Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #22 (Marvel Comics)
I'll be completely honest, I haven't been keeping up with the adventures of Ben Reilly. In fact, I kind of forgot that his comic was still being published. Maybe it's because I have bad memories associated with the character (I was both the right and the wrong age when “Maximum Clonage” hit and tried to tell me that Peter Parker was the “fake Spider-Man”), but I've never been able to give the character the shot he deserves. But every once in a while I feel the need to check in with him, and Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #22, from Peter David and Will Sliney, was the issue I went with.
Peter David is a legend in the comics world, and deservedly so. With a pedigree that includes lengthy runs on Incredible Hulk and X-Factor, it comes as no surprise that his script is perfectly capable here. But aside from the recap page at the beginning, there wasn't a whole lot for me to latch onto with this issue. Yeah, jumping in on the twenty-second issue of an ongoing series will do that, so I'm partly to blame, but at the same time, a little extra background knowledge wouldn't have hurt. That being said, I like David's characterizations of both Ben Reilly and Kaine Parker, two characters that have a come a very long way from their 90's beginnings. They're both great examples of the old “any character can be compelling with the right writer” adage, and David's voice is perfectly suited for the two of them.
Will Sliney has been on this series (and a collaborator of David) for quite some time now, and his art, like David's writing style, is pretty much perfect for this book. Sliney has an interesting style that's a little bit Mark Bagley, a little bit Chris Bachalo, and that odd combination makes for artwork that's very visually striking and pleasing. Sliney has a gift for layouts and compositions, making every page a new surprise.
While this issue of Ben Reilly didn't exactly set my world on fire, it did get me intrigued in what Ben's been up to lately. Next time I've got some extra room in the comic budget, I'll probably snag some back issues, which is something I definitely wasn't expecting when I read this comic.