All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked.
Today we examine the rather extreme example of Ben Reilly learning (in a painful way) that he was not, in fact, the real Spider-Man.
A few years after the Spider-Man comic book series had the marriage of Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker forced down their throats out of nowhere by editorial, the books began looking for a way to somehow get rid of the marriage without having Peter Parker have a divorce.
Their solution was to reveal that the clone of Peter Parker that had seemingly been killed years earlier (circa Amazing Spider-Man #150) did not die. He was back! And after a year or so, they revealed that the clone was NOT a clone! Rather, it was the Peter Parker who married Mary Jane that was a clone.
It was stated in Spectacular Spider-Man #226…
With Mary Jane pregnant, Peter decides to retire as Spider-Man. The clone (who has taken the name Ben Reilly, after Uncle Ben’s first name and Aunt May’s maiden name) takes over as Spider-Man, with a brand new costume and a brand-new look in his secret identity (so people don’t confuse him with Peter).
Well, that did not go over so well, so about a year later (was it even a year?), they decided to reveal that it was BEN who was the clone, not Peter. They brought Norman Osborn back to life to explain it all (everything was part of a plot against Peter by Norman, including the fake test results).
But why trust Norman Osborn?
And even if we believe him, what was to stop a later writer coming along and saying, “No, Norman lied and Peter is the real clone!”
So to alleviate those concerns and make it about as concrete as they could, Ben saves Peter’s life from an attack by Obsorn’s glider…
NOTE: In the various Clone Saga stories, they had established that when clones die, they disintegrate.
In retrospect, it was probably a bit of a mistake to write Ben out so concretely, but you certainly could understand their motivations behind it.
Next step to get rid of the Peter/Mary Jane marriage without having Peter get a divorce? Mary Jane is seemingly blown up in a plane explosion!!