I joked in my last post that this was shaping up to be another theme week here at “mike’s collection” as my last two posts have been about toys I bought while vacationing with ex-girlfriends. When I sat down today to decide which action figure to review I figured, what the hell, let’s go with it. So today I’ve chosen to review Kaine. It was probably the summer of 1998, maybe 1999 that I decided to take my first real vacation ever. I would’ve been about 20 at the time. As a kid I travelled from Ontario to Nova Scotia with my family a few times but since moving to Nova Scotia permanently in 1986 I hadn’t been anywhere. Hadn’t been on a plane, a train or even a greyhound bus in over 10 years. I don’t have a natural inclination to travel as I like to spend my money on other things but after graduating high school and starting university I figured it was time I saw a little bit more of the world. I wasn’t feeling worldly enough to just travel to some random destination and try my hand at being a stranger in a strangeland, I thought it best to go visit a place where I knew someone who could show me around. I didn’t have too many friends scattered about the world in those days as I do now. My ex Rhonda had moved to Toronto a while back and I thought it would be nice to touch base with her again. We remained very good friends for many years after our romance ended. At the time she was living with her new boyfriend Mike in the heart of downtown. They were both up for me crashing on their couch for a week so away I went. They were great hosts and we had lots of funny visiting the Metro Toronto Zoo and Canada’s Wonderland theme park. On my first night there we went and saw one of my favourite bands, The Dandy Warhols in a small and packed sweaty club. We went to the Playdium which was a wicked cool giant arcade and I went to a Hooters restaurant for the first time. Great memories all.
Both of them had to work during the day so all of our time together was in the evenings and on the weekend. Every day I had the entire afternoon to myself to explore the city. It was mind boggling to me that each day I could walk for hours in a different direction and still be “downtown”. In Halifax where I currently reside we have like two real urban streets, maybe 5 or 6 if you want to be generous. The rest of the city is mostly residential. I hadn’t been to Toronto since I was a little kid and I wasn’t so aware of my surroundings back then. On this trip I was in awe at the size of it. On one of my afternoon walkabouts I discovered the ancient mythical city of Shangra-La. At least it felt that way, It was actually the Silver Snail comic book shop. This shop was enormous; at least when compared to the shops we had back home in Halifax. I couldn’t believe the variety of old toy lines they had available on their shelves. In those days I was buying a lot of the 5” ToyBiz Marvel figures. I think I bought a few other toys on that vacation but it was the ToyBiz figures which practically resulted in me needing to buy another suitcase for the trip home. I bought a ton of them, ones I had never seen before or even knew existed. Kaine for example was part of an 8-pack of figures based on the clone saga storyline and I no idea this set was out there. The clone saga didn’t go over well with fans for the most part so most of the characters related to it were swept under the rug and never received the action figure treatment despite their prominent role in the Spider-Man books for a couple of years. The set contained the first figures I’d ever seen of characters like the Scarlet Spider (Spider-Man’s clone who became his ally and brother) Kaine (The scarred and homicidal evil clone of Spider-Man) Spidercide (another evil clone able to alter his shape) Ben Reilly (the Scarlet Spider’s secret identity) Spider-Man (the Ben Reilly version after Peter Parker relinquished the title to him)and the Jackal (the nut job college professor who was doing all this cloning. At the time I thought this set was an epic find. I don’t recall what I paid for it but I don’t think it was unreasonable. It’s just that I bought so many other Marvel figures that the overall price tag got a little scary.
Kaine might not look like much and you’re right, his design is less than stellar. In fact it straight up sucks. I was never sure what the deal with his costume was. When he shows his real face he looks like Peter Parker except with all these web like scars. This disfigurement is his shame, it was why he was rejected by his creator the Jackal. So why he felt the need to get a blue unitard and cover it with the same web like scars is beyond me. Sometimes he was drawn as if the scars were like thorny vines on the outside of his costume. And then the purple shawl around his neck? I just don’t get it. If somebody came to me and said “design Spider-Man’s evil clone”, this is quite literally the last design I would’ve came up with. After every other possible design in the known universe I might’ve finally said, “how about a thorny blue onesy with a purple cape and a Bon Jovi haircut.” Maybe. And yet I kinda like him anyway. It was an interesting concept that a clone with all of young Peter’s memories could’ve turned into a brutal killer after just a few years of rejection and torment. Was Spider-Man’s psyche really so fragile? It made you think. And you sympathized with Kaine because he was just a broken down version of a character you already loved. Crappy costume aside I was just glad to have a Kaine figure. The clone storyline wrapped with the death of Scarlet Spider and Kaine faded off into the background. In recent years, Kaine has been cured of the degenerative disease that was scarring and killing him and given a chance at redemption. He has donned a new costume (still not a great one but far better than this and much more Spider-Man-esque) and has taken on the mantle of his fallen brother, the Scarlet Spider. With Kaine in this new role we may never be subjected to seeing him run around in this garb ever again. Thank God. Still, I’m glad it was rendered in plastic at least this one time. 5 out of 10.