Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 26: Brother's Keeper

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.

"Brother's Keeper"  Spectacular Spider-Man #64

Writer:  Todd DeZago

Artist:  Sal Buscema

Review by Eric Lee

There is a noticeable uptick in quality in the stories since Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man. The creators seem to have been revitalized by the idea of a new Spider-Man. However, despite that, not all the titles are equal in quality. That comes down to the writers.

Of all the writers of the Spidey creators, Todd DeZago is the least experienced. He is also the new permanent writer of Spectacular. So far his plots are decent if uninspired.

This is the case for his opening issue. This issue is so unremarkable, I immediately forgot what happened after I finished the comic. 

So we start with a corrupt chemical plant, Sanders Chemical dumping toxic waste in the lake. Two brothers Dave and Hank Kalen are brothers  an environmental consulting firm that checks out the toxicity levels of Sanders Chemicals. The brothers alert the the Sanders CEO that the company has dangerously high chemical waste. Sanders blows them off and they check the toxic waste in a local lake, but it turns out that Sanders rigged the vats with a bomb to kill them. 
Surprise! One brother dies, but the other survives and turns into a goo monster named DK. As far as villain names goes, that's the least imaginative name. DK is just his initials Dave Kalen.

Cut to the present day and Ben as Spider-Man runs into DK tearing up Sanders Corp. office demanding to see the CEO. DK escapes, but Spidey easily tracks him down at the Sanders Chemical plant. 

Hmmm.... Actually why does DK even bother attacking an office? He should've skipped that step and attacked the CEO directly at his personal office. It's easy to track him there.  Anyways, DK initially escapes Spider-Man, but later resurfaces at the CEO's office. Spider-Man was there waiting for him, because DK is super predictable. DK attacks the CEO Mr. Sanders and Spidey interrupts.
DK incapacitates Spidey long enough for him to have a one-on-one with Sanders. Conveniently DK pulls out all the evidence that Sanders planned his brother's murder. Even more conveniently Spidey is within ear-shot when DK dumps  all of this exposition, allowing him to catch up on the back story.
So in the end, Spidey protects Sanders from DK by giving a speech about not taking the law into your own hands and not letting vengeance consume you. Pretty typical superhero stuff.  Sanders gets arrested and DK commits himself to Ravencroft to get help.
Surprisingly, this issue doesn't even allow space for some subplots. That's a shame because the sub plots of the Great Game or Mysterio or Jessica could've made this issue way more compelling.

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  •  First appearance of DK
  • Spider-Man defeats DK and arrests Sanders for murder charges

Shadow Mystery Men:

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

Subplots Count:

  •  Mary Jane's baby is fine
  • Daily Bugle reporter Ken Ellis' obsession with Scarlet Spider
  • Thorpe wanting to kill Spider-Man for unknown reasons
  • Peter is the clone and Ben is the "real Peter"
  • Judas Traveller is helping Peter for unknown reasons
  • Other super-villains are teamed-up to kill Kaine
  • What happened to Janine?
  •  Peter retires and passes the Spider-Man identity to Ben
  • The Scrier has his own agenda and needs the Jackal's intel 
  • The Great Game 
  • Seward Trainer is trapped in cyber space 
  • Mysterio buys a cable network to use the DIT-chip for entertainment purposes
  • Who is Jessica? 

Clones Running Around:

  • Ben Reilly
  • The first Gwen clone
  •  The four mini-Jacks
  • Kaine

    Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:

  •  Love interests for Ben Reilly: 6 (Gabrielle Greer, Betty Brant, Janine, Rachel the waitress, Carrie Bradley, Desiree Winthrop) 
  •  The day is saved by talking about love and/or responsibility: 2
 This issue is one of the most bland issues of the Clone Saga. There is nothing terribly wrong with it. But the plot is so cliche and predictable that it comes out as very unmemorable. It's almost as if DeZago got scared when plotting stories, like "Maximum Clonage" that he went to the other extreme and wrote a super-safe comic story. 

 In the end, this makes the story very forgettable and easily unimportant in the Spider-Man narrative. Unfortunately, this issue commits the biggest entertainment sin of all: it's boring.
For the previous Fan Retrospectives on the Clone Saga, click here.

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