The Exile Returns Part Three - Echoes of Silence
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Steven Butler (breakdowns), Randy Emberlin (finishes), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist)
The Plot: Ben Reilly collapses outside of his apartment, due to the wounds he sustained fighting Venom. His neighbor, Gabrielle Greer, takes him to a nearby clinic. Daily Bugle reporter Ken Ellis tracks Ben to the clinic, but Ben slips away without being noticed. However, he is found by a woman infected with a clone of Venom’s symbiote. He misunderstands her appeal for help and leaves to prepare for his rematch with Venom. Soon, Ben confronts Venom as he battles the woman in Times Square.
The Subplots: The hitman Kaine is offered a job, but he instead kills the mobsters who sought his services.
Web of Continuity: Since the previous issue, Ken Ellis has coined the moniker Scarlet Spider to describe Ben. Ben’s impact webbing debuts this issue during this rematch with Venom.
*See _________ For Details: Venom gashed Ben’s side in Spider-Man #52, the female Venom’s symbiote has regenerated following Venom: Lethal Protector #6, and the conclusion of this story occurs in Spider-Man #53.
Creative Differences: This issue has numerous lettering corrections, but I can’t tell if any of them are actual rewrites. Some of the female Venom’s monologue is relettered on page twelve, around half of the Kaine subplot scene has been relettered, and Venom’s description of how he’s going to strip the symbiote away from the woman on page twenty-seven is partially relettered.
Review: So, following the previous issue, Ben fought Venom and he got a boo-boo on his side. And, apparently the female with a cloned symbiote from the original Venom mini has returned. (I don’t know if this woman ever received a name, but in this issue, Kavanagh only refers to her as “psycho,” “blondie,” "cuz," and “sister.”) Regardless, I don’t think I missed much by skipping Spider-Man #52. Much of this installment feels like padding, with the big conclusion to the Venom fight being reserved for Spider-Man #53. However, over the course of a few panels we do have the introduction of impact webbing, a concept I honestly like and kind of wish could’ve survived the clone saga. Ben’s neighbor Gabrielle Greer is also given a few panels, but during the short-lived career of Ben Reilly, Gabrielle doesn’t amount to more than a short-lived potential love interest. The Kaine subplot scene is much more significant, though, given later revelations about the character. I’m not sure how this will play out while rereading Web, but my memory is that the identity of Kaine was teased for what seemed like forever, even though it should’ve been pretty obvious all along he was another spider-clone. What else were we supposed to think about a masked man with brown hair and Spider-Man’s physique that debuts during a massive cloning storyline?