Web of Spider-Man 118 was cover dated November 1994 and was on sale September 1994, sharing the Spinner racks with Aquaman 0, Hero Zero 0, Robin 0 and Starman 1.
Credits: Writer: Terry Kavanagh, pencils: Steve Butler, inks: Randy Eberlin and edited by Eric Fein.
Cast: Ben Reilly, Venom, Anna Watson and Betty Brandt.
Plot: Ben Reilly, the clone of Spider-Manis back in New York. He knows that he is a counterfeit person, but not much else. He comes across a robbery and feels compelled to act, there’s no need as the police have it covered. He can feel it though, that need to get involved as the axiom of with Great Power comes Great Responsibility still resonates through him.
Elsewhere, the recent crisis at Ravencroft has drawn the sort of villain Venom back to the city as well. He gets involved in an armed car chase and gets the pursued car into the river. At Forest Hills hospital, Betty Brandt visits May Parker, bumping into Anna Watson, Ben spies on both of them from the window, because that’s not creepy at all?! He then leaves, ending up at the warehouse where he faced the burglar that killed Uncle Ben. Venom arrives at the church where the alien costume, rejected by Spider-Man, first bonded with disgraced reporter Eddie Brock, creating the gestalt entity known as Venom.
Ben finds himself unconsciously drawn to the Brooklyn Bridge, where a young woman is leaping to her death, a fall reminiscent of the death of Gwen Stacy, which kicked off the events that warped Miles Warren into the Jackal and led to the clone’s creation in the first place. After replaying that night in his mind as often as the original Peter has, Ben knows how to save the woman does so, delivering her to a local hospital and leaving before he is asked any questions. Over a nearby car radio, Ben hears that Venom is on the loose in the city, a villain he has never dealt with but knows he should. He puts together a red costume and from the museum adds a blue spider-logo hoodie and tears the sleeves off and a new costume is born.
Notes: This is the story of identity and compulsive behaviour. It’s about coming to terms with who you are whilst not still not knowing who that is. Ben is not Peter, he’s determined not to be Peter, but the things that drive him are the exact same things that drive Peter. It’s that borrowed responsibility that pushes him to save a woman from falling to her death and to adopt a new costume to go after Venom in. Venom is also trying not to be in New York. The story tries to parallel the two, but it doesn’t really take, but keeps Venom as part of the story and highlights the differences between Peter and Ben. This story is about Ben’s need to not be a super hero and how his memories of Peter’s life constantly conflict with that. A woman on a bridge reminds him of Gwen Stacy and all the pain that brings, compels him to save her as Peter couldn’t save Gwen. There’s no way Ben can leave it alone once Venom’s presence is felt, so Ben starts back on the path of the masked hero. Like Peter he uses webshooters and a spandex suit, unlike Peter, he chooses a simple red all over look and adds a sleeveless blue hoodie with a spider logo and for some reason (that still 23 years later I do not understand) ankle pouches…ANKLE POUCHES?!?
Seriously though, I liked this issue. Kavanagh lacks DeMatteis’ deft hand with the psychology of Spider-people, but conveys the themes really well and shows some difference between the voices of Ben and Peter and Butlers art has a 90’s flavour, but does the job very well. It’s a bit of a B-title, but it’s a solid B.
Writing: 3 out of 5
Art: 4 out of 5
Overall: 7 out of 10.
A solid first chapter and the debut of one of my favourite costumes of this era. It’s the first issue that hooked me on the character of Ben Reilly and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Next time: The Cat, the Bat, the Spider and a lot of rain, what has Peter been doing?