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March, 3rd 2017 - The solicit for Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider Issue 2 has been released:

(W) Peter David (A/CA) Mark Bagley

• The Scarlet Spider is back and madder than ever! 
•  Ben Reilly, after his plan to take over the world was foiled, is trying something new.
•  You won't believe what you read here!
Rated T+


March, 2nd 2017 - The Clone Conspiracy is over. Ben is back.

I'm sure most of us had hoped that the real Ben was hidden somewhere in one of Norman Osborn's secret Green Goblin warehouses - where he was put after being captured during the Revelations story in '96. I mean, Ben turned to dust - he didn't melt like every clone before... it couldn't have been the real Ben that died. Could it? It was.

The mystery began in the form of man wearing a brilliant red suit with an Anubis mask, that everyone - even Spider-Man - believed was Miles Warren. Using the Jackal alias, the mystery man began approaching several of Spider-Man's enemies with a peculiar offer - follow orders in exchange for a chance to revive lost loved ones. He started with Rhino, where as the Man in Red, he presented Rhino with a mysteriously-revived Oksana. Rhino accepts the deal to work for him. Next, he visited Lizard at Andry Correctional Facility where he had a revived Martha and Billy Connors, which angered the Lizard as he could pick up their scent though he was convinced that they could not be alive. As Jackal provided Rhino a black version of his suit and sprung both Lizard and a depowered Electro from Andry Correctional Facility, Jackal tells Electro that he will find a way to restore his powers in exchange for his service.

After a battle between Rhino and Kingpin that somehow ended in the death of a revived Vanessa Fisk, Rhino failed to recruit Kingpin. The Man in Red had given Rhino one strike and reveals himself to be Jackal, which he was sporting with the black Anubis mask and standing next to him was a presumed revived Gwen Stacy.

Jackal had been working with the Lizard and Martha Connors in an experiment to restore Electro's powers. Upon Electro's reluctance to go through with the procedure, the Jackal revealed a revived Francine Frye (without the tattoos and piercings), a former love of Electro's that he inadvertently killed when his powers were out of control after being experimented on by the Superior Spider-Man. Electro finally ceded and agreed to do whatever Jackal wanted. It was revealed that the revived ones were actually clones, created by Jackal to coerce the villains to do his bidding. Jackal did not anticipate that Francine's cloned DNA was mixed in with Electro's which led to Electro's death when Francine absorbed his power. Jackal made Francine the new Electro instead. Jackal repeatedly tells the villains not to kill, because they are now the "good guys."

Jackal was conducting his experiments "healing" critical patients under the guise of a massive pharmaceutical corporation called New U Technologies. When Prowler infiltrated New U Technologies at Peter Parker's request and was accidentally killed by Electro, Jackal revived him. Now required to take a pill daily in order to stop clone degeneration, Prowler was used by Jackal to spy on Parker Industries. It was discovered that Jackal had New U Technologies obtain the bodies of Doctor Octopus, Alistaire Smythe, and other villains for his "Reanimations." When the Doctor Octopus-possessed Octobot intervened during the reanimation of Doctor Octopus' body, Doctor Octopus completely disposed of Peter Parker's consciousness and took control of the body after emerging from the cloning tube. Jackal gives Doctor Octopus his tentacle pack and some New U Pills that would help prevent any clone degeneration. When Spider-Man infiltrated New U Technologies, he chased after Jackal following his fight with Rhino and Electro. During the pursuit of Jackal, Spider-Man is surprised by Gwen Stacy and is ensnared by Doctor Octopus. After the Jackal breaks up the fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, he shows Spider-Man around the New U Technologies. After Spider-Man is rescued by Kaine and the Spider-Woman of Earth-65 (Spider-Gwen), he is told that they visited unidentified alternate Earths where the collaboration of Parker Industries and New U Technologies resulted in humanity suffering a zombie apocalypse started by the Carrion Virus. Ben finally reveals himself to Peter and offers him the chance to bring back "their" Uncle Ben.

After Ben Reilly revealed that he was the Jackal to Peter, he tells Peter how he was resurrected and was motivated to create New U Technologies. After his death at the hands of the Green Goblin, samples of Ben's dissolved remains were collected by Jackal and he was resurrected thanks to a new cloning process which retained the memories of the person being cloned. However, Jackal still encountered problems with the cellular degradation. He had Ben killed 26 times, with Ben's life (and most of Peter's) flash before his eyes, and remembering each death when he awoke. As he was repeatedly killed, more of Ben's good memories were being pushed out. Ben eventually breaks free and knocks out Jackal. After he improves Warren's formula, he makes clones of Miles Warren and convinces them all that they are clones, making it impossible to tell who was the original. Now free with a number of Miles Warren clones as his servants, Ben becomes the new Jackal and is determined to repay the people who have heavily influenced his and Peter's lives with Jackal's technology to make sure no one has to suffer loss again.

Ben tells Peter that bringing back Uncle Ben is his gift to him and that even if Peter doesn't feel like he deserves to have his loved ones brought back, most of them do deserve a second chance at life. After hearing Ben's story and proposal, Peter becomes more interested in what Ben has to offer. After Ben and Peter's confrontation, Ben starts driving Spider-Man to the New U Technologies facility with Uncle Ben's corpse and explains to Peter that he was able to make his company and vision a reality through emotionally blackmailing the elite in society. He then shows Peter the "Haven," a section of the facility set up like a normal neighborhood where Peter sees all of his resurrected friends and enemies. He apologizes to the Stacy family and Marla Jameson tells Spider-Man that she was honored by his vow not to let other people die. After J. Jonah Jameson heads upstairs to promote the New U Technologies on television, Spider-Man confronts Jackal and tells him that the reason he hasn't brought Uncle Ben back yet is because Peter knows Uncle Ben would tell Jackal that he's wrong and that he's using this power without responsibility. Jackal orders Spider-Man's rogues gallery to kill the hero eludes to the fact that he plans to replace Peter after he's dead. A captured Anna Maria reveals that she knows how to stop the decaying process on the clones and Jackal offers her the "Proto Clone" body in exchange for the formula. Doctor Octopus takes offense to Jackal's comments on Maria's dwarfism and attacks him. When Doctor Octopus activates the Carrion Virus, it starts spreading to non-clones which causes Anna to also become affected. Spider-Man tries to appeal to Ben, but his words are ignored and Ben takes over J. Jonah's broadcast to tell the world that they will all die and be reborn. During the fight at New U Technologies, Ben knocks Kaine out of the facility through a window after their fight.

Doctor Octopus fights Jackal to allow Peter and Anna Maria time to transmit the frequency which will counteract the spread of the Carrion Virus. When Spider-Man sends out a signal that prevents the clones from decaying, the clones of Ben Reilly, Doctor Octopus, and Gwen Stacy are seemingly reduced to dust. It was revealed during the fight that Doctor Octopus implanted his mind into the Proto Clone and Ben Reilly saved himself using New U Pills and Webware Technology, although is suffering from degeneration. He returns to his safehouse (a replica of Peter's childhood home) only to find the true Miles Warren back as the Jackal. Jackal sets Ben's safehouse ablaze and Ben defeats Jackal in a fight, leaving the scientist to supposedly die in the fire. Ben swings off pondering what he's going to do with his life. Meanwhile Kaine vows to pursue him... which leads us to Ben's Scarlet Spider ongoing series.


February 16th, 2017 - Life moves pretty fast...

Here is a newly released cover for Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider

According to Marvel, Ben ditches the new costume from the original cover by the end of the first story arc in favor of the original Scarlet Spider outfit... or maybe it was the strong reaction across social media... either way, the hoodie is back. Here is the solicit:

BEN REILLY: THE SCARLET SPIDER #1
PETER DAVID (W) • MARK BAGLEY (A/C) VARIANT COVER BY GREG LAND VARIANT COVER BY TOM LYLE VARIANT COVER BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL ACTION FIGURE VARIANT COVER BY JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
One of the most controversial characters in comics has returned — and the controversy has only BEGUN! In the aftermath of THE CLONE CONSPIRACY, Ben has a new take on life…and he’s not the same Scarlet Spider he was before. Come witness what will be the most talked about comic of the year! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Also, the last issue of Clone Conspiracy came out yesterday. There is actually an Omega issue and another Amazing Spider-Man tie-in to come - so I will recap the whole story once those are released.


February 9th, 2017 - For those who were less than impressed with the initial cover showing Ben's costume (that smile!) in the new series, Marvel has released the Greg Land variant.

As for the Clone Conspiracy story - things have gotten a little worse for old Ben, and it looks like he has gone full bad-guy for now. I will recap the whole story (with pictures!) once it concludes.

For those looking to join the conversation now that Ben has returned - I recommend the Facebook Group or the Superhero Hype Forum.


January 9th, 2017 - Be careful what you wish for.

Ben gets his own series starting in April. In the wake of Ben’s return as the current main antagonist of the ongoing Spider-Man event The Clone Conspiracy, Marvel has announced that the newly-revived Ben will seemingly cast aside his villainous role at the end of the series and become a hero once more in Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider. Written by Peter David and with art from Mark Bagley, The Scarlet Spider will see Ben dealing with his personal demons with the pull of his past as a Spider-Hero, as the clone-happy Jackal, and even as a normal human being who’s gone through some horrific stuff. Kaine Parker, fellow Scarlet Spider and clone, will play a major role in the series, as he goes on the search for Ben after the events of the Clone Conspiracy help convince him to find a better life for himself.


December 22nd, 2016 - So what happened to Ben? Where has he been? Amazing Spider-Man #22 gave us some answers - and they are pretty horrifying. After turning to dust back in Peter Parker Spider-Man Issue 75, Miles Warren emerged to collect samples of what was left of Ben. Warren uses his newfound cloning process to bring Ben back to life, memories included, but was disappointed to find that Ben was flawed and would degenerate like many previous clones had. The experiment was still a success as memories were restored right up to the point of death, no longer requiring implantation of artificial memories. Warren proceeds to kill and revive Ben 26 times by electrocution, drowning, poisoning, vivisection, dissolving in acid, burning, sonics and other methods - with Ben remembering every death. Eventually, Ben escapes and nearly kills Warren. Rather than end his life, Ben manages to clone Warren multiple times and even solves the degeneration problem with pills which must be taken daily. How he was able to do this on his own, or before he himself degenerated, was not explained. The identity of the Jackals who appeared over the last 7 years was also not revealed.

This Ben is a clone of the original, with all memories intact. It looks like he has convinced Peter to help him clone Uncle Ben. To be continued.


December 20th, 2016 - Amazing Spider-Man Issue 22 comes out tomorrow. I suggest you pick it up. If you'd like to see a preview, click here. Marvel also released solicitations for March 2017, including... *sigh* the teaser for Clone Conspiracy: Omega

THE CLONE CONSPIRACY: OMEGA
DAN SLOTT & CHRISTOS GAGE, PETER DAVID (W) CORY SMITH, MARK BAGLEY, STUART IMMONEN (A) Cover by JAMES HARREN Variant Cover by ADI GRANOV
• THE CLONE CONSPIRACY is finished, but the impacts on Spider-Man’s life is HUGE.
• The Rhino comes at Spider-Man with an intense fury and aims to pin the spider to the wall… Permanently.
• What was the final fate of Ben Reilly? Or the Lizard?
• Witness the first chapter of the next big Spider-Book by Peter David & Mark Bagley!
40 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Rated T+ …$4.99

Bleeding Cool reported a rumor that the new series by Peter David and Mark Bagley would be a Scarlet Spider book. Fingers crossed that this series stars Ben.


December 8th, 2016 - Ben is back.

Benisback

The Jackal has returned, yet again, and is causing more havoc in Spider-Man's life with the current Clone Conspiracy storyline. Several deceased characters have returned, but that isn't much of a surprise in a Spider-Man story. The big shock came when the wall crawler came face to face with the well-dressed Jackal who first appeared in the Free Comic Book Day Captain America book:

Jackal

Prior to this encounter, Spider-Man discovered there were more dangers resulting from Jackal's new breed of clones. The clones require a pill every 24 hours in order to prevent their bodies from decomposing. Some of Spider-Man's allies (Kaine and Spider-Gwen) discovered that clones were created on other Earths across the Multiverse. On these other worlds, the new clones became infectious, zombie-like creatures called Carrions. Spider-Man managed to discover the location where Jackal would meet his agents with another dead body to resurrect. The surprise came when Jackal was able to put up a fight and match Spider-Man's speed.

Jackal removed his mask and revealed his true identity: Ben Reilly.

So it seems that Ben has returned. To this point he has allowed people to refer to him as Miles Warren - concealing his true identity. He has resurrected all of Spider-Man's allies and enemies. He views these clones as gifts to Peter, restoring everyone he'd lost during his time as a hero. Ben/Jackal frequently mentioned that he and his group (which includes a revived Gwen Stacy, her father Captain Stacy, The Rhino and a female Electro) were "not the bad guys" and strictly ordered his minions to never kill anyone, only capture. It's unclear how Ben managed to acquire the vast wealth or equipment needed to create these clones, but it looks like we may receive some answers in Amazing Spider-Man Issue 22.

Ben had the same expertise and level of intelligence as Peter so becoming a clone expert doesn't track at all.

Yes, Ben is back - it happened. It seems that his return comes as the villain in this saga, but it remains to be seen what his true intentions are. The big question is: How did Ben return from the dead if he's the one behind all of this? There has to be someone else behind the curtain as hinted below:

Apparently Ben doesn't think of himself as a villain. Writer Dan Slott mentioned during a phone press conference after the release of Clone Conspiracy #3 that Reilly had been the Jackal for years, going back to 2011's Spider-Island arc. At this time it's unclear what his comments mean as it was clearly supposed to be Warren during Spider-Island:

It was also clearly Miles Warren when he later appeared and tried to clone Alpha in Amazing Spider-Man 693, and again in Scarlet Spider 20 when he tried to acquire Peter's blood samples. All of these questions will be answered in Amazing Spider-Man Issue 22.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what is done with the character - and how his legacy will be viewed once the new saga comes to a close. He very likely won't survive, as it has not-so-subtly been hinted that the Kingpin really wants him dead for cloning his deceased wife.

Also during the conference call it was mentioned that Marvel writers had kept their hands off Ben Reilly for years because of a project that was in the works but never came to fruition. What was that project!?!

Updates to come.