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Monday, October 11, 2021 

Even if Peter Parker remains alive after ASM #75, that doesn't mean anybody cares to read Ben Reilly as a replacement

Marvel may have been willing to go to such pains to explain and retcon away the whole fiasco of Sins Past and One More Day this year, some time after there were announcements they intended to do something about it (many years too late to care, of course). But wouldn't you know it, they decided nevertheless to take Peter Parker out of the picture for the sake of the Clone Saga's substitute Spidey, Ben Reilly, and Newsarama describes what happens in the 75th issue of the current ASM volume:
Peter decides to get some alone time by web-swinging his way over to one of his favorite spots in the city, only to find someone else there - and not just someone else, but another Spider-Man (who some readers already know to be Ben Reilly, thanks to the costume).

Using the superior technology in his suit, Ben evades Peter and leaves him caught in a sort of drone trap, escaping. Later, the pair meet up out of costume, with Ben apologizing to Peter for trapping him and running away, explaining that his new bosses - the Beyond Corporation - would have been listening to their conversation through the surveillance technology in his suit.

Ben goes on to explain that the Beyond Corporation has purchased the remaining assets of Peter's former company, Parker Industries - including the legal rights to the name and likeness of Spider-Man.

At first confused, Peter realizes that Otto Octavius must have trademarked the Spider-Man name when he was inhabiting Peter's body as the Superior Spider-Man (this could become important very soon - we'll get to that).

Ben goes on to state that the Beyond Corporation is turning Spider-Man into a corporate superhero, with him under the mask - and that they would have found another candidate had he refused. Peter seems confused, but Ben clarifies that technically, he is now Spider-Man, and that the Beyond Corporation is likely to seek to stop Peter from using the identity.
I don't know if this is supposed to be some kind of commentary on conglomeracy - since Marvel's owned by one, it's doubtful they'd take a critical view of them so easily - but I do know it's a terrible shame they're falling back on elements from storylines that would've been better left in the past. Both the Clone Saga and the Superior Dr. Octopus Saga are both some of the most dreadful tales that didn't need revisiting. If anything, Ben Reilly did not need to return as part of the mid-90s canon, which I may have argued earlier needs to be jettisoned, and if it were, little value would be lost. Now, what happens here to Peter?
As Peter and Ben fight the villains, they're hit with a massive dose of radiation. Ben's suit shields him, but Peter is unprotected, leaving him seriously injured with apparent radiation poisoning - seemingly the cause of the injuries that Marvel has previously shown will take Peter out of action for some time.

But are those injuries enough to put Peter so close to death that he needs to be replaced? It doesn't seem so. In fact, the larger predicament Peter seems to be facing isn't related to bodily harm at all - but the new corporate ownership of his costume and identity as Spider-Man.
Peter may survive. If he does, it makes clear the editors realize they're going to lose much of the audience yet again if they don't keep him alive, after some of the worst embarrassments they've had in the past decade. But that's still no excuse for this story, which looks to be a contrived crossover:
Consider first that solicitations for Miles Morales: Spider-Man #33, a tie-in to 'Spider-Man Beyond', have shown an impending fight between Ben and Miles over the right to be Spider-Man, with Ben attempting to stop Miles under orders from the Beyond Corporation.

Secondly, the solicitation for December's Amazing Spider-Man #80.BEY indicates that Aunt May will seek advice for Peter's condition from Doctor Octopus, her old flame and Peter's arch-enemy (and of course the guy who stole Peter's body, and maybe even cost him his name and costume as Spider-Man).
And they think we're all literally going to care about their diversity-pandering take on Spider-Man, one of the remaining characters from the Ultimate line? Sorry. Besides, the whole premise of meeting Aunt May with Doc Ock again doesn't sound appealing either, and has been done before. Particularly dismaying, however, was the discovery writer Saladin Ahmed, he who's made only so many anti-Israel rants on Twitter, is one of the writers for the embarrassment to come. That C.B. Cebulski assigned somebody that terrible to one of Stan Lee's best creations is one of the worst insults to Lee's memory. This also pretty much demonstrates how, even as they seemingly undid Sins Past and One More Day, they have no real idea what to do with Peter and Mary Jane. And of course, they've reversed the effects of that story far too late, after many Marvel fans, realizing what terrible people are in charge, wisely bolted from the readership. If this is how they're going now, it's no wonder realists can't return.

And recalling the contrived LGBT retcons of recent to characters like Tim Drake, the 3rd Robin, Iceman, and maybe even the son of Superman, what if it turns out Marvel's going this same route with Ben Reilly? So far, that hasn't actually be confirmed. But it doesn't mean it couldn't or won't happen. If it does, that'll just be more insults to injuries.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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