Comic Book / Scarlet Spider

Kaine: What did you call me?
Wally: The Scarlet Spider. That's your super hero name, right? I heard it on the news.
Kaine: ...I swear to god, I'm being punished.
Scarlet Spider Vol.2 #5

Scarlet Spider is an alias that has been used by multiple characters in the Marvel Universe, with the common trait of them being clones, the two most famous to bear the title being clones of the famous superhero Spider-Man specifically, and created during The Clone Saga.

The original character to handle the title was Ben Reilly, one of the clones of Peter Parker, who used it as a distinction from Peter. The character was one of the few things well-received in the otherwise infamous clone saga. Eventually, Ben took over as Spider-Man after a complicated story that made it unclear who of him or Peter was a clone. He was eventually Killed Off for Real by the Green Goblin, and Peter Parker re-assumed the Spider-Man identity.

The next time Scarlet Spider was actually a team of 3 Super Soldier clones of a recently killed Avengers Initiative recruit Michael van Patrick, that wore variations of Spider-Man's then recent Iron Spider armor. Named Micheal, Van and Patrick, they briefly aided Peter Parker in attempting to cover up his recent reveal of his identity during the events of Civil War. Afterward during the course of their adventures they discovered their clone heritage but by the end of the series only one of the three was still alive and went public with his story to help bring the darker elements of the Initiative to justice.

Another of Peter's long-disappeared clones, Kaine, who was also part of The Clone Saga, came back during the Grim Hunt arc, where he made a Heroic Sacrifice for Peter Parker and was seemingly Killed Off for Real. Kaine returned in the Spider-Island arc, resurrected as a mutated minion of the Jackal. He was eventually cured - with enhanced powers identical to the ones Peter once possessed - by Spider-Man, and helped him defeat the arc's Big Bad. After that, he left Manhattan, taking Peter's "Big Time" stealth suit with him, and tried to leave for Mexico. When passing through Houston, Texas on the way there, after breaking up a human trafficking ring on his way out of town, he finds himself linked to a young girl and a group of Houston residents and eventually decides to stay. Due to Madame Web hacking the suit's color modification into being stuck, local media and people dubbed Kaine the Scarlet Spider. Compared to Ben Reilly, Kaine's incarnation of the Scarlet Spider is darker and more violent due to his past and struggles with his heroic impulses.

Kaine Parker is the current Scarlet Spider and star of the ongoing series started in 2012 written by Christopher Yost. While his title was cancelled at Issue #25, he's appearing in the Marvel NOW reboot of New Warriors, also written by Yost. A Spider-Verse tie-in mini-series, called Scarlet Spiders was released featuring Kaine Parker, Ultimate Jessica Drew alongside an alternate version of Ben Reilly that survived.

In the story Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy it was revealed that Ben Reilly was resurrected by the Jackal in an attempt to improve his cloning procedures. In the process, he was driven mad and became the Jackal himself. The upcoming Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider will focus on Ben and his return to heroics and Kaine as he helps his clone brother come to grips with what he had done as the Jackal.

Recurring Scarlet Spiders Tropes

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Spiders.
  • Atrocious Alias: Even Ben himself hated the name "the Scarlet Spider" and pretty much everyone else thought it was lame too, but you can't blame him for it because he didn't come up with it; Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich takes credit for this.
  • Cloning Blues: The first and most recent ones were cloned from Peter Parker by the Jackal, though Kaine was dismissed as being defective. The Initiative 'triplets' were also clones.
  • Expy: Of Spider-Man of course; justified in that two of them are clones of him and the other three wore copies of his suits.
  • Legacy Character: Initially subverted due to multiple attempts to deceive Ben Reilly fans to think he was coming back. Then Kaine took the title.

Tropes Applying to Ben Reilly:

  • Badass Biker: During "The Lost Years" Mini and "The Clone Saga" revamp.
  • Big Bad: In Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, it's revealed that the Jackal resurrected and killed him dozens of times, until Ben finally snapped and nearly killed Warren, relenting at the last second. He then tricked Warren into believing he had been killed and that he was one of his army of clones. He then went on to become the new Anubis-masked Jackal and founded New U Technologies to clone all the people Peter Parker failed to save.
  • Civvie Spandex: His original "costume" was simply a red spandex suit and mask with and a sleeveless hoodie with a spider on it. The point was Ben didn't have a lot of money and made his costume out of what he could afford (which wasn't much).
  • Clone Degeneration: The way it was confirmed he was the clone and not Peter. (Still, most clones died because they degenerated, unlike Ben, whose body did so after he was killed, so it would seem Ben was a more successful cloning attempt than the others.)
  • Hero of Another Story: Clearly he was active during his wanderings. He was known to have encountered - and possibly fought the demonic villain D'spayre in the past, but the details were never revealed. Other adventures were hinted at.
  • Important Haircut: He wears his hair differently than Peter and bleaches it blonde to differentiate himself.
  • Meaningful Name: He is named after Peter's deceased uncle Ben and uses Aunt May's maiden family name.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Well he is Peter's clone; what did you expect?
  • Walking the Earth: What he did before the Clone Saga; he returned to New York because Aunt May was dying.

Tropes Applying to Kaine:

  • '90s Anti-Hero:
    • He once wore an all-black costume with a grey vein motif, a tattered red cape, and Batman-like arm and leg serrations, as seen during his flashbacks to the Clone Saga, and was also not averse to killing people by ripping their faces off.
    • As of the 2012 Scarlet Spider series, he tries to avoid killing at all costs, even restarting Kraven's heart after stopping it to satisfy the conditions of a mystical connection. However, he remains tempermental, foul-mouthed, and willing to use excessive force in combat.
  • Anti-Hero: Kaine is far less restrained than Peter and Ben were.
  • The Atoner: He doesn't try to dwell on it, but his past does eat at him from time to time, leading him to be this whether he likes it or not.
  • Berserk Button: Don't confuse him with Spider-Man.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: One of the new abilities he has gained since his revival are his "stingers".
  • Broken Pedestal: Considers Peter actually Otto in his body to be one after Issue #20.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: A Continuity Nod to Peter Parker, since his revival and recovery from the clone degeneration, he gets black out drunk after 3 beers. The ridiculousness of this is lampshaded, since while Peter is about 5'10" and lean and can therefore be expected to not hold his drink so well, Kaine is listed at 6'4" (though Spider Island showed them as being the same height), is shown towering over just about everyone else in Houston (save Annabelle's enormous ex-boyfriend) and even after becoming more normally shaped following his resurrection(s), is still built like a tank.
  • Came Back Strong: After being killed by Kraven's daughter Ana, Kaine is resurrected by Ero as an anthropomorphic spider and is "reborn" during Spider-Island with the powers Peter acquired during The Other arc. note  After being killed by the Lobos siblings, Ero resurrects him a second time by getting him to embrace his Inner Spider in the same manner Peter did in The Other.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: His suit, which is actually Peter's stealth suit from the Big Time arc, allows him to pull this trick off.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Which Kaine refers to as the Parker legacy.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Zigzagged. He wonders if they are abominations but he still tries to save the Gwen Stacy clone.
  • Clone Degeneration: Main reason why his powers and his physical appearance looked so different before his resurrection during Spider Island. As of issue #20, it seems to be back, but is actually an illusion instead.
  • Cloning Blues: Being Spider-Man's self-professed evil clone.
  • Colourful Theme Naming: More so then any of the previous incarnations.
  • Convenient Color Change: Kaine is wearing Peter's Stealth Suit from the Big Time arc, but the reason it looks so drastically different is because Madame Webb hacked the color scheme. Kaine later figures out how to change it back to its original colouration.
  • Cursed with Awesome: According to Word of God, Kaine's Clone Degeneration gave him his precognition by amplifying his Spider-Sense.
    • The Mark of Kaine was also said to be an amplified wall-crawling trait, specifically using his wall-crawling/clinging powers to stick his hand to someone and then rip it off, leaving a perfect hand-shaped mark. Of course, Peter Parker's "stick-em" powers are powerful enough to do the same (and he actually does it in Grim Hunt, taking revenge on behalf of Kaine), but most of his opponents only have their face exposed, so the results could be very gruesome.
  • Deadpan Snarker: he doesn't do it as often as his brothers, but the Parker tendency to quip in fights is still present, albeit considerably darker and more sarcastic.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Kaine usually acts before actually considering any consequences.
  • Eaten Alive: The Lobo siblings do this to him. He returns from the dead as the Other and returns the favour.
  • Evil Clone: Kaine to Peter, originally. Lampshaded by Wolverine when they meet, which Kaine responds to by saying, "Pretty much."
  • Expy: Kaine's version of the Scarlet Spider often gets confused for Spider-Man except for the uniform color, the Wolverine-like power (his "stingers") and his (phenomenally bad) attitude.
    • During the Minimum Carnage event, a victim of Cletus Kasady aka Carnage confuses Kaine for the killer.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Kaine's first heroic act in Houston, saving a granny from being squashed by a truck, is followed by him yelling and swearing at her for being stupid enough to walk in the road in the first place. He's also a very reluctant superhero, frequently expressing a desire to simply sit on a beach and sip margaritas. When he actually gets round to doing this, it doesn't last and Aracely (a psychic, among many other things) points out that he doesn't really want to do that, deep down, despite his insistence to the contrary.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Originally, considered more of a Anti-Villain but within recent years he has mellowed. Not, mind you, that he's particularly happy with it.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: doesn't think he's anywhere near the person Peter is or Ben was, and as one comment reveals, doesn't think that he's as smart as them either.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Houston doesn't have enough tall buildings to get around everywhere, so Kaine sometimes has to "improvise".
  • Hot-Blooded: Kaine is more likely to pick a fight than Peter or Ben were.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Post-resurrection #2, Kaine comes back as a spider-monster and almost eats Aracely, but she uses her powers to restore his human form. He's horrified at what he almost did and went into full I Am a Monster mode.
  • I Am a Monster: Kaine feels this about himself due to his past and later due to his Inner Spider following his second resurrection.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Kaine constantly tells people he is not a superhero, and not a hero at all. This is despite the fact that he routinely saves people's lives, which he can probably blame on those damned Parker genes.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Kaine's suit, not only does it allow him to turn invisible and several other features, but it is able to regenerate -which is good because Kaine tends to take massive amounts of Clothing Damage.
  • Insistent Terminology: He is not a superhero.
  • Kid Sidekick: Aracely. She joins the New Warriors with him after his series ends.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Not the nicest person.
  • Morality Pet: Has one in the form of Aracely, a young Mexican girl he rescued from a human trafficking ring. As of New Warriors #9, Justice suggests that he take the New Warriors as this, to keep him on the straight and narrow. The events of Spider-Verse suggest that he took this to heart.
  • My Greatest Failure: Killing the love of his life in "The Lost Years" because she was a Dirty Cop. Also, losing Ben Reilly.
  • Name of Cain: Kaine. A Lampshade Hanging comes up when he goes to a priest for a confession, with said priest saying they have a lot of work to do toward his forgiveness.
  • One-Winged Angel: Gets the ability to transform into a monstrous humanoid spider creature after his second resurrection.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Especially during his '90s Anti-Hero phase.
  • Redemption Demotion: a partial example. His first resurrection (once he was no longer a giant man-spider thing) took away the cellular degeneration, gave him his stingers and allows him to talk to spiders. But it also took away his supercharged spider-sense, which developed into fully fledged precognition, and his previous levels of Super Strength, which made him capable of knocking out the Rhino in a single shot (admittedly, this single shot involved Kaine hitting him in the face with most of a building).
  • Scars Are Forever: After being scarred in fight early in the 2012 series he gets a tattoo to help cover it up.
    • Kaine's degeneration scars - which vanished after his first resurrection - reappear after he confronts the Jackal. Turns out to be an illusion.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Kaine tries to do good but has very little problem using underhanded and almost villainous methods to get the job done.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Kaine is way more vulgar than his "brothers", causing Aracely to implement a swear jar.
    • It gets to the point where Meland realises that Peter isn't Kaine based on the fact that he isn't yelling swear words at people.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: His attitude toward most superheroes and their issues endangering his new home town of Houston.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: After Ero persuades Kaine to embrace his Inner Spider like Peter did in The Other, he risks losing control of it and transforming into a feral humanoid spider not-so-coincidentally called "The Other".
  • Yandere: He claimed the reason he murdered Doctor Octopus and the Grim Hunter was because he wanted to protect Peter, claiming he felt a brotherly bond with him.

Scarlet Spider (2012) comic series contains examples of:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The Armadillo in issue 16. Though it's really just another example of Love Makes You Dumb.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Kaine after failing to save over two dozen Houston citizens from dying at the end of Minimum Carnage.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Kraven got killed like he wanted. Even though Kaine revived him, he doesn't need him to kill him any more and he managed to leave Meland critically injured.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Kaine vs Salamander in the hospital, and later Kaine vs Ana Kraven in Issue 6.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Series Finale. Kaine manages to save everyone when the hotel exploded, but he was forced into his monster form to do so and had to leave Houston with Aracely.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Annabelle's Domestic Abuser/Stalker with a Crush ex who refuses to accept that he's her ex tries to intimidate Kaine. To be fair, while Kaine is pretty big (6'4" and built like a tank), the guy's an enormous Scary Black Man. Kaine refuses to pick a fight with him the first time because he's afraid of the Other making an appearance. The second time, he lays him out with a single punch.
  • Call Back: Kaine's first and second resurrections have connections to Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 3 Issue 15 and The Other, respectively.
  • Christmas Episode: Issue 12.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Kaine does this with Zoe at the end of the Second Master arc, as shown by her later appearance in Issue #24.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kaine vs. the Assassins Guild members that came to kill him.
  • Darkest Hour: The Into The Grave arc.
  • Deal with the Devil: Kaine makes a deal with the Assassins Guild to stop the contract they have on Dr. Donald Meland by the only remaining family of a former patient.
    • After being killed by the Lobos siblings, Kaine makes a deal with Ero to be reborn in the same manner Peter was after being killed by Morlun during The Other story arc.
    • You should be starting to see where the tagline comes from... Kaine makes one with Fisk to get the Assassin's Guild off his back, by agreeing to soften them up so they could be forcibly taken over.
  • Death Seeker: Kraven the Hunter's sole goal now is to have Kaine kill him, since he's the only one who can. He succeeded, and was resurrected in full.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Annabelle is too scared of Kaine after he turns into a monster, and by the time of Amazing Spider-Man #1, she hates him.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Kaine's MO, including sleeping with Zoe right after saving her as Scarlet Spider, and therefore revealing his (and possibly Peter Parker's) identity to her.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Aracely has a dream like in Issue #24.
  • Dug Too Deep: One of Roxxon's oil digs drilled too deep and unleashed an Energy Being that they named Mammon.
  • Fanservice Pack: When Aracely debuted she looked between 12 and 14. By the series' conclusion she looked around 16.
  • Friend on the Force: Officer Wally Layton. Right up until Meland gets critically injured.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: Had at least two, in different series. The short story "Kaine" in Amazing Spider-Man #1 had Peter Parker visiting Houston and meeting Annabelle and Meland. The series New Warriors was effectively a sequel series to Scarlet Spider, co-starring Aracely and Kaine; New Warriors #9 was a direct sequel-finale, with Kaine briefly returning to Houston and meeting Wally again for the first time since his departure.
  • Genius Bruiser: though Kaine says that he's 'not as smart as his brothers', he is smart enough to figure out how to hack the display of his costume.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Notable especially during the In the Midst of Wolves arc for several including drug usage and a scene with the main character being eaten alive.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Kraven and his clan.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Kaine shoves his stinger into Carnage's brain, and later into Wolverine's heart. Wolverine healed pretty quickly, and as of Superior Carnage, so has Kasady.
  • In-Series Nickname: He is often referred to as Scarlet Spider by the cops and media, but Carnage liked to call him "Not Spider-Man".
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Annabelle, whose air went from red to pink, and eventually blonde, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man 1.
  • Kid Sidekick: Aracely, who may actually be the Aztec sun/war god Huitzilopochtli. She later becomes this in full by taking on the alias Hummingbird and helping Kaine chase down Wolverine, infiltrating the X-Men's school and using the same disguise as her hero outfit in later stories.
  • Mega Corp.: Roxxon who were responsible for hiring the traffickers to bring over Aracely as a test subject and awakening Mammon.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read
    • When Aracely tries to peek into Kaine's head, she's chased out by the Other.
    • When Rachel Grey tries to read Aracely's mind, she's overloaded by Huitzilopochtli.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Kaine, when Annabelle discovers him keeping Aracely in his hotel room.
    Annabelle: Well, then what the hell—
    Kaine: She's... She's my niece.
    Annabelle: ...You @#$%*& pervert.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Annabelle burns a frantic letter from Madame Web warning Kaine about Shathra's return, thinking it was from a crazy fan.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Lobos siblings give Kaine one of these in issue 13, the ending isn't pretty. Kaine later returns the favour.
  • Not So Different: Kaine and the villain known as The Mark.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Lobos Cartel get brought in to deal with Kaine.
  • Overly Long Name: Aracely's full name is Maria Aracely Josefina Penalba de las Heras.
  • Professional Killer: The Assassin's Guild.
  • Retcon: In J. Michael Straczynski's run as writer, Peter was killed by Morlun and resurrected by a totemic spider-god called the Great Weaver. Another totemic spider-god calling itself "Ero" manifested in order to kill Peter and restore the natural order, returning a couple of times before being killed off. In In The Midst of Wolves, Ero returns and is retconned into having been the Great Weaver - or at least the totemic spider-god who resurrected Peter in The Other - all along, without explaining why she tried to kill Peter, took on human form, and tried to impregnate Flash Thompson in the original continuity. No explanation is given to how Peter was brought back to life since in the post-One More Day continuity he rejected Ero/the Other's offer, causing it to seek out Kaine as a host instead.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Shathra the totemic wasp deity sleeps with Kaine while in the form of his current girlfriend. The real one shows up later.
  • Sharing a Body: According to Beast, Aracely is sharing a body with something else - presumably the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. Could be why everyone is trying to kill her.
  • Shipper on Deck: Aracely ships Kaine x Annabelle, to the point that when they kiss she spies on them with her powers and quips that it's her best day ever.
  • Super Team: The Rangers are (apparently) the Southwest's only heroes, barring Kaine, and consist of Texas Twister, Firebird, Fifty-One, Living Lightning, Shooting Star and Red Wolf. They tried to welcome Kaine into the group afterwards... he rejected the offer. Violently.
    • Kaine despite quitting being the Scarlet Spider at the end of Issue 25, has been announced as joining the newest incarnation of the New Warriors along with Aracely, who's taken up the Hummingbird mantle full-time.
  • Symbol Swearing: Actually happens quite a bit in the series and not just limited to Kaine.
  • The Team Benefactor: Kaine thanks to his stealing money from human traffickers and drug dealers. Does this again to fund his trip to Mexico to find Aracely's mother.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Turns out Kaine came up with a plan to take down the Assassin's Guild with Wolverine and the fight in Issue 17 was the set up... at least until he put the stinger into his heart after going evil for a moment. He topped it with another one in the next issue by revealing he had Wilson Fisk absorb the Assassin's Guild after they softened them up.
  • Whole Plot Reference: There are two to J. Michael Straczynski's run as writer:
    • The In the Midst of Wolves arc is explicitly one to The Other arc. In The Other, Peter was mortally wounded and resurrected by agreeing to become the avatar of a spider-god. In In the Midst of Wolves, Kaine is mortally wounded and resurrected by agreeing to become the avatar of the exact same (more or less) spider-god.
    • Shathra returns and goes after Kaine, but is killed for good this time.
  • Wire Dilemma: Kaine and Wally have this issue after locating a nuclear Time Bomb, they spent most of the issue trying to find it and not knowing what to do after they found it. Kaine simply resorted to ripping out the wires. He reasons they were screwed either way.
  • Yandere: Zoe is this, to an insane degree. After blowing up Kaine's room with a rocket launcher, she screams to Kaine that she loves him.