Dan Slott belly flops in ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ finale

The finale to Marvel’s Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is now in stores — or is it? Yes, the event that began with Before Dead No More has technically ended, but there are so many questions left unanswered that readers will now be forced to buy Clone Conspiracy Omega #1 for some semblance of closure.

Months ago I jokingly predicted that Marvel would come up with After Dead No More and Dead No More — No More, and it looks like readers will essentially get just that because “Omega” sounds edgy and cool…but I digress.

Anyway, the one question that fans of The Amazing Spider-Man should ask themselves right now is this: Was it worth it?

Was DNM: CC worth turning ASM proper into supplementary reading material? Was it worth creatively monopolizing the tie-in books? Was it worth digging up the memories of the original Clone Saga? Was it worth the sheer amount of effort expended by Marvel to try and convince people to care about “reanimates” as much as the original characters?

I would definitively say the answer is “no.”

Check out my latest review, and then make sure to head on over to Whatever A Spider Can to read Mike McNulty’s take. He always does great work, and this time it provided me with a much needed assist for a YouTube review of DNM: CC #5.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments sections below.

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Dan Slott’s Amazing Kaine: Peter Parker sidelined in ASM#21 — just like ASM #18, ASM #17, Spider-Verse, Silk intro, Superior Spider-Man, etc.

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Fans of The Amazing Spider-Man have had a rough couple of years. Peter Parker was “killed” for an extended amount of time and replaced with Doctor Octopus as Superior Spider-Man. The book was relaunched, but multiple issues seemed to focus on the arrival of a new character, Silk. Spider-Verse lumped Peter Parker in with an army of spider-powered heroes. Then the title was relaunched again with Peter Parker as a poor man’s Tony Stark. Lately, Prowler and Doctor Octopus essentially monopolized entire issues, and Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, for all intents and purposes, renders ASM the supplementary reading for a Spider-Man tale.

ASM #21 continues Dan Slott’s frustrating habit of sidelining Peter Parker in his own book, this time in favor of Scartlet Spider, aka Kaine.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #21:

  • Kaine did not die during the events of Spider-Verse, but “The Other” that kept him healthy did.
  • Karn (now Master Weaver), shows Kaine the “dreaded fate” of multiple words as seen through the Web of Life and Destiny.
  • Through Kaine’s investigations into the zombie-plagued worlds he finds out that Parker Industries is tied to every outbreak.
  • Kaine eventually teams up with Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman of Earth-65.
  • Gwen and Kaine figure out that Peter Parker has teamed up with Jackal in multiple worlds, which inevitably triggers a zombie apocalypse.
  • Karn tells Kaine that the Web of Destiny tells him there is a secret being kept from him. Kaine admits that his cellular degeneration is far advanced and that he will likely die soon. He hopes to save his home world before that happens. Karn agrees not to tell Gwen.

Reviewing an issue like ASM #21 is a tricky task, because Marvel wants readers to look at it within the broader context of DNM, but at the same time readers demand to know how it ranks as a standaline issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. The company has needlessly created a kind of psychological tension in fans who want compelling stories, but at the same time expect (logically) an issue of ASM to highlight Peter Parker.

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If one were to review ASM #21 solely within the framework of Dan Slott’s ongoing Clone Conspiracy tale, then there is nothing particularly wrong with the book. In fact, Kaine is a cool character and would probably be a much easier sell than Prowler for an ongoing series (and that is not a knock on Sean Ryan, who seems to be doing the best he can in a bad situation).

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If, however, one reviews ASM #21 in terms of its ability to showcase Peter Parker, then the book is once again off the mark. The title regularly feels like writer Dan Slott gets bored with his Peter Parker “toy,” and then attempts to alleviate that condition by rummaging through his “toy box.” The result is that Peter Parker is nominally the hero of his own book.

My suggestion for Peter Parker fans who are tired of him getting the shaft in his own book would be to pick up Gerry Conway’s and Ryan Stegman’s Renew Your Vows. There is nothing inherently wrong with DNM, but at this point it just feels like another instance where the team’s starting quarterback is weirdly relegated to a shared role with back-up players.

Related:

Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

Dan Slott’s feckless Peter Parker needs Doctor Octopus to inspire Uncle Ben: Spider-Verse Part 5

Dan Slott’s excitement, focus return in Amazing Spider-Man #18 with Doctor Octopus in limelight

Dan Slott’s emasculated Spider-Man: Peter Parker is an embarrassment in his own book

Dan Slott’s Clone Conspiracy #2: ‘Peter Parker is the man who destroys the world’

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Marvel’s big Spider-Man event for the fall has dropped a doozy on Peter Parker fans with Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #2. It appears as though Peter Parker is responsible for causing a zombie apocalypse in at least one dozen universes. Fans of the character should rightfully be annoyed if — I repeat, “if” — it turns out that it truly is the hero who is seduced by The Jackal’s New U technology and he unleashes hell on earth.

Here is what you need to know for DNM #2:

  • Kaine scrambles for his life in an alternate-universe version of San Francisco that is overrun with zombies. A portal opens for him just as one latches onto his ankle and he wakes up in Marvel Universe 616.
  • Doctor Octopus fights with Spider-Man in The Jackal’s lab and explains how he was able to survive the events of Spider-Verse and essentially return from the dead.
  • Jackal appears and commands Peter to follow him as he explains the so-called truth behind New U’s cloning procedure. These days he uploads “psychic residue from human remains to make reanimates.
  • Miles Warren, aka Jackal, introduces Peter to all of his formerly deceased foes — alive and kicking as renanimates. The villain says that everything was done to fully realize Peter’s “no one dies” philosophy.
  • Jonah Jameson is on another floor within New U with his reanimated with Marla. They talk about how happy they are together.
  • Spider-Man confronts Prowler about his alliance with Jackal. Hobie Brown tells Peter that what Jackal is doing is a “good thing.”
  • Captain Stacy pulls a gun on “Gwen” when he realizes that she is not his daughter. It turns out she is Spider-Gwen in disguise. The cloned Gwen is holed up with Kaine in his apartment and needs New U’s medicine ASAP.
  • Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen take off through an air vent and Lizard is dispatched after them.
  • Kaine goes to Horizon University at the behest of Spider-Man to retrieve medicine, which was given to him by Jerry Saltares’ wife. He then admits to Anna Maria Marconi that he and Gwen are on a secret mission because “Peter Parker is the man who destroys the world.”

From a pure storytelling perspective, there is nothing wrong with what Dan Slott is doing. In fact, this latest twist actually elevates DNM’s quality above and beyond what I was expecting early on. The problem, however, will come if it turns out that “the” Peter Parker is responsible for countless zombie wastelands instead of Jackal.

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Here is the bottom line:

  • Peter Parker fans should accept a story that involves alternate universes where Jackal (i.e., a Peter clone) kills the hero and assumes control of Parker Industries as an imposter.
  • They should not accept the idea that infinite universes of terror and fear are traced back to a single moment in time where “the” Peter Parker succumbs to another Mephisto-like proposal, this time with Jackal.

Given Dan Slott’s history with The Amazing Spider-Man, I am not confident that his final “twist” for DNM will be one that honors the legacy of Peter Parker. I hope I am wrong.

Anyway, did you read DNM #2? If so, then let me know what you think in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check my latest YouTube review and subscribe if that format is up your alley.

Prowler #1 starts off strong, but Clone Conspiracy shackles may be hard for Sean Ryan to break

Marvel’s Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is well underway, which means The Prowler #1 is out. Writer Sean Ryan did a pretty darn good job with a difficult task, but it remains to be seen whether he can break the creative shackles placed upon him by writer Dan Slott over at The Amazing Spider-Man. At the end of the day, a clone is a clone — even if a writer calls it a “reanimate.” Mr. Ryan seems like a capable writer, but it will be interesting to see what happens when this fall’s big event ends.

Anyway, watch my newest YouTube video for the full run-down, and be sure to subscribe if the format is up your alley. You get bonus points if you don’t have to Google “Miami Vice” after the review ends!

Editor’s Note: Check out Stillanerd’s take over at Whatever a Spider Can. As always, he provides plenty to think about. As an added bonus, Dan Slott made time to whine about Mike’s 9-years of amazing work in the comments section.

Dan Slott ‘kills’ Peter Parker (again) in Amazing Spider-Man #20, repeats key mistake from infamous Clone Saga

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The Amazing Spider-Man #20 has arrived, which means readers get the return of Doctor Octopus in his original body and the “death” of Peter Parker — again. Yes, you read that right, Dan Slott has essentially “killed” Peter Parker for a third time.

Here is what you need to know for ASM#20:

  • Otto (inside his Octobot form the future) and AI Anna Maria Marconi visit his grave and find it empty.
  • An investigation reveals that someone has stolen Otto’s corpse from a cemetery that serves as a resting place for many super villains. There is a black market for dead super villains.
  • Otto and AI Anna go into the internet and use their digital “minds” to deceive New U into placing a bid for Otto’s corpse.
  • Otto heads to New U and realizes that his corpse contains the brain waves of none other than…Peter Parker!
  • A fight ensues (again), and Otto makes short work of everyone’s favorite hero. It turns out (and readers should assume this will change at least one more time) that the original Peter Parker died while only a memory “fragment” made it into the ASM #700 Peter Parker body. Jackal even applauds Otto while saying, You killed the heck out of it.”
  • A spy for Kingpin monitors everything that happens in New U.
  • Otto and the Jackal team up to try and figure out a way to keep “reanimated” bodies from decomposing without a pill.
  • The issue ends right where Dead No More: Clone Conspiracy #1 finished.

Just to make sure that everyone understands what is going on, Peter Parker “died” in ASM #700, he was “killed” again for all intents and purposes during Superior Spider-Man #9, and now “executed” in ASM #20. But — and this is a big but — it could very well turn out that this “real” Peter Parker was in fact a “memory fragment” left behind by the “real” Peter Parker as he returned to his body in ASM #700.

Confused? Don’t feel bad about it.

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The problem with the original Clone Saga was that it broke one of the most common sense rules for storytellers — don’t break your readers’ trust. That doesn’t mean that authors can’t have twists and turns; it means that readers should never feel duped or misled.

No one wants to believe that the Peter Parker (i.e., hero) they’ve been reading about for days, weeks, months, or years is just a “memory fragment” or a “clone” or a “reanimation.” People sink a lot of money and time into a character, so it becomes bothersome if a writer does the equivalent of, “And then I woke up” on his audience. That is something that high school creative writing classes teach, so it is bizarre that Marvel writer Dan Slott would mine that “reanimation” well throughout Clone Conspiracy.

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So who is the “real” Peter Parker? Who is the fake? Are any of them real? Readers are supposed to be thrilled with the prospect that the last couple of years have really just been one big fake-out, but human nature does not work that way.

People do not like to be lied to. It’s one thing to play games with supporting characters, but it is a whole different “can of clones” when the protagonist is disrespectfully jerked around.

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There is much more to say, but in this instance I think I’ll cut it short and ask you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. And please make sure to watch my latest YouTube video on ASM #20 and subscribe for regular comic book reviews.

Dan Slott’s ‘Dead No More #1’ can’t shake stale smell of clone stories better left buried in Spider-Man history

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Marvel’s big Spider-Man event of the year has finally arrived with Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1. Readers who lived through the 90s wondered why writer Dan Slott would dig up the still-rotting corpse of The Clone Saga, and DNM #1 seems to confirm their worst fears. Recycled plastic usually has a weird quality to it that fails to match the original, and recycled stories are the same way.

Here is what you need to know for DNM #1:

  • Peter attends the funeral of Jay Jameson and Jonah explodes on him, which is odd because he knows New U has the power to bring people back from the dead. Jonah’s first wife Marla, after all, has returned.
  • Peter says “this is all my fault” to himself after everyone leaves, even though it clearly was not.
  • Anna Maria Marconi finds out that Peter’s spider-sense went off when he used Jerry Salteres as a guinea pig for New U’s experimental treatment. The two decide to visit the employee’s house to investigate.
  • Jerry’s wife reveals that her husband failed to take his medicine and had something “terrifying” happen to him. New U told her not to talk about it and scrubbed her webware, which contained video of the incident.
  • Peter inexplicably vows to bring Jerry home after retrieving lost data from the webware. Anna privately scolds him for the promise and he heads off to New U as Spider-Man.
  • It turns out Peter used a “microscopic, sub-dermal tracer” on Jerry when they saw each other in the hospital, so he tracks down the man’s “reanimating” body inside a lab.
  • Miles Warren walks in on Peter and within moments Rhino and female Electro are headed for battle.
  • Spider-Man goes into a room marked “Do Not Enter” and finds Gwen Stacy. He is surprised when she doesn’t set off his spider-sense.
  • A reanimated Doctor Octopus punches Peter in the face with a tentacle and the issue ends.

DNM #1 also features a story by Dan Slott titled The Night I Died, which tweaks elements of 1973’s The Amazing Spider-Man #122 to include a semi-conscious Gwen finding out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man just before her death. She cries while thinking of Peter as “the man who helped kill dad.”

Gwen is then “reanimated” by Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, and introduced to her father as a means of convincing her to become a “business partner.”
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The problem with mixing clone stories and The Amazing Spider-Man, besides the fact that they have been done to death (no pun intended) — and badly done — is that a writer is tasked with covering the very nature of existence, consciousness, and the soul. Even unintelligent readers seem to inherently understand that the writer is entering into serious territory, so if the tale isn’t handled right it crumbles under its own weight.

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Let’s put it another way: Even clones in real life would know that they are clones (i.e., see the panel of Gwen Stacy realizing what has happened before grabbing a knife to slit her own throat). Readers are the same way. Why should they care about Gwen Clone?

They shouldn’t — unless it is done well.

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And there’s the rub. On Dan Slott’s watch, Peter Parker “died” and came back to life. The character has not had a single moment of honest reflection on his own death (or whatever it was, since it was never clear) since the series relaunched. Human beings — flesh and blood with thoughts and emotions and hopes and dreams — would be shaken to their core if they died and were brought back to life. Not Dan Slott’s Peter Parker.

Therefore, it stands to reason that if Mr. Slott does not even apply basic human reactions to the protagonist of the series then he will not do so in a meaningful way with clones.

DNM #1 appears to set up all sorts of twists and turns for Peter Parker in the next couple of months. That is the good news.

The bad news is this: Like most conspiracies, the people who weave them usually lose their audience in an incoherent mess that unravels with the least bit of scrutiny. Before you plunk down $4.99 for this book, consider Mr. Slott’s track record and then ask yourself if he seems up to the task.

Editor’s Note:

Regular readers of this blog remember the time when I accurately predicted Dan Slott’s “Arachno-Rockets.” It appears as though your friendly neighborhood blogger has another notch on the belt after having asked in February when “single-cell Spider-tracers” would arrive. DNM #1 does not quite give us a single-celled tracer, but it is “microscopic, sub-dermal.” Given that the function is essentially the same, we’ll consider that a win.

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Amazing Spider-Man #16: Dan Slott sets the stage for ‘Dead No More’

ASM 16 SpiderMan lift

Marvel has big plans for The Amazing Spider-Man in the months ahead, and it appears as though the executive decision was made to make its 16th issue — Before Dead No More — a must-read. Writer Dan Slott packs the issue with important plot points and, in general, does a decent job organizing it all on the page.

As has been established many times before, Mr. Slott is a good stage-setter. Whether he can follow it through over the course of “Dead No More,” the obligatory After Dead No More, and Dead No More — No More remains to be seen.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #16:

  • Jay Jameson is surrounded in the hospital by friends and family with a mysterious illness when Dr. Clarkson from New U Technologies offers him a chance to take part in a “cutting edge” procedure. Peter Parker asks the doctor for details after Jonah flies of the handle.
  • An explosion takes place in Edmond, Oklahoma, at a Parker Industries chemical plant. Peter diverts his private jet, which was heading to San Francisco, back to Oklahoma.
  • Spider-Man (now with thermal imaging in his eye pieces) arrives on a spider-cycle and saves five of six people trapped inside in one fell swoop. He then rescues the sixth, Jerry Salteres, but the man is hospitalized after breathing in toxic fumes.
  • Peter Parker tells his suit to go into “Stealth Mode One” (Any guesses on how many stealth modes it’s capable of entering?), and contacts Dr. Clarkson. He requests New U come to Oklahoma and perform a life-saving procedure on Mr. Salteres.
  •  Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, privately says the explosion at Parker Industries wasn’t part of his plans but tells the doctor to give Peter “a taste of how the magic works.”
  • Peter’s spider-sense goes off after Mr. Salteres’ life is saved the New U operation.
  • Living Brain, aka Doctor Octopus, catches wind of how New U’s ability to grow healthy organs from a patient’s DNA and calls the technology “very promising.”
  • Electro agrees to Warren’s procedure after “Francine” is brought back from the dead.
  • Jonah secretly meets with New U and asks about its technology. His deceased wife Marla then walks through a doorway.

In short, ASM #16 is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

ASM16 stealth

Before Dead No More is probably the best issue of ASM in many months because its function only requires Dan Slott to whet the reader’s appetite. Any one of the plot threads are likely to intrigue potential customers, which is great for Marvel, but Mr. Slott’s track record in terms of delivering a fully fleshed-out story is much more problematic.

Miles Warren

Take, for instance, the way Mr. Slott portrays Peter Parker. Years ago the hero was weirdly obsessed with the idea that “no one dies.” That mantra led him to behave in strange and irrational ways when he had to balance immediate threats to his front with global crises.

In this issue, Peter again seems monomaniacally focused on death — so much so that he embraces an experimental procedure that he knows will come with a heavy “price.” Dr. Clarkson even told him “some find the cost can be…too high.”

Does Peter Parker even ask Dr. Clarkson what that non-monetary “price” is before approving the operation on his employee? Answer: No. He just screams, “We have to move NOW!”

ASM16 Spider Sense

Long-time readers can debate whether or not Peter would dive right in to a dangerous and nascent technology over an accident at one of his power plants, but this blogger thinks his behavior is unstable and rash — the kind of thing Doctor Octopus would do as the Superior Spider-Man.

The good news is that ASM#16 is worth its $3.99 cover price. The bad news is that there are warning signs that Dan Slott is already setting up Peter Parker for another round of character assassination.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Editor’s Note: Anime Hunter mentioned to me earlier today that editor Nick Lowe took part in a “secret meeting” on Spider-Man, as referenced in the Letters to the Editor section of the book. That might be another tidbit worth discussing.