The four versions of Scarlet Spider in the main Marvel Universe. Counter-clockwise from top left:
Ben Reilly as the Scarlet Spider on the cover of Web of Scarlet Spider #1. Art by Steven Butler.
Scarlet Spider is a fictional character who appeared in Marvel Comics series starring Spider-Man. Scarlet Spider's costume was designed by Tom Lyle and the first appearance of the hero is in Web of Spider-Man #118. The identity of the Scarlet Spider has been used by several characters: Ben Reilly, Peter Parker (while Ben posed as him in prison), Joe Wade (a villain), a group of three Michael Van Patrick clones working with the Initiative, and Kaine.
Benjamin "Ben" Reilly
Ben Reilly was the first Scarlet Spider and was a clone of Spider-Man created by the Jackal (Miles Warren). The Jackal created the clone to fight and defeat the original Spider-Man, but since the clone and Peter both shared the same memories, they confused themselves in the battle. The original Peter Parker emerged victorious and the clone was left for dead and dumped into a smoke stack of a factory. The clone managed to escape and assumed the alias Ben Reilly, a combination of his Uncle's first name and his Aunt's maiden name. He wandered around aimlessly for five years before returning to New York City, and found himself once again wanting to be a hero. He fashioned his own costume, and became the Scarlet Spider. He fought alongside his "brother" Spider-Man and proved himself to be such a great hero that Spider-Man asked him to watch over the city while he and his wife Mary Jane tried to start a family. When his name was smeared by a second, evil Scarlet Spider, he assumed the identity of Spider-Man, until his death at the hands of Norman Osborn. His body subsequently disintegrated, proving once and for all that he was the clone.
In 2017's "Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy" story arc, the character was resurrected. In the 2017 series Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider, he reclaims his Scarlet Spider identity and reimagined as an antihero, starting a spiritual quest to redeem himself as a true hero once more.
Joe Wade was the second Scarlet Spider and the only one to operate as a villain while using the name. An undercover FBI agent assigned to investigate the second Doctor Octopus (Carolyn Trainer), Joe Wade is discovered and forced to undertake a virtual reality graft. Carolyn turns him into a hard-light holographic duplicate of the Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider, to ruin his name.
In his Scarlet Spider guise, Joe is actually trapped in a virtual reality chamber, and his thoughts power the hologram. Despite this, Joe is unable to stop himself from committing acts of violence. When the real Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly, attacks Doctor Octopus's lair, he damages the machine while Joe is still inside.
The damage to the virtual reality chamber causes the grafts to malfunction, and Joe becomes a real mechanized Scarlet Spider with amazing powers. As the new Scarlet Spider, Joe is superhumanly strong and fast, and has claws on his fingertips; he can also fire webbing from his wrists, crawl up walls, and fire laser 'stingers' from his eyes. It takes both Ben Reilly (in the guise of Spider-Man) and the New Warriors to stop the cybernetic Scarlet Spider, and the FBI put him in custody and have him undergo medical treatments to remove the technology.
Scarlet Spiders (Red Team)
All three of them wear an advanced version of the Iron Spider armor which Spider-Man wore pre-Civil War and during the event. During their first appearance, they take down the Shocker, Boomerang, and Hydro-Man. War Machine identifies them as "Scarlet Spiders" when contacting them. He also implies that they will be the successors to the Spider-Man identity once Peter Parker's powers are removed permanently. The three Scarlet Spiders are revealed to be part of another group called the Shadow Initiative under the command of Henry Gyrich. They were forced to expose themselves to the public during their pursuit of three criminals wearing the Vulturions costumes, as well as dealing with an angered Peter Parker; their appearance in battle against and alongside Parker has raised public doubt over whether Parker is the original and/or only Spider-Man, despite his publicly revealing his dual identity in the early days of Civil War.
However, the Scarlet Spiders, as a sign of trust, lied in public, stating that Peter Parker had always been one of them but is not the "real" Spider-Man. Afterwards, the Spiders were revealed to be clones of the deceased MVP named Michael, Van, and Patrick respectively, who treat their creator, Baron Von Blitzschlag, like a father. It was revealed that the clones learned Spider-Man's moves from Taskmaster. While fighting another MVP clone who has gone rogue and calls himself "KIA", Van is beheaded. After KIA is subdued, the two remaining Scarlet Spiders decide to leave the Initiative and join Justice's Counter Initiative group. The group return to the Camp to help battle a crazed Thor clone, during which Michael is killed. Unable to cope with the death of his fellow clones, the last Scarlet Spider - Patrick - unmasked to the world, and eventually took up the alias Iron Spider.
Kaine has moved to Houston as a fugitive to hide from his past crimes. Supporting cast includes Aracely (a 16-year-old Mexican girl with enigmatic powers and a strange origin whose life he saved), Annabelle (a bartender/singer working at the Four Seasons Hotel where he initially lives), Dr Donald Meland (a Park Plaza Hospital resident doctor) and his husband, Wally Layton (a police officer). Kaine made an appearance in the comic book Marvel Point One and debuted in his own series Scarlet Spider on January 11, 2012.
During the run of the series, Kaine crosses paths with other heroes and villains, such as Agent Venom, the Enigma Force, Carnage, Kraven the Hunter, the werewolf criminals of the Lobo Cartel, Wolverine, and The Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Spider-Man's body). To save his new friends from a hit contract, he makes a deal with the Assassins Guild, that they would leave Houston, only if he performed one assassination for them.
He crossed paths with Agent Venom (Flash Thompson), when Carnage was on the loose. After fighting for a while, they teamed up to go after Carnage, who was then abducted from Earth by a group of assassins from the Microverse, a parallel dimension of minuscule size, but with futuristic means. Venom and Kaine followed, but were separated. Venom met the Enigma Force, and Kaine met an enigmatic being known as the Redeemer (a healer from the Microverse and leader of the Enigma Force). The Redeemer was also the target for Carnage's new allies. The Redeemer and Kaine unite to find the Enigma Force, but are interrupted by Carnage, who has killed the assassins, except one. Later on, Kaine and Carnage battle to the death. While back in the Enigma Force the Venom symbiote has gone out of control. Kaine and Carnage continue to battle. Kaine brings down carnage and almost kills him. But The Redeemer falls of a cliff, and Kaine jumps to save him. While Kaine continues to save him, Carnage is later abducted by Marquis Radu. When Kaine saves the Redeemer, he's later told that if the microverse gets destroyed, so does Kaine's universe. It turns out the person they wanted to kill was X-Men's Wolverine.
When Aracely starts to manifest weird dreams concerning the Sixth Creation, Aztlan, her missing parents, gods, a talking coyote and the Rise of Mictlan, she and Kaine are attacked by the Lobo - drug cartel leaders, the human traffickers behind Aracely's abduction and werewolves sent with the intent of killing her by the mysterious Mr. Moctezuma so "the Sixth Creation could begin". Kaine is killed by the werewolves, but in death he is visited by Ero, from "The Other" story arc, with whom he makes an agreement in order to save Aracely. Accepting the Other, Kaine bursts out of a web cocoon in the real world, reborn not as before, but as a monstrous spider-creature. The spider-creature Kaine maims one of the two werewolves, forcing them to flee. He then attacks Aracely until she is able to use her mental powers to bring him back. Kaine breaks out of the husk of the spider-creature completely healed of all scars but still carrying the Other inside him. It is then that Aracely proclaims him as her "champion", a title that is not merely affective but also has a deeper meaning as hinted by her father's words and the strange portents with cryptic Aztec mythic symbolism in her dreams.
Kaine heads back to New York (along with Aracely) to finish their deal with the Assassins Guild: they are sent to kill Wolverine. They break into the X-Men's mansion where Kaine fights Wolverine. He impales him with his stinger, but of course, Wolverine doesn't die. Instead they decide to form an uneasy alliance and struck back at the guild.
Fast forwarding to the arc called Sibling Rivalry, Kaine confronts his "brother", though unknown to him, Peter's mind has been taken over by the super villain, Doctor Octopus. Kaine meets Peter in his apartment, when Superior recognizes him from when they were both evil. As when Kaine killed Doctor Octopus years ago. Superior attacks Kaine, while calling him a monster and an abomination. Soon after they are attacked and kidnapped by the Jackal and his spider clones.
Kaine and Superior defeat the Jackal and destroy his lab. Kaine believes that Peter was right about him being a monster and an abomination. Later, he discovers the same scars he had that were killing him from earlier in his evil past. While we discover that the Jackal is alive and is making a clone of Kaine. Kaine runs from his home and is attacked by Ben Reilly. Thinking he was hallucinating from the scars, he begins to fight Ben and plans on killing him. In the end he was unable to do so. He discovers he was actually drugged by Kraven, and wasn't dying, nor was Ben Reily really there. He fights Kraven and wins, but his friend, Donald, was sent to the hospital in critical condition.
After saving his friends once more when his hotel room is destroyed by the daughter of Roxxon's CEO with a rocket-propelled grenade while they were in the middle of an attack by the mystic entity Shathra and an arrest attempt by Wally (who is angry at him for Donald's condition), Kaine is forced to use the form of the Other once more in front of them, scaring away Annabelle. Overwhelmed by all these events occurring at the same time and his guilt over Donald, Kaine stops trying to be a hero in Houston and decides to go to Mexico with Aracely to help her find if her parents are alive and the truth of every mystery regarding her they have come across.
Kaine and Aracely join the New Warriors for a year and help them defeat the Evolutionaries. After the New Warriors are attacked by Daemos, brother of the villain Morlun, Kaine gets involved in the Spider-Verse.
In the MC2 alternate future, Felicity Hardy takes the identity of Scarlet Spider to both be a partner to Spider-Girl, and to irritate her mother, Felicia Hardy. While she has no actual powers, she uses her amazing gymnastic talent and martial arts skills, along with an array of spider-themed weaponry, to fight crime, until several near death experiences cause her to give up the identity.
In other media
- Ben Reilly appeared in the 1990s Spider-Man TV series, voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes.
- The Scarlet Spider alias appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series. In Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors, the alias is used as Flash Thompson's wannabe superhero identity. A hybrid of the Ben Reilly and Kaine versions of Scarlet Spider appears in the fourth season Ultimate Spider-Man Vs The Sinister Six. This variation wears Kaine's outfit, has a scar on his face, and is given the name Ben by Aunt May in the episode Hydro Man Originally, he was seen trying to kill Doc Ock multiple times, and was very reluctant to ally himself with the other SHIELD Academy Students. However it is revealed he is a spy sent to the Academy as a part of the Sinister Seven, only to turn on Doc Ock, supposedly sacrificing himself to stop a super weapon. In the two part event, The Spider-Slayers, not only is Ben alive, but he is also revealed to be one o Doc Ock's Spider-Slayer clones of Spider-Man.
- The Amazing Scarlet Spider
- Scarlet Spider (Volumes one and two of series)
- The Spectacular Scarlet Spider
- Web of Scarlet Spider
- The Amazing Spider-Man #149-151
- Spider-Man: The Lost Years #0
- Spider-Man: The Lost Years #1-3
- Web of Spider-Man #118
- The Spectacular Spider-Man #229
- The Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2
- The Sensational Spider-Man #0
- Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75
- The Spectacular Scarlet Spider #1
- Scarlet Spider #2
- The Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2
- Web of Scarlet Spider #3
- New Warriors #67
- Web of Scarlet Spider #4
- Avengers: The Initiative #5
- Avengers: The Initiative #7
- Avengers: The Initiative Annual #1
- Avengers: The Initiative #10
- Avengers: The Initiative #22
- The Amazing Spider-Man #673
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #4
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #10
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #11
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #14 (Feb. 2013)
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #15 (Mar. 2013)
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #17-19
- Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #2
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #20
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #21
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #23
- Scarlet Spider vol. 2 #25 (December 2013)
- Spider-Girl #46 (June 2002)
- Radioactive Spider-Gwen #13