Scarlet Spider #1 feels like Christopher Yost took several of the story ideas from the last few years of Spider-Man comics and hammered them on to Kaine. He has all the powers Parker developed after the "Evolve or Die" storyline and he comes across as Parker in "Back in Black." He even takes the buzzed haircut Parker had in House of M. Perhaps this is nitpicking, after all he is a clone. I understand why they brought him in for the "Grim Hunt" and he worked well in "Spider Island," acting as a foil for the prophecy and allowing it to come true without Parker breaking his promise to himself. Those bits aside, how does the story stand up on its own?
Yost delivers a promising tale. He has a good grip on Kaine as a character. This is a character who hasn't had an opportunity to live. He hasn't had very many creature comforts. He has spent his entire clone life knowing his memories aren't his own. After "Spider Island," Kaine got a new lease on life. He doesn't have Parker's moral compass — or, rather, he does deep down. Yost has a chance to explore a side we only get to see of Spider-Man when his family is threatened.
The comic opens up with Kaine taking down some thugs. The narrative depicts Kaine's internal struggle to control his urge to kill. "Killing them all feels right. It feels like instinct." The Peter in him holds him back, barely. I don't think scratching a goon's face counts as almost killing someone, but in this case, since I've seen Kaine pull this before, I'll accept it. The issue feels like Yost wanted to go dark, wanting to cut Kaine loose and have him fight to overcome his dark side. He compromises and has Kaine just take the money they were trading.
I will give them credit, I didn't get too much of a Parker vibe out of Kaine. He is definitely his own character, but he stands like Peter and walks like Peter. It is eerie. In that aspect Stegman does a great job in this issue. The art fits the story, although perhaps it should be a bit darker — the issue centers around Kaine finding a cargo container full of dead bodies, after all. Only one scene feels out of place, Kaine takes a survivor out of the container into a hospital demanding her to be helped and a cop pulls his gun out. I guess Yost decided to write it to show the difference of how Peter and Kaine would handle the situation. Peter would make a joke and get out of the situation, Kaine attacks the cop immediately and then runs off. It still doesn't fit though — why would the cop pull the gun in the first place?
I hope Yost takes this opportunity and creates a darker character going forward. There is a lot of promise here: he doesn't have to rehash Ben Reilly — this is Kaine's Scarlet Spider and it should feel a such. He needs to be brutal — not unnecessarily so — but this is a character who has been a villain for years and he needs to act like it. Redemption doesn't come over night, it is earned. Yost has me interested, if he can deliver on the promise of the character then this could be an exciting book, or it could become a ripoff of the current Venom book. I hope it becomes its own art. I loved Reilly as Scarlet Spider and it could really take off with Kaine under the mask. Here's hoping Yost delivers.
Dylan B. Tano is a relatively new reviewer powered by a love of bacon and constantly distracted by a kitten who would rather use his laptop as a bed. He grew up idolizing Spider-Man and can’t believe he gets to review comics all day.