Scarlet Spider #19

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 30 July 2013

Let's see...Belladonna Bordearux of the Assassin's Guild came to our favorite Spider-Man clone, Kaine, and told him that unless he wanted his friends killed, he was to assassinate the X-Man, Wolverine.  It appeared Kaine was good as his word, when in reality, Kaine had come up with a rather elaborate, if not incredibly risky, plan to get Wolverine's help in going up against the Guild.    Kaine and Wolverine went to New Orleans to take the fight to the Guild's doorstep, so things were looking up for our two heroes, so of course you know it wasn't going to last.  Turns out that the reason why the Assassin's Guild were killing people was to offer sacrifices to someone called "The Red Death" to keep themselves from getting killed.  And, from the way things were going, the Red Death wasn't particularly happy when see saw Kaine or the 'ol Cancuklehead still alive.   So who is the Red Death, you might ask?  Don't worry, because this issue explains everything in the conclusion of the Scarlet Spider/Wolverine team-up, "Wrath."    

The issue opens right where the last issue ended, with the Red Death holding up Kaine and Wolverine telepathically in the air (yes, I know I said in the last review Kaine and Wolverine were held up by what looked like hair, but it was actually mist. And, unlike the last issue, it clearly does looks like mist this time around. Honest!) and Belladonna and rest of the Assassin's Guild are, as Kaine puts in “looks like [they're] going to wet [themselves]” out of fear. Turns out the Red Death is really Candra, the founder of the Assassin's Guild and one of the Externals (a subspecies of mutants that are immortal). Wolverine says that she's supposed to be dead as he was the one who “put her in the ground,” but Candra explains that even though he and X-Men destroyed her body in their last encounter, her psyche still survived. However, Candra learned how to gain strength and energy from absorbing fresh corpses, and thanks to the Assassin's Guild and their “tributes” of those they've killed, she was able to reconstitute her own body. In short, she has become what Kaine describes as “an immortal death-eating telekinetic zombie.” We also see that half of her face is skinless and exposed muscle tissue, meaning she must continually feed on the dead to literally keep herself together.

Candra states that because both Kaine and Wolverine have survived death before, the essences from the bodies will be enough to fully restore her and proceeds to kill them. Kaine however tells her to let “us” go and that she can have Wolverine since this seems more like “a mutant thing.” When Candra asks what Kaine meant by “us,” Kaine says he means himself “and his little friend"--a spider under Kaine's control. The spider lands on Candra's face and she, grossed out, screams in panic, thus losing her concentration and releasing both Kaine and Wolverine. Kaine webs her face while Wolverine goes in for the kill, but she blasts him away. Belladonna then orders her men to kill Kaine and Wolverine.

As Wolverine defends himself against the Assassin's Guild, Kaine leaps towards a distracted Candra to stab her, when he gets attacked by Belladonna, who says she should've killed him in Houston. Kaine says that while that might've made sense, killing him wouldn't have solve their problem--that by killing for Candra, the Assassin's Guild have basically become enablers for an addict. He tries to tell Belladonna that the solution is for them to kill Candra, but Belladonna refuses to listen to reason.

Meanwhile, Candra tears off the webbing (and more of her skin) from her face, and, enraged, attacks Kaine. Then, green bile starts suddenly oozing from her face, and she realizes she's losing her body is deterorating. In desperation, she turns to one of the Assassin's Guild soldiers and telekientically rips him apart. Then she proceeds to absorb the essences of the Guild member she killed, including those slain by Wolverine.

The Assassin's Guild asks a clearly shocked and confused Belladonna what they should so, but Kaine points out the obvious: because Candra knows who the Assassin's Guild are and is immortal, it's only matter of time before she tracks down each and every one of them and feeds on them. Therefore, they have no other choice but to stand their ground and fight. Thus Kaine leads the charge, but Candra is able to hold blast him away, then declares that they will all die. Bullets prove to be completely ineffective as she freezes them in mid-air, and kills Harvester and several others with ease. That is, until Wolverine is able to slice off one of her arms.

During this, Kaine notices that Candra is growing weaker and believes they might have a chance at defeating her when Belladonna attacks him again. She declares that everything that has happened is all Kaine's fault and says that killing him will appease Candra. However, Flower saves Kaine by knocking Belladonna out with one punch.

Meanwhile, Candra immobilizes Wolverine with her powers, saying that his claws will never touch her again and says she'll strip the adamantium from his bones. And as she proclaims that she will then kill Kaine, there is a sudden SHUNK sound. Kaine has stabbed Candra in the back of the head with a stinger, and Candra collapses to the ground and her body rots and turns to dust.

Belladonna screams “NO!” proclaiming that the Red Death cannot be destroyed, that she will come back, and that her fury will be “righteous and absolute.” She then declares that Kaine and Wolverine “defilers” and demands them killed to appease their mistress. But just at that moment,  the Arranger appears. He tells them that the Assassin's Guild is now under the direct control of the Hand, and that the Kingpin has ordered Kaine and Wolverine are, for the moment, must remained unharmed. Belladonna says that the Arranger, nor the Kingpin, has any authority, that she's can easily kill him. The Arranger however, tells her she's in no position to do anything and reveals that she and the Guild are surrounded by Hand ninjas.

Wolverine, upon seeing the Hand ninjas, tells Kaine to get ready for a brawl (um, Logan? Did you not hear the Arranger tell Bella that no action would be taken against you and Kaine?), but Kaine tells him that he was the one who called the Kingpin. Kaine then explains that the Kingpin owed him a favor (from Scarlet Spider #12.1) and that while he was in New York and before going to the Jean Gray School for Higher Learning, he cut a deal with the Kingpin wherein he would hand him the Assassin's Guild in exchange for canceling his debt with them. Of course, Wolverine gets royally pissed off and punches Kaine in face.

We then see both Kaine and Wolverine flying back to the Jean Grey School in the Blackbird. Wolverine talks to Beast, who proclaims that, now the the business with Kaine is over with, Aracely can finally leave, and Aracely herself interrupts by asking Kaine all kinds of questions about New Oreleans, much to everyone's annoyance. Wolverine then warns Kaine that making “doin' deals with the devil” like Kaine did with the Kingpin will eventually catch up to him. Kaine, however, thinks that he did what he had to do, that he's made “deals with the devil” before, that he's been a “devil” himself, and that “if anyone wants a piece of [him]...they can get in line.” The end.

Thus Kaine's debt with the Assassin's Guild comes to an end, only for him to get in indebted to the Kingpin. Guess some folks never learn. In any case, this served as a decent, action-filled resolution to the story, although I do have some minor misgivings.

First, unless you're really well-versed in 1990s era X-Men, you probably won't remember who Candra is or her history with Marvel's merry mutants, Wolverine and Gambit in particular. I had to actually look up her up on Wikipedia in order to learn who she was, which just goes to show that Chris Yost and guest-writer Erik Burnham should have used footnotes referring to those past stories for clarifications sake. Second, the story wrapped everything up way too easily, not only with how Candra was killed, but also with the Hand coming in for a last-minute save to bail out Kaine and Wolverine from the surviving members of the Assassin's Guild. Finally, Horacio Domingues being brought in as a fill-in artist proves very distracting, and compared to Carlo Barberi's dynamic penciling, looks flat and uninspired by comparison.

Nevertheless, the dialogue and Kaine's inner-monologue on the proceedings is very good and doesn't distract in the slightest. And while this issue is essentially one long fight scene, it's still very engaging. And as far as team-ups go, this one between Kaine and Wolverine was certainly one of the better ones.

Until next time, where it looks like Kaine is about to have a rematch with one Otto Octavious without actually realizing it...cause we all know what the supposedly "superior" Otto is calling himself now, right?

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