darkness, he’s now mostly dark but tinged with light and the colors evoke that beautifully.
My only complaint is we don’t get more straight dialog between the two Spiders. Everything is spoken in the midst of a fight (either between each other, or Jackal’s mutants), so it leaves me wanting them to hash out more.
Absolutely amazing. This was a book that exactly and precisely lived up to the hype I had for it, and in fact surpassed it in many ways. Even without the shared past of Octavius and Kaine, this would’ve been an interesting read, but WITH that past? It’s suddenly catapulted into the stratosphere of interest for me since now the two of them have a shared past that only ONE of them knows about! And one of the best ways to generate suspense and interest is to let the audience in on something the characters are unaware of, which this book realizes and executes on perfectly.