Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #19 // Review
With magic yet again rearing its ugly head in Vegas, will Ben just leave town?
Now on issue 19, Peter David brings the artists Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg with him to try and answer one of the better cliffhangers of the year so far: what happens when a Las Vegas hotel is thrown into the dimension of The Mindless Ones?
Misty Beck, daughter of the original Mysterio, Quentin Beck, has made fictional Vegas hotel Mercury Rising vanish during a charity magic act. Luckily, Ben is a paranoid mess of a man since his abrupt return to the world of Marvel, and was camping out the event in case something went wrong. As it turns out, she has her eye on the Crimson Brand of Cyttorak, a totem of power buried deep below the streets of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Quentin gets the power instead, and decides to start a career killing anyone with “Spider” in their name.
While last issue was a complete slog to get though, Peter David makes up for it in this one. While far from a tour de force, the dialogue is snappy, Ben’s ignorance of magic is played with in amusing ways, and Misty Beck proves to be a decently compelling character for what little we know about her. The only real problem is that this story could have been extended with traps inside the temple or other obstacles to make it seem a little more epic and fix the pacing issues of the first story. The story could also have more time could spent on the cast stuck in the other dimension, as we are left with almost no scenes with them beyond the cliffhanger. While not a crime, it really makes the cliffhanger itself feel like a trick played on the reader.
The art is also much improved for this outing. Sliney’s body language is again on point, and his facial expressions now no longer feel awkwardly photoshopped or stretched into inhuman knots. Misty Beck does have a few odd faces, but they actually work for the scene they’re in. The new design for Mysterio hews close to the original design while also retaining a few new features that look snazzy. Rosenberg’s colors are also strong, especially on the few pages in the Mindless One’s dimension.
While this story is essentially retreading some familiar ground from the Damnation crossover, it still has a unique enough spin that it feels fresh. Misty Beck could also be an interesting recurring antagonist for Ben, should she ever return from where David leaves her.