This week marks the start of Marvel Comic’s new Scarlet Spider series by writer Chris Yost and artist Ryan Stegman. The series tagline is “All of the power, none of the responsibility,” an appropriate mockery of Spider-Man’s “With great power comes great responsibility” tagline. The series spins off the events of Spider Island, a major story arc that spanned several Spidey books. Within the story, we were teased images of the Scarlet Spider’s hoodie, formerly worn by Clone Saga star Ben Reilly – however, what we learn was that Ben Reilly, who died on the end of the Green Goblin’s glider, was not coming back, but instead the old clone villain Kaine was. During the Clone Saga, Kaine was known only as the mysterious person that hunted Ben Reilly, and was then found out later to be another failed clone of Peter Parker, succumbing to the clone degenerative sickness that eventually kills all clones. During his return to Spider-Island, Kaine is cured of this sickness and the madness it once induced upon him. This leads to him donning a Spidey costume and helping Peter Parker throughout the story. At the end of the series Kaine takes off, a Spider-Man costume with him.
While some people are very excited about this, I am not. Ben Reilly was a character very near and dear to my heart. I loved the brotherly nature of his relationship with Peter, so I find it hard to see Kaine taking his place. In the preview images we are also treated to Kaine’s makeover which makes him look more like Eddie Brock (formerly the Venom host and currently Anti-Venom) and his Scarlet Spider suit is without the hoodie, instead going for a red and black look. I am actually okay with this change, because I would hate seeing him run around in Ben’s costume, but I still have a slight issue with Kaine using the Scarlet Spider name.
There are some story beats for the new series that have me intrigued. Kaine does not have any of Peter’s memories despite being a clone. I also like what Yost said in a recent interview with Comicvine about how he sees Kaine’s character.
Comicvine: Who decided to use Kaine and call him the Scarlet Spider? Was this an editorial decision or did you pitch the idea of redeeming Kaine?
YOST: Steve Wacker came to me with the project, because of my long history with clones and ‘red’ versions of other characters. But once he said ‘Kaine, Scarlet Spider, and Houston’… I was in. I’m a huge fan of Spider-Man, but an equally huge fan of violent anti-heroes. It’s the best of both worlds.
In all honesty, it’s the character beats that sold me. Kaine was a failure. He was disfigured, and dying. He had a horrible life. He didn’t have Aunt May, buckwheat pancakes, friends, love… nothing. Unlike Ben Reilly, he doesn’t have Peter’s memories. He had every reason to become a villain, and did.
But after the events of Spider-Island, everything changed. He was cured. Physically, mentally, everything. Like a cancer survivor, he’s got a second chance at life. And given who he was, the real story is to see what he does with it.
And I’ll just say that Scarlet Spider isn’t a name Kaine takes himself. There’s a lot of shame there for him.
For that quote alone I want to like the series. I just do not know if I am going to be able to get past Kaine replacing one of my all time favorite characters. I think as long as the title exists I will still secretly hope for Ben Reilly’s return in it. Kaine and his story that takes him to Houston have a long way to go before I care. Are you excited for this series? Would you much rather see the return of Ben Reilly? Let me know in the comments!