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  1. #1
    Amazing Member MJM Mystery Writer's Avatar
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    Default Have writers become lost on what Ben Reilly should be?

    For those of us who remember the clone saga in great detail, it was originally proposed that Ben Reilly would be revealed to be the original Peter Parker -- thus this would give the writers the ability to return him back to his fun, single, care-free days. In retrospect, I think retelling classic stories from the 60's where Peter (Ben) was a nerd who tried to date (and failed), and tried to land a great job (and struggled) would've been the best way to approach the new Ben Reilly series.

    In the words of Weird Al, Ben should've been the "White & Nerdy" Peter Parker. Ben should've been the one who writers could've had fun with -- creating stories of how a clone tries to make a "real" life for himself. Ben should've kept Uncle Ben & Aunt May's wisdom in his thoughts and tried to live responsibly, all the while trying to justify why he should be a hero (since heroism is for people like Peter).

    In order for a Ben Reilly series to work, you have to take the character back to the beginning -- back to his basics. Show the reader WHY Ben is different, and how life's events such as "The Lost Years" have changed him -- made him stronger internally, yet happy to be alive. After being resurrected, Ben should've been more curious how Aunt May was doing, or how his old friends & co-workers have been at the Daily Grind coffee shop. Ben should've 'wanted' to keep dying his hair blonde (or even go back to wearing glasses like in high school) for the simple fact that he didn't want to look like Peter (or have someone else think he looks like Peter).

    Having a Ben Reilly who struggles to buy ingredients for his webbing, while still trying to afford his cell phone bill, would've been more entertaining than reading about a deranged semi-villain who doesn't know if he wants to be good or evil. Another aspect the writers could've explored was having Ben look up his old girlfriend, Janine Godbe. That could've been a great storyline! Remember, even though Baby May was killed off in the comics, Janine had a baby boy of her own (as referenced in the MC-2 comics -- Darkdevil).

    And NO, the current writers do NOT understand Ben. He was a guy who kept his optimism strong, despite life beating him down (just like Spider-man: Ben Reilly of Earth-94). Ben Reilly would never kill, no matter the stakes. Even when he was merged with the Carnage symbiote, he refused to kill. Ben's refusal to kill was even referenced again in the "Who was Ben Reilly?" storyline. Unfortunately, I have no more optimism left for Ben Reilly. And for readers like myself, that is the true tragedy of what has become of such a beloved character.

    Sometimes (regularly) I think that Marvel should just step aside and let a "fan" write Ben's return. We apparently know this character better than the current group of writers on Marvel's staff. That's not a jab at their staff, but I believe you have to be a true fan to understand what makes Ben great (and unique).

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by MJM Mystery Writer View Post
    For those of us who remember the clone saga in great detail, it was originally proposed that Ben Reilly would be revealed to be the original Peter Parker -- thus this would give the writers the ability to return him back to his fun, single, care-free days. In retrospect, I think retelling classic stories from the 60's where Peter (Ben) was a nerd who tried to date (and failed), and tried to land a great job (and struggled) would've been the best way to approach the new Ben Reilly series.

    In the words of Weird Al, Ben should've been the "White & Nerdy" Peter Parker. Ben should've been the one who writers could've had fun with -- creating stories of how a clone tries to make a "real" life for himself. Ben should've kept Uncle Ben & Aunt May's wisdom in his thoughts and tried to live responsibly, all the while trying to justify why he should be a hero (since heroism is for people like Peter).

    In order for a Ben Reilly series to work, you have to take the character back to the beginning -- back to his basics. Show the reader WHY Ben is different, and how life's events such as "The Lost Years" have changed him -- made him stronger internally, yet happy to be alive. After being resurrected, Ben should've been more curious how Aunt May was doing, or how his old friends & co-workers have been at the Daily Grind coffee shop. Ben should've 'wanted' to keep dying his hair blonde (or even go back to wearing glasses like in high school) for the simple fact that he didn't want to look like Peter (or have someone else think he looks like Peter).

    Having a Ben Reilly who struggles to buy ingredients for his webbing, while still trying to afford his cell phone bill, would've been more entertaining than reading about a deranged semi-villain who doesn't know if he wants to be good or evil. Another aspect the writers could've explored was having Ben look up his old girlfriend, Janine Godbe. That could've been a great storyline! Remember, even though Baby May was killed off in the comics, Janine had a baby boy of her own (as referenced in the MC-2 comics -- Darkdevil).

    And NO, the current writers do NOT understand Ben. He was a guy who kept his optimism strong, despite life beating him down (just like Spider-man: Ben Reilly of Earth-94). Ben Reilly would never kill, no matter the stakes. Even when he was merged with the Carnage symbiote, he refused to kill. Ben's refusal to kill was even referenced again in the "Who was Ben Reilly?" storyline. Unfortunately, I have no more optimism left for Ben Reilly. And for readers like myself, that is the true tragedy of what has become of such a beloved character.

    Sometimes (regularly) I think that Marvel should just step aside and let a "fan" write Ben's return. We apparently know this character better than the current group of writers on Marvel's staff. That's not a jab at their staff, but I believe you have to be a true fan to understand what makes Ben great (and unique).

    I already came up with my own retcon story if there's ever another chance at a series:

    basically explain him away as a Clone of the real Reilly (who is still alive) who had clone degenerative disease (explains the facial scars, writes off a lot of the last series as his imagination running wild/madness) have real Ben even say to Kaine "how did you not realise he was a clone? He has the degeneration scars and had clearly lost his mind... if only you had someone with experience with the effects of clone degeneration to notice it..."

  3. #3
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    Really I think it goes beyond the corruption of Ben Reilly. Comic writers have forgotten what a good superhero looks like. They all have to be anti-heroes to some degree or they are kiddie stuff. We've lost a certain amount of optimism in our lives and it comes through in our comic books.
    Every day is a gift, not a given right.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Taylor View Post
    Really I think it goes beyond the corruption of Ben Reilly. Comic writers have forgotten what a good superhero looks like. They all have to be anti-heroes to some degree or they are kiddie stuff. We've lost a certain amount of optimism in our lives and it comes through in our comic books.
    I agree with that, and it's not just comic books, it's all over the culture. People no longer believe in good ultimately triumphing over evil, hope over despair, kindness and compassion over cruelty and meanness . . . because the real world we live in has made those things seem like an impossibility. As a result, our fiction no longer seems interested in giving us heroes we can root for --- as opposed to "relate to," which is not quite the same thing --- because deep down, we don't believe heroes actually exist anymore. It's all just people with agendas, hidden or not, striving against each other to achieve their own ends regardless of right or wrong, and while that might be truer to life as we know it, we shouldn't necessarily resign ourselves to it.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  5. #5
    Loony Scott Taylor's Avatar
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    Yep. Truly good heroes give us an example that seems out of reach. But if you don't have something like that to reach for, then you'll never be inspired to try and go beyond what you are comfortable with doing.
    Every day is a gift, not a given right.

  6. #6
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    No.

    I just think writers and fans (who aren't writers) approach the situation from drastically different perspectives.

    -Pav, who wants to be diplomatic...
    Last edited by Pav; 10-19-2018 at 05:43 PM.
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  7. #7
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    More thread discussion on the Life of Reilly.

    I absolutely loved Ben during the Clone Saga and the "good ol days".

    But quite honestly, I see no place for him now.

    I mean, what would anyone have his purpose be???? He isn't like the other anti-heroes (i.e. Jason Todd, Winter Soldier). Kinda goes for Kaine, too. And since they are both clones of the same guy, pushing the anti-hero envelop, it's even tougher to write.

    But Kaine was always the "bad guy" and if you want to play that lane with him, it can work. It still wouldn't get a lots of fans buying the book, but as a story it works.

    Ben was actually SPIDER-MAN!!! He established himself as a hero and took on a lot of Peters enemies in both the role of Spider-man and Scarlet.

    So lets say a writer keeps him a hero. Who does he fight? Spider-man enemies? What's the point of that, when Peter is around? Create new enemies? Really? How often these days does a great new character get created, hero or villain, that resonates? Sure you could pull old, unused Spider-man villains out the woodwork, but you run the risk of, surprise some of them being eventually wanted someone else (Nick is pulling old baddies like crazy right now).

    I don't know. I don't envy anyone trying to write something new for the Ben character.

  8. #8

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    I don't think Ben Reilly works as a "white & nerdy" Peter Parker since he had the experience of several years as a wanderer, which results in a fundamentally different dynamic. It made sense for him to work as a waiter since he had loose attachments for so long.

  9. #9
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    Honestly I feel that Ben kind of got shafted in a way.

    Clone Conspiracy really did the character no favors but their was potential in that. By sheer virtue of the fact that Dan Slott didn't finish Ben's origin in that (in that what he did write was incomplete), the story could in-turn justify Ben convincing himself to become the Jackal and even take on his work of resurrecting the dead. And what we got was none of that. What we got was Ben meandering for 25 issues whether he was good or evil.

    And that is something some readers are interested in. But that has utterly nothing to do with the setup from Clone Conspiracy. Ben was an antagonist in that, and ultimately became the villain towards the end. But Ben of CC was utterly convinced what he was doing was the right thing. Sure we know it's wrong, but what did Ben see in this that Peter can't? What does Ben see in resurrecting everyone they've lost over the years? Well it doesn't matter because if you die some arbitrary number of times it shifts your morality. Back to Scarlet Spider. Which really takes the agency out of things. If Ben normally is the ultimate good, his current state is ultimate evil, and it's not even Ben's fault. Because if he has no choice to be the villain due to the nature of his resurrections, what are we even waffling on his decisions for? Why are even focusing on the morality dilemma in the first place if their is an untold amount of stories we can get out him between Clone Saga and Clone Conspiracy? It's unnecessary to focus on the good or evil debate if at the end of the day he has to be a bad guy.

    I would say yes, if only that the writers and by extension fans have no idea where to go with him. And frankly where do you go with him? Especially at this point?
    -CC and SS alienated older readers
    -Younger readers have no idea or care why Ben is important or the want for him to be good again.
    -The climate does not support a back to basics book because they're all back to basics now
    -It's another Peter Parker except he's sinister.

    I have no idea what you would do with Ben in the current climate.
    _______________________________________

    Now if I had to give direction in hindsight I would tell Peter David to study Yost's Scarlet Spider.

    The reasoning is that he handled the nature of good and evil better and subtler.
    What Kaine did was heroic, but this is not something Peter would do, it's not something most heroes would do. Kaine is inclined to kill, steal money from criminals, maim opponents, and swear frequently. Kaine is also haunted by his actions in the Clone Saga as in the first couple of issues he's trying to distance himself from his past, and it's still the man in the mirror. Literally as one of the early issues go. And even when he puts on the costume he still doesn't view himself as a hero, and yet he proves he is one time and time again. His reluctance to be one is a driving force behind the story because he doesn't believe he is a good man, and his supporting cast and heroics are slowly convincing himself he is, even if he can't admit it. That's why his battle with Kraven is so important. Kaine thinks he's confronting Ben and has to accept he's not Ben, he can't live up to his example and when it's revealed to be Kraven, it stops mattering. Because Kaine is a hero even if he can't be 100% the good guy.

    What I'm saying is that the book should've fully acknowledged where Ben is now. And from here we work his way back to being a good guy as we examine Ben's frame of mind and his supporting cast's efforts to turn him one way or the other. Now sure one could argue that was what happened. But Ben naturally being evil by nature of resurrection kind of throws that under the bus. Good or Evil it should be Ben's decision disconnected from the supernatural because Good and Evil are constructs, not defining forces of the universe. Objectivity is fine in theory, but there is so much more grey area and framing one needs to account for.
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  10. #10
    Y'know. Pav's Avatar
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    I really appreciate the above post, Superior Ironman.

    I can't help but wonder if the subjective objectivity stuff we get from the supernatural characters is really a red herring -- that the whole point is that Ben's status as a hero depends solely on his actions and the choices he makes.

    The end of his series is so ambiguous, so it's hard to know what's going on in Ben's mind / what PAD meant to imply...

    One possibility, which I mentioned in the #25 review thread, is that Ben now feels free from the guilt that helps to define who Peter Parker is. Perhaps the "destruction of Ben's soul" doesn't turn him into an outright villain; perhaps the next writer will showcase him as a hero who carries none of the hangups that plague Peter (or most other heroes).

    It all depends on execution, obviously. It's potentially just as likely that we get a flat, villainous take on the character that has little nuance. Hopefully not.

    Frankly, I have long thought that one potential key to bringing back Ben Reilly was to give him a more complex ethical code. I mean, I would think that finally acknowledging his status as a clone and potentially embracing it might free Ben from a lot of common concepts of what is natural, what is right or wrong.

    I'd have preferred no soul talk, of course. I think that tends to muck things up a bit, as well.

    -Pav, who holds that most souls in the MU are pieces of the Phoenix Force...
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  11. #11
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    I don't think it is that the current crop of writers have forgotten what Ben was supposed to be, it's that they don't know in the first place and to be fair why should they?

    It's been several decades since the character was present in comics, despite an initial effort to keep his supporting cast and rogues gallery around after the his death that lasted until the Byrne/Mackie reboot. As far as most writers that are around now probably know about Ben Reilly and his world is that he is a divisive character that Marvel tried to replace Peter Parker with during the X-treme period of the 90s. He's probably regarded in much the same was as Azrael or Cyborg-Superman.

    If you were tasked to write a Ben Reilly book think about what you'd have to do as prep. Technically the Clone Saga era is not that long, it lasted about as long as Stacynski's initial Ezekiel/Spider Totem arc but unlike that it encompassed all four monthly Spider-Man books and the one bi-monthly that were all treated as one weekly book as well as several limited series and specials which all have the reputation of being the worst Spidet-Man stories ever. Under those circumstances I can't blame writers for going their own way with the character.

    There's also the issue that what Ben was supposed to be is not really needed right now. Putting aside he was supposed to be the young, single Spider-Man I think what the writers actually did was present him as a traditional Spider character. Trademark wit, won battles just as much with his ingenuity than with his fists and had a sense of responsibility at a time were Peter had been portrayed as a darker, angrier character. Since these days Marvel has portrayed Peter as young, single and more his classic self is it just redundant to have two similar Spider characters swinging around which is another reason I feel writers feel they should take the character in different directions.
    Last edited by Orbus; 10-20-2018 at 11:57 AM.

  12. #12
    Amazing Member MJM Mystery Writer's Avatar
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    Well, if Ben is truly redundant. And if there is no place for his character anymore....then why doesn't Marvel just let him go off and have a happy ending. If they don't plan on using the character as a hero again, then just let him survive the spider-geddon event and take over for the Ben Reilly of Earth-94? That world desperately needs a Spider-man. And our current "Ben" could go fill the boots of that guy and learn how to be a hero again.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orbus View Post
    I don't think it is that the current crop of writers have forgotten what Ben was supposed to be, it's that they don't know in the first place and to be fair why should they?

    It's been several decades since the character was present in comics, despite in an initial effort to keep his supporting cast and rogues gallery around after the characters death lasted until the Byrne/Mackie reboot. As far as most writers that are around now probably know about Ben Reilly and his world is that he is a divisive character that Marvel tried to replace Peter Parker with during the X-treme period of the 90s. He's probably regarded in much the same was as Azrael or Cyborg-Superman.

    If you were tasked to write a Ben Reilly book think about what you'd have to do as prep. technically the Clone Saga era is not that long, it lasted about as long as Stacynski's initial Ezekiel/Spider Totem during his arc but unlike that it encompassed all four monthly Spider-Man books and the one bi-monthly that were all treated as one weekly book that cas well as several limited series and specials which all have the reputation of being the worst Spidet-Man stories ever. Under those circumstances I can't blame writers for going their own way with the character.

    There's also the issue that what Ben was supposed to be is not really needed right now. Putting aside he was supposed to be the young, single Spider-Man I think what the writers actually did was present him as a traditional Spider character. Trademark wit, won battles just as much with his ingenuity than with his fists and had a sense of responsibility at a time were Peter had been portrayed as a darker, angrier character. Since these days Marvel has portrayed Peter as young, single and more his classic self is it just redundant to have two similar Spider characters swinging around which is another reason I feel writers feel they should take the character in different directions.
    I'm going off of memory here regarding Ben's run in the 90's. I haven't taken a look at the current incarnation and I don't like the BND Peter. So....

    I remember Ben in the 90's as being your typical 20 something guy trying to find his footing and create his life. He wasn't like the 90's Peter who was settled had a wife, I think he had finished his graduate degree and was trying to find some financial security. But in all that Peter was pretty comfortable where he was. Ben at the time was written more like the pre married Peter. A decent guy who just wanted to do the right thing, or no harm. But he was far from some pansy

    The thing is that the 90's Ben/Peter does not seem to exist anymore in comics. Too many of the male heroes (and heroines) from that time tried to move forward with their lives and behave like responsible adults, who understood that their super powers were a gift not to use for selfish or to show off means but to help others. Now many of the heroes come across as entitled teenagers, who think they are above the law, selfish and grievance collectors. This of course is not a problem with the characters. But the creative forces behind it, who think mistake anger as power, or strength and have the notion that life or heroism is about self-indulgence and comfort. Not sacrifice and growth.
    • “You need not be large to be great. What you need is to be open to a Power greater than yourself.”- Rabbi Sacks
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MJM Mystery Writer View Post
    Well, if Ben is truly redundant. And if there is no place for his character anymore....then why doesn't Marvel just let him go off and have a happy ending. If they don't plan on using the character as a hero again, then just let him survive the spider-geddon event and take over for the Ben Reilly of Earth-94? That world desperately needs a Spider-man. And our current "Ben" could go fill the boots of that guy and learn how to be a hero again.
    Because eventually every aspect of Marvel's continuity no matter how obscure has to be recycled. It's an industry were decades after Fantastic Four #2 people felt the need to make a series about what happened to those hypnotized Skrulls that thought they were cows. At some point someone was bound to push for Ben's return especially since Marvel has acknowledged that he has a small but dedicated following.

    Slott wanted to bring him back as part of Spider-Island were he would have been spun off into his own heroic Scarlet Spider book but Marvel said no and preferred Kaine come back instead presumably because darker ante-hero Spider-Man is more marketable and different to Peter Parker. You could argue that the way Ben was brought back in the Clone Conspiracy and set up for his own series treads on Kaine's toes but Kaine didn't have a series at the time and Ben's preoccupation with death and doing everything he can to stop it makes him distinct from his clone brother. PAD just took this in a much different than everyone thought he would.

    As something of an aside The Clone Conspiracy tie-in that had Ben relate his traumatic experiences to Peter did have a lot of references to the character's history. Especially in the artwork were Camuncolli not only copied actual visuals but mimicked the art style of the various clone saga stories. So it's not like no one at Marvel is unwilling to go back through Ben's though the characters history but I still submit it's a daunting task that most writers handling the character would prefer to avoid.
    Last edited by Orbus; 10-20-2018 at 03:22 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orbus View Post
    I don't think it is that the current crop of writers have forgotten what Ben was supposed to be, it's that they don't know in the first place and to be fair why should they?

    It's been several decades since the character was present in comics, despite an initial effort to keep his supporting cast and rogues gallery around after the his death that lasted until the Byrne/Mackie reboot. As far as most writers that are around now probably know about Ben Reilly and his world is that he is a divisive character that Marvel tried to replace Peter Parker with during the X-treme period of the 90s. He's probably regarded in much the same was as Azrael or Cyborg-Superman.

    If you were tasked to write a Ben Reilly book think about what you'd have to do as prep. Technically the Clone Saga era is not that long, it lasted about as long as Stacynski's initial Ezekiel/Spider Totem arc but unlike that it encompassed all four monthly Spider-Man books and the one bi-monthly that were all treated as one weekly book as well as several limited series and specials which all have the reputation of being the worst Spidet-Man stories ever. Under those circumstances I can't blame writers for going their own way with the character.

    There's also the issue that what Ben was supposed to be is not really needed right now. Putting aside he was supposed to be the young, single Spider-Man I think what the writers actually did was present him as a traditional Spider character. Trademark wit, won battles just as much with his ingenuity than with his fists and had a sense of responsibility at a time were Peter had been portrayed as a darker, angrier character. Since these days Marvel has portrayed Peter as young, single and more his classic self is it just redundant to have two similar Spider characters swinging around which is another reason I feel writers feel they should take the character in different directions.
    Azrael and Cyborg-Superman both came back in DC Rebirth (though Azrael was reintroduced in Batman & Robin Eternal, before DC Rebirth) and were written fairly well, though, at least in my opinion, so it is possible for elements and characters from the "X-Treme 90s!" to be redone well, or at least better than they were presented originally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mia View Post
    I'm going off of memory here regarding Ben's run in the 90's. I haven't taken a look at the current incarnation and I don't like the BND Peter. So....

    I remember Ben in the 90's as being your typical 20 something guy trying to find his footing and create his life. He wasn't like the 90's Peter who was settled had a wife, I think he had finished his graduate degree and was trying to find some financial security. But in all that Peter was pretty comfortable where he was. Ben at the time was written more like the pre married Peter. A decent guy who just wanted to do the right thing, or no harm. But he was far from some pansy

    The thing is that the 90's Ben/Peter does not seem to exist anymore in comics. Too many of the male heroes (and heroines) from that time tried to move forward with their lives and behave like responsible adults, who understood that their super powers were a gift not to use for selfish or to show off means but to help others. Now many of the heroes come across as entitled teenagers, who think they are above the law, selfish and grievance collectors. This of course is not a problem with the characters. But the creative forces behind it, who think mistake anger as power, or strength and have the notion that life or heroism is about self-indulgence and comfort. Not sacrifice and growth.
    I would definitely agree with you there, and as I said earlier, the problem is more with the culture we're all steeped in now, one of reckless self-indulgence, freely giving vent to our worst desires and instincts, and hollow justifications and excuses that only serve to cover the base egocentricity and selfishness at the root of it all.
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