Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 is written by J.M. DeMatteis, illustrated by David Baldeon, colored by Israel Silva, and lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Part one of “The Humanity Agenda” picks up shortly after Ben Reilly took over the mantle of Spider-Man from Peter Parker (prior to the Beyond Saga), and is struggling with an identity crisis. Matters aren’t helped by the reappearance of the living virus known as Carrion, along with other foes from Peter’s past.
This series more or less acts as a companion piece to Spider-Man: The Lost Years, which also touched upon an unseen part of Reilly’s history. DeMatteis serves as the link between the two, having penned The Lost Years back in the mid-’90s. There’s even an art sequence by Baldeon and Silva that covers events from The Lost Years. Caramagna also manages to display Reilly’s narration in captions that are similar to how The Lost Years depicted pages from Ben Reilly’s journal.
The biggest draw of the issue, however, is how DeMatteis manages to display Ben’s inner turmoil over learning that he is supposedly the real Peter Parker and where his place is in the world. “I don’t know who Ben Reilly is,” Reilly laments in a monologue, setting up the driving question behind this miniseries’ story. I’d expect no less of DeMatteis, who’s written previous tales that delved into Spider-Man’s psyche including the all-time classic Kraven’s Last Hunt.
Baldeon’s artwork is honestly the perfect fit for the ’90s-era vibe that this miniseries is trying to capture. His characters have an animated look to them; Jameson in particular seems to grow in size as he launches into one of his famous rants, with his mouth never seeming to close. Baldeon also takes great pains to differentiate Reilly from Peter Parker. Not only is Reilly sporting his signature blond hair, but he’s also grown stubble and a permanent scowl. The highlight of the issue has to be the page where Reilly suits up in his own Spidey suit. I’ve always been a fan of the web-shooters circling his wrists and the larger spider on his chest.
Baldeon also gets to draw an intense fight sequence between Reilly and Carrion, which takes on frenetic energy when paired with Silva’s colors. Carrion’s sallow yellow skin and Ben’s red-and-blue Spidey suit stand out against the cool blue of the night, along with the spotless white halls of the Ravencroft issue. One page even features a slanted page of panels, with alternating hues of red and yellow as Reilly mercilessly pummels his foe. It’s not only a reminder of how strong Spider-Man is, but how frightening it is when he’s angry.
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 revisits the Scarlet Spider’s past, diving deep into Ben Reilly’s state of mind as he starts out as Spider-Man. If you’ve been enjoying the Beyond Saga or you are a fan of Ben Reilly as a character, this should definitely be on your pull list. Between this series and Silver Surfer: Rebirth, ’90s Marvel is making a comeback.
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on January 19, 2021, wherever comics are sold.
Ben Reilly Spider-Man #1
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 revisits the Scarlet Spider’s past, diving deep into Ben Reilly’s state of mind as he starts out as Spider-Man. If you’ve been enjoying the Beyond Saga or you are a fan of Ben Reilly as a character, this should definitely be on your pull list.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.