Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 Review

Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Art: David Baldeon and Israel Silva
Letterer:  VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 19th, 2022

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 continues Ben Reilly’s story, as he tries to build a new life while facing demons both internal and external, including a desperate battle with a vicious villain from Spidey’s Rogues Gallery!  All this and Ravencroft too!

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Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 Review

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 begins with a chance encounter with none other than J. Jonah Jameson, which leads to a comical exchange and Jameson getting quite a shock.
Despite the joy of taking Jameson down a peg, Ben feels he has no direction in his life, so the story becomes about him wrestling between wanting to live solo or accepting other people in his life.

The fact that Ben, who’s the real Peter Parker where the current Peter Parker is a clone, has lost out on so many things casts a sadness over the book, which reminds me of the original Stan Lee Spider-Man issues, where Peter was facing his own struggles with finding his place in the world.

I’ve always liked Ben Reilly more than Peter Parker.  Because of his experiences, he’s more edgy and less light-hearted than Peter.  J.M. Dematteis writes him as quick-tempered, but able to control himself and show compassion before he totally loses control.  And there are no awful jokes during battles!
A few years ago, when Doctor Octopus became Spider-Man, I loved those issues, where Peter Parker’s awful jokes were replaced with good old Dr. Octavius telling crooks and super-villains how utterly stupid they and their ancestors are, then telling the police officers that showed up how much THEY sucked too.  I loved every condescending minute of it.  Ben doesn’t reach those lofty standards, he just dives in throwing punches without much dialogue, but it’s still a welcome change.

Ravencroft looms over the book.   Ravencroft seems to have become the Marvel equivalent of DC’s Arkham Asylum, where mentally unstable villains are treated.  But putting all these villains in one place seems as bad of an idea here as it does at DC.  I just don’t see the logic of putting all these menaces together, which will inevitably lead to one or more of them breaking out and causing havoc again.
We spend time with supporting characters in the book like Dr. Ashley Kafka, a doctor at Ravencroft, and John Diaz, a customer at the Daily Grind, the coffee shop where Ben works.   Dr. Kafka seems to be a genuinely good person who wants to help Ben, so I’m predicting she’ll appear frequently in the book.

This is the first part of a 5-part story, and I’m not sure where the story is headed.  If not for a last page surprise ending, this could have been a self-contained issue, and I wish it had been.  Hopefully some depth and complexity will be added to the plot next issue, because the seems pretty threadbare right now.

The Art

David Baldeon’s art in Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 is detailed and colorful, especially in those scenes where Ben is swinging across New York City, and in the coffee shop where Ben works. The action scenes are drawn in a way that makes the fighting frenetic and fast-paced, and I look forward to seeing how he depicts battles in future issues.

Final Thoughts

Ben Reilly Spider-Man #1 is a slow start to a 5-part story.  It gives brief insights into Ben’s current situation, introduces a mystery and sets up a conflict with another villain for next issue, which hopefully will expand the story to make it more epic than it appears here.


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