Comic Box is back on time and on schedule, which is completely unlike the series we have been covering for the last few weeks. Yes, I could only be talking about the Clone Saga, which I'm sure you figured out since it's in the title and everything. This is the penultimate chapter of our look at one of Spidey's most controversial story lines ever, so we will wrap up most of the actual saga today, and then talk about the controversy next week. To catch up on the previous weeks you can check below.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Chances are I might have to slide in a few stand alone segments, maybe extend the final chapter into multiple extra long parts so we can properly reap any and all possible marketing benefits. Then I’ll radically change the ending, causing my editor to quit, which would eventually lead to my disgraceful exit from the company and a dark stain on my entire career.
Thanks a lot, Clone Saga. You just ruined my life.
Here’s what I pulled out of the Comic Box:
Scarlet Spider… No More?
After the whirlwind of clone activity our Spider Guy’s have dealt with, a decision has finally been made by the two heroes. Ben Reilly will remain in New York to thwip his heart out, while Peter and MJ will move to Portland in order to better care for their unborn child away from the dangerous life of Spider-Man. With Reilly the star, as well as the assumed original Peter Parker, his takeover of the character was complete and we all settled in for the new era of Spidey comics.
All the various series were renamed with the Scarlet Spider moniker, and brand new #1′s were issued. This was pretty much just a marketing ploy, and after a few issues a new development would erase these series and return to the Spider-Man titles. This development was undercover FBI agent Joe Wade, who had been trying to infiltrate the new female Doctor Octopus’ operations (the original Doc Ock had been killed by Kaine), had been caught and subjected to a new experiment. This experiment grafted virtual reality components onto Wade, allowing him to become Scarlet Spider in order to frame him.
Wade would then mutate into the new, evil, shiny Scarlet Spider, and in a pitched battle on national television with the New Warriors (who had invited Reilly onto the team earlier) would declare his evil ways and discredit Reilly’s new persona. This would cause him to finally take back the reins as the original Spider-Man once again, with a new costume and a new attitude. The Warriors and Spidey shut down the evil Scarlet Spider, and that would be the last time we would see any Scarlet Spider for years.
The Brand New (Old) Spider-Man
With the identity of the Scarlet Spider tarnished pretty badly by Wade, Reilly was forced to become Spider-Man once again. Not wanting to don his original threads in honor of Peter, he made a brand new suit that kept the look of the traditional while blending in some more modern elements, like the visible web shooters on the outside of the costume. He also dyed his hair blonde in order to distinguish himself from Peter, and ended up looking like a blonde Peter Parker. Not the best disguise in the world.
Reilly got a job in a coffee house, got a new apartment, and set about restarting his life in the Big Apple. He made new friends and a new girlfriend, who ended up being the daughter of the burglar who had killed his Uncle Ben so many years ago. That has got to be awkward.
During his early career as the new Spider-Man, he faced a jazzed up Mysterio, the new Rose and his henchlady Delilah, a new Lizard, and a ton of New York’s organized crime. He dealt with the whole Onslaught situation that was taking over the X-books, and he was even taken over by the Carnage symbiote, something Peter Parker never had to deal with.
Meanwhile, in Portland…
Peter is finally using his brain and working at a science lab while he and MJ settle into their new life. The twist? He finds out the company he’s working for has ties to the experiment that originally gave him (or Reilly, depending on who you think the original Peter Parker is) his spider-powers. During his time here he discovers a series of murders happening and meets a couple of mutated individuals, both of whom have been altered by an experiment similar to the one that created Spider-Man.
As Spidey fights with Tendril alongside Dryrot (the two mutated subjects), he recreates the experiment that created him, in order to reverse the damage done to both Tendril and Dryrot. In doing so, he gets caught up in the blast and loses his powers, further reenforcing his decision to leave Spider-Man behind him.
Another Clone? Really?
In a move that falls very clearly in the last ditch effort known as ‘jumping the shark’, writers introduced yet another clone. This time, it was a skeleton in a tattered Spider-Man outfit found in the smokestacks where Ben had disposed of Peter after the original Clone Saga. This new/old clone raised a ton of questions, as it was found and reported on publicly. This cast a great deal of doubt on the new Spider-Man, and plagued both Reilly and Parker again as to who the real Peter Parker was.
This resulted in the return of Peter and MJ to New York, as well as the return of Kaine, although his story didn’t affect much of anything. The new dynamic between Peter and Ben was far more brotherly then it had ever been presented as before, and was one of the greatest features of the Clone Saga in my opinion. Peter and MJ set up shop in Aunt May’s old house, and the Ben and Peter bromance moved in to full effect.
Just as Peter and Ben were really starting to become enjoyable and presumably another new awesome era was beginning, a mysterious character known only as Gaunt started working in the shadows to bring down Spider-Man. We soon learn that Gaunt is in fact working for yet another mysterious figure, and we learn that both these characters have a history with Spider-Man, and Peter Parker. During this time Peter Parker is beaten by a pack of cyborg mercenaries and falls into a coma. When he wakes up from the coma his powers have mysteriously returned, and the state of the two Spider-Men is once again left in question.
And if you’re wondering about the Spider-Man skeleton that was found in the smokestack, you can keep wondering. It’s never really cleared up beyond the fact that when it was alive it looked like Peter Parker. While it is determined to be a clone by Hank Pym, it is soon forgotten as the Clone Saga starts to sloppily wrap itself up.
Come on, you should know by now that I can’t resist a cliffhanger! We have one more part to get through, where we will finally end the Clone Saga once and for all. I’ll also talk about some of the lasting repercussions from the Saga plus discuss some of the behind the scenes controversy that tore apart the Spider-Man bullpen.
So check out some cool pictures below, and be back next week for the final chapter of this endurance testing ride through the life of Spider-Man and his many, many, many clones.