According to my Sources (i.e…. the internet) poor Ben Reilly is the most recent member of Spider-Man’s supporting cast to have been character-assassinated and made villain of the year. I’m sorry, Ben fans! I know exactly how you feel.
But that got me wondering about the times when Ben accessed his Peter-memories (well, his own memories technically, it’s complicated okay?) and remembered Harry, who was dead at the point of the timeline Ben came into being. Because it did happen a couple of times!
In 1994 Ben became Scarlet Spider for the first time in the pages of Web of Spider-Man #118, written by Terry Kavanagh. But before Ben put that suit on, he had some flashbacks to Peter Parker’s darkest times and name-checked Harry as his best friend.
Jump forward a couple of years later, and we have a whole scene of Ben (believing at the time that he’s the original Peter Parker) grieving for Harry in Spider-Man: Redemption #1 (1996). This one was written by – you can probably guess – J.M. Dematteis!
A point of interest here is that Harry’s gravestone changed a lot over the years! In Maximum Carnage (Spider-Man Unlimited #2) it bore the inscription “In Loving Memory” –
But this one Ben is crying over seems to only have Harry’s name and some dates. (I can’t read them, but they wouldn’t make any sense what with Marvel’s sliding timeline anyway.)
And in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #44 (2002) it’s changed again to read, “Beloved son, father and husband.”
Anyway, back to the life of Reilly. Ben is surely aware of all the bad things Harry has done, but he still mourns him.
Ben says here that Harry has been dead “for months” though really that could mean just about anything in Marvel’s wacky timeline. I’m not sure yet what Harry-related flashback stories happened inbetween his death and this comic, or if they could all fit into the timeframe of “months.”
Ben isn’t having a good time here. He usually isn’t.
Peter drops in on the remaining Osborns and watches Normie sleep. (People watch that kid sleep a lot.)
Normie has spent a lot of time previously ripping up Spider-Man toys, but this one he seems to like. A nod to his changing attitude… which won’t last.
Ben remembers a time when he wanted to be a father to Normie and “keep Harry’s memory alive.” Sadly, modern-day Spider-Man never seems to have much time for Normie, even though he’s actually Peter’s godson. (At the time of writing it’s been about seven months since Harry’s most recent death; Normie’s had absolutely no mention.)
Ben reiterates once more that Harry is dead and gone and that’s the end of this segment. It’s very touching, though.
Also, suddenly it’s dawning on me that after all this time, after so much back and forth-ing on who’s alive and who’s dead and who’s a villain and who’s in hell (etc) the man we still know as Ben hasn’t actually interacted with Harry at all, ever, as far as I know.