Ben Reilly - Peter Parker's clone originally thought dead way back in ASM #150 - has just returned. He was seemingly blown up in the previous issue but instead has gone off wandering on his own.
The fight continues between Scarlet and Venom, with Scarlet's impact webbing quite effective. Elsewhere, Ellis is slaving over his story and Alyosha Kravinoff is at his fathers grave, saying he will avenge him. Venom is encased in a cocoon of webbing, while in Salt Lake City, Utah a police officer - Jacob Raven - sees a newspaper from New York and thinks he has his man in a murder case.
Venom escapes the cocoon and the fighting goes on. Scarlet manages to get some impact webbing into Venom's mouth, though, and Venom is defeated. The symbiote begins to separate from Brock while Scarlet stands over them. Meanwhile, Kaine watches on saying Ben will soon get the Mark of Kaine.
'The Guardsmen' show up and encase the symbiote in one case and Brock in another vowing to keep them apart (maybe they'll get it right this 100th time). Ben is ecstatic and says maybe it's now time to claim some sort of life for himself.
For a story jointly written by the 'talents' of Terry Kavanagh (Web) and Howard Mackie (Spider-Man), things really aren't that bad. Things still aren't great and the dialogue is still terrible in parts but the overall plot isn't as bad as it could have been. Those two names just bring up memories of crapfests such as Maximum Carnage and Spirits of Venom ... not to mention Nightwatch (shudder). Somehow, though, this sort of works.
It's a nice introduction to the character of Ben, although the inner-trauma stuff does go a bit too far at times. What is also very out-of-place is the second symbiote/spawn thing and the whole Venom story. This gives a big clash because the core of it (Venom) is just simply not very good but the Ben parts of it are.
Ben is brought into the story in a good way. I like the impact webbing - showing that Ben not only has Pete's scientific skills but he also has some new ideas too. It also distinguishes Ben as being different from Pete. He genuinely beat Venom on his own, something Pete has struggled to do in the past.
My biggest concern is - where the hell is Peter? Scarlet was splashed over the FRONT PAGE of the Bugle but apparently Peter didn't even notice someone with his powers was running around the city. I don't mind the separation of the books - Spider-Man/Web for Ben, Amazing/Spectacular for Pete - but there should at least be some consistency to things.
The Ben parts are pretty decent but the fact that Pete doesn't notice his clone on the front page of the Bugle is stupid - as is the Venom / the symbiote story.