Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 38: Bug Story

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.

"Bug Story" Amazing Spider-Man #413

Writer: Tom DeFalco

Artist: Mark Bagley

Review by Eric Lee

Spider-Man wakes up in a giant bug jar which is in a giant room with a giant kid. The whole thing is insane. Once Spider-Man escapes the jar, he's quickly attacked by toys come to life.

You could tell quickly artist Mark Bagley had a lot of fun drawing these other characters that aren't owned by Marvel. On the cover alone you can recognize Godzilla, Luke Skywalker, the Xenomorph from Aliens, a Ninja Turtle, an evil Woody, Gumby with boxing gloves, and Stretch Armstrong. This issue is littered with non-Marvel IP.

The good news is that we drop the pretense of who's to behind all of this. Spidey pretty quickly guesses Mysterio is the villain. He's half-right. There is also Armada, who seems to be sporting a new armor since Spider-Man previously destroyed the last one.

While Armada isn't an interesting character in of himself, his dynamic with Mysterio is fun. Mysterio wants to draw out Spider-Man's death in a long, melodramatic fashion, whereas Armada just wants to shoot Spidey in the head.

Also Armada's one weird quirk is his unhealthy love for his robot drones. According to him, the drones have personality, but I wish that the drones actually had some actual AI personality. That would've made Armada a little more believable and tragic when Spider-Man does destroy the robots. Instead, he's treated like a loon who has a weird fixation on these inanimate objects.

Interestingly, Mysterio also has a modified look. He has his outfit from "Media Blizzard" but he ditched the smokey green head for his more traditional fishbowl look. Amusingly, Bagley draws the fishbowl with green smoke seeping from underneath it. I like to think that Mysterio just plopped a fishbowl on top of his still-smoking head.

Anyways, when Armada sees Spider-Man smashing up his beloved robot army, he snaps and attacks Spidey head-on. But Armada is a pretty big noob, because Spider-Man flies him directly into his computer consoles, thus destroying the robot toy controls and incapacitating him.

Mysterio tries to escape in the mists, but Spider-Man runs in and wildly punches his head off. Oh no! Spider-Man accidentally murdered Mysterio! Just kidding, it was a Mysterio robot.

At the Daily Grind, Ben's employer Shirley sees her ex Garon. Garon is also Devon's father and boy, Garon seems super suspicious.
Also, we see Peter Parker moving his stuff in Aunt May's old home. I wonder what happened the house between the period she died and now? We only saw it a handful of times, but it looked like it was in pristine condition.

Anyhoo, Peter is casually unpacking some dishes when he's attacked by a massive migraine. Mary Jane asks if he's okay, which Peter stupidly lies and says he's fine. C'mon, man. You're not Spider-Man anymore, there's no good reason to keep these kinds of secrets from your pregnant wife.

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  • Spider-Man battles Mysterio and Armada again 
  • Peter is experiencing more violent headaches
  • Shirley's ex Garon makes an appearance

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Judas Traveller
  • Mr. Thorpe
  • The Scrier 
  • Gaunt
  • Mystery Boss
  • Mystery Stalker

Subplots Count:

  • Peter and Mary Jane are still pregnant, but moved back to New York
  • 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 
  • Trainer works for Gaunt and a mystery man
  • Peter may be starting to regain his spider-powers
  • Peter is coming down with a mysterious illness
  • Spider-Skeleton is a clone
  • A mystery man is targeting Peter and Ben
  • Potentially another mystery person is stalking Peter and Mary Jane
  • Peter is now a staff photographer at the Daily Bugle
  • Shirley's ex Garon reappears

Clones Running Around:

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

    Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:

  •  Number of times Peter lies saying that he is fine when he's really not: 5
  • Number of times Peter lies specifically to Mary Jane about stuff: 5
  • Number of times Peter breaks glassware: 2
  • Number of non-Marvel IPs making cameos: 15 (Godzilla, Luke Skywalker, Woody, Buzz, Stretch Armstrong, Gumby, Xenomorph, Leonardo, Marvin the Martian, Pinky, Brain, the Flash, the Batwing, Gargoyles, Power Rangers)

    Verdict

This is a fun, harmless story. The superheroics was resolved a little too quickly, but fortunately there are these subplots that are more interesting. This is a perfectly perfunctory issue.
For the previous Fan Retrospectives on the Clone Saga, click here.

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