Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER #3 - January 1996

Nightmare in Scarlet Part One: Rude Awakening!
Credits: Evan Skolnick (writer), Paris Karaounos (pencils), Randy Emberlin, (inks), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley & Malibu (colorists)

The Plot: Undercover FBI agent Joe Wade finds himself physically transformed into Scarlet Spider following the destruction of Dr. Octopus’ lab. Overcome with a manic sense of mischief, Wade performs cruel pranks throughout the city in the Scarlet Spider persona. When an exhausted Wade reverts to his true personality, he meets with his partner Stephanie Briggs and explains the story to her. Before she can help, he’s overcome by his dual identity. Nastier than ever, Scarlet Spider ambushes Firestar and plots to kill her.

The Subplots: None.

Web of Continuity: Scarlet Spider joined the New Warriors a few months earlier, although by this specific issue, Ben Reilly has reclaimed the role of Spider-Man and is no longer calling himself Scarlet Spider (or associating with the New Warriors, apparently). The New Warriors want to know why their latest member has gone rogue.

*See _________ For Details: The malicious Scarlet Spider persona previously appeared in Scarlet Spider #2 and Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2. The specific story of how Joe Wade was transformed into a digital copy of Scarlet Spider is told in Scarlet Spider #2. The real Scarlet Spider joined the New Warriors in New Warriors #62. This story is concluded in New Warriors #67.

Production Note: The cover date lists this as the January 1996 issue, but the indicia has December 1995 as the date.

Review: Well, this is certainly different. Ben Reilly has retaken the identity of Spider-Man in the January 1996 titles, yet Marvel’s marketing machine still wants to milk the name “Scarlet Spider” for two more months. The solution was to create a second Scarlet Spider and place him in a storyline that’s partially divorced from the main titles. Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago are now off the hook, leaving New Warriors writer Evan Skolnick the privilege of creating a last-minute story that satisfies the arbitrary demands of bean counters.

To Skolnick’s credit, this is more enjoyable than the previous two issues. That’s like saying shampoo in your eye is preferable to mace, I understand, but many of the “evil” Scarlet Spider’s lines in this issue are actually funny. How exactly Skolnick is trying to pull off the illogical premise of two extra Web of Scarlet Spider issues is also an interesting feat to watch. The story is unfortunately tied in with the absurd virtual reality/hard light hologram nonsense from the previous chapters, but treating Joe Wade as the innocent Dr. Jekyll in this scenario, and recasting the Scarlet Spider as a more sinister Creeper, injects a lot of life into a dull premise.

Even if Skolnick is somehow making the story less intolerable, there’s no excusing Paris Karaounos’ art. If you think that cover looks bad, I can assure you it’s the best art in the entire issue. I already had low expectations going into this miniseries, and even I can’t believe how unprofessional this comic looks.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Scarlet Spider joining the New Warriors actually got me to read their comic for the first time ever. And I kept reading it for a little while after his departure, too... so I guess that little gimmick worked on me.

I seem to recall Ben and Firestar having a mutual attraction at the time, and maybe Justice was jealous? I haven't read those issues since they first came out, so it's hard to remember. It was a subplot that I liked, though, probably because it reminded me a bit of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. Unfortunately, I believe it dissipated when Ben became Spider-Man.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...