Being the black sheep of your family can be a tough experience in the real world, but it's even more troubling in the Marvel Universe where cloning and super heroes are a reality. Kaine Parker understands this because he's the flawed clone of Spider-Man and Kaine's creator, the villainous Jackal, never let him forget it. He was raised to believe he was a mistake and a monster -- so he behaved like one. After escaping his father's clutches, Kaine tormented a Spider-Man clone with heroic leanings, a clone who would go on to adopt the name Ben Reilly and create the heroic identity of the Scarlet Spider.
Tormenting Reilly eventually brought Kaine into conflict with Spider-Man and after Reilly's death at the hands of the Green Goblin the two began to cross paths on a semi-regular basis. One of their encounters lead to Kaine's death in a mystical ceremony to resurrect Kraven the Hunter. Kaine was later resurrected by his father and then cured of his genetic defects by his "brother," Peter Parker. He decided to make the most of his new lease on life and escape to Houston, Texas where, much to his chagrin, he found himself practicing his own brand of brutal costumed heroics as the new Scarlet Spider.
Kaine's past isn't done with him yet and he's unaware that the consciousness of a man he once killed, Doctor Octopus, is now in control of Peter Parker's body. In the recent "Sibling Rivalry" crossover between "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" and "Scarlet Spider" he ran afoul of Doc Ock who branded him a monster and that rejection weighed heavily on Kaine. His physical and emotional torment will continue to worsen in "Into the Grave," a new arc that begins in today's "Scarlet Spider" #21 by writers Chris Yost and Erik Burnham and artists Carlo Barberi & David Baldeon. Comic Book Resources spoke with Yost about the arc and what he has planned for the third year of "Scarlet Spider."
CBR News: Chris, I noticed Erik Burnham co-wrote issues #19 and #20 of "Scarlet Spider" with you. How did this come about? What was it like working with Erik and was he just providing some temporary help or will he be co-writing the book with you moving forward?
Chris Yost: It's true! Erik Burnham, writer of IDW's "Ghostbusters" and many other fine comics, is jumping on board to help me out on "Scarlet Spider" for the foreseeable future. My schedule kind of fell apart as "Thor: The Dark World" was shooting and in post-production, so Erik was kind enough to lend a hand. From the minute I read his "Ghostbusters" stuff, I knew we had similar sensibilities. It's been a great experience.
At the end of "Scarlet Spider" #20 something stings Kaine and a few hours later the scars from his cellular degeneration are back. Coincidence? Or was Kaine actually attacked when he arrived back in Houston?
People get stung by things all the time. Coincidences exist in life. Like Kaine, you probably shouldn't make too much of it. OR SHOULD YOU?!?!
The reappearance of the scars couldn't have come at a worse time, because Peter Parker's rejection in issue #20 is weighing heavily on Kaine. I have to wonder though, why does Peter's opinion of Kaine outweigh the opinions of the others around him? Does Kaine understand and appreciate how characters like Wally Leyton, Donald Meland, Aracely and Annabelle Adams view him? If not, why do you think that is? Is Kaine unable to accept the fact that he's done good in the world?
Kaine holds two people in high regard: Peter Parker and Ben Reilly. No matter how much the others like, look up to or even love him--they don't know the truth. They don't know his true history -- YET.
Speaking of Kaine's friends, it's been awhile since we've seen them. How large a role do they play in this upcoming story, "Into the Grave?"
Meland, Wally, Aracely and Annabelle play a huge role in "Into the Grave." There's a price to pay for hanging out with dangerous people, and they're about to learn that first hand.
We also know that Kaine will be seeing Ben Reilly in "Into the Grave" as well. When readers last saw Ben he was dead. What does it mean for Kaine to come face with Ben? Psychologically, what does Ben represent to Kaine? Is he the perfect child that Kaine always wanted to be, but couldn't? In a sense is he Abel to Kaine's Cain?
Kaine tortured Ben Reilly for years. Kaine was the bad guy, the villain in Ben's story. I think Kaine really, truly regrets his actions, but in some ways its easier for him that Ben is dead. He doesn't truly have to seek forgiveness or be confronted with his guilt by Ben.
Ben is the perfect clone, the hero that Kaine could never be. Even though he didn't kill Ben, he was his Cain.
We also know that Kraven the Hunter plays a pivotal role in "Into the Grave." Can you comment at all about what Kaine means to Kraven and the Hunter's motives for attacking him in "Into the Grave?" If I remember the end of the "Grim Hunt" story line from "Amazing Spider-Man" correctly, where Kraven was resurrected, if the Hunter is to die again it must be by Kaine's hands, correct?
Kraven has come to Houston for exactly that reason. Kraven can only die at Kaine's hands. That seems like a pretty good reason to kill Kaine, right?
What else can you tell us about the story you're telling in "Into the Grave?"
Since he accepted the Other, and embraced his evil monster inside, Kaine seems to be slipping back into a bad place. But has he really? Has he really surrendered to his dark side? That's what this story is about. How low can you go, and how far will you let yourself go?
We've talked about plot, themes, and characters let's start to wrap up by chatting about art. What does Carlo Barberi bring to this story as an artist?
Carlo has been killing it on these pages. His work on the Wolverine arc was everything I could hope for, the energy, the action -- and on "Into the Grave" he brings the mood. It's a really dark piece, and Carlo brings that. But just like he did on "Deadpool," he can deliver the fun of characters like Aracely and the supporting cast; gallows humor.
Finally, "Into the Grave" comes to a close in November and so does your second year of "Scarlet Spider." How does it feel to reach that milestone? What can people expect from your third year on the book?
Editor Steve Wacker and I talk about this all the time. To think that a book about a clone of Spider-Man could go two years, even we wouldn't have believed it. He thought a year, I thought less. We've been so grateful to everyone who's embraced Kaine and Houston and the characters -- it's been amazing.
Big things are coming for Kaine, but as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn. Be brave.
"Scarlet Spider" #21 by Chris Yost, Carlo Barberi and David Baldeon is on sale now.