Review: Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #5

We got a mess of Spiders running round the House of Ideas and I think they are about to call the exterminators. Over in Spider-Men II, Spider-Man and Spider-Man are trying to figure out what to do about Spider-man. Here in Ben Riley: The Scarlet Spider, The Scarlet Spider is taking on The Scarlet Spider all across Las Vegas and it looks like only one clone is swinging out alive.

One of the things I like about the clone stories is that they show the different paths a life can take. They all started out with the same life experiences, but two of them became murderous criminals – though in different ways. And even if it is by very different methods, both clones are trying to turn their lives and reputations around.

Kaine who went through his own struggles to straighten out his life in Texas and Mexico before being brought back in the latest Spidey Clone Crisis. In that he found that Ben (as the Jackal) was planning on a whole big murderama. He and Spidey (Peter Parker – I’m pretty sure) managed to put that genie back in the bottle, but this version of Ben is living on borrowed time. His clone DNA is starting to unravel.

That’s why he headed to Vegas. He found that a criminal casino owner’s daughter has a condition similar to his. If he can find a cure for her, he may find one for himself.

Kaine, who is aware of how unstable Ben has been since he was brought back this time, wants to end any potential threat preemptively. So, clearly neither Scarlet Spider is 100% on the side of the angels here.

While Peter David’s (Spider-Man 2099, Supergirl) story leans pretty heavily on the recent events of Spider-man’s main books, it is clear enough to follow along if you just short hand some of the bigger details and just follow along for the fun.

And while the previous books have been enjoyable, the fun kicks off right from the first splash page through to the end of the book. While David’s snappy dialogue makes sure that you are always aware that you are dealing with the less stable Spidey’s, Mark Bagley (Thunderbolts, Trinity) and John Dell (JLA, Spider-Man/Deadpool) make sure that you are aware that they are both Spider-men. Bagely’s art seems much better in this issue than in the first couple. It may be that because both Kaine and Ben are in full costume this time that he has to do less facial work, which I sometimes find to be his weakness.

The action smoothly flows from casino to casino as Ben tries to convince Kaine that he isn’t the killer he was recently, all the while each is using their incomplete set of Spidey powers to gain any advantage they have. You really have to hope that they can work it out. After all they are clone brothers.

While, I’ve found that the previous Scarlet Spider books had their ups and downs, bring the clones together for this fight was worth it. This was the first issue of the series that I really liked from beginning to end. I have to say that if it wasn’t for the creepy mask, I’d almost prefer Ben’s new costume, but there is something wonderfully 90s about his classic outfit.

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Jason Keith

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