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Comic Book / Scarlet Spider

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"All of the power. None of the responsibility."

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 and was established as the original Peter Parker and that Ben was the clone.


The next time Scarlet Spider was actually a team of three 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 Michael, 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. Afterwards, 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.


Kaine Parker is the star of the 2012 series written by Christopher Yost. When passing through Houston, Texas on the way to Mexico, after breaking up a human trafficking ring on his way out of town, Kaine 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, but Kaine constantly finds himself drawn into doing good. While his title ended at Issue #25, he appeared in the short-lived 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 and 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 again cloned by the Jackal in an attempt to improve his cloning technology. In the process, he was driven mad and became the Jackal himself and plotted to turn everyone in the world into a clone to cure disease and death... against everyone's wishes, and while manipulating many, many people. Peter Parker would stop him, but Ben wound up on the run as a result, Peter allowing him to leave but Kaine out to deliver justice onto his criminal clone brother.

The Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider series focused on Ben and his struggles as a result of his actions as the Jackal, while simultaneously featuring Kaine hunting his clone brother while also trying to make more of a life for himself. It too ended after 25 issues.

Both Ben and Kaine would feature in the Spider-Geddon crossover.

The Scarlet Spiders provide examples of:

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  • 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 Ken Ellis 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.
  • Color Animal Codename: Scarlet (a shade of red) spiders, of course.
  • 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.

    Ben Reilly 
  • The Atoner: Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider focused around Ben making up for his crimes as the Jackal... kinda sorta, since he's not especially apologetic and is still willing to screw people over. This is presented as his conscience struggling against the damage to his soul incurred by the Jackal killing and resurrecting him over 25 times in quick succession.
  • 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 cloned and killed him dozens of times, until the twenty-seventh clone of 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.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: From Dead No More onwards, he has shades of this.
  • Came Back Wrong: The reason for his borderline Blue-and-Orange Morality - repeated deaths and resurrections ( 27 and counting) at the hands of the Jackal fundamentally damaged his soul.
  • 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.)
    • Following Dead No More, he's got degeneration scars that appear and fade to varying degrees to reflect his morality at the time.
  • 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 bleached 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.

    Kaine Parker 
  • '90s Anti-Hero:
    • He once wore an all-black costume with a grey vein motif (though the 2012 series indicates that the veins were a result of his degeneration underneath), 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 temperamental, foul-mouthed, and willing to use excessive force in combat and interrogation.
  • 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.
  • Badass Beard: Has worn one at various points throughout his career, and winds up with the entertaining visual in Dead No More of his having been imprisoned and stripped of the top half of his costume, and only having time to grab his somewhat mangled mask, which leaves his beard uncovered.
  • Badass Boast: Gives a good one to Ana Kravinoff in his solo series.
    Kaine: You have no chance here. All your knives, all your poisons, and still you're nothing compared to me.
  • Berserk Button: Don't confuse him with Spider-Man.
    • Ben Reilly generally serves as one, for varying reasons - once, it was because Kaine's scrambled brain was trying to protect Peter and thought that Ben wanted to take Peter's place. More recently, it's because Ben's brains got scrambled, he wound up as a supervillain, and Kaine wants to make him pay - though on seeing that Ben's attempt at redemption is sincere, he tries to help him... with the caveat that he'll be around if Ben reverts.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To Spider-Gwen, particularly during Dead No More, encouraging her not to feel less than Earth-616 Gwen (who Peter, widely considered by the multiversal Spiders as the Spider-Man, put on a pedestal).
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: One of the new abilities he has gained since his revival are his "stingers". Following the death of the Other in Spider-Verse, he lost them.
  • Broken Pedestal: Considers Peter actually Otto in his body to be one after Issue #20, though the pedestal is somewhat rebuilt once he finds out what happened.
    • Later ends up with this towards Ben Reilly, after Dead No More and Ben's stint as the Jackal. Since then, Kaine's taken to shadowing Ben, first being out to kill him, then to make sure he doesn't backslide on his apparent redemption attempt, and finally - grudgingly at first - to help him deal with what he did.
    • He himself is this to Wally Layton and Annabelle Adams. Layton blamed Kaine for Ana Kravinoff almost killing his husband, and then uncovered Kaine's murderous past and attempted to arrest him. Annabelle freaked out when she saw Kane in his monstrous Other form fighting Shathra. Wally eventually forgave Kaine, apologizing and calling Kaine a hero in New Warriors, while Annabelle does seem to consider him a monster.
  • 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.
  • Character Development: He goes from a violent Anti-Villain/'90s Anti-Hero and killer for hire, to a grudging superhero who hates being called the Scarlet Spider, to telling Ben Reilly to his face that 'Scarlet Spider' is his name now and Ben (who wasn't entirely sane) didn't deserve it any more.
  • 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. After his death and resurrection at the end of Spider-Verse, he lost his Other-related powers and suffered partial degeneration. He's still entirely functional, but a war veteran mistakes him for a fellow vet and remarks that it looks like he got on the wrong side of some napalm.
  • 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.
  • Creepy Good: Following his grudging claiming of the Scarlet Spider mantle.
  • 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.
    • Other times, however, its shown to work as a sort of brand; channelling his degeneration through his hands to burn his victim's faces. In either case, he maintains this power even after his body is stabilized in Spider-Island.
  • 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.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Despite he and Annabelle having feelings for each other, after she sees him in his monstrous form, her feelings disappear. Kaine leaves Houston still having feelings for her, but by the time Peter checks up on things there, she just hates him. However, Kaine would eventually enter a relationship with Terry Wright, an army veteran, some time later.
  • 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.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Kaine is very quick to resort to violence and in general not a difficult man to anger or irritate.
  • 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. He later shrugs it off, viewing Ben Reilly as the real monster of the two following the latter's stint as the Jackal.
  • 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. Unfortunately it can't change colour any more, much to his aggravation.
  • 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.
  • Mundane Utility: In the first issue of his Scarlet Spider series, he uses the Mark of Kaine to give himself a shave and a buzz-cut.
  • 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, though he loses it after Spider-Verse and resurrection number 3.
  • 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.
    • The degeneration scars come back after his stint as the Other ends, and while they don't look too bad, an army veteran assumes he was on the wrong end of some napalm.
  • 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 - who is otherwise more or less identical to Kaine - 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.


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