Volume 1-Issue 3
In January of 2012, a Marvel One Point one-shot revealed the identity of the new Scarlet Spider as Kaine, former Jackal-created genetically malfunctioning clone of Peter Parker bent on making other former Jackal-created clone of Peter Parker Ben Reilly’s life a living hell (please just don’t ask, the 90s were an awful, awful time for Spider-Man).
In the series that followed, collected as The Scarlet Spider (Volume 2) Kaine, now apparently healed of his “genetic decomposition” which had been slowing killing him (since 1995) after the events of Spider Island and is looking to start a new life.
I’ll admit, I have almost no experience with Spider-comics aside from the 90s cartoon show which did a…very acceptable job of translating classic storylines into multi-episode arcs. I didn’t know Kaine from Adam (oh wow, Bible puns, nice…) before picking up this comic. I actually expected the book to star Ben Reilly, albeit with a slightly updated suit, sans blue Spider-hoodie.
Surprisingly, the book does a pretty decent, although exposition-heavy job of explaining the characters entire background in just a few issues, peppering important details throughout the series’ 7-issue run. At times, its pretty heavy handed- “My name is Kaine, I’m a clone of Peter Parker and I hated Ben Reilly. Now I have Spider powers somehow…” while at times I barely noticed that the content I was reading consisted entirely of back story. The collected edition even includes a timeline of the Scarlet Spider mantle, which by the end of the book felt fairly unnecessary.
Kaine, having recently escaped from New York, is on the run with one of Peter Parker’s Spider suits that has apparently changed from black to red, and grants him invisibility. He has, apparently, razor sharp claws. I say apparently because the way it is drawn he seems to be scratching people’s faces, Catwoman style, with rounded fingers. He produces webs directly from the wrist and can see in the dark, as well, but possesses no spider-sense.
On his way to Mexico, he stops in Houston to take down some human traffickers because of a newfound sense of right and wrong, present since his mind became “less clouded”, which Kaine describes as “a feeling of Peter judging me”.
After discovering a girl among the mound of corpses in one of cargo bins, Kaine encounters a host of new characters, chiefly amongst them a gay cop-doctor couple, and his hotel’s not-very-surprisingly super-hot bartender/female side character. Hilarity, as with most comics, is bound to ensue. Oh, by the way, the girl is psychically linked to Kaine….
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Overall, this was a pretty well rounded comic. It did a great job of catching me up with all the wacky comic nonsense that’s been building behind these characters since the 90s, while at the same time tells a humorous, entertaining tale that is (sort of) well contained and easily accessible.