Spider-Verse tie in: The Hero
Since the first and second issue of Scarlet Spiders focused on Jessica Drew aka Widow, and Kaine respectively, this third issue focuses a little more on Ben Reilly, the perfect clone of Peter.
As with the first two issues, we have our mysterious narrator, quite likely either the Master Weaver, the Other, or some other mystical being like Madam Web, narrating the events taking place in the issue, while giving a little back-story to each character.
Ben Reilly, the perfect clone believed that if you never gave up, you would never lose. In his world, this Ben Reilly never lost, despite being beaten numerous times in his career as Spider-Man. We last saw Ben and Kaine face to face with Jennix, the mastermind behind the cloning facilities that seemingly grant the Inheritors eternal life. The plan is to shut the place down, while Jennix’s plan is to kill the Spider-Clones.
As the two siblings fight Jennix, Kaine begins to lose control of his rage and ends up killing Jennix. Being able to clone himself immediately however, Jennix simply reappears. Ben tries to get Kaine under control as he is visibly transforming into something else. Ben’s efforts are successful for a while and Kaine realizes the wrong in his actions. As Kaine calms down, a new Jennix appears, but is soon disintegrated by some kind of plasma gun shot by Jessica.
Having killed Jennix twice now, Ben advises his teammates to stop killing Jennix as he would simply regenerate. They then focus on trying to trap their predator. Jennix, after being killed twice already, and realizing that the Other is residing in Kaine, begins to attack Kaine in hope to kill the Other and gain his father’s ultimate respect. Naturally, the beatings Kaine takes brings out the rage in him and he slowly begins to transform into the other, though still mostly maintaining his human form. As the narrator points out, Kaine, still trying to control himself is losing the battle. He is unsure of himself, holding the rage inside him, attacking at a slower pace than he is capable of.
In a completely unnecessary few scenes, we see Black Widow spotted and attacked by the Johnny Storm of that world. This is not at all a problem or essential to the story as she very quickly gets rid of him with a single punch, sending him down the elevator shaft and making a dramatic entrance from the roof just as Ben and Kaine are being beaten to death.
Jessica runs to Ben’s aid who is brutally wounded by now. Ben however, urges her to protect Kaine as he is the one Jennix is after and even manages to fit a joke in while in pain. Jessica reluctantly agrees, leaving Ben some time to devise a plan. We get a little flashback of Ben’s life back at his world.
While Peter lost Gwen and his powers among other things, Ben never lost. When Peter lost his powers, Ben became Spider-Man and saved the city countless times, even managing to gain favour with Jonah Jameson after successfully saving Marla Jameson from Smythe, something even our 616 Peter failed to do. Ben eventually decides to save the day, and prevent Jennix from killing his friends by sacrificing his life to destroy the entire lab, this putting an end to the Inheritor’s “Eternal Life.”
The story ends with Kaine coming to his senses after being beaten silly by Jennix before Ben came to distract him. Jessica explains that Ben sacrificed himself for their safety, to which Kaine grows furious. He claims that the Inheritors killed him brother and begins his transformation into the Other, letting go fully all of his humanity. As we saw in AmazingSpider-Man # 13, Kaine then journeys into the Loomworld, and kills Lord Solus before being killed himself by Morlun…
As the mysterious narrator tells us readers, even in his final moments, Ben thinks to himself that he might make it out of this situation alive. It is implied however that Ben did not make it this time... or did he? Regardless, yet his actions allowed the good guys to win once again.
This was an issue that was supposed to be about Ben Reilly. As we all know, Ben is the perfect clone of Peter, and on his world, he even succeeds Peter, accomplishing more than Peter himself. Unfortunately, it feels as though this issue is still about Kaine rather than Ben.
For an issue in which a lovable character dies, I did not really feel the pinch. This may be due to the fact that Ben came and left so quickly. It may also be due to the fact that in the last three issues in which he appeared, he mostly came across as a goofball, almost blundering around as he goes.
This issue tried to make it clear however, that underneath all his playfulness, Ben is the ultimate display of a good hero who never gives up, and thus never loses. Even to the end, Ben does not give up on his morphing brother, willing to sacrifice himself to ensure the well-being of the others. I am glad to see that Ben died under such meaningful circumstances and did not simply have his life sucked out of him in a normal battle as did many other Spider-Men.
Seeing Ben and Kaine work together to fight Jennix was also pretty awesome. Ben, being the embodiment of good was able to calm his brother down to bring him to his senses. Ironically enough, it is because of Kaine’s human strength holding back the power of the Other, that the spiders ended up in a losing battle against their enemy.
Overall, Ben Reilly coming back into the comics, even if for a short while was great, but I’m still loving Kaine’s character more. Goodbye again Ben.