Written By Desi LaSalle
I am a lifelong Marvel comics fan and, more importantly, a very big Spider-Man fan. I love Spidey because I could always relate to Peter Parker’s real life problems for many years. Though, all of sudden in 1993 my mind was blown away by Marvel when I saw the ‘Scarlet Spider’, aka Ben Reilly, for the very first time in a comic book. I immediately thought what an awesome costume! What a great new concept for Spider-Man! Then I began my research into Ben Reilly. The character made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #149, during the Jackal clone story-line in 1975! Wow! What an amazing backstory and what a great origin, the possibilities could be endless!
The Scarlet Spider made his first appearance in Web of Spider-Man #114. During this time Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, was becoming a darker character in his own titles. What Marvel granted us in regards to Reilly was not only Peter Parker’s clone but also a somewhat different, fresher version of Peter, with his own struggles yet still with a much different and positive perspective of life. Throughout the infamous ‘Clone Saga’, Scarlet Spider became an immediate fan favorite, in turn leading Marvel to extend the Clone Saga story-line and having Ben Reilly replace Peter Parker as our beloved Spider-Man; things got so crazy that Marvel had us thinking that Peter Parker may be the clone!
Who would have thought that a creation by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru would reach this level of fame, with their character even becoming a member of the superhero team ‘The New Warriors’. Ben Reilly and Peter Parker would form a bond as brothers in the Clone story-line, and I must say as a Scarlet Spider fan I really believe that Marvel dropped the ball here on many levels. First of all the fans of the Marvel Universe were ready and willing to accept two Spider-Men in the their comic Universe. Frankly, there was a lot of money to be made. It is known now that Bob Budiansky, with pressure by Dan Jurgens, were the ones that backtracked on the whole original idea of having Ben Reilly replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man and also having Mary Jane have a miscarriage because the Marvel Universe was not ready for an Amazing Spider-Man to be a father. It just would not work. That in my view was a very Big mistake!
The comic book fans were more than ready for two Spider-Men. I remember everyone talking about what a cool costume Scarlet Spider had. They also loved his impact webbing and his stingers, not to mention what a great backstory Marvel came up with for Ben Reilly. Awesome villains came to light, such as the failed clone known as Kaine, and The Jackal. Ben Reilly was a perfect fit in the Spider-Man Universe and yet after his extended run Marvel came up with a rushed finish to the clone saga, having Ben Reilly die at the hands of the Green Goblin, saving Peter Parker in the process; to much sadness and dismay of many comic book fans. Marvel came up with a good idea only to botch later on big time! Ben Reilly has been the subject of many conversations amid comic book fans for years. Recently Marvel has confirmed a new upcoming title called The Clone Conspiracy, with the Jackal. The buzz already is tremendous! (Me included!) Are we going to see the triumphant return of Ben Reilly? Or are we going to keep talking about what might have been? I truly hope Marvel brings back The Scarlet Spider in some way shape or form and corrects, what in my view, has been one of their biggest mistakes ever! Here is to hoping for the best while awaiting for the worst once again. Give me my Scarlet Spidey back once again! Please Marvel, Please!