Taking place in the aftermath of the Clone Conspiracy, Ben Reilly is trying to find his place in Las Vegas. He is a trying to be a hero and goes out of his way to recreate what Peter Parker has. He looks for a Mary Jane, an Aunt May (he finds an older woman named June in a genuinely funny scene), and he even fights crime near the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. He misses New York and this is the closest thing he can get to it. The casino backdrop is important as one of the major characters is also a casino owner.
Peter David does a great job of laying out Ben’s character in this issue. We are shown scenes with Ben hallucinating and talking to phantom characters which further extends how mentally damaged he is. The dialogue is good and has some funny, sarcastic moments. Ben comes across as unlikeable and a bit of a jerk, which I think is the idea. His goals lean more towards acquiring power and wealth and less on being a true hero (he sets up a payment plan with a woman he rescues in this issue). His personality reminds me of a manic Deadpool, but without Deadpool’s charm. I’m giving Peter David the benefit of the doubt and thinking that Ben will grow as a character in this series.
I like his costume and the fact that it was swiped off of a cosplayer is a funny, modern take on how a character gets a costume. I’m not sure what benefit a hood does for a masked person? The mouth being prominent has been controversial and looks a bit odd, but I think the costume looks decent overall.
The art is great. With his experience, Bagley could do Spider-Man type characters in his sleep. His work comes across as effortless. The level of detail is consistently good and the action appears to have a great deal of motion to it. Las Vegas makes for a good backdrop in this book as we can have bright, glitzy or dark, moody locations as the story dictates.
This is a solid book overall. It continues Marvel’s current trend of 90s nostalgia, but with the benefit of having genuine legends like Peter David and Mark Bagley behind it. I give this issue 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s a good start to the series.
Written by Peter David
Art by Mark Bagley
Published by Marvel Comics