Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 43: The Promise


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.

"The Promise"  Spider-Man #71

Writer: Howard Mackie

Artist: John Romita Jr.

Review by Eric Lee

We pick on the Don Fortunato plot line again. The guys who were supposed to kill Hammerhead in Spider-Man #70 are being punished for letting him escape. Do we shoot them for incompetence? Nope. Don Fortunato literally throws them to the wolves.
Hardcore, dude. But I guess if you're a new crime boss, you need to stand out from the other guys.

At the hospital, Peter Parker is getting worse. Fortunately, Curt Conners was present to get his latest seizure under control. But Peter is talking  to Mary Jane as if he's near death, so who knows how long Peter's got left.
Elsewhere, Ben Reilly as Spider-Man observes another robbery. This time it's a train that is stuck to a lot of glue. The only villain who uses paste is the Trapster. Spider-Man is thinking if this latest robbery is related to a string of other recent thefts. Could it be a group of villains working together or is it something else?
Back at the hospital, a bloody Hammerhead threatens a doctor if he doesn't operate on him. I'm not sure how Hammerhead held the doctor at gunpoint when he was undergoing surgery but who knows? Maybe Hammerhead was a hardcore guy who elected not to take any anesthesia. 
Anyways, a now recovering-Hammerhead brought along a high tech exo-suit to enhance his strength. As he dons his suit, he spots reporter Ben Urich at a payphone. Urich is at the hospital visiting Peter. Of course Hammerhead chooses the one hospital where Ben and Peter happen to be at.

Since Hammerhead recognizes Urich as the reporter who witnessed his earlier assassination attempt, Hammerhead decides to kill him. Fortunately, Ben sees Urich get snatched, so he changes into Spider-Man to save him.
Hammerhead and Spidey duke it out with Hammerhead playing defense for most of the fight. He only escapes by causing an explosion.

But the main drama here is that Peter begins to flatline. Ben was so struck by the news, he rushes to the room in his full Spider-Man costume. Peter says his goodbyes as he completely flatlines.
It's a good scene that really sells the drama of Peter dying.
Oh, and Jimmy Six broke into Ben's apartment and now is squatting there. The jokes on you, Jimmy Six, Ben has no furniture or anything in there. Have fun laying on nothing as you wait for Ben.

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  •  Someone is now using the Trapster's equipment for robberies
  • Hammerhead recovers from his wounds and is now escaped
  • Peter seemingly dies

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Judas Traveller
  • Mr. Thorpe
  • The Scrier 
  • Gaunt
  • Mystery Boss
  • Mystery Stalker
  • Mystery Roxxon Man
  • Mystery bank robber
  • The Rose

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 in the hospital and his condition worsens- UPDATE Peter seemingly dies
  • 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
  • Garon is a police detective hunting the gangs
  • Arthur Stacy is interested in Spider-Man
  • Don Fortunato tries to take over the New York crime scene
  • Jimmy-6 is running from the mob for unknown reasons
  • Hammerhead is injured and promises retribution- UPDATE Hammerhead has an exoskeleton
  • A shadowy man is stealing from Roxxon
  • A shadowy person with the Shocker's powers committed a robbery- UPDATE A shadowy person with the multiple vilains' powers  commit robberies
  • Curt Conners is the specialist on Peter's medical case
  • Jameson's missing and his office is in ruins
  • A new Rose is starting a gang war with Hammerhead

Clones Running Around:

  • Ben Reilly
  • The first Gwen clone
  • The four mini-Jacks
  • Kaine
Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:
  • Villains with cyborg: 7


 I really don't have much to say about this issue other than it's really good. Spider-Man is competent, Hammerhead is threatening, and the various plots are intriguing. The multiple narratives seem to blend really well together and do not feel forced. The scene with Peter making Ben promise that he'll take care of MJ and the baby was very emotionally resonant, as well as Peter's "death".

Awesome comic all around, not one real weak spot.

For previous Fan Retrospectives on the Clone Saga, click here.

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