Sensational Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #4

Background

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. Peter and Ben took the skeleton to Avenger's mansion last issue to have it tested by Hank Pym. It's another clone of the original. Ben has also learned that the woman he was getting interested in, Jessica Carradine, is the daughter of the burglar who shot Uncle Ben.

Story 'Shooting Spider-Man'

Jonah had Peter Parker return from Portland to get photos of Spider-man with the stolen skeleton. He cuts Peter a check, minus the expenses for putting Peter and MJ up in a swanky NY hotel. Peter says Jonah promised three times that amount, and demands Jonah pay up, that he'll take the photo to the Daily Globe instead. He also demands another 4 days at the Ritz Hotel too. Jonah caves, saying he's hired a forensic specialist to examine the skeleton when he gets his hands on it. Peter realizes that he and Ben's scheme of photographing Spidey with the skeleton to get Jonah off they're backs isn't going to work, and they have to do something.

Meanwhile, at Ben's Daily Grind coffee shop job, his boss Shirley tells Ben that she got a letter from the Social Security office that his number was incorrect. Ben says he must've filled the forms out wrong, but thinks to himself that Seward Trainer assured him that he set up the fake account within the government computers. Jessica enters, complaining that Ben's been dodging her. They take a stroll together, Ben thinking how he found out last issue that Jessica's father was the man who shot Uncle Ben all those years ago. They discuss her father for a few pages, then see police vehicles rushing to the scene of a crime. Ben makes a lame excuse and leaves to change into costume. Jessica, a wannabe photographer, resolves to get close to the action with her camera herself.

Ben breaks up an armed gang robbing a jewelery store, and manages to diffuse a hostage situation. He rushes to change back into his civilian duds, and goes to a nearby rooftop to change. Jessica is watching with her telephoto lens, and is shocked when she gets a picture of Ben with his mask off. His spider-sense catches her, and he zips over to confront her, saying they have to talk. She says she hates Spider-man, and never wants to see or talk to Ben again. Ben then meets up with Peter--they decide to bury the skeleton in the corner of a graveyard. Ben explains the situation with Jessica and says maybe Peter can talk to her. Pete says he doubts it'll help. Pete then points out that after getting the skeleton tested at Avengers Mansion last issue, they don't know who the real deal is anymore. Ben says Seward's test proved Peter was the clone. Pete says Seward's test proved nothing, that he never trusted Seward who probably had Ben's interests in mind over Pete's. Ben doesn't like what Peter's insinuating. Pete says he'll get to the bottom of this without Ben. Finally, Jessica is at home looking at the exposure of Ben in costume. She says it's an opportunity for revenge.

General Comments

The tension between Ben and Peter has been slowly building, and continues to boil over in this issue. They haven't exactly severed ties between each other yet, but the skeleton casts doubt on exactly who is the clone and who is the original. The development between Ben and Jessica, and how her father was the burglar who shot Uncle Ben, is also interesting, and is sure to blow up in Ben's face down the line. They've set up some nice plotlines, so much so that the jewlery store heist broken up by Ben seems rote and perfuctory. We've seen action scenes like this countless times before, and it only serves to give this otherwise talky issue some action. If that's the case, then mission accomplished.

Overall Rating

Good set up, combined with the usual top-notch scripting and artwork by Jurgens and Janson. I'm interested to see where they take this story.