Marvel Comics has broken the spoiler seal on Chasm, the brand new villainous identity of Peter Parker clone and sometimes-Spider-Man Ben Reilly.
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Ben made the full heel turn in March 30’s Amazing Spider-Man #93 (opens in new tab), the current ongoing series finale and end of the 19-issue ‘Beyond Era.’ making him the latest of Spider-Man’s archenemies that have strange personal connections to Peter.
According to Marvel, after months of “hard truths and soul searching,” Ben becomes aware that something is missing within him and becomes consumed with the premise that Peter is the source of all his problems, which leads to his debut as Chasm, “a fierce and deeply personal new Spidey foe” heading into April’s relaunch of the Amazing Spider-Man title with a new #1.
“Amazing Spider-Man #93 brings us to the end of the mega-arc the Beyond Board worked so hard on,” says series writer Zeb Wells. “And though this story is coming to an end, Ben Reilly’s journey is just beginning. “Keep reading Amazing Spider-Man to find out if Peter can pull Ben back from the Chasm.”
“Get ready to get to know the most terrifying new member of Spidey’s Rogues Gallery,” adds Amazing Spider-Man editor Nick Lowe. “Part of the point of ‘Beyond’ was the creation of Chasm and we have huge plans for the artist formerly known as Scarlet Spider, so keep your eyes peeled Web-Heads.”
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To explain how Ben turned into Chasm, we’ve gotta give a short TL:DR on the events of Amazing Spider-Man #93 and the most recent happenings in the title overall.
Amazing Spider-Man #93 concludes the ‘Spider-Man Beyond’ storyline with a bloody and brutal fight between Peter Parker, the classic Spider-Man, and his clone, Ben Reilly, who has been operating as Spider-Man while Peter has been in the hospital with radiation poisoning.
Those who have been reading Spider-Man since the ’90s know Ben as a clone of Peter Parker who once believed himself to be the genuine article, and who previously replaced Peter as Spider-Man for a while during the ‘Clone Saga’ storyline, leading to his recent stint in the mantle.
Though Ben thinks he’s been doing good as a hero, he’s also been under the employ of the sinister Beyond Corporation whose selfish machinations include shadily buying the legal trademark for the name ‘Spider-Man’ in the Marvel Universe, trying to get Ben Reilly to take down Miles Morales and stop him from using the name, and sending Ben on other missions with secret corporate motivations.
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It all comes to a head as Ben begins to lose his artificially implanted memories of Peter Parker’s life. The Beyond Corporation attempts to pit the increasingly unstable Ben against Peter, telling him they’ve built a device that can repair and restore the pieces of his memories and personality that Ben believes are fading away.
But sensing a trap, Peter refuses to submit to the device, leading Ben to try and force him to use it. In the ensuing conflict, Ben is swept up under strange chemicals called “quantum-shifting polymers in a psycho-reactive medium” which are unleashed to rewrite and remake the actual physical matter of their headquarters to hide the evidence of their misdeeds.
Despite suffering serious injuries, Peter survives, but Ben seems to be lost in the wreckage of the former Beyond Corporation headquarters. However, months later, Ben resurfaces – and he’s undergone some changes due to his exposure to the “quantum-shifting polymers.”
The issues with Ben’s memory have become worse, with the literal holes in his visual memories where the faces of his loved ones used to be creeping into his actual perceptions, leaving Ben unable to even perceive his own face in the mirror. Perhaps even worse, he’s now bathed in some kind of green and black energy that seems related to the shifting properties of the chemicals.
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Donning a twisted green and purple version of his Spider-Man suit, Ben declares his old self “dead,” implying that the memories and larger personality that once resided in his physical form have been erased, which seems to be confirmed by his inability to even perceive his own face, along with his previously established amnesia. Instead, all that’s left within him is a “Chasm,” giving his new apparently villainous persona its name. And that of course means that the new villain Chasm is in fact none other than Ben Reilly, Peter’s former ally.
This all seems to be positioning Ben/Chasm as a new nemesis for Spider-Man who embodies the opposite qualities that define Peter Parker.
In the same way Peter Parker’s heroic life as Spider-Man has been shaped by the lessons he’s learned from the people in his life and the things he’s been through, Amazing Spider-Man #93 sets up Chasm as a villain defined by the total absence of any guiding forces or even a sense of self.
And of course, Chasm’s green and purple-themed costume invokes characters like Spidey’s own enemy the Green Goblin and Batman’s opposite number the Joker, giving some subtle visual cues about the importance he may come to have as Spider-Man’s new arch-villain, perhaps taking on a role similar to the one once played by Venom as a kind of anti-Spider-Man.
Whatever comes next for Chasm, it’s likely to happen in the new volume of Amazing Spider-Man, which kicks off with a new Amazing Spider-Man #1 on April 6.
The new Amazing Spider-Man #1 is just one of the many Spidey stories coming out from Marvel every month. Stay on top of it all with our listing of all the new Spider-Man comics scheduled for release in 2022 and beyond.