Just as the Clone Saga gets revisited in a special "what could have been" mini-series that started last week, now Amazing Spider-Man will be revisiting that period with the storyline, "Who Was Ben Reilly?"Starting with this week's Amazing Spider-Man #608, the "Ben Reilly" story arc by writer Marc Guggenheim will pick up where he left off in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #36 in July. As readers of that issue saw, Peter's visit to the Reilly side of the family didn't go so well, as a mysterious villain named Raptor suddenly attacked him.
It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, but you can't blame Raptor for this mistake. After all, he thought Peter Parker was Ben Reilly, who long-time Spider-Man fans know is actually Peter's clone. In fact, Ben was once believed to have been the real Spider-Man, while Peter was the clone – something that had fans in an uproar back when the Clone Saga was taking place.
But the Clone Saga ended by putting Peter back in his place, and because it was so controversial, the story has rarely been referred to in Spider-Man comics since.
Now Guggenheim not only refers to the story, but will send readers back in time to revisit the "lost years" of Ben Reilly's life during his three-issue storyline – while also putting Peter Parker in plenty of peril.
And for Guggenheim, the storyline marks his exit from the Amazing Spider-Man writing team. As Newsarama readers know, Guggenheim is now busy writing the new ABC show FlashForward, meaning his schedule is a little too tight to continue as part of the "Webheads" on the thrice-monthly comic.For today's Weekly Webbing, we talked to Guggenheim about why he had to leave the writing team, what he'll miss most about writing for Amazing Spider-Man, and what readers will see in the story arc, "Who Was Ben Reilly?"
Newsarama: Marc, why the decision to leave Amazing Spider-Man? Just too busy?
Marc Guggenheim: Yeah, I'm just too busy. The thing about writing Spider-Man that's different from writing a regular monthly book is that, even though my issues of Spider-Man don't come out once a month, in order to meet the schedule, I have to produce a script once a month. And normally, that's not a problem for me. But with Spider-Man, I have to not only write a script every month, but I have to read four other writers' scripts and plots and outlines and lettering on top of everything else, in order to keep up and make sure my stuff is consistent with their stuff, and that I'm setting things up and teeing things off and that kind of thing. And there are email chains going on literally every day. So the problem was that was a job on top of a job, on top of my other jobs.So I just reached a point where I was forced to think about cycling off the books. And when I started doing this Ben Reilly storyline, I thought, this is a good note for me to leave on. This is an arc that's been getting some buzz, I've had fun writing it, I'm please with the way it's turning out, so why not leave on a high note.
I was supposed to do a two-part Rhino arc after that, but it just didn't work out. And that's probably for the best because, with due respect to the Rhino, and due respect to the story, it doesn't strike me as an appropriate swan song. So it's just worked out that Ben Reilly is going to be the right time to leave.
Nrama: What do you think you'll miss the most about getting to write Spider-Man every month?
Guggenheim: The people. I'm very glad to have worked with all the other Webheads. That and working with Steve Wacker and Tom Brevoort have really been the highlights for me. It's just a great group of people. More than anything, that's what I'll miss, is those daily interactions with the people behind the scenes on Spider-Man. While I've described it as being a problem becauseof the time it took, it will definitely be something I'll miss. I think all those guys are incredibly creative and incredibly smart and just all-around good people. That's what I'll miss the most.
Nrama: This week sees the beginning of what you described as your "swan song," as Issue #608 kicks off the "Who Was Ben Reilly?" story arc. Last time we talked to you about this story, the annual hadn't come out yet. Now that we've met the Raptor and seen a bit of the set-up, what can you tell us about the storyline we're going to see in #608-#610?
Guggenheim: We pick it up several months after the events of the annual. The annual basically outed Peter Parker to the Raptor character. As we saw in the annual, the Raptor sees Peter Parker and says, "After all these years of being in hiding, Ben Reilly has finally surfaced!" Obviously, Raptor is incorrect in his assumption, but that's part of the fun of the story. Raptor is going after Peter Parker for actions that he believes Ben Reilly took.
Nrama: So even after Spider-Man confronted him, he's still under the impression that Peter Parker is really Ben Reilly? And are we going to find out more about what Ben did to tick him off?
Guggenheim: He's still under the impression that Peter is Ben Reilly. And the entire arc takes place in two time frames. One time frame is the present, and the other time frame is the past – the "lost years" – which is when Ben Reilly was sort of out in exile on the West Coast.
Part of the fun of the story is that the annual set up this notion that Ben Reilly killed Raptor's family. And one of the mysteries of the story is, is that true? Did Ben Reilly really do this?One of the things you can play around with when it comes to the Ben Reilly character is, he's Spider-Man. At least, he was Spider-Man for a time. But there's a moral code to him that's not as fully formed as Peter Parker's moral code. So if I were to pitch a story where you suspect Peter of killing a family, you would never buy that. You would never believe for a moment that he'd be capable of that. But with Ben Reilly, it's a distinct possibility.
Nrama: Marc, the people who read Weekly Webbing every week are die-hard Spider-Man fans, so as a last question for you about your time on Amazing Spider-Man, what would you like to say to your fans?
Guggenheim: Tell my fans? You mean fan, singular? Um... you know, I just thank you for reading. The truth is, there's no comic book without the fans. I've been very flattered by all the kind words I've received via email and on the letters page and everything from fans over the past couple years. And it's been a real privilege to write Spider-Man.Check out preview of Amazing Spider-Man #608 by Clicking right here!