Kaine Parker, the genetic clone and "brother" of Peter Parker currently metes out a rough brand of justice on the streets of Houston, Texas as the star of Marvel Comics' monthly "Scarlet Spider" series. Recently his brother has adopted a similar style of crime fighting on the streets of New York as evidenced by his activities in both "Superior Spider-Man" and "Avenging Spider-Man." Kaine is currently unaware of his brother's new viscous streak or that it's due to the fact that the mind of Spider-Man's old enemy Doctor Octopus (AKA Otto Octavius) now occupies Peter Parker's body.
That may all change very soon if Chris Yost has anything to say about it, and CBR News spoke to the "Scarlet Spider" and "Avenging Spider-Man" writer about both titles and how they'll lead to a face-to-face encounter between the Scarlet Spider and the Superior Spider-Man. Yost also detailed how "Avenging Spider-Man's" July relaunch as "Superior Spider-Man Team Up" will transform the series moving forward.
CBR News: Chris, let's start with "Scarlet Spider" where you've been planting and watering a lot of story seeds as of late. First let's deal with the fall out from your most recent arc, "In the Midst of Wolves" where Kaine merged with the mysterious and powerful spider like being known as The Other. How would you describe the current relationship between Kaine and the Other? From what we saw in "Scarlet Spider" #15-16 it appears Kaine is in the driver's seat of his body right now, but it also appears that could change quite quickly. Is that correct?
Chris Yost: Yeah, I think that Kaine is definitely still in the driver's seat. He's still the Kaine that we know and love, but right under the surface is the Other. So while Kaine was always kind of violent he wasn't instantly ready to just kill somebody. Now the darkness of the Other is there and it's pushing him to that place, but the Other is more of a supernatural element. So it's not going to come out for things like muggers. The instinct of the entity is there though, and it's pushing him.
In the rodeo issues you saw Annabelle's ex-boyfriend Ray push Kaine and the Other was telling Kaine that he should kill him. So even the littlest scuffle has the potential to become something much more tragic with this presence there and that freaked Kaine out a little bit.
So the Other is sort of the devil on Kaine's shoulder whispering into his ear until something appropriate causes it to take over his body?
Does Kaine have different powers when the Other is in control of his body?
In the last chapter of "In the Midst of Wolves" you saw that when he goes into full on Other mode he transforms into a much more animalistic spider form. He even grows additional arms.
It also appears that Kaine isn't the only "Scarlet Spider" cast member wrestling with a darker nature. During the "In the Midst of Wolves" arc you hinted that Aracely, the girl he rescued in issue #1, may just be the violent Mayan god, Huitzilopochtli. So does she have the potential to become a monster as well?
Absolutely. You see that there are moments where Aracely looks like she's possessed and there are people that believe she is this god reborn. She's using her powers more and more often and there are moments where she talks in a different voice. So she's doing some pretty scary things.
Plus we've seen her floating around at night while she appears to be sleeping and dreaming.
Yes, and in the next arc, "The Wrath," with Wolverine you're going to see Aracely use her powers very proactively. She actually puts on a costume and becomes a superhero called Hummingbird, and she and Kaine take on the X-Men.
Kaine and Aracely weren't the only characters that had surprise developments at the end of "In the Midst of Wolves" -- the revelations with Mr. Moctezuma in Mexico where he was accompanied by a group of characters that could be gods or super villains, and "The Culling" that happens at "The End of All things." Are these two stories tied together? And when will we learn more about these stories?
That is an excellent question. They're all story seeds for down the road. So right now we're just waiting to see how our schedule goes.
"Scarlet Spider" #16 was a one-off issue that followed the conclusion of "In the Midst of Wolves," and you planted some interesting seeds there, one which was a callback to Clutch, a character who's been mentioned in previous issues. Based on what we've heard about him in the series and what a reporter said in this issue it sounds like Houston was a very bad place when Clutch was around, is that accurate?
Kaine, the Scarlet Spider, is Houston's very first super hero, but they had a super villain back in the day and that was Clutch. He made life a living hell for the residents of Houston and then left. So the story of Clutch is another one that will unfold down the road.
Do we know why Clutch left Houston?
I do, but the residents of Houston and readers don't know [Laughs]. We haven't revealed it in the book yet.
Issue #16 also made reference to another mysterious and perhaps dangerous person, the brother of Annabelle's ex-boyfriend Ray. Aracely tells us that Ray's brother is even worse than he is, so how big of an enemy did Kaine make by punching out Ray?
You've actually seen Ray's brother and he's a fairly large, at least in size, enemy. He was involved in the last arc, "In the Midst of Wolves."
Was he the leader of the street gang that Aracely tricked into attacking the Lobos?
Yes, We haven't explicitly said that, but that is definitely Ray's brother.
While we're on the topic of Kaine's enemies let's talk about two of them specifically: Kraven the Hunter and his daughter Anna, who were seen watching Kaine from afar at the end of "Scarlet Spider" #16. Can you talk about Kraven's plan or what he wants from Kaine?
If you recall during the "Grim Hunt" arc of "Amazing Spider-Man" Kraven was brought back life with the blood of Spider-Man, but it wasn't Spider-Man. It was Kaine. So now the two of them have a connection and Kraven believes he needs Kaine for a very specific reason that will be revealed in issue #22.
Is Kraven out to Kill Kaine? Or is something more complicated going on?
He definitely needs Kaine and there's definitely killing involved, but it is a little more complicated.
The final big story seed you planted was Julia Carpenter's (AKA Madame Webb) cryptic warning note to Kaine. In issue #15 we saw her sort of stirring in the coma that she's in. Can you confirm if she'll play a role in "Scarlet Spider" or any other spider-related books moving forward?
I believe Julia will show up in ["Superior Spider-Man" writer] Dan Slott's realm, but the note was her contribution to this story.
Is it safe to say her presence will be felt in the form of the note she left, but no one is aware because Annabelle destroyed it in "Scarlet Spider" #16?
Let's look ahead to the next arc of "Scarlet Spider," which starts in issue #17 and sends Kaine to New York to fulfill his obligation to the Assassins' Guild by killing Wolverine. Does Kaine want to do this? Does he know who Wolverine is? And if he does, does he care?
Those are the big questions. He agreed to do this though, and one of the things I'm playing with here is that Kaine is like the one guy in the Marvel Universe that hasn't met Wolverine. So he doesn't have any particular connection to him, and it's kind of a wait and see. Our mysteries here are will he or won't he? And can he? Because Wolverine is a tough customer, and the entire first part of issue #17 is them dealing with the fact that Wolverine is the headmaster of a school and the leader of this team. So there's quite a few obstacles to get through in order to get to what they want.
What's at stake if Kaine doesn't follow through and kill Wolverine?
The Assassins' Guild will descend on Houston and Kill Kaine's friends: Meland, Wally, Annabelle, and probably Aracely.
So there's definitely motivation to do this whether he wants to or not.
Right. He doesn't have spider sense. He can't protect these people 24-7. All it takes is one sniper's bullet and somebody is dead.
What can you tell us about the initial dynamic between Wolverine and Kaine? It seems like these guys have enough in common to either be great friends or hate each other's guts.
I think they really could have been friends, but given the way things go in the story it's not going to work out that way. I can spoil that right now. They're not going to walk away from this story as friends.
I understand this story begins with Kaine targeting Wolverine, but quickly turns into something where they have to join forces against a larger menace?
Yes. That's absolutely true. You're going to see a lot of fighting with the Assassins' Guild. You'll see the super powered members of the Guild make their play. You'll see their leader, Belladonna, unleashed. You'll also see the dark secret behind the Assassins' Guild. And you're going to see the Hand.
So there will be a couple assassination organizations running amok in this story?
Yeah. It turns into a whole big thing.
Sounds like the menace at the center of things in this story though is character called the Red Death. I take it from his name that he's Poe fan? What else can you tell us about the Red Death?
[Laughs] Yes, but the Read Death is actually a she. She's incredibly dangerous, and she's something that I don't think our heroes are particularly prepared for. They go in with claws and stingers expecting to kill bad guys and when they run into this it changes the game.
Because for all their powers and all their awesomeness they're more or less just two dudes. And what they run into is fairly beyond their power scope.
So what they run into is more in the weight class and expertise of somebody like, say, Doctor Strange?
Yeah, it's not necessarily a magic thing, but it's definitely on a scale of power well above Scarlet Spider and Wolverine's pay grades.
While Kaine and Wolverine are getting in over their heads, your other spider powered hero, Otto Octavius, the star of "Avenging Spider-Man," has his hands full has hands full with super powered KGB assassins and a rampaging Hulk loose on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. What can you tell us about the second half of this story that teams Spidey with the Secret Avengers and continues in "Avenging Spider-Man" #21?
It's pretty fun and chaotic. You've got a lot of events going on at the same time. The Chameleon is on the loose and Spider-Man is more or less responsible for that. So he's trying to recover the Chameleon while you've got basically open warfare on the Helicarrier.
Otto had this amazing plan. It all went to hell and now he has to come up with a Plan B.
This story also allowed you to come back and play with two characters you introduced into the Marvel Universe in "Fear Itself: Battle Scars": Marcus Johnson, who now goes by the name of his father Nick Fury, and his fellow agent and former Army buddy Phil Coulson AKA Cheese. I imagine this is a lot of fun for you, especially with what writer Nick Spencer has set up for you over in "Secret Avengers?"
Yeah, "Secret Avengers" is a great book, but it's fun to revisit Marcus and Cheese. I've got a soft spot in my heart for those guys.
I'm guessing Otto snuck aboard the Helicarrier to imprison the Chameleon since you revealed in previous issues that he has Sandman and Electro currently in captivity. Can we assume Otto wants to imprison all the former members of his most recent Sinister Six? If so, can you talk at all about his motivation for doing this?
I can't. He definitely is doing that though. For months now we've seen him going around and collecting these guys. Then I believe you'll see him say in issue #21 that he's doing this out of a sense of responsibility. As to what that means to Otto you will see in the pages of "Superior Spider-Man Team Up."
"Avenging Spider-Man" #22 is the last issue of the series before it's restarted as "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up." In that issue he goes gunning for Mysterio and runs into the Punisher. What's it like writing Frank Castle? Have you written him before?
I'm trying to think. I feel like I should have written him by this point, but this might be my first Punisher.
Can you talk at all about the Punisher's opinion on the Superior Spider-Man at the beginning of your story? Is he initially pleased that Spidey has become more brutal? Or is he alarmed?
I think that he knows this is bizarre behavior for Spider-Man. He's been going up against Spider-Man for years now. And Spidey has always been someone who disapproves of the Punisher and has tried to stop him from doing what he does, which often means saving lives that maybe shouldn't be saved.
Now the Punisher is hearing all these rumors about Massacre and sees what Spider-Man did to Jester and Screwball. So I think he knows that something has changed, and you're going to hear the Punisher's opinions because he and Otto are definitely going to have a conversation about what's going on with Spider-Man as they try to kill each other.
Is Frank coming for Mysterio in this story, or is his real target Spider-Man?
Frank is after Mysterio and it just so happens that Spider-Man gets in his way. Or as Spider-Man sees it, the Punisher is getting in his way.
Can you talk more about Otto's opinion on the Punisher? It seems like with his ego he'd look down on Frank and perhaps underestimate him.
He definitely underestimates the Punisher because he's that arrogant. I mean the Punisher is a guy who's stood his ground for at least an hour against the Avengers. So Frank Castle is not somebody you want to mess with, but given that Ock is one of the most arrogant guys walking the planet he does.
At the same time, he does kind of respect the Punisher. Because this is a guy who has the cojones to do what Spider-Man wouldn't. So at the very least he approves of his pragmatism and how he deals with criminals.
We've talked about the Punisher and Spider-Man, but what about Mysterio? How big a role does he play in this issue?
Huge. This issue is wholly about the fate of Mysterio. When Spider-Man first walks in you'll get all kinds of classic Mysterio illusions, but there's a little bit of a twist there. Given the events of Brian Bendis' "Spider-Men" there's a lot of ground to cover.
That issue is followed by "Superior Spider-Man Team Up" #1, and the title character's first team up is with his Avengers teammates who have put him on probation. What can you tell us about this issue?
It covers a day in Spider-Man's life as he goes around New York and beats up every super hero he finds.
[Laughs] Nice. Is this a one-off? Or the start of a multi-part story?
This is a contained introduction to the Superior Spider-Man and how he deals with other super heroes given his new status quo, and coming off of events in "Superior Spider-Man" you're going to see that things have escalated and the Avengers realize this as well. Plus, given that Spider-Man is running around beating everybody up, they decide that probation wasn't enough and they're going to have to deal with him now.
So this ties into the new Modus Operandi and costume that we'll see in "Superior Spider-Man" #14?
We've talked about story, let's take some time to discuss the work being done by the artists on both of your books starting with Marco Checchetto who is currently drawing "Avenging Spider-Man." What do you feel he brings to the table?
Marco is amazing. His art has a different vibe to it that I think suits these more "Ocky" stories because Marco gives his work this vibe where your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man looks a little dangerous. Plus the things that he's dealing with seem a little more dangerous.
His attention to detail and the texture of his work is awesome, and this Secret Avengers two-parter is a great example of all that he can do. He can draw the grim and gritty Chameleon stuff, but he can also handle the huge action of the Hulk tearing through the Helicarrier. So we're lucky to have him.
Who are you working with on "Superior Spider-Man Team Up?"
The first issue is actually done by a guy who is doing our Punisher issue of "Avenging Spider-Man." His name is David Lopez, and he's killing on these issues. Seriously, his pages are incredibly fun and dynamic. They have this early Bryan Hitch quality to them that I love.
And you're working with Carlo Barberi on "Scarlet Spider?"
Right. I'm a huge fan of Carlo's work on "Deadpool." I even got to work with him on a Deadpool short story one time. He brings a fun quality to those stories, but at the same time they involve mass killings, guns, and knives; the super violence that kind of comes with Deadpool.
So that's kind of a perfect blend because in "Scarlet Spider" we tend to do both kinds of issues. We'll have a fun arc and we'll have a really dark and serious arc too.
Finally, let's talk about your plans for both books a little further down the road. I believe in the past you hinted that Kaine and Otto would be coming face to face very soon?
Yes in August we'll have a two-parter that runs through both books called "Sibling Rivalry." The story starts in "Superior Spider-Man Team Up" #2 and then it wraps up in "Scarlet Spider' #20, both out the same month.
I hope people are excited for where we're going in "Scarlet Spider" and I hope they check out "Avenging Spider-Man"and "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" as well. Because we've got plans for those books too. We're not just doing random done-in-ones or two-part stories. It's all leading up to a very big story that will have a huge impact on the character.
We've got the Sinister Six mystery going on, a potential "Infinity" Crossover, and some other fun stuff coming that's all important and will add to the character.
"Scarlet Spider" #17 is on sale now. "Avenging Spider-Man" goes on sale June 12, and "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" launches in July.