Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #610

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This review was first published on: Feb 2010.

Background...

Dr. Damon Ryder, otherwise known as Raptor, has shown up and terrorized Peter Parker, thinking that he's really Ben Reilly, who he blames for the deaths of his family years ago in Portland. In actuality, Ben Reilly was noneother than Peter Parker's clone, who perished years ago. Ryder has gone to Peter's apartment looking for him, and when that didn't work, went to May Parker's home to take hostage the Reilly cousins and Harry Osborn, to lie in wait for Peter's eventual arrival.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man has recently tangled with Screwball, who has called him out for another fight, and Kaine, his first failed clone, whom he tangled with when he was looking for Ryder at one point. Peter's now at May's home, having stumbled upon the complicated hostage situation, and is preparing to reveal his identity as Spider-Man in front of Harry and his cousins.

In Detail...

"Who was Ben Reily"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #610
Jan 2010 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Marc Guggenheim
Artist:  Luke Ross (Pages 1-3, 5-7,9,20,22), Marco Checchetto (pages 4,8,10-16,19,20,22), Rick Magyar (Pages 1-3, 5-7,9,20,22)
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Articles: Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Kaine, Raptor

As in the present Peter prepares to deal with Raptor/Dr. Damon Ryder, in the past Ben Reilly tries to confront his friend and boss Damon, as he deals with the fact that he's been mutated by his recent experimentation upon himself. Damon fights off Ben, who's just trying to help him, when Kaine arrives through the window. Ben and Kaine fight, as Damon runs off.

In the present, as Peter prepares to reveal himself as Spider-Man, Kaine reveals himself, and advises Peter that he just needs Damon to help him with his degeneration. Harry Osborn tries to protect Peter, and gets smacked in the face by Ryder's gun, and knocked out.

In the past, Ben and Kaine continue their fight in the Ryders' home. He pushes Kaine into a fireplace, which lits him on fire, and soon the fire is spreading throughout the house. Ben tries to find Ryder's family as the house starts to go up in flames.

In the present, Kaine reveals that he's there because he's helping Ryder relive the events from the past in Portland, except this time with Peter's family dying in a flaming house.

In the past, Damon and Ben fight each other, as Ben tries to make Damon realize that he's done this all to himself, because of his recklessness, and that now its his own family that's suffering. Finally, he reveals to Damon that it's too late for them, as they're already dead thanks to Damon.

In the present, Harry asks if Peter actually did something to Ryder's family, and suddenly Screwball busts into the flaming house, and is disappointed not to find Spider-Man there. Raptor shoots at Screwball, as Peter turns the tables on Kaine and punches him out. Peter is able to get his family out of the building, as Kaine grabs him and throws him through the living room wall. Finally, Peter strips off what are now the remnants of his costume, and jumps into the fray against Kaine, Screwball and Raptor. He knocks out Screwball, but still has to contend with Raptor and Kaine. Kaine reveals that it's true that Ben and Peter are the same person, as he shows Raptor that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Raptor, who's been driven out of his mind, believes that it cements that Peter IS Reilly, but Kaine once again reiterates that they were different people, or at least that Peter is Reilly's clone, and thus the same person in the way that matters. Raptor attacks Spider-Man, to try and kill him, with Peter insisting he didn't take part in the deaths of his family.

In the past, Damon insists that Ben is lying, and that he didn't cause the deaths of his own family. He knocks him out finally, and Kaine comes up to Peter, flaming/smoking, and states that Damon blames Ben Reilly still, and that one day, it'll cost him dearly. Kaine prepares to leave the house, telling Ben that he can either save Damon or let him die in the flames.

In the present, Spider-Man webs up Raptor, and then webs up his face when he hears the police approaching. Turning around, he realizes that Kaine has now taken Raptor away, and Spider-Man has nothing to show for the altercation. He takes off from the scene.

Kaine is pissed at Ryder when he realizes that he has no real way to help him with his condition, and Ryder reveals he manipulated Kaine into helping him with his own vendetta. Kaine, in retaliation, begins to choke Ryder to death.

In General...

Ultimately, I think that this storyline actually went on a little long, and I'm not sure if the characterization ended up really working all that well. Back in the day, ultimately, Kaine was still Peter Parker, and although the writers did have him do some villainous stuff, for the most part it was before they realized who Kaine was going to end up being. He had some twisted nobility in him, because ultimately he was still Peter Parker, deep down. And reading this, it just felt like everything that made Kaine interesting in the '90s had been flushed away completely. There was no real sense of nobility here at all, of anything that could ever have been Peter Parker. This wasn't the same Kaine that DeMatteis wrote so well back in Spider-Man: The Lost Years.

It just ended up feeling like a wasted and missed opportunity, on the whole. There's so much fertile ground when it comes to Ben Reilly, but adding this chapter in, when it didn't need to be added or made up, felt extraneous and just unnecessary. It's a real shame, because I really liked the idea that we'd get to see more of past Ben, and see Kaine get back in the game in the present. But it just didn't work at all here, and at the end of the issue, I was glad it was over. I can't say I really cared all that much for Ryder, he wasn't that interesting, and his mutation, his supervillain garb? Why? Why would he bother at all. He was really just revenge-killing, so why even bother with the name and costume for Raptor?

The writing is just not the best work I've seen by Guggenheim, nor is it that good art by Checchetto and Ross. It just felt lazy, it felt inconclusive, and was not nearly up to the high level that these artists are capable of achieving with their art.

Overall Rating...

After last issue's improvement on the issue preceding it, this issue was a stumbling block, which made it harder to enjoy. The art as mentioned just wasn't nearly as strong, clear or concise as it had been in prior issues, and the scripting just failed to make the three-issue arc worthwhile and meaningful. It could've been so much more than what it ended up being, which was a three-issue arc that lacked real sense of meaning or gravitas. It ended up being hollow and kind of weak and without any real definitive sense of impact.