By Stewart Greer
Note: This issue takes place during the events of Uncanny X-Men #406
Ben Reilly may look and act like any normal twenty-six year old but in actual fact, he’s really only eight years of age. It was nine years ago when the saga began, and a man called Miles Warren was devastated when his star pupil, Gwen Stacy, a student who he had an obsessive infatuation with, was killed in a tragic accident. She died during a confrontation between Spider-man and the original Green Goblin, when she was thrown from the George Washington Bridge and her neck was broken as Spider-man had tried to save her.
Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, also apparently died that night, impaled by his own glider, although he survived the experience. Warren was grief stricken and blamed Spider-man for Gwen’s death so he hatched a scheme to gain revenge. He sought to create a clone of Spider-man, to use as a weapon against his perceived enemy. He also wanted to recreate Gwen Stacey as his lover and wife.
Warren was a Professor at NYU and began his research in secret, aided by Anthony Sherba and Seward Trainer, both accomplished geneticists. Miles Warren was unaware at the time that Norman Osborn was manipulating him, and subsequently, Nathaniel Essex, Sinister, manipulated Osborn. Still, Warren continued his work unabated. As the year passed, he began to develop mental problems that culminated in the murder of his assistant, Sherba. And thus, the Jackal was born. Warren’s mind had been fractured by the trauma of the murder that he had committed and a split personality developed.
The Jackal trained strenuously, and then faced Spider-man in battle. He lost, obviously, but the point wasn’t to kill the spider, just get some cell samples. So, from a drop of Spider-man’s blood, the Jackal created his first clone and as the genetic construct stepped from the cloning pod, Warren was shocked to discover that Spider-man was one of his students, Peter Parker, the former boyfriend of Gwen Stacey. That was just over eight years ago. Unfortunately, there was an unexpected side effect to Warren’s cloning process, there was an unknown degeneration factor present in all the clones, which meant a truly stable clone was impossible to create. Sure enough, the first Parker clone began to degenerate, but it didn’t die, rather, it escaped and became the creature known as Kaine. But that’s another story.
The Jackal was undeterred so he tweaked the process and started again. This time, the cloning was a success, and the man who would become Ben Reilly was born. During his first confrontation with Spider-man, Ben was caught in an explosion and badly injured. Left for dead, he was rescued by the Jackal who abandoned him on the streets of New York. Believing himself to be the original Peter Parker, he returned home to find the real Peter, in the arms of Mary Jane Watson. Accepting the fact that he was a clone, he left New York, choosing the name Ben Reilly in homage to his aunt and uncle who had raised him. Four and a half years later, he returned when he learned that his aunt, May Parker, was seriously ill. His return led to a chain of events that saw the revival of the Jackal, now significantly enhanced by genetics, and the creation of another Parker clone, the homicidal Spidercide.
Ben found himself fighting alongside Spider-man in his own costumed identity, the Scarlet Spider, and after a few months, due to Peter Parker’s personal life, Ben was handed the mantle of Spider-man. Six months he fought and bled and saved lives, until Norman Osborn returned from Europe. Osborn defeated Reilly and confronted Parker, and in the ensuing conflict, Ben sacrificed his life to save his “brother”.
But it wasn’t Ben that died that night, merely a temporary clone, created by Osborn. The clone had Ben’s full memories and personality, hence the sacrifice. The drugs that Osborn had used to subdue Reilly had been designed to specifically affect Parker but Ben’s genetic make-up was more complicated and the drugs reacted differently, forcing him into a coma. Osborn kept his body in stasis, in the hope that one day; he could use Reilly against Parker.
Four months ago, Osborn confronted Parker once more, and offered him the Osborn inheritance, Norman tried to influence Parker, and for a few weeks, Peter acted as the Green Goblin as well as Spider-man. Parker eventually refused Osborn’s offer, and Norman grew angry and impatient, and in hopes of reviving the comatose clone, he introduced the Goblin formula into Ben Reilly’s bloodstream.
Osborn and his former business partner, Mendel Stromm, had developed the formula. The chemicals altered Osborn, making him stronger and more powerful, although eventually, they affected his mind. An interesting side effect was found when Osborn had been impaled; the formula saved his life, rebuilding his pierced heart. Norman hoped the same effect would apply with Reilly, and sure enough, Ben recovered, only to be conditioned by Osborn’s technicians to become the new incarnation of the Green Goblin.
Reilly tried to fight the programming all the way but ultimately he was doomed until he encountered Remy LeBeau, the mutant thief known as Gambit. Their battle was observed by Sinister, the man who originally developed Warren’s cloning process, which incidentally, was created to fail. Sinister rescued Reilly from Osborn’s clutches and restored his health. Recently, Gambit and Ben fought alongside each other in a complex in Portland, to prevent the mutant warlord Apocalypse from rising in a new body. Remy LeBeau freed Ben from Sinister’s service and decided to help his new friend start a new life. And so, they both came to Chicago.