Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #1 - Marvel Comics

Despite being touted by Associate Editor and self-confessed “Ben Reilly maniac” Devin Lewis as the most “deserving character in the Spider-Family” for “a shot at reinvention”, Peter David’s opening narrative for this “all-new ongoing series” must surely have come as something of a major disappointment to the original Scarlet Spider’s fans due to the veteran spider-scribe’s inability to determine whether Peter Parker’s clone is actually going to be a good or bad guy. Indeed, at one point, having played the hero and rescued a distraught woman from a mugger in a Las Vegas alleyway, the costumed crime-fighter then disconcertingly threatens the victim, Mandy, if she doesn’t make good on her promise to find a job and pay him “a hundred bucks” in order to “call it square.” A scene which hardly promotes the “darn charming” personality “mighty Marveldom” apparently promised the titular character would portray in the comic’s pre-publication publicity.

Worse, the Maryland-born novelist’s incarnation of Professor Miles Warren’s creation has clearly been driven so utterly mad by the “dozens of torturous experiments” imposed upon him by the Jackal that he now regularly suffers with hallucinations of his former selves; “Dude, you need a plan. I’m imaginary. So I can do whatever I want.” This seemingly never ending self-banter and monotonous dialogue really starts to quickly grate upon the nerves, especially when the comic finally starts to ‘up its game’ courtesy of a heavily armed casino robbery, and the facially scarred duplicate immediately dispels any illusion of suspense or jeopardy by entering into a short, supposedly humorous, conversation with himselves..?

Such a poorly thought-out, substandard ‘Deadpool duplicate’ is not helped either by the breakdowns of Mark Bagley, whose inconsistent and lack-lustre pencils genuinely seem to imbue the vast majority of this periodical’s twenty-pages with a palpable sense of disinterest and haste. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anyone calling the American comic book artist “a legend in comics” if his inability within this book to draw a consistent Cassandra Mercury or Ben Reilly is an example of his best “big, bombastic super hero action.” It’s certainly hard to reconcile the man “on pencilling duties for this puppy” with someone who, at least according to the comic’s editorial, “can stage and draw an action scene” like few others “in the biz.”
Writer: Peter David, Penciler: Mark Bagley, and Inker: John Dell

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