Do humans have souls, or are we deluding ourselves into thinking free will exists thanks to a complex series of chemical reactions that take place in our body every moment of every day?

Are humans somewhat like a computer, where the “you” that defines your being can be boiled down to biological code that began running (how fortunate!) with the Big Bang?

These are questions you should ask yourself as you read Marvel’s latest event, The Clone Conspiracy, and its tie-ins to Dan Slott’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man. If you haven’t pondered these questions up until now, then take a few moments to watch my latest YouTube review of ASM #22.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’d like to hear what you have to say.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

11 comments

  1. I’ve always thought souls we are also minds, also with your heart and the ways you do to know what’s right or wrong, while chemicals start to react.

    It’s not like some stereotypical thing.

    1. “I’ve always thought souls we are also minds, also with your heart and the ways you do to know what’s right or wrong, while chemicals start to react.”

      If you think of the human body a little bit like a radio, the spirit would be what is essentially broadcasted into the device. Sometimes the device is broken and it doesn’t work properly (e.g., the brain you were given at birth is that one you have to make due with), but there is always a message that is being broadcast into the radio. The human mind and heart “translate” the language of spirt and conveys it to the world in ways we perceive through our five senses.

  2. The origin for this Ben clone reminds me of the original backstory of Doomsday from DC comics.

    For Doomsday, an alien scientist was trying to create the ultimate life form. He would clone an organism, expose it to a deadly planets surface and the clone would die. The remnants of the dead body would be cloned and sent out to die again, each time getting a bit more resistant to the methods that killed it last. Whether it was the atmosphere, deadly animals, starvation, etc., the clone always died a horrible death.

    Eventually after thousands of deaths and clonings, the organism was able to survive, and also remembered each death it’s previous incarnation had suffered. Doomsday became an insane killing machine, the only thing he feared was dying again as he remembered the pain he had endured when he died countless times before.

    1. “The origin for this Ben clone reminds me of the original backstory of Doomsday from DC comics.”

      Nice analogy, Carnage707. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future conversations on this topic. 🙂

  3. Besides, I thought this “Amazing Grace” BS was already dealt with. Yes, if Dan Slott is an atheist, then that’s totally fine, more power to him, but making Peter Parker an atheist or supposed “atheist” just clearly contradicts Peter’s past time where he has became some sort of a spirit during the TSSM, met God in person, pray God view times, met and fought demons, and so on. Like you, Stillanerd, me, and almost others, there’s no reason to make Spider-Man a stereotypical scientist, cliche atheist. Not only we’re criticizing for his poor, possible atheism/scientism activism, but again, the comic series just clearly doesn’t show any faith or stay with the past books. Dan Slott really needs to care about people’s criticisms; constructive criticisms. If he doesn’t, he would deserve to get fired for literally wrecking Spidey’s past and shoving atheism down to our throats. He needs to stop bringing his stupid BS.

    1. “Like you, Stillanerd, me, and almost others, there’s no reason to make Spider-Man a stereotypical scientist, cliche atheist. Not only we’re criticizing for his poor, possible atheism/scientism activism, but again, the comic series just clearly doesn’t show any faith or stay with the past books. Dan Slott really needs to care about people’s criticisms; constructive criticisms.”

      Agreed. The problem with Dan, historically, is that he’s really not able to differentiate constructive criticism from trolling. If there is criticism coming in, he typically interprets it as trolling.

  4. I was left rather emotionally detached from Ben’s tale of ‘survival’…not once did the memories of his loved ones from the Clone Saga come into his mind either. Other than the cameo of one of his friends, we see nothing of Janine Tyne, Jessica Carridine (daughter of the Burgler) or Seward Trainer, the latter would have been a supreme choice for Ben to resurrect in time for his potential book (get well soon Peter David). Also did not like the fact the Anubis outfit was a pre-existing Jackal outfit (which we’ve never seen), rather than something Ben came up with on his own.

    BTW, I’m jumping ahead of this story a bit here, but I just glimpsed over the preview for ASM#25 and think I know why Slott picked Mockingbird as the next crush for Peter…it’s a sly nod to the fact the Skrull that impersonated her decades ago had its soul claimed by Mephisto

    1. I’m not sure why Peter is even giving this “Ben” the time of day. After “Ben” told his story about being tortured, killed, and cloned dozens of times, he should have gone right back to punching him in the face even harder.

      Regardless of whether or not he is a clone, or his horrible experiences, he is a villain. This “Ben” has taken up the mantle of one of the men who has made Peter’s life hell on more than one occasion, and is creating a network of super-villains, government employees and private citizens all under his control under threat of death by clone deterioration.

      This “Ben” is directly responsible for the death of Peter’s friend. Hobie Brown. This “Ben” has desecrated his uncle’s final resting place. This is not the Ben that died in Peter’s arms, this is not the brother that sacrificed himself to stop another madman that threatened others.

      This is a deluded and deranged copy of a copy of a copy. Twisted and corrupted he says he is doing good for others, but only for his own selfish reasons. It’s all a facade, he and all of the clones he has created are not the people that died.

      He is creating a childish fantasy world where no one ever dies or goes away, refusing to accept reality and instead embrace the illusion that these are the real people who have died and are now reborn because it’s what makes him happy.

      Or he knows they are an illusion, and is peddling “replacement people” as a means to power. Either way, all he offers is a lie of hope and false happiness to people.

      This man is a mockery of Ben Reilly and all he stood and died for. Ben was a clone, but he was his own man. He used his time in this world to actually help others. He was responsible for his actions, and in the end he did the right thing. This “Jackal Ben” has taken his own actions, his own path, and deserves justice as a consequence.

      Even if Peter doesn’t accept his explanations and offers, he is a fool for even entertaining them.

    2. “This man is a mockery of Ben Reilly and all he stood and died for. Ben was a clone, but he was his own man. He used his time in this world to actually help others. He was responsible for his actions, and in the end he did the right thing. This “Jackal Ben” has taken his own actions, his own path, and deserves justice as a consequence.

      Even if Peter doesn’t accept his explanations and offers, he is a fool for even entertaining them.”

      Your entire comment is the Spider-Man analysis equivalent of Bo Jackson’s classic touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks where he runs into the tunnel. Beautiful!

  5. I’m not a Ben Reilly fan, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for not liking this turn of events. I wouldn’t want to see a character I liked treated in such a manner (although, given that this Ben is a copy of several different copies, I don’t think he could be the original character, the whole soul problem that the story has been ignoring). I will say that a villain that thinks they’re the good guy and has motivations for what they do are usually better antagonist characters (although some “evil for the sake of being evil” can be great if handled correctly). So, in that sense, it sounds like the new Jackal has the important boxes checked, but I get the feeling that Ben Reilly was used just to get a reaction from the readers, not because it was a well-thought out premise.

    The more I hear about the story, the less I ever want to read it. It doesn’t sound like a “fun” story (as in entertaining or interesting to read). It honestly sounds dull, depressing, and boring. What’s the point of of it all? What are we getting here that hasn’t been done before already?

    I recall an interview where Slott said something to the effect of the story existing because the original Clone Saga was so bad that he had to do a followup to leave people guessing if it would work or not. I don’t find that very encouraging to the quality of the final product (and given that sales have been dropping on it, Slott may well have miscalculated).

    Say, Douglas, you alluded to parallels in the video between Ben’s escape in this issue and Peter’s in the original RYV miniseries. Since no one has brought that up yet, what were you thinking about those two, in comparison to each other?

    1. “Say, Douglas, you alluded to parallels in the video between Ben’s escape in this issue and Peter’s in the original RYV miniseries. Since no one has brought that up yet, what were you thinking about those two, in comparison to each other?”

      I really just wanted to hear opinions on whether it was planned, or if Dan just recycled old ideas and inadvertently created an interesting dichotomy. Heh.

      In the past I’ve given Dan too much credit. I thought that his take on Renew Your Vows early on would have been cool if it were inspired by certain aspects of World War II, The Diary of Anne Frank, etc. Well…that didn’t happen. It was a good story overall, but it didn’t really have that kind of layering to it…

      If the “two tanks” stories were meant to echo one another, then you can have an interesting conversation about what people are capable of when they’re pushed to the edge — or simply put in horrible situations. Did RYVs-Peter not go insane because he had a wife and child who loved him? How long would it have taken him in Regent’s tank to reach some sort of Ben Reilly-level of madness? You can ask all sorts of intriguing questions.

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