Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 Kicks Off an Identity Crisis

Here’s Zac J’s take on Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1

By: Zac J.

In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker (yes, from the infamous Clone Saga), has taken up the mantle of Spider-Man once again, sending fans both new and old scrambling for the tales of his first run as our Sensational Wall-Crawler. But what do you do when a character’s back catalogue is as retconned and convoluted as good old Benjamin Reilly’s is? Why call J.M. DeMatteis and ask him to write Ben Reilly: Spider-Man, of course.

The second comic I ever read was a Scarlet Spider comic. I started reading shortly after Peter began to be Spider-Man again, and at that point in time, back-issue bins were teeming with the adventures of Ben Reilly. Over the years, I’ve read most of those back issues and let me tell you, J.M. DeMatteis may be the one who understands Ben Reilly better than anyone else. So when Marvel decided that we needed a new story from this old era, he was the logical choice to give us a clean, concise story for Ben (admittedly a rarity for the poor guy.) 

The Clone Saga was an infamously bloated storyline, with editor changes and multiple titles stretching and retconning everything in sight until neither the reader nor the characters knew what was happening anymore. This mini-series, with a modern twist thanks to the artist David Baldeón, looks to give Ben the type of solid, good storytelling that he’s always deserved. 

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man may at first be confusing for new readers if you have never heard of Ben Reilly before. There isn’t a ton of time dedicated To explaining the deep and complicated backstory of the character. All they really let you know is that Ben is a clone, Peter is gone, and you’ll learn what you need to know as the story goes on. Perfect for an older reader like me, or someone who is coming over from the mai Spider-Man title, but perhaps a little light on the details needed for those readers who are reading this as their first comic, whether that means ever or just in terms of first Spider-Man comic.

Spider-Man has always been about trauma and dealing with loss and the effects of choices made by you and others. Ben has to deal with this even harder than Pete, it can’t be easy when you both are and are not Peter Parker. The effects of this trauma permeate the book. Ben is uncomfortable being himself, not even sure who that is, with his only escape being his time as Spider-Man.

But the book isn’t just doom and gloom. The whole time we get to revel in the corners of the Spider-Verse that we’ve lost over the years. From the villain Carrion, to foreshadowing the return of Vermin to the safety of the Daily Bean coffee shop, this book brought me back to my childhood. If you’re at all curious about the other Spider-Man, this would be an excellent place to dive in, regardless of whether you’ve encountered him in the past. 

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