Dark Web is an undeniably fun and silly event about silly demons, but this tone undermines a very dark and poignant story about Spider-Man’s identity.


Warning: SPOILERS ahead The Amazing Spider-Man #17In the latest Spider Man event, Dark Web, Peter Parker and his clone Ben Reilly collide head-on, but the silliness of the story downplays the seriousness of the situation.


Ben Reilly has had it tough over the past few years. After bringing many people back to life as the new Jackal in history The Clone Conspiracy, Ben was sent to prison. He was eventually released thanks to Beyond Corporation using him as their new corporate owned Spider-Man. Eventually, Ben broke free from Beyond, but clashed with Peter Parker. He even blamed Peter for stealing his memories and his soul. He then jumped into a vat of chemicals which turned him into a new villain called Chasm.

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IN The Amazing Spider-Man #17 by Zeb Wells and Ed McGuinness, Chasm’s plan for revenge against Peter is well underway. He has made a deal with the Goblin Queen of Limbo, Madelyne Pryor, to have the hell dimension invade New York City. He then transported Peter to Limbo, where Peter essentially lives out a version of his own personal hell over and over again. Various demons have even copied some of Peter’s regular villains to form a new demonic Sinister Six. Earlier Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson is also stuck in Limbo and is used to torture Peter to get him to bite a fruit that will give Ben his soul.


Ben Reilly and Peter Parker deserve more

peter parker talks to the gap

Despite being in Hell and surrounded by demons, the tone of this event is laughably silly. Life in New York City goes on pretty much as normal. People just need to get over the fact that inanimate objects are suddenly possessed by demons. People even complain about riding in a taxi that almost eats them. While this tone is certainly silly and a lot of fun to watch play out in a cartoon, the absurdity of it all seriously undermines the deep characterization and relationship that Ben and Peter have.

At the end of Besides story arc, emotions were extremely high. Ben and Peter fought viciously and had a climactic battle where Peter’s clone showed a lot of aggression towards him. Ben really feels robbed of his identity and who he is as a person. This is a deep story that has serious implications for individuality and Ben’s character. But the silly nature of Dark Web seems to sacrifice the thematic heart of the story. Finally Ben Reilly and Peter Parker will have to patch up their differences, but it’s hard to build tension and suspense at this crucial moment in Spider-Man’s life when silly demons are all around them.

More: Why secret identities should be impossible in the Marvel universe

The Amazing Spider-Man #17 is now available from Marvel Comics.

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