Amazing Spider-Man #86 Review

Amazing Spider-Man #86 Review – Clone Conspiracy Returns!

Amazing Spider-Man #86 Review

Doctor Otto Octavius opened pandora’s box when it comes to the truth behind Ben Reilly leading the current Beyond era for Spider-Man. Part of that is the manipulation of Ben Reilly by the Beyond Corporation that they have kept secret. Now that Ben knows part of what Maxine Danger and the Beyond Corporation have done to him what is going to be his next move? And will it threaten what he has tried to do as he tries to make the Spider-Man identity his? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #86.

Beyond Board: Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saldin Ahmed, Patrick Gleason, Zeb Wells

Writer: Zeb Wells

Artist: Michael Dowling

Colorist: Bryan Valenza

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: After Ben Reilly as Spider-Man goes too far when taking down a villain named Hellbomb he is assigned new therapy sessions with Dr. Ashley Kafka by the Beyond Corporation. While Dr. Kafka tells Ben Reilly that she got the Beyond Corporation to promise not to spy on their sessions Maxine Danger secretly watches them from a secure room.

During the therapy session Dr. Kafka surprises Ben with the fact he is a clone and not too long ago took the identity of Jackal to bring others back as clones, including herself (which you can check out our reviews for Clone Conspiracy for all the details of this). Given his shock both Ben and Dr. Kafka realize that the Beyond Corporation erased some of his memories, including his time as Jackal. As Dr. Kafka prepares to help Ben regain his lost memories Maxine Danger tranquilizes Ben. Maxine has her team take him to get more memories wiped, much to Dr. Kafka’s displeasure.

Amazing Spider-Man #86 Review
Dr. Ashley Kafka reveals to Ben Reilly that he was the Jackal and cause of the Clone Conspiracy not to long ago in Amazing Spider-Man #86.

Elsewhere, Janine Godbe learns the truth of her past that Beyond Corporation also erased from her mind. When Marcus Momplaisir comes to tell her she should stay in her room as Ben needs to be alone. Janine suddenly grabs Marcus and threaten him with a knife to help her remember what she lost.

In a Beyond Corporation lab Maxine orders her team to erase Ben’s memories of what Doctor Otto Octavius revealed to him and other recent events. When the process goes on Ben’s memories starts to become unstable to the point that his mind is breaking. End of issue.

The Good: One of the biggest questions about the Beyond direction that Amazing Spider-Man has been in that I’ve had since the beginning is the reason Ben Reilly has acted the way he has. There’s been a lot of with his portrayal given the fact that the last time we saw him before the Beyond direction was that he wasn’t the best person. Now with Amazing Spider-Man #88 we finally get the big answer to this question.

Going with the obvious route that the Beyond Corporation tampered with Ben Reilly’s memory is not a bad thing. This is something that the entire Beyond Board creative staff has been building towards so there was no need to have a chance just to throw a twist at the reader. Sticking with this path made the reveal place a greater focus on what the goals are for the Beyond Corporation to own and control Spider-Man. While we don’t get an answer to that question at least we get the clear answer that there is nothing benevolent about how they’ve been helping Ben.

More importantly, this helps in putting Ben’s character down the path of recovery. Because for all the good intentions he has for being Spider-Man he has yet to deal with the ramifications of his choices from Clone Conspiracy. Given that those events he caused during his time as Jackal could be classified as unforgivable there needed to be answers given to how he would redeem himself. Now that Wells and the Beyond Board are having Ben start to face that we can really get into developing Ben’s character moving forward.

The breaking of Ben’s mind in the latest instance of the Beyond Corporation tampering with his memories also further raises the question of where he will stand. He learned a lot that would understandably overload anyone’s mind. Add in the mind erasing process the Beyond Corporation have been doing it’s clear that the Ben that comes out of this latest mind wipe won’t be the same we’ve seen thus far. How much he is changed through this experience will be very interesting to see.

Amazing Spider-Man #88 is also the first time in this Beyond direction that Janine Godbe is actually given something to do in the story. Like with Ben, learning that the Beyond Corporation also tampered with Janine’s mind actually took her from simply beyond the woman Ben kisses once in a while to a character that at least seems to have some agency. Now it will be important for Wells and the Beyond Board to continue this by giving Janine her own arc that can compliment what Ben’s own journey is so they can both be fully realized characters.

All of this development also works to further make Maxine Danger the antagonist you love to hate. She absolutely does not care about how others see her. The only thing that matters to Maxine is the end results helping her vision for the Beyond Corporation. Its exactly how you want the antagonist of any story to be written, especially the one of an entire direction.

Amazing Spider-Man #86 Review
Ben Reilly becomes lost in his memories due to the Beyond Corporations manipulations of his mind in Amazing Spider-Man #86. Click for full page view.

Maxine’s actions with Ben also position Dr. Ashley Kafka to take on a bigger role in the story moving forward. Dr. Kafka showed she was furious to learn that the Beyond Corporation lied to her. This could lead to consequences the Beyond Corporation did not foresee as we know that Dr. Kafka has a past with becoming a villain. That villain turn will now not be surprising, and it will come back to haunt the Beyond Corporation if that is indeed what happens.

Michael Dowling was at the top of his game with the artwork he provided for Amazing Spider-Man #88. With this being a character development heavy issue Dowling stepped up the facial expressions of various characters to drive home what was being said by each character. It all helped elevate the plot developments with the final double page spread nicely summarizing where Ben is now at in his Spider-Man journey.

The Bad: Nothing

Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #88 is easily the best issue of this series we have gotten in the Beyond Era. Zeb Wells and Michael Dowling did a great job at having Ben Reilly finally begin to deal with a past that he did not know about thanks to how the Beyond Corporation manipulated him. Now that Ben’s past from the Clone Conspiracy is out in the open where things go next in the Beyond Era will be very interesting to see.

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