The saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas” applies to many aspects of life in the state, including trouble. Kaine Parker, the genetic clone of Peter Parker and title character of Marvel Comics’ “Scarlet Spider” series is discovering this the hard way. Since establishing himself as the premier super hero of Houston, Texas, Kaine has had to deal with human traffickers, a mysterious super powered killer known as the Salamander, and the New Orleans Assassins Guild. In the months ahead he’ll confront a nuclear bomb threat and the Kraven family who “murdered” him in 2010’s “Grim Hunt” storyline in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man.”
Yesterday at the Amazing Spider-Man panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, Marvel announced artist Khoi Pham will take over the art duties on “Scarlet Spider” starting with July’s #7, which kicks off writer Chris Yost’s biggest story in the book so far. CBR News spoke with Yost and Pham about their plans for the series.
CBR News: Khoi, you’re coming to this book right after “Daredevil” #10.1. Coincidence? Or do you really enjoy drawing physical, acrobatic style characters that can swing through the city?
Khoi Pham: Actually, I’m coming from “Daredevil” #13 and an “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” story with Chris. And nothing is a coincidence to the all knowing architect that is Editor Stephen Wacker. I am merely a part of his grand design.
[Laughs] Nice. Chris, what’s it like writing for Khoi? What do you feel are his artistic strengths?
Chris Yost: Well, I’ve followed Khoi’s art since his “Mighty Avengers” days, and as he mentioned, I’m even working with him now on the “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” comic. I’m a huge fan, and couldn’t be more excited about working with him.
From what I’ve seen, Khoi leans artistically toward drawing things that are awesome. So I’m going to tailor my scripts to that.
Pham:That was an awesome answer, Chris.
A lot will have happened to Kaine Parker by the time we reach July’s “Scarlet Spider” #7. He’ll have established himself in Houston, dealt with the Assassin’s Guild, a nuclear bomb threat, and had a confrontation with his “killers,” the Kraven family. Can you tell us anything about Kaine’s physical and emotional states when #7 begins?
Yost: He’s still struggling, but he’s trying. He’s trying hard to be good. In fact, when we see him in issue #7, he’s even debating going on “patrol.” That instantly goes bad when the building he’s sitting on kind of explodes. But Kaine is building a life and purpose for himself, whether he realizes it or not.
Khoi, what’s your sense of Kaine? Which of his physical and emotional traits do you want to capture and bring forward in your art?
Pham: I think he’s a really cool character with tons of potential for development. I don’t see him as merely being Peter Parker’s clone — I see him as a distinct character with unique physical and emotional qualities. Physically, he’s a bit more menacing, the way he moves, his nonverbal communication, etc. Emotionally, he puts up a strong wall and presents himself as being confident and uncaring. It
remains to be seen what actually lies behind that wall.
We’ve talked a little about Kaine as a character let’s move on to what you guys have in store for him starting with #7. We understand part of this story involves Roxxon, a company that has changed over the years but also become quite ruthless recently. What can you tell us about Roxxon’s presence in this story? Just how powerful and ruthless are they? And are they still owned by Aleksander Lukin’s Kronas Corporation? Or have things changed a bit since Lukin’s death?
Yost:Roxxon is your friend. They are going green. They’ve found a new energy source in the Gulf of Mexico and there is absolutely nothing sinister about it. That explosion on the oil rig, and that attack on their headquarters in downtown Houston? Coincidence. I don’t see them as powerful or ruthless. Roxxon works independently of the Kronas corporation as to not implicate Kronas in — wait, I mean, because Kronas gives them the freedom they need to make the world better.
In terms of plot and themes, what is the story that starts in “Scarlet Spider” #7 about? Chris, last time we talked you mentioned that this was going to be the book’s first major multi-part arc, correct? How many installments is it?
Yost: The Roxxon story is called “The Second Master,” and runs three parts — a new record for us. We’ve done two two-parters and two one-parters. We’re trying to keep the stories short and sweet, at least until year two. “The Second Master” is about greed and what the worst people in the world will do for money. Who they’ll kill. Who they’ll put at risk. Money rules this world, and Kaine’s about to see that in a way he never has before.
What can you tell us about the antagonists in this story? Is Roxxon the villain? Or are things not quite clear when the story starts?
Yost: The story actually starts out with an attack on Roxxon, so in many ways, they are the victims here. And when they try and kill Scarlet Spider, it’s self defense! You’ll also be seeing a well known super-hero group from the American southwest named — wait for it — The Rangers! Texas Twister! Shooting Star! Red Wolf! Living Lightning! Firebird! Even a new hero or two! And spoiler alert — Scarlet Spider will fight them.
What about the rest of your supporting cast? Will Doctor Meland, Aracely, Officer Leyton, and Annabelle Adams play significant roles in this story? Will we see any new supporting players emerge?
Yost: We’re going to be meeting a new supporting cast member named Zoe. She leaves quite an impression on Kaine in part one, and an even bigger one in part two. The main supporting cast is sitting this one out for the most part. Things get big. Super hero big.
We’ve talked about story, now let’s move on to the overall look of the book. Khoi, you’re taking over the book from artist Ryan Stegman, who has his own distinct style. How does Ryan’s style compare to yours? And what sort of overall tone and feel you do you want to convey with your art? Will your “Scarlet Spider” work look similar to your recent Point One issue of “Daredevil?”
Pham:I love Ryan’s work. It’s so energetic and free. His story telling is solid, too, especially his action sequences, and I think that’s where our similarities are. For the Point One book, I was having a little fun by bringing a happy swashbuckling approach to the art. For “Scarlet Spider,” it’ll be a darker moodier look. Still fun, but with more shadows and stuff.
So to wrap things up, how big is the scope and scale of the story that starts in #7? How big of an impact will the tale have on the larger story you’re telling in “Scarlet Spider?”
Yost: This is Kaine’s first big ‘super hero’ story. The first six issues were more about his dark past, his fresh start, that kind of thing. But this is where Kaine gets to try his hand at being a big damn super hero, and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Things start with an explosion and go from there.
So this is a big new story with an exciting new artist. It sounds like “Scarlet Spider” #7 would be a great jumping on point for new readers. To close things out, do you have anything you’d like to say to readers who are curious but haven’t tried the book yet?
Yost:We’re so excited to have Khoi on board for this. Myself, Stegman, editors Steve Wacker and Tom Brennan — we’re all pouring our hearts into this one and I know Khoi and Tom Palmer are excited to be on board. So give us a chance!!! Ever wonder what Spider-Man would be like if he wasn’t such a boy scout? Here’s your answer. The fun is just beginning.
Pham: This book is going to get even bigger. I’m really happy with what we can do with this character. “Scarlet Spider” will be a name to reckon with.
“Scarlet Spider” #7 by Chris Yost and Khoi Pham is on sale in July.