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I’d Have Kept Ben Reilly Alive

I don’t think there was anything WRONG with Ben Reilly.

He was a decent character, he was just unfortunately the sign of a bad era in Spider-Man comics.

Still, I don’t see what would have been the harm to just have someone definitively prove Ben is the clone, and then let Ben walk off into the sunset, to show up every once in awhile, and maybe die at some OTHER point in time.


Come to think of it, Ben Reilly could’ve been really handy in terms of reinstating Spider-Man’s secret identity without the use of demonic intervention.

Ben Reilly also could have been, say, an opportunity to write Peter Parker not being married?!?

Wait…with the change-up, maybe Ben is alive again? Maybe he’s a skrull!

Marvel had an unfortunate habit at that time of killing characters when they weren’t sure what to do with them. It’s not exactly the same thing as the rampant “death entirely for shock value” trend right now, but it’s not any better in the long run.

Of course, I’d have stuck with the original premise of the Clone Saga, which was that the Peter we knew was the clone, and left both of them alive.

I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a supporting character to Peter. Like the brotherly relationship between them back in the day. Peter could use someone to consult in, someone who knows his secret and actually knows how it is to be Peter and Spider-Man. Maybe even team-ups here and there.

I forgot where, but I seem to recall reading somewhere (Wizard I think) that the whole “Ben Reilly was really Peter Parker and Peter Parker was really the clone” was so that Peter Parker could “retire” being Spider-man and live happily ever after being married to Mary Jane while Ben Reilly could continue being the single Peter Parker and basically continue as the one true (and SINGLE-without-being divorced or becoming a widower) Spider-Man.

Essentially, it was the 90s version of One More Day.

Ben was fine as characters go; it’s the editorial line of the day that went seriously off-course.

I never minded whether he or Peter was the “true” Spider-Man, because they both were what they were and being a clone only changed their biological origins.

But the endless parade of mysterious masterminds with designs for Peter and Ben and Peter’s child, THAT was seriously off-putting. And it did not help any that the story took so long and showed so many clear signs of not knowing where it wanted to go.

Speaking as someone who dropped Spider-Man when the Clone Debacle started to really get moving, and then didn’t pick it up again until friends reassured me that it was truly, honestly, well and totally over, I see no real reason to have killed him off. It’s no skin off my nose if he’s off alive somewhere.

Wow, I guess I’m the only one who wanted to see that @#$%er die in a big ball of flame. Ben Reilly death = fanboy rage outlet. Though bringing Norman Osbourne back kept me from buying the Spidey books ever again anyway.

Wait…with the change-up, maybe Ben is alive again?

Actually, he very well might be. What I love is that he still has a magical origin; he just doesn’t know it anymore.

He’s a character that never should have existed.
First there was the horrible original clone sage.
Then after the horrible Evolutionary Wars Annual crossovers they said, wait–how could Prof Warren have made clones with what we just said in the Evolutionary Wars?
SO they said it wasn’t really a clone of Peter & Gwen in those stories–I would have been content to have left the clones stories buried–but at least this put it to rest–or so I thought.

Then came the even more horrible clone saga with Ben Reilly.

Let’s just pretend it never happened.

Rohan Williams

March 15, 2008 at 8:34 pm

I would agree with you, but man, did I love Spider-Man #75. It wouldn’t have been as effective without Ben’s death.

Steven just made me realize something.

Is it just me, or do the worst comic book stories come from someone wanting to “explain” or “fix” something that we, the readers, didn’t really question seriously in the first place?

I mean, really, were there a slew of people demanding to know where Professor Warren’s ability to clone people came from? Couldn’t they have just never mentioned it again?

Likewise, the ever changing backstory of Donna Troy. Didn’t Titans fans accept long ago that no backstory of her’s is ever going to survive close scrutiny, and just agree not to scrutinize it?


AIUI, Ben’s death came about because a) there was a company-wide decision to try to reduce the number of “spin-off” characters, for fear that they were diluting the popularity of the originals (the Thunderstrike, War Machine, and Fantastic Force titles all got the axe around the same time, and while they didn’t bump off USAgent or Venom, they certainly took a downturn in visibility, and USAgent also got his costume change around then.)

…and b) they wanted to _definitively_ resolve the “Who’s real/Who’s the clone?” question, and to quote Tom DeFalco in ‘101 Ways To End the Clone Saga’, the most definitive way? “Ben melts.”

Ben had his admirers in Marvel’s editorial department, but ultimately they just felt that as long as Ben was alive, the temptation to pull another “Who’s the clone?” switcheroo would be too great. (Personally, I’d have thrown ‘em both into the Heroes Reborn universe at the end of Onslaught, and have one Peter Parker come out at the end with both sets of memories. Who’s real? Who’s the clone? Doesn’t matter, they’re merged now.)

“Ben Reilly also could have been, say, an opportunity to write Peter Parker not being married?!?

Wait…with the change-up, maybe Ben is alive again? Maybe he’s a skrull!”

Did anyone else read Kane’s comment and think, “you know, Secret Invasion would really have given Marvel a perfect opportunity to annul the Parkers’ marriage without resorting to a deal with the devil”?

Sure, it would have meant ending Spidey’s marriage the exact same way they ended the Human Torch’s, but you have to figure people would have complained less about that than they have about One More Day.

Of course, if they made Spider-Man the Skrull instead of MJ, that would have been a great way to explain and get rid of the organic web shooters, the wrist spikes … heck, once the whole thing’s over, if the Skrull invasion ends up becoming public knowledge they could even have had Peter Parker spin a web of lies about being an ordinary photojournalist who stumbled upon the Skrulls’ plan and got kidnapped, claiming that the Skrull wearing the Spidey suit was basically assigned double duty, to replace Spidey and discredit Peter Parker.

Not too nuts about the idea of leaving Ben Reilly alive. Not to say he didn’t have some untapped potential, but after the Clone Saga fiasco, he just had too much baggage to be an effective character. It was better off for Marvel to ice him and just wash their hands of the whole thing.

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