Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #4 Review: Will The Real Scarlet Spider Please Stand Up

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Scarlet Spider

Kaine, AKA the Scarlet Spider and fellow clone of Peter Parker, is on Ben Reilly's trail! He has discovered Reilly's Las Vegas operation and intends to figure out what he's doing in the City of Vice.

After being openly attacked, he learns of Reilly's agreement with Ms. Mercury, whose daughter is gravely ill. Meanwhile, Mercury's henchman Slate is on the move.

A meeting between Ben and Kaine is inevitable, but how will it go down?

Kaine's return to a Scarlet Spider title was inevitable and long awaited. Christopher Yost's run with the character was a gritty, bare-knuckle brawl of a comic book that also knew how to have fun at times. Yost's follow-up New Warriors comic, which also had Kaine and his partner Hummingbird, was an underappreciated gem in early Marvel NOW! Needless to say, Kaine made a name for himself as the successor to the Scarlet Spider title.

The return of Ben Reilly seemed to be a questionable decision. The Clone Saga is far from a fondly-remembered story. While Kaine was originally a less-remembered character from the story, Ben Reilly was the poster boy for the whole affair. Far be it from Dan Slott to stray from openly baffling decisions, though (for better or worse), including killing Kaine in Edge of Spider-Verse only to bring him back before too long.

This comic was a fun little episode in the story of these two characters. Honestly, the main reason I personally wanted to try it out was the promise of Kaine Parker. This issue focuses primarily on Kaine and treats its nominal protagonist as an elusive figure whom Kaine is trying to track down.

That's an interesting tactic for writer Peter David. For all intents and purposes, this is a comic about Kaine as opposed to Ben Reilly.

That being said, very little happens in this comic. It re-explains what the audience would already know so that Kaine can be privy to the whole thing. The inevitable and cover-advertised fight is being saved for next issue. If you could have guessed that, then you have been reading mainstream comics for a long time too.

Veteran Mark Bagley's art does help elevate the material a fair bit. He's an expert in this form by now, and it's reflected in the visual style of the comic book. The scenes are very kinetic, cause and effect are clearly shown, and the fight scenes look very cool.

The way the ominous Slate is depicted is particularly cool. He is smooth and shining in a way that makes him look kind of alien. He doesn't look like he belongs among other people or even the world itself. That's an interesting effect.

The colors are a bit muted in this comic to reflect the noir-esque nature of Kaine's mission. However, given that this is still general superhero fare as opposed to a mystery comic, the palette could have used a bit of brightening.

This was an overall enjoyable comic. The drastic change in perspective was interesting, and it did manage to feel like an issue of Yost's Scarlet Spider with it. It wasn't brilliant, and it wasn't especially exciting, but it is recommendable. Bagley's art is great, and you can bet I'll be back for the next issue. Hopefully, Kaine will kick Reilly's ass.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.