What is Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy?
Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is a Spider-Man story written by Dan Slott that is set to be released in the fall of 2016. It features the return of Spider-Man's infamous villain Miles Warren aka the Jackal. The Jackal is infamous for being the primary villain in what is often regarded as the worst Spider-Man story ever, Maximum Clonage.
In the Clone Conspiracy the Jackal will have learned how to bring people back to life. Apparently, this goes beyond creating clones and actually fully bringing back the actual person. He will then use this ability to coerce super villains who have lost loved ones to work for him. Many supervillains have lost loved ones, many super villains themselves have also been killed. The Jackal thus has the ability to create a super villain army that is entirely loyal to him.
It also seems that the Jackal does not necessarily intend to battle Peter Parker but instead to make a deal with him. There are after all a multitude of dead characters that Parker would want returned to life.
Here is the official The Clone Conspiracy Checklist
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16 *BEFORE DEAD NO MORE CHAPTER 1* – 8/10/16
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 *BEFORE DEAD NO MORE CHAPTER 2* – 8/31/16
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #18 *BEFORE DEAD NO MORE CHAPTER 3* – 9/21/16
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #19 *BEFORE DEAD NO MORE CHAPTER 4* – 10/5/16
- THE CLONE CONSPIRACY #1 – 10/12/16
- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #20 *CLONE CONSPIRACY 1.5* – 10/19/16
Ny immediate thought when hearing about this story was, "Oh this is going to be rad!" but my 2nd reaction was one of worry.. First I am really looking forward to this it and I think its going to be excellent. However, as soon as you mention Clones and Spider-Man in the same sentence a billion pound Elephant walks into the room. Lets get this elephant out of the way.
Meet THE ELEPHANT in the ROOM CLONES CLONES CLONES
Before we go into the Clone Conspiracy lets discuss why Clones are a such loaded word for Spider-Man fans.
The Jackal has appeared prominently in two Spider-Man stories both involving clones. The first story was received fairly positively and does not have any of the negative baggage of the first. In this story the Jackal making a clone of Gwen Stacey and later of Spider-Man himself. This was used as a means of torturing Spider-Man. The Jackal blames Spider-Man for Gwen Stacey's death. The Jackal made a few successful clones of Spider-Man but only one was perfect. The very first clone had degenerative issues and went off on his own and was later known by the name Kaine. Spider-Man and the perfect clone battled each other in a stadium. The battle was stopped when the clone of Gwen Stacey unmasked the Jackal as Professor Miles Warren and took him to task for his crimes. In the fray a bomb explodes and the perfect clone, Gwen Stacey clone and the Jackal are all apparently killed. In true comic book fashion almost none of them died.
The 2nd story is the much maligned Clone Saga. This story was met with a huge fan backlash when it attempted to say that Spider-Man was actually the clone. Meanwhile, the real Spider-Man had believed he was the clone and went off to start a new live as Ben Reilly. This had some very dramatic underpinnings it meant that Mary Jane had married the clone, and also was pregnant with its baby. It also meant that the character that everyone had been reading since the original Clone story had been an impostor. Effectively 20 years of Spider-Man comics had starred the clone impostor and not the real Spider-Man. Fans were seriously enraged at the thought of this and rebelled against the story. The story's creative team underwent a variety of changes but generally they remained defiant and pushed back against the fans. The Clone Saga would go on in various forms for nearly 3 YEARS!!! On top of fans hating the idea of Parker being a clone, the story is also a big discombobulated mess. I have many of the issues and have tried to make sense of it for years. I may be the only idiot on the planet who has read it multiple times and knows useless facts that for instance Miles Warren's Jackal is not the true villain of the series, its actually......Norman Osborn. By the point this was revealed no one cared or even understood it. It sort of hits the floor like a lead balloon.
Is Clone Sage better on a reread? Answer - Yes and No. When you reread the Clone Saga you realize that there are good parts that have been overlooked. First there are some good individual issues. There are some cool new characters like Kaine and Ben Reilly that are introduced. The cover art for the series is really cool and unlike anything that is coming out now.
The biggest reason to reread the Clone Saga though is the themes of the story itself. When you look back this was also one of the most mature Spider-Man stories ever written. This is Parker facing marriage and fatherhood at the same time he learns that he may be a clone. At the time fans hated it because it felt like Peter's entire evolution as a person was being unraveled. When you read it now this is Peter Parker as a man, not as a boy going through something very traumatic. After the events of Brand New Day its clear that Parker is going to be kept at a stage of lower maturity than this. He will likely never be married, never have kids, he will forever be bouncing around sjuggling girl friends, work with his alter ego as Spider-Man. Reading this old story and seeing how different and how adult Parker is very unique. It makes you feel like you are reading a tale of What If, or a great fan fiction. The Maximum Clonage story remains one of the few places where you can get this adult Peter Parker and that for me will always make the story stand out as something important.
Once the burns of Parker being clone went away and eventually were rewritten out of existence. The last big problem with Maximum Clonage is its organization. This story is a hot mess. There are parts of the story that seem contradict themselves There are subplots that never seem to go anywhere. Its really hard to untangle where something begins and ends. The sheer volume of material in the story and its sub-stories also drag on and on making it a total bear to try to read through appropriately. This problem will never go away. It remains an organizational cluster bomb.
That said you can find some of these same organizational issues with the previous Spider-Man story Maximum Carnage that is looked at far more positively. I think though that Maximum Carnage gets away with it because on its face its so much simpler. Its mostly about a group of good guys fighting a group of bad guys in a city in chaos. All the drama and mystery underpinnings of Maximum Clonage are not there and thus it is less important to read all of the issues or to read them in a specific order. I have not read the attempt to put Maximum Clonage together as a Trade Paperback as a kind of master cut. Its actually hard for me to imagine how that is done with how many issues are being dealt with. I do however know that it does exist. Maybe someday I will read it and compare it to all of the comics. Who knows maybe this new Clone story will inspire me.
Looking at the Clone Conspiracy
Am I worried about the legacy of Maximum Clonage affecting the Clone Conspiracy? No, because Brand New Day pretty much fully unraveled the Spider-Man continuity. Spider-Verse also showed that continuity in terms of Spider-Man is almost pointless because there are a billion different dimensions and somewhere the Spider-Man that is married and has kids exists. He is just not that much fun so Marvel won't focus on him. All of the baggage Maximum Clonage carried is thus kind of passed by most Spider-Man fans at this point and what remains is purely a focus on the story and characters.
The other enduring problem of Maximum Clonage being its utter lack of organization I highly doubt will infect this new series. The reason I am confident that organization will not be a problem is Dan Slott. Slott has proven himself as a master weaver of Spider-Man events. He has successfully navigated webhead through Spider-Verse, Spider-Island, Secret Wars (The 2nd One), and of course Superior Spider-Man. All of those stories were well written and set up to be easy followed. They did not contract themselves but all followed the same thought issue to issue. Everything tells me that this story will be like that.
My expectations for this story are very high. I think its going to take Spider-Man to new places and do things that no one expects. While many including myself used to think that Spider-Verse was Slott's Magnum Opus we may have been wrong. This could very well be it. Be excited TRUE BELIEVERS this is going to be good.
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