Comics : Scarlet Spider (Vol. 1) #2

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This story is part of an Arc: "Cyber-War"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Ben Reilly has assumed the responsibilities of Spider-Man, but not the name. He is currently trying to establish himself as the Scarlet Spider and avoid anyone that might identify him from "Peter's" previous life.

In his role as the Scarlet Spider, Ben was able to stop a fight between Alistaire Smythe's new spider slayers and the new Dr. Octopus' operatives, which resulted in their arrest. In doing so, he has incurred the wrath of Octopus for his interference. She has vowed revenge.

In Detail...

"Along Came A Virtual Spider"
Scarlet Spider (Vol. 1) #2
Dec 1995 : SM Title
Summary: Joe Wade transformed into the new Scarlet Spider
Arc: Part 3 of "Cyber-War"
Editor:  Bob Budiansky
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Al Williamson
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Articles: Ben Reilly, Doctor Octopus II (Carolyn Trainer), Jameson, J. Jonah, Joe Wade

Dr. Octopus II uses one of her employees, Dr. Linette Martinez, to entrap undercover FBI agent Joe Wade. She then locks him into a machine that will allow her to deal with two problems simultaneous: what to do with the spy in her organization and to discredit (and possibly kill) the Scarlet Spider.

She begins the process of downloading biological data files into his brain and connecting him to a series of machines that will allow him to not only project, but also control a virtual reality construct of the Scarlet Spider. Of course she will retain a very high degree of control of his actions.

Her digital partner in crime - now identified as the Master Programmer - watches with admiration at her latest scheme while the Scarlet Spider hologram begins to form.

Meanwhile the real Scarlet Spider arrives at Octopus' facility in the hopes of stopping her latest plan. He received a tip from *his* digital assistant, Seward Trainer whose consciousness has been trapped in cyberspace and is also the new Doc Ock's father. When he lands on the roof, he is met by FBI Agent Briggs, who orders him to stay out of the building. At this point, the building explodes when the Scarlet Spider hologram forms. The VR/reality hybrid escapes, prompting the real Scarlet Spider to follow it.

Deep within Ock's laboratory, her technicians place Wade and his VR generator/prison in a large room explaining that the machine will take care of his bodily needs. He soon learns that he shares this room with the host for Stunner, who explains what has been done to him. Wade is desperately trying to free himself, but Stunner advises him to stop fighting and enjoy his new life through the construct.

The virtual Scarlet Spider causes quite a bit of collateral damage on his way to his target, the Daily Bugle with the real Scarlet Spider minutes behind him. The VR construct webs the building and attempts to pull it down. He is then encased in a large ball of webbing by his real-world counterpart that stops his attack. Scarlet Spider attempts to explain to the just-arrived police that he is not responsible for the damage. He rips open the web ball to show them the VR construct, but he has disappeared leaving him to face the full wrath of New York's finest.

In General...

Using a live test subject to project a virtual reality construct into actual reality is an interesting idea. However I'm not sure why a person is needed.

This construct is a highly advanced program under the control of Dr. Octopus. I would think that this kind of tech would be able to circumvent the need for a biological host.

I'm fairly sure that Ock just wanted to torture Wade for spying on her.

Overall Rating...

2 webs. This chapter had three major points: Joe Wade's cover is blown, he gets strapped into a machine that will allow him to be the host for a virtual reality version of the Scarlet Spider, and said VR construct tries to destroy the Daily Bugle.

It seems to me that this could be accomplished in 1/2 of an issue, but it takes the majority of the issue to accomplish these three things. This is due to many pointlessly extended scenes and a few sub-plots that go nowhere.

Footnote...

This title returns to normal next issue with Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #64.