If someone told me that Kaine, the infamous evil Spider-Man clone from the much maligned 90’s epic known as the Clone Saga, would be starring in a hit spinoff comic (let alone one named after the other Spidey clone), I would have thought it was insane. But Kaine is proving his mettle in Marvel’s Scarlet Spider.
Spinning out of his successful rebirth in last year’s Spidey epic Spider Island (if you call yourself a Spider-Man fan you must go get this book right now!), Kaine has moved to Houston, utilizing Spidey’s Sonic Stealth suit he borrowed during the aforementioned event and setting himself up as a reluctant hero. Thanks to the combined efforts of writer Christopher Yost and artist Ryan Stegman, Kaine has gone from an enjoyable but wasted character of the 90’s to a full-fledged anti-hero that isn’t a cliche.
For those of you who missed the Clone Saga, Kaine was the first clone that Spidey villain the Jackal made. Due to a defect, Kaine found himself degenerating at a rapid pace, and while it enhanced his spider strength well past what Peter Parker could do (and gave him the ability to burn his opponent’s face with a touch), it also left his face horribly scarred, and gave his spider-sense the added ability of seeing into the future. Kaine spent the early part of his life chasing Ben Reilly, the other Parker clone (and who was believed by both Kaine and readers to be the original Spider-Man), determined to keep him from taking back what Peter (who at that point in the stories was believed to be the clone having successfully gained a life with Mary Jane) had for the previous years. Yeah, it was a weird time. At the end of the Clone Saga, Peter was revealed to be the original, Ben died in battle with Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin (and mastermind behind the Clone Saga, including tricking everyone into thinking Peter was the clone), and Kaine, in an attempt to redeem himself, attempted to rescue Peter and Mary Jane’s kidnapped baby from Osborn’s followers, seemingly disappearing in a blaze of glory in battle.
Kaine did end up returning during the Brand New Day arc of stories (which sadly retconned out Peter and MJ’s marriage and the baby), and at the climax of the “Grim Hunt” storyline that resurrected Kraven the Hunter (and people complained about the 90’s?!), Kaine was murdered as a sacrifice to bring the Hunter back. The last we saw of Kaine was his coming back to life as a mutated spider human.
During Spider Island, Kaine was mutated further to serve as the Jackal’s right hand spider-beast, the Tarantula, and during a fight with Spidey, was finally cured of his degeneration and beast form, resetting into a perfect Peter Parker clone, only with a slightly different set of powers. And for three issues (check the end of the article for a preview of issue 4), Kaine’s been making a name for himself down south as a reluctant hero.
It just goes to show, even a character created during a lousy story can be made cool, assuming talented writers and artists are willing to work it out for him.
In this preview, Kaine battles it out with the Assassin’s Guild. And while they may be killers, I’m willing to bet they’ll have their problems taking on a Spider who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.