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

Kaine died last issue. We all know that’s not going to stick, so let’s see how Ben Reilly gets him to come back to life.

First Read Reactions

  • Really, Ben? You’re going with the “If someone kills him it should be me” thing?
  • If you aren’t convinced that the attractive redhead who murdered someone by touching them is the living embodiment of Death, then a quick change into gothic attire accompanied by a hallucinatory thunderstorm should definitely do the trick.
  • For someone who’s not supposed to have a much of a sense of humor, Death is kind of funny.
  • Asking about Death’s relationship with Thanos (and to a lesser extent Deadpool) is perhaps the height of existential awkwardness.
  • Ben Reilly’s soul looks a lot like the bowling balls they use at the alley that’s been in my hometown since a few years after the dawn of time.
  • Punching death = Probably not a good idea…unless the story is actually going to make this work somehow….
  • *sigh*
  • Oh, c’mon. That’s just gross.
  • *sighing intensifies*

The Verdict

Oof. What is happening to one of my favorite titles?

You can’t blame the art. Even a huge Mark Bagley fan like me is enjoying the work the Will Sliney is doing (especially when it’s two-page spreads of Death going full on goth-spectacular).

As far as the writing goes, Peter David is still giving Ben Reilly a load of great lines. Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding his dialogue has dropped off precipitously in the last couple issues. In this one, we get a gigantic amount of exposition concluded by one of the most simultaneously gross and eye roll-inducing resolutions you could imagine. The only thing surprising about any of the issue’s reveals is how painfully telegraphed they were. Aside from a cool moment regarding the how fractured Ben’s soul is (and why), the issue is one long slog toward an inevitable (and uninteresting) conclusion.

Thankfully, the issue also hints at things shifting to a new dynamic, which hopefully means that David can change course and right the series back to the brilliance of the first five issues.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #7
Is it good?
The art is still great, but the series has taken a severe nosedive from the brilliance of its first five issues.
Will Sliney's art is still good.
Ben Reilly still has some great lines.
Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding the dialogue has become predictable and uninteresting.
A gigantic amount of exposition concluded by one of the most simultaneously gross and eye roll-inducing resolutions you could imagine

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  • I actually liked it… simply because it gives Ben the impetus to fight for his redemption lomg term.. and points out that the longer he lives, the more his old self will reassert itself. He *has* to survive now, because if he doesn’t… what might come back the next time could be horrifying. He doesn’t just owe it to himself, he owes it to everyone else. While I felt the last issue dipped a fair bit.. and this one was also heavy on the exposition, I very much like the slow trudge towards the light and the do or die moment.

    Ben’s current state will likely have him fluctuating between heroism and fear. If he goes up against something too big and loses, he might be lost forever… and yet the best way to heal the darkness of the soul is to embrace who he was.

    I actually don’t like the way Ben’s costume is drawn by Sliney… it feels a little… I don’t know… flat, compared to Bagley.

    Maybe as you say, this is an awkward genesis that sets up the title going forward. We had to get a quick-ish resolution to the immediate predicament that Slott left Ben in, and perhaps now we have that… Ben’s story gets a bit more of a firm rudder.

    But it was great to see the old Ben gleaming through the clouds of his muddled persona… and for that alone I’m grateful.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      That’s fair. At least it does least feel like the series has a clear direction now.