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Scarlet Spider #10: @#$% You!

It's Flash Thompson vs. the murdery, foul-mouthed and angry clone of Peter Parker! Who's the bully now?

Scarlet Spider #10

I couldn't stop laughing at Scarlet Spider #10.

Continuing the story set up in Minimum Carnage: Alpha, where a jerk-face sect of Microns spring Carnage from prison and take him to the Microverse for sinister purposes, this issue is all about the interaction between two pseudo-Spider-Men, neither of whom have the kind of friendly neighborhood attitude that Peter Parker brings to his adventures (and, soon enough, when Superior Spider-Man kicks in, Peter won't even be bringing that attitude to his own book anymore… since it won't be his own book anymore). How do Flash Thompson and Kaine wind up getting along without Peter's level head to mediate between them?

Not well, considering how Kaine's first words to Flash are "I'm going to kill you," "You're wrong," and "@#$% you!"

And that's why I can't stop laughing at it. Kaine won't stop cussing all the time, and it's somehow fantastic that there's a spider guy who is this damn surly and combative – not in the hip, edgy, cool way, but in the way where he wakes up muttering "Hate. Everything" because he hates being a superhero and hates that his stupid conscience that seems like it's the part of somebody else's mind keeps making him do it.

When I tweeted out "Goddammit, I'm loving the new Scarlet Spider," my esteemed colleague William Bibbiani, Film Channel Editor, responded by saying "Now there's a sentence I bet you never thought you'd be writing ten years ago." That's certainly true, although Bibbs refused to accept it when I corrected him, saying that Scarlet Spider is almost 20 years old now – and that's part of us '90s guys who can't really believe that the '00s were a full decade. Anyway, I've always had a fondness for Ben Reilly as a concept – a darker brother/cousin kind of guy for Peter – but it was never the crappy hoodie identity that I liked. 

What I'll add is that I also never would've thought I would enjoy freakin' Kaine this much. I mean, his name is Kaine. That works for crazy masked fire-throwing pro wrestlers with anger management issues, but it feels so damn '90s. But that's what writer Christopher Yost is excelling at here – taking core '90s concepts with potential and making them cool without the trappings of being "cool," if that makes sense. Having an asshole clone of Peter Parker is cool without having him be this twisted, scarred, long-haired tattered-blue murder-face ranting tragedy. Yost is having FUN with an asshole clone of Peter Parker whose first recourse is always angry, frustrated profanity.

The art from Khoi Pham and Reilly Brown (you can bet a guy named Reilly was assigned to Scarlet Spider for a reason) is also solid stuff, and the colors from Delgado & Soto are tested when the Microverse's funkiness comes into play.

I'm completely sold on this story, because the Venom symbiote is uncontrollably and randomly freaking out, confusing the hell out of Flash Thompson, while everything confuses the hell out of Kaine. "He was just standing there talking, and now… it's trying to eat me." "What the hell is a microverse?" "@#$% that." "Let Carnage go terrorize leprechauns in some other universe. I don't give a @#$%."

I love that there's a foul-mouthed Spidey. I love that there's a Spidey who'll empty a gun into bad guys if there's a gun handy – and in Houston, there's always a gun handy. I love that there's a Spidey who is looking for every chance he can take to avoid a hard slog toward doing the right thing, and looking for boundaries for that stupid sense of responsibility he hates – whatever lines he can possibly draw so it doesn't extend to every damn situation that comes up. It feels different, fresh and it's really damn entertaining.

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