Ben Reilly (Spider-Clone)

spider-clonefilmSorry Brick89, the Scarlet Spider has never been adapted in live action (and he probably won’t, considering how tricky the Clone Saga is…), but his alias Ben Reilly made his debut in the 1970s nevertheless. In The Amazing Spider-Man tv series, in fact, the evil clone of geneticist Doctor Moon stole a blood sample from Spider-Man, and created a fully grown up and functioning clone, always portrated by Nicholas Hammond. Since the adaptation came just at the beginning of the one that would have become the longest saga ever in the Spider-Man mythology (and before it degenerated…), the clone doesn’t survive the single episode he appears in (The Night of the Clones), and dies of accelereated aging. In the comics, on the opposite, he survived and became a superhero in his own right, later becoming quite an important presence in Spider-Man’s life. Before the Scarlet Spider, however, there was the Spider-Clone

Overcome by grief over losing Gwen Stacy, a student he had a crush on, deranged professor Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, started to plot revenge against the man he held responsible for the girl’s death: Spider-Man, who was also Gwen’s boyfriend Peter Parker. Using his revolutionary science, Warren cloned Peter (as well as Gwen, and himself), and imbued the clone with the memories and the personality of the original one. After that, in a sick game, he dressed the clone with a Spider-Man costume, and let him believe he was the real deal. The clone and the original Spider-Man found themselves together at Shea Stadium, to save from the Jackal “their” friend Ned Leeds, who had been abducted and threatened with a time bomb. Both of them believed the other to be an impostor, and they fought one against the other, thinking they had to defeat the enemy in order to save Leeds, and what seemed to be a reborn Gwen (obviously a clone). Their powers obviously matched, and even their strategies were the same: none of them could prevail on the other. Finally, they realised the good faith of the opponent, and they decided to team up to stop the Jackal, spider-clonecomics1postponing the “who’s the real one” problem to another moment. The Jackal, apparently, realised the true nature of the young man he wanted to destroy, and had a change of heart: he freed Ned Leeds, then he detonated the bomb, apparently killing himself and the clones he had created. Spider-Man retrieved the body of the Spider-Clone, but he was obviously unable to give a proper burial to a corpse that was exactly the one of Peter Parker: he put the body in a black sack, and he “buried” it in a smokestack. The clone, however, was more resilient than Parker believed, and the many substances the Jackal had injected him with reanimated him. Regaining consciousness, and still believing he was Peter Parker, the clone came back home…only to find “the other” Peter Parker there, with Mary Jane: his world shattered, he realised he was the clone. Taking some old clothes Peter was throwing away, the clone left New York, deeply depressed, trying to give a sense to his life.

With memories that weren’t his own, feeling a “worthless clone”, the man decided to change name, kowing that “Peter Parker” wasn’t his real self. He named himself “Ben Reilly”, taking Uncle Ben‘s first name and Aunt May‘s last one. He spent months on the streets, deeply depressed, often sick; once, while going through a bad flu, he met scientist Seward Trainer, a man who changed his life. A genetics expert and a former rival of Miles Warren, Trainer cured Ben, and he helped him regain his spirit, pushing him to become his own person. Slowly, Ben started to trust the scientist, who became some sort of father figure for him (Trainer, actually, was blackmailed by Norman Osborn to keep Ben Reilly in check). Trainer provided Ben with false references and credentials, allowing him to find a job wherever he went; after a while, Ben moved again, starting a new life somewhere else. In all his travels he was followed by a bearded, disfigured man, who clearly wanted to kill him: it was Kaine, Warren’s first attempt to clone Parker, who believed Ben to be Peter and wanted him to suffer due to his being “flawless”, unlike him, who was unstable and slowly dying of cellular degeneration. Finally, moving from city to city, Ben found a reason to stop: Janine Godbe, a waitress he met in Salt Lake City. The two started hanging out, and fell in love. During this time, Ben found that, as much as he tried to avoid spider-clonecomics2being a hero, he just couldn’t ignore other people in pain: using an amateur mask, he became a vigilante, and he dismantled a drug cartel in Salt Lake City. There was a shadow over Janine, however, and it became clear what it was when the girl told him her real name was Elizabeth Tyne, a fugitive herself: she had killed her father after years of rapes and abuses, and she was trying to find a new start. Her sense of guilt, however, proved to be unbearable, and she committed suicide. Ben got drepressed once again and came back on the road, eventually ending up in Italy, where he worked as an English teacher. Peter’s blood and memories were however calling for him, and it was inevitable he would have embraced also the responsibility coming from his power…

Ben Reilly is a man with no identity: all his memories, every trait of his personality, even his looks belong to another man, who he’s just a copy of. Trying to become his own person, Ben systematically refuses everything coming from his heart and mind that makes him think of Peter, including his sense of responsibility and his morality. As the Spider-Clone, he has the exact same powers of the original: he possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability and reflexes, he can stick to every surface, and he possesses a Spider-Sense that warns him of incoming danger; possessing Parker’s scientific knoweldge and proficiency, he also built a pair of Web Shooters identical to Spider-Man’s ones. Trying to free himself from an identity that’s not his own, Ben Reilly is an “artificial man” struggling to find his place in the world.

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