The following may contain spoilers for Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #1 and the Clone Conspiracy
Ben Reilly, a name that can bring a lot of emotions of long-time Spidey fans.
If you do not know, Ben Reilly is a clone of Peter created by the Jackal back in the 90’s. That story quickly got out of hand with twists like the revelation that Peter was actually the clone, and Ben was the original. After a few years this was then proven to be a huge hoax orchestrated by Norman Osborn who was presumed dead.
However, Ben, in his time as the main Spider-Man amassed a decently strong following and these fans have been asking for his return ever since his death. But is this series really what Ben Reilly fans have been waiting for?
Short answer, I don’t think so.
Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider is a series spinning out of the last major Spider-Man event The Clone Conspiracy. This series follows Ben Reilly after he had tried to resurrect (or clone?) the entire world after he was driven mad by being repeatedly killed and cloned by the original Jackal.
The story starts with some great Mark Bagley art of Ben on a Statue of Liberty with a monologue about what led him to Las Vegas (I didn’t say THE Statue of Liberty 😊 ). Then the book introduces its biggest twist.
Ben is being haunted by both of his previous alter egos. The Jackal acting as the devil on his shoulder, while the classic blue hoodie scarlet spider being the angel. It’s an interesting twist that initially drew me towards this book, but I’m not sure how I feel about the delivery.
We then follow him on a few quick events such as stopping a mugging, and then demanding that the damsel pay him. Followed by him going to a casino and stopping a robbery after a brief internal struggle, and is then taken to the owner of the casino who may have interacted with him during his time as the jackal.
I’m not really sure how to feel about this book. While there is some solid Mark Bagley art, a lot of the story points and characterization of Ben really confuse me.
There is a part of this book where Ben is in a crappy motel and is being taunted by the Jackal memory, and he then proceeds to punch through him and it gave the appearance that he killed him. Yet, he makes another quick appearance later in the issue.
They also have him quickly attach himself to an old woman with a gambling addiction who is named “June” and proceeds to dub her “Aunt June” and claims to be her nephew.
Coming into this series, I was all for reading a story with Ben having an internal struggle with good vs. evil, but Peter David is writing him as more just crazy.
I was a huge fan of Chris Yost’s Scarlet Spider series following Kaine as the Scarlet Spider, and knowing he had a role in this series (and has an appearance in this issue) was one of the factors that got me into this book and I want to continue to follow his journey. I will continue to pick this book up but overall, I did not love this first issue.
Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #1 is written by Peter David and features art by Mark Bagley
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