Yesterday at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Marvel held their Spider-Verse panel (with a touch of Daredevil) the panel discussed all things Spider-Man (and again a little Daredevil) with the core focus being on their big event that Dan Slott has been working towards since Amazing Spider-Man #600. Marvel announced a few of the Spider-Verse tie-in mini-series, and the one that really grabbed me was the 3-issue SCARLET SPIDERS!
That's right I said SCARLET SPIDERS! In November Mike Costa brings the trio of Scarlet Spiders together and they are Kaine from the 616, Ultimate Jessica Drew, and an alternate universe Ben Reilly. Joining Mike Costa on art will be Paco Diaz bringing some of Spidey's most famous clones together on the page.
Kaine and Jessica are the characters we know from their current series while Ben is the brand new (yet familar) character. In his alternate universe Ben is still Spider-Man and Peter is living his happily ever after.
"I get to do "Scarlet Spiders," which is Kaine from the 616 and Ben Reilly from an alternate universe where he remained Spider-Man. The Ben Reilly we're dealing with is the one that actually succeeded and made it instead of sacrificing himself and dying in the 616. In his universe, when Peter started becoming de-powered, his powers never returned. Peter and Mary Jane retired to Oregon, lived their life and had kids. Ben inherited the mantle of Spider-Man and has been Spider-Man ever since. This Ben Reilly is the Spider-Man that made it. Then, of course, there's also Ultimate Jessica Drew."
- Mike Costa
The three come together because of the one thing they have in common, they are all clones of Peter Parker. Spider-Man and some of the other Spider-Man characters send the three of them out to deal with a clone problem. Who do you send to deal with a clone problem? Clones obviously. The three are sent on this mission that is crucial to the overall story but couldn't fit into the main story, so we get to follow it in this 3-issue mini-series before they rejoin the group in the main book.
Other than being clones of their respective Peter Parkers the three Scarlet Spiders are very different. Costa seems to be playing up on those differences more so than their commonalities to bring an interesting dynamic aspect to the book that I feel will set this apart from the other tie-ins.
"There's a great trifecta to the characters because you've got Ben Reilly, who for all intents and purposes is Spider-Man. Like Spider-Man, he's a very seasoned hero, he's got a lot of experience, he knows what he's doing, but he hasn't had any training, necessarily. You've got Jessica Drew, who is very young and is nowhere near as seasoned as Ben, but has been trained by one of the greatest soldiers in any universe. She's got technical know-how, whereas Ben Reilly is very experiential. Then, you've got Kaine, who's just a wild animal. He'll just tear your head off. He doesn't need training or experience because he's just a killing machine. There's a great character dynamic there."
- Mike Costa
What appeals to me the most well lets face it Ben. It is all about the Benjamin Reilly for me. I always really loved the character and I think that came out of the timing of his creation. He was created at a time when Spider-Man wasn't as fun as he once was. Peter's usual upbeat personality had been dwindling and then in walks Ben and he is that upbeat quip thwipping Spidey that we all knew and loved. But the Clone Saga, like Spider-Man's luck was bad, and that bad luck caught up to Ben with him paying with the ultimate sacrifice. This Ben though doesn't have that problem, he isn't cursed with the famous Parker luck.
"this Ben, everything works out. Peter gave him the mantle and went away. Peter Parker had his happy ending, he moved off into the countryside with Mary Jane and had a kid. This Ben Reilly ended up becoming Spider-Man. Our idea was where things would go wrong for Peter Parker in the 616, a lot of things went right for Ben in his universe. He got to "Big Time" faster than Peter did, "Spider-Island" was easier, there was no "Superior" Ben Reilly -- Doc Ock did not take over Ben. This version of Peter Parker -- because Ben is a version of Peter -- is the version that everything worked out for."
- Mike Costa
While Costa seems to have a firm grasp on what separates Ben from Peter, and each of the other clones he doesn't forget what unites them, nor does he forget how polarizing Ben is to the fans. Not only does he know this, he actually enjoys this challenge.
"What's really exciting is I get to write Ben Reilly, which I'm really thrilled by, because Ben is a controversial character, to say the least. Obviously, I'm not writing "the" Ben Reilly, because that character is still dead. But it's as close to the real Ben Reilly -- it's essentially is Ben Reilly, the Ben Reilly who made it. I don't think there's been a Ben Reilly story in about 15 years, and I get to bring back this character who, through no fault of his own -- it was not Ben's fault that he was so controversial. [Laughs]"
- Mike Costa
While I am completely over the moon about this news, I mean how can I not be right? Someone at Marvel must have been listening to the LIVE show, because I have been asking for Ben to come back for a while. I even suggested a SCARLET SPIDERS series with Ben and Kaine and once during Cataclysm said they could throw Jessica Drew in there. Now that dream is coming true, but Dan Slott is writing Spider-Verse and he was a little too happy about saying how many Spiders will DIE! I guess we'll have to wait until November to find out, but seeing that there are two versions of Ben (Spider-Man & Scarlet Spider) on the initial Spider-Verse promo poster has me worried.
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All images are courtesy of Marvel Entertainment