Imagine you were a Marvel editor not too long ago and someone said, “We should totally bring back Ben Reilly from the infamous Clone Saga days. That would be cool. People liked him and his fans will flock to a book if we give him his own series.”
Got it? Now ask yourself this question: If you wanted the base of your book to consist of long-time Ben Reilly fans, would you a.) Turn the character into a crazed man out of something from Fight Club, or would you b.) Try to woo loyal readers with something resembling the character in their mind’s eye for almost 20 years?
Marvel went with the first option for Scarlet Spider, which is rather odd. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Peter David seems to be doing his best with the marching orders he’s been given in the first issue.
Reasonable men who pay for The Amazing Spider-Man expect Peter Parker to serve as its main attraction. Likewise, reasonable men believe that an editor would never allow an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man to go to print with a mere two panels allotted to the protagonist. These days, however, reason is in short supply at Marvel Comics, which is why ASM #24 not only turns the main character into an afterthought, but also manages to annoyingly serve as a faux-addendum to Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. Why? Because Clone Conspiracy Omega #1 also fills that role.
Confused? Frustrated? Saddened at the state of affairs for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Well, dear reader, you’re not alone! Tune into my latest YouTube review to hear my thoughts on The Amazing blink-and-you-missed-him-Spider-Man #24.
As always, feel free to share your comments below — and subscribe to the channel if the format is up your alley.
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?
Your friendly neighborhood bloggerwrote on Oct. 12, 2016, that one problem with writing stories about conspiracies is that they sometimes get so big and convoluted that they collapse under their own weight. Dan Slott’s fourth installment of The Clone Conspiracy (along with The Amazing Spider-Man #23), are clear-cut examples to study for any aspiring writing to study.
The problem with The Clone Conspiracy, as is often the case with Mr. Slott’s work, is that he creatively bites off more than he can chew before realizing that he must somehow finish the whole meal on a tight timeline.
Check out my latest YouTube video for the more detailed explanation of why the Marvel event is imploding, and then let me know what you think in the comments below. As always, if you like what you see in the video format, then make sure to subscribe for regular updates.
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.
Marvel’s fall Spider-Man event, Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, was such a sprawling story that it broke from the core book, The Amazing Spider-Man, and requires die-hard fans to also buy The Prowler. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it should raise red flags among potential customers that some issues will likely be stuffed to the brim with information to make the tale work.
DNM #3 is a perfect example of the logistical obstacles writer Dan Slott created for himself as he began to weave this story together. There is a lot — I repeat, a lot — going on, not to mention the big reveal at the issue’s end. My quick take is that he and artist Jim Cheung did a decent job juggling important tasks, but that a key character’s history is at risk of being tarnished by the time all is said and done.
Check out my latest YouTube review for a run-down events and some brief commentary on the return of a character from Peter’s past. I will probably do a more comprehensive analysis of these ASM-related developments in the near future, but until then I’d still like to hear your thoughts on DNM #3’s surprise ending.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Marvel’s release of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy this week brought with it an obligatory round of promotional interviews. Therefore, it was reasonable to conclude that writer Dan Slott of The Amazing Spider-Man would say something to prove how he fundamentally misunderstands Peter Parker. A recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter was all it took, as he said his favorite Spider-Man “villain” is, in fact, Peter Parker.
THR’s Graeme McMillan and Mr. Slott had the following exchange:
Graeme McMillan:You have fans complaining that you don’t “know” Spider-Man.
Dan Slott:Despite the fact that I’ve written one out of every five issues of Amazing Spider-Man, which is kind of scary. But, to me, the fun of it is, at his basic core, even if you strip away ‘with great power must come great responsibility,’ what makes Peter Parker this character that resonates with all of us is that he’s really the first character who’s you. He’s the guy you know. He’s not a wealthy billionaire playboy, he’s not an alien from another planet, he’s not a god from a pantheon. He’s the guy down the block who trips and falls, who screws up in every way that you screw up. All the self-destructive traits that you have, and your friends have, he has. People say to me, ‘Who’s your favorite Spider-Man villain?’ and my answer is Peter Parker, because no-one can mess up Spider-Man’s life like Peter Parker can.
Words mean something. The words we use have consequences. There is great power in words, and with that comes great responsibility. Therefore, it stands to reason that being imprecise or flippant with a word like ‘villain’ can lead to terrible results — even if we have good intentions.
Mr. Slott says “no-one can mess up Spider-Man’s life like Peter can,” but we know that his rogue’s gallery is filled with homicidal monsters, megalomaniacs with a desire for genocide, at at least one literal demon who successfully severed the bond between he and his soulmate, Mary Jane.
Question: Why on earth would a writer pretend that “villain” is synonymous with “fallible human being”?
Answer: Because a writer like Dan Slott is the kind of person who publicly admits he wants a hero like Peter Parker making deals with a devil. Heroes do not consciously make deals with devils — villains do. If Peter Parker is described as a guy who tries his best but isn’t perfect, then Mr. Slott’s vision cannot be realized. The language needs to change. Readers need to be convinced that their hero is simultaneously a villain, and that it’s acceptable.
That is perverse. That is sick. That is naked moral relativism, and it is propagated by a man who mistakes writing a character for a long time with doing it well (i.e., Saying, “I’ve written one of every five issues of Amazing Spider-Man,” in response to charges of not knowing Peter Parker).
Let us return to his THR interview:
Dan Slott: The Jackal has expanded his science. He’s not getting it from a blood sample, he’s getting it from a corpse. It’s all the memories, all the way up to your death —
Graeme McMillan: So they’re complete copies.
Dan Slott: Yes! They remember everything, all the way up to that last moment. It’s less a clone — I wanted to brand them, and the Jackal brands them, ‘re-animates.’ It’s different than a clone, it’s better than a clone. And in that moment, the Jackal becomes the ultimate devil you can make a deal with. He becomes the person who says, ‘If you’ve lost anyone, I can give them back to you. Whatever person you’ve loved or lost, or maybe someone who tormented you and lost, I can bring them back to you.’
Ignore the fact that clones would know that they are clones and immediately branch off into a completely different life-path than his or her progenitor. What matters here is that Mr. Slott a.) attaches a very specific word — ‘villain’ — to the hero, and b.) admits that he wants said hero/villain making deals with an “ultimate devil.”
If you are a long-time reader of The Amazing Spider-Man, look at Mr. Slott’s track record and ask yourself if he was being glib or if he says what he means and means what he says. It is this blogger’s contention that when he says Peter Parker is a villain, he means it. And he gets away with it because many people who are repulsed by such a premise buy ASM out of their life-long love for the character.
Things will only change when enough readers vote with their wallet. (Exacerbating the problem are access-addicted comic book websites that are terrified of offering legitimate criticism, but I digress.)
Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “villainous” Peter Parker and the writer behind his reign of terror. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Update: Dan Slott is now unblocking people on Twitter who discuss this blog post, and then trying to hide behind some weird excuse that Stan Lee would have called Peter Parker a “villain.” You can’t make this up. Classic! (Hat tip to reader JB for the catch.)