Since the fallout from Clone Conspiracy, Spider-Man’s life has had quite the drama. Old lovers coming back to life, villains long since dead somehow back to fight another day, and the reveal that Ben Reilly was behind it all pretending to be the Jackal. The manic character ended up getting his operation shut down, but given this series, he’s back for more.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
Why does this book matter?
Peter David and Mark Bagley team up to create a different kind of Spider-Man who is manic, seeing people that aren’t there, and generally going about the hero business in an unhinged sort of way. This series calls back to the Clone Saga days, which should make 90’s readers interested in how Marvel might weave that series into this one.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Right off the bat, David does a great job capturing Ben Reilly’s manic behavior via captions that are high energy and all over the place. He’s in Vegas to be the hero the town needs, but given the preview, he’s seeing things and that includes his old sweater costumed self. This transitions to an average armed robbery of a woman in an alley and again David does well to show how Ben is a lot different from Spider-Man. The character is unhinged, talking fast, and not acting as a hero should. These intro pages quickly and efficiently show how Ben has changed and should get readers on board (or not) for the character.
The manic energy is interesting.
The remaining pages help build subplots and main plot well. Clearly the Vegas location is a major element of the series, with a casino owner being a major player in the series. Meanwhile, a character from the “Clone Saga” makes an appearance and should adequately make Ben’s life a living hell in future issues. David also weaves in a superpowered henchmen well as Ben takes on another threat. Overall Ben’s attitude to being a hero seems to be lukewarm reluctance and yet he knows it’s something he should be doing.
Mark Bagley’s art is as you’d expect rendering everything in high detail. The scares Ben carries are particularly nice and give him a ghoulish look. There was an uproar over the mouth being visible through the mask and it actually doesn’t pop up much in this issue. When it does, it’s clearly there to show Ben is not taking real life very seriously and it works. It’s at least not overly used. I’m not a huge fan of the hood on the costume, though there’s an explanation of sorts as to why he has it at all.
Yep, he’s lost it.
It can’t be perfect can it?
So far, Ben is not a very likeable character. He’s out of sorts and a bit lost, but he’s also a jerk and unaware of his behavior. He’s the type of person who clearly doesn’t get social cues or understand other people’s emotions, which is articulated well in this issue, but I never once rooted for him. There’s going to be a deeper dive in regards to his psychosis I’m sure, but at this early stage he’s a jerk, which makes it somewhat difficult to care about the character.
Is It Good?
You’ve never seen Spider-Man like this! Manic, socially awkward and very confused, Ben Reilly’s first adventure sets up the characters psychosis well. I can’t say I like the character in the slightest, but I’m curious where his mental issues take him.