Review: Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1

One of the most controversial characters in comics has returned – and the controversy has only BEGUN! In the aftermath of The Clone Conspiracy, Ben has a new take on life…and he’s not the same Scarlet Spider he was before. Come witness what will be the most talked about comic of the year!

I wasn’t much of a Spider-Man fan growing up only reading issues here and there around events, but I even knew to skip the original Clone Saga so missed the original Ben Reilly stories. That might be the reason why the reveal of Reilly as the big bad in the previous event didn’t really have a big impact for me. Instead, I found an interesting character who could easily have given Norman Osborn a run for his money as a brilliant villain to challenge Peter in the future.

Instead, we get Ben Reilly off on his own thinking he’s a hero and going off on an adventure to prove it. He’s wanted so trying to fly under the radar and that has him asking his rescues for money… which has some potential.

But, what’s odd in writer Peter David‘s take on Reilly is that he’s generally lost his mind. Instead of the smart aleck or quick quips like Peter Parker instead we get Reilly being somewhat mean and talking to phantoms. This isn’t the Jackal we’ve seen for an event, the put together villain who has a big vision for the world and how he’ll save it. Here, he’s broken and has more in common with Deadpool than he does in Spider-Man. It’s a weird take that feels like it diverges from the character we saw just a month ago. And, it’s ok to bring these elements in, but they’re there without much of an explanation. It’s an odd addition that I think is supposed to make the character stand out but instead it feels like it’s out of left field.

The art stands out in some ways with Mark Bagley on pencils, John Dell on inks and Jason Keith handling colors. Joe Carmagna needs a shout-out as the letterer as there’s a lot of dialogue on some of the pages, but he makes it work with the art team. Bagley’s pencils are decent though don’t quite stand out like I usually expect from his art. What I did notice is Keith’s use of greens in the coloring, a color I associate with Spider-Man villains. There’s some interesting stuff there, but it doesn’t quite have the punch and excitement as the main Spider-Man series or even Miles Morales’ run.

The first issue is decent with a vibe in some ways back to the 90s when this character was swinging around. I’m not completely sold on this series but intrigued enough to see where it all goes from here.

Story: Peter David Art: Mark Bagley, John Dell
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.60 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review