Comics Reviews

Spider-Man: How Kaine Became the Scarlet Spider of Texas

Kaine was a deadly imperfect clone of Peter Parker, but when Peter was able to cure him, he took his talents to Houston as an unlikely hero.

Peter Parker has been a recurring victim of identity theft over the years. For example, Otto Octavius stole Peter’s body and became the Superior Spider-Man.  Additionally, Ben Reilly is a near-perfect duplicate of Parker and took up the mantle of the Scarlet Spider. Yet, there is another, much more dangerous clone of Peter that was redeemed after spending many years as a lethal villain. Kaine was the Jackal’s first failed attempt at cloning Peter Parker.

Kaine first reveals to Peter that he is a clone in Spider-Man #60 by Howard Mackie, Tom Lyle, Scott Hanna, Joe Rubinstein and Kevin Tinsley. Kaine removes his mask when Peter tries to free Ben Reilly from court for crimes that Kaine committed. Behind the mask is an extremely scarred version of Peter’s face. Kaine explains that he was the original clone, but degeneration destroyed him from the inside out. He was created with the same abilities as Peter but also had the ability to see pieces of the future, as well as a corrosive touch. He felt that he needed to protect the life that Parker had built for himself, hence why he despised Ben Reilly’s interference so much.

Kaine would eventually be turned into a spider-human hybrid named Tarantula during the events of Dan Slott’s Spider-Island. Kaine was used to help wage war on Spider-Man by the Jackal and the Spider Queen while they turned the rest of the inhabitants of Manhattan into spider hybrids. Peter is able to defeat Tarantula and ends up throwing him into a vat of Anti-Venom’s symbiote which was being used to cure people. This reversed the degeneration that Kaine had experienced his whole life and turned him into a perfect clone of Peter. Peter gave Kaine his stealth suit and the pair took down the Spider Queen.

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With nowhere to go and fearing that the Avengers or the Fantastic Four were going to hunt him down, Kaine headed south to escape to Mexico. Christopher Yost’s Scarlet Spider series took Kaine to Houston where he robbed a group of human traffickers. Upon discovering a shipping container full of bodies, Kaine found one survivor named Aracely who he later discovered had psychic powers.

Kaine took her to the hospital where a fire-wielding villain named Salamander attempted to recapture Aracely. Kaine defeated him and decided to keep Aracely with him in his hotel as he feared she would be deported and put back in harm’s way. Kaine would go on to team up with a doctor and a cop to further help the city, and they convinced him to stay in Houston. People began taking videos of his heroic actions and sent them to the local news which dubbed him as “The Scarlet Spider,” much to Kaine’s displeasure. Kaine would often stop himself just before striking a fatal blow on an enemy, remembering Peter’s words of responsibility. It appears that the curing of his degeneration helped him grow a moral compass.

Kaine would face a plethora of violent foes while in Houston. He faced off against Carnage, the Assassin’s Guild, the Roxxon Corporation and even Kraven the Hunter. He would also team up with the likes of Agent Venom, Wolverine and a Texan version of the Avengers. Kaine was the complete opposite of Peter Parker when it came to protecting his identity. He frequently removed his mask in front of others and Aracely knew his identity. He also removed his mask in front of her doctor, Donald, who would become an ally. He would go on to remove his mask in front of Donald’s husband and even bedded a lady without his mask after saving her. She ended up being the daughter of the CEO of Roxxon so there’s no telling who else knew his identity. He even took off his mask while fighting an agent of the Assassin’s Guild, alerting them to his presence in the city.

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Scarlet Spider Kaine

Houston would also prove to be an extremely difficult city for a web-swinging hero to operate in. Kaine would often run out of skyscrapers to swing from and would crash onto the rooftops below him. Space City is also one of the hottest and most humid cities in America. This would prove uncomfortable for a hero to swing around in while wearing a costume, especially a hero that was acclimated to New York’s climate.

Unfortunately, Kaine’s time in Houston was rather short-lived. He was unable to save his friend Donald from Kraven and Donald’s police officer husband took it personally. He tried to arrest Kaine, but they were all targeted with a rocket launcher by the daughter of Roxxon’s former CEO. Kaine saved everyone but decided it was time to continue on to Mexico with Aracely.

Kaine may have one of the greatest redemption stories found within the pages of Spider-Man comics. He went from being a ruthless murderer to keeping an entire city safe from countless threats. Peter Parker is probably much more thankful knowing he now has two clones that he could reach out to in case of catastrophe.

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