The return of Ben Reilly meant either he or Peter was the spider-clone, and one of them was the original. After tests by Ben's friend, Seward Trainer, it was determined that Peter was the clone, and he chose to hang up his webs and commit to having a family with Mary Jane. Ben is now the man behind the mask, but the discovery in the smokestack where the original clone was dumped of a skeleton wearing a torn costume casts doubt on everything all over again.
To top it off, in part one of this storyline, Ben's new love interest Jessica, who's father was the burglar who killed Uncle Ben, managed to get a photo of Ben in costume with his mask off. What will this mean for the life Ben is trying to start?
Last time, a gang of cybernetic thugs jumped Peter and a pregnant MJ out in the street, beating the recently-depowered Pete to an inch of his life. Ben meanwhile had his apartment ransacked, and his place of work, The Daily Grind coffee shop, burned to the ground.
|Pencils:||John Romita, Jr.|
|Inker:||Al Milgrom, Al Williamson|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Jr.|
Spider-Ben is hanging upside down in the smoldering remains of the Daily Grind. The police are there taking a statement from the owner and Ben's boss Shirley. She says he never acted tempermental toward her and was an exemplary employee. The police say they have records of his history of lashing out at his employers. Ben swings off, vowing to find who set him up.
Pete and MJ are back at their hotel. A bandaged Pete tells MJ to leave him. She says maybe later and sets about changing his bandages. Pete says the beating he suffered at the hands of Cell-12 reminded him of being a helpless target for high school bullying. MJ says they can leave New York tonight if that's what he wants. Peter says there are too many unanswered questions. MJ says whatever he decides to face, he faces it with her.
Ben drops in on Jessica Carradine, who has in her possession a picture of Ben unmasked in the Spidey outfit. He accuses her of causing the recent events in his life, and tells her to back off. She says she doesn't know what he's talking about, but he won't listen to her, saying "no more lies!". He tells her that her father was the burglar who killed his uncle, and screwed up both of their lives. She says he didn't know her father and to not talk about him. Ben says he's through talking, and that she should stay out of his life, swinging away.
Ben goes to Peter and MJ next, thinking there's no one left to turn to. MJ tells him it's not a good time, but Ben explains that he's got a lead on Seward Trainer (after placing a spider-tracer on his packed up equipment in part 2), and that he's going to prove once and for all that Peter is the clone and Ben is the real Peter Parker. Pete comes out and says to look at his bruises-- that's what he got for getting to close to Trainer and the Multivex Corp. Ben says he still thinks of Seward as a friend, regardless, and that he'll still prove Pete wrong.
He follows the crate from Seward's lab to another part of the city. A note is pinned to it that says 'you were warned'. The Cell-12 gang sets upon him, and he takes them all out one by one. The Hobgoblin knocks him off his feet with a concussion grenade. Ben thinks it's the Green Goblin. Hobby says Spidey has stuck his nose where it doesn't belong, and it's job to cut it off. Hobby slices Ben up with his wrist-blades, and is about to cut his throat, even though Hobby says he's been ordered not to kill Spidey. Seward Trainer comes out and stops him. He apologizes to Ben, saying all this wasn't supposed to happen. Trainer and Hobby leave, Trainer telling Ben to forget about him and everything else, and to tell Peter the same. On the last page, Pete and MJ are awakened by a bloodied, sliced up Ben slumping into their hotel room.
I like this story arc okay so far, but it seems like one of those tales that they probably could've told in 3, maybe 4 issues, tops. Ben is convincingly in a freefall, now that he's not sure who to trust. The new cybernetic-enhanced Hobgoblin is somewhat cool, I have to admit. Also, John Romita Jr's art is nice here as always. It's just that these issues have suffered from the same bane of all the mid-90's spider-book's existence: too many crossovers, too many shady characters, and not nearly enough payoff when the dust settles. Then again, maybe this arc will still pick up.
Another positive thing I can say: I really like the new Jurgens-designed Spidey costume that Ben wears (except for the tacky impact web-shooting wristbands, but that's being a tad nitpicky).
Graded down one web because I'm getting impatient with this tale. This issue is a good, competent place-holder for the arc but nothing more.
Peter became depowered during the Spider-man: Final Adventure 4-issue limited series.