Nick Spencer’s brilliant run on Amazing Spider-Man has come to a close. To bridge the gap leading up to Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr’s time on the title, Marvel have brought back a fan-favourite character to hold the fort along with a very talented batch of writers and artists. Ben Reilly — the clone of Spider-Man — is back! He’s been through hell, but now with the support of a major corporation, Ben is thwipping once again and being the best Spider-Man he can be. And what does Peter think? Well, he’s just been through the Sinister War and he’s exhausted! But even if Peter is against Ben’s return to the limelight, does he have a choice?
Despite coming from a rather controversial period in Spider-Man history, Ben Reilly has always had a strong following amongst fans who grew up in the nineties. For many years, they begged Marvel to bring him back in some form which lead to his eventual return in 2016. Although he has been following a more morally ambiguous path since then, this new story arc sees him returning to a more heroic role – albeit being funded and supported by a morally dubious corporation. The Beyond Corporation – that is best known for their antics in the cult-favourite superhero satire series Nextwave – help provide a very different take on Spider-Man whose first priority is to his corporate backers.
In addition to Beyond’s participation, we also have several elements from Ben Reilly’s time as both The Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man making comebacks. Most notably of these is Janine Godbe – Ben Reilly’s love interest – who has not been seen since the mid-nineties and adds another layer to Ben’s character as he tries to become closer to who he used to be after spending considerable time as a more ruthless anti-hero. This isn’t easy though, as whilst Janine may no longer be in prison, she is still under tight security at Beyond HQ and being reunited with Ben isn’t enough to quell her uneasiness.
Peter Parker meanwhile takes a back seat in most of this volume, having been taken out early after being exposed to high levels of radiation. We do however see the strength of the bond he has with Mary Jane and Aunt May as whilst watching over him, they fight tooth and nail to see he gets the best treatment necessary. The supporting cast has always been one of the strongest parts of Spider-Man and it’s encouraging to see that this group of writers understand that. Zeb Wells obviously has years of experience working on Spider-Man and Kelly Thompson has demonstrated her skill on the Mary Jane solo series, so all characters are on point. There is also a strong art team on board with experienced Spider-Man artists Pat Gleason and Sara Pichelli demonstrating why they’re two of the most in-demand creators working in comics today.
This is a perfect return to form for Ben Reilly and a promising sign for things to come. Fans who grew up reading Spider-Man in the nineties will feel right at home in this fun throwback to an interesting era of comics history.
Amazing Spider-Man: Beyond Vol. 1 is out now from Marvel (9781302932114, p/b, £14.99)
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