Here’s my look back at the ten best single comic issues from the past year. Including ongoing series, one-shots, and mini-series, the only limitations I put on this list was that the comic had to have been released in 2013 (no reprints) and I limited myself to only a single issue from any one title. Because I was focusing on standout issues rather than consistently strong comics every month several of my favorite series missed the cut, but, if time permits, I may work up my regular list of best comic series of the past year as well.
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The series winds to a close leading into next month’s final issue as Kaine decides to give up the role of hero after what Kraven the Hunter put his friends through (including one still fighting for his life in the hospital). He also faces new threats in a friend turned enemy, someone masquerading as Annabelle, Aracely‘s dark visions, and the arrival of his crazy one-night fling Zoe Walsh (who brings her rocket launcher with her for the unannounced visit to Kaine’s hotel room).
Although the issue feels rushed, like writer Christopher Yost is trying to pack in as many ideas as possible (and hanging plotlines) into a single comic to set up next month’s final issue, there’s quite a bit here to enjoy including plenty of the title’s trademark insanity and a cliffhanger that leaves the fate of nearly every single character from the series completely up in the air.
I’m going to miss this book, and although news has it that Scarlet Spider will be continuing to enjoy life with a new version of the New Warriors (hopefully with Aracely along for the ride and a Guardians of the Galaxy costume for Vance Astrovik) it won’t be the same. Worth a look.
The Kraven the Hunter storyline comes to a close as Kaine fights the suicidal madman who is threatening the lives of all of the new Scarlet Spider’s friends. Only willing to spare Aracely, Annabelle, Wally, and Donald if Kaine can kill him, the hero tries his best to fight off his darker nature, defeat Kraven, and save his friends.
Kaine is able to stop Kraven (although the comic doesn’t explain why Aracely wasn’t of any use when her life, and those of her friends were threatened), but the super-villain makes his escape and one member of Kaine’s new group of friends is severally injured which will send another on a late-night search to discover more about the history of Houston’s super-hero. I’m betting he’s not going to like what he finds.
With Kraven’s defeat, writer Christopher Yost sets up the series’ final arc as Kaine’s past will apparently haunt him through the end of the series (and possibly beyond?). Worth a look.
With his friends held against their will by Kraven the Hunter, Kaine works his way through the traps the mad man has set for him including Kraven’s bloodthirsty daughter Ana Kravinoff who seems obsessed, like her father, with forcing the Scarlet Spider’s murderous nature back to the surface.
Although I was sad (but certainly not surprised) to find out our other Scarlet Spider wasn’t Ben Reilly, the choice of Kraven makes quite a bit of sense and allows writer Christopher Yost to play on the leftover threads of Kaine’s death and Kraven’s resurrection that tie the two killers together.
With the comic coming to an end with issue #25, and Marvel showing no real interest in using Kaine elsewhere, Yost is presented with a unique opportunity to end the comic on his terms. For at least a single issue Kaine is able to fight off what Kraven and his daughter demand of him, but given next issue’s one-on-one battle with Kraven to the death we’ll soon see whether the Scarlet Spider truly is a hero or a killer. Worth a look.
Kaine returns from New York a broken man after his encounter with Doc Ock Spidey and the Jackal and the return of his degeneration scars that mean the clone’s days are once again numbered. However, things really pick up when the frustrated Scarlet Spider is confronted by his namesake – the original Scarlet Spider who proceeds to kick our hero’s ass.
Without giving too much away, despite Kaine’s untrustworthy perception the clues to the identity of the other Scarlet Spider not being Ben Reilly are impossible to ignore well-before the character is unmasked. I’d have certainly preferred the return of Reilly in some form of another to the switch we get here, but the joy of getting two Scarlet Spiders in one issue helps mollify that disappointment (and the return of the Jackal’s clones certainly doesn’t rule out Reilly’s return sometime in the future).
Most of the comic centers around the fight between the two heroes one clad in black and red and the other in crimson and his trademark blue hoodie, but we also see several of Kaine’s friends being attacked as well as if someone is systematically hunting the former assassin and all who he loves down.
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Picking up after he end of Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2, the second-half of “Sibling Rivalry” begins with both Kaine and Doc Ock Spidey captured by the Jackal who has taken a lab full of genetic samples for his latest clonetastic enterprise.
Thanks to Kaine (the only one of our heroes to show any heroics), the pair manage to escape and destroy the lab. Sadly, that means a fiery end for the clone of Gwen Stacy but not for the Jackal or all of his precious knowledge which manages to survive. The fallout leaves Kaine and the new Spider-Man far from on friendly terms, but that’s hardly Kaine’s biggest concern after he discovers the cellular degeneration which has plagued him his entire existence has once again returned.
My only real complaint (other than the fact in involves the “superior” Spider-Man) is the art of In-Hyuk Lee. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s a drastic change from both the first-half of the story as well as the regular art of the comic which has stayed relatively consistent despite showcasing the work of several different artists.
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Send in the clones. When the Scarlet Spider returns to New York to have a talk with Spider-Man nothing goes according to plan. First, Kaine is unprepared for the new Spidey (as no one has figured out that Doctor Octopus‘ mind is in control of Peter Parker’s body). Seeking revenge for his paralysis Kaine caused, Spider-Man attacks an increasingly confused and angered Kaine, but that’s only the beginning of what becomes a very long night.
Trouble multiples exponentially with the arrival of Spider-Clones, the Jackal, and even a gun-toting clone of Gwen Stacy. It would appear the new Clone Wars have officially begun.
I’ve stayed away from Superior Spider-Man as I’ve been less than enthused at the prospect of a Doc Ock Spidey. However, the back-and-forth between the two former super-villains trying to live-up to Spider-Man’s legacy works well here. I have enjoyed writer Christopher Yost’s work on Scarlet Spider and I’m intrigued to see just what the return of the Jackal has in store for everyone Spidey-related. Worth a look.
Sometimes you just have to kill a god. The Scarlet Spider and Wolverine‘s team-up comes to and as the two murderers turned heroes take on not only Bella Donna and the Assassins Guild but the immortal Candra who wishes to feed of the bones of both men.
The uneasy alliance between the two lasts through the fighting, but Wolverine is less than pleased with the methods Kaine uses to end the war with the Assassins Guild as he serves the group to the Kingpin on a silver platter. Wolverine’s chastising aside, Kaine is willing to pay whatever price necessary for solving his problem with the Guild and keeping Aracely (who the X-Men seem to be in a great hurry to get rid of) safe at least for the foreseeable future.
Although I don’t see Kaine getting invited back to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning for high tea any time soon, the forced team-up with two of Marvel’s deadliest heroes works well (and allows for plenty of Kaine’s sardonic narration which writer Christopher Yost does so well). Kaine’s deal with the Kingpin also foreshadows new trouble for the hero sometime down the line. Worth a look.
Murderous Marvel Team-Up! Last issue the Scarlet Spider was sent to kill Wolverine. In this issue our hero teams up with the X-Man to take on the Assassins Guild. After explaining that Wolverine and (some) of the X-Men were in on the Scarlet Spider’s attack via Aracely‘s telepathy, the two heroes finish faking his death and then set out together to take down and the Guild together (as Aracely stays behind to creep out and/or annoy the rest of the X-Men).
Writer Christopher Yost is in fine form here providing several fun moments between the two heroes including Kaine’s apt description of Logan, Logan’s reaction to Kaine being a clone of Spider-Man, and Wolverine’s reaction to the brilliance of the Scarlet Spider’s plan.
Next month’s issue concludes this arc, but I have really enjoyed Wolverine and Scarlet Spider together and hope we see the pair get another team-up somewhere down the line. (And it’s always interesting to see Wolverine team with someone who is arguably more murderous than he is.) Worth a look.
Given a reprieve months ago by the Assassins Guild who agreed to leave Kaine alone in exchange for the former killer doing one job for them in the future, the new Scarlet Spider’s time runs out when he’s contacted with his target – Wolverine. Unwilling to let her friend march into the Jean Grey School School for Higher Learning alone, Aracely dons a her brand new super-hero costume and Kaine trades in a Spidey-stealth suit for his Scarlet Spider costume and heads straight into the lion’s den.
The story works well, as the Guild honestly doesn’t care who wins he fight between Kaine and Logan as long as one of them turns up dead. Aracely’s help gets Kaine through the students (by largely underestimating her own powers) for Kaine’s one-on-one brutal fight with the headmaster that leaves one of them dead on the floor.
Scarlet Spider #17 continues to make use of the fun relationship between Kaine and Aracely as well as the self-deprecating narration of our hero. This issue is full of action as “Red Ninja Spider-Man” takes on Beast, Ice Man, Kitty Pryde, before his fight with Logan. Best of the week.