10 comics to read before Ben Reilly: Spider-Man launches
In 1975, a clone of Peter Parker, aka The Amazing Spider-Man, was presented as a threat and apparently killed in the same issue. Almost 20 years later, the clone returned as Ben Reilly and became a hero in his own right, known today as the Scarlet Spider.
Ben Reilly’s tragic story is a long and complex one, from dark origins to heroic heights, to the grave and back again, he turned out to be more than just a copy of Spider-Man. As his new series, “Ben Reilly: Spider-Man,” prepares to take off, here are some must-read stories to get up to speed with fan favorite web-slinger.
ten His first appearance is a classic
1975 The Amazing Spider-Man # 149 introduced the Spider-Man clone, which was only meant to serve this particular problem rather than becoming a recurring character. It was created by Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, who had an obsession with Gwen Stacy and sought to clone her after her death.
Following Gwen’s return, Warren would learn of Peter Parker’s alter-ego and blame him for what happened, causing him to clone Parker as well and force the two Spider-Men into the conflict. Each believed the other was the clone, and an explosion seemingly ended the battle and the debate.
9 Spider-Man: The Lost Years is an independent, gritty tale
Spider-Man: The Lost Years from 1995 told the story of a particular incident in Ben’s life during the 5 years he lived a nomadic life after discovering his true origin. This dark story included mob run-ins, corrupt cops, morally complex support characters, and Ben’s deadly “brother,” Kaine.
Kaine was Parker’s first clone but suffered from a degenerative disease brought on by flawed cloning techniques, and as a result, he hated Ben for being a perfect version and deemed worthy in the eyes of their creator. This script is more like a Daredevil tale and is aided in the visual department by artist John Romita Jr.
8 Enter: The Scarlet Spider!
Web of Spider-Man # 118 saw the first appearance of the now iconic Scarlet Spider costume, a fan favorite to this day that continues to appear in video game adaptations. At this point in Ben’s life, he did his best to avoid accepting his heroic responsibility, but that all changed when Venom raised his ugly head again.
Despite Venom’s attempts to function as an antihero, he always found himself in conflict with the police, and the turmoil caused by his actions caught Ben’s attention. He spotted a blue hoodie with a spider emblem and also managed to grab a red bodysuit and mask. With this suit and a few newly designed web shooters, the Scarlet Spider was born.
7 The Clone Saga is 90s excess to the extreme
From 1994 to 1996, a now infamous storyline unfolded that defined the character of Spider-Man for several years. Love him or hate him, The Clone Saga is an important part of Ben’s story and still defines the character to this day. If you are a fan of crazy 90s comics, this one should be part of your collection.
Peter Parker, Ben Reilly, Kaine, Spidercide, and around a thousand other clones would fight each other thanks to the Jackal’s continuing intrigues. The bow is best remembered for the moan-inducing twist that revealed Ben was apparently the original Peter from the start.
6 Ben becomes the new Spider-Man!
Sensational Spider-Man # 0 was released in 1996 and marked the start of a daring new status quo for Spider-Man comics. Peter Parker removed the hero’s cloak as he and Mary Jane were expecting a baby, so it was up to Ben to make a new costume and forge a new destiny.
This debut issue paved the way for a whole new take on old familiar tropes, with a new supporting cast, new villains, new dramas, a new hairstyle, and of course that cool new costume. Ben would function as the new web-slinger from January to December of this year and leave a lasting impact on fans and Peter himself.
5 The Clone Saga has had an unofficial revival
In 2009, the unique decision was made to revisit the highly controversial ’90s Clone Saga and tell it the way it was originally designed. Due to several behind-the-scenes issues, the original story continued into the official and questionable event that it remains today.
This 6-issue tale of the saga has streamlined most of the storyline and removed much of the fat deemed unnecessary. Ironically, the series has met with its own criticism and has been generally received unfavorably, but it can provide a “What if …?” for Ben fans and even for those who don’t publicly admit enjoying the original Clone Saga.
4 Ben returned from the dead with a nasty streak
Ben’s tenure as the sensational Spider-Man ended in tragedy as he sacrificed his life to save Peter in a battle with the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn. His death would also confirm his status as a clone throughout the disintegration of his body moments later. Years later, however, Ben was brought back by none other than The Jackal in The Clone Conspiracy.
This new experience came at a cost, with the maniac killing and recloning Ben 26 times, which ultimately had the effect of breaking his mind and becoming a new version of the Jackal. Ben’s actions after his return would create a huge rift between him and Peter and the two would fight.
3 The scarlet spider once again
After the events of The Clone Conspiracy, Ben flees to Las Vegas and tries to put his jackal time behind him. While once again he didn’t want to live the hero’s life, he would be called to action more than once donning the familiar Scarlet Spider outfit.
This time, however, Ben was noticeably more violent and selfish, often only helping others when he knew they could help him later. He would fight again with Kaine, who himself had donned the scarlet spider’s mantle on his own path to redemption. Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider offers a new take on a man trying to redeem himself as best he can.
2 Spider-Geddon saw old sins come back to haunt Ben
2018’s Spider-Geddon was the fun, wacky sequel to Spider-Verse from a few years before, and once again, different Spider-Men across the multiverse have come together to fight the Heirs. This time around, Ben joined the fight and found that his own past actions made the fight much worse.
The mortal heirs had got their hands on the cloning technology that Ben had perfected during his time as a jackal, and with it, they could cheat death again and again and continue to hunt down the webbed warriors. Ben faced his personal demons and proved himself to be still a hero at heart with this adventure.
1 Ben takes up Spider-Man’s torch
Spider-Man Beyond sees Ben’s return as Spider-Man, with a new costume packed with new abilities to help him improve his game as a hero. With the help of Beyond Corporation, Ben’s new venture brings him into conflict with the villainous Bushwacker.
This latest series seeks to set up some exciting new challenges for Ben and has plenty of fans talking, eager to see what the old Scarlet Spider will be up to. Either way, nothing will be easy when a Peter Parker clone is involved, so expect a few twists and turns along the way!
NEXT: Spider-Man: 10 New Characters Introduced During The Clone Saga
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