Spoilers for Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #3!
Comics characters in a shared universe typically don’t stay dead for very long, which is why Ben Reilly is such an oddity in comics today. The hero first died in the infamous late ’90s Spider-Man event known as the Clone Saga and has stayed dead up until issue #3 of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. Reilly is a clone of Peter Parker who even thought Peter Parker was a clone up until his sudden death! The character’s long convoluted history was only made more obtuse by the recent retcon of the character introduced in the event mini-series.
A previous rumor has now been confirmed and Marvel has finally announced that Peter David (Spider-Man 2099) and artist Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-Man) have their work cut out for them in trying to sort out the history of the character while crafting an accessible narrative in a brand new ongoing announced via CBR as Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1 debuting in April. Thankfully in his interview with CBR, David began to explain plans to really dig into the fractured psyche of Ben Reilly following the events of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy which concludes in March;
He is trying to decide what to do with his Jackal personality, and he is literally being haunted by his earlier incarnations. He has his Scarlet Spider identity on one shoulder, urging him to follow his better angels, and the Jackal on the other hand, trying to get him to return to the path that led him to disaster. He’s trapped in the middle, endeavoring to balance the two. Of all the characters I’ve written who are having identity problems — and God knows, I’ve done a few — Ben is easily the most unhinged.
I like that line in particular “Ben is easily the most unhinged.” In addition to returning to life, Reilly was at the center of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy as the series big villain, trying to use a brand new formula to bring dead Spider-Man supporting cast members to life. David not only has to tackle a convoluted hero, but find a way to redeem a misguided character back to the the side of the better angels as he wrote above. While Reilly’s intentions may not have ultimately been truly malicious as villain, the means in which he brought previously dead characters back to life has caused irreparable harm and grief. David also teased additional cast members;
Oh, yes, Kaine Parker has a major place in this comic. Kaine is not going to believe that Ben is really dead, and he feels that it’s up to him to be the one to track him down. He’s on the hunt, right from issue #1.
Cassandra Mercury. She is the premiere administrator of blackmail in the Marvel Universe. She has something on literally everyone, which gives her tremendous power. The one thing she doesn’t have is a daughter. Something happened to her daughter and Ben (as the Jackal) was involved. This leads her to come gunning for Ben to settle the score. She has a top aide, a gentleman named Slate who is something of a badass on his own. Then there’s Ben’s attempts to recreate a life for himself that’s based on Peter’s life, which is where he acquires Aunt June, a rather formidable senior citizen who neither knows nor cares about him.
He also had one last thought;
I want this book to be a hit as much as you do. So everyone buy the damned thing.
According to CBR John Dell and Jason Keith worked on the above cover, the outlet also had concept art from Bagley who redesigned the classic costume.