The Character Spotlight – Issue #2: Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)

It’s time for the second edition of The Character Spotlight! With the advent of The Superior Spider-Man, we’ve been told that someone other than Peter Parker will be taking up the roll of Spider-Man. While some people may think this is a first for the character they would be wrong. There was another. Yes, I’m going there. Oftentimes a source of controversy, I proudly introduce to you: Ben Reilly.

DebutThe Amazing Spider-Man #149 (Cover Date: October 1975)

Biography: Ben Reilly was a clone of Peter Parker created by the Jackal. The clone was also successfully imprinted with Peter’s memories and actually believed himself to be the original during the two’s first encounter which led to a fight breaking out between them. They eventually teamed-up in order to save the clone of Gwen Stacy and, during the rescue, the clone of Spider-Man appeared to die in an explosion. Peter feared the consequences of other people discovering a corpse that looked exactly like him and threw the body into a smokestack to be rid of him forever. The clone, who was in fact not dead, managed to escape the smokestack, took the name Ben Reilly (a combination of Uncle Ben’s first name and Aunt May’s maiden name), and decided to embark on a nomadic life wandering the country from place to place. Five years pass and Ben found out that Aunt May was dying from a stroke. He returned to New York to visit her and ran into Peter Parker. After initially coming to blows, they began to work together and Reilly created a costume of his own. He was soon named the ‘Scarlet Spider’ by the press after he defeated Venom. After some superheroics, Ben drops the Scarlet Spider identity when his reputation was ruined by an evil holographic version of Scarlet Spider. After Peter Parker decides to retire in order to raise his unborn child, he passed the mantle of Spider-Man on to Reilly. Along the way, both Peter and Ben are deceived into believing that Reilly was the original and Parker was the clone.  Eventually Ben uncovered that the man pulling all the strings is Norman Osborn and he revealed to Ben that he was the clone all along. The final confrontation of the “Clone Saga” took place between Parker and Osborn during which Ben moved in front of Norman’s Goblin Glider to protect Peter but impaled himself in the process. Just before he died from the fatal blow, Ben informed Peter that he is now Spider-Man and will have to resume the role for Reilly before turning to dust.

Notable Series/Key Issues:

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 (#149, #394, #399-#418)
Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 (#216, #217, #222-#240)
Web of Spider-Man Vol. 1 (#117-129)
Spider-Man Vol. 1 (#51-#75)
Spider-Man Unlimited Vol. 1 (#9-#14)
Spider-Man: The Lost Years #1-3
Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage – Alpha
Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage – Omega
Web of Scarlet Spider #1-#4
The Amazing Scarlet Spider #1-#2
Scarlet Spider #1-#2
Spectacular Scarlet Spider #1-#2
Scarlet Spider Unlimited #1
Sensational Spider-Man Vol. 1 (#0-#11)
Spider-Man: Redemption #1-#4

Appearances In Other Media:

Spider-Man: The Animated Series (TV)

My Take: I always enjoyed the character of Ben Reilly. I liked the aspect that he was basically the brother Peter never had and was saddened the day that he bit the big one. The Clone Saga left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, but in my opinion Reilly was not one of the problems. It was something else to bring back a character and a plot point last seen 19 years prior and bring it back front and centre. Yes, I didn’t like that they tried to replace Peter Parker with him but I would still have liked to see him live on as the Scarlet Spider and I hope one day that he may make a return somehow. This is the Marvel Universe and anything is possible, including resurrections…

Thus ends Issue #2 of Character Spotlight. Any thoughts/opinions on this character? Comment below!

4 thoughts on “The Character Spotlight – Issue #2: Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)

  1. I LOVE Ben Reilly. And I’m not telling you this to please you, as you can see from a comment I wrote months ago: http://2collectorscorner.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/the-amazing-spider-man-692-50th-anniversary/#comments.
    I love him not only because of his costume, but also because his stories were incredibly good. Yes, of course the clone saga as a whole is probably the biggest example of a good idea poorly executed in comics, but the issues entirely focused on him were excellent.
    “I hope one day that he may make a return somehow”: I think that unfortunately fans hate him too much. I remember a survey whose question was “Which is your favorite Spider Man costume?” and the one of Scarlet Spider (the most gorgeous one, in my opinion) was the LEAST voted. Even some costumes Peter wore only ONCE got more votes.
    Anyway, I own a recently published TP called “Spider Man: The Real Clone Saga”, which is a sort of remake of that story arc: it’s shorter, with a more modern artistic style and a faster storytelling.
    I liked that TP, but I didn’t like the idea of remaking the Clone Saga. Not only because I hate remakes in general, but also because, remaking the Clone Saga, Marvel implicitly admitted it was a failure, which is not true.
    I admire you for your courage. You knew you were writing a very unpopular article, that only a very few readers would have appreciated, but despite that you put all your effort in it, you made an accurated job and you pursued your ideas, no matter if they were running against the grain. This is something that a very few people are able to do. Yes, of course you didn’t a heroic deed, but it’s something impressive anyway.
    Now that I think about it, we mustn’t be the only ones appreciating Scarlet Spider, because Marvel is currently reprinting his stories. I think I saw the preview for the 6th TP of “The Ben Reilly Epic” on their catalog for February 2013. Maybe Marvel wants to see the lie of the land for his comeback?

    • “I LOVE Ben Reilly”
      So glad that you are a fellow fan!

      “I own a recently published TP called “Spider Man: The Real Clone Saga”, which is a sort of remake of that story arc: it’s shorter, with a more modern artistic style and a faster storytelling.”
      Funny you should mention that. Just a few weeks ago I picked up the individual issues of the series for a great deal. Haven’t read it yet though.

      “I admire you for your courage. You knew you were writing a very unpopular article, that only a very few readers would have appreciated, but despite that you put all your effort in it, you made an accurated job and you pursued your ideas, no matter if they were running against the grain.”
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m never one to be afraid of expressing my own opinions.

      “I think I saw the preview for the 6th TP of “The Ben Reilly Epic” on their catalog for February 2013. Maybe Marvel wants to see the lie of the land for his comeback?”
      If only… I was really hoping that the Superior Spider-Man was going to be Reilly or even Miguel O’Hara. Tad disappointed but Marvel could pull a swerve.

      For more great Ben Reilly stuff check out: http://lifeofreillyarchives.blogspot.ca/. They have a 35-part article on his entire history!

  2. The Clone Saga was a good storline, although it was a bit muddled in places, I really liked the character of Ben Reilly and the Scarlet Spider. It was a neat idea to give Peter Parker someone who was almost like a brother to him, so it was a shame when he was killed off. The Scarlet Spider also had a great costume, really think it would be great if Ben Reilly were to return to the Marvel Universe one day.

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