Ben Reilly the Scarlet Spider #16 Review: Empty, Aimless, but Pretty Fun

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Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider, has been roped into the conflict between Wong's Midnight Sons and Mephisto. Wong sends the Scarlet Spider away to hold off the demons in Las Vegas' strip. This initially seems like an easy task with Ben's Spider Sense, but he soon learns that the demons don't trigger it immediately. It complicates further when Mephisto himself approaches Ben Reilly.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #16 cover by Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #16 cover by Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez

Scarlet Spider #16 is a fun if unnecessary spin-off to Doctor Strange: Damnation. It doesn't add anything of note to the story and really only serves to give Ben something to do on his own.

That said, it gives Will Sliney and excuse to draw Ben beating the tar out of vaguely demonic people. That's no different from regular Scarlet Spider, but it's still fun to watch.

There's an extended sequence in the middle of the comic of Ben beating up a random man he thinks is a demon. I can't tell if it's a joke. If it is, it's not a good one. The punchline is telegraphed as hell, though I think the main goal was to make Ben Reilly feel bad about himself. He should be doing that anyway because he's not Kaine, and Kaine is the one true Scarlet Spider.

Mephisto's arrival does bring Ben's complicated feelings about his own status as a hero to a head, so that's something interesting from which to cliffhang a comic.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #16 art by Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #16 art by Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg

Sliney's artwork is as strong as ever. The characters are given good detailing and are visually expressive, even if Ben looks stupid with that army helmet. The fight sequences are done well. The backgrounds are blurred for some reason, and that is distracting. Rachelle Rosenberg's color art is appealing and gives the world a faint yellow hue as opposed to the expected blood red.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #18 is a decent read. There's nothing outright bothersome about it, and it's a fun action book when it's at its best. The plot feels almost nonexistent despite being a tie-in book. That said, Sliney and Rosenberg provide some appealing artwork, and it's a fun distraction. It's not required reading for the week, but feel free to give check it out.

Also, Kaine was on that damn cover. Where is Kaine? I want Kaine! #kaineisscarletspider.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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