Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ben Reilly - A Clone Again, Naturally - Rol Hirst

Panel One.

Ben Reilly stares into a mirror. His hair is dark, not the blond he dyed it in later appearances: for all intents and purposes he is Peter Parker.

CAP (Ben): This is not my face.

Panel Two.

Ben’s face or profile fades into a montage of memories. Spider-Man defeating the burglar who killed his Uncle Ben… Peter getting shouted at by J. Jonah Jameson… dancing with Gwen and MJ… Spidey holding Gwen’s body on top of Brooklyn Bridge while the Green Goblin flies overhead…

CAP (Ben): These are not my memories.

Panel Three.

Ben stands in a loft apartment somewhere in downtown Manhattan. There is no furniture, except the mirror he’s still standing before, no carpets or décor. There is however a large amount of scientific equipment – including cloning chambers – lined up down one side of the room. The loft’s skylight windows are open and we can see the Empire State Building or some other prominent landmark in the distance. It’s late in the day and the light is fading… shadows are creeping across the loft. Ben is wearing civilian clothes… because, let’s face it, if Marvel did resurrect the character for the 21st Century, the least they could do would be to give him a new costume… and clenching his fists at his side.

Ben: This is not my life. It wasn’t the first time, it isn’t now – it won’t ever be, no matter how many times you scrape up my remains into a petri dish and programme these phony cells to grow again…

Panel Four.

Ben turns towards the shadows. The Jackal steps out of the gathering gloom, his body twisted in one of those kooky Jackal poses. He’s grinning… but I’m not sure he can do anything else, wearing that mask. (Yes, he’s wearing his original Jackal costume – not the 90s “I am a Jackal, this is no costume” look. Because he’s had to regrow his own body as a clone and transfer his consciousness into that… again. All this would be explained. If I had to.)

Ben: …Professor Warren.

Jackal: Ah, but Ben, my boy, this time the choice wasn’t mine. As they used to say in Nazi Germany… “I voz only obeyink orderz!”

Panel Five.

Close on Ben, glaring at the Jackal.

Ben: Really, Professor? Whose orders this time…? Norman’s?

Voice (off-panel): No. Mine.

Panel Six.

Looking over Ben’s shoulder (the lines of his Spider Sense are buzzing) we see a second figure step out of the shadows behind the Jackal. It’s Mary Jane Watson. She is Serious.

Mary Jane: I mean, to paraphrase a certain princess…

Mary Jane: Help me, Ben Reilly – you’re my only hope.


  1. Do I at least win a banana for best pun title of the week?

  2. All I could think of with that last line was, Attack of the Clones :P

    Anyway, it's an interesting setup. Why could she possibly want him cloned, yet again? Hmmm...

  3. Rol - interesting script idea, though it's mostly just interesting at the end and the start could be taken or given, to be honest. (Brutal words, perhaps, but I figure I've gotta shake this Mr Clean image)

    I'd rather see you open with the Jackel, have more chatter there, set some new stuff up, then reveal on MJ. But perhaps that's just me...

  4. Danial - I did actually toy with that title...

    Ryan - I don't disagree. I struggled like hell with this one and I was probably too concerned with re-introducing the character and setting the scene rather than cracking on with the story.

  5. I was worried about what you might be doing with the page during the first three panels, but once it got to panel 4, things really started getting interesting. I particularly perked up when I saw the reveal in panel 6, since my mind is buzzing with all sorts of possibilities about just what it might mean.

    I'd say that while you probably could have stood to start the page further into the story, I think you did a real nice job of taking what could have been just another run of the mill character self-reflection page and turning it into something really interesting. And given the punch the reveal has, I imagine it could have been difficult to start further in and still have the same effect without just cutting off the first two or three panels.

    So, yeah. Real nice work you did with this one.

  6. I actually really enjoyed the start. Good quick set up as to who Ben is, and his history. The MJ reveal has be baffled.

    I can not imagine any circumstance where MJ would align herself with whoever re-cloned the Jackal, THEN get him to re-clone Ben Reilly. I guess that's what makes this script intriguing, to find out why she is acting like this.
    Rol - why is she acting like this? I NEED to know!

    One thing I didn't love as much is MJ's line at the end. Clever, absolutely - however would MJ use a line like that in such a bleak setting?

  7. The way I always read MJ is that she's constantly putting on a brave face, from being the party girl to hide her troubled background to sacrificing everything so her husband can live the life he needs to live. What she says is often bright and breezy, flippant even, and rarely reflects what she's really feeling. Even when she's being Serious.

    I thought about that line more than the rest of the script. I wanted to get the Star Wars reference in if I could, but I didn't want it to be corny or accidental. Even the otherwise phatic "I mean," was necessary to capture her voice and hint at her state of mind.

    As to why she would do this... I have enough of an idea that if I were ever called on to write this story I could make it work. You'll notice that Peter is nowhere to be seen...

  8. It's an intiguing premise that leaves a lot of questions unanswered, questions I want the answers to, and ultimately isn't that the sign of a good script?

    "Yes," I say.

    Agree with some of the other comments, *maybe* the beginning section could've been cut, but then I wonder where you would've finished the page, because removing it would've altered the whole layout and you wouldn't have time to explain MJ's situation anyway, not in the limited space we're allowed...

  9. I actually really dig the first part of the page. I imagine it was unintentional, but the first fews lines reminded me of the start of The Talking Head's "Once in a Lifetime". I agree that it also gives a good summary of Ben's character and situation.

    Tangent here, but I also think it is fascinating that this Ben was cloned from the original Ben and consequently has both Ben's and Peter's memories, yet is neither of them. The mind reels at the complexities there.


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