Comics
Published November 30, 2022

What You Need to Know for 'Dark Web'

Here's everything you need to know about 'Dark Web,' the upcoming crossover event that pits Spider-Man and the X-Men against Chasm and the Goblin Queen.

When it comes to clones, there are perhaps none more prominent in the Marvel Universe than Ben Reilly and Madelyne Pryor. The two classic characters have experienced a lot of injustice in their lives, and that’s driven them both to dark places on several occasions. 

Now, they’re preparing to team up for the upcoming DARK WEB event, which will leave Spider-Man fighting for his very soul – literally! Here’s what you need to know before Pryor and Reilly lead the denizens of Limbo to New York City for a heaping helping of revenge.

BEN REILLY

A clone of Peter Parker, Reilly has operated as both the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man since his introduction. However, Reilly hasn’t always been a good guy. Miles Warren, AKA the Jackal, repeatedly killed and resurrected the clone he created, doing immense damage to Reilly’s psyche in the process. After taking on the mantle of the Jackal for a time, Reilly reformed himself, but the recent “Beyond” storyline in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) saw him return to villainy once again. 

In “Beyond,” Reilly began operating as Spider-Man again, but he didn’t act alone. This time around, Reilly had the backing of the mysterious Beyond Corporation, which obtained the rights to Spider-Man following the failure of Parker Industries. Although Parker was initially against Reilly being Spider-Man, the classic hero was injured and assailed with deadly radiation during a battle with the U-Foes. As he fought for his life against radiation poisoning, Ben took over for him and protected New York City. 

The storyline revealed Reilly was living at Beyond Tower with his girlfriend, Janine Godbe, whom the corporation had sprung from prison. Things seemed good for a time, but the duo soon discovered that all was not well thanks to Doctor Otto Octavius, who stole a bunch of sensitive data from the company while attempting to find a cure for Parker’s radiation poisoning. This data proved Beyond was not only unethical, but creating supervillains as part of its schemes.

When Reilly got ahold of the information, he soon learned that Beyond had manipulated his memories and taken away, amongst other things, the trauma he’d experienced at the hands of the Jackal. The company attempted to erase what Reilly had learned about them but damaged his mind and moral compass even more in the process, taking away the critical life lessons given to Parker by Uncle Ben.  

Godbe escaped with the data and attempted to expose Beyond. In response, Beyond sicced Dr. Ashley Kafka, AKA Queen Goblin, on her and the person she turned to: Parker’s longtime love interest Mary Jane Watson. Reilly saved Godbe from Queen Goblin, but he left Watson at the mercy of the deadly villain as a result of his new moral compass. Reilly later teamed up with Parker and the Daughters of the Dragon to stop Beyond. However, he grew increasingly unstable and ended up coming to blows with Parker when he attempted to forcibly take Parker’s memories from him via a special device. Parker won the fight, and Reilly seemingly allowed himself to die as Beyond’s headquarters crumbled around him. In reality, though, the clone survived and took on the mantle of Chasm.

MADELYNE PRYOR

Following the events of “Beyond,” Reilly teamed up with Madelyne Pryor, AKA the Goblin Queen. Like Reilly, Pryor is a clone who struggles with how she relates to her genetic doppelganger, Jean Grey. Soon after her introduction, Pryor ended up in a relationship with Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops, and they had a child together: Nathaniel Summers, AKA Cable. Their relationship soured when Summers found himself unable to leave his Super Hero life behind and he joined X-Force, a team that included a newly returned Grey. 

For a time, Pryor worked with the X-Men and even faked her death alongside the team when Nathan was kidnapped by Mr. Sinister’s Marauders. However, she was soon corrupted by demons, who preyed on all the insecurity and pain from her relationship with Summers, and struck a deal with them to get her son back from Mr. Sinister. When she confronted the villain, he revealed he was, in fact, her creator and that she’d been animated by the Phoenix Force in the wake of Grey’s death during the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” He continued on to explain that he implanted all of her memories, with the goal of getting the powerful Summers/Grey baby he’d always wanted. Her entire relationship with Summers had, essentially, been manufactured by him.

Angry and psychologically damaged by these revelations, Pryor ended up fighting the X-Men and X-Factor during the “Inferno” storyline, which saw her working to bring Limbo to Earth. Pryor seemingly died in the fight, and the Phoenix Force left her. 

In the years since that battle, Pryor has served as an occasional villain for the X-Men, returning to wreak havoc on several occasions. In the Krakoan era, there was some debate about whether, as a clone, she should be resurrected like other mutants. In HELLIONS (2020), though, the Quiet Council agreed to resurrect her due to an intervention from Alex Summers and Emma Frost. Later, in NEW MUTANTS (2019), Illyana Rasputin, AKA Magik, ceded control of Limbo to her. 

ONE HELL OF A TEAM-UP

The first tease of Chasm and Goblin Queen’s team-up came in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM (2022) #1, where the clones got up to some mischief together in New York City. The origins of their partnership were revealed in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2022) #14 by Zeb WellsRyan StegmanTerry DodsonKyle Hotz, and Michael Dowling, where the two quickly discovered they’ve got quite a few similarities. 

Together, Pryor and Reilly aim to launch an attack on New York City, with Chasm looking to steal Parker’s soul with help from Pryor. In their fight, they’ll be joined by Godbe, who has become the villainous Hallows’ Eve, and Eddie Brock, AKA Venom, with whom Pryor struck a deal so that he might get back to his son, Dylan Brock. 

Making matters worse, the duo are catching Parker at a particularly rough time in his life. Following “Beyond,” Parker is in massive medical debt and has found himself isolated from many of his key friends and allies, including Watson. That means Spider-Man is going to be fighting to keep what’s left of his life against both his own clone and one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous villains – and the price for losing is his very soul.

Behold the beginning of DARK WEB in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2022) #14, on sale now, and don’t miss DARK WEB (2022) #1 on December 7!

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