BEN REILLY THE SCARLET SPIDER #20 / Writer: Peter David / Artist: Will Sliney / Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover: Khary Randolph & Emilio Lopez / Marvel Comics / Released 20th June 2018
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider has been uncharacteristically inconsistent over the last few issues. There were moments that led the reader to anticipate something amazing, only to deflate them with underwhelming conclusions. Issue 20 takes place after the defeat of Mysterio whose reveal was one of the stellar moments in the last few issues. Ben is back on the hunt for the non replying Dr. Sheldon Sanders who can help cure Abigail. He discovered a while back that the doctor was stationed on a nearby naval base. Meanwhile Kaine who is fresh from his battle with the mindless ones in the Darkforce Dimension is about to get a visit from an unwanted guest.
With the help of Cassandra’s personal muscle Slate, Ben pinpoints Sheldon’s office on the naval base. He heads to the base and attempts to track down Dr. Sanders. Using masterful stealth and blending in tactics to make his way into the the doctors office. When Ben finally gets his chance to ask Sanders about leaving his messages on ‘seen’, his spider sense is going nuts. He figures out why when he gets a shocking introduction to a foe that almost everyone in the 616 has experiences with. Back in Vegas, Kaine heads out to greet the visitor, but when a kid gets involved it becomes a much more complex situation. With Ben away Kaine is left to go solo in a situation he has no idea how to approach. He needs to stop this threat, but the kid is making things a hell of a lot more difficult.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider regains some of its lost momentum in this issue. It is finally starting to feel like Ben and Kaine are being dragged out of their comfort zones for the first time since Damnation. Ben’s level of caring for Abigail and her recovery has returned and it really feels Peter esc. This similarity to Peter’s personality is a welcome reminder that Ben is still a clone trying to find his own path. Kaine has become more similar to Peter Parker as the issues have rolled on. He used to be remembered as a more aggressive version of Pete, but now he is becoming more level-headed and responsible.
Peter David’s writing feels like it is heading back to its magnificent best in this issue. The jury will still be out until we see if the conclusion to this arc is more satisfying than the Mysterio let down. David is a world renowned writer who has given us magnificent comics over his career, including early issues of this title. It is possible many enjoyed the Mysterio story, but to us it just felt like it was rushed and didn’t reach its full potential.
Peter David welcomes back Will Sliney to the artists mantle in this issue of Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider. Will returns from hiatus and picks up exactly where he left off, making Ben look clone-tastic. There is something about Will’s art on Ben that just makes him pop. Will’s version of Ben is more satisfactory to the eye than Araujo’s, but his detailed art on Kaine doesn’t draw us in as much as Araujo’s.
Sliney provides us with a beautifully drawn panel of Kaine standing on a window facing the ground whilst a crowd has gathered inside. The complexity and masterclass skill to show this POV has been undermentioned by fans on social media. They have instead opted to point out Kaine’s luscious booty on show through his costume. A compliment to Will’s ability to draw butts, but not the aspect of the panel folks should be talking about most.
Ben Reilly may still be attempting to redeem his soul, but Peter David has begun to redeem his book with this issue. Reilly is a character that a David can do so much with, and he has been doing this to varying degrees of success. Kaine becoming a full timer in this title has been a great step as it adds an extra dimension to Ben’s journey. Sliney’s art is fantastic as always and he is a welcome return on this issue. Overall this issue should rejuvenate the readers interest in Ben and have them excited for the next chapter.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider is on its way back up, but its not quite there yet. What does Ben need to take it to the next level? Maybe he needs his own villains rather than Spider-Man’s leftovers.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 THWIIIPS
One half of The Superior Comic Show, Peter is Spidey crazy!
From Dublin in Ireland
Has always had a love of the world of heroes and villains.
With a degree in Journalism, hoping to finally shake off the rust and put it to use.