Scarlet Spider #16

"Scarlet Spider" #16 does what every issue of this series has done under writer Chris Yost: it entertains. Yost's work is filled with adventure and action, character moments, bits of intrigue and slivers of suspense, but at the heart, Yost writes believable characters that find ways to hook readers.

I've dipped in and out of "Scarlet Spider" as interest and finances allow, but seeing Armadillo in a preview last week made this book a must-see for me. As goofy as the character is in concept and execution, he intrigues me. A one-note character since his first appearance in "Captain America" #308 from 1985, Armadillo is a public menace once again bemoaning his lost love, Daisy (in that "Captain America" issue he was heartbroken due to his then-estranged wife, Bonita, but times change and ancillary characters to story antagonists do as well). Yost uses that one note to drive Kaine's personal journey forward, but it sure is fun while it lasts. When the threat of Armadillo presents itself, Kaine springs into action, which also allows him to spring out of a socially awkward spot.

Khoi Pham is a decent enough match for the art chores on this book, but his work beyond the characters is thin and not very inspiring. I can only imagine that being assigned to draw a rodeo at Reliant Stadium is akin to having to pick up all the grains of rice from a busted open bag. Pham gets an assist in that regard from colorist Antonio Fabela with the Photoshopped in crowds in the seats that serve as backdrops to the more animated foreground characters. That combination makes it appear as though Pham mostly drew characters closer to the camera which translates as selectively detailed artwork to me. Pham's selectively detailed artwork really focuses on the characters and allows all of the primaries to celebrate some nice facial expressions and bodily gestures, like drunk Armadillo riding a bull.

"Scarlet Spider" #16 is a light-hearted issue following the rather heavy storyline this title recently endured. That doesn't mean there isn't much here. Quite the opposite in fact as Yost and Pham include Armadillo, a cameo from Kraven and a next issue blurb of "SNIKT!" This all helps ground "Scarlet Spider" in the Marvel Universe despite the setting of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at Reliant Stadium. It's quite clear that Yost has fun with this book and "Scarlet Spider" #16 is a perfect example of what fun means to Yost and what a fun story should be for us readers.

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