Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 10: Aftershocks




The Spider-Man Clone saga is one of the most reviled story lines ever. It featured the return of Spider-Man's clone Ben Reilly, but also dragged Spider-Man through one of the strangest, series of conspiracies and narratives that the franchise have ever seen.
But... is it really as bad as the internet would have you believe? Come with us as we review the Clone Saga story arc by story arc as we uncover how one of comics' most infamous series holds up today.

"Aftershocks" Spider-Man #57, Spectacular Spider-Man #223
Writers: Howard Tom DeFalco

Artists: John Romita Jr., Sal Buscema

Review by Eric Lee

Peter is arrested for murder, while Ben Reilly and Mary Jane meet for the first time.

Upon seeing Ben unmasked Mary Jane slaps him and tells him to get out. Not a surprising response. Peter just got arrested, Aunt May died, and some guy with her husband's face is telling her he wants to help. Mary Jane is clearly in a bad place right now.
With Peter, things are going pretty poorly for him too. The judge won't post bail, since the murder is so heinous. That means Peter's going to stay in jail for the time being.

At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are reeling from the revelation Jonah brushes Robbie off and telling him to go print the news objectively. It seems like Jonah is being a jerk, but secretly he's footing Peter's legal fees personally.

Oh, Jonah! We all know you act tough, but you're just a big 'ol softie on the inside!
So, Ben - as Scarlet Spider - tails Mary Jane. However, she's being targeted by Judas Traveller who wants to know how a man like Spider-Man can be loved. 

If you're expecting any new answers of who Judas Traveller is and what is powers or motivations are, then you're out of luck! We get more vague psych-babble and an even more over-the-top power set. In fact, even Ben notes how Traveller seems even more powerful than the last time they fought in "Power and Responsibility"

The guy just tells a building to fall down and an entire building collapses! That's insane! How can anybody fight against that!?
It takes Ben forever just to cross the street, because of Traveller. But when he catches up with Traveller, he just decides to leave. It's meant to be mysterious, but the reality is that writer Howard Mackie probably wanted to quickly wrap things up. This is the second time that Traveller just abruptly leaves for no overt reason. It is just straight-up lazy writing at this point.

The more interesting story line is Detective Raven struggling whether he arrested the wrong man. His answers clarify when he meets Kaine. Kaine  promptly sears Raven's face with the mark of Kaine, proving that he was the murderer, not Peter. 
At Ravencroft Asylum, Jackal breaks out of his cell, so he can get to his real goal: stealing the Carrion Virus from Shriek. 
For long-time readers, the Carrion Virus was tied to the original Clone Saga. It was created by Miles Warren and it helped him create clones. 

Now the Jackal is going to extrapolate it to create a new race of clones. Where did that goal come from? Who knows. It certainly doesn't fit with the Jackal's previous motivations. Then again, nothing about this current version of Jackal jives with the original Clone Saga's interpretation.
In prison, Peter wonders if Ben could've framed him for murder. He even fantasizes about escaping and capturing Ben himself. But then he realized, it would just cause more confusion when Ben unmasks and has Peter's face.
Somewhere around town, that third Peter clone wanders around aimlessly wondering who he is. That is until he sees a Daily Bugle with Peter's face, claiming that he's arrested. That's when it clicked for the third clone: he's Peter Parker. Off-topic, but according to the captions, it's been only 24 hours since the clone was released from the pod.
That's an gross underestimation of the passage of time. That means that Aunt May awoke from a coma, was discharged, travelled around New York City, died, had a funeral, and then Peter was placed in jail all within one day.


By the Numbers

Lets tally up to see what the Clone Saga has done so far:

Notable Developments:

  •  First time Ben Reilly and Mary Jane meet
  • Jackal breaks out of Ravencroft and stole the Carrion virus for his master plan
  • Judas Traveller returns
  • Kaine burns a scar on Det. Raven's face
  • The third Peter clone realizes that he's Peter Parker

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Judas Traveller
  • Mr. Thorpe
  • The Scrier 
  • Mr. Nacht

Subplots Count:

  •  Mary Jane is pregnant
  • Kaine "sees" Mary Jane's murder
  • Kaine stalks Ben Reilly AND Peter Parker
  • Daily Bugle report Ken Ellis' obsession with Scarlet Spider
  • Peter is arrested by Lt. Raven as the primary murder suspect
  • Mr. Thorpe wanting to kill Spider-Man for unknown reasons
  • Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider are unsure who is the real clone
  • Who is the new Peter Parker clone?
  • Jackal's mystery plans related to Ravencroft- UPDATED Jackal wants the Carrion Virus to create a race of super-clones

Clones Running Around:

  • Ben Reilly
  • Kaine
  • New Peter Parker clone

Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:

  • Number of times Kaine spies on others in the shadows:19
  • Kaine has a vision of Mary Jane dying:  4
  • Number of times the Scrier spies on others: 4
  • Number of disaffected Peter Parker clones: 3
  • Number of times an old Peter Parker locale triggers a flashback for a Peter clone: 6 
  • Number of times Peter lies saying that he is fine when he's really not: 4
  • Number of times Peter lies specifically to Mary Jane about stuff: 4
Verdict
This storyline is a little odd. It's merely a connecting story arc between two more important ones. Why make this only a two-parter? Nothing was resolved.

There are some bright character moments though. Like, Mary Jane slowly learning to trust and accept Ben was some good writing. Same with Jonah's small scene where he's secretly supporting Peter. Speaking of Peter, he did nothing in his own comic. He's just another bit player. 

The downsides of the arc include another appearance of the insufferable Judas Traveller. In my opinion, he may be the worst character in the Clone Saga. That or the Jackal. Hm...It's unfortunately that they will be taking the spotlight in upcoming stories pretty soon.

Let's just say that this story was a wash and call it even, yeah?
For the previous Fan Retrospectives on the Clone Saga, click here.


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