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CSBG Archive

You Decide ’09 – Did You Like Ben Reilly as a Character?

You know the bit – each day in October I’ll give you folks a poll question. Each poll will last four days. The results will be posted every Tuesday leading up to (and ending with) Election Day on the first Tuesday in November. Here is the master list of all questions asked so far!



As a character, I didn’t care either way.

As Spider-Man? No.

hells no!

I’ve never read Spider-Man on any kind of a regular basis, but I always thought it was an interesting idea to say that the Spidey everyone had been reading for past several years was a clone, and now the real one is back. It’s a ballsy move. It sounds like it was pretty poorly executed, and I could see how people reading the stories for that several year period would be displeased, but I like the idea.

Yes. However, this period of Spider-Man was one of the worst in Marvel Comics’ storytelling. I like the character in principle, but beyond his involvement in Onslaught (Spidey smashing Sentinels!), I can’t really think of any memorable Ben Reilly stories.

The options should have been “Yes,” “No,” and “Oh, god no, not at all, no, no no! How could you even ask such a horrible thing?”

I think Ben Reilly is merely a byproduct of the biggest problem that Marvel faces with Spider-Man. Namely, that perhaps the biggest hook of the character is the soap-opera aspect of his life as he changes and grows. Unfortunately, you reach a point where there isn’t another major event beyond marriage and having a kid that can be added without it feeling just a little ridiculous(especially for someone like Peter or Wally West at DC). I know many decry comics with characters like Barry Allen and Steve Rogers, but since more of the focus is on the events that happen to them, instead of “growth,” their adventures can occur indefinitely. So getting back to the question, as a solution to this problem, yeah, I really like Ben Reilly.

I know it’s general consensus that Clone Saga = WRONG but I liked the idea of the story and I dug the costume. I’m glad that the Spider-girl series kept the suit alive.

I voted no, but as with most characters in Spider-Man’s supporting cast at that time, he could actually be a very good character when John Marc DeMatteis was writing him, and annoying when anyone else was.

The problem was not so much the character as the story that produced him, but it was so badly misconceived that I don’t much mind him taking the fall for that.

What jazzbo said.

The character debuted around the time I was about maybe 8 years old. I enjoyed him. I liked the costume, enjoyed the friendship him and Peter shared and didn’t care when he became the “real” Spider-Man. What did annoy me was:
“IS he the real Spider-Man?! Yes he is! Oh wait, no he’s not! Fooled you he is! Man you guys are gullible, he’s totally NOT the real Spider-Man!”
That went on way past the point where it was prudent for them to stop. Finally, even as a kid I thought “Who the fuck cares anymore?”

The Clone Saga was horribly mis-managed, but you have to separate that from the character himself. I liked Ben Reilly a lot, and feel he could/would made a great addition to the supporting cast if they had handled the storyline better. Just because it was a bad story doesn’t mean he was a bad character.

I voted no, but honestly I couldn’t care less. I tried explaining the Clone Saga and who Ben Reilly was to a friend of mine who was about seven when this whole debacle occurred (I was in my teens during the 90’s). While I was telling him the story, I realized that, as controversial the plot line was and the heated arguments I got into over it, it was all crap and I didn’t care anymore. The Clone Saga and Ben Reilly were a product of a comic age that is best left in the past. I don’t know why people keep asking for Ben’s return or why Marvel is revisiting it now; it’s done.

I liked Ben.

I will also say that, thinking about it, the death of Ben is probably the worst character death that I don’t want to ever see overturned. PPSM #75 itself was fairly good, particularly Romita, Jr.’s artwork, but the way in which Ben Reilly was essentially kicked to death by silly, contrived events, and then auto-cremated in willful editorial defiance of how “clone degeneration” works, was awful.

In spite of all that, though, I believe it’s better to leave it alone (though inevitably someone, some day, will do the opposite). The story of Ben Reilly had a beginning, a middle and an end; even if the end wasn’t a masterpiece, it’s still something which the story of Peter Parker can never really have.

RIP Ben.

I got into the Spider-Man books about the time Ben Reilly was under the mask so I have some fond memories of him despite the low quality of most of the stories at the time and the whole negativity attached of The Clone Saga. That’s why I voted yes, but I wouldn’t like to see Ben back. Better let that part of Spidey mythology die and be forgotten, not bringing it back from the darkest corners of the Marvel basement like they do now.

I used to glance through the issues in the store back when this whole clone mess was going on. The whole thing was so stupid that I never even bought a single issue, even though the Spider-Man books had always been the ones I bought consistently throughout my entire life. (Although it wasn’t just the clone story. When I saw that his dead parents had returned a short time before this, I was so disgusted by the idea that I didn’t buy any of them. And for a year or two before that, the stories had been so dull that I’d only bought a few here and there. It was a bad decade for Spider-Man.) And then sometime during the clone fiasco, the stores I’d been buying from closed down, or stopped selling comics, so for I didn’t buy anything for the next decade.
Anyway, in the last couple of years, I have bought a few issues from that time, (and I already had #149, if that counts as a Ben Reilly story), so I have seen a little bit of Ben
As for how I feel about him as a character, leaving aside all the crap associated with him, he seems to be okay. But I’ve seen so little it’s hard for me to judge. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between Reilly and the real Peter, but I guess there shouldn’t be.
I just think the whole idea and execution (from what I’ve heard) of the clone debacle is just so bad that it’s best to leave the whole thing alone.

Vote against him. No real good reason to have 2 Peter Parkers in the world. And what he lead to was lots of crap. He needs his own version of each Spider-man villain! He added nothing all that much to spider-man just one a series of attempts to make spider-man younger and not married.

As with many, many others, I got tired of Spider-Man and walked away before the end of the Clone Saga. That said, I always had a soft spot for Ben.

i though Ben if he had not been screwed up so bad had potential as a character if nothing else peter could have a back up and spider man could be in two places at once. or maybe peter could take a break and ben could have filled in. for the charcher was not bad just poorly exicuted by a story line that had too many cooks .

Yes, although I thought the Clone Saga could have been handled a lot better, I think the initial concept was interesting enough.

I liked him.

Sure he was a good way of making the “Single Spidey” crowd happy without completely invalidating decades of continuity but I think the real advantage to having him around was his interaction with Peter. I honestly can’t decide if I liked it better when you had two Spider-Men playing off of each other or when it was just two Peter Parkers.

I will say that the “is he the original Peter Parker or isn’t he” aspect of the character got real old real fast. Who cares? They’re BOTH Peter Parker in all the ways that really matter.


I still have that issue actually. I love that costume. I like the Scarlet Spider one even better.

Sure. I haven’t read more than a handful of comics he’s been in, but it seems like a decent idea.


A character who was essentially Spider-Man at the core, but who had a potentially, shall we say, more colorful and dangerous past?


kaine and ben reilly weren’t too objectionable. the rest of the clones…that’s another story.

I really liked Ben Reilly as a character. It was nice to see Peter have a “brother” of sorts to confide in when they weren’t trying to figure out who was who. The clone saga was bad, but Ben was a good guy. Plus, I liked seeing Peter take a break from his “Responsibility.”
The Ben-as-Spidey stories had some good moments.

The thing about this question is that I only got to meet him late. Not in his “life”, but after the whole mess of the Clone Saga had ran its course. And, having read “Life of Reilly”, Ben gets extra points in my book because he’s sort of a tragic figure. Doomed to end all his significant development into nothing, or rather, a pile of goo.

So did I like him as a character? Well, I like Parker. Basic Parker, you could say. And he was Parker, so I liked him. Down to Earth fella, trying to make the best of his life while helping all the people he can and being funny.

But I’m certain that I mostly like him because of how he was treated. Poor clone-notclone.

Ben Reilly is Peter Parker. Of course I like him.

Hate the hoodie.

Back when I was a kid, I followed Spider-Man’s book faithfully. I dropped it like a hot turd soon after Ben Reilly was introduced and the idiotic notion that he was the “real” Peter was presented. I only returned to the book many years later, when Reilly and the clone nonsense were gone. But it was never the same, among other reasons because of retarded characters like Carnage, Kaine and Morlun. Nowadays I only read Spider-Man’s comics once in a long while. OMD hasn’t changed that at all.

And yes, I know the post-OMD stories don’t suck as hard as OMD itself sucked, but the whole thing was gratuitous (as almost none of the stories told since then required Peter to be a bachelor, with the single exception of Chameleon raping Peter’s roomate while impersonating him) and the deal with Mephisto stained Peter Parker’s character badly for me. The whole mess just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Most people hate the whole concept behind Ben (that he was supposed to replace Peter) rather than the character himself. I saw little about him but what I saw was OK. So I voted yes. Of course, he got to be on his own for too short a period (before Marvel killed him as a way to hide their shame) for me to know him as more than alternate-Peter. He really deserved better… at the least, they could just had let him walk off into comics limbo.

Anyone who says no probably didn’t read the Dematteis stuff.

Yes, with reservations. Skimmed some of the Clone Saga, did not really bother with it. Always liked the Scarlet Spider and he should have been kept around. And then killed, years later. He had more stories left in him, for sure.

Maybe, if he’s in Hell, he can make a deal with the Devil or something and come back. HOW COOL would that BE?

@ Les Fontelle:

Did you say the Chameleon raped Peter’s roomate as Peter? Ugh, I’m glad I got out before OMD. I thought Dr Light raping Sue Dibny was bad enough …

I don’t think he actually raped her. When I read it, it looked like they just made out a little. But he was disguised as Peter, so there was deception involved, and that makes it rape-equivalent in many people’s eyes. But it’s not what you think of when you hear the word ‘rape’.
Whether this makes it any better in your view is up to you.

Ben was awesome. Anyone who doesn’t like Ben basically doesn’t like Peter, which is fine, I guess, but then I have to wonder why the hell they were reading Spider-Man in the first place.

Nothing against Ben Reilly himself.

But the whole mess that was Marvel in the mid-1990s, with Peter revealed as a clone, Reed dying and Sue going slutty, the Avengers trying to become the non-mutant X-Men, this whole mess made me leave comics, and I never really got back the enthusiasm I used to have for Marvel/DC.

I can’t help but thinking of Ben as part of that whole scene. So, my answer is “No.”

And Marvel in general (and Spider-Man in particular) is much better now.

Mary, the way I read the scene (and most importantly, the girl’s reactions afterwards) the girl and Chameleon had sex while he impersonated Peter. If that’s not rape, it’s still way too close to rape.

Now, I’m not a prude, and I would even concede that it was in-character for the Chameleon, but if Marvel still intends to sell Spider-Man’s comic to kids they should have thought more carefully about that whole scenario. I’m 39 so I can handle it; but it’s not really suitable for my 9-year old godson for example.

But of course, if we’re realistic we’ll have to acknowledge that the “comics are for kids” ship sailed LOOONG ago. The comics that are actually adequate for young children today are a rapidly-diminishing minority in the market. Today it would be more precise to say that comics are for teenagers, what with all the cheesecake and graphic violence that Marvel and especially DC are so fond of.

Ben was the Spider-Man of Marvel Vs. DC. Because Ben had only just recently begun wearing the webs again after five years of mostly not being a super-hero, I decided that meant his skills were rusty, and voted for Superboy to win that battle. However, willingly putting that much thought into it means that, yeah, I like him.

Wonder Woman over Storm, Superman over the Hulk, Lobo over Wolverine, and Captain America over Batman. I can’t believe I still remember that.

I can’t believe that a non-adamantium Wolverine could beat Lobo. That makes even less sense than this whole Ben Reilly fiasco.

I voted Yes. Whether I hated the Clone Saga or not, the question asked about Ben. And he’s essentially Peter Parker, but in a worse position. Exiled for years, he endured the idea of being just a clone for years, respecting Parker’s life and leaving him to live it quietly. Despite all the tragedy, he still lived heroically throughout the time that remained.

About as much as a bad rash

Having never read, but knowing people who have read, the Clone Saga, I voted yes. He seemed like a neat character, especially as the Scarlet Spider. Not really sure he ever got used right though…

I like him as a character, but I recognize that he’s simply not a sustainable idea. While Spider-Man can last for more than 40 years, his clone with a slightly altered costume and blond hair lasted slightly longer than he should have.

At the time I was totally against replacing the real Peter Parker, but initially at least it was an interesting storyline. I was glad when they admitted they’d screwed up and fixed it, but I actually liked Ben Reilly.

At the time I thought it would have been cool to leave Ben alive and have him move to San Francisco, wear the black costume and date the Gwen Stacey clone. That way we could have kept Peter, but had some of the cooler aspects of Spider-Man past.

I think everyone has to admit now that if an unmarried Spidey was inevitable, the clone saga as originally envisioned was a far better option than what we ended up with,

I have to agree with Gavin about the clone saga being the better option then the deus ex machina of OMD.

The concept of Ben Reilly is a good one if you separate it from the execution of the clone saga itself. Forget about violating continuity from some Conway story written in the 70’s or a long forgotten annual from the 80’s — The damn thing pretty much contradicted itself every month for a two years solid.

I’m hoping that the current Clone Saga mini and the recent appearance of Kane and associated explanations ends up replacing the two year mess as the official canon (is there is a supreme irony in wanting a saga that couldn’t keep itself straight to be replaced by yet another one?). I suspect though that the tentacles of the clone saga are so wrapped up in the spider-book continuity at the time (save for Untold Tales) and in the other Marvel books where Ben appeared that this is one wart you can’t burn off completely.

Now would you still hate Ben as a character if it were revealed as originally planned that the clone was actually Peter displaced in time and that ‘our’ Peter eventually had to disappear to fulfill his destiny as Ben (with some amnesia)? It would certainly complicate his marriage since Peter would have fathered a child before disappearing, and Ben would have had a few years where he had other relationships. I can see that being a better way to remove the marriage without bringing the devil into it.

Ocelot – that WASN’T the original plan. The original plan was for the Clone Saga to last about six months/25 issues (remember, four books a month + the irregular Spider-Man Unlimited), structured as “Ben vs. Peter; then Ben revealed as the real one, becomes Spider-Man; then reveal reversed, Peter becomes Spider-Man again, Ben goes off to get his own book as the Scarlet Spider set somewhere outside NYC”.

The timeloop plan actually involved Mephisto. It was rejected because, amongst other things, they didn’t want to bring The Devil into it…

Scarlet Spider : Spider-Man
Carnage : Venom

This timeloop idea is too convoluted. Replacing Peter with a clone to anull the marriage is too convoluted too.

The perfect solution would have been an old-fashioned divorce. And then, if you don’t want to “age” Peter, never refer to the divorce ever again.

I believe the current stories work well, as long as you don’t think about the infernal pact (that has never been mentioned post-OMD anyway). But I know that to ask superhero fans to “forget the past” is like asking someone to stop breathing.

The Ben Reilly tihng was hated, but after they made the change and started calling him Spider-man he actually was Spider-man. Maybe a different ‘real’ name, but he was Spider-man. He was just a guy trying to make ends meet.

Now, whatever Spider-man is supposed to be it’s quite simply the worst comic I have ever read. NOt only is nothing ever going to happen, the main character is the worst sort of human being. He doesn’t do things for others, he does them for himself and doesn’t care. The comic book he is in is a big lie, we’re never going to have endings to stories and after being promised the big things like ‘Spider-man dies’ and ‘Unmasking’ I can never again read a comic where were lied to in such a large ways for so long. Ben Reilly was Spider-man, I don’t know who this guy is in the book now. I read an issue, I didn’t recognize him.

The thing about Ben is he was a likable character because he was basically Peter Parker, without the wangst that Peter was suffering at the start of the Clone Saga. So yes, I liked him. I actually like his Spider-Man costume better than any other.

However, as others pointed out, he was mostly in a bad storyline and his solo stint as Spider-Man pretty much had to divorce him (no pun intended) from Peter Parker’s life, entirely. This story and OMD suffer from the mindset that Peter is eternally 22 and struggling with money, girls, etc. This is somewhat silly when you consider Peter has had multiple beautiful girls throwing themselves at him since he was in high school (Betty, Liz, MJ, Gwen, etc.). For the most part he tends to focus on one at a time, despite all the attention. As for money, he’s been around so long that he just looks like a loser. He knows lots of rich guys, he’s very intelligent, and he’s shown himself to be a competent teacher (a job that if you can hang around for 3 years you can never get fired from).

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