Before Miles Morales became Spider-Man, there was another Spider-Man who was not our friendly neighbor Peter Parker. This Spider-Man was Ben Reilly, and he was the protagonist of one of Marvel’s most impactful editorial moves during the 90s. Despite becoming an iconic figure in spider mythology as The Scarlet Spider, his story is complex, involving controversial changes and different identities throughout the years.
Ben Reilly was introduced in the Spider-Man comics continuity in 1975. His origin can be traced back to Amazing Spider-Man #149, where Peter’s college professor, Dr. Miles Warren, also known as The Jackal, creates an adult clone of Parker to destroy Spider-Man. This clone is the precursor to Ben Reilly.
However, Ben Reilly gained prominence in 1994 during an event known as The Clone Saga, where Marvel Comics made readers believe that Ben Reilly was the original Peter Parker, while the Peter we knew was a clone. This twist kept readers in suspense for months before Parker returned to being Spider-Man.
Following this, Ben Reilly decided to forge his own superhero path as The Scarlet Spider. Adopting a new suit and identity, Ben became one of the most beloved spider heroes by fans who found his tortured interior monologues to be a breath of fresh air in the wall-crawler’s mythology.
Throughout the years, Ben Reilly has taken on different identities such as Kaine or the new Jackal, always remaining a “spare” Peter Parker. However, Ben Reilly has managed to carve out a place of great narrative importance within the Spider-Verse, reflecting the evolution of the character for readers.
His identity as Scarlet Spider has resonated with fans and even earned him a significant role in the film Spider-Man: Crossing the Multiverse. In this film, Ben Reilly, as Scarlet Spider, joins other versions of the spider multiverse in a confrontation against Miles Morales.
These narrative twists and evolutions have made Ben Reilly a character with a lasting impact on the Spider-Man mythology, representing a mirror in which Peter Parker repeatedly reflects every few years.