The Life Of Reilly

Got a few hours to kill? Want to read about all the sordid saga of Ben Reilly, the “other” Spider-Man? Tired of leading questions like these?


Check out The Life of Reilly, a series of 35 (!) columns detailing the whole long sordid “Clone Saga,” the folks in Marketing pushing the whole thing, all the stories that Could Have Been, DVD-style commentary from writers and editors of the Spider-Man comics of the era, and generally a whole lot of time-killing goodness.

8 replies on “The Life Of Reilly”

  1. mbourgon says:

    Ya know, this is actually kind of cool.
    There’s no way that I ever would’ve followed this (nor could I have, in all likelihood… I had no idea there were THAT many Spidey comic books), but this is a fascinating read. He tells what happened in the comic book, and intersperses it with comments about what was going on during the creation of it… why certain things happened, etc, etc. I don’t think I’ve read Spidey in 20 years, but this is a Good Read.

    • GrimSean says:

      Re: Ya know, this is actually kind of cool.

      There’s no way that I ever would’ve followed this (nor could I have, in all likelihood… I had no idea there were THAT many Spidey comic books), but this is a fascinating read. He tells what happened in the comic book, and intersperses it with comments about what was going on during the creation of it… why certain things happened, etc, etc. I don’t think I’ve read Spidey in 20 years, but this is a Good Read.

      I attempted to follow it back in the day, and I gave up – it was what precipitated my giving up on comics. I found the articles to be pretty interesting (and I mean that in a way that says “I just read that straight through in the last four hours”) with the comments on how the marketing aspect took over the series to be particularly insightful.

      Money talks and integrity walks indeed.

      • mbourgon says:

        Re: Ya know, this is actually kind of cool.

        (and I mean that in a way that says “I just read that straight through in the last four hours”)

        Yeah – might want not to do that – I got through part 20 yesterday, and my head is swimming this morning – too much stuff. You get overloaded on “they did WHAT?”s.

  2. Babbster says:

    Glad I Quite When I Did
    Reading this very comprehensive and interesting piece, I realize now what a good move I made quitting (it turns out temporarily) comics when I did. I had a feeling things were going wrong with the Spider books around the time of Carnage, and I stopped right after Peter’s parents apparently resurfaced. If I had gone too far into the clone saga I would have been even more bitter than I was when they ruined Venom and introduced Carnage (the latter clearly a replacement for partially “defanged” Venom).

    My favorite part of the piece so far, and it’s where I’ve decided to leave off for the night, is the end of part 9. Tom Defalco manages to simultaneously be irritated with the pressure he was getting from marketing and yet still suggest that having a second Spider-Man character running around the MU would have been a good idea. For me, no matter how solid the character of Ben Reilly might have been, “Scarlet Spider” as a permanent resident of the MU would have annoyed me no end.

    A great example for me (mentioned in the aforementioned section) is War Machine. I loved Rhodey. I thought he was an excellent Iron Man character and, if truth be told, I thought he was more interesting as Iron Man than Tony Stark. Now, Tony Stark is the more interesting character overall (look at how long he’s been developed), but he can do ANYTHING with the armor while Rhodey really had to work hard at it. But, even as a Jim Rhodes fan, I didn’t pick up issue #2 of War Machine. Not only was it not, IMHO, a very good book but the best he could possibly be is a gritty Iron Man and I had no interest. With Ben Reilly, it would have been even worse since he would be almost entirely a repeat of the same character (while some things would change in five years, come on).

    Yikes, talk about a rant, Comic Book Guy style…and about old comics that I haven’t read…and probably preaching to the choir, to boot. I’ve GOT to stop…and maybe post again when I finish the entire series. :-)

  3. UncleJam says:

    Wow…

    Speaking as someone who gave up Spider-Man in the late 80’s (shortly after McFarlane came on board) and so never had to suffer through any of the stuff talked about in this series, that was a fascinating read. It got to be a little much for my poor brain around the “Maximum Clonage” storyline (how many Peter clones were there at one time?), but I actually kinda enjoyed the later parts. In fact, if I run across the last few stories in a quarter bin somewhere, I might actually pick them up.

    I would love to see the same level of dissection for some other major storylines, like “Death/Rebirth of Superman”, “No Man’s Land”, “Age of Apocalypse”, and “Heroes Reborn”. They might not be as interesting from a “What the hell were they thinking?” perspective, but I bet they’d still make for good reading.

  4. Canthros says:

    I’ve only read part of this.
    And a month or more back, so I’m undoubtedly fuzzy on details (and you must read faster than I do, because it took me something like six hours to read what I did). That said, it struck me as an excellent argument for not allowing departments outside of your business’s core competency go about determining your business’s direction.

    At the very least, I never want to work at any company where marketing isn’t kept on a very short leash. Ugh.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Read the whole damn thing

      Is Dilbert satire, or accurate reporting?

    • Babbster says:

      Re: I’ve only read part of this.
      Having now read the whole thing, it seems that marketing had almost nothing to do with the roots of the problem. True, they made requests/demands that didn’t help, but it seems the reason the entire thing went wonky was because editorial staff simultaneously had too tight a grip on the reins (too much meddling in the plot with needless complications – one example being finding yet another dead clone when the factory/smokestack came down) and no firm plan at the outset. Had they plotted the beginning, middle and a firm ending before starting, the story wouldn’t have dragged on interminably (which was the root of marketing’s eventual involvement – they liked the Spidey sales figures as the Clone Mess went on) and it could succeed or fail on the merits, letting things be fixed in the usual way if necessary (retcons that can be annoying and interesting at the same time).

      It’s easy to judge in hindsight, but what else do we have? Had they started the process by figuring out where the characters would be at the beginning and where they would be coming out the other side, while establishing a firm schedule of events, Spider fans probably wouldn’t still be talking about it today (and from what I see around the net – not just in our little corner of it – they certainly are).

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