Scarlet Spider #20

"Scarlet Spider" #20 is the second part of a two-part crossover with the newly minted "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up." While the latter title is solo-scripted by Chris Yost, the writer is joined on "Scarlet Spider" #20 by co-writer Erik Burnham. The issue brings the Superior Spider-Man together with Scarlet Spider for a much more team-up oriented experience than in "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #2, where they mostly fight.

Yost and Burnham use the relationship between Spider-Ock and Scarlet Spider to illustrate the differences between Peter Parker, Octo-Parker and Kaine as their expectations of each other fall short or are completely torpedoed by reality. In the end, Octavius' snobbery gets the better of the would-be hero and he puts the Jackal's clones on the endangered species' list with a shrug. Unbeknownst to Kaine, he's not working with Peter Parker, but Otto Octavius, which complicates the relationship and magnifies the differences that both characters have endured in the past year. Mixed in for extra excitement is the Jackal himself, scripted by Yost and Burnham as a total maniacal loon. The Jackal might just be the one super-villain left in comic books today that still monologues, giving "Scarlet Spider" a rather uncommon retro vibe.

With sixteen pages illustrated by In-Hyuk Lee, one page drawn by Pat Oliffe and four by Paco Medina, "Scarlet Spider" #20 feels like a classic anthology comic soaked in modern day slickness thanks to the brilliant, "painted" artwork from Lee and the strong, unifying colors from Lee Loughridge. Joe Caramagna applies a layer of lettering harmony across the top of the issue, helping to tie everything together, despite the letterboxing of the first page of the epilogue and the hiding of "Epilogue II" behind the letters page.

As Spider-comics go, "Scarlet Spider" has been the unexpected gem of the Marvel Universe, boldly experimenting -- mainly because it can. "Scarlet Spider" #20 continues that trend with Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider reluctantly working together, coming to the agreement that neither of them truly knows the other as well as they thought. Yost and Burnham provide plenty of fodder for future adventures, as the old Parker luck kicks into high gear for Kaine. I wouldn't have it any other way and look forward to more.

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