Summary of Issue #1:
The issue opens at night in Houston, TX, where human traffickers are exchanging money for their “cargo.” Out of the darkness comes a disheveled man, Kaine, who beats the criminals almost to death and starts to walk away with their money when he hears movement from a cargo container. The inside is full of corpses and one girl still clinging to life.
Kaine rushes her to the hospital, and then goes to a luxurious hotel room where he gives himself a pat on the back for his good deed, cleans himself up, and starts planning his next move. Later, while web-swinging in the city, he notices an old woman about to be run over by a Humvee and crashes down on the front of the vehicle, saving the woman, but killing the driver.
Our “hero” flees the scene in frustration, collects his stuff from the hotel room, and begins to set off down the road. Meanwhile, there's an explosion in the hospital, and a tattooed man enters and reveals he is there for Aracely, the girl from the cargo container.
I liked The Clone Saga from the '90s. There, I said it. I was a preteen at the time, and issues of the original Scarlet Spider, and then Ben Reilly as Spider-Man, were some of my first comic books. I loved the character in all his hoodie wearing, identity-crisis laden glory and was more than a little upset when they killed him. While the Scarlet Spider of 2011 is not the same character from the '90s, Kaine has the potential to be a worthy successor to the name as both another clone of Peter Parker and as a character with a history closely tied to Reilly.
Which takes me to the first thing that the the new Scarlet Spider #1 does right: introducing Kaine. Throughout the issue, Kaine sprinkles in bits of his story, which gives a good impression of his powerset and previous history as a villain. The overly complicated Clone Saga is beautifully summarized, and even though I didn't follow Spider-Island, I got enough of what happened to Kaine to know the effect it had on him. For those interested in learning more details about Reilly and the original Scarlet Spider, the back of the issue also contains the full history of the hero to originally bear the name.
The two standout scenes in Scarlet Spider #1 are when Kaine assaults criminals for their money, only to accidentally stumble across someone to save, and later when he saves an old woman but does so by killing someone else. There's something tragic about Kaine trying to do good and accomplishing something evil and vice versa. These actions highlight the fact that Kaine is truly in between villain and hero and can't seem to help accomplishing a bit of both whenever he sets out.
Even though he's not my Scarlet Spider, it's the idea of watching Kaine work towards redemption while honoring the memory of Reilly that has my attention. I'm on board for Issue #2. Now, let's see if Kaine can live up to his new name.