The new Spider-Man has already set the most horrific record in the Marvel Universe
Ben Reilly may be destined to become Marvel’s new Spider-Man, but his previous record indicates horrible times could be expected for the hero.
Despite how the generally maligned Spider-Man Clone Saga has become over the years, this is still one of the most indelible periods in the Wall Robot’s life and has introduced a number of new heroes. spiders in the Marvel Universe. The most memorable of these clones has always been Ben Reilly, better known as the Scarlet Spider, who is set to take up the torch from Spider-Man. The path from his horrific beginnings until now has not been easy, however. In fact, it was so bad that he left Reilly as the official record holder in the Marvel Universe for being dead most often, a fact that even Death confirmed.
In 2017 Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider # 7 (by Peter David and Will Sliney), Reilly faced the most epic showdown of his superhero career. He was already involved in what should have been a fight to the death with Kaine, another superheroic clone of Peter Parker, when their fight was interrupted by Rick Jones’ ex-wife, Marlo Chandler. Despite the threat posed by engaging in an overpowered confrontation, Marlo ended the battle by simply placing his hand on Kaine.
In the end, the Marlo Chandler that Ben would meet from time to time was actually the cosmic Death entity, and his dealings with Ben were more important than any small grievance between the Clone Brothers. While the appearance of Death is hardly ever auspicious, its arrival has been more gracious than one might expect. Rather than wanting to hurt Ben Reilly, Death only wanted to save his soul from an irreparable breakup.
Death then revealed to Reilly that he had died more times than any other being in the entire universe. This was a phenomenon linked to its origin decades earlier as well as to very recent events then. When Ben Reilly first appeared in the Marvel Universe in the 1975s The Incredible Spider-Man # 149 (by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru), it didn’t even have a name, but was instead called Spider-Clone. Created by villainous Miles Warren (aka Jackal), Ben Reilly was designed as a perfect Spider-Man clone destined to take down the hero in retaliation for Gwen Stacy’s death. After apparently dying on his first encounter with Spider-Man, Ben Reilly spent years wandering the streets alone before becoming the Scarlet Spider and ultimately being killed in action by Norman Osborn. As Peter and others close to him mourned Ben’s death, the Jackal saw an opportunity to improve his life’s work in terrifying ways.
The villain managed to bring Ben back to life, this time with memories until his death. Unfortunately, this process came with the nasty side effect of Cellular Degeneration, leading Jackal to kill and resurrect Ben over and over again in an effort to perfect his job. The trauma caused by this cycle ultimately shattered Ben, who turned on his creator, even usurping the title of Jackal for a time. While this effort didn’t last, the damage to Ben’s soul from his repeated deaths was another story, and that’s what brought death to his doorstep. The cosmic entity showed Ben the damage that had been done, imploring him that the only way to heal it would be to spend a long time doing good while avoiding death at all costs.
In the years that followed, it seems Ben managed to become the hero Death knew he was meant to be, even though he wasn’t able to follow his advice to the letter. Still, his valiant efforts have certainly done wonders for him, especially since he will once again take on the role of Spider-Man in an official capacity.
Hopefully, Ben Reilly will continue to lead the heroic lifestyle that even Death believes he is capable of. One can only hope that his next stint as Marvel’s main web-slinger adds to his life instead of taking it away … again.
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