MarvelBlog Retro Review: The Amazing Spider-Man #76 (2021)
The second issue in Zeb Well’s acclaimed Beyond arc does perhaps the unthinkable, as Peter Parker experiences what may be his scariest moment yet: This is our Retro Review of The Amazing Spider-Man #76.
Looking back on a year ago, writer Zeb Wells began crating a story centered around one of the most underrated Marvel characters of all time, Ben Reily, who seems to be finally getting his chance to embrace life as Spider-Man that he was always so robbed of.
We previously touched on The Amazing Spider-Man #75, which laid the foundation for Reilly’s return to the red and blue suit, being embraced by the Beyond Corporation, who has made Reilly their choice to fight crime under the Spider-Man mantle; a trademark Peter Parker no longer has.
The issue ended with Peter being dangerously exposed to harmful toxins, with The Amazing Spider-Man #76 allowing Wells to dig further into the danger facing Peter, and the reality of Ben’s wish to be Spider-Man coming at a horrible cost.
The issue starts with a fantastically poetic moment for any Spider-Man fan; Ben Reilly calling Aunt May to tell her that Peter Parker is in the hospital.
Reilly pretends to be Peter, but May is quick to realize that it isn’t her beloved Nephew on the other end of the line, prompting her to heed the call and visit her hospitalized nephew.
The issue begins to then lay the groundwork for what has been the culminating moment between both PEter and Ben; the moment that Peter finally gives Reilly his blessing to be Spider-Man.
Ben Reilly, since his inception and time as the Scarlett Spider, has always been a tragic hero; with all the memories of Peter Parker, yet forced to live life as a clone, with no ability to live the life he truly believed that he had.
This issue sees Peter finally confront reality; his own desire to continue living his life as Peter Parker, and Spider-Man, forced Ben Reilly into a state of non-existence.
Reilly has always been selfless, and it is this moment that allows him to be selfish and accept Peter’s blessing to be Spider-Man.
Yet, the tragic reality of Well’s storytelling, is that while Ben gets his truest wish to be Spider-Man, Peter slides into a coma to preserve his body, desperately fighting itself to eliminate the toxin.
Patrick Gleason brings beautifully horrific art that perfectly depicts the horrible dichotomy between the present circumstances of Peter Parker and Ben Reilly; presenting a new world in which every gift comes at a cost, and our beloved characters seemingly only find fulfillment at a price.
The issue concludes with Peter slipping into a coma, and Ben Reilly facing off against the perpetrators who placed him there.
Well and Gleason has brilliantly set up a current Marvel Universe in which Ben Reilly is tragically given a chance to embrace who he truly is, yet Peter’s current state only being temporary promising that this is bound to end badly.