Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #1
Written By: Peter David
Pencils By: Mark Bagley
Colors By: Jason Keith
What You Need to Know:
Turning over a new leaf for my boy Ben Reilly it is imperative that you’ve read Clone Conspiracy before reading this. Which apparently I missed the memo on so I’m a bit in the dark here but all things considered they do a good enough job of catching you up and filling in enough dots that you have enough to work with here.
What You’ll Find Out:
The book opens with a super meta jab at cosplay showing Marvel really knows their audience and it’s also a cool new way to give a Spider a new costume. So what carries over here is obviously Ben but so do his pseudo split persona’s including The Scarlet Spider and The Jackal. This obviously makes former superhero Ben a flawed character who is haunted by his demons and literally has his misdoings looming and lurking over him as talking voices.
What Just Happened?
Ben’s two voices make for some great humor and dialogue seeing Scarlet Spider with a jetpack is an image I will never get tired of. Now having a character haunted by his mistakes and try to make a new name and image for himself isn’t something uncommon or all that new but it’s always refreshing depending on how it’s handled and I’d say it’s pretty well handled. Right off the bat they establish that Ben is no Peter Parker “With great power comes no responsibility or no moral obligation to use said power responsibly”. It immediately opens with Scarlet rushing off to save some woman simply to escape his problems and what’s worse is after that he basically pulls a Heroes for Hire and charges her money and then threatens her if she can’t deliver next time. Sheesh some hero, but at the same time this distances him as a character from our typical Peter Parker and really shows us that he’s not that guy anymore. No longer is the superhero who helped take down Jackal in the Clone Saga this is a different guy and it really goes to show you how messed up his mental state is and just how damaged he is.
I think another nice detail I liked seeing was him ultimately trying to replicate his predecessor Peter Parker in terms of life. Similar to Ultron to feel less inferior to the original he gets a Mary Jane substitute in the form of Mandy and an Aunt May in the form of Aunt June who is quite the charmer. It’s just nice to see him looking for some kind of form of stable and just something normal in his life and he looks to Peter’s life as inspiration. Last thing I want to take away from this issue is I love the fact that we’re finally getting a Spider title that takes place outside and away from New York it just feels so refreshing to finally have a different setting for Super Hero even if Ben isn’t really one anymore. All in all I love the art,the humor, the writing, and the direction of making Ben this sort of broken but mostly lost character who doesn’t know what to do with his life anymore moving forward. All I can say is as a fan of the character and one of the few who actually liked Clone Saga I’m looking forward to where this goes in the future. This is a great start for what could potentially be one of my favorite Marvel titles going forward.