Kaine Parker, the man beneath the mask in title character of Marvel Comics’ recently concluded “Scarlet Spider” series, is a genetic clone of Peter Parker right down to his spider powers, but he wasn’t lucky enough to have an Uncle Ben and Aunt May to teach him about power and responsibility. Instead he was raised by his creator, the villainous Jackal, who instilled in him the belief that he was a defective monster because of a flaw in the cloning process that left him with a degenerative and fatal disorder.
It was no surprise that Kaine turned to a life of crime and villainy. Recently, after being cured of his degenerative disorder, he tried to atone for his past by becoming the Scarlet Spider, Houston’s very own super hero. That came to an end in “Scarlet Spider” #25, the final issue of the series by writer Chris Yost and artist David Baldeon, which concluded with Kaine leaving Houston and believing he was not a hero.
That doesn’t mean Kaine’s heroic journey is over, however. This February, the Scarlet Spider reluctantly finds himself embroiled in the adventures of a new version of an established Marvel team when Yost and artist Marcus To kick off an all-new “New Warriors” ongoing series. CBR News spoke with Yost for a look back at his run on “Scarlet Spider” and how the events of the final issue will impact “New Warriors.”
CBR News: Chris, with “Scarlet Spider” you inherited a character who had done a lot of bad stuff but wanted to repent and do some good. Having read the last issue of “Scarlet Spider,” I’m wondering if Kaine’s quest was sort of doomed from the start because he believes he can’t be forgiven for what he’s done and on some level will always be a monster and the defective being his creator made him believe he was. Is that true?
Chris Yost: It wasn’t doomed from the start, but that’s what we wanted to examine. You can make the lives of characters like Daredevil miserable because he’s such a strong character. You know he’s going to climb out of the depths and be okay, but with Kaine you’ve got a character where that’s not necessarily true. His journey isn’t just about redemption. It’s also about examining someone who may not be able to be redeemed.
Do you think Kaine was a victim of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his “father?” And if so do you think he’s dealt with that?
The minute he was born his father figure tried to kill him, so he was rejected on every level. Plus he was dealing with the fact that he was dying and that there was a perfect clone of Peter Parker out there in the form of Ben Reilly. So his life was a mess and that’s led to him being messed up. He just assumes that good things can’t happen to him, and that’s a very common thing with the survivors of any kind of abuse.
Over the course of “Scarlet Spider” Kaine made a lot of violent and perhaps poor choices, but many of them were to protect his friends. It was interesting to see his encounters with Wolverine in issues #17-19 go so sour because Wolverine did and still does many of those things, yet he is widely accepted as a hero. Do you think if he and Logan had become friends that Kaine would have gotten some perspective on who he was and who he could become?
Kaine and Wolverine have very similar issues. They both at their core believe they are monsters, or animals in Wolverine’s case. They’re also both trying to do right, but at the same time they’re both very violent people who use very violent means to accomplish whatever end they’re after. So the arc that guest starred Wolverine was almost like putting two of the same kind of creature in a room together. You’d think that it would work out, but they’re more likely to kill each other.
One person who had a definite effect on Kaine’s perspective in this series was Otto Octavius, whose consciousness currently resides in the body of Kaine’s “brother,” Peter. How did it feel for Kaine to be utterly rejected by Peter during the “Sibling Rivalry” crossover between “Scarlet Spider” and “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up?”
In a year where we were trying to make everything as bad as possible for Kaine to have Peter Parker, the guy who put him on this path, say to him, “You’re an abomination of science. You’re never going to be a hero. You should be destroyed” is devastating. That was said out of anger not sadness, but it just reinforced everything Kaine was thinking. So it’s kind of like for every step forward he takes about 100 steps back.
In your final issue Kaine’s friends reject him because they see his monstrous “Other” form, but Aracely stands by him. Why does he allow her to stay with him? He claims that he’s out to reunite her with her parents, but does Kaine need her friendship right now?
One of my favorite things at the end of the issue is they’re both sitting on the beach together and Kaine is like, “I’m not a hero. I’m a monster. I can’t be a super hero. This is never going to happen.” Then on that last page though you realize that Kaine actually did go back and save those tourists. So despite everything that he says and thinks he believes he still did the right thing. There’s still that little tiny part of him that shines. So there’s a little hope at the end there.
This is a guy who wants to be alone and is pushing everybody away, but still is somehow allowing this really headstrong girl push him around. So there’s all these signs that point to a part of Kaine that still is trying to be better. He knows that if he goes out on his own it’s over.
Kaine is not an easy guy to be around either, but Aracely sees something in him. She views him as her champion. She knows this in her gut; at a visceral, core level. Plus, she’s seen him in his Other form before. When he was in that form he tried to kill her and if that’s not going to put her off him perhaps nothing will.
How much story time passes between the end of “Scarlet Spider” #25 and the beginning of “New Warriors” #1?
It all goes back to that last page. When you pick up “New Warriors” #1 in February you’re actually going to see a couple of scenes from this issue. It literally picks up seconds after that end moment where Aracely asks, “Why is the water red?”
So Kaine and Aracely are still in Mexico then when “New Warriors” begins, and it felt like you were laying the ground work in “Scarlet Spider” for a Mexico-set epic involving Aztec mythology that you never got to tell. Is there a chance we’ll see that story in “New Warriors?”
If “New Warriors” gets past the first year where we kind of establish the team then we can get to a couple of “Scarlet Spider” stories that actually fit better in “New Warriors” than they would have in “Scarlet Spider.” The Aztec story is one of those, and a very clone-centric story is another.
So if people want to see those stories they should pick up “New Warriors?”
Exactly. People who love Kaine should be reading “New Warriors” because he’s a big part of it.
Can you talk about how Kaine becomes involved with the New Warriors? He doesn’t seem like the team joining type, and it doesn’t seem like a super team would try to recruit him into their ranks.
It’s one of those books where the situation throws all these people together. Kaine isn’t looking to join the team and they’re not exactly asking him to join up, but they’re thrust into this situation together. In order to A) survive it and B) save the world they have to work together.
So it’s very much an Avengers-style situation?
Very much. It’s a situation happening all over the world where you’ve got these entities called the Evolutionaries attacking all these various groups for mysterious purposes. Kaine gets sucked into one of those attacks.
I imagine the Evolutionaries are connected in some way to the High Evolutionary, who’s been revealed to be one of the main antagonists in “New Warriors.” I imagine given who his father is Kaine would not react well to an encounter with another megalomaniacal geneticist. Is that true?
That is true, and the Evolutionaries and the High Evolutionary don’t have a particularly high opinion of clones. The High Evolutionary has a very specific mandate and none of the New Warriors, for reasons that will become quickly obvious, are that happy about his agenda.
Let’s move away from the Scarlet Spider’s role in “New Warriors” to a couple questions in general about the book. What kinds of genres are you interested in tackling in “New Warriors?”
The thing that I really wanted for “New Warriors” was to make it a true Marvel Universe book. This is a team that kind of has one of everything; a human, a super human, a mutant, a space person, a clone, an Atlantean, an Inhuman and a magic person. The goal of the book is to be able to tell any story in the Marvel Universe.
Once we set up the book we’ll be able to do a space story, an Inhumans story and an X-Men story. Our team is the ultimate in diversity, which means we can do a story in any corner of the Marvel Universe.
Will the New Warriors operate in New York City, the sort of heart of the Marvel Universe?
They’re going to be stationed in Eastern Europe, but something’s going to happen that will allow them to get anywhere in the world in no time for any kind of reason.
Will they be stationed in a real world Eastern European country or one of the small Marvel Universe nations like Symkaria?
It’s a very specific Marvel Universe location, but they’ll hang out in real places. Much like in “Scarlet Spider” where we really made the most of Houston, our characters will be going to clubs and bars in places like Prague.
Okay, so in terms of super action “New Warriors” will take readers everywhere, but the sub plots and the social interactions might occur in places that we don’t get to see very much of?
Let’s talk a little more about this first arc of “New Warriors.” Are the High Evolutionary’s actions in this story a reaction at all to the detonation of the Terigenesis Bomb in “Infinity?”
Yes, that is definitely something that sparks him into action, but there’s other reasons as well and it’s all tied together. The evolution of humanity in the Marvel Universe is at the forefront of the High Evolutionary’s mind, but there’s a bigger threat looming.
The High Evolutionary is one of those villains that doesn’t see himself as a villain. He has very heroic intentions.
Are you able to reveal, without tipping your hand, if the New Warriors’ battle against the High Evolutionary is something that will be resolved in the first arc? Or will he be an ongoing concern?
The immediate threat is what we’re doing with in the first arc, but it’s like an “X-Files”-style show where you have your mythology arcs and your fun stuff in between. So there’s definitely a kind of through line.
Artist Marcus To will bring the “New Warriors” adventures to life. What do you feel he brings to the book and characters like Kaine and his teammates?
I worked with Marcus over at DC on a book Called “Red Robin” back before the New 52. He and I just hit it off. Every time I got a page from him it was exactly as I imagined it only a thousand times better. He’s amazing at drawing younger characters and this is a team of younger characters. They’re not kids and they’re not really adults. They’re kind of that college age crowd, with a couple of exceptions like Aracely and Sam Alexander. So not only does he bring amazing art, but he gives the characters a real world youth look.
How would you describe the overall tone, scope and scale of “New Warriors?” Are you, Kane and Aracely moving from street level action to epic super hero tales?
Like I said, we’re going to do a little bit of everything. The tone is definitely old school Marvel, which means it’s fun. It’s big adventure and big stakes, but there’s always going to be some fun there.
This is not going to be a grim book. There will be intense moments and some huge stakes, but we’re going to have some fun with it. It’s not going to start out this way, but by the end of the day, these are going to be characters that are together because they want to be together. They’re not just a team because they’re on call to save the world. At a certain point they’re just going to have fun.
I do recall a sense of fun being a big part of the run of writer Fabian Nicieza who was the first writer to pen a “New Warriors” series.
Yeah, Fabian’s run is kind of the touchstone for us. It was great characters, great action, huge Marvel Universe adventures and if those guys weren’t out saving the world together they’d still be together.
Finally, it feels like the end of “Scarlet Spider” was really just an end to one chapter in Kaine’s life, and now with this next chapter in “New Warriors” you’re going to see what happens when he becomes part of something larger. Is that accurate?
I’m so grateful to everyone who supported “Scarlet Spider.” The fact that a book about a clone of Spider-Man made it two years is just staggering. I honestly thought it would maybe last three or four issues. I think everybody that enjoyed Kaine in “Scarlet Spider” is going to enjoy him here in “New Warriors” where he’s thrust into a situation where he’s got to work well with others. If you know Kaine at all you know there’s going to be some problems there. [Laughs]
So yes, this is the next step of Kaine’s growth and journey. Putting him in with other heroes is really going to hold a mirror up to him. So I’m excited for that to start and I’m excited to explore the other characters as well. I’ve got a lot of big stuff planned. So hopefully people will join us for the ride!
“New Warriors” #1 by Chris Yost and Marcus To goes on sale February 19, 2014.