Kaine, the unstable clone of Peter Parker first seen in the infamous "Clone Saga," received a new lease on life thanks to the events of "Spider-Island." With his body no longer rapidly degenerating, Kaine takes up the mantle of the Scarlet Spider—first held by Spider-Clone Ben Reilly—and considers what sort of hero he wants to be. After a debut outing in the "Point One" anthology, Kaine's ongoing "Scarlet Spider" series debuts in January, written by Chris Yost with art by Ryan Stegman.
Marvel held its latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call Monday afternoon, with Yost, Stegman, Senior Editor Stephen Wacker, and Associate Editor Tom Brennan on the line, as well as moderator James Viscardi. CBR News was on hand as the creators revealed new information about the series, including possible love interests and Scarlet Spider's first villain.
Kaine was not always meant to get his own series, Wacker said, but thought it sounded like a good idea to spin out of "Spider-Island." "Plus, I just like the name," he said.
"This is a guy who used to be semi-crazy, a full-on supervillain, but now he's cured," Yost said. Kaine goes on the road for "a journey of self discovery," now that he's not crazy and covered in scars.
"This is a guy who, for his entire life since he was born in a test tube, was dying, and now he's not," Yost added.
Wacker said that Kaine knowing he was going to die was somewhat freeing but, "now that he knows, oh shit, I might have to stick around for a while, he might have to deal with the consequences of his past actions."
Stegman said it was "intimidating" to redesign the costume, doing away with the "beloved hoodie," but Wacker said that Stegman approached the job with enthusiasm. Yost added, "this is something that Ryan clearly put a lot of thought into—this is a character that will be around for a while."
Unlike Peter Parker, Kaine's body language is not "over the top animated," and bears more marks of age. "He's been through more—not that Peter hasn't, but he's been through the rough stuff," Stegman said. Wacker added that, while Peter is in his mid-20s, Kaine is probably in his mid-30s.
Yost said that the costume can do "all sorts of fancy things," like cloak, "which Kaine will find pretty damn useful." "It's also got Siri," Wacker joked, referring to the popular iPhone app.
The first arc sees Kaine travelling through Houston on the way to Mexico, "but he saves a life—he does something good." This trips him up, though, when a villain called Salamander "comes to finish the job." "He's bad news," Yost said.
After the first arc, Kaine will face the Assassin's Guild. "He is known to them, so this will be his past catching up with him," Yost said. "He's done bad things, like kill people for money, which puts him in the sights of the Assassin's Guild."
Wacker added that events from "Grim Hunt" will also play into early stories.
Yost said "it was the plan from Day 1 to set it in Houston," with Wacker noting that it was one of the most populous cities in the US "but not well served by Marvel's heroes."
"You're going to get to know Houston the way you know New York" from comics, Yost said, adding that there will be a new supporting cast plus southwestern heroes.
Wacker added that, like Opal City in DC Comics' "Starman," Houston will itself become a character in the book.
Yost provides Stegman with reference on the city of Houston, Stegman said, and he also uses Google Earth to check locations. "We also have a trip to Houston," Stegman said, which is planned for the next few weeks.
"We've actually had a ton of fans from Houston write in, literally pages of information about Houston, what the people are like, what the city is like, to make it feel like Houston," Yost said.
"And of course, when we inevitably screw up, those fans will write in again," Wacker joked.
On the subject of Spider-Man itself, "Spider-Man looms pretty large over Kaine," Yost said, and Spidey will figure things out eventually.
Asked what sets Scarlet Spider apart from other Spider-family books like "Venom," Wacker said that "Flash Thompson always wanted to be a hero," and that is now happening. "Kaine originally didn't have an altruistic bone in his body," he added.
"He's not going to wake up in issue 2 and say, hey, I'm a hero—his instincts are really bad," Yost said. "He didn't have Aunt May, he had the Jackal—his first instinct, the quickest way is probably to kill somebody."
Brennan added that a question of the series is, "How do you combine the idea of great power and great responsibility with someone who would seem to contradict that, and still become a hero."
Asked about differences in character movement, Stegman said that Kaine moves "even more spider-like" than Peter, and is also "more ruthless and agressive, and is not worried about not hurting somebody."
"Ripping someone's face off is kind of a default move," Yost said. The stingers or claws also lend a fighting style different from Spidey's webs.
Wacker said that Scarlet Spider will appear in other Spider-books, but probably not much until 2013.
Kaine will have a love interest, Yost said. "He might actually have several," he added. "But keep in mind the last love interest he had, he killed, so it may not go as traditionally as Peter Parker's."
Yost and Stegman wanted to create "lots of new stuff," Yost said, and "the location really opened up the world to us."
"Designing lots of new characters is a dream come true for me," Stegman added. "We threw lots of ideas back and forth of what we wanted to do, and we can do anything because it's all new.
Wacker added that, "we were able to bring back some concepts from the '90s Spider-Man books that have been maligned for so long, and do something new with them."
Yost praised Stegman's ability to draw human faces. "There's no Ken-dolls" in the background, Yost said.
"He's so good, that I'm sure [Tom] Brevoort and [Brian Michael] Bendis are going to steal him from me," Wacker said of Stegman.
Noting that Kaine once murdered Doctor Octopus, Yost said that, "Yeah, if he ran into Kaine on the street, he might have a problem with him." But, he added, "there's another Spidey villain that has a bigger problem right now, and that's Kraven."
Asked about possibility of Kaine "ripping Salamander's limbs off over and over," due to the namesake animal's regenerative abilities, all on the call laughed. But, Yost said, "Salamander is not the character's actual name, but because of Kaine's poor understanding of Spanish, that's what he calls him, and because of a tattoo he has on his face."
Scarlet Spider will be part of the broader Marvel universe, but will not join any teams in the near future.
With that, the call wrapped up. "Scarlet Spider" #1 is on sale in January.