Scarlet Spider is a fictional character who appeared in Marvel Comics series starring Spider-Man. His costume was designed by Tom Lyle and the first appearance of the hero (as the Scarlet Spider) 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.
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.
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.
Post-Civil War, the Scarlet Spiders are a group of three unknown people of the Initiative who identify themselves as "Red Team" on the field, first appearing in Avengers: The Initiative #3. All three of them wear an advanced version of the 'Iron Spider' Stark 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. In Avengers: The Initiative #5, the three Scarlet Spiders are revealed to be part of another group called the Shadow Initiative under the command of Henry Gyrich. In Avengers: The Initiative #7, the Scarlet Spiders 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, who treat their creator, Baron Von Blitzschlag, like a father. In Avengers: The Initiative Annual #1, 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" one of the Scarlet Spiders 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.
It was revealed by editor Stephen Wacker in The Amazing Spider-Man #673 that Kaine will be the latest to take up the Scarlet Spider mantle. Chris Yost is writing the Scarlet Spider series while Ryan Stegman is illustrating. Kaine has moved to Houston as a fugitive to hide from his past crimes. Supporting cast includes Aracely (a 16 year old girl whose life he saved) and Annabelle (a bartender/singer working at the Four Seasons Hotel where he initially lives). Kaine made an appearance in the comic book Marvel Point One and debuted in his own series Scarlet Spider on January 11, 2012.