A strong new take on a different kind of Spider-Man.

Spinning out of the Clone Conspiracy came this series with a mysterious Vegas bound Spider-Man sporting the Ben Reilly blue sweater look. To say the blue sweater costume sucked me in first and foremost is an understatement. Add in the fact that Peter David is writing and legendary artist Mark Bagley is drawing and any Spidey-head should be interested.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

One of the most controversial characters in comic book history has returned – and a whole new controversy has only just begun! You all remember Ben Reilly. Spider-Man’s clone, created by the Jackal, who returned years later to turn Peter Parker’s life upside down! Ben became the Scarlet Spider and even took Peter’s place as Spider-Man for a time, before dying a hero’s death. Now, in the aftermath of The Clone Conspiracy, Ben Reilly is back! But he has a whole new take on life…and he’s not the same Scarlet Spider he was before. Witness what will be the most talked-about story of the year!

Why does this matter?

The Jackal is a big part of this series, though I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers. The fact is, if you dug that character in “The Clone Conspiracy” you’re going to love this.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Dude looks like Deadpool.

Spider-Man, if you can call him that, is a bit loopy in this first volume, which makes him a wild card that’s fun to read. He’s basically the same character only covered in scars and has a very immoral nature to his actions. In the opening pages for instance, Spider-Man saves a woman only to ask her for cash as payment. That same woman plays a part later in the volume and even then Spider-Man continues to be a wacko towards her.

As he meddles with a Las Vegas owner and her sick daughter, Scarlet Spider is on his tail and he very much wants to kill Spider-Man dead. Peter David does a good job establishing an interesting group of characters all the way to the very end of this volume with a surprise reveal that’s only going to ramp up the drama as the story progresses.

The use of Vegas is quite eclectic as David has the characters fight their way into a Medieval Times themed restaurant at one point and there’s even a Spider-Man Lovers group that gets involved with Spider-Man’s daily business.

I’m probably not the most honest reviewer when it comes to Bagley drawing Spider-Man since it’s his work that got me interested in comics over 20 years ago. He draws a good book with highly detailed poses for Spider-Man and his friends as well as strong facial expressions from the supporting cast. When Vegas does pop into backgrounds it has a glitzy and sometimes even fake look that suits the environment.

I could look at Bagley’s drawings of Spider-Man fighting Spider-Man all day.

It can’t be perfect can it?

Spider-Man is either talking to people who barely trust him, or people who want to kill him, which makes understanding the character a bit tough. He’s always putting on a different face for people even if he’s quite loopy and possibly speaking some truth. This series is in need of a character he can be honest with and open up to so as to develop his character better. There’s nearly constant conflicts and twists in this volume so there’s barely any time to understand the character anyway, but it’s worth noting he rings a bit flat.

Is It Good?

The conflicted and dubious hero is rendered well in this slightly off-color take on superheroing. The art is strong and the setup coherent so that the title feels necessary and purposeful. Unfortunately the lead is somewhat flat since he has nobody to actually show his true self to.

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider Vol. 1: Back in the Hood
Is it good?
Makes a case this series needs to exist with a new sort of hero and a different location.
Exciting new take on Spider-Man that fans of Jackal from "Clone Conspiracy" should love
Bagley is probably the greatest Spider-Man artist ever
New location is used well
The lead comes off as sort of flat with very little character due to his many false faces towards a supporting cast that doesn't trust him
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