Sunday, January 8, 2012

Comic Book Review: Spider-Man: The Real Clone Saga

Despite the terribleness that was Spider-Man 3 there was nothing that did as much damage to the Spider-Man franchise over the years as The Clone Saga. For those of you who are not aware of what it is then I give you a spoiler alert but also beg you not to look into reading it.

"Basically" The Clone Saga was a storyline that some how ran in Spider-Man comics for over two years. The gist of it is this. Spider-Man is one of the most beloved comic characters of all time but not just for his super hero alter ego but also his real identity of Peter Parker. During a 1973 storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man the webslinger was cloned by a villain named The Jackal and at the end of the issue both The Jackal and the clone were killed off. Over all it was a great story and the issue became a classic, unfortunately 21 years later that classic issue would become infamous, but not for a good reason.

After all this time it was revealed that both The Jackal and the clone had survived. The Clone felt angry over his existence since he had all of Peter's memories he believed he was the genuine article until the end of that classic issue when he discovered he was a clone. Despite being the clone since he did still have all of the memories of Peter Parker he was also instilled with the same values of with great power comes great responsibility. With that in mind he left New York for good leaving the real Peter to live out his life in peace and to seek his own life under a new name that would combine the name of his late uncle and his beloved Aunt May's maiden name, Ben Riley.

After returning to New York however it is revealed by The Jackal to Peter and Ben that Peter the man we have known for the last 21 years (5 years in the comics time line) was in fact the clone and that Ben was the real Spider-Man.

I won't get into the rest of the crap because it is enough to give anyone a headache lets just sum up by saying after The Jackal was seemingly killed off again and Peter decided that since he was not the real Spider-Man that he would pass the mantel on to The Scarlet Spider, the alter ego that Ben had created for himself. With Peter retired comic fans suffered seemingly forever having to endure the worst retcon in comic history that our beloved Peter Parker had been a fake for all these years while Ben Riley swung around New York saving the day as our new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, this all continued until, just to throw another twist in there for twists sake, Norman Osborn, the first, best and most evil of the Green Goblins, returning from the dead to kill Ben Riley and reveal that he was the true mastermind behind the clone saga and that Peter was indeed the real Spider-Man. What makes this so crazy is that Norman Osborn had been dead himself for over 20 years! They explained this away by saying that the goblin serum kept him alive and that he had just been in Europe (where else?) the entire time.

Sure it was a shitty ending but the important part was that it had FINALLY ended, Peter was revealed as the one true Spider-Man all along who returns to the role, Ben was dead and Spider-Man's greatest enemy of all time The Green Goblin was back from the dead.

One would think that would be enough clone saga for anyone forever but not for Marvel since last year they decided that it would be a good idea to get the original team behind the clone saga to return to write the mini-series "Spider-Man: The Clone Saga" in which they would tell the story the way it was supposedly originally intended. The funny thing, it was only six issues. It seemed impossible to fit over two years worth of story into a mere six issues. However since I am apparently a sucker for punishment and because I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the clone saga that never quite went away I decided to buy the trade and give it a shot. So the question is, how was it and what is the difference between what it was SUPPOSED to be and what we got.

Well it starts off once again with Ben Riley returning to New York and pretty much the first thing that happens is that Ben runs into Spider-Man, naturally. The two have a fight but when they are interrupted by a car thrown at them by a hiding Kaine, yet another clone, they work together to save the day and Peter comes to the realization that Ben is on the up and up and wants to cause no trouble. By the end of the issue Peter already considers Ben his brother.

I have a bit of a problem with this. In the original clone saga a big thing between Peter and Ben's relationship was that they were "brothers." I can buy this since Ben was around for a very (to long) time back then and you could see the relationship form and build. Here through they team up save the day and we are to assume that they now have that same relationship. If that's the case then Peter should consider everyone he has teamed up with over the years his "brother." That's right folks, Daredevil, Captain America, Wolverine, hell even Deadpool and the members of The Power Pack are all his "brothers" (and two sisters in case of The Power Pack) on that logic.

By the next issue Ben had adopted The Scarlet Spider persona to much ridicule from Peter, mostly because of the name and the fact that he wore a hoodie. Back in the original clone saga Peter was a stand up guy and never mocked Ben for the name or poor costume choice that included a hoodie. However now that it has been mocked for years the writer seemed to decide to make fun of the name and hoodie whenever they got a chance to. Yeah we get it guys we don't need you to beat us over the head with it.

Soon they confront the Jackal and the worse part of this mini happens. The Jackal does the big reveal that Peter is the clone and that Ben is the real Spider-Man. So the problem? That reveal was shitty as could be since it was the main part of the entire storyline. Here The Jackal casually mentions it and both Peter and Ben seem more indifferent to it then anything else. Peter should of been devastated to learn that he was a clone and Ben devastated to know that he had given up his life for nothing and had been living a lie for five years. Here after defeating The Jackal (killing him again) Peter, who had recently learned that Mary Jane was pregnant (yes that's here too!) decides, seemingly on a whim or without a care, that since he is the clone, or I should say IF he is a clone, it was never definitively stated that he was in this mini, they just seemed to go with it with no argument which is nuts, why would they take The Jackals word on this? Anyways he decides that he was going to pass the mantel of Spider-Man on to Ben its rightful owner while he lives the good life to take care of his soon to be family and Ben simply accepts. No anger from either party.

Soon enough its revealed that everything that was happening was because a mystery man had hired Kaine to get The Jackals cloning notes and formulas to clone Spider-Man's greatest enemy of all time Norman Osborn, though it is not yet revealed who this mystery man is.

I'll just skip to the end now then. Ben Riley is Spider-Man, Peter and Mary Jane's baby is born and promptly kidnapped and it is revealed that the man who had cloned Norman Osborn to bring him back from the dead was none other then... wait for it.... wait for it.... HARRY OSBORN!!!

That's right this time around Harry, who himself was ALSO killed, recently before the original clone saga happened was revealed to of not been dead at all but simply laying low and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike! He reveals that Peter is the real Spider-Man to no ones caring and at the end Peter and Ben, who are both in there respective Spider-Man costumes with the aid of the Norman clone, who is soon killed off.... yes another killing, all team up to defeat Harry who flies away on the Goblin Glider and in typical evil villain form, vows to have his revenge another day. Meanwhile Kaine who has had a change of heart returns the baby to Mary Jane.

SOOOOOO at the end of this clone saga, which we must remember was how it was originally intended. Norman is dead again after being revived for roughly a whole issue, Harry is still alive and well as the Green Goblin, Peter is revealed to be the real Spider-Man in a very nonchalant way and is the happy father to a new baby girl, but since he IS indeed the real Spider-Man decided to take up the costume again, since you know, with great power comes great responsibility....even though he had never lost his powers when he gave up the mantle when he thought he was the clone, while a still living Ben Riley hops on his motorcycle and rides out of New York into the sunset to be seen again another day.

So where do I stand on this, is it better or worse then the original? Well that's easy, its MUCH better if for no other reason the the fact that it was 6 months as opposed to two years. My main gripe with it though? Believe it or not is the fact that it was actually to short and to do what they wanted to do with it they should of made it closer to 12 issues worth of comics. Now I know what your thinking. 12 issues? That's a full years worth a comics and the worse thing about the original clone saga was that it was over two years worth of issues! Well your right but if it the original storyline was 12 issues I would of also been fine with it. Thing is back then Spider-Man had FOUR titles a month so with some simple math you can see that this bullshit went on for around 100 issues give or take. 100 issues of that shit!?! C'mon! 12 issues? Sure that's perfect. Six issues? Surprisingly enough, to short.

As for the ending, I am for the most part happier with the original ending. We got Norman Osborn back as The Green Goblin, the baby was never to be seen again, Harry was still dead and Ben was dead. In fact the only thing I liked about the new ending more was that Ben had lived. Yup you read that right. Truth is I always liked the Ben Riley character quite a bit, just not as Spider-Man. Problem is the writers had botched this thing so bad they saw no possible redemption in the Ben Riley character so just wanted to take the easy way out and kill him. I think Ben could of been a unique character and could of carved out a nice little spot for himself in the Marvel Universe as a Spider-Man like but NOT actual Spider-Man character, I guess the best comparison would be that he could of been to Spider-Man what War Machine is to Iron Man.

This mini was a decent read but not great, its source materiel was shit after all, but overall WAS better then what we got the first time around. I give the original clone saga a 1 star out of 10, this gets a 5 out of 10 and with that said here's hoping that I can finally close the book on the shit that was the clone saga once and for all..... I have talked about this more then it ever deserved to be talked about.


  1. I don't know. I need more closure with the whole baby thing, but then again, after One More Day, I guess that never happened again, huh?

  2. Was I reading too much into this to see it as part of the MC2/Spider-girl universe?, didn't Kaine reunite baby May with her parents in that too?

  3. "our beloved Peter Parker had been a fake "
    you see, this is problem. the same problem that ended in OMD, because our beloved Parker should be single.

    spider-man fans are the most insufferable audience, along with batman fans. clone saga had its ups and downs, but I feel like it's 80s kids smearing down 90s because they have the internet, or worse, young hipsters, who try to be credible by hating things that are universally criticized.

    the fact is, the saga sold really good, otherwise it wouldn't last that long. also, we had one of the best spider-man stories ever, which was Amazing Spider-Man #400. it's easy to hate something because everyone tell you to hate it.