Appearing in "What If... Scarlet Spider Had Killed Spider-Man?"

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Synopsis for "What If... Scarlet Spider Had Killed Spider-Man?"

The story begins with Mary Jane giving birth to Baby May Parker. This time, Peter is there to witness the birth, which should seem like a happy occasion, but Peter seems to bear a heavier than usual burden at this moment. That's because he really isn't Peter Parker at all, but Ben Reilly. The story switches to a flashback, following the events that unfolded in the Earth-616 continuity in "Timebomb," (From Web of Spider-Man #129 and Spectacular Spider-Man #228), in which we learn that when he thought Peter was the clone, the Jackal planted a post hypnotic command in Peter's brain to kill the person he loved the most, triggered upon the Jackal's death. In that story, Mary Jane was able to confront Peter and use his force of will to help him to override the Jackal's mind control. In this story, there is no such confrontation. Both the Scarlet Spider and the New Warriors go after Spider-Man, following him to the Edison Power Plant. Scarlet blocks off the New Warriors from entering with his impact webbing, and convinced that Peter will never shake the Jackal's programming, brings down the dynamos and generators surrounding Peter, killing him.

After the power plant explodes, Ben Reilly's unconscience form washes upon shore, where his Scarlet Spider costume is in such tatters that none of the paramedics realizes who it is they're rescuing. A seriously burned and bruised Reilly later wakes up in a hospital bed, surrounded by Mary Jane and Peter's other friends and acquaintances, who all believe that he is really Peter Parker. Reilly intends to tell Mary Jane the truth, but her apparent desperation, and fear of being left to raise her child alone, as well as his own desire to make things right by Peter, touch something in Reilly, and he decides to perpetuate the lie. However, the Parkers soon learn that May has an inexplicable form of blood poisoning, which we know was caused by the so-called "genetic drift" in the fetus, the result of one of the parents of the child being a clone. In the intervening three years, Spider-Man has been for all intents and purposes retired, brought out of mothballs only in the most desperate of circumstances - and wearing the revised Spider-Man costume that became associated with the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, or "Spider-Ben". However, Ben continues to have nightmares associated with his fear of being found to be a fraud. One night, he discovers that May has been kidnapped - and that the kidnapper is none other than - the Green Goblin.

However, there's something rather strange about this Goblin, as he is babbling about having a condition that he needs May's blood for in order to cure him - and he happens to be packing around a vial that includes the green goo he plans to inject May's blood into. This Goblin also seems to know that he's dealing with Ben Reilly rather than Peter Parker, and also exhibits some of the same wall crawling ability possessed by our friendly neighborhood Spider-Men. Additionally, the Goblin babbles about Peter Parker stealing his very life, and when Reilly calls him a monster, the Goblin replies "no more than the Jackal made of you, no more than you made of me."

During the battle, both Spider-Ben and the Goblin crash into the water, and Reilly, with Goblin mask and serum in hand, is the only one to resurface. He tells the reader that he has two theories on who this Goblin was, but ignores the "painfully obvious one" in favor of believing that this was a clone of Norman or Harry Osborn. He doesn't know why an Osborn clone, suffering from clone degeneration, would need May's blood, however - since her father, Peter Parker was the real thing and not a clone - wasn't he? Ben presents the Green Goblin's Goo to Mary Jane, stating that if May's blood was good for the Goblin, then maybe the Goblin's serum will be good for May. MJ gratefully accepts the serum, and reveals that she knows that he is not the man she married. She states that Spider-Man using the Scarlet Spider's impact webbing (she had observed the aforementioned battle) sealed it for her, but that she suspected all along, yet was a willing participant in the lie because she and May needed him. However, they can no longer live like this, and while she wants to learn from Ben later about how Peter died, at the moment it is best that they separate, and that Ben Reilly spend some time to discover his own identity, rather than live another man's life.

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