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Edge of Spider-Verse

Spider-Man Legends
by yo go re

I've basically ignored the Spider-books since "One More Day" - if you need to drastically retcon a character's history in order to write a good story, you have no business writing that character. However, in 2014, Marvel had a mini crossover event called "Spider-Verse," in which dozens of Spider-Men from all over the multiverse joined together to fight unbeatable foes. The series introduced lots of cool new Spideys - and a few old ones, too.

When radioactive spiders are turned loose in the lab, these scientists obtain web-slinging super powers!

Boy, in Series 2 we get a proper hoodie-wearing Scarlet Spider, and now in Series 3 we get a Ben Reilly Spider-Man who not only looks awesome, but is even called Spider-Man? Hasbro is spoiling us! I know that at SDCC last year, Hasbro said the reason they're doing a new Namor is because their first one sucked, so if you consider the general quality of Hasbro's first Ben Reilly (the one that was a Walmart exclusive and reused a Silver Surfer body), it's not too much of a stretch to imagine the same "let's do it right this time" mentality being the driving force behind the release of this figure. And honestly, if it is? More power to them, because this is a huge step up.

Logically, this figure uses the same molds as Series 1's "Pizza Spidey" - since Ben is a clone of Peter, there's no reason they shouldn't both have the same body. Even the head is the same, because while the Scarlet Spider suit had those huge Image Comics eyes, Ben's Spider-Man costume kept the lenses a more traditional size.

Steve Ditko's original Spider-Man costume is one of the best superhero suits ever designed, balanced perfectly on the line between simple and complex, and between stealthy and flashy. The only way to improve it is to take the webs out of his armpits, and Marvel did that decades ago. So while the costume Mark Bagley designed is nice enough, it's not really an improvement over the old one. Why do his boots only cover the outside of his legs? Why is his shirt exactly the same on the chest and the back? And most of all, why do his gloves look like biker gloves? Ben may have had plenty of downtime in which to improve his web-shooting technology, but he certainly didn't spend any of that time on his design skills.

The articulation is unchanged: balljointed head, hinged neck, lateral pec hinges, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a hinged torso, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles. The hips still don't move all the way out to the sides, but he's plenty flexible. He's also got his webshooters (with sculpted lines this time, not just painted), and the same six hands as Spidey - two fists, two thwips, and two with the fingers spread - plus a bit more.

In Amazing Spider-Man #410, Ben met the Carnage symbiote (not Carnage himself - Cletus Kasady was still locked away safely in Arkham Ravencroft Asylum Institute), and it took him over. This figure comes with the hands and head from the "Spawn of Symbiotes" Carnage figure! See, stuff this is why Marvel Legends won "Best Line" in the 2015 ToY Awards - including more extra pieces than expected. Yes, Spider-Carnage had symbiote tendrils all over his arms and legs, and his eyes were smooth rather than jagged, but this remains a nice, unexpected bonus. In fact, if it hadn't been seven years since we got a Ben Reilly Spider-Man, I'd wager that the majority of the figures sold would be in Spider-Carnage form permanently.

Ben includes two pieces of the Series 3 Build-A-Figure, Absorbing Man: the arms. One of them is completely pink, and the other is partially metallic silver. They sure are some arms.

Ben Reilly Spider-Man is sold under the name "Edge of Spider-Verse," making him the companion figure to Spider-Gwen, and suggesting that he's not the 616 version of the character. The "Spider-Verse" crossover introduced the Spidey of Earth-94, where Peter stayed retired after losing his powers, so Ben was his permanent replacement. In the story, he worked missions with Kaine and Ultimate Jessica Drew as a team called (appropriately enough) "the Scarlet Spiders."

-- 01/04/16

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