Yesterday was one of those days where I was constantly stuck behind large, slow vehicles. Construction equipment, campers, truck carrying some giant cylinder. At least the weather was excellent.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #2, by Peter David (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), John Dell (inker), Jason Keith (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - OK, the point at which the mask is taking on the texture of some creepy, membranous substance is the point when you need to stop making his mouth visible beneath the mask. That's some horror movie stuff there.
Ben avoids being shot, first by being fast, then by making a bullshit promise he can cure Cassandra Mercury's daughter of her Crooks' disease, even though he's lying through his teeth. He gets them to set up his "Aunt June" with an unlimited account and a room at the hotel, not that she knows what's going on. Kaine is closing in on Ben, although he ran into some armed goons. Are they leftover security, or other people after Ben Reilly? Don't know.
The dueling phantoms of Ben-as-Scarlet Spider and Ben-as-Jackal didn't appear this month. Probably good not to overuse that, assuming it wasn't a one-off thing. It's interesting to see what aspects of Peter Parker show up, and how they're expressed differently. He's glib, he's fairly clever, but it's less about wisecracks and more about lies, or salesmanship. His lies aren't very good - he claimed he was able to awaken Cassandra's daughter because he has a telepathic ability to reach into the minds of children - but Peter told some weak stories over the years. Ben at least can manage it with a straight face. Peter's been to the afterlife a couple of times, though he doesn't usually remember it. Ben apparently remembers every death the clones experienced, and he remembers it as nothingness. Which no doubt informs his approach. No point in worrying about what comes after, because there is nothing.
I'm not sure what the end game of this whole thing with "Aunt June" is, or if he'll continue to try and collect a faux-Parker crew around him. Is he going to expect some sort of affection or gratitude from her, or is this just a joke to him? Enable some cranky, gambling addict for the hell of it? Is it the only way he thinks he can keep people around, giving them stuff, or making them feel indebted?
Bagley keeps the shades on Ben throughout almost the entire issue. Which keeps people from being able to read the eyes, which might say something about Ben's confidence in his ability to lie to their faces. The only time they're gone is when he and Mr. Slate get into it. Even then, only when Ben underestimates the guy and gets slugged, then kicked around a little. The moment when he loses any sense of control of the situation. He can't bluff his way out of it, and he seemingly can't fight his way out, either. That shocked look as he first gets punched,and then he's getting slammed into the floor.
Also, I like the way the "PUNT" sound effect is drawn. The font seems more appropriate for Calvin & Hobbes, one of the strips where Calvin's getting pummeled by Moe. Given that Ben's in the mess at least partially because he ran his mouth against someone not impressed or dazzled by his wit, that fits.
Anyway, I'm sticking with the book for the time being.