ComicBook.com got on the phone with writer Dan Slott and editor Nick Lowe to discuss the huge reveal from today's The Clone Conspiracy #3 and what comes next. Here's what we learned:
Dan Slot said that he has been looking to use Ben Reilly in his run from the very beginning, that the character was always "a bullet in the gun." The character was being held for another story that never materialized, but as soon as he was freed up Slott was happy to finally tell the Jackal story that would become The Clone Conspiracy.
Amazing Spider-Man #21 will be a Ben Reilly focused issue. Editor Nick Lowe compares it to "Kraven's Last Hunt." Amazing Spider-Man #22-23 are about Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.
Slott "tips his Jackal mask" at the fans who pieced together the Jackal's true identity.
Slott reemphasizes that Ben Reilly does not believe he is a villain. Lowe says he doesn't behave like any villain he's ever seen before, which makes the story exciting as an editor and a fan.
Another major reveal in The Clone Conspiracy #3 was that Ben has exhumed Uncle Ben's body with plans to resurrect him. "You'd have to be insane to do that," Slott jokingly says of himself. "Once we do bring back Uncle Ben and Pym particle him and make him a 50-foot monster...people will not see that coming"
"That would have been a hell of a Monsters Unleashed tie-in," Lowe chimed in.
Marvel today announced The Clone Conspiracy: Omega, which will establish the post The Clone Conspiracy status quo. Slott and Christos Gage will be involved, as will other creators. It is centered on the Rhino. The Clone Conspiracy sets up the most vicious Rhino-Spider-Man battle ever.
"It's like an emotional bomb goes off," Slott says. "No one leaves untouched." He says the intensity of the story meant they needed the Omega to deal with the aftermath.
Omega has two stories that are "mysterious" for now. One sets up Amazing Spider-Man #25 with a mystery artist, and the other sets up a new mystery title spinning out of The Clone Conspiracy.
Could a new Scarlet Spider series spin out of The Clone Conspiracy? "He's the antagonist," Lowe points out.
Lowe was not at all hesitant about bringing back Reilly. "It's a cool, cool reveal," that let him change the Jackal's "furry, green, underpants Wolverine look." He admits there was some hesistance just because it was such a big deal, but the story was "big" enough and "awesome" enough to warrant it.
"People just wanted him back," says Slott of Reilly. It was one of his most frequently asked questions.
"In the same way that Amazing Spider-Man #19 was a classic Spider-Man story," Lowe says Omega will be classic and he compares it to the old Juggernaut story.
Slott and Lowe both stress that it isn't always about good vs. evil. Its about protagonists and antagonists and their conflicting goals. Slott notes that Reilly is a "funhouse mirror" version of Peter Parker, and that Ben was "raised' with the same memories and values.
Amazing Spider-Man #23 will provide some time with Gwen and Captain Stacy. It is "a change to get to the heart of emotions of this and really allow Peter to have time with, effectively...the real Gwen," Slott says.
So if the Jackal is Ben Reilly, where is Miles Warren? "We've seen like 20 Miles Warrens!" Slott points out, referring to Ben's servants. Wait and see for the fate of the original.
Any change we'll see the old blue hoodie come back? Or a new Scarlet Spider costume? Slott and Lowe are attached to Ben's dapper Jackal costume and hope to see it cosplayed at cons.
What about Peter's reaction? Does he view Ben as a brother? A nightmare? It's "shock" right now. The opposite of learning someone died. Also, Ben died a hero. Peter's reaction is "Have I been missing something?"
Slott and Lowe stress that Amazing Spider-Man #22 will be a great jumping on point and a seminal must-read issue for anyone who was a fan of Ben Reilly or Spider-Man in the 1990s.
Lowe and Slott had some intense, heated discussions about the direction of the story because the stakes are so high. "This is the tip of the iceberg."
Amazing Spider-Man #22 hits stands on Dec. 21.
The Clone Conspiracy #4 comes out in January.
The Clone Conspiracy: Omega arrives in March.
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