It's official: Ben Reilly, the clone of Peter Parker who took up the mantle of Spider-Man during the '90s 'Clone Saga' story, will return in October as the new star of Amazing Spider-Man, once again taking up the role in Peter Parker's (not yet fully explained) absence.
As previously teased, Reilly will become the new starring Spider-Man in the wall-crawler's official title when the new creative team takes over following Nick Spencer's exit - and what's more, Ben Reilly may get the opportunity to be Spidey again thanks to the death of Peter Parker.
While that last bit remains unconfirmed, Marvel's announcement of the new Amazing Spider-Man direction and creative team certainly heavily hints that's what's on the horizon for the finale of Spencer's run on the title.
"A bold new age of Amazing Spider-Man is on the horizon! Starting in October, Amazing Spider-Man will return with a story so bombastic that it will take the greatest team of web-writers and arachnid-artists ever assembled to tell it," reads Marvel's official announcement. "Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, Cody Ziglar, Patrick Gleason, and Zeb Wells will team up on the thrice-monthly title to shake up the Spider-Man mythos in ways no one will see coming."
Amazing Spider-Man has published multiple times a month in the past, notably in the 'Brand New Day' era which followed the dissolution of Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage due to a deal with Mephisto - a plot point that has come up in the course of Spencer's run. That era also included a whole team of writers on the title, known collectively at the time as the Spider-Man 'brain trust.'
"The saga will kick off in Amazing Spider-Man #75 where Ben Reilly will return to take back the mantle of Spider-Man," continues Marvel's announcement. "Backed by the Beyond Corporation, the captivating clone of Peter Parker is determined to be the best version of Spider-Man there ever was."
The announcement goes on to say as Marvel's preceding tease shows, "this could have fatal consequences for Peter Parker…"
Writer Zeb Wells, who contributed to the 'Brand New Day' era brain trust himself, will spearhead the new story, with fellow writers Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, Cody Ziglar, and Patrick Gleason all chosen specifically for their individual styles and sensibilities in relation to the story Wells has envisioned.
"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. But what if that weight truly is too heavy? What if someone with the exact same skills and formative years could do better?" states Spider-Man group editor Nick Lowe in the announcement.
"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," Lowe continues. "Can he accomplish things the original Spider-Man never could? These questions are what sold me on this story."
The idea of Peter failing - perhaps in a way that could prove fatal - is a devastating thought, especially paired with the idea that his soul may be in the sights of Mephisto thanks to the deal Peter and MJ made with the devilish villain, as hinted in current issues of Spencer's Amazing Spider-Man run.
"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," Lowe states.
Here's a gallery of all the teaser art so far:
"Zeb has proven through Amazing Spider-Man: Shed, Spider-Man/Doc Ock: Year One, and Hellions that he will bring the balance of hilarity and emotional devastation. Kelly Thompson's work on Captain Marvel and Black Widow shows her to be the best mind for character work along with a fearless creativity that will keep you guessing," Lowe continues, praising the talents of each of the new Amazing Spider-Man writers in turn.
"Saladin Ahmed is the rare writer who walks the tightrope of a book like his Eisner-winning Black Bolt to his smash hit 'Clone Saga' arc of Miles Morales: Spider-Man and his contributions shook us all. Fans from his time at the Distinguished Competition know Patrick Gleason isn't only an artistic visionary (as proven recently from his Webhead covers) but also a highly-skilled writer whose Marvel debut is going to be the shot heard round the comics world," Lowe concludes.
"Cody Ziglar is a new name in comics, but the work he did for the upcoming Disney Plus She-Hulk show and Rick and Morty showed us at Marvel that he is part of the next generation of Marvel superstar writers and he has not disappointed here."
Marvel has not yet named any artists that will join the new, expanded writing team.
Interestingly, this is the second time in a few weeks Marvel Comics has announced it will be killing off or implying they will be killing a major character right before the character returns to the big screen.
Sony and Marvel Studios' Spider-Man: No Way Home opens December 17, just months after this comic book storyline kicks off, and in September Marvel will launch The Death of Doctor Strange, a five-issue limited series that promises to kill off Stephen Strange also just months before he returns to the MCU in March 25, 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The whole era will kick off in August 14's Spider-Man/Venom Free Comic Book Day issue, with the new creative team coming on board in October's Amazing Spider-Man #75.
Stay on top of everything coming for the wall-crawler with our listing of all the new Spider-Man comics planned for 2021 and beyond.