The Amazing Spider-Man #76
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Return of the Clone Saga! Ok, not really, but it is the return of Peter Parker’s clone, Ben Reilly, aka Scarlet Spider, aka blonde Peter. First, if you aren’t familiar with Ben’s backstory, I will try my best to catch you up succinctly. Miles Warren, aka the Jackal, cloned Peter. Ben was thought dead, but was secretly alive and lived for five years, moving place to place. Ben returned after five years to find Aunt May sick. Norman Osborn tricked Peter and Ben into thinking Peter was the clone and Ben was the original Parker. Peter left with MJ for Portland with their unborn child. Ben took on the mantle of Spider-Man. Norman eventually killed Ben, and Peter was proven to be the original recipe.
Miles Warren repeatedly cloned, killed, and resurrected Ben a combination of 27 times, in order to experiment on with his cloning methods. Ben escaped this hellish cycle. After he did, he convinced Miles that he was a clone. Ben took on the Jackal mantle. During Clone Conspiracy, he cloned almost everyone who ever died in a Spider-Man comic, friend or foe. Peter stopped him, once he found out the plan. Afterwards, Ben died and was resurrected again. Death (as in Death incarnate) told Ben his soul would be corrupted irreparably if he died again and came back. Ben also suffered mental health issues from the torture Miles put him through. He died again anyways, but his death served to reboot his soul and mind. Believe it or not, this summary cuts a lot out.
Presently, Ben works for Beyond corporation now as their trademarked Spider-Man. His suit contains the best gear; he receives advice from a man in “the chair”. Beyond Corporation also used their influence to get his gal, Janine Godbe, released from prison. Ben lacks Peter’s science acumen it seems though. He shows no real interest or agency in the science. As I started reading Spider-Man after the vast majority of clone shenanigans, I lack the knowledge to say if Ben usually sciences.
In the previous issue, Peter and Ben fought the U-Foes. Ben’s suit blocked out the damage from the villains, but Peter lacked that tech. Vapor and X-Ray simultaneously dosed him with poison and radiation. Ben rushed Peter to the hospital.
Now, Ben calls Aunt May and MJ, posing as Peter, to inform them that Peter is in the Emergency Ward of McCarthy Medical Center. He tells the doctor that Peter is his brother. Once MJ arrives, Ben disappears. Aunt May arrives shortly after and gives some of her best Mama-Bear ferocity to the medical staff. Ben meets up with Misty Knight, Collen Wing, and Marcus (aforementioned man in chair from Beyond Corp) Ben gets the gear level up for the next boss battle with the U-Foes.
Ben rushes off to get Peter’s blessing to play Spider-Man. Peter gives it after a heartfelt discussion. Ben goes onto kick U-Foe butt thoroughly. And as for Peter…deception.
Wells’ shows writing some characters is like riding a bike. He wrote Amazing Spider-Man way back in the good ol’ days of 2010 and Peter Parker: Spider-Man in 2002. Not to mention the myriad of other appearances of Peter through the ages. Honestly though, there are few characters Wells hasn’t touched. Wells kept his sense of humor and gained decades of experience. It was nice of him to take some time away from the She-Hulk show on Disney+ to write for the web-heads again.
Gleason knocks it out of the park as always. He nails the emotion in the faces of every character as they go through hell. The little details, like Peter and MJ’s reflections in the doctor’s glasses, warrant rereads just to slow down and absorb the craft. Marcio Menyz colors a bright world, but it always carries the emotion. In lesser hands, colorful might mean cartoonish. Here, Menyz uses color to pull the reader in without compromising any shades.
Verdict: Buy! These new issues serve as the perfect jumping on points. Wells uses the previous stories as spring boards without dwelling on them. As a result, any reader can hop on and follow. And have one heck of a time.