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Old 10-27-2011, 12:57 PM   #1
ben_reilly_s_s
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Default The Life of Reilly (collected)

The Life of Reilly was created by Andrew Goletz with the help of Glenn Greenburg.
The Life of Reilly is an in-depth analysis of the Spider-Man Clone Saga.

I have decided to collect it here in full because it seems to have been discontinued. There has not been any news about it since last December (2010).

PART 0 - Introduction:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
An Introduction and Update
The Life of Reilly was a 35 part column written by myself and former Editor/Writer, Glenn Greenberg. A number of different websites hosted the column, beginning with Comic Book Galaxy and more recently, New Comic Reviews. In an effort to keep the original archives intact, I've relocated the entire column to this area.

There are no bells or whistles. Just me and Glenn and a few special guests along the way. The 35 chapters below are copied from the original files, complete with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

If you haven't heard yet, I'm in the process of updating those old columns (fixing those darn spelling mistakes) and adding even more content with the goal of turning it all into a book. A book that will be a complete look behind the scenes at one of the most controversial comic stories of all time.

Mark Bagley, Tom Brevoort, Bob Budiansky, Gerry Conway, JM DeMatteis, Todd Dezago, Eric Fein, Terry Kavanagh, Howard Mackie, and Fabian Nicieza are a few of the key players in this storyline that have come on board to help me produce the definitive version of The Life of Reilly.

You can find out the latest updates on the book at The Haven blog where every week or two I post 'The Hype of Reilly', a behind the scenes look at the road to getting the book put out.

Check it out and watch the adventure continue to unfold.

http://grayhavenzine.blogspot.com/
Part 1:
Quote:
The objectives of this 35 part (yes, 35 part) series:

First and foremost, I want to provide an accurate look back on an important moment in Spider-Man continuity that some newer fans may not be fully aware of.

I also want to do an analysis of the books detailing what might have gone wrong and how it possibly could have been prevented

We want to determine the popularity of Ben Reilly today and whether the character is viable in the current Marvel Universe. Does he deserve to come back to the books in some capacity?

We'll provide a solution to the problems left by the clone saga. No matter what side of the fence readers were on, half of them were disappointed at any given time and half of them are still disappointed today. We'll fix that by the time this is over.
Unlike a typical review, 'The Life of Reilly' is going to examine this storyline DVD style. We're going to review it. We're going to provide extras like media buzz, fan reaction (including coverage of Ben Reilly fan sites) and a running commentary by the people behind the front lines of this event. Along the way, we hope to get feedback from the people who wrote the stories and decided the fate of the clone. Former Marvel writer and editor extraordinaire Glenn Greenberg, will be joining me for each chapter to provide commentary on what was going on from the insider's perspective.

The Back Story

In The Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975), The Jackal, one of Spider-Man's arch rivals, reveals that he has created a clone of Peter Parker. The clone, also outfitted in a Spider-Man costume, battles the real Spider-Man until the two decide they're on the same side. The partnership is short lived. An explosion seemingly kills one of the two and the other throws the body into a smokestack where no one will ever be able to find a body of Peter Parker. In the very next issue, the living Parker questions whether or not he is the real Parker.

Because he has feelings for Mary Jane, which began to develop during a period in which the clone had already been created, the living Parker decides that this is proof that he is the real Peter Parker. A clone wouldn't have the strong feelings for Mary Jane that the real one just developed. End of story? No.

The clone story was brought up again in a flighty issue of What If in 1981. In that issue (#30), the clone lives and eventually re-establishes himself into Peter Parker's life. See the latest 'Gray Area' for a review of this issue. The story was light hearted and fun. Apparently its point was to show that there wasn't room for two Peter Parkers in the world because the agreement they reach is downright silly. End of story? No.

In the early 90s, Spider-Man's world started to turn darker. His best friend (and son of his greatest enemy), Harry Osborn, had died after trying to kill Peter. Peter's long dead parents returned, and just as he began to accept them into his life again, they were revealed to be life model decoys created by the Chameleon and The Green Goblin (Harry Osborn). Harry had put this incredible plan in motion before his death and even left a posthumous 'gotcha' message for Peter. This latest revelation sent him over the edge with rage. Slowly, Peter Parker began to sink into his Spider-Man persona. He went so far as to start separating his personality from Peter Parker and thinking of himself as the Spider. People were losing interest in the character. Something needed to be done.

In early 1994, Aunt May suffered a major health setback and fell into a coma. Mary Jane and Peter's relationship has strained to the point where she needed time to get away. Peter was spending more time as Spider-Man and Spider-Man had become darker, more violent. And a few panels at a time, in each issue, a mysterious stranger was revealed to be heading back into Peter's life. As months went on, clues to the stranger's identity were revealed, and his objective defined. He had heard about May's health and needed to see her before she died.

The Return of the Clone

In The Spectacular Spider-Man #216 (Sept 1994), written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema, Spider-Man has been accused of attacking an innocent man during a fit of rage. He has a zero tolerance policy of criminals. When he notices Mac Gargan (the Scorpion) in the hospital where Aunt May is staying, Spider-Man tracks him to the sewers. He wants answers. He believes Gargan had Spider-Man framed for the attack on that 'innocent' man. He proceeds to beat the hell out of Gargan, almost killing him before some slime creature stops him.

Time passes and we cut across town to Peter Parker at the hospital, checking on his poor Aunt. As he's talking to her, a nurse points out the window. Peter looks and sees Spider-Man swinging by. He runs to the roof, not wanting to get into an altercation, but runs right into Spider-Man. Newer readers are left scratching their heads. Older readers know...the clone is back.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I wasn't as involved with the Spidey books at this point as I would later be. But, I can tell you this: The Spider-office was being very hush-hush about the whole thing, they wouldn't let ANYONE -- not even fellow Marvel editors -- know who the "mystery man" was who had been making appearances in the books for several months, and who had been calling Aunt May on the phone. Everyone connected to it was sworn to secrecy, and they took this code of silence very seriously. The only reason why I was privy to the mystery man's identity at that time was because I was really good friends with the Spider-Man assistant editor at the time, Mark Bernardo (who remains one of my closest friends to this day), and he trusted me enough to know that I wouldn't go around blabbing about it. I remember we were walking down the street one day in Manhattan, right near the Fashion Institute of Technology building, and, after pressing Mark for a while about the "big, secret plans" he was involved with, he finally broke down and revealed to me that the clone was coming back.

Well, my reaction, to be honest, was one of absolute dismay. I thought it was a terrible idea. My feeling was that the clone story was best left in the past. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed those original stories and found the ending very touching and poignant, and I thought the Jackal was a hoot, but I felt that dredging up all that stuff again was a mistake. Mark calmly replied, "Give it a chance. You don't know all the plans we have lined up, and I think once you approach it with an open mind, you'll see that it can work." I was REALLY dubious, but I shrugged and told him that it would take a LOT to convince me. But I indeed kept my mouth shut, I didn't tell ANYONE, and I think it's safe to say that I was one of the first people outside of the Spider-Man office to know that this was going to happen.]


The first major storyline dealing with the clone was the four-part "Power and Responsibility," which ran through all four core books during the month of October. The 4 comics were flip-books, with the other side detailing the 'Birth of a Spider-Man' written by JM DeMatteis and illustrated by Liam Sharp and Robin Riggs. It provided readers with a little more history about the genesis of the clone back from Amazing #149.

The birth of a Spider-Man not only reminded readers about the events of the original clone saga, but also expanded on the story and offered some explanation of what the clone was doing all these years. After the explosion, the clone woke up where Peter had left him, but walked away instead of being incinerated. He was scared. Confused. He wanted to go see Aunt May and be comforted. Loved. Like he remembered as a child. He decided to stop by his apartment to take a quick shower. As he got to the window he saw Mary Jane and Peter Parker in an embrace. He assumed the clone had tried to take over his life while he was unconscious, but soon realized it was a far more serious situation. An 'explosion' went off in his mind. He realized the truth. He was the clone. It's a powerful page. He threw a tantrum. He cried. He prayed. The rain poured down on the clone. He realized that he was just a copy. His friends. His family. He'd have to leave them all. He sank to his knees and mourned the loss of his very identity.

Power and Responsibility #1 ran in Web of Spider-Man #117 written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. It continues immediately after the events of Spec 216. The clone and Spider-Man face off. Spider-Man immediately thinks this is another trick by one of his enemies and goes into a rage again. The clone, not wanting to fight and rusty with his powers, is soundly beaten. While this is going on, Dr. Judas Traveller and his 'students' enter Ravencroft Hospital for the criminally insane. Traveller, a new character, is fascinated with the nature of evil, which the residents of the hospital hope to analyze. Traveller goes to the various rooms, meets with several villains and finds a similarity: they all have a serious hatred for Spider-Man. He decides to take control of Ravencroft for his own purposes.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Since I was not yet really involved with the Spider-Man books at that point, the only thing I can really add is that no one -- not the writers, not the editors -- seemed to know who or what the hell Judas Traveller was. He was seemingly this immensely powerful, quasi-mystical being with amazing abilities, but what was the real deal with him? As I recall, J.M. DeMatteis really enjoyed writing him and had future plans for him.

But to be honest, a character like Traveller didn't really fit into Spider-Man's world. I think most people would agree with me that Spider-Man should be in more realistic, down-to-earth stories, and a character like Traveller doesn't really work there unless it turns out that he's just casting illusions -- sort of like Mysterio. But at that time, I know that as far as the writers were concerned, Traveller was indeed as powerful and as quasi-mystical as he appeared to be.]


The clone gets away during the fight with Spider-Man and before Spidey can go after him, a challenge is issued by Traveller. He will kill all the inmates of Ravencroft unless Spider-Man stops him, but if Traveller is defeated, the inmates will go free. It's a no win situation that Spider-Man must face and so he goes off to Ravencroft and enters.

P&R 2 takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #394, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. The issue opens with the clone on a roof, looking at the city he remembers as home. Back in Ravencroft, Spider-Man begins to face his old incarcerated enemies: Chameleon, Carnage; each of them confused, dealing with their own inner anger. It's a cracked mirror view of Spider-Man himself. He finally confronts Traveller face to face and it's a lopsided battle. The mysterious Traveller delves into Spider-Man's mind and as he rants about the truths that even Spider-Man himself is unaware of, Traveller begins to howl in laughter. This is the first clue that there may be something more to this story than just a fight between Spider-Man and his clone. Spider-Man strikes back, fighting with all his might, but succumbs to his own madness. He is broken, but Traveller informs his mysterious ally Scrier that there is another one.

The clone, after spending time in the hospital with May, is given a choice by Traveller. He can let Spider-Man die and have the life and identity he's always dreamed of, or he can risk his own life to try and save the one person whose death would free his own existence.

The issue is also notable for the fact that Mary Jane has decided to return home to try and make things right with Peter and the clone has a touching moment with Aunt May in the hospital. He may be a clone, but his feelings for May are very real.

P&R 3 takes place in Spider-Man #51, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna. The issue opens with the clone still in the hospital with May, trying to talk out the ultimatum laid before him by Traveller. He reveals that he has a name: Ben Reilly. Ben, after the memory of Uncle Ben and Reilly after Aunt May's maiden name. Ben realizes that there was never any choice. He is Peter Parker, clone or not. And he needs to try and save him. He leaves May with a final thought: 'the memories I have of you...have made my life seem real'. He puts on a spare mask, gloves and web shooters and swings towards Peter in a makeshift costume complete with jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket.

Spider-Man sinks to the brink of madness, dealing with all the villains and problems of his life in his subconscious until once again, he realizes that with great power must come great responsibility. Ben realizes the same thing at the same time. It's a thought he hasn't had in some time. Ben and Peter fight their respective battles. Coincidentally, they both have their masks torn: Ben for real, Peter during his brush with madness. The symbolism of the removal of the mask and showing of the true face could prove to be another clue for readers. The issue ends with Ben coming to Peter's rescue before Traveller can do more damage.

The conclusion of Power and Responsibility happens in Spectacular Spider-Man #217, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema. Traveller is intrigued by Ben and Peter. He's fascinated that one has a life he wants to abandon; a life the other would jump at the chance to live. He puts the two Spider-Men in a new location, and waits for the outcome. Peter thinks Ben is another of Traveller's attempts to drive him crazy and they fight. Ben echoes the sentiments of Spider fans in saying 'you've changed, Parker. You used to have a sense of humor. What happened? Why are you so angry?' Peter tells him to not call him 'Parker', he is Spider-Man. Before they can continue the fight, the inmates of Ravencroft are released and the Spider-Men must put aside their differences to deal with the outbreak.

While Ben tries to contain the prisoners, Peter lashes out at them and punishes them with devastating blows. Ben can't take it and stops Peter before he goes completely over the edge. Slowly but surely, Peter begins to come to his senses and realize how close to losing himself he's getting. Ben and Peter team up again, this time against a villain that only Ben knows. Apparently, Ben has played hero on occasion during his time in exile. Their next test occurs when the deadly psychopath, Carnage attacks. Ben and Peter work as a perfect team, hitting Carnage with everything they have until he lies defeated.

Traveller and his team attempt to escape and Ben goes after them, following them into a limo that turns out to have nothing in it but a bomb that explodes. Traveller has gotten away and Ben is believed to be dead, but no body was discovered. Peter doesn't want to deal with it at that point and chooses to leave for now. Elsewhere, Ben Reilly walks the street, alone in thought, trying to determine whether to stay or return to exile.

Several important moments occur in this issue. Mary Jane gets sick during her flight back to NYC, which gives us a clue as to a possible major direction in her and Peter's life. We discover that Ben may have done some super-heroing while he wandered in search of himself for all those years. Partnering with Ben against Traveller and the inmates of Ravencroft, enables Peter to come back to reality, as it were. While Peter Parker has had several traumatic events causing him to go over the edge, Ben still has the carefree, snappy attitude that first attracted people to the character of Spider-Man. We're also given another clue regarding the possible purpose of the clone's return. Traveller tells his team 'the TRUE Spider-Man appears to be a decent and noble individual...and his genetic duplicate is also intriguing.' The wording is very important here.

The Power and Responsibility storyline achieved several objectives. The clone was re-introduced to the Spider-Man universe. Mary Jane was coming back to her husband. Several new mystery villains were introduced. Peter slowly started to come back from the edge. Now, the books would branch out into two separate identities. Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man would deal with Peter Parker. Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man would focus on Ben Reilly. Clearly, the clone wasn't going away. Clearly, with the clues provided in the past 4 issues, there was more to the story than just complicating Peter's life with a copy of himself. Things were about to get very, very interesting.

__________________
My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 2:
Quote:
Immediately following the conclusion of the 4 part 'Power and Responsibility' that reintroduced Spider-Man's clone, gave him a name (Ben Reilly), and alluded to his mysterious past, the spider books split. Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man focused on the continuing adventures of Ben Reilly, while Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man focused on Peter Parker.

Since the focus of this feature is the evolution of Ben Reilly from clone to fully realized character, we're going to pay closer attention to the books he was featured in, but it would be unfair to ignore the books starring Peter Parker because they contained some important moments in Spider-Man lore.

The Peter Parker books began a 4 part story called 'Back From the Edge'. Amazing Spider-Man, written by JM DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, were chapters 1 and 3 (Issues #395 and 396). Spectacular Spider-Man, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago with Sal Buscema and Scott Hanna doing the art, were chapters 2 and 4 (Issues #218 and 219). This storyline wraps up Peter Parker's wrong turn into the darker side of super-heroics. Chapter one opens with Spider-Man paying a visit to the home he grew up in and confronting the ghosts of his past before claiming that it's Peter Parker's problem. Now, he is the mask. He is the Spider. If not for the fact that this was written by someone of DeMatteis' talent, these issues would have been a complete disaster. As it stands, it was just a bad idea.

After Spider-Man battles the Puma, an anti-hero with so much promise, but who never had the proper story to fit in with, he teams up with Daredevil, another character who went through changes at this time. Daredevil was given a cosmetic makeover in the form of one of the worst costumes of all time. Spider-Man seeks him out because they've built a friendship over the years and Peter is realizing that he needs to snap out of this darkness he's wrapped himself in. Since at this point, Daredevil has 'killed' his alter ego of Matt Murdock, they have the obligatory confrontation. Daredevil then offers this piece of advice for Spider-Man: 'kill Peter Parker. Now. Bury him deep in the ground and forget he ever existed.' Sort of how some people felt about Daredevil's new storyline and Ben Reilly. Spider-Man and Daredevil team up to battle the Owl and the de-aged Vulture (two of the less interesting villains in the Marvel U) and chapter 3 concludes with Spider-Man lying unconscious after being poisoned. In the conclusion of 'Back from the Edge', the two heroes search for the bad guys in the hopes that they'll be able to get an antidote to the poison coursing through Spider-Man's system. Coming so close to death snaps Peter back into reality, causing him to realize how much he does want to live. Unfortunately, we discover that the antidote they retrieve is a fake. Peter is dying.

Readers are left to wonder if this is the purpose of the clone's return? Is Peter going to die and be replaced by a fake? A copy? Comic readers are a cynical bunch and no one believed that this could possibly happen, but it was becoming apparent that something was happening.

Back in the Ben Reilly books, 'The Exile Returns' story begins and carries through Web of Spider-Man, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randly Emberlin. Web contains parts 1 and 3 of the story (Issues #118 and 119). Spider-Man, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna, are parts 2 and 4 (Issues # 52 and 53). Web of Spider-Man 118 opens with Ben still trying to decide whether to return to exile or stay in town. After witnessing a crime and seeing the police capture the suspect, Ben knows that he won't be able to deny his responsibilities for long. He tries to pay a visit to Aunt May in the hospital, but old flame Betty Brant is there, which makes Ben think about just how much he's missed all these years. The trip down memory lane continues with Ben going to the warehouse where Spider-Man was born. The warehouse where Spider-Man confronted the burglar who killed Uncle Ben after Spider-Man couldn't be bothered to catch the criminal when he had the chance. Ben next arrives at the Brooklyn Bridge, where the love of his and Peter's life died at the hands of the Green Goblin. He notices a woman ready to jump, so he snaps on the web-shooters and swings to rescue her.

After taking the woman to the hospital, Ben realizes that the city is a trap, filled with problems and victims that cry for a hero. He overhears an update about Venom and wonders why Peter never put a stop to him, unaware of the pact that Venom and Spider-Man made years ago. We return to the apartment where Ben's staying, and where he's putting on a costume. If he is to try and make a difference by taking up the role of vigilante again, he needs to protect Peter Parker's identity. He also can't keep away from the Spider-motif and puts a sleeveless sweatshirt emblazed with a spider on it over a red spandex suit.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I remember seeing the sketches of the Scarlet Spider, hearing the name, and just shaking my head and rolling my eyes. I thought it was really cheesy, and that the fans would feel the same way. I remember several of the other non-Spider-Man editors greeting the Scarlet Spider with scorn, as well. But Mark Bernardo explained to me that the costume was SUPPOSED to look cheesy, that it was something Ben Reilly pretty much threw together in a hurry, out of necessity. Hearing that, I figured that if it was intentionally cheesy, for story purposes, it might actually work. (Although why Ben continued to run around in a cheesy, thrown-together, makeshift outfit after he decided to become the Scarlet Spider on a regular basis remains a mystery to me.)]

Although he wouldn't get his 'name' until the next issue, Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider was born here and Spider-Man's deadliest foe, Venom, would be his first target. Venom used to be one of the best villains in comics. Eventually, Spider-Man made a deal with him which basically was 'don't mess with me and I won't mess with you'. Not only did this take a weight off Peter Parker's back, but it allowed creators to turn Venom into a new anti-hero. It was a horrible idea. Thankfully, Ben Reilly's appearance enabled the creators to make Venom the bad guy once again. Ben didn't understand how Peter could let this maniac walk free and was determined to take him down.

Their battle lasted throughout the 'Exile Returns' story. At first, Venom took out the Scarlet Spider rather easily, giving him a slice to the gut, which took our hero out of commission for awhile. This caused Ben to go back to the drawing board and use his intelligence to develop some new weapons in his arsenal. For all of Peter Parker's brilliance, the biggest and most recent update in his costume to this point was developing an indicator light warning him when he was running low on web fluid. Ben Reilly created impact webbing, which would expand and envelop the target immediately and stingers, which were dart like objects to disable the opponent.

The Scarlet Spider faced off against Venom again in Spider-Man #53. It was a hard fought battle in which Scarlet Spider pulled out all the stops. And though he ended up collapsing himself, Scarlet Spider ended up victorious over Venom. After his battle, with Venom now captured, Scarlet Spider took to the rooftops to enjoy his victory and began to contemplate starting a life for himself with the belief that nothing could stand in his way.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: The story of Ben's victory over Venom was very important. It was specifically designed to show how cool a character Ben is, to get the readers to be impressed with him and really root for him. The point had to be made that he could go toe to toe with one of Peter's most dangerous enemies and not only hold his own, but also have a decisive victory. This was crucial, absolutely necessary to the development of his character, especially in light of the direction in which he was ultimately going to go.

I thought it was a nice touch to have Ben harshly criticize Peter's pact with Venom. It showed that Ben was more like the Peter Parker we knew, loved and remembered than Peter was being at that time. This was actually intended to be a foreshadowing of the direction in which things were going to go. I always hated the pact between Peter and Venom, I thought it was so out of character for Peter to make such a deal with a villain as obviously crazy and dangerous as Venom, and it was especially interesting to hear Ben voicing my own opinion. It was good to see this used as a way to show a major difference between Peter and Ben, and to perhaps imply that all was not right with Peter, that maybe Ben was the preferable choice between the two. It was clever to use Peter's pact with Venom in this way.]


This storyline was important for many reasons. It was the first time Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider was in action and he took out a villain that even Spider-Man had problems beating. He showed the determination and drive of a true hero and he used his head to come up with some very cool new offensive devices to help him in his battle against Venom.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: The thing that should be pointed out, though, is that when Peter first made the pact with Venom (I believe it was in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #375), the clone saga had not yet even been conceived, so it's not like this pact was an intentional part of a future story plan, or to drop a hint that maybe all was not right with Peter. The truth of the matter is that Peter was simply written way out of character in that Venom story, and the clone saga writers were able to later pick up on it, acknowledge it, and use it to their advantage.]

In Web of Spider-Man #119, readers are given their first glimpse of the man called Kaine, who would come to play an extremely important role in this storyline. He is shown as a very capable assassin with a particular interest in Scarlet Spider. He disposes of his enemies by a strange method, which results in the scarring of their faces.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I also remember that there were big plans in store for Kaine. The Spider-Man team was really excited about the prospects for this character. I didn't know who he really was at this point - even Mark wouldn't tell me at first. I think he wanted me to read the stories as they came out so that he could see my natural, unprepared reaction when Kaine's identity was finally revealed. Although, if memory serves, I finally dragged the secret out of ol' Bernardo one night after work, probably over drinks.]

Spider-Man #53 gives us some more clues regarding Kaine as he watches the Scarlet Spider/Venom battle from the shadows. He appears to know Ben Reilly very well, but believes that he must be patient before making his next move. This issue also introduces readers to Detective Jacob Raven of Salt Lake City, Utah, who is on the hunt for a killer that's eluded him for 2 years, a killer who has recently shown up in New York City leaving his victims with strange markings on their faces.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: There were a LOT of "shadowy mystery men" coming to the fore in the Spider-Man books at this point. First was Ben, then Kaine, then Jacob Raven. And, of course, Traveller and his followers can be included, too. It would grow to become sort of monotonous after a while, but at that point, I liked the tantalizing clues about what happened during Ben's time in exile. It showed that the character had his own history, and was really off DOING stuff over those long years.]

**********

And now a few words with current magazine Editor and former Assistant Spider-Man Editor at the time the Clone Saga was conceived, Mark Bernardo.

Andrew: Who proposed bringing the clone back and how long did it take to agree on this? Any dissenting opinion?

Mark: Now the truth can be told: the first person to bring up the idea of bringing back the Spider-clone, and having him be revealed as the original, was former WEB OF SPIDER-MAN writer Terry Kavanagh. The subject was broached at my first Spider-Man story conference back in '93. I was the new assistant editor, and we'd just finished the somewhat unsatisfying "Return of the Parents" storyline, and the marching orders we were given by upper management was to come up with something similar in scope to DC's "Death of Superman" storyline, which at the time was breaking sales records left and right. Thus, no outrageous idea was out of bounds. Terry was cajoled into blurting out his clone idea, which first met with groans and indifference, until someone (to my recollection, J.M. DeMatteis) suddenly realized the radical possibilities of such a storyline. Soon, all of our freelance writers were getting excited about the idea, while the editorial staff (myself, Danny Fingeroth, Eric Fein, Mark Powers) were still not quite convinced. The whole idea was almost instantly shot down the next day by Tom DeFalco, then Editor in Chief, until he too started getting excited about it from a writer's standpoint. That's how Tom ended up writing SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and Tom is also the man who sealed the deal on the Clone Saga. The whole storyline was planned to end in AMAZING #400. As we all know, it didn't quite work out that way.

Andrew: Were there any creators who absolutely loved the idea or was it just another assignment?


Mark: All the creators were into the idea initially, especially the writers. Later on, after the storyline had outlived its original planned length, it was different. But that's a story for future chapters...

Andrew: Who developed the Scarlet Spider alter ego/costume?


Mark: It's funny - the Scarlet Spider name was initially meant to be a running joke. I forget who actually came up with the name, but the point was that Ben Reilly, a serious guy who had no use for super-heroics, was tagged with this moniker by Daily Bugle reporter Ken Ellis, and he HATED it. Every time he saw his name in the Daily Bugle as the Scarlet Spider, he'd cringe. We certainly never thought the name would catch on, or that we'd need a logo for it, or anything like that! The costume (the one out of dozens that we ended up going with) was designed by Tom Lyle, who was then SPIDER-MAN penciler. The "Ben Reilly" alias came out of an editorial meeting. I'm not sure who's directly to credit.

Andrew: Was the story intended to last as long as it did?


Mark: Emphatically, no. The whole arc was supposed to end in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400, and leave "Ben Reilly" as the one and only "original Peter Parker" and forge a new beginning. Ironically, the whole storyline, which was supposed to simplify Spider-Man's mythos and ultimately bring him "back to basics" ended up complicating everything beyond what anyone imagined!

__________________
My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
My 3DS friend code: 2492-4192-0317
My XboX GamerTag: KaineKinetic

Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 3:
Quote:
This is where it gets even better. While the Spider-Titles are still split into the Ben Reilly books and the Peter Parker books, the mysterious Kaine plays a major role in all 4 titles, bringing a stronger sense of continuity between the books. Spider-Man is dying and his only hope is Doctor Octopus. Meanwhile, his wife Mary Jane has a stunning announcement that will change their lives forever. The Scarlet Spider/Ben Reilly is just starting to get used to having a life again. Picking up the pieces of his shattered existence, Ben begins to date, settle down and re-acclimate himself to the role of being a hero.

[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Around the time of "Web of Life" and "Web of Death," Marvel was split into five groups by the "geniuses" who were running the company (into the ground) at that point. Tom DeFalco was suddenly out as Editor in Chief (a status quo change that many of us at the company would greatly regret in the months and years to come). There were now five EICs, each heading up their own line of books. There was the X-Men Group (EIC: Bob Harras), the Marvel Heroes Group (EIC: Mark Gruenwald), the Marvel Edge Group (EIC: Bobbie Chase), the Licensed Titles/Marvel Alterniverse Group (EIC: Carl Potts), and the Spider-Man Group, now overseen by Bob Budiansky. Longtime Spider-Man editor Danny Fingeroth was still on board as Spider-Man Group Editor, and the clone saga was already well underway. As a result of these departmental changes, Tom Brevoort and I were phased in to the Spider-Man Group. Tom was a full editor, and I had been his assistant for about a year or two by this point. We were to produce special Spider-Man projects in addition to monthly titles like NEW WARRIORS, which we had just inherited from another editor.]

We'll take the Spider-Man titles first, which ran the "Web of Death" story in these titles: Amazing Spider-Man #397 and 398, chapters 1 and 3 of Web of Death, written by JM DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. Spectacular Spider-Man #220 and 221, chapters 2 and 4 of Web of Death, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz.

"Web of Death" begins with Kaine observing Spider-Man out on patrol. It seems as if Kaine has as much of an interest in Spider-Man as he does the Scarlet Spider. Spidey is still feeling the effects of his poisoning by the Vulture during the "Back from the Edge" storyline. He's dying and he doesn't know what to do. If that weren't enough to deal with, he's starting to have memory flashes of himself in a containment chamber similar to what the clone was in as he was created. Before he can compose himself, Doc Ock appears, and after noticing that something is wrong with Spider-Man (mentally and physically), leaves him for the time being. The issue ends with Ock and Spider-Man facing off again, only to have Spider-Man unmasked.

Spectacular Spider-Man #220 is a monumental issue. As Doctor Octopus struggles to save the life of Spider-Man (Ock wants Spider-Man to die at his hands, not through a poisioning), Kaine continues his observation of those whose lives revolve around Spider-Man. While watching Mary Jane he thinks, "I truly wish I could guarantee your survival, alas I cannot." Peter and Mary Jane are reunited, finally. Peter realizes that Ock's cure didn't work and before he can let his wife know, she informs him that they're going to have a baby.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Mary Jane's pregnancy was Tom DeFalco's idea, and it came early in the planning stages for the clone saga. As Editor in Chief, Tom had approved the clone storyline in the first place, and shortly thereafter, at Spider-Man editor Danny Fingeroth's urging, he ended up as one of the regular Spider-Man writers. In this capacity, Tom proposed that a major, dramatic event that would help set up the saga's ultimate resolution would be Mary Jane becoming pregnant. It was a ballsy idea, and everyone was excited by it. And since Tom was still the ultimate authority at Marvel at that time, it was safe to say that the somewhat controversial idea would go through without a hitch.]

"Web of Death" part 3 picks up with Peter still feeling ill, but going to dinner with Mary Jane, and they have a chance encounter with Detective Raven. The dinner is interrupted again when Peter spots Doc Ock watching them. They battle until the Doc reveals that he found a cure for the poison. Peter takes the serum and starts to feel a little better, but then collapses and heads for the light. "Web of Death" part 4 promises that "one shall die." Normally, we wouldn't even think it could be Peter, but with the events of the past few months, anything was possible. After meeting deceased friends and relatives, Peter fights back, the serum kicks in and he is alive! As he tries to understand why Ock saved him, the police arrive. Stunner called them as per Ock's instructions so that Peter wouldn't feel pressured to bring him in. He wants Spider-Man in peak condition the next time they battle.

Peter returns home to Mary Jane, where they share some quiet, tender moments together. Meanwhile, Kaine attacks Ock en route to prison and they battle it out. Kaine explains that he harbors no antagonism or malice towards Doc Ock, but for reasons of his own, he must die. With that, Kaine kills Doctor Octopus.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I remember being in a meeting with Bob Budiansky, and it was explained to Tom and me that Doctor Octopus was going to be killed to show just how bad-ass Kaine was. This was going to be a really big deal, a dramatic high point, and Kaine was going to be a major player. (Make no mistake - Doc Ock's death was intended to be permanent. We clearly saw his dead body, remember?) Upon hearing about it, I was pretty skeptical. I'm not a big fan of killing off major villains, especially classic ones like Doctor Octopus, and I had serious doubts that a character of his stature and history could ever be suitably replaced by a new villain.

I clearly remember reading the issue where Doc Ock died. Tom DeFalco wrote the issue, but I got the feeling that he did it somewhat reluctantly. I don't think he particularly liked the idea of killing off Doc Ock, especially in the way that Ock was to be killed, and while the story was certainly very well-written, I just don't get the sense that Tom's heart was really in it. The fact that Tom later resurrected Doctor Octopus at the first opportunity would seem to back me up on this.]


The "Web of Death" storyline was loaded with excitement and intrigue. Mary Jane announces that she's pregnant while Peter fights for his life and is aided by his greatest enemy. Kaine starts to show that he has more than a passing interest in the life of Peter Parker and Ben Reilly and he also appears to be clairvoyant, warning of impending tragedy. I enjoyed this storyline because every issue compelled you to pick up the next. Part 1 ends with Spider-Man unmasked, part 2 reveals that Mary Jane and Peter will be having a baby, Part 3 shows Peter apparently dying and Part 4 ends with one of Spider-Man's oldest foes being killed by the mysterious Kaine.

Now onto Ben Reilly's books and the "Web of Life" story, which ran in these titles: Web of Spider-Man #120 and 121, chapters 1 and 3 of Web of Life, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. Spider-Man #54 and 55, chapters 2 and 4 of "Web of Life," written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna.

"Web of Life" picks up with the Scarlet Spider settling into the role of hero, finishing up a battle with Tombstone. Elsewhere, the newly introduced Grim Hunter (son of the late Kraven) is planning his revenge on Spider-Man. Kaine continues to study Scarlet Spider and we learn a lot more about what drives him. He notes that the Spiders will never be far from each other. It's written that all Kaine knows is tragedy "...of what has been...and what is to come," and we're shown a vision of Mary Jane running from something before being killed. Scarlet Spider pays a visit to his (or rather, Peter's) former love, Betty Brant. He wants to set the record straight with the press, and although both of them try to stay objective and focused, Ben can't help notice sparks between them. Shortly after Scarlet Spider leaves Betty, the Grim Hunter arrives, trailing his scent.

Part 2 opens with the Scarlet Spider breaking into the Daily Bugle to look for reporter Ken Ellis, the one who saddled him with the Scarlet Spider name in the first place. The cheesy name has been a running joke in the Ben Reilly titles so far, as the name aggravates Ben to no end. Scarlet Spider doesn't find Ellis, but he does have an encounter with J. Jonah Jameson for the first time. Ben is starting to get very comfortable with his place here, and the reunions with Betty and Jonah have left him wanting more.

The crucial scene in this issue occurs in the middle of the book. Spider-Man is shown lying unconscious from the Vulture's poisoning. Ben is asleep in his Bed and Kaine just watches. Ben and Peter share a similar dream. A dream of a laboratory and a birth, with glimpses of Professor Miles Warren and the Jackal. Kaine doubles over in pain. When Ben wakes up from the dream, he immediately calls an old friend, Seward Trainer, who apparently is Ben's only confidant. Ben worries that degeneration is starting and Seward tells him that he's on his way to New York.

The Scarlet Spider pays another visit to Betty Brant and they share an embrace but are interrupted by the Grim Hunter before it can lead to anything else. The Grim Hunter realizes that Scarlet Spider is not the same man he holds responsible for the death of his father and leaves. Detective Raven also teams up with members of the NYPD, announcing that the person he's looking for that left scars on his victims was responsible for the death of his partner.

Todd Dezago guest writes "Web of Life" part 3 in Web of Spider-Man #121, illustrated by Phil Gosier. We're shown Kaine busting up a robbery, but treating the victim just as badly as the crooks. Detective Raven also finds a match for the fingerprints they found on the scene of the crime and decides, with the help of New York Detective Connor Trevane, to pay a visit to the person with the matching prints.

Meanwhile, the Scarlet Spider rushes to Peter Parker's home, hoping to arrive before the Grim Hunter can harm him. He runs straight into Kaine. The battle is over before it begins. Scarlet Spider manages to get a shot in, but Kaine overpowers him. It's only a last minute chop to the sides of Kaine's head that prevents Scarlet Spider from having his neck broken.

Part 4 opens with Scarlet Spider trying to regain his strength as Kaine and the Grim Hunter face off. During the battle, Kaine's thoughts reveal that the Grim Hunter cannot be allowed to interfere with what he's tried to accomplish. "He must die. As must they all." Scarlet Spider returns home after not being able to find Peter or Mary Jane and he runs into Seward Trainer, his old friend.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Dr. Seward (pronounced SEA-ward) Trainer was named after Howard Mackie's father-in-law, and he was a pretty intriguing character. I liked Seward, I thought there was a lot of potential for characterization with him. Looking back, it's pretty ironic that I ended up writing the last word on him when the clone saga finally ended.]

Seward wants Ben to come to his lab and finish the tests they started some time back, but Ben warns that Kaine is back and he needs to go after him before he kills again. The Scarlet Spider tracks Kaine and Grim Hunter to Central Park, but in the midst of the scuffle, they get separated again. Kaine and Grim Hunter face off, but the battle is short lived, as is the Grim Hunter. Kaine "marks" him and he dies.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Kaine was slated to kill off some other Spider-Man villains, as well, to clear the decks a bit, make room for some new villains, and show Kaine really strutting his stuff. My understanding is that Howard Mackie offered up the Grim Hunter as Kaine's next victim. Howard had introduced the Grim Hunter only a short time earlier, with much accompanying hype and fireworks, but I presume that Howard realized fairly quickly that he really had no idea where to go with the character. So, he offered the Grim Hunter up as a sacrifice to the larger storyline, and the character was pretty much forgotten after that.]

The mysteries keep growing. What is the degeneration that Ben and Seward seem so worried about? Why is Kaine so protective of Spider-Man but intent on killing Ben Reilly? And how accurate are Kaine's visions of Mary Jane's death? Who killed Detective Raven's partner? The obvious answer would be Kaine, but if that were true, why make it a mystery? It appears that there's more to the story than is being told. Most importantly, why are Peter and Ben having the same dreams of being in a laboratory? What does it all mean? The Spider-titles are kicking into high gear for sure, making each issue a must read for any fan.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: As I mentioned before, there was a lot of talk about Kaine at this point, his future potential as a franchise character. There were discussions about possibly spinning him off eventually into his own title, the way Venom had been. But Tom Brevoort and I privately agreed that a character as brutal and murderous as Kaine had been portrayed up to that point could not easily be "rehabilitated" and suddenly made into a protagonist. Despite the initial sales success of Venom's solo book, it left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths that Venom was now being portrayed as something of a "good guy." Another irony - Tom and I would later end up editing the Venom series!]

You may wonder why "Web of Death" is the story for Spider-Man and "Web of Life" is the Scarlet Spider storyline, when each features the deaths of main characters. My opinion was that while the Spider-Books closed the story with the death of one of the legendary villains in the Spider-Man history, the Scarlet Spider books focused on Ben Reilly coming into his own as a hero and as a character. He reunited with Betty Brant and J. Jonah Jameson and started to feel the romance bug bite him. Readers were introduced to a good friend from Ben's past and the "Life" in the title refers to the character of Ben Reilly beginning starting to flesh out and become a separate person from Peter, not just a clone.

In the letters' column of the Spider-Books this month, fans start speculating on whether Ben Reilly could be the real Peter Parker. Marvel remains tight-lipped on the subject but offers a cryptic "anything can happen" answer. Time will tell.

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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 4:
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"Smoke and Mirrors" is the 3-part epic that brings up even more questions regarding Ben Reilly, Kaine and Peter Parker, and marks the return to the unity of the books as the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man meet for the first time.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: "Smoke and Mirrors" was an intriguing story, and I liked most of it, but it was this story that kicked off what would become an increasingly tiresome stream of clones, lies upon lies, fake-outs, and convoluted twists and turns.]

Web of Spider-Man #122, written by JM DeMatteis and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin, opens up the story with Ben and Peter both getting visions of the Jackal, the alter ego of Professor Miles Warren, who created the clone in the first place. The difference with Ben's vision is that the Jackal refers to him as "Peter."

The visions lead the Scarlet Spider on a chase deep into the woods, where he's confronted by a Jackal impersonator who claims that all the answers are behind a secret door that's being guarded by a monster called the Guardian, who bears a resemblance to Kaine. Scarlet Spider and the Guardian battle, leaving Scarlet Spider knocked unconscious while Kaine watches, waiting to make his move. Peter, meanwhile, is working on getting insurance for the baby and doesn't notice Detective Raven having a meeting with J. Jonah Jameson. He does notice the strong memory flashes again of awakening from a cryo-chamber. He puts on the webs and heads out in search of answers, trying to make sense of the memories he's having. While swinging between buildings, Spider-Man thinks "I should have no knowledge of those memories. No memory of it...unless...oh, god, please don't let it be 'unless.'" He then gets a vision of the Scarlet Spider, lying unconscious in the snow-covered mountains and knows he must try to save him.

Amazing Spider-Man #399, written by JM DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, is Part 2 of "Smoke and Mirrors." Kaine moves in closer to the unconscious Scarlet Spider and is confronted by Scrier, the mysterious figure from the "Power and Responsibility" storyline. Kaine is visibly shaken by his appearance and it appears that he has good reason. Scrier seems to know all about Kaine's relationship to Ben Reilly and lets him know that no one has anything to fear from him... yet.

When Spider-Man reaches Scarlet Spider (who's just waking up), it's a great moment. The banter between the two of them is refreshing and lighthearted, which is a far cry from the mood of Spider-Man in the last few years. The Scarlet Spider tells Spider-Man, "Thought I was dead, so you came to make sure?," to which Spider-Man replies, "Cheap shot...but not as cheap as that costume. How could my clone have such a lousy design scheme?" The pleasantries are cut short when the Jackal impersonator returns to taunt the Spiders. He leads them through the passage that was previously guarded and they enter a huge lab. The Guardian reappears, but is in immense pain. He blames the real Jackal for his problems before collapsing. The Jackal impersonator takes off his mask to reveal himself, and the Guardian, as failed clones as Peter Parker. A voice calls out that the impersonator shouldn't compare himself to Scarlet and Spidey because they are "the Jackal's greatest triumphs." With that, the Jackal steps out of a regeneration chamber, more powerful than ever. He reveals that the Jackal that died years ago was also a clone.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Bringing back the Jackal made sense to me. Since we were essentially doing a sequel to the original clone saga, and the Jackal set the whole thing in motion in the first place, why not bring him back? And it was certainly beneficial to have him around, so that he could explain the real deal about his clones. I mean, during "The Evolutionary War," Gerry Conway (who wrote the original clone saga and created the Jackal) came back to Marvel and went to great lengths to undo his own stories from years before, now establishing that Miles Warren had not really created clones after all. By the time Gerry was done, the High Evolutionary had gotten involved and explained what Warren was really up to - it was a clone virus that turned people into genetic duplicates of other people (don't ask). The whole shebang ended with the Gwen Stacy clone essentially gone from the continuity, having never been a genuine clone in the first place. The Jackal remained dead. Gerry even did a follow-up story to explain who the super-villain Carrion really was, since Carrion tied in to the original clone saga, as well. (The first Carrion claimed to be an imperfect clone of Miles Warren.) Jeez - are all of you still with me? Because I'm starting to get lost, and I was part of all this madness!
Anyway, Mark Bernardo and I were really pushing the writers and the editors to acknowledge - and find a way around - the "Evolutionary War" stuff. Mark and I felt that since "Evolutionary War" was only a few years old at that point, it would still be pretty fresh in the memories of the readers, and it couldn't just be ignored. None of the writers really wanted to deal with it because, admittedly, it was going to take a lot of time, work and energy to figure out a way around all of it. It would mean undoing a story that was specifically designed to undo another story. Who wants to get bogged down with all of that continuity minutiae when you've got other stuff you want to write about? But those stories were in print, and Mark and I firmly believed that they had to be addressed.

It ultimately fell to Howard Mackie to address the subject in his chapter of "Smoke and Mirrors." This was unfortunate for anyone who was looking for a satisfying explanation. With no offense intended to Howard, my observation is that he simply isn't much of a continuity person, he doesn't like to get bogged down in it. As a Spider-Man writer, whenever Howard has had to address past continuity in one of his stories, his approach has been to simply (and grudgingly) acknowledge the past event and then sweep it under the carpet as quickly as possible. It happened in "Smoke and Mirrors," and would happen again in later stories, as well. An entire annual, by another writer, would later have to be devoted to explaining away the "Evolutionary War" stuff, but that is another story (and one we'll get to in the coming weeks).]


The Jackal proceeds to taunt both Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider. He tells them about the degeneration that affects all clones at one point or another, some sooner than later. When Spider-Man asks if it means that Ben will die soon, Jackal informs him that he was referring to the both of them and asks what they would do if he were to inform them that they were both clones? Spider-Man snaps and when Scarlet Spider tries to calm him down, he becomes the target. Spider-Man then tells the Jackal to prove it, and Jackal complies by opening another containment chamber. Before it opens, the Jackal tells the Spiders he made a mistake and accidentally opened the wrong chamber. He opened the one containing the real Gwen Stacy.

Spider-Man #56, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna, wraps up 'Smoke and Mirrors'. In the past two issues, readers discovered that there have been other clones out there at one point or another, that the real Jackal is back, that neither Ben nor Peter may be the original Peter Parker, and that now Gwen Stacy could be alive. As Spider-Man goes off to talk with Gwen and figure out what's going on, Scarlet confronts the Jackal, who tells him that he is the real one. Jackal tells Ben to kill the "genetic mistake" and reclaim his life. An interesting scene occurs showing Kaine watching the action from above, with Scrier watching above him. Regardless of what the Jackal is telling Ben and Peter, it appears that Kaine and Scrier play a bigger part in this story.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: The return of Scrier - with Judas Traveller nowhere to be seen - was the first sign that there was much more to this character than met the eye. Mark Bernardo had told me that J.M. DeMatteis was planning to explore the notion that Scrier was actually the real power behind Traveller, and that Traveller was so deluded and obsessed with his pursuits that even he didn't know it.]

As Jackal and his impersonator attack the Scarlet Spider, Spider-Man comes to his aid and is told by Jackal that he is the real one and Ben is the clone. He tells the Spiders that he was lying to Ben moments earlier for the fun of it. A potential continuity error is resolved (albeit weakly) when Spider-Man calls the Jackal a liar because he read his journal and spoke with the High Evolutionary. Years ago, Marvel's Annuals did an event called the "Evolutionary War." In one of the Spider-Man annuals that year, it was revealed the Professor Warren never really cloned anyone. The Jackal responds by asking Spider-Man what purpose the High Evolutionary would have in telling him the truth. He goads Peter on more, telling him to go to Gwen, his true love. As Gwen embraces Spider-Man and tries to convince him she's real, she degenerates as the Jackal looks on in laughter. As Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man move in, the Jackal makes his way through an escape door, telling them that the entire building is going to explode and says that neither of them is the real one. He says the real Peter Parker is in a chamber somewhere in the building. Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man make their escape before the building explodes. Peter wants to know the truth while Ben says it's easiest just to go on living. As the smoke and rubble clears, a lone pod rests. But what is inside it?

[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Since fandom was already starting to wonder if Ben Reilly could actually be the original Peter Parker, it only made sense, from a dramatic standpoint, to throw the readers a curve ball and raise the possibility that neither Ben nor Peter was the original - that the original has actually been tucked away in a pod for all these years. That would certainly be a tantalizing notion, wouldn't it? And it was that spirit in which "Smoke and Mirrors" was produced.]

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Old 10-27-2011, 12:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 5A:
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With the events of the last few issues, both Peter and Ben are questioning their origins after the newly "reborn" Jackal played mind games with them, telling both of them first that they were the real Peter Parker, and then saying that neither of them was. Before his lab went up in an explosion and the Jackal made his escape, he hints that the real Peter Parker is somewhere in the lab. Paying no mind to the Jackal's threats, Ben and Peter leave the area.

"Players and Pawns" is the next storyline in the Clone Saga, beginning in Spectacular Spider-Man #222, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. Kaine is exploring the wreckage of the Jackal's labs, curious to find the truth regarding the clones in Jackal's files. Kaine believes that he has always known the truth of who the real Parker was, but copies the Jackal's files to make sure. Upon doing so, another containment chamber opens to reveal Peter Parker. Before Kaine has time to react to the shocking discovery, the Jackal and his little apprentice confront him. It's revealed that the Jackal knows all about Kaine, perhaps more than anyone else. Before the two can have it out, Scrier appears and the 3rd Parker disappears during the confusion. Scrier goes back into the shadows as quickly as he appears, but not before the Jackal explains how he and Scrier share a history, as well.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I have to say, I really loved Jack, the Jackal's little apprentice. Don't ask me why. I just latched on to him and really got a kick out of him. He was witty, he had a lot of energy and spirit, and he brought a certain lightness to an otherwise very serious story line. I remember being at a Spider-Man writers' conference and just going on about how much I enjoyed Jack's presence in the stories. My exact comment was: "He's a midget Jackal - how can you go wrong with that?!"]

The rest of the issue focuses on the particulars of the (now) three Parkers. Ben Reilly is watching Flash Thompson, the man who made his life hell in high school, coach a basketball game, seemingly having his life in order. Ben's enjoying the reunion with yet another old friend until the Jackal crashes into the building, looking for a fight. Ben changes into the Scarlet Spider and takes on Jackal.

Peter is informed by Jonah that the police want to talk to him about Ben Reilly, which causes Peter to question what Ben has been up to during the last five years. While walking along the street, Kaine appears and gives Peter the data he stole from the Jackal, proving that Peter is the real deal. While Peter always believed that to be the case, the idea of another mysterious stranger screwing with him rubs him the wrong way. He changes into Spider-Man and goes after Kaine for answers.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Parker, recently released from a cryo tube is heading... somewhere, still dazed from being in the pod and trying to remember who he is and what he should be doing.

The second part of "Players and Pawns" takes place in Web of Spider-Man #123, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. This issue contains two big fight scenes: Spider-Man vs Kaine and The Scarlet Spider vs The Jackal, with neither of the products of Parker DNA faring too well against their opponents. The Scarlet Spider eventually overpowers the Jackal and has him taken into custody. The Jackal's being sent to Ravencroft, and under his threats to Scarlet we read his thoughts. He wants to go to Ravencroft. Something is there that belongs to him and it's easier to be sent there than to break in. The little Jackal impersonator offers Scarlet Spider information. He gives him a disk that is supposed to contain proof that Ben is the real Peter Parker. When the Jackal sees his assistant do this, he snaps his fingers, causing the impersonator to deteriorate. "Your future," the melting apprentice tells Scarlet Spider. "In your hands now."


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Yeah, as you can probably guess, I was sorry to see Jack go. Again, I just loved the notion of the Jackal palling around with a wacky, miniature version of himself - and remember, this was years before Mini-Me!]

Spider-Man has his hands full with Kaine. He wants answers and he won't take no for an answer, which leads to a knockdown, drag-out fight. We saw how Kaine handled the Scarlet Spider effortlessly in a previous issue, but was that because Kaine was so powerful or because Ben was out of practice? The way he pummels Spider-Man with a barrage of devastating hits ends that debate. Kaine is one tough cookie.

The interlude of the story shows the other Peter Parker arriving in New York City, still dazed and confused, wanting to rest before he confronts his inevitable-but-unsure destiny. Most importantly, Aunt May comes out of her coma. She's regained consciousness, but isn't responding to any of the doctors. Her thoughts reveal that she needs Peter to see her and soon. The issue ends with the Scarlet Spider atop the smokestack, where the first confrontation between Spider-Man and his clone ended. Ben wonders whether the disk will hold the key to the secrets plaguing him and Peter or offer only more questions. He wonders what Peter would have done, in an homage to Amazing Spider-Man #150, where Peter throws the test results away, believing himself to be the real deal and not needing tests to verify what he feels. Ben throws the disk into the river, claiming he is not Peter Parker, or at least not that Peter Parker. "Ben Reilly no longer needs validation from anybody...but me," he says and swings off into the distance, knowing that truly "life is in the living."

Amazing Spider-Man #400 is a milestone in many ways. The main story in the issue, "The Gift," is written by JM DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. It's one of the most emotional Spider-Man stories ever told, and one of my favorite Spider-Man stories ever. While the Jackal makes a cameo appearance in Ravencroft and the third Peter Parker and Dr. Judas Traveller show up in a few panels, as well, this is really Aunt May's story. After regaining consciousness in the previous issue, May returns home to Peter and Mary Jane. Upon seeing MJ, Aunt May shows her intuition by telling Mary Jane that she's pregnant. Holding both Peter and Mary Jane by the hand, she tells them "there's no greater responsibility in the world than raising a child...shaping a young soul. No greater responsibility."

The Scarlet Spider pays a visit to Peter and they have a heart-to-heart in the yard. Ben recalls memories of climbing the old tree with the help of his/Peter's uncle. He then tells Peter that he's leaving New York. With May feeling better and Peter and MJ expecting, they have their first shot at real happiness and he doesn't want to ruin it. There is also an important revelation after Ben has left the house. He reminisces about a woman named Janine, who seems to have meant a great deal to him.

The most pivotal moment comes a week later atop the Empire State Building. Aunt May, feeling cooped up, wants to get out of the house, so Peter takes her there. As they look out the observatory, May asks Peter how it feels to swing over the city, being so free. A shocked Peter tries to brush it off, but May continues, telling Peter that she'd have to be an idiot to not know, after living under the same roof for so many years. She says that after Ben's death, she couldn't accept the fact that Peter was risking his life every day as Spider-Man. May tells Peter that she's proud of him and that if Ben were still around, he would say the same thing. After the surprising revelation, May collapses. Peter takes her home. After a few poignant words and goodbyes in front of Peter, Mary Jane and Aunt Anna, Aunt May dies.

This wasn't a dream or imaginary story. Aunt May, Peter's lifeline for so long, had passed. It was the most memorable death scene I've read in comics. From her revelation that she knew Peter's secret all along (which made complete sense) to Ben Reilly having to go through this emotional moment completely alone on the roof of the Parker home, it was just a beautifully written segment. As much as you can feel for Peter, at least he had Mary Jane and Anna to fall back on. Although he shares all of Peter's memories and feelings, Ben must deal with his pain alone, because he's just a clone. An imitation. His feelings don't count.

The shock endings we've come to expect continue in even this emotionally charged issue. After May's funeral, Detective Trevane and Lieutenant Raven come to the Parker house and arrest Peter for first-degree murder. Mary Jane tries to figure out what to do next. She wants to call Pete's friend Matt Murdock, but believes Murdock to be dead. As she gets ready to go to the police station, the Scarlet Spider arrives at the house. He removes his mask, introduces himself as Ben Reilly and tells Mary Jane that it's time they met "face to face."

DeMatteis has written one of the single greatest Spider-Man stories of all time, if not the greatest. Shocking revelations, a cliffhanger ending and the death of one of comics' most beloved and well-known characters in a mature and respectful way make this an instant classic.

There's also a very good back up feature, again written by DeMatteis (with a script by Stan Lee) and illustrated by Tom Grummett and Al Milgrom detailing the morning after Spider-Man caught the burglar who killed Uncle Ben.

Another backup story is in this extra-sized #400, but I'll review it in the next installment, since it is a 3-part Ben Reilly story that brings fan favorite John Romita Jr. back to Spider-Man.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I could go on and on about AMAZING #400, but I'll try to focus on what I feel are the most salient points.
First, after reading the issue, Tom Brevoort and I both figured that Aunt May probably figured out that Peter was Spider-Man as a result of the events of AMAZING #200, published back in 1978. In that story, by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard, Spider-Man rescued Aunt May and she finally overcame her fear and hatred of the web-slinger. Once she got past that, she was able to put two and two together and finally realize that the heroic young masked man who saved her was her own beloved nephew. But she decided to keep it to herself for a while, until she could fully reconcile herself to that knowledge. I suspect that as far as J.M. DeMatteis was concerned, Aunt May knew all along, from the days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but I just couldn't buy that. Not from the way she was written in those old stories. We had access to her thoughts, and there's simply no way she knew - not that early. Also, it would have retroactively made May look pretty manipulative and conniving, to have let Peter go on for all that time thinking she didn't know, to have let him work so hard to protect her from that knowledge. She could have eased so much of his burden by just telling him that she knew, and that she was very proud of him. But I could accept her knowing after ASM #200, and in my mind, that was the case. The good thing was that it was never stated definitively in ASM #400 exactly when May found out, so it was pretty open to interpretation.

Now, on to Aunt May's death. I had mixed emotions about it. As I've said before, I'm not really big on killing off characters, especially ones who were as important to the series as Aunt May had been. I disagreed with the writers that Aunt May had outlived her usefulness, that there was nothing left to do with her, that she should just be killed off already. I felt that was very shortsighted. Sure, these particular writers felt that way about her, but the fact was, they weren't going to be writing the books forever. Therefore, why make such a drastic, permanent change that could hamper the series in the future? If the writers didn't have any more ideas for Aunt May, then why not just send her off to Florida for an extended period of time? She'd be out of sight and out of mind, and if some later Spider-Man writer came in with a great story idea for her, he or she would have the option to bring her back to New York. Would it be as dramatic as her death? No. But it would get her off the stage until she was needed again, if and when that time ever came.

That said, I have to say that I thought the story itself was absolutely magnificent. Probably Marc DeMatteis's best work on Spider-Man. It was a total page-turner, completely engrossing. A gripping tale. I was in my mid-twenties when that comic came out, and I will admit this: I was pretty damned choked up when May finally passed on, with Peter embracing her and speaking that classic line from Peter Pan: "Second star to the right... and straight on till morning." That hasn't happened very often with me while reading a comic book. It's safe to say that no Spider-Man story published since ASM #400 has even come close to matching the quality, the power, the drama, and the heartfelt emotion of this story. A true classic.

Maybe I didn't like the idea of Aunt May dying from a creative standpoint, but it was so beautifully done in the actual story that it totally worked for me. So much so that I felt very strongly that this death should remain permanent, that it should not be undone in some future story. That it should stand as one of the most powerful moments in Spider-Man's history. Alas, we all know what happened later on, and I'll try to get into all of that in a later column.

Okay, now for some behind-the-scenes stuff. Bob Budiansky had been in place as Spider-Man Editor in Chief for a short while by the time ASM #400 was being put together. As a courtesy, Bob placed a call to Stan Lee, to let him know that we were planning to kill off Aunt May and to ask for Stan's blessing. Stan, gentleman that he is, was very gracious about the whole thing, and certainly gave his blessing. He offered his best wishes to Bob and the Spider-gang.

Of course, when May's death was greeted with dismay and contempt by a contingent of very vocal fans, Stan publicly denied any knowledge of or involvement with the story, and said that he would never want to see Aunt May die. We had a good laugh over it in the office, because it was so typical of Stan - he hates to have any fan angry at him. But the absolute truth is that Bob Budiansky did indeed call Stan in advance to let him know and to ask for his blessing. And if Stan had not given his blessing, would we have done the story anyway? Probably. But like I said, Stan is a true gentleman and would not have wanted to put Bob and the writers in that uncomfortable position. So no matter how he may have really felt about it, he was very cooperative.

Now, remember that gimmick cover for ASM #400? It was supposed to be a tombstone, featuring both the familiar ASM logo and a small Spider-Man figure engraved upon the face of the stone. I remember that this was the first gimmick cover that Bob had to oversee as Spider-Man EIC, and he was a little overwhelmed by it. I'm not sure if it was his idea to do this gimmick cover, of if it was an idea that was foisted upon him by our marketing department. I suspect it was the latter, because the marketing guys were obsessed with gimmick covers and used any excuse to do one, as often as possible. Well, the cover looked pretty good at the final stage, everything was readable and the engravings looked good. But when it finally saw print, the cover's engraving was so shallow and so faint that the cover was essentially unreadable. It looked like a dull gray, blank cover of... something. Not a success, to put it mildly. Thank goodness the story inside made up for it, proving the old adage that you can't judge a book by looking at the cover.

Final thought: I was really jazzed that Peter wouldn't get a moment's rest after Aunt May's funeral, that there was not a clean ending to the issue. I thought it was a great way to handle it. I felt that the cliffhanger ending would prevent readers from looking at ASM #400 as a jumping-off point, a good way to stop following the series. I believed Peter's arrest for murder would get the readers very intrigued about what was going to happen next, so that they would stick with us. At that moment in time, it was a really good feeling to be part of the Spider-Man Group.]

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Old 10-27-2011, 12:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 5B:
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This special edition of "Life of Reilly" will focus on the backupstory that ran in Amazing Spider-Man #400, Spider-Man #57 and SpectacularSpider-Man #223. "The Parker Legacy" was written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by John Romita Jr. with inks from John Romita Sr. and Al Milgrom.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I recall that early into Bob Budiansky's tenure as Spider-Man Editor-in-Chief, one of his desires was to get John Romita Jr. back on to Spider-Man in some capacity. At that time, I believe, John was the regular penciler of THE UNCANNY X-MEN, and while he was doing terrific work on that book, I think he was kind of longing to do Spider-Man again. And certainly the Spider-Man editors would have been thrilled to have him back. But the reality of the situation was that he was one of Bob Harras's X-Men artists, and it would not have been very prudent to try to steal an artist from, arguably, the most powerful editor at the company.]

The story takes place five years ago, immediately after the clone Spider-Man discovers that he is not the real Peter Parker. He is slumped over in an alley in the pouring rain, mourning the loss of a life he has just come to realize was not really his own. He picks himself up and walks along the streets of New York City, oblivious to everything going on around him. Since he never was truly alive, he wonders if it would make a difference if he died.

When a truck nearly runs him over, the clone lashes out, destroying the entire front section of the vehicle. The thing is, he's not mad because he was almost run over, he's mad because the driver didn't kill him. He goes back off into the night skies, hating himself for the memories he has, the programming that he is under. He sleeps like a homeless man, underneath debris in an alley,and when he wakes up he sneaks into Parker's apartment, realizing the irony in it all. The clone wonders briefly if he should just confront and kill Parker,and reclaim the life which is all he knows, but he is no murderer. Remembering where he/Peter kept his old clothes and emergency money, he takes them all. He also keeps the costume.

After paying a quick visit to the home of Aunt May and quickly leaving before he's discovered, the clone purchases a bus ticket bound towards the West. He doesn't really know where he's going, but he does realize he needs to leave New York. A friendly guy seated next to him tries to engage the clone in conversation but is told to shut up about his life. The clone immediately senses a twinge of guilt for being so rude but decides against apologizing to the man.Being decent is what Peter Parker would do, and he's not Peter Parker. He falls asleep and dreams of fighting his enemies as Spider-Man, until the Jackal appears and tells the villains that they're wasting their time. This Spider-Man is just a fake, a puppet of the Jackal's creation, unworthy of their time. A failed experiment. He awakens to his fellow passengers screaming as the bus has blown a tire and skids into the oncoming lane. Spider-Man would do something to save them all, but the clone wonders if maybe he should just let the end come once and for all.

As he comes to the realization that clone or not, he still is a good man, thedriver regains control of the bus. The passengers are sent to a motel, and thestranger (Clifford Gross) that was sitting next to the clone invites the cloneto have a drink with him. After Clifford reveals that his life has gone to hellwith his wife leaving and his business going under, the clone tells him that heshould disappear... that no one would care. Later, as he walks through the motelhalls, his Spider-sense goes off and the clone breaks into one of the roomswhere Clifford is sitting with a gun barrel in his mouth. He is stopped fromkilling himself and asks why the clone stopped him, when he's the one who toldhim that he should disappear because he was worthless.

The clone tells Clifford that he was wrong. Essentially describing his own situation, he tells Clifford that losing it all can be a blessing. It's a chance to build something even better than before. It's the beginning of a new life,not the end of one. Clifford decides to turn back and visit his kids instead of continuing Westward. He asks the clone what he's going to do and the response is: "Going back is out of the question, but going forward? Now that may just have some possibilities." As the bus pulls away, Clifford asks what the clone's name is. Ben Reilly. His uncle's first name. His aunt's maiden name.It's told that Ben fell deeper into darkness before seeing the light and discovering himself. But even in those dark times, he would never give up the lessons he learned from his aunt and uncle. Clone or no, he would live up to what they taught him and never "surrender the Parker legacy."

DeMatties told the definitive Aunt May story that same month in Amazing Spider-Man #400 and in this 3 part backup feature, he tells us the origin of"Ben Reilly." Whereas Aunt May's story was the final chapter of a long life, the Ben Reilly story was more about hope and the optimism for an unknown future.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Of all the Spider-Man writers at that time, J.M. DeMatteis was the best suited to tell this tale. He seemed to really "get" the character of Ben Reilly, to really understand how he thought and felt and what he went through in those early days. Marc also seemed to be the writer most enthusiastic about Ben, the one who understood all the story possibilities inherent in the character. He did his usual wonderful job on "The Parker Legacy," and I think that story did a lot to make Ben a character that the Spider-Man fans could like and respect.]

The art was absolutely incredible on the book, with 3 great artists known for their work on Spider-Man coming together for this important story, but it was the story that left an impact.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: John's work had changed considerably from the last time he had done any major work on Spider-Man - his style had gotten a lot grittier, a lot more dramatic, but still very recognizable as John Romita Jr. Clearly, John had grown considerably as an artist and as a storyteller over the years, and to have him as the artist of "The Parker Legacy" made it a truly special event. And, of course, it was so cool to have JR Senior inking him again. They didn't work together nearly enough, in my opinion, and their combined efforts on"The Parker Legacy" were pretty exciting to this longtime Spider-Man reader. Alas, John Senior didn't ink all three chapters, but Al Milgrom turned in a great inking job, too. Al is one of the best - and, unfortunately, one of the most underrated - inkers in the business, and it was always nice to see him get the chance to strut his stuff over high-quality work. That's why I felt so strongly about hiring Al to ink the pencils of Steve Rude, no slouch himself, on the INCREDIBLE HULK VS. SUPERMAN one-shot that I edited. Take a look at that book, if you haven't already, and you'll see what I mean.]

Regardless of the ultimate fate of Ben Reilly in the Spider-Man books, this short story established him as a real character. He wasn't just a clone or a gimmick. His personality was different from Peter's. His experiences were different. The past five years in exile, wandering the country, gave Ben completely different life lessons: good and bad. During that time on his own, he had become complete. "The Parker Legacy" was just the first glimpse into that life.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: Of course, this 3-parter served as a precursor to the SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS limited series, which we'll be getting to in the coming weeks.]

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Old 10-27-2011, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 6:
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The two part "Aftershocks" begins in Spider-Man #57, written by Howard Mackie and guest illustrated by John Romita Jr and Joe Rubinstein. This issue has several different stories going on simultaneously, and the effect is a fast-paced page-turner. Aunt May has recently passed away and Peter Parker has been arrested for murder. Upon discovering this, Ben decides against going back into exile and goes to comfort Mary Jane instead. It was a good idea in theory, I suppose. Mary Jane Parker is none to pleased to see Mr. Reilly and greets him with a slap in the face, accusing him of causing more problems than helping. He leaves, but promises to help anyway. Peter is held without bail and Jacob Raven pays him a visit, informing him that he won't get away with killing Raven's former partner.

At the Bugle, Joe Robertson asks Jonah Jameson what they're going to do regarding the Parker story and if the Bugle will help the Parkers at all. Jonah is his usual gruff self and quickly dismisses Joe. We later discover that Jonah is privately footing all of Peter's legal bills. As the third Parker wanders the streets in search of answers, the jailed Peter seeks the same with his wife. He doesn't understand how he could be arrested for a crime he knows he didn't commit. Elsewhere, Jacob Raven is beginning to have doubts himself, while Kaine continues to have visions of Mary Jane's death.

Peter #3 is attacked by a street thug and rediscovers his powers, as he also comes to remember an old saying: "with power comes responsibility." As the Scarlet Spider follows Mary Jane to watch over her from above, he sees that she is confronted by Judas Traveller. Judas wants to understand Spider-Man through the woman who loves him, and although he is anxious to meet Ben again, it's an inconvenient time to do so. With a snap of his fingers, Traveller gets the street to explode, preoccupying the Scarlet Spider, who wonders how Traveller has seemingly gotten even more powerful. He also thinks back to how the villains have gotten a lot more powerful since the days of Mysterio and the Shocker. Traveller causes buildings to collapse, and even more explosions as the Scarlet Spider fights to keep Mary Jane from being abducted. In the end, a battered Scarlet Spider grabs Traveller's wrist before he can leave. Judas knows that Ben will not give up, and releases Mary Jane. He leaves, telling Ben, "Soon, very soon...you, Peter and I will sit down together and get to know all about one another." The Scarlet Spider apologizes to Mary Jane for intruding, but before he can leave she says that she's willing to try and talk to him.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: And so Judas Traveller returns once again. As Ben Reilly points out in this story, Traveller seems even more powerful than before, and how the current crop of super-baddies are a far cry from guys like Mysterio and the Shocker. In my opinion, this wasn't necessarily a good thing. I always preferred a more street-level, realistic Spider-Man, as depicted in the stories by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita Sr. I had been feeling for quite a while - before I even started working at Marvel - that Spider-Man was being pushed in a direction that took him away from his simple roots, and I was hoping that would change in the new regime. For example, I knew how popular characters like Venom and Carnage were , but I didn't really like them from the start, because I felt that they were too "far out" for Spider-Man. With rare exceptions , Spider-Man shouldn't really be dealing with alien life forms or supernatural weirdness or epic "save the entire world" scenarios. I felt that Spider-Man stories, above all else, have to be about people, and that was getting lost amidst all the stuff that was going on with the character.
The biggest problem with Judas Traveller was that he was just too much of an enigma. What were the scope and nature of his powers? No one seemed to have an answer. What was his primary motivation? The answer from the Spider-Man writers was always, "Well, he's trying to understand the true nature of evil." Uhhhm, okay, but that's a bit... vague, you know? What does Traveller hope to gain from understanding evil? What's his ultimate goal? That always remained shrouded in mystery - even to us!

With the best Spider-Man villains, you understand who they are and what they want. For example, they're master criminals seeking to become the absolute crimelord of New York . Or they're high-tech thieves out for wealth and glory . Or they're power-mad lunatics . Or they're simply career criminals with super-powers . You get the idea. Even Venom has an understandable motivation, as contrived as it is. But with Traveller... there just wasn't anything that you could really put your finger on, and it was difficult to get interested in him, at least from my point of view.

This kind of thing was going on in the X-Men books all the time back then - these new villains would show up with a lot of flash and hype, with a lot of mystery and veiled references surrounding them. And in the end, nothing would come of it. None of them ended up having any real staying power, because they were so half-baked, ill-defined, and poorly developed. As a budding writer at the time, I learned a very important lesson from watching this happen at Marvel: try to know who your characters are before you introduce them. Maybe not every last detail of their lives and histories, but at least know who they are, what they want, their connections to the other characters in the story, their powers and abilities, and their weaknesses. It's kind of like Method acting for writing.

Looking back, I think Traveller may have been an attempt to introduce an X-Men-like villain into the Spider-Man universe, with the thinking that what was working for the X-Men books at that time would also work for Spider-Man. I don't know for sure, but that's my theory.

At any rate, I eventually got to say the last word on Judas Traveller, and correct the situation as I saw fit. More on that when we get to it.]


Kaine pays a visit to Jacob Raven, telling him that he's arrested the wrong man. When Raven explains that the evidence indicates otherwise, Kaine puts his hand to Raven's face and gives him a non-lethal mark similar to that found on his other victims. He then tells Raven to look in the mirror and think about the "evidence" some more. Meanwhile, at Ravencroft, the Jackal contemplates the latest developments and thinks that "I couldn't have planned it better. Or did I?"

The second part of this story takes place in Spectacular Spider-Man #223, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Busema and Bill Sienkiewicz. It begins with the Jackal being interviewed by Doctor Kafka and making threats about genetically reengineering the entire human race. Ben and Mary Jane are having a quiet moment at the Parker home, but Mary Jane still can't face him without his mask, so he remains in costume the entire time. At the hospital, Detective Trevane talks with Jacob Raven, who removes his bandages and proclaims that he arrested the wrong man. On the streets on NYC, the third Parker sees a newspaper article with Peter Parker's photo along with the article about his arrest, which prompts him to act.

In prison, Peter Parker wonders if Ben Reilly is responsible for the murder for which he's been arrested. He debates breaking out of prison and taking down Reilly, but that would lead to the revelation of all their identities and hell for Mary Jane and their future child. He decides to stay put for now. Back at his home, Mary Jane and Ben are discussing why he is determined to help Peter. Ben tells Mary Jane that he has a degeneration factor, like all clones, and that it's only a matter of time before it catches up to him. He wants to help Peter so that at least one of them can have a happy life. With the revelation comes trust from Mary Jane, and she removes his mask.

Another old storyline comes in as the Jackal looks through Ravencroft's private files, specifically those of Malcom MacBride, a.k.a. the second Carrion. MacBride was a former associate of Professor Miles Warren who became Carrion. The Carrion virus was recently absorbed into Shriek, an enemy of Spider-Man's. The Jackal goes after Shriek because he wants the virus. Describing it as a weapon that makes real organic matter suffer the same effect as clone degeneration, the Jackal says that since he created it years ago, it belongs to him. Afterwards, the Jackal walks out of the institution with no one any wiser.


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I believe the Carrion aspect of the story was added because Mark Bernardo and I kept pointing out to everybody that we'd have to address the matter of Carrion, since he was linked to the original clone stories and was later explained away by Gerry Conway following "The Evolutionary War." We'd have to make sense of it all, or they're still be dangling plot threads that didn't jibe with what we were doing. In the end, none of the regular Spider-Man writers got around to clearing it up, so Tom Brevoort and I ended up having to produce a special one-shot to settle the matter of Carrion once and for all.]

The 3rd Parker passes the infamous warehouse where Spider-Man captured the burglar who killed Uncle Ben and comes to understand who he is. He rushes to the cemetery, to the graves of May and Ben and remembers the life he had. Falling to his knees, hands raised high, he screams, "I am Peter Parker."


[GLENN'S COMMENTS: I wasn't thrilled with the Jackal's threats of genetically reengineering the entire human race. I felt it was a bit too "global" for a Spider-Man story. If you go back and read the original clone stories , you see that, when all is said and done, Miles Warren was a pathetic, lovesick, screwball scientist obsessed with the memory of Gwen Stacy, and he was desperate to bring her back to life any way possible. He was also a split personality, and his "Jackal" personality led to him becoming a major crime figure. From a character standpoint, nowhere in any of this does a desire to reengineer the human race really come into play. For that matter, I never really understood why he spent all those intervening years in a pod, genetically reengineering himself into a mutated version of his Jackal persona, but I guess that's more productive than sitting around in your underwear watching Godzilla movies.]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #8
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 7
Another epic storyline begins this time around with "The Mark of Kaine," a five-parter that sheds a little more light on Kaine and more specifically, the third Peter Parker that's been running around for the past couple of weeks.

Part 1 begins in Web of Spider-Man #124, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. The story begins with a press conference announcing a high-powered defense attorney for Peter Parker, while Ben Reilly takes Mary Jane to his friend, Dr. Seward Trainer. They're running tests on the unborn child MJ is carrying to make sure that everything is okay with the baby. Everyone is a little worried that Peter's irradiated blood may have consequences for the fetus and they want to find out for certain that the child will be all right. Kaine observes from afar, as usual, growing concerned that the walls between Reilly and Parker are crumbling. He also sees that Mary Jane will die... with child. Meanwhile, the third Peter Parker wanders around his old home and wonders how long he's been away and how it came to this. At the same time, Joe Robertson and Jonah Jameson are having a dispute over the integrity of the paper. Jonah wants them to bury any stories about Peter's trial.

In prison, a fire breaks out and Peter comes to the rescue of some of the prisoners, using his super powers to get them out of their cells before the smoke can overcome them. He returns, safely to his cell with no one the wiser.

Jacob Raven is confronted by Doctor Octopus's old partner in crime (and former lover), Stunner. She tells him that she's heard Raven has doubts about Peter's guilt and asks him to team up with her to find the real killer, who also killed her beloved Ock.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I recall, Stunner was created by Tom DeFalco. She was an interesting character, since she obviously had very strong ties to Doctor Octopus, even though we had never seen her before this. There was clearly a lot of back-story to her, and I was curious to see how Tom D. was going to retroactively work her in to Ock's history. Tom D. definitely had a lot of ideas for Stunner, which he would reveal over time. In fact, an entire storyline would later be done that would be the culmination of all the groundwork laid down for her throughout the clone saga and beyond. ]

As Mary Jane leaves Dr. Trainer's labs, Kaine takes her into the sewers. He warns her that her life is near an end and before he can say anymore, she turns a drain on, forcing the water to topple Kaine. Making her escape to the streets again, MJ comes face to face with...Peter Parker.

Part 2 takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #401, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. Mary Jane doesn't know whether this Peter Parker is her husband or Ben, but he tells her that he's neither; that while he's been locked away for five years an imposter stole his life from him. Kaine appears to warn Mary Jane about this new Parker and he and the 3rd Parker fight it out. Kaine wins again, but his fight takes long enough for Mary Jane to get away.

Moments later, Ben Reilly gets a call from Mary Jane, who informs him about the latest developments. At the same time, Peter is visited in prison by one of Traveller's associates, who warns Peter of the danger his wife is in. He decides to take control and come to Mary Jane's aid, even if it means damaging his own reputation should he be caught escaping. As he stands outside the prison walls, Traveller visits him and offers his help. He has put an illusion of Peter Parker in the cell, to remain until Peter can return from his task. Scrier appears after Peter moves on and questions Judas's fascination with the man. Again, a strong connection is hinted at between the two men.

Back at the Parker home, Mary Jane holds a gun in her hand. With all of the villains who've known Peter's secret, she felt safer about having a weapon for protection. She is surprised to find Spider-Man in the house, as well, but it's the 3rd Parker. Mary Jane warns him to stay away as he comes closer and closer. She fires the gun, missing, but the shock is enough to make her lose control. Before anything else can happen, Kaine appears to take out the 3rd Parker and grab Mary Jane. Kaine contemplates killing Parker, but hears something upstairs so he takes MJ and quickly leaves, heading toward his underground hideaway. It turns out that the noise Kaine heard was the Scarlet Spider coming inside. He wonders what Peter is doing home, but before the other Parker can answer, the Peter who just left prison enters the home.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Okay, at this point, the Spider-Man books were in danger of becoming like that old Marx Brothers movie where everyone was running around dressed like Groucho. Now that the three Peters were in the same place at the same time, there needed to be some sense of resolution to all of this. The clone saga was still very engaging and compelling, but from a story point of view, things really should have been headed for the ultimate conclusion.

As an aside, it should be noted that sales on the Spider-Man books at this time were phenomenal. I feel the need to point at that, despite popular belief, the clone saga significantly boosted sales on the Spider-Man books. At a time when the comics industry was starting to head downward, with sales dropping across the board on every title, the Spider-Man line was bucking the trend, with sales holding steady and even increasing each month. Of course, the downside to it was that everyone on the business side of Marvel was pushing us to keep the clone saga going for as long as possible, to milk it for all it was worth. Looking back, I can understand their position - the clone saga was one of the very few things that was actually working in the comics industry at the time, and there was a great deal of fear that the sales would drop like an anvil once the storyline was over. But of course, unnaturally prolonging what was at its essence a very finite storyline was extremely short-term thinking, and the kind of approach that could hurt the entire franchise. We (the editors and the writers) knew this, but the sales and marketing departments wielded a lot of power and influence at that time, and we had little choice but to follow their lead. Which is why Marvel was doing so many gimmick covers and "Alpha" issues and "Omega" issues and multi-part crossover storylines and... well, you get the idea. ]

Spider-Man #58, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna, continues "The Mark of Kaine" with part 3. The three Spider-Men try and make sense of all the confusion. Ben makes the comment that the only thing he's sure of is that he isn't Peter Parker. Scarlet Spider confronts the newest Parker and asks what has happened. The man passes out from the trauma incurred by his battle with Kaine. Scarlet then goes to the Peter who was in prison to find out what he's doing, and Peter reveals that he's going to look for his wife. He takes pieces from his old black costume: the gloves, the mask and web-shooters and creates a non-costume costume. He goes off, telling Scarlet to take care of the newest addition and when Ben goes to do so, he finds that the 3rd Parker in the Spider costume has disappeared.

Out on the rooftops of New York, Peter Parker (black suit) waits for a sign from Mary Jane and is accompanied by Ben, who tells him that he'll need his help to battle Kaine. While Mary Jane tries to get answers from Kaine, she pulls out a device from her pocket, a spider-tracer specially designed with a more powerful frequency to be used in emergencies. Peter gets the signal and goes in search of his wife, telling Ben to stay out of it. Meanwhile, Spider-Man (Peter Parker #3), insists that he won't let the two fakes get the better of him.

Peter in black and Scarlet find the source of the signal and head into the sewers. Scarlet tells Peter that he should go in first and deal with the dangerous Kaine while Peter concentrates on rescuing Mary Jane. As they move on, Peter 3 in the Spider-Man suit tells them that he'll find MJ and kill whoever took her and that the two other Spiders should just leave them alone.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : That pretty much killed any speculation that Peter #3 could be the real guy - Peter Parker would never condone killing. So from that moment on, Peter #3 was essentially nothing more than another plot point that needed to be wrapped up. ]

Mary Jane is on the run from Kaine, who appears to want to fulfill his visions of Mary Jane's death himself when the 3 Spider-Men appear. They pounce on Kaine as MJ tries to get away, not sure that any of them are the real Peter Parker. Scarlet leads the assault on Kaine while Peter in black goes after Mary Jane, who has Peter 3 following her. Peter 3 starts to go crazy, insisting that he's the real Parker and needs to kill everyone else. Before Peter in black and MJ can turn around to escape, they find Kaine blocking the other exit.

The ultra-confusing storyline reaches Part 4 in Spectacular Spider-Man #224, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. The 3rd Parker now stands revealed as nothing more than a genetically engineered killing machine whose purpose was to destroy. As Peter and Mary Jane make their escape, Kaine and Scarlet Spider take on the monster Parker, who now has the ability to recode his DNA and morph his body at will.

Peter and Mary Jane make their way out of the sewers and onto safety, but they both know that Ben Reilly needs help or he'll never survive. Mary Jane gives her blessing, and Peter grabs the black mask and goes back to save his "brother." The attack comes up onto the surface and the assassin Parker is seemingly killed when a propane truck explodes. Kaine survives and moves on, leaving Reilly be. Peter and Ben confront each other outside, where Peter accuses Ben of the murders he's been arrested for. Ben proclaims his innocence but knows that words can only do so much, so he offers to switch places with Peter. He'll go to prison and let Peter return home to his wife. As Ben Reilly sneaks back to prison as Peter Parker, Scrier and Traveller make their observations.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I liked the fact that the third Peter Parker went down absolutely convinced that he was the real one, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Tom DeFalco did a nice job with this issue, injecting Peter #3 with a real sense of tragedy. He wasn't just a run-of-the-mill, morphing, wisecracking bad guy. Incidentally, Peter #3 was referred to as "Freakface" throughout the issue, and I remember that Tom D. was pushing for that to become the character's regular name in the future. It certainly was no worse than the name that was actually used later on - more on that when we get to it. Overall, though, my belief was that once Peter #3 was revealed to be just another clone, he should have been disposed of as quickly and as permanently as possible. He'd already served his purpose as a red herring, and there were already too many variations of Peter Parker running around. We never should have seen him again, in my opinion. ]

The story reached its conclusion in Spider-Man Unlimited #9, written by Tom Lyle and illustrated by Ron Lim, Ron Garney, Tod Smith, Tom Palmer, Tim Tuohy, Al Milgrom, Jimmy Palmiotti and Randy Emberlin. The main focus of this issue concerns some of Spider-Man's greatest enemies: Vulture, Hobgoblin, Mysterio, Lady Scorpia, Beetle, Shocker and Electro, who gather to decide what to do about Kaine. Since the mysterious vigilante has already killed two of Spider-Man's enemies, they feel that any one of them can be next and should strike proactively.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Tom Lyle was promised the opportunity to write when he came over to Marvel to draw Spider-Man. To fulfill that promise, Spider-Man Group Editor Danny Fingeroth gave Lyle the SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED title as a regular writing assignment. For those of you who don't remember, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED was a double-sized comic that was published quarterly, sort of like an annual that's published every three months. I could certainly relate to Tom Lyle's desire to write, and he was very enthusiastic about being a part of the creative process. But to be honest, he really wasn't ready for such a big writing assignment. Certainly not in the middle of the clone saga, during which every chapter needed to be a total winner - and in that regard, even experienced, seasoned writers occasionally stumbled. But Danny felt he had an obligation to Tom L. and wanted to keep his promise, which is certainly very admirable.

When Bob Budiansky became Editor in Chief of the Spider-Man Group, Danny was still in place as Group Editor, and Bob didn't want to upset the apple cart too much at the beginning. Nor did Bob want to undermine Danny's authority as Group Editor. Despite his own doubts about Tom Lyle's writing, Bob chose not to overturn Danny's decision. Again, this was admirable. Creatively, however, this would prove to be not the best move. ]

Peter Parker, in Scarlet Spider guise, is heading home to Mary Jane but gets pre-occupied with the Beetle. During their fight, he loses his web pack, which contains the black costume. The pack is found by the police and reporter Ken Ellis, who recognizes the suit and wonders how the Scarlet Spider came into its possession. Peter finally makes it home and reunites with his wife, while Ben tries to adapt to prison life. A visitor is announced and Ben meets with Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, who Ben doesn't recognize. Felicia realizes that something strange is going on and wonders what happened to Peter. Meanwhile, Jacob Raven and Stunner continue their questioning of the underworld in an effort to find out more about Kaine. Stunner's methods of interrogation are a little harsher than his, but Raven wants Parker exonerated by any means.

Across town, Kaine attacks the Hobgoblin, who is soon rescued by his fellow super-villains. None of them seem to be able to take Kaine on, but Scarlet (Peter) Spider arrives on the scene to makes sure that no one dies during the extraordinary battle. Eventually it ends with everyone getting away relatively unscathed, and Peter reaching a decision that he must help Ben no matter what. He also needs to find Kaine before he can become a threat to him and Mary Jane again. Speaking of Mary Jane, she's received a call from Dr. Trainer, requesting that she visit his lab to go over the tests they took earlier. After meeting with him, something prompts MJ to run away, worried about whatever news she just received.

Later that evening, Scrier appears at the scene of the battle that occurred between Peter, Ben, Kaine and the assassin Parker. He finds a pile of goo with shreds of the Spider costume and takes it, believing that it may be of some use down the line. The story ends with Mary Jane appearing at Felicia Hardy's. Though they aren't the best of friends, MJ needs someone to talk to that she can confide in.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : All the identity switching, multiple versions of costumes... it was reaching fairly ludicrous proportions. As mentioned earlier, this was an ultra-confusing storyline, but there was at least some forward momentum. The trouble with Mary Jane's pregnancy was obviously the most compelling subplot. Bringing in the Black Cat and having her interact with Ben, who was pretending to be Peter, was a nice idea. And we saw more of Scrier's mysterious solo activities. But considering the fact that the story was called "The Mark of Kaine," we really didn't learn all that much about him, did we? Oh, well, it's not like there wouldn't be plenty of other opportunities for that along the way... ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:48 PM

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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 8:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 8
For the month of June, the Spider-Man books offer two self-contained stories and a 2-part story featuring Judas Traveller. The first book is Web of Spider-Man #125, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. The cover also features a special 3-D live-action holodisk to celebrate the big "125" mark.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The holodisks were yet another in a long line of gimmick covers that were all the rage back then. We had just done a gimmick cover for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400 that did not turn out very well, and these holodisks were not much of an improvement. They looked GREAT in the prototype stage, but when we got the final versions, it was clear that you needed to view them under a light that was about as powerful as the sun to really get the full effect of the 3-D live action. Strike two! ]

The Scarlet Spider (aka Peter Parker) is inside the Daily Bugle, searching through the computer for articles about Professor Miles Warren, to see if he can come up with anything that would clear Peter Parker's name for the murder charges. He turns up nothing, until he finds an address listed after Warren's "death." He follows the lead to the suburbs of New Jersey, where he goes to the last known address of Miles Warren. After digging around the house, he is confronted by Gwen Stacy, who thinks he's a burglar. Peter removes his mask, hoping Gwen will recognize him, but she strikes out anyway and Peter is tasered by Miles Warren.

There is a brief interlude, with Mary Jane confessing to Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat) that she worries that the health of her and Peter's unborn child will be adversely affected by Peter's irradiated blood. Back in Jersey, Peter wakes up to find Dr. Warren and Gwen both gone. As they drive towards an unknown destination, we get a glimpse into the past of Dr. Warren through his own thoughts. He was a family man. A husband and father of two, but the family left him due to his being more passionate about work than them. Before they could reconcile, Warren's family was killed. There's also an explanation as to how Dr. Warren and Gwen got together. Peter discovers that Warren knows he and Gwen are only clones, and more information refuting the earlier belief that the Gwen clone wasn't really a clone at all, but merely a woman named Joyce Delaney. It's explained here that a super being named Dreamweaver deluded the clone into thinking she was really another woman, assuming that would be easier to deal with than the knowledge that she was the clone of a dead woman. Peter also finds that Warren was working on a cure for clone degeneration.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was an attempt to finally explain away all the stuff established in "The Evolutionary War," but it probably could have been done better. And I REALLY didn't like finding out that the Gwen Stacy clone had set up housekeeping with a clone of Miles Warren in the suburbs - I thought that was just plain silly. Since I had no role in the development of this particular story (Eric Fein was the editor, and I was still Tom Brevoort's assistant), my involvement was limited to that of an observer. I don't think I even knew what was happening in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #125 until I saw it in print. ]

The Scarlet Spider goes off in search of Dr. Warren and Gwen as a new Green Goblin arrives on the scene. As the car carrying Miles and Gwen crosses the George Washington Bridge (the scene of the real Gwen's death at the hands of the original Green Goblin), it crashes and nearly tumbles into the water below. The new Goblin swoops in and rescues Gwen, although it looks as if he's kidnapping her. The Goblin carries Gwen to the top of the bridge. While Warren shoots at the Goblin, Gwen loses her balance and falls, only to be rescued by the Scarlet Spider. After getting Gwen to safety, the Spider rushes to Dr. Warren to find that he's degenerated and the Goblin has gotten away. Gwen leaves during the confusion, and tries to come to grips with the realization of who she is; not Gwen Stacy, not Joyce Delaney, but a clone.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Returning to the bridge where Gwen died had become an established Spider-Man cliché by that point - and an overused one, at that. To this day, whenever a Spider-Man writer tries for dramatic irony or poignancy, it usually involves Spider-Man being at that bridge. I was guilty of using this cliché myself, in the very first professional Spider-Man story I ever wrote (it was in the 1995 SPIDER-MAN HOLIDAY SPECIAL, which we'll presumably get to in a few weeks). But it's now about six years later and I've seen this scene played again out a number of times since then, so all I can say is: ENOUGH WITH THE BRIDGE ALREADY! MOVE ON!
Incidentally, it's still unclear exactly which bridge was the site of Gwen's death. In the original story, told in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121, it was drawn as the Brooklyn Bridge, but writer Gerry Conway referred to it in the script as the George Washington Bridge. Spider-Man even comments that it's appropriate that Norman Osborn would go to a bridge named after his favorite president, and that Osborn has the same sort of hang-up about dollar bills. In later reprints of the story, the dialogue is changed so that the bridge is identified as the Brooklyn Bridge, and Spider-Man's comment about Norman's love for money is deleted. However, plenty of other stories were still being done in which the bridge was referred to as the GWB, which only added to the confusion. To deal with this, whenever Tom Brevoort and I worked on a story that referred back to the events of AMAZING #121, our approach was to simply not refer to the bridge by a specific name. That's how we had writer Kurt Busiek deal with it in the LEGACY OF EVIL one-shot, and how I dealt with it when I wrote THE OSBORN JOURNAL. ]

The backup story in this issue sheds even more light on the Warren and Stacy clones. It details how the real Miles Warren had a dream that his clones would live on to have lives he could never lead. The Warren and Stacy clones fall in love, and marry, living an idealistic life under the false notion of reality, though Warren is fully aware of the ultimate fate in store for all clones.

The Amazing Spider-Man #402, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt, Al Milgrom and Joe Rubenstein, is the first of the 2-part "Crossfire" story. It begins with the Scarlet Spider paying a visit to Jacob Raven to go over the Parker murder trial. Raven tells Scarlet that he wants to prove Peter's innocence and Scarlet tells him that he's going to help in that quest. Peter goes back home, where MJ gives him the test results she's been worrying about, indicating that there could be some deformities with the baby due to Peter's blood. Before he can try to alleviate her fears, Traveller appears, stopping time in its place to transport Peter to another realm.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : For my opinions about Judas Traveller, you can check some of the earlier columns. I really don't have much to add about him here. ]

In this new realm, Traveller claims to have captured Aunt May's soul. He tests Peter's heroism by questioning how far he will go. Sacrificing himself is one thing, but would Peter sacrifice those he loves? Traveller tells Peter that it would be no big deal for him to return May to life, in return for Peter choosing the death of 100 others or 10 or even just one. The decision is his. Peter resists, telling Traveller that he is no god and that none of what Traveller says can be believed. Peter insists that it's all a game being played inside his head and he is in control, not Traveller. Traveller then admits that he is no god, but he's very close. He takes Peter forward in time 24 hours to witness a reality of New York City completely destroyed. The reason for the destruction? Peter himself.

Spider-Man #59, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Sam DeLarosa, concludes "Crossfire." Traveller and Scarlet Spider (Peter) stand atop the ruins of an old building, one of hundreds in the now-leveled city of New York. As Peter fights to find Mary Jane among the ruins, Traveller tells him that he, MJ and their child will all live, but at the cost of everything and everyone else; a choice he could have prevented. He then brings Peter back to the present, to let him see how things will unfold as they happen.

Traveller explains to Peter that his Host are sabotaging an experimental Geothermal Heating Station. The resulting explosion will reduce the city to a wasteland. Since they serve a greater purpose in Traveller's experiments to discover the true nature of evil (and in turn discover the true nature of all that is good), he can do nothing. He promises to keep Mary Jane and her unborn child safe, even if he fails, so if all Peter wants is the safety of his wife and child, he does nothing. Peter tells Traveller that he wants to see Mary Jane before doing anything.

At the police station, Jacob Raven talks privately with Conner Trevane. He knows Peter Parker is innocent of the crimes and asks Conner to help him prove Peter's innocence.

Scrier warns Traveller that he is straining the limits of his powers, which makes Traveller angry. He admits that Scrier has been his friend and confidant for hundreds of years, but he should never presume to be his equal. Scrier admits that he never would.

Peter pays a visit to his wife and tells her that he is sorry for everything that's happened and promises that things will be okay. He says that he'll always love her and swings off to find the Host and prevent Traveller's warning from coming true. The Scarlet Spider confronts the Host and is able to stop them from sabotaging the station, but they find another reason to worry. A transpatial time vortex has been created that will collapse on itself shortly, leaving a destructive force greater than what they hoped to accomplish originally. Scrier informs Traveller that it is the result of his toying with the space-time continuum and reveals that the source of the destruction was Traveller all along.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Does anyone besides me feel that this just isn't a Spider-Man story? ]

The vortex is trying to reclaim itself through Traveller. Scrier reveals that Peter's family will still be safe, since they're protected by the last of Traveller's powers, but the city will still be laid to waste, with Traveller dying, as well. As the vortex tries to engulf Traveller, we get a glimpse into his past, a past which includes the crucifixion, knights, gladiators and world wars. The Scarlet Spider reaches in to grab Traveller and pull him out of the vortex's power. As Scrier picks up his weakened partner, he warns Scarlet Spider that Traveller will never be satisfied until he can understand him and it will not end. Peter accepts it as part of his life and goes to his wife, and holds her close as Scrier and Traveller disappear.

Spectacular Spider-Man #225 is another anniversary bonanza with a holodisk cover. It's written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz and the story is titled "The Return of the Green Goblin," which is appropriate since the issue is basically a lead-in to a new ongoing Green Goblin series set to begin in a couple of months.

The issue opens with Peter Parker at the grave of his friend, Harry Osborn, who died like his father-in the guise of the Goblin. Peter explains that with all of the clones and doppelgangers, he doesn't know what to make of this newest Goblin. Elsewhere, the Jackal is feeling the same way. Though trying to devote his time to wiping out mankind, he can't help but notice the new Green Goblin and wonders it's a clone from a secret competitor: "a Valiant Dark Horse who is intent on ruining my Image." Cute.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Tom DeFalco was always doing stuff like that in his stories- throwing in little in-jokes that referred to what was going on in the comics industry at the time. I remember how Tom, as writer of THE FANTASTIC FOUR, savagely poked fun at the 1990s FF animated series. He caught some heat over that, but it was damn funny. Later, Tom D. would get a lot of mileage out of Marvel's financial woes by having the Daily Bugle go through the same thing. ]

Peter returns home to find Mary Jane sewing him a new Spider-Man costume. He's grown tired of wearing Ben Reilly's Scarlet Spider duds so MJ has created another Spidey suit. Peter is intent on proving his innocence before his trial begins but Mary Jane tells him that he is needed at home, too. When they overhear a story about another homeless man set ablaze by the mysterious Firefist, they know Peter needs to check it out, as Spider-Man.

The new Green Goblin wants to investigate, as well, and his path crosses with Spider-Man, who isn't too pleased to see another person taking up the guise of his greatest enemy. As the Goblin pleads his case, telling Spider-Man he's one of the good guys, Spider-Man tries to stop him anyway. During the battle, Spider-Man realizes that the new Goblin can't possibly be an Osborn and wonders if he was possibly telling the truth.

In prison, Ben Reilly receives a visitor. Mary Jane confides in him that she's worried about the health of her baby and whether it's even fair to bring the child into this world. Ben says that although he's the most pro-life person in the world, being a clone that should have died years ago, Mary Jane can be assured that she won't go through any decision alone.

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin battle Firefist while the Jackal watches from the sidelines. Together, they manage to beat the villain, though the Goblin takes off as Spider-Man deals with the cleanup. The story ends with the Jackal returning to his lair to be greeted by... Peter Parker?


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Oy. Hadn't we seen this trick before? ]

It's also worth mentioning that there were five Spider-Man Super Specials that came out around this time. The main story was "Planet of the Symbiotes," which dealt with Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Venom and Carnage battling aliens for the planet where the Venom symbiote originated.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Tom Brevoort and I edited those five Spider-Man Super Specials. There was one Super Special for each of the four monthly Spider-Man titles, and one for VENOM, as well. We inherited the "Planet of the Symbiotes" concept, which had been suggested by former Spider-Man Assistant Editor Mike Lackey and was approved by Spider-Man Group Editor Danny Fingeroth. Danny was overseeing Tom and me on this project, and suggested we hire former Spider-Man writer David Michelinie to write it. David was a logical choice, since he co-created Venom (with Todd McFarlane) and arguably knew more about the character than anyone else. If we were going to do a story exploring the origins of the Venom symbiote, it made sense for David to write it. I had never worked with Michelinie before, and was a little apprehensive. I absolutely loved his work on Marvel's STAR WARS comic back in the 1980s, and I was well aware of the legendary status his work on IRON MAN had achieved. But I must admit, I never really enjoyed his Spider-Man. Nevertheless, I thought David did a fairly solid job on "Planet of the Symbiotes," and it seemed like he was having fun with it. We also got to work with some really good artists, such as Kyle Hotz, Darick Robertson, and Steve Lightle.

One of these Super Specials had a short back-up story written by Stan Lee, penciled by Darick, and inked by the ever-awesome George Pérez. This, if I recall correctly, was my first time really working with Stan, and I was totally jazzed. The story takes place right after Aunt May's funeral, with Peter thinking back to the day when he found out that his parents had died. It was a very touching story, and the art was just fabulous. George really liked inking Darick's pencils, and I know how thrilled Darick was to be working with both Stan and George. Darick and I are still good friends, and he cites this story as one of the high points of his career.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the "flip-book feature" in these five Super Specials-namely the SCARLET SPIDER five-parter that Tom Brevoort and I edited. Stretching across all five Super Specials, this would essentially be a Scarlet Spider limited series, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. Tom B. and I really did want to make it special, to produce a worthwhile story that further explored Ben Reilly as a character and deserved all the space that was being devoted to it. It was the kind of project that J.M. DeMatteis would have been perfect for, but I don't remember why we didn't get him to write it. He was probably too busy, or Tom B. and I simply wanted to use this project as an opportunity to bring in a different writer, one that we'd always wanted to work with.

Again, Danny Fingeroth was overseeing us on this, and somehow, for some reason, he got it into his head that we would be bringing back the Lizard for this story. Tom B. and I were present at the Spider-Man writers' conference where the idea had been mentioned in passing as a possibility, but we'd never committed to it as anything other than a possibility. And as I recall, neither Tom B. nor I had any real enthusiasm for the idea, so it wasn't something we were going to actively pursue.

Tom B. and I brought in John Ostrander, a writer who had greatly impressed me with his work on DC's SPECTRE series. The initial idea that John pitched us was very intriguing, about whether or not a clone could have a soul. Unfortunately, it conflicted with future plans in the main Spider-Man books. I think John took another stab or two at coming up with a story line, but for whatever reasons, we couldn't get his ideas approved, and John eventually decided to just move on. Not only that, but every time any new story idea came in, be it from Ostrander or another writer, Danny would ask, "Where's the Lizard?" Tom and I would roll our eyes and try to muddle through.

Eventually, it became clear that Danny would simply not approve any story idea that did not include the Lizard, and he had already started to push his own choice writers upon us. With time-and our patience-running out, Tom and I simply submitted to Danny's will and did whatever he wanted. Terry Kavanagh ended up writing the story, which featured the return of the Lizard.

This was one of the few instances where Tom Brevoort and I felt completely disconnected-creatively and emotionally-from a project we were working on. It became a project we had to endure, rather than something that we could really take any pride in having put together. Some time later, this Lizard story was systematically undone in the pages of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and no one was more pleased by this than Tom B. and myself. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:46 PM

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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 9a:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 9
And now we arrive at the most crucial chapter of the entire clone saga, "The Trial of Peter Parker." Will Peter Parker go to jail for a murder he didn't commit? Who is Kaine? And most important, who is the real Peter Parker?

The Tom DeFalco Interview

To help mark this special installment, we took some time to speak with another key player in the storyline, former Marvel Editor in Chief and current writer of the wonderful SPIDER-GIRL, Tom DeFalco.

Andrew: How much convincing did it take for you to approve the clone saga, and why?

Tom : It took quite a lot of convincing for me to approve the clone saga. Danny Fingeroth was the Spider-editor at the time, and had arranged for all the Spider-creators to come into town for a meeting. He showed up at my office pretty late one night, and proposed the clone saga to me. My first reaction was to reject it, but he convinced me to think about it overnight and come to the next day's meeting. I showed up and faced the staff - all the writers, artists and editors - and they all had passionate reasons why we should do this story. I had never seen such passion in all my years in the business. If the creators were so passionate, I figured the readers would be, too. Seems I was right!

Andrew: What was the reasoning behind such a drastic decision?

Tom: I guess I finally okayed it because I was convinced the crew could produce one heck of a dramatic story.

Andrew: If the clone saga was in response to DC's Superman and Batman "events" were there any other possible Spider-Man "events" considered before deciding to move on the clone saga?

Tom: I'm sure the "event" mentality had a hand in my decision to okay the clone saga, but the only other events that anyone were discussed in the Spider-office was A) Killing or divorcing Mary Jane, or B) Killing Aunt May.


---

The "Trial of Peter Parker" is the four-part story running through the Spider-titles that finally answers the question of who Kaine is, and who is the one, true Spider-Man. WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #126, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Roy Burdine, Randy Emberlin and Don Hudson, begins part one of the story.

Spider-Man is scouring the city, looking for Kaine, the one man who could provide answers to prove Peter Parker's innocence, but Kaine finds him. Kaine is furious that Peter is involving himself with things that have nothing to do with him. When Peter responds that being framed for murder involves him, Kaine mentions that his intent was to frame Ben Reilly for murder and Peter is suffering the consequences for allying himself with Reilly.

As the trial begins and the prosecutor introduces grisly evidence of the murder, Ben Reilly, as Peter, hopes that Peter can find a way to prove that Kaine is the killer. Kaine, meanwhile, is quite happy that Reilly will be found guilty and executed for murder, no matter what name he goes by. Kaine and Spider-Man continue to beat the hell out of each other. Kaine is stronger and more powerful that Spider-Man, but Peter will never give up.

Elsewhere, Jacob Raven and Stunner hear reports that Spider-Man and Kaine are fighting. They head to the scene to try and get their hands on Kaine, which they hope will prove Parker's innocence. All this is happening while Spider-Man gathers all the strength he can to fight back against Kaine and bring him in. He doesn't know what happened between Kaine and Ben Reilly to cause Kaine's hatred, but Spider-Man vows to bring Kaine to justice and set Ben free.

Spider-Man and Kaine take their fight to the streets and Jacob Raven and Stunner arrive on the scene. Stunner says that she wants to make Kaine pay for killing her beloved Otto, but before she or Raven can do anything, Traveller appears and transports both Kaine and Spider-Man away from the area.

Part 2 occurs in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #403, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt and Sam DeLarosa. While Ben faces trial as Peter Parker for murder, Spider-Man is facing a trial of his own, presided over by Dr. Judas Traveller, with Carnage as prosecutor, Kaine, John Jameson and Dr. Kafka on the defense and a jury made up of Ravencroft inmates. The purpose of the trial is clear: is Spider-Man, by his very existence, responsible for the creation of these super-villains and would his death somehow "cure" them?

Kaine attacks Traveller, who he calls "Scrier's man." Traveller isn't affected by Kaine's power at all and takes offense to being called a servant of Scrier. At the trial of Peter Parker, Mary Jane has been called as a witness for the prosecution. They explain that while Peter may be prone to frequent absences due to his freelance assignments, there was a period a few years ago where he was missing and no one knew where he was. Mary Jane knows that Peter was buried alive by Kraven the Hunter at that time, but she can't say anything without revealing that he's really Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : That line about Traveller being "Scrier's man" was really the first concrete reference to the notion that Scrier was the real power behind Traveller. J.M. DeMatteis was definitely going in that direction, but he would not stick around long enough to see it through. I ended up sorting all this stuff out later on, in THE OSBORN JOURNAL one-shot, in a way that I am quite sure was not what J.M. had in mind at all. But we'll get to that in the future. ]

At Spider-Man's trial, Carnage blames his existence on Spider-Man, who brought to Earth the symbiote that corrupted the serial killer known also as Cletus Kassady. Kaine cross-examines Carnage by attacking him and the two fight it out until Traveller puts an end to it. Spider-Man begins to sense that for all of Kaine's crimes, there seems to be something beneath the darkness that surrounds him. Carnage's next witness is Malcom Macbride. Carnage asks what prompted Macbride to toy with Dr. Warren's Carrion virus in the first place. He offers that perhaps Malcom was jealous by the success of one of Warren's other students, and became irrational enough to play with the virus. When asked who the student was, Macbride answers "Peter Parker." With that, Carnage unmasks Spider-Man and reveals the face of Peter Parker, claiming that he destroys everything close to him, no matter what the identity.

Furious at having his identity compromised again, Spider-Man breaks free of his restraints and confronts Traveller. He concedes that Traveller will never leave him alone and offers to give himself fully, as long as Traveller will let him go long enough to bring Kaine to trial, clear Parker's name and save Ben Reilly's life. Traveller ignores the plea and asks the jury for a verdict, before the defense can plead their case. The verdict, of course is guilty and Traveller's sentence is death, to be carried out by the prosecution and jury immediately.

Spider-Man has been paralyzed by Traveller, so Kaine comes to his rescue, battling off the dozens of villains who seek to kill him. Traveller then ends the nonsense by transporting all of them back to their cells before Kaine almost dies. Spider-Man asks why he stopped it and Traveller reveals that he needed to understand Spider-Man's being. The fact that a corrupt soul like Kaine would sacrifice himself for Peter speaks more about Spider-Man's life than his actions ever could. Traveller concludes that the experiment is over for now, and returns Spider-Man and Kaine to the place from where he took them. Stunner is waiting for them. Back at the Ravencroft Institute, Carnage is in his cell, talking about killing Peter and his family, but is visited by Traveller. Traveller says that the knowledge Carnage has been given is too precious for one such as him and he removes Carnage's memory, as well as that of everyone else who witnessed the day's events.

Part 3 takes place in SPIDER-MAN #60, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna. Stunner is gaining the upper hand against a weakened Kaine, but Spider-Man intervenes. The battle between the three of them causes a building to collapse, nearly killing them all. Stunner disappears and Spider-Man tells Kaine that he's coming with him to the trial. When Kaine explains that he will fight him with every ounce of strength to keep from helping Reilly, Spider-Man nods in understanding and then puts all of his power into a single devastating punch which knocks Kaine unconscious.

Just as Spider-Man drags Kaine onto the courtroom steps, his captive breaks free and attacks. The two of them throw each other through walls and create enough of a disturbance to put the court into recess. Kaine and Spider-Man carry their fight into a private room where Kaine tells him the fighting needs to stop. Spider-Man wants the truth and Kaine asks which truth he wants. Kaine reveals that if Spider-Man were to examine his actions, he would understand that everything Kaine has done has been to protect Peter Parker. Everything. He won't allow Spider-Man to throw it away and risk it all for Reilly. To drive home the point of why he's so obsessed with Peter Parker's protection, Kaine removes his mask to reveal a scarred face of...Peter Parker. Kaine was the first clone, but the degeneration took effect, ending any hope he had at a real life. The degeneration also twisted his powers in a way that makes him stronger than either Ben or Peter and he's spent his life making sure that the life Peter built for himself was never in danger.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : So now we know who Kaine really is. Fellow Spider-Man assistant editor Mark Bernardo revealed this information to me early on, and I thought it was pretty intriguing. If you look at the original clone stories from the 1970s (which Tom Brevoort and I reprinted as the SPIDER-MAN: CLONE GENESIS trade paperback), you can see that there was definitely room for the creation of Kaine to have occurred, off-panel at least. So the idea certainly worked within the established continuity.
If memory serves, it was Howard Mackie who first came up with the idea of Kaine. But it was J.M. DeMatteis who really fleshed out and developed the character. DeMatteis had a real fondness for Kaine, and it showed. Whenever Kaine appeared in a DeMatteis story, there was a depth and three-dimensional quality to him that was just wasn't there in the other writers' stories.

And here's a few things you probably didn't know about Kaine. First, that weird costume of his was actually a life-support outfit that stabilized the debilitating effects of his cellular degeneration. Kaine lived in constant pain, and that would only get worse as time went on, but the outfit slowed down the degeneration and prolonged his life. That's why Kaine wore the costume in most of his modern-day appearances, and why he didn't have it in the LOST YEARS limited series, which took place years earlier.

Second, all of Kaine's powers were enhanced versions of Peter's powers. It was well established in the stories that Kaine was physically stronger than Peter, and he was clearly much taller and more massive. But the infamous "mark of Kaine" burn that he left on the faces of his victims was just a greatly enhanced version of the "stick-to-walls" ability that Peter possesses in his hands and feet. And the "future visions" that Kaine experienced from time to time, including the relentless vision of Mary Jane's death, was simply a much stronger version of Peter's spider sense.

Ironically enough, as Mark Bernardo - even to this day - has never failed to point out, NONE of the Spider-writers ever managed to work any of this information into the actual stories! Mark and I both felt that these were some of the most interesting aspects about Kaine - but as it turned out, the people in our little group would be the only ones who ever knew about them!

Spider-Man empathizes with his clone but is shocked to hear that Kaine still won't help save Reilly. He then decides the only way that Ben can be saved and Peter can be cleared, is to reveal his identity to the court and tell the world about the clone mess. With Kaine begging him not to do it, Spider-Man enters the court and offers new evidence that can clear Peter Parker's name. As he begins to pull his mask off, Kaine stops him and approaches the bench with a confession. He tells the court that he has hated Parker since Parker took a photo of him committing a murder. Since then, he had his fingerprints altered to match Parker's. While far fetched, Kaine puts his hand onto a table to let his prints be taken as evidence to prove what he's saying is true. Instead of just giving up, however, Kaine sets out to do what he has wanted for years, and carry out Ben Reilly's execution. ]

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz, concludes the "Trial of Peter Parker" storyline with the most shocking revelation of all. Immediately after Kaine confesses, he lunges at Ben Reilly, determined to kill him once and for all. Spider-Man charges after him and with the helped of several armed police officers, Kaine is taken into custody.

While Kaine makes a formal confession to the authorities, and the Jackal answers questions from yet another Peter Parker about when he can strike, Ben, Peter and Mary Jane are reunited at the Parker home. Seward Trainer calls the trio down to his lab immediately. After giving them the wonderful news that the baby appears to be very healthy and doing well, he offers some somber news. Although the baby will be fine, he's discovered that one of the parents is quite possibly a clone. He reveals that he doesn't know for certain since he hasn't had the opportunity to compare both Peter and Ben together.

Peter wants to leave, feeling that Trainer is Ben's friend and they're plotting against him, but Mary Jane convinces him to do the tests. He's smart enough to know if something's been faked, so she tells Peter to do it for her, the baby and most of all, himself, to finally know the truth.

Peter agrees, and he and Ben undergo an exhaustive series of tests, checking and rechecking the data until they reach a conclusive, indisputable verdict: Peter's the clone and Ben Reilly is the real Parker. The news hits Peter and Mary Jane as hard as would be expected and Peter lashes out at Ben, telling him that he can't "steal his life." Ben points out that it's a life Peter never should have had in the first place, and that he, Ben, is the one who was robbed of five years. They continue to scream at each other and fight, but Peter is becoming more obsessed. He accuses Ben and Seward of playing him just like the Jackal and Kaine have done. He starts to strangle Reilly, claiming he'll make him confess even if he has to choke it out of him. Mary Jane rushes over to Peter to reason with him and in one of the most controversial moments, almost overshadowing the "Ben is the real one" revelation, Peter hits Mary Jane, sending her flying across the room. When he realizes just how far he's gone over the edge, he runs off, ashamed.

The story ends with the Jackal calling his newest Parker lookalike another clone and showing him a costume he's designed for him. Jackal tells his friend that the day will soon come when clones like him will rule the earth.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : SPECTACULAR #226 was, of course, the most pivotal issue of all. And in more ways than one. Yes, it was the issue where Peter found out that he was the clone and Ben was the original. But it was also the issue where Bob Budiansky faced his first real challenge as Editor in Chief of the Spider-Man books.
The thing you have to remember about Bob B. is that the clone saga did not originate under him - he inherited it when he took over as Spider-Man EIC. And I don't think he ever felt comfortable with the idea of revealing that the Spider-Man we all knew and loved for the previous twenty years had really been a clone. But he took over the books so late in the game, and the storyline had been so firmly laid out, that I don't think he felt that he could just make the writers suddenly switch gears and abandon the plans they had been following for so long. The way I see it, Bob was torn between what he felt in his gut was right for the books and his desire not to mess too much with his creative staff, who had been there long before him.

Did Bob know in advance what was going to happen in SPECTACULAR #226? Absolutely. He undoubtedly read the plot when it first came in. And I know for sure that he read the issue once it was completed, and that he signed off on it before it shipped. So he approved it, he signed off on it, he let the story run as it was originally written... and as I recall, he immediately regretted it. I remember that he had second thoughts about it right after the issue left house. He began pondering ways in which the story could be undone, without it looking like a total copout. Of course, at that point in the game, it would be utterly impossible. The time to undo the story was BEFORE it left house, not after it saw print and the readers essentially had the rug yanked out from under them once already. From that point on, after Tom DeFalco had so dramatically - and pretty damn DEFINITIVELY - established who was the original and who was the clone, any backtracking would be seen as Marvel copping out, Marvel buckling under pressure from its readers, Marvel not having the guts to stand behind its own stories.

As the dust settled, Bob B. calmed down a bit, and at least seemed willing to give Ben a chance as the "one, true, original Spider-Man." But looking back, based on what I saw back then and what I know now, I think he was a man constantly fighting his own instincts and trying to convince himself to move forward with something he did not and could not ever believe in. This dilemma would only get worse as time went on. I'll be exploring that in future columns, and Bob will presumably be providing his own insights on it in his upcoming interview with Andrew.

Now, on to the matter of Peter "hitting" Mary Jane. We got some heat over this, and some bad publicity. But come on, it's not like Peter Parker was suddenly being presented as a wife-beater! Consider the circumstances. Peter was in a rage, his whole world had been turned upside down, and he was in the middle of a brutal fight with the man he believed had just robbed him of his life. Mary Jane was warned by Seward Trainer not to go near them, that Peter and Ben were both out of control, but she ignored Seward and tried to get in the middle of them and stop the fight. She is clearly shown grabbing Peter's arm, and in the next panel, Peter is shown flinging that arm outward, to shove her away from him so that he can continue the fight. That's how I always interpreted the scene. Peter was so angry, so on the edge, that he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing. Had he been the slightest bit rational at that moment, he surely would have taken into account the fact that he had super-strength, and that he couldn't just shove a normal human being away like that. And I know that's how Tom DeFalco intended the scene to be interpreted. Looking at the issue now, though, I'll grant that maybe some of these subtleties did not come through in the art as clearly as they should have. And that provided enough fodder for anyone who was really looking to make a big stink about the scene.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 9b:
Quote:
Again, Bob Budiansky signed off on the issue - it's not like he didn't see this artwork before it was printed. But when Marvel took some heat after the issue came out, Bob's reaction was to get very conservative and skittish about showing anything that could possibly be perceived as violence toward women, or even showing women in any sort of jeopardy. This completely screwed up a cover for VENOM that Tom Brevoort and I had commissioned by artist Kyle Hotz. The cover was for a storyline in which Venom is reunited with his ex-wife, Ann Weying. The illustration depicted Venom looming over Ann, with his long tongue wrapped around her. It was romantic, in a twisted sort of way. But after SPECTACULAR #226, Bob, who had previously approved the cover, now asked for so many revisions on it - after Kyle had finished it and turned it in - that we ended up not using it at all. It just would have been so watered down to the point where it lacked any punch whatsoever. A shame - it really was a nifty cover!]
Part 9c:
Quote:
The Tom DeFalco Interview (continued)

Andrew: Was there any consideration about just bringing Ben Reilly back to introduce a new character and rogues gallery, or was the sole purpose to shock the readers by making him the real deal?

Tom: Here's a secret - when I finally okayed the clone saga, I told Danny Fingeroth to build a backdoor into it. I said that I wanted to be able to bring Peter back as the real deal. But I didn't tell Danny everything. I believe that both comic book creators and comic book fans are a cowardly and superstitious lot. While the fans claim they want change, they tend to react negatively to it. So do most creators! With this in mind, I later updated Mark Gruenwald on our plans for the clone saga. Mark was my second-in-command, and the logical guy to succeed me. He and I agreed that Peter was the real guy, but that we would let the Spider-team try to convince the readers otherwise. If the Spider-creators succeeded, they would love the idea of the old switcheroo. If they failed, they'd be soooo harry that they had a backdoor. Either way, the readers were guaranteed a great story with a lot of unexpected twists.

Andrew: How were you going to resolve the Clone Saga initially?

Tom: Our plan was to structure the clone saga like a three-act play. Act One would climax at or around Amazing #400 - when we revealed that Pete was the clone and Ben was the real guy. Act Two would last around three months and follow Ben's adventures. In Act Three, Peter would triumphantly return as the one, true Spider-Man. Mark and I were hoping the Spider-crew could make Ben a viable character during his turn in the spotlight, and we planned to star Ben in his own monthly title after Peter returned. It was kind of like what I had already done with Thor and Thunderstrike - two very different titles based on a single concept. Of course, our plan went into the trash the day I got fired, and Mark wasn't picked to succeed me.

Andrew: What do you remember the response being like from fans, regarding the clone saga? Did you see a change from when Ben Reilly was reintroduced as the story moved on?

Tom: The fans were intrigued, and they were responding to the story with a passion the Spider-office hadn't seen in my twenty years with the company. I think people didn't like Ben at first, but he slowly began to grow on them. I believe our plan was working - at some point the readers would have wanted Ben to have his own book.

Andrew: Where do you think the storyline fell short, if you think so at all?

Tom: I think editorial eventually lost control of the story, and the marketing department took charge. Instead of moving along at a brisk pace, the story was stretched farther and farther out. At one point, I was asked to plot a two-part story. After I pitched the story and it was accepted, I was informed that it would be stretched out over four issues instead of two. I was later told that marketing wanted to stretch it over eight issues. I argued and argued, and they agreed to keep it to four...if I could pitch another four-issue arc by the following morning. Let's just say, I did the best I could with the time I had.

Andrew: Do you think it'd be possible for Ben Reilly to co-exist with Peter Parker in the Marvel Universe?

Tom: Absolutely! Though they started from the same place, they were two completely different characters. The potential for conflict was unlimited!


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The "backdoor" that Tom DeFalco says he requested had apparently never been worked out, because we later ended up spending MONTHS trying to figure out how to get the hell out of this mess. We (the writers, the editors, the assistant editors, Marvel's continuity cop, and writers who weren't even working on the Spider-books) were going back and forth, submitting one idea after another, until we were all sick of Spider-Man, of clones, and, to some extent, of each other. Had a backdoor been in place from the start, believe me, we would have welcomed it with open arms and taken full advantage of it.

Tom D.'s mention of Thor and Thunderstrike brings back memories of a major trend (some would call it an epidemic) that was going on at Marvel at that time - namely, taking an established character and creating a "spin-off" version of that character. This spin-off would be very similar to the original character, yet different enough to justify its own existence and, hopefully, its own ongoing title. In addition to Thunderstrike being spun off from Thor, the USAgent was spun off from Captain America, War Machine was spun off from Iron Man, and the Fantastic Force was spun off from the Fantastic Four. So from a business standpoint, it made a certain degree of sense to try to do the same thing with Spider-Man. But creatively? Well, all I'll say is that THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, and FANTASTIC FOUR are still being published to this day, and all of the spin-off characters are either dead, in limbo, or limited strictly to infrequent guest appearances. There was a major reader backlash to this practice of "duplicating" existing titles, and it's easy to see why: the original versions - the classic Marvel heroes - could no longer be unique or special with other Marvel characters running around who looked similar to them and had similar powers and abilities. It's safe to say that an ongoing SCARLET SPIDER series would have been met with the same reaction, and would have ultimately suffered the same fate as all the other spin-offs. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:42 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:01 PM   #12
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 10:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 10
After the shocking events of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226, in which Ben Reilly was revealed to be the original Peter Parker, a few one-shots and mini-series were established to help shed more light on Ben's past, as well as prepare readers for the next big event to occur.

First, we'll deal with SPIDER-MAN: THE JACKAL FILES. This was a one-shot written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by a host of artists, each taking a page for the pin-up style data files reviewed by the Jackal.

The story goes into how the Jackal is preparing the newest Spider-clone to become his agent in the destruction of the Parkers. He is getting ready to download a huge quantity of information into the clone's head to better help him understand the people he will meet and eventually kill. From here, the story goes into a series of one-page pin-ups of different characters in the Spider-Man universe, each illustrated by a different artist, along with an editorial from the Jackal himself.

It's done in a humorous style, fitting for the deranged mind behind the whole process. The Jackal's own file, for instance reads like the profile sheet for a Playboy Centerfold, along with turn-ons (Gwen Stacy) and turn-offs (the degeneration process and clones that think they know everything). Jackal runs through everyone from Mary Jane and Gwen to villains like Stunner and Vulture to the newest members of the cast: Judas Traveller and his host and Scrier, whom he only refers to as enigmatic.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Speaking of Stunner, it's time for a major correction. I was recently informed by former Spider-Man assistant editor (and good buddy) Mark Bernardo that Stunner was in fact not created by Tom DeFalco, as I had indicated in a previous column. Stunner, Mark told me, was actually created by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Bagley, so my apologies to those gents.

Tom Brevoort and I edited the JACKAL FILES one-shot, and that was actually fun to work on. It was a one-shot intended to help newer readers get caught up on who everyone was in the Spider-Man universe. Well, actually, it started life as just another project that we could slap Spider-Man's name on and throw out into the marketplace because the Spider-titles were selling so well and we had a budget to meet and the marketing and sales departments wanted to milk the clone saga for all it was worth. But Brevoort and I figured that that didn't mean the book HAD to suck. We hired Todd Dezago, who was at that time an up-and-coming writer working fairly regularly on the Spider-Man books and showed that he could write fun, snappy dialogue. Tom B. and I enjoyed working with Todd. He took exactly the right approach - humorous, demented, tongue-in-cheek, but never too campy. I remember Brevoort and me getting Todd's script pages in and really getting a kick out of them as we read them. Tom B. let me hire most of the artists to draw the pin-ups, and that was fun for me - a chance to take on some added responsibilities and make contact with lots of different artists. Was this project going to win an Eisner? Of course not. But it's one of those things where I can look back and say, "Yeah, I had a good time on that." ]

Of that time, writer Todd Dezago says:


We did have a good time on that and both Tom and Glenn gave me room to run on it. I'd fax in pages of text and worry that they'd shoot down one thing or another because it was too silly or the double-entendre would be a bit much. They'd call me and just laugh and say, "More. More." That's always good...

When he begins to describe the clone who's getting these memories implanted, he describes him as the ultimate clone. He's what evolution would to do Spider-Man in 10,000 years. He has the ability to control his physical make-up on a molecular level, altering his shape, mass and density through force of will. Jackal tells him that after his experiment is over, the ultimate clone will kill everyone Peter's ever known, committing a sort of mass Spider-Cide. The Jackal is so pleased with himself over the description, he dubs his newest clone, Spider-Cide.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was the character that Tom DeFalco wanted to call "Freakface." He was the third Peter Parker clone that had been running around a few months earlier and supposedly died in a warehouse explosion. I can't remember ANYONE liking the name "Spidercide," but it still ended up being used. ]

The rest of the book is made up of the fun file pages they used to include in the books every so often, which showed diagrams of Spider-Man's equipment and how they work. Here, the Scarlet Spider's impact webbing and stingers are also explained in more detail.

The next event is the three-issue limited series called SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson. The series fills in some of the gaps of Ben Reilly's mysterious time on the road, including his encounter with Kaine and more about Jacob Raven and his partner's death, which resulted in Peter Parker going on trial for murder.

The story takes place three years after the original Peter Parker fled New York, believing himself to be the clone and adopting the name Ben Reilly. He's been living a nomad's life for years, taking a job here and there for a month or so before moving on to the next city. His latest stop is Salt Lake City, where he is taking a job in the science department of a local university, thanks to a letter of recommendation from his friend, Dr. Seward Trainer. After his interview, Ben stops off for a bite to eat at a local diner and runs into Janine, a beautiful redhead who immediately catches his eye. He also meets Detective Jacob Raven, who Ben immediately feels affection for. Raven seems to radiate decency, although Janine doesn't share that feeling. Ben and Janine hit it off immediately and they plan to go out for dinner.

Elsewhere, Kaine is getting into trouble at a local bar. He's been following Reilly for years, keeping an eye on him. He apparently knows the truth regarding Ben's true identity, but wants him to suffer as he has. After Kaine dispenses with his own brand of justice, he meets Louise Kennedy, who is later revealed to be the partner of Jacob Raven. The two cops are trying to bust up the remnants of the Tannen mob family. Tannen's already in prison, but his power reaches from beyond the walls of his cell.

A bust by Louise goes wrong and Tannen's men gain the advantage and are ready to make her "disappear" until Kaine crashes through the window, rescuing her. When Louise asks, "Now what?", Kaine tells her that he can think of a few things.

As Ben drives to meet Janine, his spider-sense goes into overdrive and he follows it towards a house. When he approaches the house, it explodes. Ben rushes into the house and rescues a woman and child. They live, but doctors aren't sure whether they'll pull through or not. It is revealed that the people Ben rescued were Detective Raven's wife and child. Raven himself has been kidnapped by Tannen's men and Louise gets the news via a phone call, while she's getting intimate with Kaine.

Reilly knows he must do something, but wishes that someone other than him could save the day. He's found some measure of peace and doesn't want to get involved. But he knows he has to. Creating a non-costume of bandaged hands and a bandage face-mask, Reilly tracks down Tannen's men as they depart with Detective Raven to parts unknown. He handles Tannen's men effortlessly and tells Raven that the cop has nothing to fear from him. The police arrive and Raven is told about his wife and boy.

Ben takes to the skies to find solitude, wondering to himself why he continually gets involved when it isn't his job to do so. He realizes that it's his responsibility, whether he likes it or not. Meanwhile, Kaine is having a deep thought moment of his own. He's found true joy in life for the first time with Louise Kennedy. Until now, all he's known is suffering. Could he ever have anything else?

Detective Raven's wife doesn't survive through the night. The boy will be all right, but Raven is a shell of his former self. Tannen is unhappy to hear about the lack of success in eliminating all of the Ravens and puts the word out to get it done right.

After teaching his class, Reilly runs into Janine and apologizes for breaking their dinner date. From that point on, they spend almost every moment together, enjoying life and each other. While Ben builds on his relationship with Janine during the day, he wages a one-man war against Tannen's organization at night. Ben wonders whether he's doing it out of responsibility to the innocent or fear of how quickly things are moving for his love life.

After his crime fighting activities, Ben spends some time with Janine. As they begin to kiss and make their way inside Janine's home, she tells him it has to end. Reilly accepts this, believing that his place is soaring high above the world, not being a part of it.

In a quiet part of town, Kaine and Louise enjoy a tender moment overlooking the city. As Kaine considers Louise to be the light in his dark world, she tells him that they're more alike. She calls him the night sky and the darkness, which is why she loves him. They return home, but their tender moment is shattered when Kaine feels the horrible effects of clone degeneration. To find an outlet for the tremendous pain he's feeling, Kaine seeks out Ben Reilly, who's back tearing up the rest of Tannen's organization. Kaine, being a much stronger opponent, handles Reilly easily, only holding back a lethal blow because he wants Ben to suffer. Ben Reilly is the real Peter Parker. He'll never have to suffer as Kaine does, and for that Kaine will hound Reilly for the rest of his life. Kaine leaves and before Reilly can regain his strength he's captured by Tannen's men-and Louise Kennedy.

The conclusion of this mini-series picks up with Ben in dire straights. Mob boss Vince Tannen has gotten out of prison and taken Raven's son hostage. Tannen's men prepare to kill Ben Reilly as Raven's partner, Louise Kennedy, looks on. It's revealed that Kennedy has been on Tannen's payroll for some time, which comes as a shock not only to Ben and Jacob Raven's son, but also to Kaine, who crashes back into the frey. Cellular degeneration is one thing, but betrayal by the one he thought he loved is too much for Kaine. He viciously barrels through Tannen's men with only one objective: get to Louise Kennedy. Kennedy manages to escape with Tannen, leaving Kaine behind as Ben tends to Raven's son.

After delivering young Matthew Raven to his father, a battered and bruised Ben Reilly shows up at Janine's door, collapsing. Janine takes Ben in and cares for him, and as he mends, they reveal all their secrets to each other. Janine's real name is Elizabeth Tyne and she's been on the run for murder. When she was a child, Elizabeth/Janine was abused by her father, and when she got older the rage came pouring out and she killed him. Ben holds Janine/Elizabeth and tells her that he loves her. When she asks how he could possibly love someone like her, Ben replies, "I could ask you the same thing." In a terrific moment, Ben takes Janine with him as he leaps across buildings and climbs wall, letting her know his secrets, too.

The cracked mirrored lives of Ben and Kaine continue as Kaine again faces off against Louise, who tells Kaine that she truly loved him. For the first time in his life, Kaine weeps. After Louise leaves him, Kaine follows Reilly and Janine, wondering how a man stripped of his soul, his very identity, could find love again. He thinks to himself that Professor Warren would be proud that his "son" was finally reaching his full potential.

Ben and Janine decide to head East, but stop off to get something to eat for the trip. They're confronted by Raven and Kennedy, who tell Janine that it's time to stop running. Ben pleads with Raven to consider that he's saved both the older and younger Raven's lives, and then Louise recognizes Ben, telling Raven that he's one of Tannen's men. Reilly snaps, knocking the gun from Louise's hand and grabbing Raven's neck with the other hand, telling Raven to leave them alone.

Ben and Janine leave the restaurant and as they continue on their journey they're attacked by Kaine, who seems intent on killing Ben. Reilly fights back with everything he has, telling Kaine that he finally has something, someone, to live for. As they fight, Kennedy and Raven arrive, still tracking Ben and Janine. Kennedy breaks away from Raven and pulls a gun on Ben, ready to kill him. She fires and misses, giving Kaine enough time to grab her and snap her neck. Kaine then reaches down and Ben sees, for the first time, "the mark of Kaine" on Louise Kennedy's face.

Kaine runs off, leaving Jacob Raven to deal with the murder of his partner. Ben Reilly quickly moves to disarm Raven and remind him that if he was truly a killer, Raven would be dead now, too.

The mini-series ends on a cryptic note as Ben relays how "the mark of Kaine" would come back to haunt him years later. He also says that he "lost" Janine, but will treasure the miracle they shared until the day he dies.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS began in Danny Fingeroth's office. I believe it was Danny who put the creative team together and got the whole thing rolling. When Bob Budiansky came on as Spider-Man's Editor in Chief, Bob integrated his staff (including me, Tom Brevoort and associate editor Sarra Mossoff) into the Spider-Man Group, and some projects were shuffled. Sarra ended up getting THE LOST YEARS and put it out, although she shared the editor credit with Danny.
This was John Romita Jr.'s big return to the Spider-Man Group, after penciling the three-part "Parker Legacy" story line that ran as a back-up in the Spider-books a few months earlier. This was very appropriate, as THE LOST YEARS is a sequel to "The Parker Legacy" in that it essentially picks up where "Parker Legacy" left off and continues the story of Ben's early days in exile.

JR and DeMatteis were a great team, and this story played to both of their strengths. I'm sure JR would have preferred to actually draw Spider-Man in full costume, but he's so great at drawing gritty, down-to-Earth, crime drama type of stuff that it really didn't hurt the story at all that Ben never dons a real super hero outfit. And it was nice to finally learn what went down between Ben, Kaine, and Jacob Raven years earlier. DeMatteis did a terrific job tying it all together and providing an intriguing backstory to the present-day "Trial of Peter Parker" story line. I was particularly taken with Janine, and wanted to see more of her - or at least find out what happened to her.

LOST YEARS was great, with a top-notch creative team, and Bob Budiansky wanted to turn it into a whole new franchise. It would be the continuing saga of Ben Reilly's years on the road. He'd be out of costume, but still inevitably ending up having to use his powers to help or protect the innocent... because with great power must come great responsibility. Once or twice a year, we would do a "Lost Years" project, each by a different creative team, to fill in the missing chapters of Ben Reilly's life. At this point, Budiansky was apparently committed to the idea of Ben as the one, true, original Spider-Man - I really don't think he would have planned an entire franchise around a character that he knew he was eventually going to debunk.

I was very excited about the prospect of "Lost Years" as a franchise, and wanted very much for the Brevoort/Greenberg office to be in on it. If Ben was indeed going to be the original Spider-Man, I felt that there was a genuine need for such a franchise. For starters, I got to be the reprint editor of the LOST YEARS trade paperback, which collected the three issues in one volume. Additionally, Tom B. let me take the lead on developing new "Lost Years" projects for us to work on, and compiling lists of potential writers and artists to talk to. Tom and I ended up putting together one "Lost Years" project, but not in the way we had originally intended. The project ended up as a four-issue limited series called SPIDER-MAN: REDEMPTION. It was a direct sequel to SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS, but it was primarily set in the present day. I'll discuss this project at length in a later column, but I will say this as a teaser: the road to get it done had more twists, turns, and drama than anything Ben Reilly would face in the actual story. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:40 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:01 PM   #13
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Part 11a:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 11
If the Clone Saga is the most controversial Spider-Man story of all time, the "Maximum Clonage" story line is the apex of that saga. With a wink and a nod to the "Maximum Carnage" story line a couple of years earlier, "Clonage" is a 6-part story that started in MAXIMUM CLONAGE: ALPHA, continued through the core books, and ended in MAXIMUM CLONAGE: OMEGA. Ben Reilly is coping with the fact that he is the original Peter Parker, while the person who's been under the guise of Parker for 5 years isn't taking the news so well. This story also concludes the story of the Jackal and his quest for total genetic reengineering of the human race. But first, a few words from Tom DeFalco regarding some comments we made in LoR Part 9.

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Tom DeFalco: "Actually the back door was established. Seward Trainer first told Peter that he was the clone, and all the final experiments were conducted in Seward's laboratory with his equipment. We later learned that Seward secretly worked for the Jackal and that everything was rigged to give Peter the desired result.
I believe Glenn was remembering all the arguments and discussions the writers had with Bob Budiansky on the proper way to end the Clone Saga. A simple statement about Seward's duplicity wouldn't have been enough. We needed a big and powerful visual story to bring the story to a proper conclusion. (And I freely admit that REVELATIONS was a disappointment on so many levels!)

As for his belief that a SCARLET SPIDER book would have eventually failed, he is entitled to his opinion. I certainly believe that the powers-that-were at Marvel would have eventually cancelled the book even if it was selling...just like they cancelled THUNDERSTRIKE and WAR MACHINE even though both books were profitable. Since I had access to the actual sales during that period, I can attest to the fact that at the time it was canceled THUNDERSTRIKE was actually selling more copies than both THOR and AVENGERS combined. Why were profitable titles like THUNDERSTRIKE, WAR MACHINE and all the 2099 books cancelled? The answer I was given was that the guy in charge of marketing had decided that these additional titles were hurting the core company franchises. He believed that the sales on THOR would go up as soon as THUNDERSTRIKE was cancelled, and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN would increase with SPIDER-MAN 2099 gone. Nice theory...but I still think it was nonsense."

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And now back to our regularly scheduled Life of Reilly...


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I wouldn't exactly call "Maximum Clonage" the apex of the clone saga-it was more like the nadir. Just as "Maximum Carnage" came to be known around the Marvel offices (in somewhat hushed tones) as "Maximum Garbage," this magnum opus "Maximum Clonage" would come to be known as "Maximum Bonage." ]

After the shocking revelation of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226, the next logical step was to wrap everything up (since the clone saga had already gone way past its original intended length) and begin the new era of Spider-Man. Peter and Mary Jane would be written out of the books, and sent off to live in peace with their soon-to-be-born child. Ben would get the chance to establish himself as Spider-Man and move forward. Going into the planning stages for what would turn out to be "Maximum Clonage," the intent was indeed to finish up the clone story line once and for all and quickly get Ben started as Spider-Man. As I recall, the story line was supposed to run through all four core Spider-Man titles for one month and conclude in the quarterly, double-sized SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED book, which would have an issue coming out that month as well. And then that would be it. Over and done. So what happened? Well, we can start by blaming the X-Men.

A short time earlier, the X-Men Group had a tremendous success with a publishing event called "The Age of Apocalypse." This story line began in a chromium-covered, double-sized one-shot called X-MEN: ALPHA, in which the X-universe was radically transformed. The event continued for four months, with all of the X-Men titles reflecting the changes initiated by the events of the ALPHA book. Then, when those four months were over, the event concluded in the chromium-covered, double-sized X-MEN: OMEGA, in which the original status quo was more or less restored.

Like I said, this was a tremendous success, and Marvel's marketing and sales departments wanted the Spider-Man Group to follow suit. The Spider-Man Group's Editor in Chief, Bob Budiansky, agreed that this could be a great success for us, having seen what it did for the X-Men books. The most obvious solution was to use the end of the clone saga as the event for this publishing plan. We'd add a one-shot to the schedule to kick off the story line-our ALPHA issue-and then turn the concluding chapter into a special OMEGA one-shot, instead of it being just another issue of SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED. Both the ALPHA and OMEGA issues would have chromium covers. Why? The guys in the marketing department at that time LOOOOOOOVED chromium. According to them, chromium covers significantly increased sales whenever they were used. So any chance those guys got to slap on a chromium cover, they jumped at it. So the one thing we knew for sure about this event, right from the start? There would be chromium covers.

I was at the meeting where this event got its name. We were all kicking ideas around, and Eric Fein, who was editing SPECTACULAR and WEB, jokingly suggested that we call it "Maximum Clonage." We all groaned-yeah, it was a cute idea, but we really didn't want this to be associated with "Maximum Carnage" in any way. Despite the sales success of "Carnage," that story line wasn't exactly a high point in Spider-Man's history, and it was exactly the kind of thing I thought we were trying to get away from under the new administration. But the next thing we knew, Eric had proceeded to become very attached to the name, and suddenly he wasn't joking about it anymore. I can't remember exactly how everything came together after that, but I guess Eric must have made a very good argument, because the name stuck. I was pretty sure that the title itself wouldn't hurt us too much, as long as there was an exciting, satisfying story behind it.

MAXIMUM CLONAGE: ALPHA was written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Ron Lim and Al Milgrom. It begins in Springville, PA, where the Jackal and the third Parker, Spidercide, have released the new and improved Carrion virus into the air, killing the entire population of 2600 people. Elsewhere, Peter Parker is sitting atop a building reflecting on the life he thought was his and the events of the past few months which led up to the revelation that he was just a clone.

The Scarlet Spider isn't taking things any better. Although the news that he is the real Parker was welcome, the fact remains that he was robbed of 5 years of his life. While searching for Peter, he goes to the Parker home and confronts Mary Jane. He promises that he doesn't want Peter's life and has no intentions of claiming it as his own. All he wants to do is find Peter before things get worse. MJ gives Ben a postcard from the Jackal, mailed from Springville with the message "Wish you could have been here." Kaine, meanwhile, is being transferred to a new prison but gets an even stronger vision of Mary Jane's death, recognizing the killer as "someone familiar" but still can't place the identity. He breaks free to go search for her and warn the Parkers.

Back in Springville, there was apparently a survivor in the mass viral infection. Jackal, wanting to know why it didn't work on this particular person, sends out Spidercide to capture the guy, but Spidercide runs into problems of his own in the New Warriors. While they engage Spidercide, the Scarlet Spider arrives and they believe him to be on the wrong side of the battle. Spidercide isn't supposed to get involved, so he gives up the survivor in an effort to escape. The Warriors and Scarlet set aside their differences long enough to try and stop Spidercide and get the survivor. They fail on both counts. Spidercide is able to change his body mass and even turn into water. He escapes easily and recaptures the survivor.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : When the Marvel editorial structure was reorganized during "Marvelution" (a.k.a. "Marvelcution," the first downsizing), the New Warriors were integrated into the Spider-Man Group. Tom Brevoort and I were editing NW at that point, and we had brought writer Evan Skolnick and penciler Patrick Zircher on as the creative team. "Maximum Clonage" was the first opportunity since this new structure had been created to really bring the New Warriors into the Spider-Man universe and have them take part in a major Spider-Man event. I think we were all excited about it, because it was a really good opportunity to bring some attention to the NEW WARRIORS book and our new writer and artist. It wasn't going to be a perfect fit, because, when you stop and think about it, the New Warriors really had no business being part of the clone saga, but we were determined to make it work as best as we possibly could, and I think, overall, that we succeeded. ]

Peter Parker is back in the city, picking up his belongings. He feels MJ and the baby are better off without him, so he spends some time reflecting and leaves, taking only his Spider-Man costume, saying that "I may be a clone and not the original Peter Parker, but I'm still Spider-Man." He goes to the Empire State Building, thinking of his last moments with Aunt May and is interrupted by the Jackal, who goads him into a fight. After they exchange punches and taunts, the Jackal tells Spider-Man that he is going to bring the world to genetic perfection through cloning and he can help. It would give Peter's life new purpose, the Jackal says, extending his hand. Spider-Man says nothing, but takes the Jackal's hand.

"Maximum Clonage" Part 2 takes place in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #127, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. As Spider-Man and the Jackal discuss their newfound alliance, both a SWAT team and the Punisher arrive on the scene. Spider-Man takes the Jackal to safety, leaving Punisher to wonder what's going on.

Which is the same thing that Mary Jane is wondering. While everyone else is concentrating on the Jackal and who's a clone and who isn't, Mary Jane is worried about the effects that Peter's being a clone will have on their unborn child.

Spider-Man and the Jackal take to the streets so Peter can digest what Jackal is talking about. They're attacked by the Punisher, who seems to have become more ruthless than ever. Now he isn't stopping to see if innocent bystanders are in the way before shooting. Spider-Man's spider-sense goes off as Punisher gets them in his crosshairs. The Jackal leaps in front of Spider-Man, taking two shots to the chest. As he lies dying, Jackal tells Peter that the answer is in his bloodstream, but before he can continue, the Punisher comes over to finish the job. Spider-Man attacks, knocking Punisher unconscious while he tends to Jackal. He races back to the Jackal's lab to put him into a cellular regeneration pod in an effort to heal his wounds before it's too late. The pass-code to bypass the security system, according to Jackal is 1-4-9 dash 1-5-1 (a nod to the first clone storyline, which took place in Amazing Spider-Man 149-151). As Spider-Man sits next to the pod and waits, the Jackal thinks to himself: "Couldn't have worked out better if I planned it myself...or did I?"


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Todd Dezago had become the regular writer of WEB OF SPIDER-MAN by the time "Maximum Clonage" began. He replaced Terry Kavanagh, who, as has been noted, proposed the clone saga in the first place. It was my understanding that Terry and editor Eric Fein had been having creative differences for quite a while, and it got to the point where Eric felt it was necessary to bring in a different writer. Todd had been doing some Spider-Man work off and on for the department, and Eric wanted to give him a chance as the regular writer of WEB. Budiansky okayed it, and Todd jumped right in. ]

"Maximum Clonage" Part 3 takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #404, written by J.M. DeMatteis and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin. Spider-Man still waits outside the Jackal's pod, but is interrupted from deep thought by the Scarlet Spider, who's finally tracked him down. As Ben tries to comfort him, Peter lashes out, asking Ben "what did he ever have to lose." Ben continues trying to reason with him, but Peter just wants to be left alone and walks away, leaving Ben to contend with Spidercide, who isn't happy to see the intruder. Kaine watches from above, deciding to let Reilly die once and for all and turns his attention to the regeneration pod that contains the Jackal. Kaine destroys it, pulling Jackal out and asks why he would take everything away from Peter after he went well beyond Jackal's dreams of what a clone could accomplish. Jackal offers Kaine a chance to be whole again, if he can figure out an end to degeneration.

Spider-Man comes out of hiding to face off between Spidercide and the Scarlet Spider. He hates Ben, but doesn't know if he necessarily wants him to die. When the Jackal and Kaine come in, Jackal makes an offhanded remark that all his boys are together-Robbie, Chip and Ernie-and looks at Kaine saying, "Well, I suppose you'll have to be Uncle Charlie." Ben tries to reason with Peter, but he's too involved with Jackal's schemes. Ben lashes out at the Jackal, but is then stopped by Peter and Kaine, who tell him that he doesn't belong in their world. Peter tells Ben to go take his life back, but to leave them all alone.

During the discussion, Spidercide is compelled to go off down an empty hall. He finds the source of the power summoning him to be Scrier, who's now described as an entity whose purpose, if revealed, would be unfathomable to the mortal mind. Spidercide asks who Scrier is and who he is. With the touch of a finger, Spidercide learns all and goes back to the main room where he is told by Jackal to kill Kaine.

Kaine can't believe it. "But you said you were going to make me perfect," he says. The Jackal responds that Kaine is nothing more than a walking heap of genetic trash, and a complete waste of blood and hair. Kaine breaks down, begging his "father" to not abandon him again before ultimately realizing he was a fool to ever trust the Jackal. Kaine departs, promising to kill him another time. Spidercide then takes Ben to a different room and throws him in. When he comes to his senses, Ben sees an army of Spider-Man clones racing towards him.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I'm guessing this scene was in the back of everyone's minds the moment the decision was made to call this story "Maximum Clonage." But that didn't mean we actually had to DO it. Personally, I HATED the idea of having hundreds of Spider-Man clones running around. As far as I was concerned, this was exactly the kind of silliness we should have been trying to get AWAY from. I mean, we all groaned when the title was first proposed, and now we were going to do stuff in the story that only served to reflect that dopey title even MORE?! Stuff like this, in my opinion, was the epitome of everything that had been wrong with Spider-Man over the previous few years-shameless sensationalism, milking a successful idea to death, overkill reaching ludicrous proportions. I don't remember having too much enthusiasm for "Maximum Clonage" once it headed in this direction. I really thought it was going to be about bringing things to a close and a new beginning, instead of upping the clone ante even more. ]

"Maximum Clonage" Part 4 takes place in SPIDER-MAN #61, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Chris Ivy. Ben decides to run away rather than attempt to face off against hundreds of Spider-Clones. His first priority is to find Peter and try to reason with him with regards to his alliance with the Jackal, who's now telling Peter to bring back the original Gwen Stacy clone. As Ben searches for Peter, he's being hunted by the clones, who have spread out to expand their own search. Luckily for Ben, it means only having to deal with 5 or 6 at a time instead of a few hundred.

Meanwhile, at the Parker home, Kaine arrives to ask Mary Jane why Peter gave up his life to be with the Jackal. She doesn't understand either, but wants to know why Kaine cares so much, so Kaine reveals his full origin to her. He tells her about the day he emerged from the tank and how Warren was so pleased with his creation until a small scar developed on his face. It was small, but enough to distinguish him from the real Peter Parker, so Kaine was cast aside. He ran off before Warren could dispose of him, but stayed close, lurking in the shadows since it was the only life that he knew. He watched as Peter, his brother, emerged, the perfect clone who would go on to take the life he could never have. Peter proved to be the hero, the man that Kaine could never be and a symbol for him that he loved. MJ then gives Kaine a lecture of her own, telling him that he's alive, no matter how he was born. She tells him to do what Peter would do. To do the right thing. He has the power, so accept the responsibility.

Peter finds Gwen, who's been expecting him, and they swing off back to the Jackal's lair. Ben is there, still trying to fight off the clones, when he discovers where the Jackal's new lair actually is: the old smokestack where his supposedly dead body was left. Ben doesn't have too much time to dwell on it, as the entire clone army arrives, cornering him, and ganging up on him until something, or someone distracts them. Kaine. Reilly tells Kaine that he won't stand by and let him kill-not even clones-to which Kaine agrees, saying that they have as much right to live as anyone.

"Maximum Clonage" Part 5 takes place in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #227, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. Kaine and the Scarlet Spider are holding their own against the clones, but there are too many of them. Fortunately for them, the clones start to decompose due to the fact that they were released from the pods too early in an effort to contain Ben Reilly.

Mary Jane has had enough waiting around. She uses all of Peter's spider-tracers to give off a signal so powerful that he couldn't possibly ignore it. Spider-Man tells Gwen that he needs to go to Mary Jane, and they do so. MJ and Gwen meet again, and although she's only a clone, Gwen has fond memories of her old friend. She tells MJ that she's happy that Peter and her finally got together.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:01 PM   #14
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Part 11b:
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Back in the lab, the Jackal is still trying to figure out how the sole survivor of Springville survived. He goes looking for Spidercide and discovers that the clone has been uploading all of the Jackal's files on the Carrion virus, to send to Scrier. Jackal, amazed at Spidercide's betrayal, snaps his fingers, saying how it's good that he programmed all his clones to degenerate at will. Spidercide smiles, telling Jackal that Scrier removed the degeneration factor from him and also wanted to pass along how very disappointed he is in the Jackal. Before Spidercide can kill the Jackal, Kaine interferes. He doesn't know why he saved the Jackal's life, whether he's still a mindless pawn or if some part of him still wants acceptance from his "father." During his battle with Spidercide, Kaine gets a strong premonition of Mary Jane's death, including, finally the identity of the killer, exclaiming, "Oh God, why did it have to be him?" Before he can relay the news to anyone or stop it, Kaine is murdered by Spidercide. When asked by the Jackal why he sacrificed himself, Kaine responds with his last breath, "You gave me life." While the Jackal could care less about the sentimental goodbye, he does think to put Kaine's body into the regeneration chamber.

MAXIMUM CLONAGE: OMEGA concludes the storyline in an issue written by Tom Lyle and illustrated by Robert Brown, Roy Burdine, Mark Bagley, Tom Lyle, Sam DeLaRosa, Randy Emberlin, Al Milgrom and Scott Hanna. Ben has his hands full with a creature made up of the genetic tissue of all the clones. Jackal tells him that he's off to kill his friends at the Daily Bugle, which gives Ben the determination he needs to pull himself out of his predicament.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This issue was, to put it mildly, a disaster. As I mentioned earlier, it was originally supposed to be an issue of SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED. As such, it was going to be written by that title's regular writer, Tom Lyle. There was already a degree of concern among some of us that Lyle was perhaps too inexperienced to handle the conclusion of "Maximum Clonage," and of the entire clone saga. When the issue became a big, chromium-covered, all-the-bells-and-whistles OMEGA one-shot, it became a matter of GREAT concern. We were going to be charging $4.95 for this comic. This was going to be the culmination of a VERY long story line. It was going to be a very important issue for us. Simply put, it HAD to be good. It had to be satisfying. It had to be worth the price we were charging for it. An assignment like this would have been a daunting task for even the most seasoned of Spider-Man writers. And the fact of the matter was that Tom Lyle was still an inexperienced writer, and needed a lot more time to better develop his writing skills before he'd be ready to tackle a project of this magnitude.

Some of the Spider-Man editorial staff (it would be inappropriate for me to mention the other people involved, but I will say that I was one of them) strongly suggested to Bob Budiansky that he should have someone else-presumably one of the other Spider-Man writers-write the OMEGA issue. Bob seemed to agree with us philosophically, but ultimately, he just couldn't bring himself to take Lyle off the book. Perhaps it was because he didn't want to undermine the plans that had been put in place by Spider-Man Group Editor Danny Fingeroth. Ironically, Danny was either already gone from Marvel or on his way out the door when all of this was going on. Danny found that he did not enjoy working within the post-Marvelution editorial structure, and decided to move on. Like Terry Kavanagh, Danny would not be around to see the clone saga come to an end. Regardless, Budiansky was still unwilling to rock the boat in this instance, and kept Tom Lyle in place. (Bob and Danny would share the editor's credit for the OMEGA issue.)

To put it as simply and as delicately as possible, Tom Lyle just wasn't up to the task of writing this issue. Bob came to realize this pretty quickly. The issue went through endless rewrites, and as I recall, Bob ended up rewriting a lot of it himself, but since Bob didn't have a whole lot of experience with Spider-Man, this wasn't exactly a great solution, either. I'm sure Eric Fein and Mark Bernardo gave their input and tried to improve it and make it flow smoothly, but there's no escaping the fact that a comic book-a GOOD comic book, at least-can't be written by committee. I don't think Tom Brevoort and I were too heavily involved in this issue, but we were certainly aware of what was going on.

Oh-and the fact that there were four pencilers and five inkers on the book didn't help matters any. ]

At the Parker home, MJ pleads with Peter to stay home with her and their unborn child, while Gwen tells him that he belongs with the clones. Peter, saying he doesn't deserve MJ or the baby, takes Gwen and goes off to find the Jackal. What they find instead is an empty lab, with the exception of some security traps to keep away intruders. When Peter gets through them, he discovers the Jackal's plans for the Bugle and the world. Mary Jane, meanwhile, digs up some of Peter's spare web cartridges to help her husband and Ben for whatever they may need.

The Jackal, though, is busy setting up a Carrion virus bomb at the Daily Bugle. Before they can go any further, Scrier appears, telling the Jackal to stop, because the destruction of the human race can not be allowed. Scrier orders Spidercide to deal with him. The Scarlet Spider joins in and the battle becomes Jackal vs Scarlet with Spidercide trying to kill them both. As they fight, the Jackal taunts Ben by asking if he thinks he'll be able to help his friends at the Bugle as successfully as he helped Gwen. Ben realizes that it's always been about Warren's anger at Spider-Man for letting Gwen die. Spidercide takes over again and attacks the Jackal, giving Ben some time to rest. Ben doesn't catch much of a break before heading back into the battle just in time to see Spidercide ready to finish the Jackal off once and for all. In the ensuing confusion, Spidercide is dropped from the Bugle onto the street below.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I mentioned this in a previous column, but I just have to reiterate that I never quite understood how the Jackal came to this "world domination/replace all humans with clones" scheme. This came out of nowhere, and is just so far removed from the original concept of the Jackal. And the scheme itself is just so ludicrous. The Carrion virus bomb came off, at least to me, as a very contrived plot element, something that was extremely cliché, and, in the end, was little more than a minor distraction that carried no real suspense or sense of danger. ]

Face to face with the Jackal once more, Ben tries to get him to reveal how he got Ben to believe that he was a clone for all those years. Jackal confesses that he implanted the thought in his head while he was taking cell samples for his clones. Before the Jackal can make a move, Spider-Man and Gwen arrive. Ben tells Peter to deal with the Jackal while he goes to dispose of the virus bomb. Unfortunately, Jackal and Peter take the fight to the bomb, forcing Ben to join in. After webbing up the Jackal, the Spiders go to defuse the bomb. With time running out, they manage to stop the bomb but then have to deal with Gwen, who's gotten her hands on a gun with the intent to kill the Jackal. Jackal frees himself from the webbing and the Spiders plead with Gwen to not become a killer and then Mary Jane arrives. Jackal rushes for Gwen's gun, inadvertently knocking Gwen off the roof. MJ throws a spare web-shooter to Ben, who nabs Gwen before she can fall. The Jackal isn't so lucky. He tries to save Gwen himself, to prove he could do what Peter couldn't, and ends up falling to his death. His final words are, "When the dream ends, the nightmare begins."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Jackal was so ruined as a character by this point that he can now only be considered "damaged goods." I sincerely believe that it will be a VERY long time before we ever see him again, if indeed we ever do. ]

Before the Spiders, MJ and Gwen can pat themselves on the back, their spider-senses go crazy alerting them that the bomb has been reactivated. Ben volunteers to handle it, since he isn't the one with the wife and the child on the way. He throws the bomb in the air, snags it with a web and spins it around, building up velocity until releasing it high into the air. Since the virus was taken out of the bomb earlier, by Peter and Ben, the explosion causes no damage. In the ensuing confusion, Gwen disappears again. Ben and Peter part ways, with Peter going home with his wife. They talk about how he's been acting and how sorry he's been. He tells MJ that he has one more thing to take care of and then it's all over.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I can laugh about it now, but back then, I was ready to smash my head against the wall. You see, the Gwen Stacy clone was supposed to be definitively disposed of by the end of the OMEGA issue. The whole clone thing had started with her back in the 70s, after all, and it was felt by everyone in the Spider-Man Group that once the saga came to an end, Gwen's clone should be eliminated as a dangling plot thread once and for all. This would be a major element of the OMEGA issue.

But rewrite after rewrite went by of the OMEGA issue, with no resolution for the Gwen clone, and I distinctly remember asking Bob Budiansky, point blank, "So, is the Gwen clone being killed off in this thing or not?" I kept being told, "Yeah, yeah, that's gonna be worked in." And it wasn't. I couldn't believe it. She just takes off again for parts unknown in the midst of all the chaos. And to this day, I'm still not sure why that happened.

So she's still out there somewhere. She can be brought back at any time, by any writer who decides to do so. The status quo, at least in that regard, is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from the way it was in 1975 when the original clone story line ended. And that's exactly how we DIDN'T want it. ]

Peter arrives at Ben's apartment just as Ben is thinking how he should be Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Peter arrives and they talk. Peter tells Ben that he wants to give the name and the costume back, but Ben says it's too easy an answer. They agree that there has to be a Spider-Man, but they have to figure out who it should be.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : So you get to the end of the issue, and find that... IT'S STILL NOT OVER! Bwah hah hah hah hah! Oh, well.

Ideally, everything would have and should have been wrapped up in OMEGA. But that didn't happen. There was still the matter of who would be Spider-Man, and there was no room for that to be dealt with in OMEGA. Well, okay. Under the circumstances, I could see extending the story for a one-issue coda, which would be done in one of the core Spider-Man books (in this case, it would have been WEB). And in this coda, all remaining pertinent plot threads would be sorted out and then that's it. No more clone saga. Time to move forward. But that didn't happen. No, yet ANOTHER multi-part story line that extended the clone saga even further was kicked off instead, much to my dismay. I really don't remember who was responsible for this idea, so I can't say for sure whether it was motivated by greed or a sincere belief that there was a genuine, story-driven need for yet another multi-parter. Either way, whoever it was apparently didn't know the meaning of the phrase, "Enough already!" ]

Beginning with NEW WARRIORS #62, written by Evan Skolnick and illustrated by Patrick Zircher and Andrew Pepoy, and continuing for the next several months, the Scarlet Spider is a member of the team. The Scarlet Spider and the Warriors first meet during the "Maximum Clonage" storyline, when the team is searching for the mysterious survivor of the Carrion virus.

In this story line, the character is dubbed Helix and it's up to the Warriors to contain him. There are a few interesting moments, such as Scarlet Spider having a crush on the Mary Jane lookalike, Firestar, as well as him trying to fit in with a team dynamic. For the most part, though, it was more of a benefit for the Warriors to have this guest star on the team than it was a crucial piece to the clone saga.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Shortly after Tom Brevoort and I had been integrated into the Spider-Man Group, we were at a meeting with Bob Budiansky and Danny Fingeroth. We were talking about possible things that could be done with the Scarlet Spider, to take the fullest advantage of his growing popularity. Danny surprised Tom and me by suggesting that the Scarlet Spider could join the New Warriors. Danny's rationale was that it would give the Scarlet Spider even more exposure, and it would also be good for the NEW WARRIORS comic. Tom B. and I were pretty taken aback by that. We figured that with the Scarlet Spider becoming so high-profile, Danny would become extremely protective and possessive of the character, and wouldn't allow anyone outside of his office to use the Scarlet Spider-especially not for an extended period of time. So as far as Tom and I were concerned, this was a VERY generous offer from Danny. I think the offer was possibly sparked by the fact that Danny was the original editor of the NEW WARRIORS book, that he still had a fondness for it, and he wanted to see it continue to do well. Tom and I knew a good thing when we saw it, and immediately took Danny up on his offer.

I think that Tom felt that the Scarlet Spider, purely from a character standpoint, could never be part of a team. But like I said, it was too good an offer to pass up, and Tom was willing to put aside his reservations for what would undoubtedly be a good thing for our book. I, on the other hand, was able to rationalize it a bit more. My feeling was that after so many years alone, Ben Reilly would want a place where he could feel like he belonged. If given the opportunity to be around other people just like him, to be in an environment where was readily accepted, I felt that he would definitely take it.

I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe it was I who suggested that Ben would be attracted to Firestar, considering the very important roles in his life played by two other beautiful redheads-Mary Jane, of course, and Janine (from SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS). And if Firestar was attracted to Ben, this could immediately introduce a new character conflict in the Warriors, an immediate animosity between the Scarlet Spider and Justice, and some great romantic drama between Justice and Firestar. Evan Skolnick worked this into the stories as much as he could. We couldn't do all that much with the Scarlet Spider, obviously, since he wasn't really "our" character, and we knew we weren't going to have him for very long, but for the time that we had him, we had some fun with him. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:36 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #15
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Part 12:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 12
In this installment, we focus on "Exiled," a four-part story line that picks up where MAXIMUM CLONAGE: OMEGA left off. Peter and Ben have made peace with their respective lives and now they need to figure out who keeps the Parker name and who will wear the webs.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I wanted to start this week's column by addressing Tom DeFalco's comments, which ran in our previous installment. First, I have to say that I'm really happy that Tom D. is adding his voice to the mix and giving his own version of events-from where I sit, it's certainly livening things up and making the column even more interesting. I hope everyone who's reading the column agrees.
Now, you have to understand that I like and respect Tom D. a whole lot, and I really miss working with him. However, I do want to address some of the things he brought up last week-not as a rebuttal, but in the spirit of clarification and pointing out the cold, hard facts. Tom, if you're reading this, remember: I love ya, big guy! To me, you'll always be "the Chief!" Now, on to ripping you apart... (Just kidding!)

Tom DeFalco: "Actually the back door was established. Seward Trainer first told Peter that he was the clone, and all the final experiments were conducted in Seward's laboratory with his equipment. We later learned that Seward secretly worked for the Jackal and that everything was rigged to give Peter the desired result."

Actually, Seward Trainer DIDN'T tell Peter that he was the clone. Ben and Peter came to that conclusion on their own, after a long series of tests that they personally conducted. Granted, they WERE using Seward's lab and equipment, and yes, that could easily be used as a back door.

Now, as I recall, the use of this fact as a back door was suggested by Tom as a POSSIBLE solution, but it was only one of many that were suggested by the Spider-writers. To my knowledge, it was NEVER presented as, "This is the solution that had been planned from the start as the way to restore Peter as the one true Spider-Man." Therefore, none of us thought of it as such. Incidentally, the reason why this solution was initially rejected was because it was considered by Bob Budiansky and the editorial staff to be too anti-climactic and too much of a cheat and a cop-out after so much dramatic build-up.

Nevertheless, I ultimately used it in THE OSBORN JOURNAL, establishing that Seward did indeed rig the equipment for the tests. Why did I use it? At that point, there was really no other solution to use. Anything else just wouldn't work, or was far too convoluted. So, score one for DeFalco!

Also, just to set the record straight, Seward was not working for the Jackal, he was working for Scrier and Gaunt, who were secretly working for Norman Osborn. Yes, Seward had been Miles Warren's assistant years earlier, but was oftentimes secretly undermining Warren and his plans, at the bidding of Scrier.

Tom DeFalco: "I believe Glenn was remembering all the arguments and discussions the writers had with Bob Budiansky on the proper way to end the clone saga. A simple statement about Seward's duplicity wouldn't have been enough. We needed a big and powerful visual story to bring the story to a proper conclusion. (And I freely admit that REVELATIONS was a disappointment on so many levels!)"

It could just be a case of Tom and me remembering things very differently. Again, I simply don't recall Tom ever saying, "It was planned all along that the tests were rigged ahead of time." I only remember this being presented as one of many POSSIBLE ways out. My main point here is that if this was indeed the back door that was in place from the start, it was never presented to us as such. Incidentally, Mark Bernardo remembers things pretty much the same way I do, so could BOTH of us be so wrong?

Tom DeFalco: "As for his belief that a SCARLET SPIDER book would have eventually failed, he is entitled to his opinion. I certainly believe that the powers-that-were at Marvel would have eventually cancelled the book even if it was selling... just like they cancelled THUNDERSTRIKE and WAR MACHINE even though both books were profitable."

It seems to me that Tom is actually agreeing with me here, in that he too believes that a SCARLET SPIDER book would not have lasted, that it would have been cancelled. And that was really the only point I was making-that the book would have eventually gone the way of all the other "spin-offs." I know Tom has a very soft place in his heart for THUNDERSTRIKE, since he was the co-creator and the writer of that book. And truth be told, I really liked that book! I'm a fan of the DeFalco/Frenz team, and will read pretty much anything they do together!

And I sincerely hope Tom understands that I was absolutely NOT making any judgment calls about the QUALITY of those spin-off titles. I was looking at the situation from a completely objective and factual point of view. And, like it or not, the truth of the matter is that none of those books survived. My belief is that the same thing would have happened to a SCARLET SPIDER book-REGARDLESS OF THE QUALITY OF THE BOOK. ]

"Exiled" Part 1 takes place in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #128, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. The story opens with Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, trying to make sense of her understanding that the Peter Parker she loved was a clone; not a real man at all. As the Cat takes to the city skies, Peter and Ben are visiting the graves of Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and discover that someone is following them. They switch into costumes and follow their follower, demanding to know why someone is tailing Parker. It turns out that the person was working for the Black Cat, who's disappeared. Spider-Man promises to find her and the Scarlet Spider joins him.

The Spider-Men find her, or rather she finds them, attacking Spider-Man for leading her on when he wasn't even a real person to begin with. Spider-Man apologizes and crumbles before her, begging her to forgive him while the Scarlet Spider wonders what's gotten into him. Scarlet puts two and two together and realizes it's his old nemesis, D'Spayre, whom he first encountered during his years in exile. The Scarlet Spider battles D'Spayre while also trying to get the Black Cat and Spider-Man to snap out of the spells they're under. They do, and join the Scarlet Spider in fighting off D'Spayre, who apparently withers away before them. A grateful Black Cat apologizes to Peter and reaffirms how much she cares for him no matter who or what Peter is and goes back out into the night.

Peter and Ben then come to the moment they were dreading. They may be able to share Peter Parker's memories, but they can't share his life. Peter removes his mask, saying that it's not his life to keep and neither is the costume, but Ben stops him. Ben tells him that it's more Peter's life than his now anyway, and he's been Spider-Man longer, earning the right to remain Spider-Man. Peter returns to Mary Jane, who tells him that she wants to stay in New York and continue the life they had before all the clone nonsense started, while across town Ben Reilly gathers his belongings and heads out the door.

"Exiled" Part 2 takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #405, written by J.M. DeMatteis and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Darick Robertson and Larry Mahlstedt. Ben Reilly heads out of New York on his motorcycle, thinking how harder it's going to be to leave this time. When he first went into exile, he believed himself to be a clone, with no right to even exist. Now he's leaving with the knowledge that he's the real Peter Parker, and he's only leaving to do the right thing. His mind wandering, Ben slips up and crashes his motorcycle, possibly subconsciously, leaving him stranded in New York.

Ben gets into costume and swings through the city as the Scarlet Spider, throughout the only home he's ever really known. After hours of web-slinging, he winds up outside the Parkers' apartment. He knows he needs to give Peter the peace and happiness he deserves so Ben calls Seward Trainer and gets permission to use Seward's cabin in Vermont, to crash for awhile.

Ben recalls how he was first in Vermont four years earlier when he went to look for a famous geneticist, Dr. Trainer, who was in need of an assistant. Ben figured he could use the job to make money, have a home and most important, find out more about his own condition. Ben's first interaction with Dr. Trainer comes when Seward loans him money to be able to afford a room to stay in.

Ben's trip down memory lane is cut short by a frantic call from Seward, who tells him to get out of the house. He can't say more because "they'll" find him, but he warns Ben, who runs out of the cabin just before it explodes. Ben, in Scarlet Spider guise, goes back to New York, to Seward's lab, to try and find his old friend. There's no sign of Seward, but there are little machines that are tapping into the mainframe of the computer, and then go on the offensive after the Scarlet Spider. Their tentacled arms grab Scarlet Spider and shock him unconscious. The last image in the story is of Seward, alone in a cramped room, which is getting locked by a tentacled arm reminiscent of the late Doctor Octopus.

"Exiled" Part 3 takes place in SPIDER-MAN #82, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Pat Broderick, Chris Ivy and Tom Palmer. The Scarlet Spider is held prisoner and is being interrogated by an unseen figure who questions him about Seward's work. As he passes out again, Ben dreams about his first meeting with Seward, who owned the inn Ben was staying at. The interrogator wakes him up and when the Scarlet Spider claims to not know what they're talking about, he's zapped unconscious again.

Back in NYC, Peter is staring into the night sky when Mary Jane asks what he's doing. Peter's been acting strange recently and this evening is no exception. He tells his wife everything's okay, but at the same time, he crushes a brick beneath his hand as he's talking to her. In another part of the city, the Vulture hunts for a body that he can steal more youth from. His recent attempts to stay young have started to wear off and he needs to "feed" off of another victim or he'll return to being a frail old man.

Another flashback reveals how Ben Reilly came to be Seward's trusted assistant and friend. After an explosion in his lab, Ben tells Seward to leave him to die, but Seward helps Ben fight for his life and get out alive. Seward tells Ben that he's going to have to rebuild everything and the job is Ben's to keep, but he has to promise not to pull a stunt like that again. Ben promises to never let Seward down.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I mentioned in a previous column, Howard Mackie gave Seward Trainer his name, and that he named Seward after his father-in-law. It was nice to finally get some background information on Trainer, more than was given in the SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS limited series. ]

Back in present time, the Scarlet Spider has freed himself and searches for Seward while battling androids. He finds a camera that's been monitoring him and serving as the eyes for the unknown interrogator, who the tentacled arms belong to, and smashes the camera. The Scarlet Spider then fights through some more traps until he reaches Seward, finally freeing him. Dr. Trainer tells Ben that he's going to have to get to his lab right away to make sure the files are intact and Ben offers to go with him to help.

"Exiled" Part 4 takes place in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #10, written by Mike Lackey and illustrated by Shawn McManus, John Nyberg, and Roy Burdine. Ben and Seward have already checked out Seward's New York lab and everything appears to be in order, so Ben uses the time to swing around the city as the Scarlet Spider.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Mike Lackey was the former assistant editor on the Spider-Man comics. He went on to become an associate editor for Marvel's Epic line of comics, and was the regular writer of THE SILVER SURFER for a while. ]

The story is more self-contained than most have been in recent months. While the Vulture scours the city in search of more ways to regain and keep his youth, Ben Reilly remembers that it's the anniversary of Uncle Ben's death. While visiting his grave, Ben, in the guise of Peter Parker, runs into an old friend of his uncle's who's having family problems of his own. Reilly offers to help, because he knows that's what Ben would have done if he were still alive.

There is an important cameo by Spider-Man, who's seen swinging home to Mary Jane from a grocery store run. He gets a sudden flash of Mary Jane in trouble or dead, like the nightmares he's been experiencing. Not knowing whether the images are a result of clone degeneration or if he's losing his mind, Spider-Man rushes home to Mary Jane.

As the Scarlet Spider tries to do right by the man's family, he runs into the Vulture (last seen in the Funeral for an Octopus limited series). Even though Vulture is younger and more powerful, the Scarlet Spider soundly beats him using both strength and wits to overcome his enemy.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : To be honest, I have no strong memories of "Exiled," other than the really nice Darick Robertson artwork in AMAZING. It's an inoffensive story line, not great, not terrible. But notice that yet another month of issues has gone by and the clone saga still isn't over-Peter and Mary Jane are still in the picture, and Ben is still the Scarlet Spider, with no steps having been taken yet to make him the new Spider-Man.

One last thing. I know I'm breaking format here, but I just have to mention that I've just read one of the best, most enjoyable Spider-Man stories in many years, and if you haven't read it yet, you really should. It's a three-issue limited series called SPIDER-MAN: LIFELINE, written by Fabian Nicieza and illustrated by Steve Rude and Bob Wiacek. The story is set in the present-day continuity, but trust me, you'll feel like you're reading something from the height of the Stan Lee/John Romita Sr. run on AMAZING. It's that good. Spider-Man hasn't been this funny, likable, and downright rascally in...I don't know how long. The story itself is a blast, the dialogue sparkles, and the art is wonderful. It makes you remember why you fell in love with Spider-Man in the first place. I don't know if Marvel has any plans to reprint this as a trade paperback, but they really should. If Spider-Man had been written this way in the early-to-mid 1990s, there might not have been any need for the clone saga, the relaunch, or the ULTIMATE book.

Okay, no more reviews. Next week, it's "Life of Reilly" and nothing BUT "Life of Reilly!" ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:34 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #16
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Part 13:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 13
More than a third of the way done already? Boy time flies, and it's a short one this time around, too. "Time Bomb" is the two-part story that finally reveals whether Kaine was crazy, seeing the future or just a possible future with all his visions of Mary Jane's death. It also reveals the identity of the person who could be responsible for her death.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : "Time Bomb" was designed by Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky and the core Spider-Man writers to set the stage for the big switchover to Ben Reilly. By now, I think all of you are well aware of my feelings about how the clone saga had become horribly overextended, so I won't belabor that point here. The one saving grace about the "Time Bomb" story line was that it was only two issues long, rather than the usual month-long monstrosity that spanned all four Spider-Man titles. ]

Part 1 is featured in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #228, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. It begins with a dream: Kaine is following Mary Jane, telling her that she can't outrun her destiny and that she's going to die. Spider-Man arrives and pushes back on Kaine, promising that while he still draws breath, Peter won't allow Kaine to kill Mary Jane. That's when Kaine reveals that it isn't he who's going to kill her, but Peter himself. And then Peter wakes up, screaming.

Throughout the night and into the day, Peter begins to "see" the Jackal everywhere: in mirrors, in place of other people and anywhere else. He doesn't know whether it's clone degeneration kicking in or something else. All he cares about is finding an answer before it's too late.

While Spider-Man swings throughout the city, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, Mary Jane goes for her first modeling gig for a new line of maternity wear.

Spider-Man continues to web swing and contemplates calling on Ben's friend, Seward Trainer, but then gets a powerful headache that sends him crashing onto a rooftop. An image of the Jackal appears, telling Peter that he's initiated the first genetic implant that he ever programmed into his clone mind. The trigger words were "When the dream ends, the nightmare begins," which is what the Jackal screamed as he fell towards his death. The command was that Peter would kill the person he loved most.

When Mary Jane returns home, Peter is sitting there in costume, telling her to run. She's not sure why he's telling her that, but he manages to tell her the whole story while fighting back the Jackal's commands. He warns her to contact the Avengers or Fantastic Four or anyone else that could stop him before he succeeds in his mission. Mary Jane gets away and has enough time to make an emergency call to the New Warriors, asking for the Scarlet Spider. MJ refuses to call the FF or Avengers because they'd have to fight or hurt or possibly kill Peter. Ben would know what to do.

A cat-and-mouse game begins in the subway system. Mary Jane boards a train, which takes off before Spider-Man can stop it. He eventually catches up to her, though. Spider-Man holds Mary Jane as the New Warriors arrive and tell him to back off. He tells them that he has to kill her and begs them to stop him.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : You may recall that I described several weeks ago how skittish Marvel became about showing any violence - real or perceived - against women in the books, following the scene in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226 in which Peter supposedly slapped Mary Jane in a fit of rage. Yet this story line, which revolves around Peter (unwillingly) threatening Mary Jane's life, was still done. It's pretty safe to say that "Time Bomb" was too far along in terms of story and art when the doo-doo hit the fan over SPECTACULAR #226 for the story line to be significantly changed or canceled altogether. However, the cover of SPECTACULAR #228, which shows an unmasked Spider-Man menacing Mary Jane, was extensively revised so that Peter would not look TOO threatening. I believe he originally had one of his hands clenched in a fist while his other hand was gripping Mary Jane's wrist. In the final version, his hand is not clenched in a fist. ]

"Time Bomb" concludes in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #129, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated b Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. The Scarlet Spider arrives at New Warriors headquarters and is told that the team went out to rescue a woman who called on the phone.

The New Warriors do their best to prevent Spider-Man from achieving his objective. As he fights them off and continues after Mary Jane, he tells them to do whatever they have to, even if it means killing him, to stop him from reaching Mary Jane. MJ escapes and runs into the Scarlet Spider. She tells him what's happened to Peter and Scarlet promises to keep Peter down. Mary Jane tries to sneak off in a cab, but the frightened driver runs out of the car, leaving MJ to get behind the wheel and make her own getaway.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Obviously, this story was another opportunity for us to strengthen the ties of the NEW WARRIORS book to the Spider-Man line, so yeah, we took advantage of it. These opportunities were few and far between, after all, and the crossing over significantly helped the New Warriors in terms of exposure. We had the Scarlet Spider appearing fairly regularly in NEW WARRIORS at that time, but his involvement with the team wasn't really reflected in the Spider-Man books. That's not a gripe, by the way. Let's face it: the New Warriors were peripheral at best to the goings-on in Spider-Man's life, and it would have been very awkward to keep referring to them or have them regularly show up in Spider-Man's solo books. It's a situation not unlike the one with the Batman and the JLA. At any rate, having the Warriors show up in the core Spider-Man books during a major story could only help them and give them a greater degree of credibility with readers. ]

Spider-Man is relentless in his pursuit of Mary Jane. He follows her, trying to figure out where she's ultimately going. They wind up in the old house of Peter's late Aunt May. Mary Jane is casually sitting in a living room chair, surrounded by pictures of family. She tells Spider-Man that she has faith in them, in him, but she forgives him if he can't control the programming and would prefer to die in that house full of memories than anywhere else. Memories come back, flooding Peter until he breaks down. The Jackal's programming is shattered. The villain has lost. Peter and Mary Jane hold each other tight as the Scarlet Spider (who was close by as backup, just in case) looks on from a distance.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The main thrust behind "Time Bomb" was to give Peter a reason to give up being Spider-Man and leave New York with Mary Jane. After all, the fact that he was apparently the clone did not necessarily mean that he had to give up the super hero identity he had held for the past years - especially if Ben wasn't going to stake his own claim to the Spider-Man role. I'm not sure that "Time Bomb" completely accomplished this goal. Other than having Peter place MJ in jeopardy and have to overcome some retconned mental programming from the Jackal, there's nothing in this story that clearly leads Peter and MJ to decide to leave New York. At this point, though, I was just glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and was looking forward to seeing the new era of Spider-Man begin. But the ghost of "Age of Apocalypse" was still upon us, and Marvel's marketing department reared its ugly head once again. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:32 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #17
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 14:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 14
The Greatest Responsibility" is another important storyline in the clone saga, which answers whether there will be two Spider-Men swinging around New York City. The person behind the tentacled arms from the "Exiled" story line is also revealed, as is this mystery figure's relationship with Seward Trainer.

Part one takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #406, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Angel Medina, Larry Mahlstedt and Randy Emberlin. The issue opens with Ben Reilly in cyberspace, assisting Seward Trainer in trying to retrieve missing information located in the failsafe of the system. The system starts to overload and Seward tells Ben to get out before he's trapped in cyberspace forever.

That same evening, Spider-Man is out wondering if the Jackal has any more tricks up his sleeve. He's found out he is a clone, and that the Jackal had programmed him with a command to kill the one he loves most. Even though he overcame those difficulties, Peter still worries that there may be more surprises in store and doesn't know if the risks to Mary Jane and their unborn child are worth it. MJ catches up to him and tells Peter that there will be no more brooding or hiding behind a mask. They're a family and they're going to live happily ever after.

Elsewhere, the mysterious tentacled being is finally revealed to be a new, female Doctor Octopus. She's been trying to break into Seward's files to get more information about research he conducted that would allow for simulations of organic matter within a virtual reality. Ben and Seward discover an Octopus crest in the files, which leads Ben to believe it's a plan that could have been set in motion before Doc Ock was killed. Although Peter may have more experience in the area, Ben knows Peter has too much to risk by getting involved and decides to handle it on his own. Before he can go out, Mary Jane and Peter arrive at Seward's labs. They feel he's the only one they can trust and for their own comfort, they want to make sure that there are no more "time bombs" lurking inside Peter.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : And so the new, female Doctor Octopus is introduced. The female Doc Ock was absolutely, seriously intended to permanently replace Otto Octavius in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. There was a bit of a movement afoot among some of the Spider-Man writers to phase out, kill off or update many of Spider-Man's classic villains. As a result, Doctor Octopus was now a woman, the Vulture was now preying on other people and absorbing their life energies to maintain his newfound youth, and Kraven was replaced by his son, the Grim Hunter (who had already ended up getting killed by Kaine). Whether or not this movement was successful is a matter of opinion. But I think the fact that most of the affected villains ended up going back to their original versions seems to make the case that nothing that was done in the "revamps" was as good or as memorable as what was being changed. At any rate, as far as I know, during the time of the "Greatest Responsibility" story line, there was no talk about reviving the original Doctor Octopus. ]

After Seward detects no trace of any other anomalies, Peter and Mary Jane go celebrate with a nice romantic dinner and non-alcoholic champagne. They also tease each other about the sex of the baby. Peter refers to their unborn child as a "he" and his "son," while MJ talks about their "daughter" and "little girl." They share a dance without music and the child moves for the first time.

Meanwhile, Doctor Octopus is testing her virtual reality bomb, causing people to think dinosaurs are loose in New York City. The prototype is successful, although containing some bugs, and she prepares to construct the real bomb.

Seward is in his office, trying to break the encryptions, and is startled to find Doc Ock inside. She's surprised to find the Scarlet Spider there, coming to Seward's rescue. Unfortunately, she proves tougher to beat than Scarlet expected. When Seward asks why she's doing this, Ock tells him that she was taught to revere scientific research above human life itself. When Scarlet asks if Seward knows Ock, she reveals that she's his daughter.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The fact that the new Doc Ock was Seward Trainer's daughter was an interesting twist, albeit a bit contrived. But then again, considering how many super heroes and super-villains over the years were revealed to be employees of the Daily Bugle, maybe it's not as big a stretch as I'm making it out to be!

Anyway, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #406 was J.M. DeMatteis's last issue as writer. I think he grew increasingly weary of the weekly cross-title continuity, and never getting the chance to tell his own stories - stories in which he alone could do the beginning, the middle and the end. This couldn't have been an easy decision for J.M. to make, because I know how much he liked Ben Reilly and how excited he was about the clone saga from the very start. But I think he just reached the breaking point, and I can't say I really blame him. I know Marc was really looking forward to the moment when Ben would finally don the Spider-Man suit, and getting the chance to write about the "new" web-slinger, but that pivotal moment just kept getting pushed further and further back, amidst more and more gimmicky crossovers and an overall series direction that was spiraling out of control. So, unfortunately, he left. And from that moment on, I made it a personal crusade of mine to do whatever I could to get him back on Spider-Man, in whatever capacity possible. ]

Part 2 takes place in SPIDER-MAN #63, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer. Peter is restless. Ever since he felt his child move inside of Mary Jane, he can't think straight. He tells MJ that he's going to go burn off some energy by swinging around the city and thinks how good his life has become. He may be a clone, but he's a clone who's going to be a father soon. As his thoughts turn to Ben and the hopes that he's doing okay, the story shifts back to Seward's lab.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Gil Kane, of course, was one of the classic Spider-Man artists, and Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky was a big fan of his. As such, Bob was pretty excited about having Gil on as a guest artist. Tom Palmer, one of my all-time favorite inkers (and one of the nicest guys in the industry), had inked many of Gil's covers for Marvel back in the early 70s, so this issue served as something of a reunion for these two greats. ]

The Scarlet Spider can't believe the latest revelation that the new Doc Ock is Seward's daughter, Carolyn. She's even more enraged now because of the father/son bond between Seward and Ben; a bond she claims she never had. Ben's objective is to keep Seward safe, but Dr. Trainer doesn't want to run from his daughter again. Ben decides that he knows best and escapes with his friend while Doc Ock follows closely behind. Seward notices that Ben is making more wisecracks, which he isn't accustomed to, and Ben tells him he's just trying to pick up from where he left off five years ago.

Spider-Man's story intersects while he's swinging around the city, trying to cut loose. Suddenly, his spider-sense goes crazy and he instinctively knows it has something to do with Ben. He arrives on a rooftop just as Doc Ock is starting to get the advantage over Ben. Spider-Man manages to get Ben clear, but at the expense of his own safety. He's knocked off the roof and then caught in the arms of Ock, who threatens to snap Spider-Man's neck unless Scarlet delivers her father. All Spider-Man can think of is MJ and their child and all he has to lose.

The Scarlet Spider uses his impact webbing to break through a force field that Ock has set up. Ock taunts Scarlet by calling him as cute as he is bright, but questions his speed and lets Spider-Man fall from the sky to prove it. Scarlet leaps off the building and gains enough momentum to catch his "brother." Doc Ock gets away and Ben tells Seward that he'll bring he back without harming her. When Scarlet asks Spider-Man if he's okay, all Spider-Man can think of is that he could have been killed, leaving the baby without a father. He tells Scarlet that he's off to see Mary Jane because he has a decision to make.

The end of one era and the beginning of a new one takes place in the concluding chapter of "The Greatest Responsibility" in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #229, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. The Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man are searching the city for any signs of Doctor Octopus, while Scarlet is starting to gain more confidence as a hero. Unfortunately, his bad puns and jokes are still in place as he shouts to some bad guys, "Roses are red, spiders are two, one comes in scarlet, the other in blue," causing Spider-Man to cringe. Spider-Man gets angry with one of the crooks, after discovering he's a father. Besides taking him into justice, Spidey lectures him about his responsibilities as a father. Scarlet wonders if Peter is talking about himself or the crook.

Scarlet and Spidey get to Peter's house where they discover MJ's been hospitalized after fainting at the hospital. Seward arrives to help assist in diagnosing Mary Jane, but the news he tells Peter isn't what he'd hoped. Mary Jane and the baby are in serious danger, but Seward had anticipated such a thing and has prepared an antidote. He makes a call to a messenger who has the antidote, but the call is intercepted by Doc Ock. It's also revealed that Doc Ock has an associate of some sort, whose identity is scrambled by a computer screen. The mysterious entity tells Ock that she now has a bargaining chip to use.

Ock calls Dr. Trainer and tells him that she'll exchange the antidote for him. Seward feels he has no choice, so agrees to the demands, though the Spider-Men will be close behind. Unfortunately, Doc Ock has planned for any occasion, and after her men remove the spider-tracers from Seward, they're able to get away without the Spiders being able to follow. They're able to follow the signal to a pier, but there's no sign of Seward or Ock's men. The Spiders decide to swim for it and try and find an underground entrance. When they finally find the location of Ock and Seward, the Spiders face off against a few dozen of Ock's men.

Ben continues to make jokes while busting heads and Peter wonders how Ben could take things so lightly during a stressful time like this. Peter then thinks that perhaps the problem isn't with Ben, but with himself. He used to call himself the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but that was a long time ago. It was before his nervous breakdown and the virus and the death of Aunt May and his true status as a clone being revealed. Spider-Man isn't pulling his punches as much as before and Scarlet warns him to hold back. At their level of power, they can't slip up and lose control, no matter what. Scarlet decides to search for Seward while Spider-Man tracks the antidote.

As the Spiders search for the antidote, Mary Jane wonders when it will all end and she and Peter can be a family. She can't see how they can provide a stable life for their child if he's always putting himself in danger. Every time he averts one tragedy, another seems to come along.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This is all building up to Peter's fateful decision to give up being Spider-Man. As I recall, that was actually supposed to be accomplished in the previous month's "Time Bomb" story line, but it never came off. "The Greatest Responsibility" provided the real impetus, which, in retrospect, made "Time Bomb" a pretty pointless event - little more than filler material, something to mark time, in which nothing really happened to progress the clone story line. ]

When Spider-Man catches up to Doc Ock, they converse more than usual during their battle. Spidey questions why she hates her father so much and she talks about him throughout their battle. Seward was always more involved with work than his family. Carolyn and her mother barely rated second to Seward. She asks Spider-Man if he can imagine what it's like to grow up in a home where daddy always has something more important to do. Spidey replies that this is about her, not him, and she goes on to rant about how she wants to conquer virtual reality with the help of her father's work.

Scarlet has his hands full himself, dealing with traps sprung by the computerized enemy. During their battle, Scarlet learns that there may be more to the enemy than he realizes; something flesh and blood rather than just artificial intelligence. The computer system crashes before he can find out any more details, though.

Spider-Man manages to beat Doc Ock, but at the expense of the building's foundation, which begins to crumble around him. Trapped under tons of debris, Spider-Man's thoughts turn to his family. Of Aunt May, who taught him there's no greater responsibility than raising a family. Of Mary Jane, who he still regrets hitting on that fateful day he learned he was a clone. He thinks about how he doesn't know what sex his child is and how he can't die until he knows that, at least. Spider-Man continues to struggle and hold on with all his strength until the Scarlet Spider comes in to help relieve some of the pressure.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was all a wink and a nod to the classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #33, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, in which Spider-Man was trapped under tons of debris and had to free himself to get a special antidote to Aunt May in time to save her life. With the Scarlet Spider coming to Spider-Man's aid and helping him out from under the rubble, writer Tom DeFalco was essentially having the torch - and the burden - pass from Peter Parker to Ben Reilly. It was a nice, clever touch. ]

Ben, Peter and Seward arrive at the hospital with the antidote and help to cure Mary Jane of the illness she was stricken by. After Peter talks to his wife, he asks Ben to walk with him. They talk about responsibility and Peter tells Ben that even a man with great responsibility can be humbled when he sees even greater responsibilities on the horizon. Peter tells Ben that he's hanging up the webs. In order to be responsible to Mary Jane and the baby, he's going to quit being Spider-Man and gives Ben a bag with the suit in it.

Ben tells Peter that he'll accept the responsibility, but he hasn't earned the costume. He tells Peter that he'll make the next one a little more contemporary, to which Peter cracks, "This from the guy who designed the Scarlet Spider outfit?" Ben wishes Peter luck and then Peter walks away, thinking, "It's over. Mary Jane and I finally have an opportunity to head into the sunset and live happily ever after." His thoughts then turn to Ben Reilly. "The time has come for you to build a real life for yourself. I'm real curious to see what you do first. And I'll bet I'm not alone."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Okay, last week I mentioned the fact that we were still haunted by the success of the X-Men's "Age of Apocalypse" story line, and that the sales and marketing boys at Marvel were sticking their noses into the mix once again. Here's what I meant by that...

The end of "The Greatest Responsibility" could have, should have and would have been the end of the Scarlet Spider, the end of the clone saga, and the beginning of the new era of Spider-Man. After all, what else was there left to accomplish at that point, in terms of the story? Peter had just given up the role of Spider-Man and turned it over to Ben. So, time to get rolling with the new Spider-Man, right? Wrong. As you may recall, part of the "Age of Apocalypse" event involved "canceling" all the X-books and restarting them with altered titles and new #1's. Each new X-title would run for four months, and then revert back to its original title and numbering. Well, we were under pressure to now do the same thing with the Spider-Man books.

The idea was to have each Spider-Man book retitled so that the Scarlet Spider's name would replace Spider-Man's - AMAZING SCARLET SPIDER, SPECTACULAR SCARLET SPIDER, SCARLET SPIDER, and WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER. We'd get four new number #1's out of it, and it would be a way to capitalize on the Scarlet Spider's popularity one last time before he became Spider-Man. What that meant was holding off Ben's debut as Spider-Man even longer. As I recall, the sales and marketing guys wanted us to do the Scarlet Spider books for four months, four issues of each title, just like the X-Men books did it. Bob Budiansky rejected that idea, and pushed for just one month, one issue of each book. We (the editors and writers) weren't thrilled by any of this, but we agreed that one month was certainly better than four. As I recall, Budiansky's plan was agreed upon, but then the sales and marketing boys decided that just one month wasn't enough after all, and pushed for more. A compromise had to be reached.

Ultimately, the plan became this: TWO months of each Scarlet Spider title, with the exception of WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER, which would run for FOUR issues - even though Ben Reilly would no longer be the Scarlet Spider, and would not even be in the book, after #2. I'm asking the same thing you probably are - Huh?! After all this time, I couldn't remember for the life of me why we would ever agree to this scheme, so I called my good pal Mark Bernardo, who was my fellow Spider-Man Group assistant editor back then. Mark was working directly for Budiansky, and was more at the "heart of the storm" than I was. As far as Mark can remember, WEB was extended because the sales and marketing guys felt that two more issues of a Scarlet Spider book would bring in a significant amount of revenue for those two months. They believed that the Scarlet Spider "brand", so to speak, was strong enough to support this idea - even though there wouldn't even BE a Scarlet Spider by the time these last two issues came out! Ben was going to be Spider-Man by then, with a big, heavily-promoted launch being touted as "The Return of Spider-Man," and an all-new monthly Spider-Man title to replace WEB. Why the hell, then, would WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER still be in existence, competing against Ben's debut as Spider-Man? From an editorial standpoint, it made absolutely no sense. But the sales and marketing guys rattled off their sales projections and their statistics and whatever else they had in their arsenal, and in the end, they got what they wanted - two more months of the Scarlet Spider. Well, not THE Scarlet Spider... ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:30 PM

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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 15a:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 15
A new era begins as the Scarlet Spider takes center stage in all of the core books. The titles are even renamed and renumbered at issue #1 for "Virtual Mortality," the first story line featuring the new status quo.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I touched upon the origins of the retitled Scarlet Spider books last time, but it bears repeating that this stunt was driven solely by Marvel's sales and marketing boys. They wanted it, they pushed for it, and they even wanted to make it twice as long as it ended up being. They were so impressed with the success of the "Age of Apocalypse" event done with the X-Men books that they thought it could easily be replicated with the Spider-Man line. The biggest difference between the two stunts was that "Age of Apocalypse" was a well planned, conceptually strong, story-driven project that was generated by the X-Men editorial staff and writers. The Scarlet Spider stunt, on the other hand, was something that the Spider-Man editors and writers were pressured into doing, and was agreed to with absolutely no story concept or overall theme in place. Once it was agreed to, the Spider-Man team had to scramble desperately to throw something-ANYTHING-together in a very short amount of time, which could be marketed and promoted and hyped in the sales catalog. I look back at those Scarlet Spider books and I see a real sloppiness to them, a real ugliness. And I think that was all borne from the conditions under which they were created. This was not a venture in which anyone could take any sort of creative pride-and the fact that the deadlines were horrendous didn't exactly help matters. Half the artists working on those Scarlet Spider issues weren't even the regular Spider-Man guys. They were fill-in artists pulled in at the last minute, and it showed. Even Mark Bagley's work suffered on those issues, in my opinion. (Take a look at Mark's work before and after those Scarlet Spider issues, and see if you don't agree with me on this.) Bottom line: there was no way in hell this was going to measure up, quality-wise, to "Age of Apocalypse." ]

The story line begins in WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER #1, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Paris Karounos and Randy Emberlin. The issue opens with Scarlet breaking up a gang of thugs mugging a poor guy on the streets. After easily taking care of that dispute, Scarlet's spider-sense alerts him to a helicopter flying above the skies. He chases down the chopper and the van that's following it and gets into a fight with several costumed soldiers. They have some tricks up their sleeves, which prevents Scarlet from capturing them. When he realizes that he failed to catch the bad guys, Ben thinks that Peter would have done it better and wonders why he tries at all.

It turns out that several parties were involved with the earlier helicopter event. Doctor Octopus was sending her team out to steal computer components for something she was working on. But there is also a Mr. Tso, who is the head of another criminal organization that had their components stolen in the first place. Mr. Tso orders the person in charge of security killed on the spot.

When Ben tells Seward Trainer, with whom he's staying temporarily, about it, Dr. Trainer suggests that Ben doesn't have to follow the same path as Peter did and offers him a position as his research assistant. Ben politely declines, saying he needs to make his own way and starts to look for a job. He's turned away everywhere he looks, but then tries at Club Noir, the new trendy place in town. They turn Ben down, too, even though he claims to have waiting experience. Just then, a waitress trips and Ben grabs her tray, using his spider powers to keep it balanced. That little trick gets Ben a job.

After getting his job, Ben puts on the spider-suit and goes looking for the helicopter, which is going to go after the van of computer components. He finds it and gets into the copter, but is thwarted again, getting shocked after touching one of the bad guy's suits. Scarlet is then thrown from the copter, but manages to shoot a web to latch on. The bad guys really don't want him around so they start moving the copter in various ways to get Scarlet thrown off or smashed against the side of a building. Scarlet manages to stick around still, so someone cuts the web, causing Scarlet to fall towards the river. After a web hang-glider doesn't work, he tries to make himself a pair water skis, which does work. For about two seconds until he sinks into the water, cursing his luck.

Back in town, Mr. Tso is unhappy to hear that his computer components have been stolen and wants an update on how his club is doing. His assistant tells him that nothing much has gone on, other than the fact that they hired a new waiter named Ben Reilly.

Part two happens in THE AMAZING SCARLET SPIDER #1, written by Tom DeFalco and Mike Lackey and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. The story opens with Mr. Tso's men infiltrating one of Doc Ock's hideouts in an effort to retrieve their stolen components. Tso's team is doing a good job at getting through Ock's people, so she decides to blow up the entire building to prevent any secrets from being uncovered. While swinging through the streets, the Scarlet Spider sees the explosion and goes to check it out, finding more trouble than before. He fights a couple of Ock's men and takes the experimental virtual reality visor that both sides wanted so badly.

Doc Ock tells her mysterious computerized associate about the incident and they appear to already know and already be working on a solution. They enlist the help of a two time loser called the Looter, who's just being released from prison.

Ben comes in late for his first day at Club Noir, but manages to get by without causing any major problems-except for getting flirted with, that is. He also notices one of the people from the computer chip burglary, Mr. Kannor, heading towards the boss's office. After Kannor leaves, Mr. Tso relays the news of another failure to yet another mysterious associate.

Ben finishes his shift at the club and goes home, flirting with another woman, Carrie Bradley, on the elevator, and shows Seward the VR visor that he found earlier in the day. Seward tells him that it's far more advanced than anything he's ever seen, comparing it to what a Harley Davidson means to a tricycle. Seward is anxious to test it, so he puts on the visor and goes into cyber world. Once inside the virtual world, Seward is confronted by a mysterious being called VR-37, who takes an aggressive stance against him. Seward begins to concoct weapons and defensive objects in his head, which then become real in that world. Unfortunately, VR-37 can do the same. Ben watches as Seward struggles and notices things getting worse, even to the point where cyber events manifest themselves in the real world.

Ben puts on one of the spare helmets and is drawn into the cyberworld. Seward warns him that he shouldn't have come, but it's too late. VR-37 tells them that in this world, they can create things from the user's deepest thoughts and fears. Immediately, VR versions of Venom, Carnage, Stunner and even Spider-Man appear and Scarlet must battle them all. While he's occupied with the VR versions of these opponents, Seward is stuck facing VR-37 alone. Scarlet is able to triumph over his enemies, but when he reaches Seward, he discovers that his friend wasn't so lucky.

Ben takes off the VR helmet and goes back to the real world and removes Seward's helmet, as well, but he's too late. Seward's been reduced to a zombified state.

Part 3 continues the story in SCARLET SPIDER #1, written by Howard Mackie and Todd Dezago, and illustrated by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer. The Scarlet Spider is trying to save Seward's life. He rushes Seward to a hospital when the doctors tell him that physically, Seward is okay, but mentally he's a blank state and they detect no brain activity.

Elsewhere, we're introduced to a mysterious assassin called "The Pro." He breaks into someone's home, subduing all of his bodyguards and presses a gun to his head, telling him to cease operations and leave the country. When the man asks why he wasn't killed, the Pro responds that he wasn't paid to do that. Moments later, the Pro is back on the street and is paged with his next assignment: kill Jason Tso.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Pro was inspired by the movie "The Professional," starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Howard Mackie often incorporated ideas and stylistic touches from other sources into his stories. For example, I think it's pretty obvious from Howard's work over the years that "The X-Files" has been a major influence on him. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of opinion. ]

At the Daily Bugle, reporter Ken Ellis gets a scoop that Club Noir will be hosting an important gathering of some of the most powerful mobsters in the area. Ellis grabs his friend Angela Yin, a photographer, and tells her that they're going to Noir for dinner. In cyberspace, Doc Ock discovers that her associate sent the tip to Ellis and asks why. She's told that if Ellis covers the event, including Mr. Tso's death, the publicity will send a message to anyone who considers moving against them. It's also revealed that Seward's mind has been stuck in the virtual reality, allowing him to spy on the entire conversation between these two.

The evening rolls around and Ben is waiting on Mr. Tso's table. Tso abruptly gets out of his chair, causing Ben to spill a drink, resulting in Tso telling his assistant Kannor to fire Reilly. As Reilly starts getting ready to leave, he passes by a computerized cash register and Seward is able to manipulate the screen to speak to Ben. He gets cut off before he can tell Ben what he learned, but Reilly figures it out eventually when he stumbles onto the attempted assassination of Mr. Tso. Thinking quickly, Ben disarms the would-be killers and then goes to find Mr. Tso, who's being attacked by the Pro. Ben changes into costume and moments later the Scarlet Spider comes crashing in, saving Tso from the Pro.

A few minutes later, Ben is cleaning out his locker and Mr. Tso stops him, telling him that although Ben makes a lousy waiter, he's a terrific bodyguard. Tso only wishes he could find a way to get the Scarlet Spider on the payroll, too, since Scarlet also saved his life.

"Virtual Mortality" concludes in THE SPECTACULAR SCARLET SPIDER #1, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Jimmy Palmiotti. The story opens with the discovery of why the Looter was recruited by Doc Ock earlier on. He's been given cybernetic enhancements. Doc Ock watches as he trains against two of her other pupils, Aura and Override.

In another part of town, Ben is having apprehensions about his new job. Dealing with punks and thugs as the Scarlet Spider is one thing, but having to deal with them as Ben Reilly is something he's not too interested in. After checking in on Seward and having another brief conversation with him over the hospital computers, Ben learns that there will be another raid on Club Noir by Doc Ock's team. He then rushes over to the gym, where Carrie Bradley is teaching a self-defense course, to cancel a date they had planned. She doesn't take the news so well and Ben is forced to deal with his terrible luck yet again.

Ben heads over to Club Noir to start his first shift as Mr. Tso's bodyguard and arrives just in time, as Override, Aura and the Looter break in. He gets Tso to safety, changes into his alter ego, and then the Scarlet Spider goes in to take on the cyber-powered villains. Aura and Override are taken out pretty quickly, but the Looter proves a little more formidable. The Looter thinks Ben is Spider-Man and is out for blood. Although Ben faced him before his time in exile, when he was Spider-Man, it's still been awhile. They fight to a standoff before the Looter makes a hasty retreat, telling Scarlet that fighting him isn't in his contract.

Tso later thanks Ben Reilly for again saving his life earlier on, along with the Scarlet Spider and then goes to speak with his mysterious contact. A glimpse into the other side of the computer screen reveals that Tso's associate is none other than Alistair Smythe, creator of the deadly Spider-Slayers, looking to test his new Cyberslayers.

SCARLET SPIDER UNLIMITED #1, written by Glenn Herdling and illustrated by Tod Smith and John Nyberg is a change of pace issue. The purpose of the issue is to deal with continuity problems created by SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #8, in which it was revealed that the Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy clones were victims of a "clone virus," and thus not actual clones-which clearly doesn't match what we've come to know since the Clone Saga began.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Unlike the regular format Scarlet Spider comics, I was actively involved with the creation of SCARLET SPIDER UNLIMITED #1. If you liked it, great. If not, I freely admit that I am one of the people to blame. Basically, the situation was that there were still a number of clone saga-related continuity problems that needed to be resolved, and it was decided that this double-sized comic would be the place to clear everything up once and for all. Glenn Herdling, who at the time was a full-time Marvel editor and freelance writer (perhaps best known for his work on NAMOR and AVENGERS UNPLUGGED), was hired to write the story. Glenn's a great guy and a good friend of mine (How could he not be? He's got a great first name and he spells it the right way!). He's also a very good writer, with a lot of good ideas and a terrific sense of humor. When I became an editor, I hired him to do some writing for me, and I was always pleased with the results. And to top it all off, Glenn knows Spider-Man very, very well. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, when Jim Salicrup was editing the Spider-Man books (this included the mega-successful Todd McFarlane era), Glenn was the assistant editor. So you couldn't argue with his credentials.

But this Scarlet Spider was so monumental a task, so unavoidably mired in explaining away multiple contradictions and buried under layers of long-winded explanations, that it was a troubled project from the start. It would have made even Roy Thomas head for the hills in abject terror. Poor Glenn really had his work cut out for him. My job, along with my fellow Spider-Man Group assistant editor, Mark Bernardo, was to outline for Glenn all the continuity issues that needed to be addressed in the story. There was a big plotting lunch at a local restaurant, consisting of Herdling, Bernardo, me, Tom Brevoort, Spider-Man editor Eric Fein, and Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky. I can't remember for sure, but Peter Sanderson (Marvel's librarian and resident continuity expert) may have also been there. Our goal was to try to map out the story during this lunch and at least have a rough outline by the end. Bernardo and I detailed all the continuity issues we felt needed to be resolved. Bob had his own directions for Herdling in terms of what he wanted in the story, in addition to clearing up all the continuity stuff. Most of Bob's directions involved Kaine and raising the possibilities of his resurrection.

By the end of that lunch, I think Herdling's head was going to explode, so overwhelmed was he by all the things he had to address and accomplish in this one story. I genuinely felt sorry for him. I don't recall how many drafts of the plot Glenn had to do-but I know there were several. He took it all in stride, though, and I think he managed to have some fun in the process. ]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:05 PM   #19
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 15b:
Quote:
The Scarlet Spider is swinging by the old warehouse that served as the Jackal's lab, when he notices a lot of police activity, particularly Jacob Raven going into the warehouse. The police and a biological team are there because they traced the Carrion virus (which struck Springville, PA weeks ago) to that location. Raven is on the scene because it was listed as the last known location of Kaine. He stumbles into the Jackal's lab where he discovers the containment pod holding the body of Kaine. Raven pulls his gun, wanting to make sure that Kaine is dead once and for all, but is stopped by a couple of strange-looking creatures.

The Scarlet Spider enters through the sewers, trying to find Jacob Raven, and runs into several more of the creatures, who try everything they can to stop him. He's able to put them out of commission and find his way to the Jackal's lab, where he sees Raven caught in a cocoon-like substance. After freeing Raven, Scarlet senses trouble and sees that the creatures have returned, ready to do battle again. Instantly, the High Evolutionary appears, telling his Animen to stand down. He teleports them back home, but Scarlet tries to prevent them from leaving, which leaves him transported to Wundagore, as well. Since Wundagore is the home of the Animen, Scarlet finds himself severely outnumbered. He puts up a tough fight, but the odds are too great and he gets captured.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : For me, the highlight of the entire issue, the most memorable thing, occurs during this particular scene. The Scarlet Spider, captured and tied down to a slab, is surrounded by the Animen, who discuss what they should do with him. One says, "I say we kill him." Another replies, "I say we kill him, then we eat him." The Scarlet Spider tries to disguise and throw his voice, and he chimes in, "I say we let him go!" Yeah, I know, it was from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," but I thought it was a great touch, very appropriate for the scene, and I still remember laughing about it with Glenn once I got a chance to read the finished version. ]

When another creature appears, recognizing Scarlet as "the other," the Animen bow in reverence. He looks behind to also see a statue erected in memory of the Jackal. Scarlet learns that the Animen believe (as was revealed in SPEC ANNUAL #8) that the Jackal infected his assistant Anthony Serba with a genetic virus which altered his DNA, turning him into a biological duplicate of the original Peter Parker. When Scarlet disputes this, he's called a heretic and a false prophet.

The Animen tell Scarlet about how the High Evolutionary wanted to create a new race by evolving animals into a higher form. It wasn't until he enlisted the help of Professor Miles Warren that he was able to do so. The problem was, the High Evolutionary wanted to create a race of gods, while Warren wanted to create the perfect human. Warren was banished from Wundagore. Several "new men" followed Warren and volunteered to undergo genetic tests. Unfortunately, the first test resulted in the subjects not just becoming human, but getting turned into living corpses until their death: the Carrion Virus.

It was then that Warren turned his attention to attempting to create spontaneous life through cloning. He eventually reappeared on Wundagore, in the guise of the Jackal, in order to blend in with the creatures. He revealed that he perfected the cloning process and gained new followers, which angered the High Evolutionary. High Evolutionary decided to prove that the Jackal was a fraud by capturing the Gwen Stacy clone and performing a series of tests on her. He apparently discovered that she was no clone and was in fact, nothing more than a successful genetic duplicate. The Jackal's followers were not won over so quickly and sent spies to retrieve Warren's journal. There they discovered more evidence that High Evolutionary was telling the truth, through an entry in Warren's own journal.

The news strikes the Scarlet Spider hard. If the whole clone thing is a sham, it means that Anthony Serba would have a right to get his life back. What would that mean for Peter Parker and Mary Jane? Before Scarlet has time to think about it further, the High Evolutionary teleports him to his "ready room." Scarlet thinks that when he was Spider-Man, he only had to worry about street level goons with delusions of grandeur, but Peter's left some pretty big boots to fill with his rogues gallery. The High Evolutionary decides to tell Scarlet the whole story.

Warren was indeed his assistant, working on ways to make animals into sentient bipeds. The jackal was a creature that particularly held Warren's interest, but the experiment was a failure. The Jackal creature created manifested a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Warren was banished but the Jackal stayed a part of his life, hunting him, going so far as to kill his family. Warren blamed High Evolutionary for their deaths and returned to Wundagore to challenge his authority. Warren developed his own Jackal persona through which he would project his own heinous acts, and his cloning process was a threat to the High Evolutionary. Cloning stagnates the evolutionary process, while High Evolutionary seeks to accelerate it. The High Evolutionary planted a false journal in one of Warren's labs and concocted the genetic duplicate story so his people wouldn't know the truth and hold Warren with such reverence. Warren indeed perfected the cloning process and Gwen and Peter were clones, not DNA-altered duplicates.

After this revelation, the Scarlet Spider convinces High Evolutionary to enlighten his people as well. He tells them it isn't their destiny to be human, but they should be proud to be a part of a race every bit the equal of humans. With that, Scarlet is teleported back to the Jackal's lab. He wakes Jacob Raven up and they both discover that Kaine's containment pod is now empty.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : There's no doubt that Glenn Herdling did the best he could with this story, under heavy editorial scrutiny, seemingly endless revisions, and a mountain of contradictory information to address. To his credit, he managed to wrap up the lingering continuity quagmire in a way that didn't make things any worse than they already were. That alone was a great accomplishment, something neither Howard Mackie nor Terry Kavanagh were able to do in their attempts to make the clone saga work with what had been established in previous stories. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:28 PM
Part 16:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 16
The Scarlet Spider's solo adventures continue in the 4-part "Cyberwar" story line. Part 1 takes place in WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER #2, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Tom Morgan, Randy Emberlin, Hector Collazo and Don Hudson. Seward Trainer is enjoying having his consciousness trapped in cyberspace. He's learned how to send portions of himself to infiltrate any computer network, enabling him to have access to any information he wants. Ben Reilly is still worried about the effects that Seward's mind/body separation will have long term, but agrees that Seward probably knows best.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : First and foremost, our most heartfelt apologies on the delay in getting this latest installment onto the site. To paraphrase Superman (Christopher Reeve) at the end of Superman II: "Sorry we've been away. We won't let you down again."

Now, on the matter of "Cyberwar"... well, in reflecting on the entire two months of Scarlet Spider books, I'm reminded of a scene from another movie: This is Spinal Tap. In this particular scene, filmmaker Marty DiBergi (played by Rob Reiner) is sitting with the British heavy metal band Spinal Tap and reading aloud the reviews of some of their past albums. For their album Shark Sandwich, DiBergi says, "The entire review consists of only two words: '**** sandwich.'" Well, that pretty sums up my opinion of the Scarlet Spider books, and I could end right here feeling that I'd told you everything you needed to know about them. But since Andrew went to all the trouble of writing such a thorough synopsis, I figure the least I can do is elaborate on the subject. ]


Ben heads to work, but reporter Ken Ellis and photographer Angela Yin are still working on their story. Angela catches Ben, believing him to be Peter. She figures he's working on an undercover assignment and promises not to blow his cover. The bad news for Ben is that one of Mr. Tso's men (Orlando Kannor) sees them speaking and figures that they're friends. Kannor heads back to his office to run a computer check on Ben Reilly. Fortunately, Seward discovers that someone is snooping into Ben's files and taps into various computer systems himself, creating a "life" for Reilly.

Later, all sides realize that there's an important meeting about to take place between Doc Ock and Tso at the Children's Zoo, of all places. The Scarlet Spider arrives to try and make sure no innocents are hurt, but he runs into problems in the form of Ock's henchmen and the all new Spider-Slayers: the cyber slayers, which respond to the thoughts of those using the software-in this case, Alistair Smythe and Jason Tso. After working with these new cyber slayers for awhile, Tso begins to contemplate having Alistair removed from the equation, so to speak. Scarlet is able to defeat the bad guys and keep innocents from harm, but not before making Doc Ock and her mysterious computer friend even more angry.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : "Cyberwar" was pretty much thrown together at the last minute to pad out "Scarlet Spider Month" to two months. As I recall, Tom DeFalco did the lion's share of the development work on the story and had to do it in a very short amount of time, due to deadline considerations. I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when I say that this was not one of Tom's happiest experiences writing for the Spider-books, nor was it representative of the kind of work he can do under normal, saner circumstances.

All of the Scarlet Spider books were essentially filler material, one last sales-driven scheme to exploit the popular Scarlet Spider name before the big "Return of Spider-Man" event the following month. ]


Part 2 takes place in AMAZING SCARLET SPIDER #2, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. It opens with a man and woman talking about the "great game" with allusions to costumed opponents that have taken part and fallen to the stronger competitors. The woman, Joystick, is told that her next opponent is the Scarlet Spider.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : "The Great Game" was an interesting idea and I remember thinking that it had possibilities when it was first discussed. I was watching a lot of WWF wrestling at the time, as was my fellow Spider-Man Group Assistant Editor, Mark Bernardo, and we saw ways in which we could incorporate a lot of the intrigues, sudden alliances, surprise betrayals, and masterful manipulations seen in that paragon of sports entertainment. Ultimately, I don't believe the idea ever reached its fullest potential. ]


Back at Doc Ock's laboratory, she is working with her computerized partner on a plan to eliminate the Scarlet Spider. The partner goes into cyber space to confront Stunner, who is disoriented and unsure why she's there. The computerized being tries to calm her and Stunner instinctively feels that she can trust this being.

Ben is given an assignment from Tso: take care of snooping Bugle reporter, Ken Ellis. Unfortunately, it's difficult for Ben to confront Ellis since he'd be mistaken for Peter Parker, causing a lot of unnecessary confusion. Ben decides to follow Ellis, then confront him as the Scarlet Spider, offering an exclusive if he stays away from the club. As it is, Ben is almost caught by J. Jonah Jameson during his "tracking." Later, as Scarlet, Ben doesn't have much of an opportunity to talk to Ellis before Joystick goes after him. Joystick explains to Scarlet that she must defeat him and claim his mask before being permitted to advance to the next level. Then, the new Green Goblin arrives on the scene, making a mess of everything. Joystick is told to conclude the assignment and back out, since the Goblin is a non-player. She retreats, leaving Scarlet to try and make sense of everything, only to find out that he's very late for a date with Carrie.

The 3rd part of "Cyberwar" occurs in SCARLET SPIDER #2, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson. The issue opens with one of Ock's henchmen being revealed as Special Agent Joe Wade of the FBI. Rather than kill him, Ock tells Wade that he's about to become part of scientific history, as he's strapped to mechanical devices and his screams begin to drown out the air.

Doc Ock explains that they're downloading files about the Scarlet Spider directly into Wade's brain. When her computerized partner, the Master Programmer, questions the progress, Doc Ock says that the process will be complete soon, all the while with Seward Trainer watching in horror. As the process continues on, something happens and there is an explosion in the lab. Moments later, a solid holographic counterpart of the Scarlet Spider appears and swings off. The real Scarlet Spider sees this and goes after his cyber counterpart, who is destroying the city.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : At least this issue featured the return of John Romita Jr. to the Spider-Man fold. Ideally, JR Jr would have returned during the "Return of Spider-Man" month, since that was considered a clean starting point and the beginning of a whole new era, but getting him on board one month early could only be seen as a GOOD thing. ]


Scarlet catches up to his cyber self and they battle it out in the streets of NYC. Cyber Scarlet ends up pulling a machine gun out of thin air and fires it at Ben/Scarlet, who manages to dodge the bullets. Ben/Scarlet seemingly gets the upper hand by webbing up the imposter, but when it comes time to open the web prison he created, he discovers that there's no one in there. Meanwhile, the police and the press all begin to come down on Ben/Scarlet, believing him to be the cause of all their problems.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Mark Bernardo and I both felt that the notion of a holographic form that had physical properties stretched credibility too far, but we were obviously overruled. I seem to remember Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky having an active involvement in this particular concept, for reasons I'll get into momentarily. ]


Cyberwar concludes in Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2, written by Todd DeZago and illustrated by Sal Buscema, Bill Sienkiewicz and Jimmy Palmiotti. The Scarlet Spider can't go anywhere without the entire city hurling obscenities and hard objects at him. His encounters with the citizens of New York make him late for work, causing Tso to fire him. Returning to his apartment, Ben discovers that it's been trashed by his cyber self. Before Ben can leave, a Virtual Reality Seward tells Ben what Doc Ock's been planning: her ultimate goal of merging reality and cyber space.

Ock and her cronies head over to Tso to get the inductor chips they need to complete their plans. It is then that Alistair Smythe sends his new cyber slayers out to contain Ock and her kill her henchmen. Before he can revel in his victory, Jason Tso turns on Smythe, seizing control over the slayers, leaving Smythe to have to battle Doc Ock alone. No one gets away easy, though, and Tso has to have his day of reckoning as the Pro finally catches up to and kills him.

Enough time has been wasted that Doc Ock and Master Programmer's master plan seems to be working. Reality begins to shift and as the Programmer starts to take on a more human form, while the Scarlet Spider races to try and undo the change. Seward tells Ben to implant a computer virus into the system, which he does, neutralizing the entire process. Doc Ock manages to escape as the Scarlet Spider saves the day. Apparently, it isn't enough, though, as people still come out and call him a terrorist and monster.

Ben goes to see Seward in the hospital later that evening. He notices news reports of the cyber Scarlet Spider terrorizing the city. Ben tells Seward that Doc Ock was able to destroy his reputation easily because no one had a reason to trust the Scarlet Spider in the first place. He says that it's easy to ruin the image of an unknown like the Scarlet Spider, but that she'd never be able to do it to Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Bob Budiansky's rationale here was that by tarnishing the Scarlet Spider's reputation, that would give Ben the final impetus to take on the Spider-Man identity. But this doesn't really work, for a variety of reasons.

First of all, a major part of Spider-Man's life is that he's ALWAYS being framed and having his image ruined and never fully earning the trust of society at large. He's the original hard luck hero, right? So the notion of switching to the Spider-Man identity because the Scarlet Spider's reputation has been tarnished is pretty half-baked. For one thing, doesn't Ben think enough of his Scarlet Spider identity that he'd at try to clear the hero's name? On top of that, what happens if Mysterio comes back in a few months and frames Spider-Man for bank robbery? Would Ben then go back to being the Scarlet Spider?

Another major problem is that the whole matter of Ben taking over as Spider-Man had essentially been resolved already in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #229, where Peter Parker entrusts the Spider-Man identity to Ben and wishes him luck.. What other impetus did Ben need to become Spider-Man at that point, aside from the one dictated by Marvel's sales and marketing guys? Ideally, Ben would have become Spider-Man in the issue that came out right after SPECTACULAR #229. That's how it was all set up, from a creative standpoint.

I think that in ending "Cyberwar" this way, Bob Budiansky was trying to rationalize the purpose of the story, that he was trying to creatively justify doing two whole months of Scarlet Spider books, and give the whole venture some sense of significance. But it was a false impetus for Ben, because the transfer of the Spider-Man identity from Peter to Ben was already a done deal.. ]

This would be the end of Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider, but not of the Scarlet Spider himself. The Joe Wade cyber version of the character was able to stick around just a little longer to end that particular storyline.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : NEW WARRIORS writer Evan Skolnick stepped in to finish the story of the Joe Wade Scarlet Spider, in WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER #'s 3 and 4. As I mentioned in a previous installment, I could not understand why we would still have a Scarlet Spider title in existence during the "Return of Spider-Man" month, competing against Ben's debut as Spider-Man. From a creative standpoint, it made absolutely no sense. But the sales and marketing guys insisted that two more months of a Scarlet Spider book would bring in a considerable amount of revenue, and we couldn't come up with an argument that was strong enough to defeat theirs. To paraphrase another line from This is Spinal Tap: "Money talks, and 'creative integrity' walks."
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:25 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:05 PM   #20
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 17a:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 17
We wind down the first half of "Life of Reilly" appropriately enough with a mini-series and a one-shot that serve to close the book on Peter and Mary Jane Watson-Parker.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : These two projects were essentially "sister" projects, with one leading into the other. They were designed to close out the "Peter Parker" era of Spider-Man and clear the decks once and for all for Ben Reilly. ]

SPIDER-MAN: THE PARKER YEARS is a one-shot written by Evan Skolnick and illustrated by Joe St. Pierre and Al Milgrom, and features a wraparound cover by John Romita Jr. The story begins with Peter and Mary Jane on the roof of their apartment, burning old photos and getting ready to burn the Spider-Man costume. MJ is upset that Peter is destroying these personal possessions, and when Peter explains that they only compound the lie he was living for the past five years, she chastises him and tries to bring him back down to earth. So begins a flashback issue, focusing on the events of Peter's life after he thought he had buried the clone so many years ago.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The PARKER YEARS one-shot represented my first experience as hands-on editor of a comic book project, and it came to pass purely by circumstance. My boss, editor Tom Brevoort, was very sick at the time (as I recall, it was either bronchitis or the flu), and was out of the office for several days. In the meantime, PARKER YEARS had been scheduled and our time was running out. We had no real concept for it and no creative team in place before Tom got sick, and we needed to get started on it ASAP. So I took the reigns on it.

Evan Skolnick, who was writing NEW WARRIORS for Tom and me, happened to stop by our office one day and I informed him of our scheduling dilemma - and the fact that we didn't even a real concept yet. Evan made some suggestions on how to approach the PARKER YEARS one-shot: what it should be about, what should happen in it. I liked what I heard, and I had an idea. With Evan sitting right there on our office couch, I called Tom Brevoort at home. Tom crawled out of his deathbed to clutch at the phone, and I proudly said to him, "I think I've got a writer for PARKER YEARS!" Tom, barely above a whisper, managed to groan out, "Who?" (He actually might've been asking who I was - he was pretty sick, remember - but I just assumed he was following what I was saying.) I replied, "Evan Skolinick - he's sitting right here in the office!" Tom said, "Yeah, okay," and that was pretty much it. Done deal. I gave Evan an enthusiastic thumbs-up signal as I hung up on the barely-alive Brevoort, and sent Evan on his way to write up a proposal. The proposal was eventually approved by Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky, and Evan then went on to write the plot.

The artist for the book, Joe St. Pierre, was an up-and-coming penciler who did some pages for Tom and me for the JACKAL FILES one-shot, and I liked his stuff. Bob Budiansky was pushing everyone to bring some new talent into the Spider-Man group, so that we'd have a nice big pool of artists to choose from. I thought Joe would make a nice addition to that pool, and Tom agreed. We eventually gave Joe some work on the VENOM series once we took over as editors. As I recall, I chose Joe for THE PARKER YEARS shortly after I handed the writing assignment to Evan. Tom was still out sick, and we had to keep moving forward, and I think Tom pretty much left it up to me to pick the artist.

Finally, I called John Romita Jr. to pencil the wraparound cover. For me, it was a no-brainer. I always jumped at any opportunity to work directly with JR, and I saw this as one of those opportunities. Luckilly, he was able and willing to do it, and he did his usual wonderful job. ]

Peter tells Mary Jane how he came to believe he was the real Peter without ever checking the scientific evidence, since he thought only the true Parker could have such strong feelings for her. He tells MJ that if only he had realized the truth early on, perhaps tragedies could have been avoided later on.. He wonders if the real Spider-Man would have done a better job than he did during such events as leading a two-bit crook into the Green Goblin's lair by accident, which set into motion the creation of the Hobgoblin. He thinks of all the lives lost, all the lives put in danger as a result of the Hobgoblin...as a result of his failure as Spider-Man. He also tells MJ of how he accidentally knocked Morris Bench into irradiated water, transforming him into Hydro Man, and how he was responsible for bringing the alien symbiote (which would become Venom) to Earth. Peter recalls his mistakes with the Sin-Eater and how he jumped away from a shotgun blast, leaving the spray to hit an innocent bystander and how he later beat the Sin-Eater so badly that he left him a cripple. He remembers hurting the Black Cat and how he let Kraven the Hunter beat him and assume his identity. He recalls being tricked into believing that his parents were really back from the dead and wonders if the real Peter would have been fooled so easily.

Mary Jane lets Peter finish, and once he's brought her up to speed and into the events of the Clone Saga, she starts to fight fire with fire, reminding him of all the times he's put his life on the line to save the world. She points out that it was he who's been stopping criminals and saving lives all these years. She reminds him that it was he who she fell in love with, married and is going to have a child with. Regardless of who is a clone and who isn't, he was the "real" Spider-Man. And although she doesn't ever want him to be in the costume again, she tells Peter that he has to accept his past before going into their future.

Peter smiles, packs up his Spider-Man costume and supplies, and goes back down from the roof with his wife.

The next story we cover is the 4-issue mini-series, SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE, written by Fabian Nicieza and illustrated by Darick Robertson and Jeff Albrecht. Ben Reilly was going to be given a clean slate in the Spider-Man books, but we couldn't have Peter and Mary Jane disappear completely, could we? This series enabled readers to see Peter and Mary Jane in their new life in Portland, baby on the way, with no regrets. Would it be possible for them to have a happy ending for once?


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The story behind SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE starts out very simply and becomes very complicated. I'll try to be as brief as possible in the telling - otherwise, this'll be one of the longest columns in history.
In a nutshell, Bob Budiansky wanted a limited series that would set up Peter Parker and his pregnant wife, Mary Jane, in a new living situation far away from New York. Bob assigned the limited series to Tom Brevoort and me to produce. Bob's mandate was this: Peter and Mary Jane begin a new life in a new locale. Something happens that forces Peter to put on the Spider-Man costume one last time. As Spider-Man, Peter must solve the crisis as Mary Jane goes into labor. The series would end with Peter emerging triumphant and arriving at Mary Jane's side in time for her to give birth to their baby. Those were our marching orders, and Tom and I set out to put together a creative team.

We decidely fairly quickly to hire Darick Robertson as penciler - he was a talented artist who had previously enjoyed a long run on NEW WARRIORS, and was always happy to do Spider-Man work. He did the bulk of that Spider-Man work for Tom and me, on various 8-page stories and Annuals, and we knew this would be a good opportunity for him to strut his stuff on an important project. I was particularly enthusiastic about working with Darick, since he and I had become pretty friendly by that point.

In terms of our writer, Fabian Nicieza was one of the hottest writers in comics, having just finished a long and successful run as one of the core X-Men writers. The X-Men connection alone was reason enough to ask him to write the series, since the X-books were all the rage, but Tom and I also thought he'd simply do a great job. And of course, Fabian and Darick had worked so well together on NEW WARRIORS that we thought it would be cool to reunite this team. Tom and I never really got a chance to work with Fabian when we took over as the editors of NEW WARRIORS - he was already on his way off the book when we got it - so FINAL ADVENTURE was our first real opportunity to collaborate with him. ]

As the series opens, the Parkers have been in Portland for 3 weeks, with Peter now working as a research assistant for GARID, an alternative research company which happens to be the same company that sponsored the original experiment which gave Peter his spider-powers years ago. Peter thought it would enable him to learn about the effects of his powers, the radiation and any possible side effects on their unborn child. There is a nice scene in the middle of the book with Peter trying to sleep, uncomfortable because he never used to be in bed before midnight, having been Spider-Man for so long.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The series was filled with nice little scenes and character observations. Fabian understood Peter Parker pretty well, and he made Peter and Mary Jane seem "alive," through the use of natural, realistic dialogue. One scene in particular that I liked involved Peter feeling very uncomfortable while driving a car in Portland. It was a long-established part of the mythos that Peter didn't know how to drive, and I was glad to see Fabian pick up on that. ]

Back in NYC, Bugle reporter Ken Ellis is trying to get files on Spider-Man, Peter Parker and the Scarlet Spider to find if there's a connection between the 2 spider-men. This is occurring while something odd is going on at GARID.. Peter notices tests being done on people with patterns matching his own. He offers some of his own blood, hoping to fix the problem, which just creates an even worse situation. One night Peter gets a frantic phone call from a co-worker who's being attacked. Mary Jane tells him to call the police, but Peter puts on his costume and swings out to try and rescue her.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : If memory serves, Ken Ellis was created by Howard Mackie, who promptly forgot about the character and never did anything significant with him. Fabian, on the other hand, seemed to really like Ken, and used him whenever he got the chance to write Spider-Man. ]

Peter's irradiated blood contaminated the patient, River Verys, mutating him into a monstrous spider-creature, which is on the loose now. Peter is wrestling with guilt for enjoying being in the costume again. He doesn't want to admit it, but he never feels as alive as he does when he's Spider-Man. Mary Jane is getting frustrated, too, but he feels compelled to do what he thinks is right and bring Verys in.

At the same time, Ken Ellis is starting to push further on the connection between the Spider-Men and Peter Parker. After he calls Mary Jane for information and she hangs up on him, Ellis seems to only become more intrigued. When Ellis is given a copy of a newspaper with a Spider-Man photo in Portland, he smiles and prepares for a trip to the West Coast. Spider-Man suddenly appearing in a city where Peter Parker just moved to? There has to be a story in there.

At work, Peter discovers that the same experiment that made him Spider-Man has turned Verys into the spider-monster. When he calls MJ to tell her that it's almost over, she chooses to not answer the phone. When he gets home, he starts to read a note she wrote. Believing her to have left him, Peter tosses the note aside in anger. MJ, meanwhile, has gone back to NY to take care of some business.

In NY, Ellis is interviewing old acquaintances of Peter, trying to put a story together. He runs into MJ, who again ignores him. She opts to confide in Ben Reilly, instead. At the Parker house in Queens, Mary Jane and Ben have a conversation about power and responsibility and then there's a knock on the door. MJ opens it to find Ellis holding a newspaper with the headline, "Spider-Man Identity Revealed," with a split picture of Peter and Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I remember there being a big discussion between Tom Brevoort, me, and Bob Budiansky about whether or not we could use Ben Reilly in FINAL ADVENTURE. Bob's point was that the story was supposed to be taking place in Portland, Oregon, away from New York and the classic supporting cast and Ben Reilly. Peter and Mary Jane are supposed to be surrounded by new people and new situations - why, then, would we bring in all the New York stuff in this series? Also, the very first issues of Ben as Spider-Man were coming out at the same time as FINAL ADVENTURE, and I believe there was some concern about spreading the character too thin (he was also guest-starring in the last issue of WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER). Tom and I argued that Ben's role in FINAL ADVENTURE was minimal at best, essentially an extended cameo appearance, and that the story that Fabian had ultimately developed really did dictate that Ben play a role. Bob finally relented. I think Fabian did a really nice job on the scenes with Mary Jane and Ben, and brought a new dimension to their relationship. ]

MJ doesn't back down. She realizes it's a mock up made on a computer and tells Ellis that as a reporter, he has to prove the story, not have the subject disprove it. While Ben thinks of a way to get back at Ellis, MJ goes to Joe Robertson and asks for a favor. Robbie says with a smile that killing a story is the "second" worst thing he could think of doing. Ben, as Spider-Man, ups the ante by tormenting J. Jonah Jameson in classic smart-ass style, even webbing him to his chair. When Robbie asks Jonah about Ellis's "is this the real Spider-Man" story, Jameson tells him to kill it. Ellis tells Robbie that he can stop the Bugle from printing the story, but not Ellis from selling it. Ellis soon discovers that it pays to have friends, as other papers claim that if Robbie passed, so will they. Robbie then tells Mary Jane that turning his back on his loved ones when they need him the most is the "first" worst thing he could think of doing.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The scene between the Ben Reilly Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson was a hoot, a throwback to the good ol' days of Spider-Man. I was glad that Fabian had the opportunity to work that in. ]

The dramatic moment occurs toward the end of issue 4. GARID has taken Verys and another subject that was exposed to Verys and mutated, and is using the radiation technology to try and reverse the process that has affected them. A problem occurs and the lead geneticist tells Peter to go in to help out. The process is safe and won't effect normal humans. Peter realizes that he is far from normal and although he wonders about the consequences, he knows he must help any way he can. The process hits Peter, rendering his abilities inert, as if someone put a heavy blanket over his powers.

Mary Jane returns from NY and Peter tells her that his powers are gone. They spend the next days and weeks enjoying each other and enjoying life. Peter realizes that although with great power comes great responsibility, responsibility also comes from the very act of being and that people should empower themselves just to help each other out. Without the powers and the costume, "Peter Parker has been able to finally find himself all over again for the very first time."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Okay, settle yourselves in now, because this is going to be a long stretch from me. To say that THE FINAL ADVENTURE was not without its share of problems would be one hell of an understatement. First of all, Darick met with some unexpected deadline pressures and had some other freelance commitments that needed to be dealt with. This meant that he had to rush through the latter portion of the project, and was not able to do the beautifully detailed and intricate artwork he produces when he's doing regular, full pencils. We also had to bring in additional inkers to help out, and that cost us any hope of an internally consistent art style. I look at Darick's work on TRANSMETROPOLITAN and the upcoming NICK FURY limited series, and I'm filled with regret that we couldn't give him the time he needed to really go to town on the pages for FINAL ADVENTURE. But the problems on the story end of this project are a tad more involved, to put it mildly.

Remember, I said earlier that the series was supposed to end with the birth of Peter and Mary Jane's baby. Well, if you've read Andrew's synopsis, you know that the series didn't end that way. Instead, Peter lost his powers and Mary Jane was still pregnant. So, what happened? Well, the bottom line is that an important decision was made by Bob Budiansky after work had begun on FINAL ADVENTURE, and that decision was that Peter Parker was definitely going to be restored as the one, true, original Spider-Man. Up until then, the plan was to stay the course and keep Ben as the original - and as Spider-Man. (I'll discuss the circumstances that led to Bob's decision later, probably in our next column.) But now, with Peter eventually coming back as Spider-Man, there could be no baby. The feeling was that Peter, a highly responsible and conscientious individual, would not and could not continue as Spider-Man and constantly put his life in grave danger if he had a baby at home.. How could he take a chance on letting that child grow up without its daddy? The other rationale was that the main reason why Ben Reilly was brought in to replace Peter in the first place was so that we could have a youthful, single, carefree Spider-Man again. That was a major goal of the Spider-Man Group. How, then, could we turn around and make Spider-Man a father? That development would distance Spider-Man even further from the target audience.. Mary Jane's pregnancy had to be stopped, somehow.

Bob Budiansky suggested that FINAL ADVENTURE end with Mary Jane suffering a miscarriage. I remember that I was very uncomfortable with that idea, but was willing to at least consider it as a possibility. Tom Brevoort, however, flatly refused. I believe his exact words were, "There's no way in hell that I'm going down in history as the man who killed Spider-Man's baby." I don't think this suggestion even made it to Fabian, so vehement was Brevoort about not going in that direction. Tom even suggested that we cancel the whole project, even though we were well underway. "No baby, no FINAL ADVENTURE," I believe he said, pointing out that the whole reason we were doing this limited series in the first place was to finally have Mary Jane give birth. I eventually came around to Tom's way of thinking, and in a July 8, 1995 memo to all the Spider-Man editors and writers, I suggested that if Mary Jane suffered a miscarriage, it should happen in the core books, and that "we pull the plug on the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series."

Budiansky quickly pulled back from the idea of having FINAL ADVENTURE end with a miscarriage. He then suggested that the story end with Mary Jane still pregnant (her condition would indeed be dealt with in the main books), and Peter simply packing up his Spider-Man costume and sending it to Ben Reilly back in New York. Tom and I rejected this, because that was not at all a satisfying ending - especially not for a four-issue limited series. There had to be something significant that happened at the end, something meaningful and important enough to warrant the project's existence. Nevertheless, Bob kept pushing this idea as the best solution.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:10 PM   #21
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 17b:
Quote:
Tom discussed the situation with Fabian, who went off to think things through and try to come up with an alternate conclusion. Soon after, he returned with the idea of Peter losing his powers as a result of his heroic actions during the story's climax. Fabian even stuck in a "backdoor" story element that could easily restore Peter's powers when it became necessary. Budiansky rejected Fabian's new ending, since Peter was eventually going to be needed - with his powers intact - in the core books. (By the way, the fact that we were doing a limited series about Peter's "final adventure," only to have him back in action shortly thereafter, was not lost on Tom and me. We didn't like it, but there was little we could do about it. In retrospect, we probably just should have canceled the whole project before it was solicited. For all the impact that FINAL ADVENTURE ultimately had on the Spider-Man universe, it really wasn't worth all the aggravation.)

At this point, Fabian had to make a stand. He had already had his original ending - the birth of Peter and Mary Jane's child - ripped away from him. He was having a crappy new ending forced upon him. The solution he came up with, which gave the limited series at least some semblance of significance but still took into account the needs of the core books, was being flatly rejected. Fabian understood Bob's position, but he finally told Bob, with no rancor and no acrimony, that unless he was able to end the series the way he saw fit, he could not stay on as the writer. A different writer would have to brought in for the last issue. Brevoort and I were present for this conversation, and I seem to remember us glancing at each other, grimacing, both of us seeing this entire project become an unmitigated disaster. There's no doubt in my mind that Fabian absolutely meant what he said. He didn't need the work that badly that he would be forced into writing something he did not believe in. Fabian absolutely wanted to finish the series, but the ending had to work for him. I completely agreed with him on this, and I believe Tom did, too - not that it would make our lives any easier if we had to bring in a new writer for the last issue.

In the end, Bob relented and let Fabian have his ending. It was the right thing to do. This was a very good way to end the series. Fabian was well aware that this ending would probably be undone within a few short months, but he was fine with that. He just wanted FINAL ADVENTURE to be a complete and satisfying reading experience. Whatever came after that was not his concern.

The core Spider-Man writers were not pleased when they found out that Peter had lost his powers. Some were more vocal about their displeasure than others. They seemed to feel that a sideline project like this, something outside of the core books and written by an "outside" writer, should not have been able to dictate the status of a main character, nor should it have been allowed to interfere with their long-range story plans. In the grand scheme of things, though, all they would really have to do is just use the backdoor that Fabian worked in and restore Peter's powers - no big deal. But there were egos involved, and the core writers presumably felt that their toes had been stepped on.

If I were in their shoes, I might have felt the same way. At any rate, Bob Budiansky probably got an earful from the core Spider-Man writers (or at least some of them) over his approval of Fabian's ending. I say this because Bob later went on to make it very clear to us that the core books must always dictate the direction and the contents of all sideline projects. As Bob would repeatedly tell Tom and me, to do otherwise would be to allow "the tail to wag the dog." Tom and I understood and accepted this philosophy. Unfortunately, as I'll discuss in the coming weeks, the core books would descend further and further into creative chaos, and as a result, would drag most of the other Brevoort/Greenberg projects down with them. ]
Part 17c:
Quote:
Part Seventeen-B

We're halfway there! This is technically our 19th installment, but who's counting? Almost five months ago, people thought we were absolutely insane for doing a 35-part feature on a long-dead character and one of the most controversial stories in comics. Now people still think we're insane, but for other reasons. If you go on the Internet, you'll find dozens of Ben Reilly fans sites and it's hard to get through a Spider-Man message board on the web without seeing a ton of pro-Ben Reilly and pro-Clone Saga posts. This experiment has hit a nerve with most of you, and lucky for us, you seem to love what we've been doing. We're doing a bit of a departure this week for mid-point. We're going to run just a few of the letter's we've received, which will be scattered throughout an interview with my cohort and buddy Glenn Greenberg. See you all in one week for "The Second Half."


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from: erudloffjr@yahoo.com
These articles have been a pleasure to read on the infamous "Clone Saga." Yes, there are some people that didn't like the series, but to me it's what got me back into comics and Spider-Man again. The first issue I picked up after a 10-year hiatus was the "Trial of Peter Parker." Been a hardcore collector ever since. I even have a Jurgens poster of the Ben Reilly Spidey, one of my prized possessions! Bring back Ben!

Andrew: What comics did you read as a kid?



Glenn : It all started with Batman and at first, it was absolutely all about Batman. I was exposed at an early age to the old television show with Adam West. I didn't know it was campy; I just loved it. Then one day, I must've been around four years old, and my older brother was at college, I was rummaging through his closet and there were all these comics, including Batman comics. I thought, "Wow, he's in comics, too!" And I've been into comics ever since. Shortly after that, I started getting into the Incredible Hulk.



Andrew: So the Hulk/Batman story that Marvel and DC published must have been a thrill.



Glenn : It was a dream come true. I thought it was terrific. It was like they read my mind and made that comic just for me. I thought it was the coolest thing.



Andrew: What was the creative team on that?



Glenn : The writer was Len Wein, one of the few people who wrote both characters up to that point, and it was illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dick Giordano.



Andrew: How'd you break into the business?



Glenn : It was a "friend of a friend" situation. Basically some close friends of my parents knew Bob Budiansky. These friends of my folks knew that I loved comics, and they asked Bob to give me a tour of the Marvel offices. This was in 1982 or very early 1983, so I was about 13 years old. I continued to keep in contact with Bob throughout the years. He was very generous with his time. I sent him a note congratulating him on becoming editor of SECRET WARS II, which was a big deal at that time. I also sent him some pictures that I drew. When I was a senior in college, I knew I wanted to do comics for a living and I called him. He actually had an opening right then and there that I could have interviewed for, but I would have had to quit college like a month before graduating. My parents would have killed me if I'd done that, so I had to tell him that I couldn't even be considered. After graduating, I kept in touch with Bob and one year later I interviewed with him and was hired.



Andrew: What was your first job there at Marvel?



Glenn : I started on July 6, 1992. I was the Assistant Editor in the Special Projects Department, where we worked on stuff like the Marvel trading cards. Back in the early 90s, trading cards were incredibly hot. That was the boom period. You could put pretty much anything on a trading card and "wham," people would buy it. I was Bob's direct assistant and wasn't involved with the comics side of things. But doing the cards allowed me to contact creators and introduce myself to them and get them to do work for us, which was incredible.

John Romita Sr was still on staff at the time and I got to see him every day, which was a blast. I worked with these legends like John and Joe Jusko. Slowly but surely I drifted to the comics. I got to work on the Megazine reprint books, which were really highly regarded. I got a lot of popular creators to do new covers for those Megazines. John Byrne did a cover. Michael Golden, too. And Frank Miller. In fact, I'm the last Marvel editor to ever get work out of Frank Miller.



Andrew: Really?



Glenn : Yep. It was a Megazine cover focusing on Daredevil, with surrounding head-shots of the Thing, the Hulk and Iron Man. It was such a crazy time. I remember that Frank turned the cover in and I called him to rave about it and tell him how great it was to work with him. Then he told me that I may not think that way after the weekend, and I wondered what he was talking about. He told me was about to head out to give the keynote address at the Diamond Distributor conference that weekend, and that he was not going to be particularly kind to Marvel. Frank ended up giving this scathing, blistering diatribe against Marvel. He talked about how we were just picking off Jack Kirby's bones, recycling all of his ideas, and not giving Jack the respect and the credit he deserved. He also attacked Jim Shooter, who happened to be in the audience. I read the transcript of the speech when it ran in Comics Buyers Guide, and I was just relieved that my name wasn't mentioned! (Laughter) Of course, the ironic thing was that Frank had just completed an assignment for us. But the cool thing about Frank was that he did the cover, and he even did a revision because he didn't do it exactly the way we had originally discussed. Now there's a phone call I wasterrified to make, the one where I asked for the revisions. I was petrified. ButFrank was really good about it and made the revisions with no fuss.



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from TFOrion30@aol.com
They were going to give Ben Reilly his own title??!! Well what the heck happened?? Why'd they have to kill him? Man that ticks me off. It was such a pointless death for such a great character. If you get in touch with Tom DeFalco again make sure to ask him if there's any hope for a resurrection. We've seen one clone control his molecules. Maybe Ben could figure it out and pull himself together.



Andrew: How did you go from Bob's department to working with Tom Brevoort?



Glenn : Bob was reshuffling his department. He thought I'd be a good fit with Brevoort, because we both had extensive knowledge of the Marvel Universe, its history, the characters, and that came in very handy for the trading cards. I mean, Tom Brevoort has this encyclopedic knowledge of comics and the Marvel Universe in particular, far more extensive than mine. But between the two of us,you had a real source of information on the Marvel Universe. I would say that the two of us equaled about one half of Mark Gruenwald. I guess Bob Budiansky just thought it'd be a good fit. Considering that Tom and I ended up working together for about four and a half years, and got along very well, it was a good decision.



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from Eccentrik@aol.com
Thanks! I've found the series interesting. As a reader who wasn't around during the Clone Saga, it helped to fill me in on a lot of things, as well as the interesting behind the scenes stuff. So when is Ben Reilly coming back to the Marvel Universe? Can we at least get a Trade Paperback?



Andrew: Do you remember your first comics project?



Glenn : We did a movie adaptation of No Escape.



Andrew: The Ray Liotta movie?



Glenn : Yeah. I still have no idea why we did this book. Bob Budiansky gave me the screenplay and asked me to read it. I read it, and told him that I thoughtit wasn't a bad story but I couldn't see us doing a comic version of it. He said, "Too bad, we're already doing it." (Laughter) My attitude was,"Hey, my first shot at doing a comic, just enjoy the ride." Brevoort and I got to go to a private screening of the movie, though, and Sigourney Weaver sat right behind me in the theater.

I think the Megazines came next. They were very popular in terms of the way they were regarded, but they didn't sell all that well. Even the Editor In Chief,which was Tom DeFalco at the time, came by to tell me how much he loved them. He knew I was petrified of him back then, so he tried to make me sweat it out first before he gave me the compliment - he first wanted me to think that he was mad at me.

Everything changed with Marvelution. This is when the Marvel books were split into 5 different groups. Brevoort and I were folded into the Spider-Man group,which included the Spider-Man titles, as well as NEW WARRIORS, GREEN GOBLIN,NIGHT THRASHER, NOVA, and the 99-cent UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN.



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from Samson419@yahoo.com
Excellent job. Any thoughts to starting a movement along the lines of those"Friends of Hal Jordan" from years back? They made DC bring him back, even after they promised and swore Hal was gone for good.



Andrew: Did you want to stay on the Editorial side or was writing your goal?



Glenn : Well, I waited six months before even pitching my first story. I wanted to establish myself as a staffer, first and foremost. I didn't want to seem like just another guy who came in, would try to line up as many freelance assignments as possible and then leave staff. I wanted to follow in thefootsteps of people like Mark Gruenwald and Archie Goodwin and Denny O'Neil.These guys were top editors who were writing regularly, as well. It's the best of both worlds.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:11 PM   #22
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 17d:
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from Alex(EMAIL withheld)
A bunch of us emailed you earlier, complimenting you for not only the dedication and determination of doing this every week, but for showing us a different side of this much maligned character. As web heads (as in internet),we get to surf around and poke into chat rooms often and by god if you haven't started something unbelievable here. There are pro-Ben Reilly sites popping up, Ben Reilly threads started on usenet, Wizard, the Warren Ellis forum (he doesn'tlike you very much though) and anywhere else comic related.

If your plan was to have Ben return to comics, it just may happen based on what I've seen. If your plan was to get people talking about him and realizing what agreat character he is, then you've already succeeded.



Andrew: What was the first story you sold?



Glenn : The first story I sold was to MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. It was an 8-page Iron Man story. The idea was basically, "Iron Man meets Tom Clancy."IM finds out that a writer of "techno-thriller" novels has written a book that comes dangerously close to describing, in detail, the designs of the Iron Man armor.

Later, I wrote some backups stories for THOR. The first time I wrote an entire issue of a comic was THE SILVER SURFER #103.

The first thing I did with Spider-Man was the lead story in the 1995 SPIDER-MANHOLIDAY SPECIAL. I'll eventually get to this in the regular "Life ofReilly" column, but it was the perfect example of editorial interference. Sarra Mossoff was the editor of the book, and she bought my story as is and really liked it. But Bob Budiansky, as Editor in Chief of the Spider-Man Group,had some problems with it and wanted changes made. I was totally against making these changes, I felt the story would be ruined, and I complained to Sarra. She finally said, "Look, do you wanna write this or not?" Well, I couldn't pass up the chance to write Spider-Man, so I swallowed my pride and just made the changes. To this day, it sticks in my craw. (Laughter)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from Justin029103@juno.com
Where are all the cynics now? Probably hoping that your feature sparks a Ben Reilly return to comics.



Andrew: So let's get to the Clone Saga.



Glenn : Okay.



Andrew: Your first reaction?



Glenn : I was horrified at the idea. When my friend Mark Bernardo first told me about it, I was shocked. The Clone Saga? I was like, "Come on!" The biggest problem I had was that it was old continuity and we should have been concentrating on telling good new stories instead of revisiting old ones. Plus, Marvel bent over backwards to wipe out the idea of clones with the Evolutionary War storyline a few years earlier. Why bring it up again? Didn't like that story much, either, but at least it was done.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from ShazzatCool (EMAIL withheld)
I knew I wasn't the only one who liked the character of Ben Reilly or theClone Saga. I haven't picked up a Marvel Comic, with the exception of Mackie's final issue, since PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75. The only reason I bought Mackie's last was to celebrate the farewell of the man who killed the last great character in the Marvel Universe and due to the tease that the mystery man may have been Ben Reilly. Marvel, if you're listening: Bring back Ben Reilly. Bring back the Scarlet Spider!



Andrew: When did you change your opinion of it?



Glenn : Well, by the end, I was one of Ben Reilly's biggest supporters, along with Mark Bernardo. What made me change my mind was when I saw how well he was being written. When J.M. DeMatties or Tom DeFalco was writing him, it was like,"Wow, Ben's a good, likeable guy. I wouldn't mind if he was in the Spider-Man costume." That's when things started to change for me, and I think for the fans, too.



Andrew: What was the fan reaction like at first?



Glenn : Fan reaction was "What the hell is gonna happen next?" That was the big reaction. Where is it going next? The Scarlet Spider was very popular. Extremely popular. Ben Reilly was popular. It was when the fans thought that we were compromising Peter in favor of Ben that the backlash really started.



Andrew: How was Peter compromised?



Glenn : Well, Peter was acting kind of weird and was pretty unlikable in the issues leading up to and including the big "reveal" issue where Ben is proven to be the original. In that same issue, Peter was perceived by some people as a wife beater. The fans felt Peter was their guy and we were crapping all over him in favor of getting Ben into the suit.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from Todd X (EMAIL withheld)
This column is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It's funny, but I never gave the character that much thought until now. I read the Clone Saga and didn't care one way or another about how it would end. It was just a story to me. But the more I read about it, the more I miss the character. Here's hoping you two are able to convince the powers that be, that Ben Reilly is in need of a comeback.



Andrew: Did they think you were really going to go through with it?



Glenn : There was a lot of disbelief when Ben was revealed to be the original. Fans thought we were doing a fake-out and the tests were a mistake or a trick or something.



Andrew: But it wasn't.



Glenn : The intent was to go the whole nine yards and have Ben be revealed as the original and Peter be the clone and that would be it. There was never to be a turning back. I think that, for a while, Bob Budiansky was absolutely committed to this plan. I mean, Bob strongly believed that Spider-Man could not become a father, so why would Bob initiate a limited series where Peter Parker becomes a father if he knew that Peter would eventually come back as Spider-Man?



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from katiev127@hotmail.com
Congrats on another job well done to the both of you for this incredibly interesting feature. I was very sad to see Ben go those many years ago, and I'mglad that, at least through the column you two are doing, that his legacy goes on in some form. Where does the line form to petition Marvel to bring him back?



Andrew: How did Kurt Busiek take it? At this time, he was writing UNTOLD TALES, which was filling in the gaps of Peter's early adventures.



Glenn : Kurt took it fine. Peter or Ben, it was still the untold adventures of Spider-Man, set waaay before all the clone madness. But I think it was in the first UNTOLD TALES letters page, or the text page in the first issue, where I wrote about the situation. I was like, This is the ideal time for this series to begin since Ben Reilly, the original Peter Parker, is coming back to reclaim his role as Spider-Man and it 's a perfect time to revisit his early days. Then, when Peter went back to being Spider-Man in the modern-day books, I had to write a follow-up text piece in UNTOLD TALES #16 or thereabouts, and I wrote something like, "Remember what I wrote back in #1? Well I didn't lie, but I was wrong." (Laughter)



Andrew: Do you think fans would have accepted Ben as the permanent Spider-Man?



Glenn : Well, I think we missed the boat. Ideally, SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #0 should have shown Ben becoming Peter Parker as well as Spider-Man. But one reason why it didn't happen was because no one could come up with a good rationale for how Ben could be living as Peter Parker in New York, but Peter and MJ are still out there somewhere. As far as the supporting cast knew, Peter and MJ had moved out to Portland. So how could Ben go back to the Daily Bugle as Peter and interact with the old gang? Wouldn't they ask him about his pregnant wife? How could he explain that he's back living in New York but MJ isn't? How could he have left his pregnant wife? He wouldn't look very good, would he? So we went with the approach you saw in SENSATIONAL #0 and beyond, and tried to create an all-new supporting cast around Ben.

If we could have had Ben adopt the Peter identity right away and just gone forward, onward and upward, it might have worked. But I think part of the problem is that a lot of people saw this blond guy named Ben Reilly running around as Spider-Man and their reaction was, "This isn't Spider-Man! Where the hell is Peter Parker?" If there was ever a chance for it to work, Ben had to take back the Peter Parker identity. And he was supposed to.



Andrew: And we'll get to this in upcoming Life of Reillys.



Glenn : Yes indeed. There were a lot of mistakes made: Ben needed to become Peter; everything should have been brought to a close sooner; and letting the marketing department foist the Scarlet Spider event on us was a huge mistake. Those issues were nothing more than us running in place.



Andrew: Fans did like Ben, though.



Glenn : I think the Ben Reilly fans would have wanted Ben to stay as the Scarlet Spider and Peter as Spider-Man, the original. I know that was Tom DeFalco's idea. I think the hardcore fans were broken into two camps. Some liked Ben as the Scarlet Spider, and others were asking, "Why is this clone still running around?" They felt there should only be one person running around with those powers, and that person had to be Peter Parker.



Andrew: Why do you think the fans care about the Clone Saga or about Ben Reilly after all these years?



Glenn : It was the most controversial Spider-Man story ever done. It's one ofthe most controversial stories in comics, period. Before the Clone Saga, Gwen Stacy's death was the most controversial Spider-Man story, and she's still referred to every couple of months in the books. It's either a flashback to her or it's another return to that ****ing bridge! (Laughter) That was a controversial story, but not like this. The clone story still hangs over a lot of people. There are many people, as we know from the feedback we get on this column, who were dissatisfied with the ending of the Clone Saga and the death of Ben Reilly. Nothing keeps a story alive more than an ending no one likes. When a big story ends with a thud, people will always wonder how it could have been done better. What happened with this Clone Saga is a prime example of how not to do a story, or a Spider-Man story.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from Jimmmyz14@aol.com
I really, really want Ben back in the Marvel Universe!!! :-) I always read your reviews on the life of Ben and the recent one was the best yet. It always makes my day great to see another review up and thank you very much for the work on it and letting us all be lucky enough to get the inside story of the clone saga. I love Ben Reilly and miss him very much. I've been mailing Marvel about telling us what happened to Kaine as well. He was last heard of in the Gathering of Five but then he was forgotten. I don't believe that is right and really want to find out what happened because he was a great character. In my opinion, there-launch ruined Spider-Man for me, especially the return of Aunt May. ASM #400 was the greatest issue I've ever read and because of John Byrne, it was ruined! Ever since John Byrne came to Spider-Man, the comics, In my Humble opinion,sucked! I want Ben to come back, of course I want it to be done in a good storyline way and not just to bring him back out of nowhere but he was a great character and even had a supporting cast at his job. I also love his Spider-Man costume and I don't understand why they won't show Peter wearing it at least once! I think the reason people hated the clone saga is because it dragged on a bit too long with too many comics like Maximum Clonage alpha and omega which took me a long time to find. I was very sad to see Ben leave but I loved the issue and miss that kind of writing in comics. If Ben were to have his own comic, I would buy it and be faithful to it for as long as I could :-)
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:11 PM   #23
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Part 18:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 18
As the tagline on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #0 says, "The Legend Begins Anew!" Dan Jurgens writes and illustrates (with inks by Klaus Janson) this newest Spider-series, which replaces the old WEB OF SPIDER-MAN.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : A decision was made to cancel WEB OF SPIDER-MAN and replace it with a new ongoing monthly Spider-Man title to coincide with the "Return of Spider-Man" event. From where I sat, the cancellation of WEB was no great loss. I always felt it was the weakest of the Spider-Man books, that it never really had its own identity, and was never able to hold on to a creative team for very long. The idea of starting a brand-new title, with a top-flight creative team, was not a bad one. In the old days, the new creative team probably would have just taken over WEB and tried to inject that title with new life. But things had changed in the comic book industry by that point, and it was much easier and cleaner to start fresh with a new book. I'm still not sure why the first issue was #0. That was a gimmick that was pretty prevalent in the industry at that time, and we just bought into it, I guess. But it makes no sense, from a reader's standpoint: it's the first issue of a new series, so why isn't it #1? What exactly makes it a #0? Oh, well, I guess the bottom line is that if the story and art are good, the number on the cover doesn't really matter. And in the case of SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #0, the story and art were very good indeed.

I don't recall whose idea it was to get Dan Jurgens to join the team of Spider-writers. I only remember that I was 100% in favor of it, and I do recall lobbying for it when it was initially under discussion. I was a big fan of Dan's work. He impressed me greatly with his work on Superman over the years, and his SUPERMAN/ALIENS limited series, which had just come out around the time he started on Spider-Man, was my favorite comic book project of that year.

The sales pitch on having Dan come aboard was something along the lines of, "He's the guy who killed Superman. What could Dan Jurgens now possibly have in store for Spider-Man?" I can't remember if we actually used that in the advertising, but that was the approach we had going in.

I was really excited when Dan came to New York for his first (and, unfortunately, his only) Spider-Man writers conference in June of 1995. All the writers, editors, associate editors, and assistant editors went up to a conference center, I believe it was in Westchester, and we stayed there for a couple of days to hash out the direction for the new era of Spider-Man. I was probably a little too fanboyish with Dan, showering him with praise for SUPERMAN/ALIENS, but he was really nice to talk to - it was a kick for me to be interacting with someone whose work I'd admired for so long - and it was good to have a new voice added to the mix. ]

Ben Reilly is paying a visit to the grave of Aunt May and Uncle Ben and spots a mugging. He goes after and catches the mugger, but is also spotted by Mary Jane's Aunt Anna, who wonders why "Peter" is looking so ragged and where MJ is. Ben, pretending to be Peter Parker, makes up an excuse and sees Anna off.

He continues to soul search, wondering where his place is in all of this. He can't be going around NYC as Peter Parker or looking like Peter Parker. It would cause too much confusion. And although he wants to take up the mantel of Spider-Man, he has no costume, no web fluid and no money. He goes to a local convenience store, gets some supplies and then goes home to create a new web fluid formula. After working hard, he heads out to the Daily Grind, a local diner, to get some food. He comes up short with the money, but his appearance leads the owner of the diner to believe he's homeless so she spots him the money for his meal.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I mentioned in part 17.5, no one could come up with a good rationale for how Ben could go back to being Peter Parker. How could he interact with any of the established supporting cast, who would naturally wonder about the whereabouts of Mary Jane? It would like Peter had left his pregnant wife to fend for herself while he's back in New York. There would be too many explanations to make, too many complications and convolutions, too much exposition, when all we wanted to do was move forward. None of the writers could come up with a way around this situation that was deemed acceptable. So the plan, at least for the time being, was to keep Ben as Ben... and the reason for that would be shown in SENSATIONAL #0. In rereading that issue for this column, I have to say that Dan did as good a job as possible in establishing why Ben had to remain as Ben. Having Aunt Anna meet up with him, having him be so uncomfortable around her and feel so guilty that he had to mislead her, was a great idea, and the scene between them is extremely well done. ]

When night falls, Ben heads to the fashion department of nearby Centennial University to look for discarded fabric in order to get enough materials to create a new Spider-suit for himself. He contemplates several costume changes before settling on a design that he likes, a more modernized version of the classic red and blues.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The new Spider-Man costume was designed by Mark Bagley (who received credit for doing so in SENSATIONAL #0). I believe Dan Jurgens's proposed redesign was included among the montage of costume possibilities that Ben considers when he's putting together the new suit. (It's the one on the bottom right of the page.) ]


Spider-Man swings into action and finds himself some trouble on the first night, battling an armor-clad villain called Armada. While he takes care of the bad guy, a woman by the name of Jessica takes a particular interest in Spider-Man, snapping photos and thinking about how long she's waited for this day to come. Spider-Man takes Armada into custody, but fails to catch some of Armada's technical gadgets, which take off into the air with a revolutionary broadcast chip that was stolen earlier. Spider-Man goes back home as the little gadgets head back to their true master, Mysterio.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I recall, the new look for Mysterio, as seen in SENSATIONAL #0, came from John Romita Jr. He also attended the aforementioned Spider-Man writers conference, and the topic of redesigning some of the classic villains came up during one of our discussion sessions. Mysterio was one of the characters mentioned for a redesign, and JR, sitting at the conference table and listening to the conversation, drew a quick sketch that met with immediate approval. By the way, JR was a lot of fun at that conference. It was great to hang out with him, and he added a lot of energy and passion to the discussions. ]

The next day, a now blond Ben Reilly goes back to the Daily Grind to repay the owner for his loan the other day. They both sense goodness in each other and she offers him a job. Ben then goes back to Aunt May and Uncle Ben's graves and tells them how much he owes them for making him the person he is today.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Given the scene between Ben and Aunt Anna at the beginning of SENSATIONAL #0, it made perfect sense for Ben to keep the Ben Reilly identity and change his appearance. But I'll reiterate what I said last time, in my interview with Andrew: for this whole clone saga thing to have had any chance of working, Ben would have had to take back the Peter Parker identity when he became Spider-Man. After 33 years of being in publication, everyone around the world had come to know that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, and vice versa. Some blond guy named Ben Reilly running around in the Spider-Man costume was just a little too radical, it required too much explanation, and it would never be fully accepted. Hell, there were plenty of people at Marvel who refused to accept it!

Another major drawback to this set-up was that the established supporting cast could not interact with Ben the way they could with Peter, so they would inevitably be avoided for much of the time. A new supporting cast would have to be created around Ben. And let's face it: it would be pretty damn tough, after 33 years, to replace characters like J. Jonah Jameson or Robbie Robertson or Betty Brant or Flash Thompson.

The notion of Ben dying his hair blond came from Bob Budiansky, the Spider-Man Group's Editor in Chief. He mentioned it in passing one day at a Spider-Man editorial meeting, as just one possible idea, but before we knew it, Bob latched on to it and wouldn't let go. In every subsequent discussion, Bob brought up the notion of Ben dying his hair blond, so that's what ended up happening when the time came to finally deal with the situation. After all, Bob was the boss.

Dan Jurgens had a lot of enthusiasm and ideas for Spider-Man when he came aboard, and I think he intended to stay for a while. But I also think he became disheartened, fairly quickly, when he realized that we had no plans to restore Peter Parker as Spider-Man. I think the whole Ben Reilly thing was very bewildering to him, but he soldiered through it as best he could, perhaps with the hope that he could work within the system in order to change it. My feeling is that Dan wanted to write Peter Parker as Spider-Man - the Peter Parker whose history we'd all followed for the past 33 years, the Peter Parker who'd gotten married to Mary Jane - with the clone saga and Ben Reilly being nothing more than things of the past.

Ironically, Dan turned out to be one of the writers who handled Ben Reilly the best, right up there with DeMatteis and DeFalco! In any case, Dan was getting to write a Spider-Man book, one that had gotten a big, highly-promoted launch, so it wasn't an altogether bad situation for him. And SENSATIONAL #0 was a very promising start to Dan's tenure as a Spider-Man writer/artist. ]

The return of Spider-Man continues with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #407, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. Everyone is wondering what happened to Spider-Man, who disappeared weeks ago, and who is wearing the new version of the costume now. Robbie Robertson and J. Jonah Jameson are discussing what to make of this, as are several other figures in the Marvel Universe, including the Human Torch, who guest stars in this issue.

Torch writes a message in the sky, telling Spider-Man to meet him at the usual place that evening, figuring that only the real Spider-Man would know where that place was. Meanwhile, Silver Sable, the freelance mercenary/security agent who runs the Wildpack, wants to investigate the new person wearing the webs. Spider-Man was an occasional ally of hers and she wants to know if he's been replaced. She chooses to send one of her top field agents, the now reformed Sandman, to test him out.

Across town, the revamped Mysterio is testing out the capabilities of his new digital imagery chip (which he stole in SENSATIONAL #0), which creates instant programming using a person's thoughts. We also get introduced to the rest of the players at the Daily Grind, where Ben works. There's Shirley, the owner, and her son Devon, as well as Buzz, a crotchety older fellow who prefers to sit on his stool drinking coffee, reading the paper and making comments about everything.

Ben Reilly takes a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, the meeting place of the Torch and Spidey, and spots the Sandman on board. Ben changes into Spider-Man and confronts the Sandman. He also happens to refer to Silver Sable as a "blonde cutie," which prompts Sable to order Sandman to make the test as difficult as possible for Spider-Man. Spider-Man and Sandman battle it out back on land as Sable observes, noting that Ben is as strong and agile as the other Spider-Man, but his moves are different. He seems less experienced and more lighthearted. As their battle continues to get more physical, Sable calls Sandman off.

The Human Torch arrives in time to see Sable offer Spider-Man a freelance spot on her squad and some advice about his inferior webbing. Torch confronts Spider-Man with a ton of questions on who he is and what happened to the original. Aggravated, the Torch flies off, saying that he's going to keep an eye on the "phony." As everyone goes their separate ways, Ben thinks how difficult things have become since he was last on active duty. He wonders what kind of world it is when the Torch is an enemy and Sandman is an ally.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Tom DeFalco did his usual fine job on the writing of this issue, turning in a very solid, well-crafted story with a lot of "hoo-hah" action and strong characterization. Mark Bagley's art was also looking much better on this issue, after some fairly lackluster work during the two months of Scarlet Spider books. It seemed like having Spider-Man back - even if it wasn't Peter Parker - was enough to re-energize the creative team. It was nice to see the Torch's reaction to the "new" Spider-Man, and to see how Ben would have to deal with the new faces and new situations that had cropped in Spider-Man's life over the last few years (Silver Sable, the reformed Sandman). ]

SPIDER-MAN #64, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr, Al Williamson, Dick Giordano and Al Milgrom, continues the story of Spider-Man's return. The issue opens after Spider-Man has rescued people from a neighborhood block engulfed in flames. A child lies unconscious before him, having inhaled too much smoke, and Spider-Man tries to revive him. "Saving dozens of lives will mean nothing to him... not if this one child is allowed to die." The boy regains consciousness and media swarms down on Spider-Man with even more questions about his identity and his relationship to the Scarlet Spider.

Spider-Man waits to make sure there are no other people trapped when one of the buildings comes down, and Poison comes floating out. Poison met the Peter Parker Spider-Man earlier and tells Ben that her son (the boy he just saved) is in danger. As she tries to explain the situation to Spider-Man, El Toro Negro, one of the contestants of the "Great Game" introduced in the Scarlet Spider books, attacks the ambulance with Poison's son Carlos.

Ben works another shift at the Grind, hears about an apartment and gets himself a new home. Meanwhile, El Toro contacts Poison, telling her to meet with him. Apparently, Poison is the newest recruit for the rich Mr. Paris Scott's Great Game. He's offered her a contract that El Toro feels should have been his. El Toro kidnapped Carlos, threatening to kill him unless Poison declined Mr. Scott's offer and let El Toro take her place. She does as he orders, and then Spider-Man crashes in to warn her not to trust El Toro, whom he battled in AMAZING SCARLET SPIDER. El Toro says that Spider-Man's arrival changed the rules and orders Poison to kill him before he'll release her son.

Poison battles Spider-Man, who's more focused on how good she looks rather than taking her seriously as an opponent, and that allows her to gain the advantage. She could kill Spider-Man, but her son begs her not to. In a final switch-a-roo, Poison teleports Spider-Man away, claiming the she's killed him. El Toro claims that he must still kill Carlos and at that moment, Spider-Man is teleported within striking distance of him, and saves the day.

Spider-Man's return to the core titles concludes with SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #230, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Jimmy Palmiotti. The issue opens with a couple of environmental consultants investigating Sanders Chemicals. Sanders has been dumping chemicals into a river and the consultants move in to try and arrest Sanders, but an explosion makes that an impossibility.

Cut to several months later as Spider-Man has a run in with a monstrous creature who is intent on finding Sanders. Spider-Man goes directly to the chemical plant to investigate on his own, noting that Sanders is surrounded by enough people and weapons to facilitate World War III. The creature arrives again, trying to kill Sanders, but telling Spider-Man he has no fight with him. Moving in on Sanders, the creature reveals that he is the product of everything Sanders has done to the land, to the Earth, through its chemicals and greed. The creature reveals himself to be David Kalen, one of the environmental consultants believed to have been killed in the explosion months earlier.

Spider-Man tries to reason with David, or DK, as he reverts to human form. He tells DK that they have enough evidence to see that Sanders pays for his crimes. He also offers the help of John Jameson, from Ravencroft, whom Spider-Man believes will be able to help DK with his problems.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : So the first month of the new Spider-Man had finally come and gone. All the creative teams were in place, and the direction was "onward and upward." But around the time that all this was going on, there were private discussions taking place, ideas being suggested, memos being written, decisions being made and unmade and made again, that would put the books into an unprecedented creative upheaval, almost immediately. I'll get into this more next time, but I'll say now that the first casualty of this creative upheaval was the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series, which had to have its ending radically altered - and nearly lost its writer as a result. We already discussed that limited series at length in part 17, but next time, we'll get into why things happened the way they did, and the beginning of a very... interesting period for everyone involved with the Spider-Man books. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:02 PM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:11 PM   #24
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Part 19:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 19
Spider-Man has returned, and now he gets his first inter-title crossover, "Media Blizzard."

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #1, written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens and inked by Klaus Janson, is where this new story begins. New York is experiencing one of its worst winter storms in some time. Spider-Man changes to Ben Reilly and heads to work at the Daily Grind, where he waits on Jessica, the photographer introduced in the previous issue. She makes note of how quiet the café is on this particular evening and Shirley jokingly mentions that the new television network, Mystery Vision, has a seemingly addictive quality about it and even her son can't stop watching.

Jessica and Ben sit down for a cup of coffee and they appear to hit it off. She even invites Ben back to her student work area, where she shows off her latest project: photos of Spider-Man in action. Before they can continue their date, Ben sees Dr. Ramirez (whose technology had been stolen by Armada for Mysterio) rushing for an important meeting. Ben changes into Spider-Man and follows Dr. Ramirez, only to find him watching Mystery Vision like a zombie. Spider-Man realizes that the program is having an adverse affect on the doctor and webs the screen. He then heads out to the headquarters of Mystery Vision to get some answers.

Spider-Man meets Randolph Hines, the president of the company, who gives him a tour of the offices and lets Spider-Man play around with some of the technology. Eventually, Hines reveals himself to be Mysterio and reality shifts, causing more confusion. Spider-Man doesn't know what to believe as real and what to believe as illusion. Unbeknownst to him, Spider-Man is wearing adhesive, film-like receivers over his eyes, placed on there when Spider-Man was toying around with the technology. He sees the illusions as real. Disoriented, Spider-Man tries to web swing out of the building but his web-shooters fail, causing him to fall.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I recall, the idea for "Media Blizzard" originated with Dan Jurgens, who wanted to do a story where Mysterio takes his illusion-casting powers to the next logical level, and revisits his origins in show business. Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie tried to help bring the story to fruition, but I think "Media Blizzard" was one of those instances where just one writer should have handled all the chapters. I can't imagine that the finished product turned out the way Dan had originally envisioned it. But to be fair to Tom D. and Howard, they were basically telling the rest of someone else's story. I know from experience that trying to write a story that originated with another writer is not always an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, the Spider-Man titles were still tightly connected at that time, with each of the writers telling one chapter of a bigger story arc, so no one really got to tell their own stories from beginning to end. No one liked the situation, but it was an undeniable fact that linking the books in this way helped their sales - especially SPECTACULAR, which was the weakest-selling title in the group. So the cross-continuity remained in place. Dan, of course, was no stranger to this type of scenario, having successfully worked this way for many years on the Superman books at DC. But having never collaborated with Tom and Howard before, there was undoubtedly going to be some rough spots at first. ]

"Media Blizzard" continues in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #408, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. Spider-Man manages to bounce his way into a wall, slow his momentum and sticks out his hand in an effort to attach to something. His hand finds the wall, but the rest of his body continues to fall, causing him more than a little pain.

While Spider-Man hangs on the wall in agony, Armada makes his daring breakout and heads out in search of a rematch for our hero. Spider-Man also notices some members of a street gang getting riled up so he goes down to check out the problem. When he gets closer, Mysterio's device causes him to see the gang members as monsters, so Spider-Man unleashes against them. Spider-Man saves one of the gang members who was being attacked and tries to find out what was going on, but he's not open to answering many questions.

Armada then arrives on the scene and offers to help the gang eliminate Spider-Man. They battle in the streets, but the main event is Spider-Man vs. Armada, who seems to be getting the advantage over the out-of-joint wall-crawler. During their battle, Spider-Man takes some hits, which causes the transparent viewing lenses to shatter, enabling Spider-Man to get his bearings. Mysterio, watching all of this from a safe distance, promises that he will still succeed in his demented mission.

Before swinging off in search of Mysterio, Spider-Man confronts Shakim, the young wannabe gangster he saved earlier, and talks with him about his choices. Shakim promises to try to live a better life and Spider-Man offers some assistance of his own, telling other gang members that anyone who messes with Shakim will be messing with Spider-Man.

SPIDER-MAN #65, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr, Tom Morgan, Al Williamson and Dick Giordano, concludes "Media Blizzard." Spider-Man searches for Mysterio, but he's already left his former base of operations. Ben goes home to get some much needed R&R. Across town, "Randolph Hines" is hosting a party at his renovated office. He goes off for a moment, turns into Mysterio and checks on his network, thinking that he will finally have the one thing he's desired for so long: Fame.

A battered and tired Ben Reilly is awakened the next day by Jessica, who's ready for their next date. They share some small talk about Ben's aunt and Jessica's father, both of whom are now passed. As Ben and Jessica walk along the street, they notice a crowd of people glued to a television set in a store window. Then, a truck goes out of control, crashing. Ben wonders how he'll slip away into Spider-Man, but Jessica runs off instead, wanting to take some pictures and possibly sell them to the Bugle, giving him time to change.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Jessica, the mysterious photographer with the Spider-Man fixation, was created by Dan Jurgens. My understanding is that she - and the story line that would ultimately unfold around her - was one of the very first ideas that Dan had for Spider-Man, and he was excited to be getting the chance to do it. ]

Spider-Man arrives and tries to help the driver and passenger, and notices Jessica just focusing on him, snapping his picture, which causes him to be a little nervous. Jessica stops taking pictures when she gets caught up in the excitement over the television and becomes a TV zombie herself. Spider-Man gets the accident victims to safety and then covers up the store television, freeing the viewers from its influence.

Spider-Man gets Dr. Ramirez to reverse the signal of the lenses that were place over his eyes so he can trace Mysterio's whereabouts. Once he finds the source, Spider-Man heads over to Mysterio's operating facility and breaks in. He's confronted by a variety of different illusions, but battles through each one, trusting his senses to realize that they're not real. Spider-Man destroys the device which forces people to watch the programs and captures Mysterio.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Although you couldn't possibly know it by reading the "Media Blizzard" issues, it was at the time these comics were produced that the clone saga reached a major turning point, one that pretty much changed everything. And it all started at the 1995 Chicago Comic Con, during a breakfast meeting between Dan Jurgens and Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky.

I wasn't present for this breakfast, but Bob told me about it after he got back from the con. In a nutshell, Dan expressed to Bob his opinion that Peter Parker needed to be restored as the one, true Spider-Man. This was despite the fact that Ben had just become Spider-Man, courtesy of Dan himself in SENSATIONAL #0, and we had only recently completed a three-day Spider-Man writers conference in which the future of the new Spider-Man had started being mapped out. Dan explained to Bob that he did not and could not accept Ben Reilly as Spider-Man, and he believed that the readers felt the same way. Twenty years of continuity and significant character development - including the marriage to Mary Jane - could not simply be shunted aside and forgotten. Longtime readers could not be asked to accept that the character they followed for so long wasn't the "real" guy. The new status quo was offensive to those longtime readers, and confusing to any newcomers who happened to wander in to check out what all the hype and controversy was about.

Again, I wasn't there, and I can't profess to be a mind reader, but I think that Dan reaffirmed many of the feelings and thoughts and opinions that Bob Budiansky already had, but had managed to submerge for a while. I think Bob had almost fully convinced himself that the Ben Reilly scenario could work, if only it was given a chance, and he had reached a point where he finally seemed committed to move forward with it. Why else would Bob initiate the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series, which was specifically designed to show Peter and Mary Jane becoming parents and thus close the door on Peter ever donning the Spider-Man costume again? As I recall, up until the Chicago convention, we definitely had a direction we were going to go in with Ben. It wasn't a perfect direction, and it would undoubtedly have to be adjusted as we went along, but at least he was finally in the Spider-Man costume and we were finally emerging from the clone saga.

But that breakfast with Dan really crystallized Bob's thoughts on the matter, and he came back from the Chicago convention with a new outlook, and a new mandate: bring back Peter. To reiterate, Ben had just become Spider-Man, so we couldn't even get used to the idea of having him in place before we had to start thinking about how to undo the whole thing. First and foremost, Peter's impending return had a profound effect on the FINAL ADVENTURE limited series, which I went over in great detail in the last couple of columns. Bottom line: no baby.

I don't know for sure how the other Spider-Man writers reacted when they were told about Bob's new decision. It undoubtedly threw a major crimp in their long-term plans. After all, any future plans of theirs would have involved a Ben Reilly Spider-Man. But I'm pretty sure that, inconveniences aside, no one really faulted Dan for setting in motion this abrupt change of direction. I can only guess that some of the other writers were actually relieved, that they were even privately hoping for such a decision to be made. As much as the writers seemed to like Ben, and were willing to go along with having him as Spider-Man for however long it lasted, I think most of them always felt that Peter would and should come back at some point.

The big question became, how do we bring Peter back as Spider-Man without it looking like a colossal cop-out? What would be the most exciting, dramatic, satisfying way to accomplish this task? Bob Budiansky was looking for a great idea, and he didn't care where it came from. As a result, everybody got involved in the creative process. And when I say everybody, I mean EVERYBODY. I'm talking about: writers who worked on the core Spider-Man books; writers who DIDN'T work on the core Spider-Man books; the editors; the assistant editors; Marvel's on-staff librarian... I think even the janitor and the mail room guys weighed in at one point. It got a little out of hand, to put it mildly, and I'll get into all of this in more detail as we go along. All I'll say for now is that the memos really started coming in at this point, fast and furious... and I've still got every single one of them, in one big, thick, hernia-inducing file. ]
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 1:01 PM

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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:12 PM   #25
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 20a:
Quote:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Part 20
For months, fans had been asking, "Where's Kaine!?!" That question was answered in the 4-part story running through all the Spider-titles, "The Return of Kaine."

The story begins in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #231, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Al Milgrom. Kaine wakes up only to be attacked by a group of thugs. Though disoriented, Kaine is able to handle his attackers with ease. After dealing with them, he tries to figure out where he is and how he got there, only to be confronted by Shannon Fitzpatrick, who calls herself The Muse.

The story then cuts to an island in the Tropics, which is home to James Johnsmeyer, a multi-billionaire and one of the sponsors behind the "Great Game." James is talking to another sponsor who recently won a bet against him. After finishing up his call and taking care of business, James gets a call from Shannon, who tells him that their new "recruit" is doing well. James reveals a little more about the history of the Game. Years ago, several wealthy businessmen, bored with their far out lifestyles, sought to do something to amuse themselves. They decided to become sponsors of super-powered individuals who would compete with each other, and wager on their "players." James's best player was Muse, who was recently injured. This necessitated James seeking Kaine as a replacement.

Shannon tells Kaine everything he wants to know. James had Shannon follow Jacob Raven, who was following Kaine, hoping that Raven would lead them to their prize. They found Kaine next to the regeneration pod in the Jackal's lab, lying unconscious, and took him with them to nurse him back to health.

James and Shannon make Kaine the offer he can't refuse: sign onto a contract with him and have everything he could ever want. Kaine refuses and tries to battle his way out. He is then aided by Shannon, who uses her powers to persuade Kaine to take her with him.

The story ends with a wrecking crew demolishing a familiar factory's smokestack. In the rubble they find a skeleton with the remains of a Spider-Man costume on it.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here now, with a special thought on this particular skeletal turn of events, is Clone King, former Marvel EIC, and writer of SPIDER-GIRL (Marvel Comics), RANDY O'DONNELL IS THE M@N and MR. RIGHT (both from Image Comics), Tom DeFalco...

TOM: I don't remember those days with any degree of fondness. The original master plan for the clone saga was a simple three-stage story: Ben returns, is declared the original and becomes the new Spider-Man, until the story's final arc which would show Peter returning to reclaim his identity and his life.

After I was fired as Editor in Chief, it was decided that Ben really was the original, and a new master plan was conceived. This plan was soon discarded. New plans seemed to appear on an almost daily basis, and they were replaced just as quickly. As the pressures to find a "solution" increased, so did the phone calls from the Spider-Editors.

On most mornings the phone would ring about ten after nine, and I'd be in a conference call until around one o'clock. I'd get a half hour to forty-five minutes for lunch (but I usually just gobbled aspirins and tried to reclaim my temper) and then the conference call would continue to around six o'clock. (Although I recall one night when it ended around nine-thirty.) And that's when I was supposed to start writing!

Since I wasn't getting much work done, I eventually put my foot down and informed the powers-that-were that I wasn't going to answer my phone before one o'clock. I don't think they were pleased, but they also didn't want me to miss my deadlines, either.

Every plot was discussed to the point of absurdity. Individual panels were subjected to excruciating debate, and you were expected to do a few rewrites on every story.

If I remember correctly, we had discussed my next plot, gone over it panel by panel, and had finally agreed to what was supposed to happen in it. I typed it up that night and faxed it in the following morning. Everyone managed to read it before the one o'clock conference call.

I seem to remember that Bob Budiansky was pretty happy with the plot. He had only one question, "What about the skeleton in the smokestack?"

"The WHAT?!" I asked. That's when I learned that somewhere between the time my plot was finalized and I delivered it - a period that couldn't have been longer than twenty-four hours - someone had proposed the "skeleton in the smokestack" subplot, Bob agreed to it, and decided that it should begin in the issue that preceded mine.

"Let me get this straight," I asked in what I'm sure was a less than civil tone, "The issue before mine ends with the discovery of the original clone's skeleton in a smokestack and you want to know how I intend to address this cliffhanger in my story."

"That's right," he responded. "What are you going to do?"

"Do we know if this skeleton actually is the original clone?"

"No."

"Do we know if it's fake?"

"No."

"Do we know ANYTHING about it?"

"No."

"Do we have the slightest idea WHERE WE ARE GOING WITH THIS #%^@& SUBPLOT?"

"Errrr...no."

"And you want to know HOW I'm going to address it?"

"Yes".

"ARRRRGHHHH!"

(If memory serves, the conversation went downhill from there!)


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The "skeleton in the smokestack" idea was suggested by Kurt Busiek, who at the time was writing UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN for Tom Brevoort and me. In fact, I believe Kurt ran it by Tom and me first, before bringing it to Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky. It was recognized immediately as a great idea; a terrific, surprising, mind-blowing moment, one that would really shake things up and create major buzz. Budiansky jumped right on it and wanted it incorporated into the books right away, even though he - and everyone else, including Kurt - had no idea what it meant, or where it would go. I'm sure that's not what Kurt had in mind when he made the suggestion. And it wasn't Kurt's responsibility to figure the whole thing out, since he wasn't writing any of the core books. He just wanted to provide a suggestion, a possible starting point, for something that would really get people talking, and it would be left to the core writers and editors to figure out where it all led. Obviously, the right thing to do would have been to take the idea and develop it, figure out in advance where it would lead, what would come of it, and how it would be used to resolve the clone saga, and then introduce it into the books. But none of that was done. Bob just seized on the idea, recognizing it as the great suggestion that it was, and went full speed ahead on it without having a road map in place. As a result, the skeleton in the smokestack ended up causing more problems than it solved, and as a mystery, it completely fizzled out. It wasn't even resolved in the core Spider-Man books! I ended up taking care of it in my SPIDER-MAN: THE OSBORN JOURNAL one-shot published in December 1996. And while it was personally gratifying for me to be the one who finally brought the matter to a close, I couldn't help feeling - even as I wrote it - that this was a great idea that deserved more attention and a far more dramatic resolution than what I was able to give it.

To illustrate the problem: No one knew if the skeleton in the smokestack was going to be the remains of the original clone of Peter Parker from the 1970s Jackal stories, or something else entirely. The intention was to raise this question in the readers' minds: if the skeleton is the original clone, and Ben is the original Peter Parker, then who is the Peter Parker that's married to Mary Jane?

That question would then lead to: is Peter Parker the real guy after all, and Ben the clone? And if the smokestack skeleton is actually the original clone, then what exactly is Ben?

During one of my many conversations with Tom DeFalco during this period, he said to me: "The simplest solution is always the best one. You can make a story complex, but you shouldn't make it complicated." Tom D. was absolutely right, and from then on, I always kept that adage in mind whenever I wrote a story. And the problem with the skeleton was that it made the story more complicated, not more complex. If the ultimate goal now was to simply reestablish Peter Parker as the real guy and Ben as the clone, then introducing this new element only muddied the waters and served as an unnecessary distraction - unless there was some kind of dramatic payoff in the end. And that, as I discussed above, we did not have.

At one point, there was serious talk about having the skeleton really be the original clone that Peter Parker tossed down the smokestack. Which meant we would then have to figure out what Ben Reilly really was. Bob Budiansky insisted, if we were to go in this direction, that Ben had to remain unique and distinctive, and that his history and his character had to remain valid in the minds of the readers. Therefore, Ben could not be simply explained away as "just another Peter Parker clone that the Jackal had lying around." For days, we all struggled to figure out what Ben could be if he wasn't the original clone. I believe that a "Superman Red, Superman Blue"-type solution was even suggested at one point (no, I'm not kidding). I remember throwing up my hands in frustration and saying, "Wouldn't it be easier to just keep Ben as the original clone and establish the skeleton as some sort of mind-****?" Prophetic words indeed! ]

"The Return of Kaine" continues in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #2, written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens with finishes by Klaus Janson. Ben heads to work, where he sees Jessica, already waiting. He gets her a latte and sits down with her when he notices a Daily Bugle front page headline saying, "Spider-Man: Dead?" complete with a photo of the skeleton found in the smokestack. Questions begin to plague Reilly. He was the one who was thrown into the smokestack by Peter Parker, after being believed dead. He also was the one who crawled out of the same smokestack, so how could there be a skeleton?

At the same time, J. Jonah Jameson is wondering why he wasn't brought into this story earlier, since he's always had a vested interest in all things Spider-related. While Robbie Robertson tries to calm him, Jameson decides he's going to investigate on his own, beginning at the morgue. Spider-Man beats him to the scene, though. Believing that he'd be able to identify a dupe, Spider-Man finds the remains, recognizes the mask as being one of his own creations and realizes that it's authentic. Rather than calling Peter to drag him into it or letting the authorities poke around, Spider-Man steals the remains.

Swinging through the city on the way home to hide the body, Spider-Man runs into the Rhino, who's battling Kaine. The Rhino is also involved in the 'Game' and he sees taking Kaine and Shannon out as a way of scoring some major points. When Spider-Man tries to get involved, the Rhino brings down the house, so to speak, demolishing a building. In the confusing mess of the debris, Spider-Man gets caught underneath it all, and the Rhino goes off in search of Kaine and Shannon, who've disappeared.

Spider-Man finally arrives at his apartment and has to stash the skeleton outside for the time being, as he discovers Jessica is waiting for him alone. After changing, Ben comes in and discovers that Jessica organized a housewarming party for him (but all the guests are now long gone). He even has a new TV set as a housewarming gift! Jessica tells Ben that they should "get to know each other better," and they share a kiss.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I don't recall Dan Jurgens being too enthusiastic about the Kaine story line, which would certainly explain why there are only five pages devoted to it in SENSATIONAL #2. ]

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #409, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, covers part 3 of "The Return of Kaine." The issue picks up more on the dealings of the "Great Game," with James Johnsmeyer discussing options with his fellow sponsors. They want to know whether to proceed with Kaine's initiation or factor Spider-Man into the proceedings. They vote to include the wall-crawler.

The Daily Bugle staff is holding discussions of their own. While Jameson wants to nail Spider-Man using the skeleton information and Ken Ellis's sensationalism, Robbie wants to let Ben Urich get to the truth before doing anything. Jameson tells him that they report facts, not the truth.

Elsewhere, the Rhino catches up to Kaine and Shannon, forcing them into another battle. Before the Rhino can lay claim to his "prize," two more Game contestants join the fun, Joystick and Polestar. The Rhino doesn't take kindly to people trying to steal his thunder, so he turns his attention away from Kaine and on to smashing Joystick and her buddy. Spider-Man can't sit by and watch the city become torn apart by this bunch so he intervenes.

During the battle, each combatant manages to pummel each other senseless, while Spider-Man concentrates on keeping the sides even and making sure that no innocents get injured. Kaine bests the Rhino and he slips away with Shannon, but not before Shannon is able to place a call to Johnsmeyer, revealing that she's been allied with him all along. The issue ends as Carolyn Trainer pays a visit to her father in the hospital and mentions how he will soon pass on.

"The Return of Kaine" concludes in SPIDER-MAN #66, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr, Al Williamson, Dick Giordano and Al Milgrom. Spider-Man catches up to Kaine and tries to apprehend him. While Kaine states that he doesn't mean Spider-Man any harm, he simply can't allow himself to be captured and brings down a wall, using his adhesion power.

The police arrive on the scene but they're more interested in arresting Spider-Man, for stealing the skeleton, than they are in Kaine. Soon they try to apprehend all of them, but Kaine brings down another wall, causing enough of a distraction to get away.

At the Daily Bugle, Jameson is livid that none of his newspaper people have been able to get any more information on the skeleton. He places a call to someone who he claims has always been the best at getting the dirt on Spider-Man and offers to pay for all expenses to get the person out to New York ASAP.

Kaine and Shannon invade the Johnscorp building and have to battle through laser cannons and other high tech security devices before they can go any further. After a great deal of destruction on the rooftops, Shannon thanks Kaine for saving her life earlier and kisses him. Their moment of intimacy is shattered when Kaine gets a vision of Shannon, dead, with his mark on her face. Furious, Kaine tears through the building, promising to end the Game, now. Spider-Man arrives, telling Kaine that he's never been more right, but before they can get into it the rooftop opens and the three fall into a center room.

Visions of Johnsmeyer and the rest of the sponsors appear on the walls. Johnsmeyer reveals to Kaine that Shannon was in on it the whole time. Kaine, remembering how Louise Kennedy also betrayed him, tries to fulfill his own prophecy by killing Shannon, saying how there was never really any choice. Spider-Man tries to reason with him, telling Kaine that he's better than that and that he can choose to do what's right. Kaine reluctantly agrees, letting Shannon go. He says that no one will ever use him again, and promises to hunt down Johnsmeyer.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This "softening" of Kaine's character was part of Bob Budiansky's long-range plans to turn Kaine into a more heroic figure and hopefully spin him off into his own series, as had been done earlier with Venom. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the main reason for doing "The Return of Kaine" was to test the waters and see how Kaine worked as a lead character. ]

Spider-Man tells Kaine again that he can't let him just walk away, while Kaine replies that he won't let himself be taken in. Spider-Man knows that the degeneration made Kaine bigger, stronger and more powerful than himself, but he uses all he can to try and bring Kaine down. He eventually starts to see Kaine fall, but then Shannon uses her powers to stun Spider-Man and thus give Kaine the diversion he needs to slip away. The story ends back at the Bugle, where Peter and Mary Jane Parker arrive, as per Jameson's request to get to the bottom of the skeleton situation.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : What I didn't mention earlier was that the skeleton in the smokestack had a secondary purpose, and that purpose was to serve as the catalyst to bring Peter and Mary Jane back into the books. To that extent, it was successful.
Peter and Mary Jane's return to New York came only a month or two after we said a fond farewell to them in the last issue of the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series. Ideally, they would have been kept out of the books for a while longer, so that the readers would at least get a chance to miss them, and their sudden reappearance would therefore have more dramatic impact. It was one of those situations where, as someone intimately involved with all this stuff, you just had to shake your head, say "Whatever" with a sigh, and move on.

Now for a special treat. I mentioned last time that I still had all the infamous "clone memos" that circulated between the Spider-Man Group when we were trying to resolve the clone saga. Starting with this column, I'll present some of the most interesting and significant ideas proposed in these memos, and you'll get a sense of the creative process that went into trying to restore order to the Spider-Man books.

__________________
My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
My 3DS friend code: 2492-4192-0317
My XboX GamerTag: KaineKinetic

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