See all reviews of Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider (8)

After a stellar opening issue, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider returns for round two.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #2
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics


First Read Reactions

  • When are people going to learn that guns don’t do much good against a person with spider sense?
  • Kaine needs to invest in some skin cream.
  • His trolling techniques, however, are in top form.
  • Wow. This is incredibly emotional and very confusing—yet somehow it still works.
  • Ben’s thing about “Aunt June” is kind of weird, but you can’t deny that it’s at least somewhat endearing.
  • YES! Scarlet Spider!
  • NO! Scarlet Spider about to die!

The Verdict

Far be it from me to speak for what’s going on inside Peter David’s head, but Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider feels like it might be the most fun he’s ever had writing a character.

With Ben, you’ve got a guy who possesses Peter Parker’s humor, but with a warped, sarcastic edge. There’s compassion and empathy, but that part of him is tempered by an even greater desire for self-preservation. Add in some of the best dialogue combined with even better inner monologues, and you’ve got a character who is virtually guaranteed to always keeps you entertained…and guessing.

As much as I love David’s version of Ben Reilly, however, he also deserves a lot of credit for the way he portrays Kaine, too. I cannot wait to see how things go down when these two inevitably meet.

Art-wise, Bagley is his usual superb self—although the clone degeneration allows him to show off his gore chops a lot more than usual. Bagley also does an excellent job bringing out Ben’s rare moments of humanity, which serves to keep him just a hair shy of being a full-fledged villain.

I do wish the issue’s big reveal didn’t feel so convenient, but I like the way David took the reader’s confusion over what happened and ran it parallel with Ben’s thoughts on the matter, too.

Other than that minor quibble, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider is another superb entry in what has very quickly become one of my favorite books. Whatever your opinion of The Clone Conspiracy is, this title spinning out of it is definitely a good thing.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #2
Is it good?
I don't know if Peter David is having the most fun he ever has writing this character, but it sure does feel that way.
Ben Reilly is guaranteed to always keep you entertained...and guessing.
Kaine's characterization is great, too.
Art-wise, Bagley is his usual superb self—although the clone degeneration allows him to show off his gore chops a lot more than usual.
I do wish the issue’s big reveal didn’t feel so convenient, but I like the way David turned the reader’s confusion over what happened ran it parallel with Ben’s thoughts on the matter, too
9.5
Great

  • Monkey Tennis

    Compassion and empathy? What book are you reading? This was more of the same tosh from issue one, with an wholly unlikeable lead character being tracked down by an equally unlikeable antagonist… or protagonist….or whatever the violence-threatening Kaine is supposed to be in this set-up. Basically neither of ’em are characters that could be defined as entertaining or interesting in any way.

    It’s just grim for the sake of grim. There are no layers here, no nuanced characterisation, no conflict of ideals or morals. It’s just two bad guys being generic bad guys. At best, it’s boring. At worst, it’s largely unpleasant.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      While I can totally see your point in light of Ben Reilly’s mostly despicable behavior, please also consider:

      1.) The way he is toward “Aunt June”
      2.) The way he reacted to seeing the little girl ravaged by disease.

      No doubt his empathy is tinged with psychosis, but it’s definitely still there.

      • Monkey Tennis

        I’m not seeing it. The Aunt June angle just comes across as NotBen being all wacky and off-the-wall and so any help he’s offered her doesn’t feel like it’s coming from a place of empathy, but simply as a means to further his own little personal ‘in joke’.

        And as for the kid, his reaction there was more along the lines of your basic questioning “If God exists why do bad things happen to Children?” philosophy, rather than showing any actual genuine compassion for her on a personal level.

        • RamblingBeachCat

          You definitely could be right, but I think both of these examples are the “Parker” part of him struggling to come to the fore through Ben’s psychosis.

          Either way, can we at least both agree that the art is great? 🙂

          • Monkey Tennis

            Most definitely. The book looks awesome. It’s just everything else that lets it down.