I have very mixed feelings about the clone saga. At the time I hated it. It was full of a lot of stupid shit like Maximum Clonage and I felt like when they started saying Ben Reilly was the real deal and Peter was the clone it was just a slap in the face to fans who had read the previous two decades of stories. Not as much of a slap in the face as One More Day mind you but still a slap. Now that time has passed I can go back and see some of the stories with fresh eyes and it definitely had its moments and I can see why it has a cult following. And to be honest, while at the time I was glad to be rid of him when Ben dissolved into a pile of dust, I kinda miss him now. Not even so much for what he was but for what he could have been.
DC has their sidekicks. Marvel, however, has their, well, let's call them derivatives for lack of a better word. I talked about this in an earlier post, how Marvel loves to take a popular hero and then make a derivative character of them. Sorta like a sidekick, except they usually just go off and have their own adventures, sometimes even their own book. Iron Man begate War Machine, Thor begat Thunderstrike, Captain America begat U.S. Agent etc etc. I feel like Scarlet Spider could have been that for Spider-man. In fact recently Kaine has taken on the mantle of the Scarlet Spider and is doing just that, even starring in his own book which, by the way, is a great read. Sadly however when Peter was restored to being Spider-man it was decided to kill Ben off, in an effort to assure fans who had left out of frustration with the clone saga that it was indeed over.
Anyways enough of that tangent, we here to talk about Web of #118. This is part one of the story where Ben first takes on the role of Scarlet Spider. A little background, Ben Reilly had been out on the road for 5 years since his supposed death. He decided to return to New York because Aunt May was on her death bed and he wanted to say his goodbyes. He ran into Peter and hijinks ensued. Now he is wondering what his next move should be. Out story begins with Ben at a museum thinking things through at a Spider exhibit. He sees a hot dog vendor outside getting robbed but a nearby cop catches him. He stares at a spider hoodie in the gift shop and wonders "What if that cop hadn't been there?" "Can I really ignore my responsibility?"
We cut to Venom who is in New York hot on the tail of the unnamed character I like to call yellow girl Carnage. Interesting side note, Yellow Girl Carnage was the original name of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Venom stops by the church where he first got the symbiot and explains his origin again to us. And then Ben is swinging around when he sees a woman in a night gown about to jump off a bridge. Not just any bridge but the Gwen bridge.
How did she get up there like that? She doesn't even have shoes on. Ben saves her after she jumps and gets her to the hospital. We never find out why she was there or what she was doing. At least not this issue.
Ben thinks more about living up to his responsibilities and hears on the radio Venom is loose in the city. So he decides Peter might be looking the other way on Venom but he won't and our issue ends with Ben heading out for the first time as the Scarlet Spider.
This was a pretty solid issue and a pretty good start to Ben's super hero career. Despite being a relatively major Spidey moment you can find this pretty damn cheap in most back issue bins. If you haven't read this I recommend it.