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Discover an untold story from a classic Marvel era in exclusive look at 'Ben Reilly: Spider-Man'
Writer J.M. DeMatteis takes us inside his return to Spider-Man stories.
Right now, in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, an all-star team of writers and artists is crafting what's been dubbed the "Beyond Era" of Spider-Man stories, in which Peter Parker clone Ben Reilly once again takes up the Spider-Man name, costume, and heroic responsibilities. But of course, this isn't the first time Ben's been the reigning Spider-Man, and in a new five-issue series, a legendary Spider-Man writer is going back to explore what happened the last time the hero also known as Scarlet Spider took over for Peter.
Back in September, Marvel announced Spider-Man: Ben Reilly, which will bring the writer of Kraven's Last Hunt and comics legend J.M. DeMatteis to the Spidey fold. Working alongside Domino artist David Baldeón, DeMatteis will dig into an untold story of Ben's time as Spider-Man back in the days of the Clone Saga, when Peter Parker briefly left New York City altogether to settle down on the West Coast with Mary Jane Watson.
"Ben Reilly: Spider-Man takes places at a pivotal moment in Ben’s life: Peter and Mary Jane have gone off to Portland to start a new life and Ben — after five years on the road, rootless, without a real identity — is back in New York, back in the spider suit, trying to build his new life," DeMatteis told SYFY WIRE. "But it’s not Peter Parker’s life, it’s Ben Reilly’s, which means that he has no old friends to turn to, no career. He is, in many ways, more alone than he’s ever been. He can’t go back to the past, that door is locked, so he has to move forward. But he has no idea how to do that.
"It’s only as Spider-Man that he has any sense of himself and even that, after five years away, feels strange and unfamiliar."
Though the story does take place back in the Clone Saga era, DeMatteis also assured readers that they won't need prior knowledge of that especially vast Marvel event in order to enjoy what's going on in Ren Reilly. Instead, they'll get a complete narrative in its own right that enriches both the past and the present stories unfolding with Ben's modern adventures in Amazing Spider-Man.
"Ben Reilly: Spider-Man is one big story, a mystery that unfolds over five issues," DeMatteis said. "Along the way we’ll encounter some classic Spidey villains as well as one of my favorite characters, the head of Ravencroft Institute, Doctor Kafka, who plays a pivotal role in the story."
Speaking of classic Spidey villains, you'll get a taste of some in the exclusive pages below, which showcase an encounter with Carrion, a look back through some pivotal moments, and of course, Baldeón's art for the series.
"I've been blown away by David’s work," DeMatteis said. "His storytelling is impeccable, he can do the big action beats and the intimate character moments, and there’s tremendous energy on every page. Add in Israel Silva’s wonderful color work and I think we have an unbeatable art team."
For longtime fans of Ben Reilly's unique place in Spider-Man history, it's an exciting time for the character, as he gets both a resurgence in modern Spidey continuity and a look back at the era that helped define him. But it's also a time for new readers to discover the character, and to tune into what DeMatteis sees as a very interesting superhero perspective.
"What’s always fascinated me about Ben is that he is Peter...and he’s not," DeMatteis said. "He had his entire view of reality, of his personal identity, shredded when he discovered he was a clone. Everyone he knew and loved was taken from him and he was exiled from New York. Five years on the road, with no roots, left him shaken and bitter. He’s a much darker, more wounded, character than Peter but, at his core, he has the same essential goodness, the same decency and desire to help and do the right thing, that Peter has. All of that makes for a memorable character."
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 arrives in January.