Published May 11, 2017

Scarlet Spider: Anatomy of a Costume

Artist Mark Bagley returns Ben Reilly to a classic and beloved look!

Image for Scarlet Spider: Anatomy of a Costume

Scarlet Spider fans, rejoice! The complicated clone kicks it old school with the return of his classic costume in BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #3. We hope his visual change will make a big difference, because he’s at odds with the ever so villainous—not to mention: deeply connected—crime lord, Cassandra Mercury and her impervious consigliere. Add his “brother” Kaine to the mix and Ben’s really got his work cut out. Catch all the action on June 14!

Speaking of Scarlet Spider’s original threads, we sat down with the series’ artist, Mark Bagley, to discuss the classic look, what influenced its reincarnation, and more. First and foremost, what do you think it is about the original Scarlet Spider costume that fans love so much?

Mark Bagley: First of all, it bright back a lot of memories! It was always fun to draw [and] the structure of it really lends itself to helping proportion the figure it’s covering. Why do you love it?

Mark Bagley: Not sure I ever said I love it. Back in the day, I didn’t appreciate its better qualities—but, drawing it now is kind of a kick. [Original Scarlet Spider artist] Tom Lyle did a great job of coming up with a “costume that doesn’t look like a costume,” which was sort of the directions us artists were given when designing Ben’s costume. I believe all the artists on the Spider books at the time were allowed to submit designs—I actually still have a few of the originals. Who suggested bringing it back?

Mark Bagley: That call came from up high. I think [BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER writer] Peter [David] and editorial really wanted to embrace the character’s history and maybe excite the longtime fans of Ben. Compared to the sleeker, more super hero-esque costume that we’ve seen him don in the series so far, the classic costume definitely has a more scrappy feel to it. Without giving too much away, how are Scarlet Spider’s original threads a reflection of what’s to come in issue #3?

Mark Bagley: That is kind of hard to say; I think the idea is that Ben, as whacked out as he currently is, really has a yearning to own his history—when he was an honest to god good guy.

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #3 cover by Mark Bagley It’s safe to say that Ben has a bit of a personality disorder; what was it like to work on the visual identity of a character who is literally struggling between two very different versions of himself?

Mark Bagley: I have always seen the characters I’ve drawn as actors on my stage, so it was fun—and a bit of a challenge—to make him both batty and sympathetic. Having his face look like pepperoni pizza only adds to the challenge. Did the struggle between his Scarlet Spider identity and Jackal personality have an influence on the decision to go back to his original threads?

Mark Bagley: He is definitely serious about denying his Jackal persona and trying to embrace his new life. To be honest, I’m not sure he really thinks, even now, that he was a villain. Bringing back a classic look is—in a way—like illustrating a whole new character. As the artist, how did you take on that challenge and bring it back, but add your own personal touch?

Mark Bagley: I was glad for the chance, actually. I really wasn’t very happy with the costume I’d come up with—though I worked really hard on it. To be honest, outside of trying to draw him as well as I can—I really feel a pressure to show that I’m a more accomplished artist than I was back in the “Clone Saga” days—I’m not adding my own personal touch, [per se]. I think that would defeat the intention of embracing the character’s visual history. Is the old school look here to stay?

Mark Bagley: Your guess is as good as mine!

See for yourself with BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #3, coming June 14 from Peter David and Mark Bagley!