The following contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #14, available now from Marvel Comics.
From animalistic and high-tech supervillains to countless versions of himself from across the multiverse, it seems like there is nothing that Spider-Man hasn’t faced in his sixty-year career as a superhero. Of course, even after so much time spent in the spotlight, there are still plenty of surprises just waiting to be uncovered. As of now, the most shocking of them all might very well be the fact that his clone Ben Reilly has become a whole new kind of villain, and his similarities to Limbo’s Goblin Queen, Madelyne Pryor could make things all the worse.
Amazing Spider-Man #14 (by Zeb Wells, Michael Dowling, Richard Isanove, Kyle Hotz, Dan Brown, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Ryan Stegman, Tim Townsend, JP Mayer, Matt Hollingsworth, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) finds Ben Reilly still reeling from the perceived slights of his unwitting progenitor, Peter Parker. Now working under the new moniker of Chasm, Ben has set out to destroy Peter, leaving behind only the memories he feels were stolen from him by the original. To that end, he has developed a machine capable of bringing him to the Hellish shores of Limbo. For whatever reason, Ben has been feeling the pull of the demonic realm for quite some time, and Madelyne Pryor might be able to help explain why.
The X-Men’s Goblin Queen and Ben Reilly Share the Same Tragic Origin
Madelyne was a clone of Jean Grey, however, she nor anyone else besides Mister Sinister was aware of that fact when she first appeared in the pages of 1983’s Uncanny X-Men #168 (by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith). Initially, Sinister had hoped to use Madelyne to give birth to Scott Summers’ child, yet the lack of any apparent mutation on her part made the villain assume his experiment was a failure. Much to his and everyone else’s surprise, she did eventually develop powers almost identical to Jean’s own, and she didn’t stop there. As the Goblin Queen of Limbo, Madelyne has also amassed a plethora of spells and sorcery that could combat any Master of the Mystic Arts, even though she has her sights set firmly elsewhere as of now.
Much like how Ben has been left questioning his very existence, those who made the decision to bring resurrect Madelyne on Krakoa have done the same to her. The subject of her resurrection to begin with was a point of contention for the mutants of the Quiet Council, which continued on even after she was given another lease on life. With what should have been her new homeland effectively rejecting her existence, Madelyne took the reins of Limbo instead. Apart from the demons who continue to taunt her status as a clone, it seems that she has made herself at home. That doesn’t mean she is truly content in Limbo, however, and just as Ben Reilly has decided that his disillusionment with the world is someone else’s fault, Madelyne’s disenfranchisement has turned into dangerous resentment.
The X-Men’s Goblin Queen and Chasm are Victims of Injustice
Considering everything that Ben and Madelyne have been through, it doesn’t really come as any surprise that they have developed dark, obsessive fascinations with the people they were cloned from. Their stories may not be the same brand of tragedy, and their grudges may not bear the same legitimacy, yet they are in essence two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, the fires that forged them have also left them blind to the sad truths behind the injustices they respectively suffered.
This makes their shared crusade into little more than a desperate attempt to convince themselves of their own autonomy. Rather than being victims of anything that Peter or Jean ever put them through, all the suffering in Ben and Madelyne’s lives can be attributed to forces beyond any of their control. With any luck, the latter pair will be able to come to that realization before digging themselves into an even deeper hole.