From the House of Ideas: “Amazing Spider-Man: Beyond Volume 1” Spins a Winning Web

For a certain type of fan from a certain era, the word “clone” and the name “Ben Reilly” will likely turn them green. The Clone Saga of the 1990s is one of those bits of comic lore that people either really liked or really despised; I’m neither, though, because I wasn’t reading Amazing Spider-Man much at that time; instead I was spending my time with the X-Men. I have gone back and explored bits of The Clone Saga, and while it hasn’t engaged me, I also haven’t hated what I’ve read.

This means I have no vested interest or hatred in Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker who at one point thought he was the real Peter (that’s all I’m going to explain, I just don’t have the energy). However, when I read that Ben would be taking on the mantle of Spider-Man once again, leaving Peter on the sidelines, I couldn’t help but think, not again.

That is, until I read Amazing Spider-Man: Beyond Volume 1. In the hands of a long list of excellent creators, this book delivered a fantastic story that, even with Peter Parker out of action in a coma, feels like a real Spider-Man adventure.

The short form is that the Beyond Corporation have attained the rights to the Spider-Man name, and have put Ben Reilly in the suit. He’s got a team behind him, including Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, a souped up suit, and is striving to be the best Spider-Man he can be. In this first volume, Ben takes on Morbius and Kraven the Hunter, deals with the suspect machinations of Beyond, and tries to keep a date with his girlfriend, Janine. It’s all fun and entertaining, and while Ben Reilly is front and centre to the action, we also watch as Mary-Jane and Aunt May cope with Peter in a coma. The book ends off with a great cliffhanger that harkens back to a classic Spidey romance.

As someone who has always loved Peter Parker, I do enjoy watching creators take risks with Spider-Man, even if the idea doesn’t instantly grab me. Such was the case with Amazing Spider-Man: Beyond Volume 1, but writers Zeb Wells, Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar and Jed MacKay and artists Eleonora Carlini, Mike Dowling, Patrick Gleason, and Sara Pichelli have created a great book that has sold me on the idea of Ben Reilly as our friedly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

At least until Peter wakes up.

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