The Clone Conspiracy ended with a few dangling plotlines left to be seen play out. One of those is setting up Ben Reilly for his upcoming Scarlet Spider comic book. The last time we saw Ben was when he was in the middle of fighting Doctor Octopus. After that Spider-Man came back to the scene of the fight only to find what looked to be Ben and Doctor Octopus ashes. But as the rule goes, no body means a character is most likely still alive. That rule may be a little different for clones but given that Ben is about to star in his own solo series the rule still applies. Now will the Ben we saw in The Clone Conspiracy be the one to star in the upcoming Scarlet Spider ongoing comic book. Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #24.
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Jason Keith
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Ben Reilly does his best to get through Doctor Octopus to continue his work. Jackal tries to get a Miles Warren clone to help him but it just turns into dust.
At that same moment all of the Miles Warren clones in the New U building are also turning into dust. The only one that survives is the real Miles Warren, who realizes he is not a clone and grabs the original Jackal costume to prepare to take his revenge on Ben.
Spider-Man, with Anna’s help, is able to get out the signal that cures the Carrion virus for people affected by it around the world.
In Jackal’s Lab, Doctor Octopus smashes Ben’s Webware so that Ben can’t be cured by the signal Spider-Man sent out. Ben knocks out Doctor Octopus and decides to use the proto-clone that they were creating to transfer his mind to it.
As Ben prepares to transfer his mind he gloats how he has beaten the infamous “Parker Luck.” As he turns on the helmet he puts on for the transfer it immediately uses his Spider-Sense to shock him.
Doctor Octopus gets back up and tells an unconscious Ben that he knew Ben would betray him. Doctor Octopus laughs at Ben saying that is why he made preparations to show he is superior.
A few moments later Ben wakes back up and curses Doctor Octopus for what he has done. Ben is able to take some of his stabilizing pills so that he does not turn into dust like all of the clones.
He then spots Doctor Octopus’ equipment on the ground and realizes that Doctor Octopus left them behind to make it look like he died along with the other clones. Ben decides to do the same thing and puts on the clothes of one of the clones that turned to dust. He then leaves behind his Jackal helmet to make it look like he turned into dust as well.
Ben jumps out the window of the New U building. As soon as he lands on the ground Ben steals a guy’s Webware and is able to stabilize his body with the signal that is still going out.
Ben travels to his secret home where he plans to stock up on everything he needs to come up with a plan to get revenge on Peter Parker. As he heads inside his secret house he finds Miles Warren in the original Jackal costume waiting for him.
Miles laughs at Ben for not being able to detect the benzene as he lights the house on fire.
Ben and Miles begin to fight in the living room of the burning house, blaming one another for what all the bad things that happened to them. Ben is able to overpower Miles. As Ben chokes Miles out, Ben says he was trying to save the world from death while Miles just fed his obsessive crush by cloning Gwen.
Miles headbutts Ben to try and tells him to shut up. As they continue fighting Ben starts laughing over how he has broken Miles. Ben throws Miles through a wall stating he has won and learned everything Miles could possibly teach him. Ben then takes out one of the pillars holding up the house and leaves Miles to die inside the fire.
As Ben decides to make life his own firefighters arrive to respond to the house fire. They check on Ben and notice how burnt his body looks. Ben punches the firefighters away from him and tells them to stay away from him.
Ben leaps away from the scene. As he is leaving the area Ben thinks that everything he was before doesn’t matter and it is now about what he does moving forward. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #24 is an odd issue to read. On one hand it does accomplish the set-up for creating interest around future stories involving Ben Reilly and Doctor Octopus. On the other, this issue did not sell me on wanting to read an ongoing comic book with Ben Reilly. That lack of interest in the latter make Amazing Spider-Man #24 fail in one of the more important things it needed to accomplish.
Given that Slott and Gage have done a lot of character work with Doctor Octopus over the years it is not surprising that they kept him alive. Given that now the character just returned to his iconic form it would’ve been a shame if Doctor Octopus did indeed die during The Clone Conspiracy. Going with the angle of Doctor Octopus actually using the proto-clone body to make his escape does work as a payoff as what Ben brought him on to do. The fact that Doctor Octopus used this experiment only really known to himself and Ben as a way to escape allows him to work in the shadows for a while as Spider-Man deals with the Clone Conspiracy fallout and other stories in-development.
Amazing Spider-Man #24 also does payoff the Miles Warren sub-plot with Ben, as the two finally clash with one another without any surprises. This is something that felt appropriate to be wrapped up in the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in issues since it wasn’t ever brought up in The Clone Conspiracy mini-series. The way Slott and Gage wrap up this sub-plot allowed both Ben and Miles to establish what their relationship is and leaves things open for future interactions in a way that makes sense.
This issue also does establish the desire to see a real fight between Peter and Ben, with how the latter does not have a heroic shift in his personality. Not putting Ben in a light to be redeemed continued his development as a person that is not looking for that type of story for himself. Keeping up his attitude of doing things his currently corrupted way stays in line with everything we saw Ben do leading up to and in The Clone Conspiracy. And with his current status quo Slott and Gage create further interesting in an actual fight between Peter and Ben, something we only briefly saw before they were interrupted during The Clone Conspiracy mini-series.
Giuseppe Camuncoli continues to be a consistent force for Amazing Spider-Man. Camuncoli got across all the aggression that Ben Reilly, Doctor Octopus and Miles Warren showed to one another throughout this issue. The facial reactions really got over the story that Slott and Gage were telling. It was especially effective in setting up what Ben’s state of mind is now that he lost the battle with Spider-Man during The Clone Conspiracy.
The Bad: The thing that Amazing Spider-Man #24 fails to do is actually build interest around seeing ongoing adventures of Ben Reilly. Though Ben has been given an interesting story to tell in the future, that story is not one of redemption or something that can be sustained by an actual ongoing series. As it stands now Ben is set-up to be more of a villain for Spider-Man’s Family to fight that should not pop back up until much later on. But since he is becoming Scarlet Spider, he is just joining the ranks of about six other Spider-Man related titles. In joining such a crowded field Ben can now easily be lost in the shuffle and the Scarlet Spider ongoing could actually take away the new traits that made him an interesting character during the course of The Clone Conspiracy.
The upcoming Scarlet Spider ongoing is also not helped by the fact that Slott and Gage never give us a reason to believe Ben will change. Instead he just seemed to double down on everything he has been doing. This does not make him a compelling character to follow since there isn’t ever a point where as a reader I felt he could be redeemed. A redemption story can be very powerful if appropriately executed. That is something never hinted at during Amazing Spider-Man #24 and given that we already have many titles following current or former villains in Marvel this does not help make Scarlet Spider standout as something that is a must buy.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #24 answers some questions left open from The Clone Conspiracy #5’s ending. In doing so Dan Slott and Christos Gage create interest for future stories involving the likes of Doctor Octopus, whenever he reappears in Amazing Spider-Man. At the same time, this issue failed to create a compelling reason to want to read an ongoing Scarlet Spider comic book featuring the current version of Ben Reilly. That failure makes Amazing Spider-Man #24 only a comic book for the most diehard Spider-Man fans to buy.