• Home
  • Comics
  • Movies
  • Videos
  • Games
  • TV
  • Characters
  • Shop

Initiative Initiation

Initiative Initiation: The Scarlet Spiders

The history of Marvel's second string arachnid heroes and the lowdown on the latest incarnation

By Ben Morse

Ben Reilly makes
his debut as
the original
Scarlet Spider

Scarlet Spider: a name that carries its fair share of both heroism and tragedy when it comes to the Marvel Universe. It's currently associated with the mysterious armored trio appearing regularly in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE where they serve as a government-sponsored cavalry for the United States' officially sanctioned superheroes, but the legacy traces back to none other than the Amazing Spider-Man himself-sort of. Crack open your notepads, Initiative recruits, and get ready for the abridged history of Marvel's lesser known web-slinger, the Scarlet Spider. SCARLET SPIDER I: BEN REILLY A clone of Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, the man who would be the first Scarlet Spider began his existence in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 as a pawn of Spidey's nemesis the Jackal, who pitted the twin Spider-Men against one another. The clone came out on the losing end and, presumed dead, snuck away allowing his "brother" to resume his

Ben Reilly knew
how to rock
a hoodie

life. The clone hit the road, establishing a new identity as Ben Reilly, becoming a drifter and growing stubble that would have made Wolverine proud. After Spider-Man endured the double tragedy of his supposedly dead parents apparently returning then being revealed as robot duplicates and his Aunt May suffering a heart attack, Ben returned to New York in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #117. Ben and Peter clashed, but eventually came to an understanding and decided to each serve as costumed heroes, not unlike in "Double Dragon" (the awesome video game, not the awful movie). While Peter remained Spider-Man, Ben took up the new name of the Scarlet Spider, throwing a blue hooded sweatshirt with a spider symbol over a red bodysuit, cementing his individuality while at the same time displaying a terrifying lack of fashion sense [Editor's Note: Ben's opinions on '90s fashion do not reflect those of Marvel Enterprises.]. After a few months of this, the Jackal resurfaced and tricked the Spider boys into thinking Ben was the original and Peter the clone, leading the former to abandon his Scarlet togs for a modified Spider-Man suit. Tragically, Ben-as Spidey-died not long after in SPIDER-MAN #75 whilst battling the Green Goblin, only to be revealed once more as the true clone following his demise. The Goblin chose his tried and true method of running Ben through the chest with his Glider rather than choking him with his hood strings.

The female Doc Ock
made Joe Wade
a Scarlet nightmare

SCARLET SPIDER II: JOE WADE During Ben Reilly's time as Spider-Man, the female Doctor Octopus used virtual reality technology to transform Joe Wade, an undercover FBI agent she had discovered investigating her, into a digital version of the Scarlet Spider whom she sent after the Wallcrawler, hoping to discredit him. Storming Lady Ock's base, Spidey unwittingly destroyed the equipment powering Wade and bonded the circuitry to him, making him a half-man, half-machine monstrosity and severely damaging his psyche in the process (if you looked like a punk metal version of Ben Reilly, your psyche would be damaged too). Wade's naturally heroic nature battled the corrupt programming invading his mind, but ultimately lost, forcing Spider-Man and the New Warriors to end the rampage of an out of control Scarlet Spider in the "Nightmare in Scarlet" crossover running through issues #3 and #4 of WEB OF SCARLET SPIDER as well as NEW WARRIORS #67.

A different kind
of Scarlet Spider

SCARLET SPIDER III: FELICITY HARDY In the alternate future in which AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL takes place, Felicia Hardy, Spider-Man's former partner as the Black Cat, and Peter Parker's high school rival-turned-friend Flash Thompson married and had a daughter, Felicity. A free-spirited and rebellious teen, Felicity decided rather than smoking cigarettes in the girls room to become a costumed crimefighter like her mother (primarily in the hopes of irritating Felicia) and sought the mentoring of Spider-Girl, a.k.a. May Parker, daughter of Peter and his wife Mary Jane. May turned her would-be sidekick down, citing her lack of powers, but undaunted, Felicity created her own web shooters and trained with a whip to supplement her natural skills as a gymnast, becoming a new Scarlet Spider in SPIDER-GIRL #46. The two girls ended up teaming several times, usually against Spider-Girl's wishes, but Felicity retired as the Scarlet Spider after nearly dying in battle against Kaine. She has since put the costume back on a couple times to help May out.

The latest and
greatest batch of
Scarlet Spiders

THE SCARLET SPIDERS A triumvirate of enigmas clad in versions of the armor developed by Tony Stark for Spider-Man during "Civil War," the Scarlet Spiders made their first appearance in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #3 bailing out War Machine and Komodo in a three-way battle with the real Spidey and a group of his foes. While the Spiders displayed all of the Webhead's abilities as well as the camouflaging technology of the armor, the full capabilities of the Scarlet Spider suits have yet to be displayed (they may even be able to make coffee). When the black ops Shadow Initiative squad formed in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #5, the Initiative's government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich brought the Spiders into the group under his direct command. The Spiders have never been seen unmasked so their identities remain a mystery. Learn more about the secrets of the Scarlet Spiders, and also check out a key pre-"One More Day" appearance by Peter Parker, in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, on sale November 14. AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #7 (AUG072210) Written by Dan Slott Pencils & Cover by Stefano Caselli Rated T+ ...$2.99 FOC - 10/25, On-Sale - 11/14/2007

      MORE IN Initiative Initiation See All

      MORE IN Comics See All