Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: John Dell
Color Artist: Jason Keith
Letter: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art (Main): Mark Bagley, John Dell & Jason Keith
Variant Cover Art:
Assistant Editor: Allison Stock
Associate Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonzo
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
President: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
LAST TIME: Kaine was attacked by Merc’s, Ben is trying to worm his way into Cassandras good graces, and the Kiddo is still dying.
STORY: Kaine escapes with his life, Ben makes a deal to help Cassandra’s daughter (which is something he can’t really do, but he’s going to try anyway) And Ben tries to extort money from the girl who he saved in the first issue. Suddenly, three men in Spider-Man outfits show up. Each representing a time in PAD’s writing life: Friendly Neighborhood, Spider-Man 2099, and your classic Scarlet Spider Costume. (Tell me you know where this is going) The three men are apart of the Webspinners: Fan’s of Spider-Man who fight crime in Las Vegas. They use Silly String and don’t know what they are doing. Friendly Neighborhood can’t talk with his mask and then gets killed by Slate until Ben saves them from certain death. Not-Scarlet then gives Ben the same grief that we all did on the internet, and he.. commandeers his costume.
THOUGHTS: This is the most Meta issue of Spider-Man that may have ever been written. Point Blank, it serves to correct one of the most egregious errors in the first two issues of this run: the God-Awful Costume designed by Mark Bagley that was so universally hated, that it prompted PAD and Co. to throw their hands up in the air and say “Okay! We Hear you!”
However, Ben comes across as a complete Dick here.
I get it, this isn’t your daddy’s bag of flour (For Effs Sake Berryman, stay out of my reviews, will ya?) Now, there is precedent for this behavior. Back in Spectacular Spider-Man 223*, there was a back up called “The Parker Legacy”, written by JM DeMatteis, and Art by Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson. In it, Ben has began his journey of being a man on the back roads of America. Drunk, he tells a man named Glenn that maybe he ‘should just disappear!’ after he lost his kids and his house. The man goes to his room and nearly commits suicide via a self inflicted Gunshot wound. Ben’s Spidey Sense kicks in and he saves the mans life, telling him how wrong he was. It’s a key element to the redemption story of Ben and helps his self worth increase more and more as time goes along.
*Full disclosure: SSM 223 was my very first issue of Spider-Man… ever.
Other times in flashback Ben has acted out, usually due to the effects of Alcohol: Exiled arc where we first met Seaward Trainer, played by Sean Connery**; Web of Spider-Man 3 (VOL II) where Ben is a janitor and how he treats Gabrielle Greer are all things we have to take in account, however, these guys are also dude who use silly string to capture bad guys. And while it is mostly played off with dark humor, Ben as a character is very crass in this issue. He’s still unlikeable and I’m hoping this turns around. We shall see. The humor of this issue saved it from a lower grade, but the overall characterization of Ben is still troubling.
Oh, and Mark Bagley is still great.
** See, Episodes of Clone Saga Chronicles for more.
Next time: KAINE!!