Published August 29, 2017

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider Welcomes Back the Slingers – But One Has a Secret

Peter David on bringing back the Spider-Man spinoff characters.

Image for Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider Welcomes Back the Slingers – But One Has a Secret

Las Vegas greets a new quartet of residents in BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #8 on September 27 and they will thrill long-time Spider-fans. Ben, on the other hand, might just take a little longer to win over.

The Slingers have returned and they do not think Reilly should be wearing the webs and will not hesitate to tell—or show—him so. Unfortunately, matters have been complicated even more they know as one of their own hides a secret under their mask.

Writer Peter David would not pull back that mask fully, but he did offer us a peek in this interview. As a writer, what attracted you to the Slingers as characters?

Peter David: Actually, I hadn’t been attracted to them at all. I barely even remembered their comic. My editors suggested that they would be a great fit for the book, and once I reread their adventures—which were NOT easy to find, by the way, and Marvel really should collect them—I realized that they would be perfect for the book.

In many ways, they are quite like Ben: they are determined to be heroes, but they engage in some really unexpected decisions in order to try and achieve their goals. So much so that one begins to wonder if they’re heroes or skewing toward the other side of the fence. Why did they make sense, creatively, to become part of Ben Reilly’s story at this time?

Peter David: Well, Ben is really going through some serious emotional stuff in the series. He’s determined to be a hero; indeed, he doesn’t even really acknowledge that he’s doing things that aren’t heroic.

And why should he? The Punisher is considered a hero, and he is outside of the law and kills people. Indeed, lots of superheroes are vigilantes. Ben doesn’t see any difference between them and him, despite the fact that he wound up going head to head with Spider-Man. So I think the Slingers fit in perfectly with that mindset, because they’re going to come to perceive Ben as a villain and will see it as their responsibility to bring him down. Although they have appeared here and there now and then, the Slingers have been largely absent from the Marvel Universe for awhile now. How are they similar to their 90’s selves? How have they changed?

Peter David: They haven’t changed all that much. Let’s remember that time passes much more slowly in the MU than it does in real life. It may be a couple of decades since we last saw them, but I feel like it’s only about a year’s worth of time in the MU since we last saw them. How did Will Sliney’s art inform and match your characterization of the Slingers?

Peter David: It honestly didn’t.  Will’s a great artist and I knew that he’s talented enough to pull off whatever I come up with. What about Hornet made him the right character to be the fulcrum of the group, the one being manipulated by forces we don’t yet know?

Peter David: Because the Hornet is dead. I’ll tell you that right now: that’s not Eddie [McDonough]. Someone else has appropriated the armor and identity of the Hornet. So one of the Slingers’ first mission priorities is going to be to figure how who the guy is and whose side he’s on.