Peter Parker’s had a famously rough life, but if he’s had it any easier than his clone Ben Reilly, it’s only because Ben hasn’t been around as long. Since he came to prominence during the Clone Saga of the mid-’90s, he’s died, been resurrected, tortured, murdered, resurrected, tortured, again, rinse, repeat. He’s finally found some luck by redonning the Spider-Man mantle, but that luck seems to have already run out.
First, a little background: Ben Reilly has literally been Spider-Man for less than a week. He started in Amazing Spider-Man #75, which was published on October 6 as the beginning of the 19-issue “Beyond” story arc. The reason Peter is sitting the superhero biz out for a while is that he was hit with radioactive gas by the U-Foes, and is currently sick and dying. But Ben isn’t just filling his Spider-booties; he’s also been hired by the Beyond Corporation (the fun-loving, multi-dimensional beings behind Nextwave, who I’m utterly delighted to learn are now an official part of Marvel’s main continuity) to be Spidey as they now own the trademark to the hero because comics.
Ben has three months before things apparently go to hell in Amazing Spider-Man #85, according to Marvel:
“Peter Parker may be out of commission, but luckily Ben Reilly is more than capable of taking his place. Equipped with gadgets and tech from the Beyond Corporation, Reilly has everything it takes to be the superior Spider-Man, but he’ll finally meet his match in a devastating battle against one of the Spider-Man’s most feared enemies—Doctor Octopus!
“It begins in Amazing Spider-Man #85 by writer Cody Ziglar and artist Paco Medina. It’s going to take everything for Ben Reilly—and the company that backs him—to stop Otto Octavius. But, in the Merry Marvel fashion (and as with all respectable Spider-Stories), even if Spider-Man wins, he is going to lose. And he is going to lose BIG.
“Amazing Spider-Man #86 by writer Zeb Wells and artist Michael Dowling will deal with the aftermath of the fight and will be a comic that fans will remember for years to come. Ben Reilly has been shaken to the core, and you will be too.
“And find out if Peter Parker can step up and be Spider-Man again in Amazing Spider-Man #87 by writer Jed MacKay and Carlos Gómez. With NYC reeling from Doc Ock’s attack and Ben Reilly possibly down, it’s up to Captain America and Black Cat to see if Peter Parker is ready for action again. You may think you know where this story is going, but you do not.”
Whatever happens to Ben—and it’s exceedingly plausible he’s just going to get killed again—it’s clearly going to mess him up so badly that Cap and Black Cat think the presumably deathly ill Peter Parker is a more viable Spider-alternative. But that’s just the life of Reilly.
Amazing Spider-Man #85 comes out on January 12, with subsequent issues coming weekly.
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