Just a few days after Zeb Wells was announced as the main writer of this series starting in April, Wells takes over this week on the series. Paired with Michael Dowling, Ben Reilly has more than one reason to distrust the Beyond Corporation. How are they manipulating him, why, and are there answers for why Ben keeps seeing faces with holes in their head? All that and more, as Ben Reilly discovers new truths about the web the Beyond Corp has put him in.
In the last issue, Doc Ock helped open up Ben Reilly’s mind to the realization that the Beyond Corp is using him because he’s malleable and easily manipulated. That knowledge is weighing on Ben, who takes his usual psychology session with Dr. Kafka and is understandably untrusting of her. As we see these two characters converse, Janine’s story is mixed in as she navigates a tricky situation kicked off by an act Ben made in the last issue. The story cuts between both slowly ratcheting up the danger and realizations that could change everything.
There are some rather insidious elements unveiled in this issue–one of which changes how this Beyond era even started–which further cement the fact that Beyond Corporation is very bad. This series has reminded us of this in nearly every issue, so new revelations don’t feel too powerful, but it’s certainly asserting the fact well.
Wells does a good job with Ben Reilly’s scenes, calling back to previous stories and the nature of being a clone. There’s a realistic angle being taken here to show how a person with false memories could comprehend the past and maybe even forget it. Slowly but surely, there’s a realistic portrayal of what it must feel like to be a clone. It’s somewhat scary, but also relatable on some scale since we see from Ben’s perspective how confusing and disorientating it can be.
If you’re looking for action you might be sorely disappointed, but artist Michael Dowling pulls off some interesting nightmare imagery. There’s a warm glow throughout much of the book, giving it an enlightening feeling thanks to colors by Bryan Valenza. A soft dissolve is used effectively to convey flashbacks as well.
Amazing Spider-Man #86 adds new layers to what it means to be a clone. This further connects our experience to what Ben Reilly must be going through further, making his experience more lived in and valid. For that, this issue makes Ben Reilly more human and relatable than ever.
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