Ben Reilly once was a great hero known as the Scarlet Spider. Despite being a clone of Peter Parker, he became his own man. His time as a superhero was cut short when he died protecting his “brother” Peter during a battle between Spider-Man and Norman Osborn. For some reason, Ben’s dead body immediately decomposed despite being a perfect clone, lacking the genetic flaw that caused other clones to turn to dust.
It seemed Ben was dead, but Miles Warren, the man responsible for creating Ben, managed to obtain his remains and cloned him with a new procedure. Warren discovered a way for clones to retain old memories. In order to find a cure for the cellular degradation, Warren kills Reilly over and over to find out why he was different from the other clones.
Each time he returned, he retained memories of his death along with the pain. Reilly eventually broke free, defeated Warren, and became the new Jackal after improving his clone formula. Somehow, the experiments on Reilly caused his moral compass to point in a new direction.
As the Jackal, Ben attempted to replace sick and dead individuals with cloned bodies. He managed to enlist several of Spider-Man’s allies and enemies with the promise of returning their loved ones. After his defeat by Spider-Man and others, Ben fled to Las Vegas to try to start a new life once more.
In Vegas, Ben attempted to try to find a cure for the daughter of a casino owner just as his enemy Kaine, another Peter Parker clone, found him. The girl died when Reilly gave her a cure before testing it. Kaine was also killed when Death took an interest in Ben.
In the form of Rick Jones’ wife, Marlo Chandler, Death tells Ben she was drawn to him because he has been killed more than anyone else in the universe. She takes him to were souls are contained in the “afterlife” and shows him his damaged soul.
Each time Ben died, his soul journeyed with him. Souls are not designed to be reanimated, and Ben’s has suffered from all of Miles Warren’s experiments. This is why Ben hasn’t been the noble person he once was. If he dies one more time, his soul will completely shatter, and he’ll become truly evil. If he manages to live, his soul will eventually heal, and Ben will become the man he used to be.
As Death prepares to leave, Ben asks her to revive Kaine. Death asks why since they’re enemies, and Ben tells her Kaine keeps him in check. Having Kaine around would help him try to redeem himself. Ben also asked Death to revive the dead girl. In response, Death tells Ben he has to choose which will be revived. He chooses himself. Kaine and the girl both deserve to live more than he does. Death doesn’t agree to his decision and Ben tries fighting Death. She eventually agrees to his demands after having a laugh and seeing Ben’s passion.
Death also bestowed one final gift upon Ben before leaving.
His scarred face has been healed. Ben Reilly is on his way back to being the Scarlet Spider fans have been waiting for.
Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #7 was written by Peter David with art by Will Sliney. Check it out for all the details and read the series to find out what’s next for Ben.