Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 12: Lives Unlived

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.

"Lives Unlived" Web of Spider-Man #125

Writers:  Terry Kravanagh

Artists: Steve Butler, Tod Smith

Review by Eric Lee

 After "Mark of Kaine" the Clone Saga slows down a little bit with a series of one or two-offs stories. So the next few retrospectives will be shorter before launching into the next big story event.

Actually, now that I think about it, the vast majority of the Clone Saga's stories are just huge event arcs.  They are almost all  crossover events with long-lasting repercussions. After month after month of high-stakes storytelling (not to mention reading four to five Spider-Man titles a month), it gets exhausting- regardless of how well-crafted the story telling is. I can see a lot of fans got burnt-out by all of this. I suspect another reason the Clone Saga is not well-regarded is because of the event fatigue.

So lets discuss the actual issue. We see Peter dressed as Scarlet Spider looking through the Daily Bugle records for Miles Warren aka the Jackal. Surprisingly he found some information and an address on Warren that's dated after his alleged death. 

Actually, that's not totally true. He found some information on a Dr. Warrens Miles. Hmmm... As far as aliases go, that one's just lazy. Even the Joker's alias of Joe Kerr is better than switching your first and last name around.
Peter gets scared by someone coming into the office and darts out. This mystery person is actually important later on.
So Peter hikes it to a suburb in New Jersey where he finds Warren Miles' home with a super secret lab in the garage. With that, Peter investigates the rest of the home to find... Gwen Stacy!!
It turns out that this is the original Gwen Stacy clone from back in Amazing Spider-Man #149. She got married to another clone of Miles Warren and now they live their life out as an idyllic married couple.

However, they are under assumed names to runaway from Spider-Man. So when Gwen clone sees Peter, she freaks out and the Miles clone electro-shocks Peter to escape. The two are on the run again and will re-start their lives again.

Interesting side-note, Warren has a flashback of his early life and had a wife and two kids back in the day. Allegedly, they died in a car accident, but since this is comics, so that's totally un-mined potential for future story.
Back in the present day, Peter chases the couple, which to me, seems like harassment. He had a spider-tracer on the car, he could've just tracked them to their new location instead of chasing them onto a busy bridge. By the way, it's not any bridge, but the Brooklyn Bridge George Washington Bridge! Yes, they're re-enacting the night Gwen Stacy died! We even see a new Green Goblin! 
The next part is a comedy of errors. Both Peter and this new Goblin are trying to help the Warren and Gwen clones. But you wouldn't guess that by the intimidating ways they're confronting the couple.

Peter relentlessly chases their car of the side of the bridge and the Goblin snags the Gwen clone out and drops her at the top of the bridge tower as he laughs like a maniac. So what I'm saying is that it's all this chaos is Peter and the Goblin's fault.
And yes, Gwen falls off the bridge again to complete the re-enactment. Fortunately, Peter catches her. However, the Miles clone ended up dying since he was in the car as it careened off the bridge and into the water. So that night was a zero-sum gain.
The worst part is that the night achieved nothing. Peter did not learn anything useful from Warren. He ended up in-directly causing the death of an innocent clone and traumatizing another one.

The rest off the issue is a flashback short story about the Miles and Gwen clone meeting. It also features some nice Tod Smith art that strongly evokes Klaus Janson.  I am not sure how it really jives with the previous Gwen clone stories, since I think the last time we saw her, she believed she was a woman Joyce Delaney.

The story itself is pretty standard with the exception of the creepy "Twilight Zone" kind of ending.
Yagh. That's so creepy and dis-comforting. I think there is untapped story telling potential of that certain clones have shorter life-spans than others. What's worse, it was revealed previously that the Jackal put some fail safe in his clones that can cause instantaneous degeneration.

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  •  The return of the Gwen Stacy clone  
  • First appearance of a new Green Goblin
  • The death of Warren Miles (aka the other Miles Warren clone) 

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Judas Traveller
  • Mr. Thorpe
  • The Scrier 
  • Mr. Nacht 
  • The new Green Goblin

Subplots Count:

  •  Mary Jane is concerned for her baby's health
  • Kaine "sees" Mary Jane's murder
  • Kaine stalks Ben Reilly AND Peter Parker
  • Daily Bugle report Ken Ellis' obsession with Scarlet Spider
  •  Ben and Peter switch places in prison. 
  • Thorpe wanting to kill Spider-Man for unknown reasons
  • Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider are unsure who is the real clone
  • Third Peter is Freakface
  • Jackal wants the Carrion Virus to create a race of super-clones
  • Judas Traveller is helping Peter for unknown reasons
  • Other super-villains are teamed-up to kill Kaine
  • MJ asks Black Cat for help

Clones Running Around:

  • Ben Reilly
  • Kaine
  • Freakface
  • The first Gwen clone
  • Warren Miles (deceased)

Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:

  • Number of times Kaine spies on others in the shadows: 20
  • Kaine has a vision of Mary Jane dying:  5
  • Number of times the Scrier spies on others: 8
  • Number of disaffected Peter Parker clones: 3
  • Number of times an old Peter Parker locale triggers a flashback for a Peter clone: 7
  • Number of times a girl falls of a bridge reminiscent of Gwen Stacy's death: 2 

This story line is kinda dumb, but relatively harmless. It does not advance any ongoing plots nor does it introduce any new concepts. Also Peter was kinda  a jerk for inadvertently causing the death of an innocent clone. And do we really need another Green Goblin? It's not great, but it's not the worse.
For the previous Fan Retrospectives on the Clone Saga, click here.

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