Scarlet Spiders #1

One of the radial lines spinning out from the center of the "Spider-Verse" web, "Scarlet Spiders" #1 sends a trio of Spider-People to the dimension where the Inheritors craft their clones. Written by Mike Costa with art from Paco Diaz, this comic features Kaine (the Scarlet Spider of the 616 Marvel Universe) Ben Reilly, Spider-Man from another, wearing the "Clone Saga" era Spider-Man costume and Ultimate Jessica Drew.

Costa wastes no time and takes the path of crossover convenience to drop Spiders and readers into Jennix's cloning facility. Using their mission as the main story device, the writer is able to define the threat, identify the personae dramatis and set the story in motion. Curiously, Costa chooses to provide third-person narration in the caption boxes that define the transition moments of the adventure, offering clinical, objective observation and definition for characters rather than injecting the passion of a first-person chronicle. Sterilized notes about the co-stars of this book hit readers with facts, but leave the characterization over to the side, preventing anyone from truly being defined.

Paco Diaz dials up the 1990s flair in his artwork, from gangly, overly-sinewed limbs to extreme gears, mechanics and pouches (even a leather vest/jacket) as the Spiders leap into action in this foreign land. The artist makes this world distinctly different from any other, with spire-topped towers and zeppelin-like airships. Israel Silva's colors are bold and brash, with blazing oranges and green and blue-hued architecture, adding to the visual independence of this comic. Throughout much of "Scarlet Spiders" #1, the characters seem to hover in their backgrounds, as though settings were mostly an afterthought. Silva tries his best to blend them in, but frequently the characters and lighting betray any sense of gravity or attachment.

As one of the "Spider-Verse" spin-offs, "Scarlet Spiders" #1 sets and follows it course, but doesn't bring much heart to give life to the fan favorite characters Costa inherits for this title. Anticipated to clock in at three issues, this series may have been better served as a giant-sized single issue. Instead, Costa and Diaz have to stretch out the tale, giving readers barely enough information and characterization to snag their interests. This is a fun set of characters placed on a do-or-die mission, but the story itself doesn't have much gravitas. As it advances, more drama will likely be sewn in, but this first issue is a rather shallow debut.

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