Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #18 // Review
After fighting the minions of Hell, Ben Reilly does his best to ignore the concept of magic. Life, of course, has other plans.
Now freed from what felt like an incredibly forced tie-in to the excellent crossover Damnation, Peter David and his art crew of André Lima Araújo and Rachelle Rosenberg bring a new wrinkle into the life of recovering supervillain and clone Ben Reilly. The problem is, it’s just not that good.
Stage magician Misty Beck has arrived in Vegas with plans for a massive magic trick for charity. Of course, Ben’s spider-sense is going completely crazy just by meeting her, so something is probably up. Because life is never coincidental in the Marvel Universe, she’s also the daughter of retired villain Mysterio. Recruiting Dusk of the Slingers and his estranged brother Kaine, Ben holds a stakeout on the magic act.
When people complain about decompressed storytelling in the future, this will likely become a solid example the concept. The story concept is good, but almost nothing happens until the admittedly great cliffhanger on the final page. Pages don’t feel wasted, as we still have moments of character interaction, but discussions feel like they take too long and other scenes could have been cut shorter and the point reached faster. Misty Beck could be an interesting spin on Mysterio if the revelations about her magic remain, but her characterization feels flat for the moment.
The art is another sticking point. While Rosenberg’s colors are great for providing a setting or enhancing the mood, the actual pencils need some work. Araújo is normally an excellent artist, but his normally good facial expressions feel completely off this issue. Some smirks or smiles travel just too far up the face, making characters seem like inhuman simulations… or just really awkward. It’s remarkably rare, but it becomes incredibly jarring.
As an opening chapter to a story, this isn’t a bad one. It sets up the tale well, but when read as an indvidual issue rather than the first chapter of a trade, it falls short. Honestly, the story feels padded out to just hit the 20 pages it needs. However, it must be said the cliffhanger is certainly enough to make a lot of people come back for the next issue.