Ben Reilly Happens While You're Busy Making Other Plans

Monday, June 14, 2010

Web of Spider-Man 8: "Un Nuovo Inizio?" Review

DeMatteis' second original Ben Reilly story this year makes it clear he was just getting warmed up with "Nobody."

"Nobody" was an excellent character piece that got Ben Reilly where he needed to be, but "Un Nuovo Inizio?" makes the cast and setting seem incidental by comparison. I can pretty much take or leave Ben's jerk boss or the Portland setting from WOS 5, elements which served the Story well but did little else. Not so with this outing. I'm enthralled by the setting, I'm in love with the characters, and the Story has possibilities that reach far beyond this ten pages and into the future.

The Story finds Ben in Rome teaching English Lit. I hope something jumped out at you there, and not just the TEACHING. Ben is teaching ENGLISH LIT!!! Now I'm admittedly a little biased, being an English/Lit major and all. But with this important distinction DeMatteis shows us why Ben Reilly isn't redundant, and it's a moment that's not out of step with his Parker heritage in the least. Peter could easily teach English Lit if he wanted, just as Ben has already taught science. But this step goes a long way toward showing readers how Ben's lonely life has made him more introspective. Peter struggles to reconcile his social life with his secret world; Ben struggles to protect his inner life from the world.

And that, of course, means that Ben will find new ties to break. Actually, new ties will find him. Ben's as much a recluse as Peter was a geek, but neither of them seem to have any trouble attracting a circle of friends. In this case it's Paolo and Simona.

Paolo's as instantly likable as Foggy Nelson, and that's good, because he plays wingman for Ben. Because if you haven't read it and you haven't guessed it, Simona is hot and she's into Ben. But she also has a bit of a mystery surrounding her that factors into the story's conclusion. And this leads us to a scene that shows if Ben Reilly is more introspective than Peter, he's also more explosive!

I won't spoil any more, suffice to say that this is everything a Ben Reilly story should be. It's got the wanderer mystique that made Kung Fu and Incredible Hulk such hits. It's an exciting setting and an intriguing set-up.

Viva I'Italia! Viva Reilly!

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