Recently, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36, Peter Parker was targeted by a villain known as Raptor. However, although it was Peter Parker who he attacked, Raptor instead believed that he was targeting Ben Reilly, who he blames for the deaths of his family. The attack took place prior to the marriage of Jay Jameson and May Parker, who have since gotten married.
Years ago, Ben Reilly has an interview with Dr. Ryder for a lab assistant position.
In the present day, Spider-Man tangles once again with Screwball, as she streams online her altercation with Spider-Man. Screwball escapes by throwing the stolen property in the air and letting it fall, forcing Spider-Man to go after the property instead of the perp.
At the offices of Front Line, Peter brings pictures of the fight to Ben Urich, but because the fight was viral, Ben isn't really able to help out Peter since the pictures are already old news. As Peter finishes talking with Urich, Damon Ryder, the same Ryder that years ago Ben had been interviewing iwth, shows up in the office looking for Peter, or as he believes him to be, Ben Reilly.
Damon accosts Peter, almost showing everyone in the office the costume below, as he tells Peter that he's there to exact revenge, and that he shouldn't have been so sloppy when attacking Peter earlier in Amazing Spider-Man Annuial #36. Norah comes by and asks what's going on, and Peter thinks about telling the truth, but upon reflecting how crazy it sounds, about Ben being a clone, he just goes with telling Damon that he doesn't know who Ben Reilly is, and that he's got the wrong guy. The two men get into a fight in the offices of Front Line, trading numerous blows back and forth before it's finally broken up.
Ben Urich calls the cops, so Dr. Ryder prepares to take off, but before he does, gives Urich a newspaper clipping from Portland, which shows a police sketch that looks like Peter that's connected to the deaths of Dr. Ryder's family. Ben wants to know what the heck is going on, and what the story is with the clipping.
Back in Portland, years ago, Ben and Dr. Ryder work on their project, and Ben is invited to dinner at Dr. Ryder's home. They discuss the project, of trying to develop a dinosaur/human hybrid, as their funding starts to dry up. Damon tells Ben that he's done it, he's successfully completed a test sample.
In the present, May and Jay enjoy their honeymoon, although May misses Peter and misses Queens. The two decide to spend a layover in New York, during their honeymoon.
Back in New York, Spider-Man tries to follow a tracer he put on Dr. Ryder, but ends up finding the coat abandoned in a hideout, with the tracer on it.
Meanwhile, back at Peter's apartment, Dr. Ryder shows up and asks Michele where Peter is, and is invited on in.
Back in the past in Portland, Ben confronts Dr. Ryder about the truth of his experiments... he's been experimenting on himself!
In the present, Spider-Man senses something and turns around just to be picked up in the air by none other than the failed first Spider-Man clone, KAINE!
The fact that we're actually seeing a storyline that isn't afraid to say the name Ben Reilly, let alone have some of the focus on a lost story from his past, is a pretty big deal for Marvel to do, considering how long they pretended that the infamous Clone Saga never happened. This storyline continues on from the recent Annual, where Peter Parker was attacked by someone who was convinced he was really Ben Reilly, who was involved somehow in the deaths of his family.
There's some other stuff going on in this issue, with a nice appearance by Screwball, but really, it's all about the villain known as Raptor coming back, in his civilian garb, and trying to embarass Peter, and ruin his life like he believes Peter ruined his. There's both good and bad to this concept and this storyline.
The good part is that we get to see some more of Ben Reilly, although it's an "untold tale" and not him being alive back in the present, sadly. The concept, of Peter Parker being the one targeted and not Spider-Man, is an intriguing one, and the heart of the reason this storyline has come about in the first place, as it's all descendant from the prime idea of what if it wasn't Spider-Man the villain wanted, but Peter.
But the actual scripting of the issue is where I start to have a great deal of problems with the way the storyline is unfolding. If you're going to dare to dip your toe into infamously cloudy waters, continuity speaking, as well as pretty much everything else, you better make sure that the storyline fits nicely into said mess of a continuity. It really doesn't manage to do so though, and there were various points where I felt certain scenes were overextended and went on too long when if continuity had been acknowledged, the scenes would have been much much shorter. The concept of someone coming into the Frontline Offices and accusing Peter of being Ben Reilly should illicit SOME reaction from Ben Urich, as he met Ben Reilly, and knew of him. The entire sequence in the Frontline offices just felt out of place, as Ben Urich knows Peter very well, and knew who Reilly was, so his not being at Peter's side with support was just out of character. Plus, as the new story of Ben Reilly's past is explored, it just doesn't really go in that well with established history for the character. Ben Reilly was on the road, and there were only a few times he stayed still, and definitely not enough to do the work described here. It just kind of runs counter to who Ben Reilly was during most of his on-the-road depictions, and felt awkwardly used.
I'm glad that they're no longer afraid to use Ben Reilly and acknowledge his existence in regular continuity, but at the end of the day, there's not much real meat here, and I'm not sure that using Ben Reilly in this fashion was really worth doing. The concept is interesting, but thus far I'm not really all that moved by the work being done here.
The artwork, for the most part, is quite clean and nicely put together, with some really nice shots of the titular character. It can be hard at times to really nail Peter Parker's look in his civilian identity, but I liked how he was portrayed here, with clean lines, which kept things very simple and minimalist. I do think that the villain, Raptor, could be better portrayed visually, with more distinct of a look, but it works enough here. The character at the end I really didn't care for the illustration, but I'll go into that more in my review of the next issue when I'm sure I'll have more to say.
Overall, there's definitely good and bad in here, but right now, this issue is merely average. There's some potential for a great story in here, with some interesting ideas, but the actual scripting and the writing for Ben Urich and Ben Reilly falls a tad short for me. In the end, this is an average issue, which hopefully will lead into better issues in the storyline.