Scarlet Spider #1: Peter David gives Ben Reilly his own Tyler Durden

Imagine you were a Marvel editor not too long ago and someone said, “We should totally bring back Ben Reilly from the infamous Clone Saga days. That would be cool. People liked him and his fans will flock to a book if we give him his own series.”

Got it? Now ask yourself this question: If you wanted the base of your book to consist of long-time Ben Reilly fans, would you a.) Turn the character into a crazed man out of something from Fight Club, or would you b.) Try to woo loyal readers with something resembling the character in their mind’s eye for almost 20 years?

Marvel went with the first option for Scarlet Spider, which is rather odd. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Peter David seems to be doing his best with the marching orders he’s been given in the first issue.

There’s much more to say, but for that I invite you to check out my latest YouTube video. As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below.

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‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ #3 Review: ‘B-Ben? It can’t be you!’

Marvel’s fall Spider-Man event, Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, was such a sprawling story that it broke from the core book, The Amazing Spider-Man, and requires die-hard fans to also buy The Prowler. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it should raise red flags among potential customers that some issues will likely be stuffed to the brim with information to make the tale work.

DNM #3 is a perfect example of the logistical obstacles writer Dan Slott created for himself as he began to weave this story together. There is a lot — I repeat, a lot — going on, not to mention the big reveal at the issue’s end. My quick take is that he and artist Jim Cheung did a decent job juggling important tasks, but that a key character’s history is at risk of being tarnished by the time all is said and done.

Check out my latest YouTube review for a run-down events and some brief commentary on the return of a character from Peter’s past. I will probably do a more comprehensive analysis of these ASM-related developments in the near future, but until then I’d still like to hear your thoughts on DNM #3’s surprise ending.

Dan Slott’s Amazing Kaine: Peter Parker sidelined in ASM#21 — just like ASM #18, ASM #17, Spider-Verse, Silk intro, Superior Spider-Man, etc.

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Fans of The Amazing Spider-Man have had a rough couple of years. Peter Parker was “killed” for an extended amount of time and replaced with Doctor Octopus as Superior Spider-Man. The book was relaunched, but multiple issues seemed to focus on the arrival of a new character, Silk. Spider-Verse lumped Peter Parker in with an army of spider-powered heroes. Then the title was relaunched again with Peter Parker as a poor man’s Tony Stark. Lately, Prowler and Doctor Octopus essentially monopolized entire issues, and Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, for all intents and purposes, renders ASM the supplementary reading for a Spider-Man tale.

ASM #21 continues Dan Slott’s frustrating habit of sidelining Peter Parker in his own book, this time in favor of Scartlet Spider, aka Kaine.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #21:

  • Kaine did not die during the events of Spider-Verse, but “The Other” that kept him healthy did.
  • Karn (now Master Weaver), shows Kaine the “dreaded fate” of multiple words as seen through the Web of Life and Destiny.
  • Through Kaine’s investigations into the zombie-plagued worlds he finds out that Parker Industries is tied to every outbreak.
  • Kaine eventually teams up with Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman of Earth-65.
  • Gwen and Kaine figure out that Peter Parker has teamed up with Jackal in multiple worlds, which inevitably triggers a zombie apocalypse.
  • Karn tells Kaine that the Web of Destiny tells him there is a secret being kept from him. Kaine admits that his cellular degeneration is far advanced and that he will likely die soon. He hopes to save his home world before that happens. Karn agrees not to tell Gwen.

Reviewing an issue like ASM #21 is a tricky task, because Marvel wants readers to look at it within the broader context of DNM, but at the same time readers demand to know how it ranks as a standaline issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. The company has needlessly created a kind of psychological tension in fans who want compelling stories, but at the same time expect (logically) an issue of ASM to highlight Peter Parker.

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If one were to review ASM #21 solely within the framework of Dan Slott’s ongoing Clone Conspiracy tale, then there is nothing particularly wrong with the book. In fact, Kaine is a cool character and would probably be a much easier sell than Prowler for an ongoing series (and that is not a knock on Sean Ryan, who seems to be doing the best he can in a bad situation).

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If, however, one reviews ASM #21 in terms of its ability to showcase Peter Parker, then the book is once again off the mark. The title regularly feels like writer Dan Slott gets bored with his Peter Parker “toy,” and then attempts to alleviate that condition by rummaging through his “toy box.” The result is that Peter Parker is nominally the hero of his own book.

My suggestion for Peter Parker fans who are tired of him getting the shaft in his own book would be to pick up Gerry Conway’s and Ryan Stegman’s Renew Your Vows. There is nothing inherently wrong with DNM, but at this point it just feels like another instance where the team’s starting quarterback is weirdly relegated to a shared role with back-up players.

Related:

Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

Dan Slott’s feckless Peter Parker needs Doctor Octopus to inspire Uncle Ben: Spider-Verse Part 5

Dan Slott’s excitement, focus return in Amazing Spider-Man #18 with Doctor Octopus in limelight

Dan Slott’s emasculated Spider-Man: Peter Parker is an embarrassment in his own book

Dan Slott’s Clone Conspiracy #2: ‘Peter Parker is the man who destroys the world’

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Marvel’s big Spider-Man event for the fall has dropped a doozy on Peter Parker fans with Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #2. It appears as though Peter Parker is responsible for causing a zombie apocalypse in at least one dozen universes. Fans of the character should rightfully be annoyed if — I repeat, “if” — it turns out that it truly is the hero who is seduced by The Jackal’s New U technology and he unleashes hell on earth.

Here is what you need to know for DNM #2:

  • Kaine scrambles for his life in an alternate-universe version of San Francisco that is overrun with zombies. A portal opens for him just as one latches onto his ankle and he wakes up in Marvel Universe 616.
  • Doctor Octopus fights with Spider-Man in The Jackal’s lab and explains how he was able to survive the events of Spider-Verse and essentially return from the dead.
  • Jackal appears and commands Peter to follow him as he explains the so-called truth behind New U’s cloning procedure. These days he uploads “psychic residue from human remains to make reanimates.
  • Miles Warren, aka Jackal, introduces Peter to all of his formerly deceased foes — alive and kicking as renanimates. The villain says that everything was done to fully realize Peter’s “no one dies” philosophy.
  • Jonah Jameson is on another floor within New U with his reanimated with Marla. They talk about how happy they are together.
  • Spider-Man confronts Prowler about his alliance with Jackal. Hobie Brown tells Peter that what Jackal is doing is a “good thing.”
  • Captain Stacy pulls a gun on “Gwen” when he realizes that she is not his daughter. It turns out she is Spider-Gwen in disguise. The cloned Gwen is holed up with Kaine in his apartment and needs New U’s medicine ASAP.
  • Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen take off through an air vent and Lizard is dispatched after them.
  • Kaine goes to Horizon University at the behest of Spider-Man to retrieve medicine, which was given to him by Jerry Saltares’ wife. He then admits to Anna Maria Marconi that he and Gwen are on a secret mission because “Peter Parker is the man who destroys the world.”

From a pure storytelling perspective, there is nothing wrong with what Dan Slott is doing. In fact, this latest twist actually elevates DNM’s quality above and beyond what I was expecting early on. The problem, however, will come if it turns out that “the” Peter Parker is responsible for countless zombie wastelands instead of Jackal.

scarlet-spider

Here is the bottom line:

  • Peter Parker fans should accept a story that involves alternate universes where Jackal (i.e., a Peter clone) kills the hero and assumes control of Parker Industries as an imposter.
  • They should not accept the idea that infinite universes of terror and fear are traced back to a single moment in time where “the” Peter Parker succumbs to another Mephisto-like proposal, this time with Jackal.

Given Dan Slott’s history with The Amazing Spider-Man, I am not confident that his final “twist” for DNM will be one that honors the legacy of Peter Parker. I hope I am wrong.

Anyway, did you read DNM #2? If so, then let me know what you think in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check my latest YouTube review and subscribe if that format is up your alley.