Rave : 2002 : Bring Back Ben Continued...

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Date: Jan 4, 2002
Next: Spider-Man 2099 Figurines
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Below is some propaganda sent to us from the guys at GrayHaven Magazine, so read on...

Hi Gang. Andrew from GrayHaven here. We have a special interview with two of the men responsible for the big 'Return of Ben Reilly' issue in Spider-Girl, Tom DeFalco and Tom Breevort. But first, a pitch.

As you all know by now, Ben Reilly will have an appearance in the February issue of Spider-Girl (issue #44). It's the first time that the character will have appeared in a Marvel story since his apparent death in Peter Parker #75 five years ago. The character was re-introduced during the infamous 'Clone Saga' storyline. While Ben Reilly quickly gained a fan following to rival that of other Marvel heroes, multiple red herrings, over extended storylines and an endless no win debate over who was the one true Peter Parker, caused the powers that be to pull the plug on the character. If you want a little more history on the Clone Saga, please check out the 'Life of Reilly' feature in the Columns section of GrayHaven Magazine.

With a changing of the guard in Editorial and a new spirit of open mindedness, Marvel appears ready to give the character another chance. At the very least, Ben Reilly is no longer seen as the scourge he once was. The numerous fansites, popularity of the LoR feature and positive reaction to any mention of the character shows that there is still an interest in him. After all, how many long 'dead' characters still provoke this sort of reaction in fans?

Spider-Man fans were mixed from the very beginning over the Clone Saga. Some hated it and grew to love it. Others loved it and (by the time the end came 3 years later) grew to hate it. Some people wanted Ben to stay as the real Peter Parker. Others wanted him to adopt the Scarlet Spider identity and move to California or take to the road again. What most people do agree on, is that any continuation of the Ben Reilly story should be told with little or no ties to the Clone Saga, as you'll soon see in Spider-Girl. Ben Reilly is a clone. There is no debate and no need to revisit the issue that tore apart Spider-Man fans. Whether he exists in an alternate universe or regular Marvel continuity...whether he goes off to the West Coast as the Scarlet Spider or takes to the road again, righting wrongs...most people believe that the popularity of the character lies in the possibilities of his stories. He is a man who could have been Peter Parker, but his life took a very different turn. He experienced different events and life changing moments than the one that shaped Peter Parker. How would that affect his personality, his motivations or his attitude?

Of course, all this is wasting space if no one pre-orders Spider-Girl #44. Petitions, message posts and emails may look good on paper, but does nothing to prove to publishers what you, the reader want to see. Consider Spider-Girl #44 a test. First off, it's a great jumping on point for new readers, so if you don't normally read the book, this is an excellent chance to start. The creative team has done an incredible job in capturing the feel of the original Spider-Man stories, though this time the focus is on his daughter's career. And you're getting the first Ben Reilly story in years. If the book sells well enough, it could be the beginning of a second life for the character. If it doesn't sell well, then perhaps you may have seen the last of the character. Either way, the choice is yours. You know what side of the debate I'm on. Spider-Girl #44 is solicited in the latest issue of Previews (December edition, on page 168). The ordering deadline is fast approaching, so be sure to Pre-Order the book ASAP. And now, an interview with Tom DeFalco (writer of Spider-Girl and Randy O'Donnell is the M@N) and Tom Breevort (editor of Spider-Girl and just about every other Marvel title.)

GHM: After all these years, what prompted you want to tell another Ben Reilly story?

Tom D: Due to the events in Spider-Girl #40-42 and Mayday's current mental state, it seem like a real good idea for Spider-Girl to get in touch with her roots.

Tom B: It's less a Ben Reilly issue than it is a May Parker issue. We know that, years ago, somebody had made off with the infant May. We also know that she was recovered and reunited with her parents at some point--by virtue of the fact that she stars in the book. But the hows and whys of that period have never been filled in until now. And it all starts with (and stems from) the events of the Clone era, and May's own Uncle Ben--Ben Reilly.

GHM: You were in the thick of things years ago with the whole Clone Saga. Was there dissention in bringing back a character that had a controversial existence from the very beginning?

Tom B: Not really, in that it's all part of the established history that forms the foundation of the SPIDER-GIRL series. And certainly there's still a strong, vocal segment of fandom that's very interested in the character--so why not give them what they want?

GHM: Was the fact that this was an MC2 title have any bearing on the decision to tell the story? Would it have been more difficult to tell a BR story (flashback, dream or otherwise) if it was in the 'regular' Marvel Universe?

Tom D: Since I only write Spider-Girl for Marvel, I have no way of knowing if it would be difficult to tell a BR story in the regular Marvel Universe. (Although, it's my opinion that Paul Jenkins and JSM are doing fine, telling their own kind of stories, and I can't really see out Ben would fit into their current storylines.)

Tom B: It would have been impossible to tell this particular story in the standard Marvel U, because events transpired differently there. It's a SPIDER-GIRL-specific story. Which isn't to say that you couldn't do a Ben Reilly story in the regular books. Maybe this is something that people should bug Axel Alonso about--I could see such a story appearing in TANGLED WEB, if nothing else.

GHM: What about the character appeals to you?

Tom D: He's a character a lot like Pete Parker, but he wore his sense of responsibility like an award instead of a shroud.

Tom B: The stuff I liked best about Ben Reilly was his relationship with Peter, as developed mainly by Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo.

GHM: If reaction to this issue is strong, could fans anticipate more Ben Reilly stories in the future?

Tom D: Anything's possible...but don't please don't expect the expected in Spider-Girl. And that reminds me...did I mention that a Scarlet Spider is slated to appear in Issue #46? I can tell you that Tom D. has some interesting Scarlet Spider stuff coming up in future issues (though we won't tell you what shape it takes just yet...)

GHM: How about in regular continuity?

Tom D: That's up to other people.

Tom B: That would be entirely up to the current SPIDEY creative and editorial teams. But a huge outpouring of support for the character would certainly help the case.

GHM: Spider-Girl was saved from cancellation a year ago with a strong fan backlash and now readers seem poised to rally around the title yet again because of the Reilly story. What is it about Spider-Girl that appeals to so many people?

Tom D: She's a fun-loving, friendly neighborhood character who appears in a non-gritty, kind and gentle comic book that is easily accessible to readers of all ages...and she's got great artwork.

Tom B: SPIDER-GIRL is very much in the spirit of the Stan Lee/John Romita SPIDER-MAN--a seamless marriage of high adventure, interpersonal angst, and hoo-ha fun. Tom and Pat work very hard to give readers a complete story in every single issue, while building longer character arcs that propel the series forward and give it direction.

GHM: This issue is supposed to be a great jumping on point for new readers. Aside from the Ben Reilly connection, why should people give Spider-Girl a chance?

Tom D: People should try Spider-Girl because we've obviously been doing something right, and they may discover that they really like it. It's also a "one book/one universe" situation, which guarantees that readers aren't going to be dragged into epic crossovers, or forced to follow other titles they don't like. Mayday's life unfolds in a single title ever month--straightforward and simple. Plus, she's a fun, identifiable character, and one of Marvel's few female leads.

Tom B: I think SPIDER-GIRL often gets tarred with a broad brush--it's an alternate universe book, or it's old-fashioned, or it's irrelevant. But I think if people take a closer look, they'll find that there's more going on than meets the casual eye. It's consistently an entertaining read, with an engaging central character, with a traditional approach, but not one that's mired in either a convoluted history of a feeling of "been there, done that." Mayday is a character with whom today's younger readers can easily identify. She speaks and acts like a typical teenage girl -- ever-hopeful about the future, always striving through direct action to improve the lives of her friends and loved ones ... and society, in general. She hasn't been beaten down by the evil around her -- yet. As we'll see in upcoming issues, some of her recent actions may have lasting repercussions for the neophyte web-stunner.