By Ben Morse
When SCARLET SPIDER #1 swings into stores on January 11, Peter Parker’s clone, Kaine, lands in a new city—Houston, Texas—where he’ll encounter new friends, new threats and build a new life for himself. Spinning out of Spider-Island, SCARLET SPIDER promises a wallcrawling experience the likes of which you’ve never seen.
All this week, with the help of writer Chris Yost and artist Ryan Stegman, we’ll be exploring the World of The Scarlet Spider in order to prepare you for a hero unlike any other.
Up first, we examine the tortured soul who will take up the Scarlet Spider identity, Kaine. From his early days as a fractured clone of Peter Parker to his recent ordeals and sacrifices in saving New York City, Kaine brings a wealth of experience—not all of it good—to his new role.
How did you first encounter Kaine as a reader?
Chris Yost: I've been reading Marvel since about 1977, and seriously collecting since about '84, so I experienced Kaine firsthand as the Clone Saga rolled out across the various Spider-books in the 90's. I remember really liking his costume, and having no idea who the heck he was, just that he was bad news, and liked purple.
For those not familiar, how would you best sum up who Kaine is?
Chris Yost: Kaine was revealed to be another clone of Peter Parker, but he was different than Ben Reilly, the successful clone of Peter; he was stronger, more powerful and hideously scarred, both physically and emotionally. Kaine was a failed attempt by Professor Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, to clone Peter. He was an experiment gone horribly wrong.
What traits does Kaine share with Peter Parker and what sets him apart?
Chris Yost: Kaine shares Peter's DNA, but that's about it. He doesn't have his memories; he doesn't have his upbringing, his moral code, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, none of it. His first memory was getting thrown away by his 'father' the insane Jackal. They had similar powers, but after the events of Spider-Island, that seems to have changed as well.
What further makes Kaine unique from Ben Reilly and any other clone of Peter Parker?
Chris Yost: Ben thought he was Spider-Man for a while; he had the memories, the emotional connections, and the sense of responsibility—Kaine has none of it.
The other little thing that makes them different is that from the day he was born Kaine was dying. He was a failure, and his cells were breaking down.
How does Kaine’s troubled past play into the man he is today?
Chris Yost: Kaine is shaped by his experiences, and those experiences are pretty horrible. Having The Jackal as his father, being discarded as a failure, knowing you're going to die—he's a different person. His entire biology was breaking down, including his mind. He became violent, obsessive; Kaine was not a happy man.
How have Kaine’s goals shifted from when he was introduced to today?
Chris Yost: After the events of Spider-Island, Kaine was cured. He was no longer scarred in body or mind, no longer dying; for the first time, he was alive. His previous goals were basically to find a cure for himself and torment Ben Reilly, and now both of those issues are gone.
His future is a blank slate. For the first time in his life, he gets to live.
What effect did knowing and fighting alongside Peter Parker have on Kaine?
Chris Yost: I think it was weird for Kaine; this man that he's fought and resented so many times, now fighting alongside him. Kaine may be cured, but he's still very much a product of what he was. His instincts are still the same.
But now, there's something nagging at him, like a little Peter Parker on his shoulder. And it's going to be a struggle for him.
Will Kaine always be a loner or does he want to have friends and allies?
Chris Yost: I think his instinct is to be a loner, but he's going to find himself in situations where he's got to deal with other people, even take care of them. And it's against his nature. It's not something that's going to come easy to him.
How does your approach to writing Kaine contrast from past portrayals of the character?
Chris Yost: Kaine's going to have the same killer instinct, the same gruff demeanor, but now he's going to realize how monstrous he was. Normal people don't do the things he's done, and he's starting to realize that. He's seeing the world with a clear mind for the first time in a long time. Kaine is a man who's probably not enjoyed himself much in his life.
What have been the most significant events in Kaine’s life to date and how will they impact his immediate future?
Chris Yost: Birth. Death. Rebirth. Cure. These things will come up throughout Kaine's journey.
What inspires Kaine to become The Scarlet Spider?
Chris Yost: Kaine has no desire to be The Scarlet Spider, let's be clear. He's no hero. He wants nothing more than to stick his feet in the sand and start enjoying this new life that he's been given, this second chance. But life gets in the way. The past comes back to haunt. And after his experiences, he's starting to learn that life has value.
Even other people's lives.
Tomorrow, we take a look at the Scarlet Spider’s new home: Houston, Texas. And remember to pick up SCARLET SPIDER #1 on January 11!