Benjamin Richard Reilly is a much more complex character than many would think. He’s not just a more chipper or more angsty Peter Parker. In Amazing Spider-Man #86, we get to learn how much more there might be to him.
A relatively slow issue of Amazing is turned on its head. It’s a major turning point for this story arc, and what’s about to happen next for Spider-Man. It comes from Zeb Wells, Michael Dowling, Bryan Valenza, and Joe Caramagna.
After his fight with Doc Ock, Ben Reilly is doubting his decision to go all in with the Beyond Corporation. As he unloads his fears to his therapist, the two come to a horrifying realization. Beyond has done more to Spider-Man than they have for him. And that may cause Ben Reilly to fall apart.
Wells spins a story here that is elusive in some very good ways. What seems to be just a counseling session about Ben botching a mission is about something more. He builds the tension naturally through the issue, which Caramagna adds to by using as small and as few bubbles and captions as possible, spacing them to give the art space to breathe and build its own tension. It gradually creates the feel of a psychological thriller, until the turn, and it turns out that Ben’s employers might be his greatest enemy and his downfall.
Dowling’s art continues to surprise and impress. He has a great sense of pacing, laying out each page to build up both Ben’s inner life and the tension as Beyond starts to tighten up their noose around both Ben and Dr. Kafka. Valenza saturates each page with light, which becomes more unsettling the deeper the story goes. That continues to build more and more until the incredibly tense and surreal closing pages, as Dowling shows Ben literally unraveling in a stunning sequence of pages.
Ben Reilly’s life is going to be forever changed coming out of this storyarc. I’m excited to see where that goes for him, and perhaps a few other members of his supporting cast. The Spider-Man Beyond era has shown a few more twists and turns than I expected, all for the better.
Amazing Spider-Man #86 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Spider-Man Beyond takes a disturbing turn, and that’s a great thing for the readers. The writing is tense, the art is stellar. This is a great example of what modern Spider-Man stories should be.