The '90s really are alive and kicking again at Marvel Comics. No sooner has the publisher wrapped up its Heroes Reborn re-imagining than we've learned Peter Parker's clone Ben Reilly is coming back to reclaim the Spider-Man mantle.
This big status quo change kicks off in September's The Amazing Spider-Man #75. That issue features the debut of a new creative team and a return to the thrice-monthly release schedule introduced during the "Brand New Day" era of the series. The Amazing Spider-Man will now feature rotating creative teams, including writers Zeb Wells (Hellions), Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel), Saladin Ahmed (Miles Morales: Spider-Man) and Cody Zigler (Marvel's She-Hulk TV series). It appears current ASM artist Patrick Geason will be both writing and drawing upcoming issues of the series.
Ben Reilly's return comes at a particularly low point in Peter Parker's life. Following the conclusion of Nick Spencer's Amazing Spider-Man run, Peter is grappling with his failure as a hero, apparently to the point that he's willing to cede the mantle back to his clone. Ben's mission is to prove himself the greatest Spider-Man of them all, and he's even got the backing of the mysterious Beyond Corporation and a redesigned costume.
Get a closer look at the new Spider-suit and other teaser art in the slideshow gallery below:
Ben Reilly Returns in The Amazing Spider-Man #75
Editor Nick Lowe reveals the new status quo was originally developed by Wells, with Thompson and Ahmed brought in to expand that growing saga and help the series meet its new thrice-monthly schedule.
“The whole point of working on Spider-Man is trying to put new unliftable weights on top of him—physical, metaphysical, emotional, psychological—and seeing if he can lift them," said Lowe in Marvel's press release. "But what if that weight truly is too heavy? What if someone with the exact same skills and formative years could do better? Ben Reilly is back and, with Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s lessons in the back of HIS mind as well, he’s here to step in where Peter Parker failed. Can he accomplish things the original Spider-Man never could? These questions are what sold me on this story."
Lowe continued, “When Zeb Wells started building this story it became apparent that it needed a narrative velocity and a team of the best of the best to make it happen. So we gathered some of the greatest writers and artists in comics to join us and the story got even better and bigger and more surprising.
For those not up to date on the convoluted history of Ben Reilly, the character technically debuted way back in 1975's The Amazing Spider-Man #149, which features The Jackal pitting Spider-Man against his clone. Though he was seemingly incinerated in that story, the clone survived and resurfaced under his new Ben Reilly identity in 1994's Spider-Man #51. Thus began the infamous Clone Saga that dominated the Spider-Man franchise for several years. For a time, Ben became the new Spider-Man (wrongly believing himself to be the original Peter Parker) before finally sacrificing his own life.
More recently, Ben returned to life and took on a more antagonistic role in Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. But following yet another death and resurrection, Ben seems to be back on the heroic path and ready to prove himself as Spider-Man.
The foundation of this new storyline will be established in Free Comic Book Day 2021: Spider-Man/Venom #1, which will be offered on Saturday, August 14. From there, Ben's story continues in The Amazing Spider-Man #75, which is due out in September.
This big Spidey revamp is just one of several key developments in the franchise. Al Ewing and Bryan Hitch are spearheading a Venom relaunch in November, and Miles Morales is getting a brand new costume, fresh off of dealing with his own Clone Saga.
Let us know in the comments below if you're psyched for the return of Ben Reilly.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.