The phrase ‘attack of the clones’ has the ability to make some Star Wars fans shudder, and many Spider-Man devotees have a similar reaction to the word "clone." This is in part due to the protracted actions of one Miles Warren, Peter Parker’s former biology professor, who became the doppelganger-slinging ne’er-do-well known as the Jackal. Throughout several “Clone Sagas,” Spider-Man was confronted with eerily familiar foes and friends, including duplicates of himself and his former flame Gwen Stacy.
Marvel hid their latest round of DNA-duplicating hijinks under the innocuously undead-ish title Dead No More until recently. But now they've revealed their latest Spider-event will send in the clones.
Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1 (thanks to Newsarama) kicks off on October 12, with a story arc from writer Dan Slott and art by Jim Cheung. In addition, Alexander Lozano, Mark Bagley, and Gabriele Dell’Otto provide some eye-catching variant covers. While the overarching action will take place throughout Amazing Spider-Man #20-24, Prowler #1-5, and Silk #14-17, the main thrust of the story takes place in The Clone Conspiracy #1-5.
Writer Slott and Marvel editor Nick Lowe discussed the title during a press call (via IGN). The Spider-scribe teased that every issue of the core series will have a “major surprise” inside. In addition, the series will return of old foes to the fray like Doctor Octopus (last seen as Superior Spider-Man), the Rhino, the Lizard, and Electro. In fact, The Clone Conspiracy will bring any number of familiar faces such as Gwen Stacy, Marla Jameson (J. Jonah's wife), Mattie Franklin (formerly Spider-Girl), and Hobie Brown (Prowler) back to life. Take a look at the synopsis below, as well as a sneak preview of The Clone Conspiracy #1:
The Jackal is back and has conquered death. The Amazing Spider-Man is outmatched by his classic enemy’s army. Does the wall-crawler stand a chance? SHOULD he stand in The Jackal’s way if he’s found the key to eternal life?
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Spider-fans are understandably a little wary of clone sagas, since they brought about the convoluted and, at times, contradictory ‘who’s the real Spider-Man’ theme to the forefront. Mid-clone issue Amazing Spider-Man #400 also ended the life of Peter’s beloved Aunt May, something which many devotees still haven't forgiven Marvel for. Slott does admit there's a stigma around clones in the Marvel Universe, though, comparing creating a series about them to skirting the electrified rail on a train track:
"It’s the, ‘Oh my god, what are you doing? Why!?! That’s always the most fun place to be, dancing precariously towards the third rail.”
Slott’s true intention is to return clones to a respected place in the MU, something which is getting a little easier. More recent clone capers – including the 2009 rehashing of Tom DeFalco’s original 90s “Clone Saga” story (co-written by Howard Mackie) – have done the duplicates some justice. It also brought the Jackal back and injected the storyline with a little more sanity than its predecessor. The Ultimate Spider-Man variation also offered some engaging plot points and great twists, while the clone adventure from Spider-Man: The Animated Series wound up being pretty fun. He also declared his desire to breathe new life into some unsung minor characters, saying:
"One of the fun times I had working on this book is picking up characters who people hadn’t considered to be a threat, or only appeared a few times, whether it’s Cardiac or Stunner or Phil Urich. If you’re a character in Spider-Man and you’ve had a good run, of course you’re somebody’s favorite. Everything is open, anything can happen.”
Despite the trepidation many fans face about more clones meddling in Spider-Man’s world, The Clone Conspiracy event offers some fascinating themes and possibilities. Bringing friends and loved ones – as well as adversaries— back from the dead may cause Spidey to hesitate before putting the Jackal out of commission. More importantly, if Slott and Cheung can create a compelling crossover, will Marvel enthusiasts finally learn to love a clone?
Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1 arrives in stores and on tablets October 12, 2016.