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Scarlet Spider #14: The Other

You remember "The Other," when Peter Parker was possessed by a Spider-God? No? Well, Chris Yost does!

Scarlet Spider #14

Several years ago, there was a big Spider-Man crossover called "The Other," which was written by three different people and which ran through three different Spider-titles, none of which are still running today (and yes, that includes Amazing, which is now Superior). It was back during the days when J. Michael Stracyznski was heavily playing up Peter Parker's connection to a mystic line of spider-totem people, and in it, Peter died and was reborn with new spidery powers (night vision, vibration-webs and a sticky back, among others) that are generally ignored these days in favor of the classic ones. The basic theme of the story was 'are you a man acting like a spider, or a spider acting like a man? One or THE OTHER?"

It's all very forgettable, but Christopher Yost remembers everything, and thus he's reintroducing The Other (a spider-deity made of pirate spiders and Peter's old skin, in service of someone known as The Great Weaver, who brought Peter back from the dead but wound up fighting him later, I assume – I didn't read it, either) in Scarlet Spider #14, as a way to help Kaine now that he's been killed by werewolf gangsters. But as he lies in a blood smear on a Houston rooftop, The Other decides that maybe it can succeed with Kaine where it failed with Parker. Through a creepy 'this is your life' round of emotional torture, The Other forces Kaine to choose between life as more-spider-than-man and death. Under ordinary circumstances, the miserable Kaine would easily choose death, but that Parker responsibility is still present in the rejected clone he is, and remembering that Aracely (with the help of our readers, we're guessing this is pronounced AIR-uh-CELL-ee) is still running away from those werewolf gangsters, and she needs help. Thus, Kaine makes a deal with the devil (thankfully, this devil doesn't want a marriage) and comes back to life as a very creepy man-spider thing.

I really enjoy Yost's storytelling, and his ability to harness the elements of cool within the detritus of past stories to distill them into something interesting. The Other could have easily be as ignored as the Gwen Stacy Goblin Kids as ideas that no one particularly enjoyed, but Yost knows it can be a lot more foreboding when he's mucking around with Kaine, because he can do a lot more stuff to a guy who doesn't necessarily have to return to a well-known status quo eventually. Khoi Pham's art is solid as well, and – wait. Mr. Yost. Please continue to ignore the Gwen Stacy Goblin Kids. Do not try to find anything cool to distill from them, because there is nothing. NOTHING.

Anyway, Scarlet Spider is a neat series, and it's not afraid to get dark – and it does so without being simply for the sake of darkness. You should read it.

8.5