Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 47: The Usual Suspects

 

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 Usual Suspects" Sensational Spider-Man #8

Writer: Todd DeZago

Artist: Mike Wieringo

Review by Eric Lee

 After the dark and emotionally heavy "Redemption" mini-series, we are treated with a light and fluffy comic. Todd DeZago is really coming into his own as a writer with the introduction of new penciler Mike Wieringo. The Sensational Spider-Man comic is noticeable for its lighter, more comedic tone under the new creative team.

We finally answer the question: who is behind all the robberies in the last couple of issues? The answer? The Looter! The Looter is looking and acting completely different since his last appearance in "Virtual Morality". It's possible that he was so traumatized for wearing a metal codpiece in "Virtual Morality" he changed his look and outfit.

 DeZago's interpretation of the Looter is also more comedic and a bit of an idiot. While I'm sure that long-time fans would be annoyed, I personally welcome the personality change. Of all the old Stan Lee and Steve Ditko villains, the Looter was one of the more bland, generic ones. I mean, the name the Looter sounds like a child made it up when he's playing Cops and Robbers.

Apparently the Looter was the shadowy figure who robbed Roxxon's weapons vault. He ended up stealing a bunch of supervillain weapons, like the Shocker's gauntlet, the Unicorn's helmet, the Stilt Man's legs, and the Ringers' rings.

Ben, Peter, and Mary Jane figure out it's the Looter pretty quickly. There is an amusing scene where Ben smirks at Peter getting yelled at by Mary Jane and then she yells at him too. These are the little moments that makes Ben Reilly such a lovable character: when he and Peter have a brotherly dynamic.

 At night, Spider-Man figures out which place the Looter is going to bust next and waits for him. Spidey is right as the Looter blows the place up with the Unicorn's helmet. Unfortunately, Spider-Man gets knocked out by the Looter while saving a civilian.
So he wakes up in the Looter's lair where the Looter begins monologuing about his plan to steal a second meteorite to give him more power.

In the most hilarious scene in the book, Spidey just asks Looter why doesn't he steal the second meteor immediately instead of stealing money for fancy high-tech equipment. The Looter straight-up admits he never thought of doing that.

 Spider-Man busts out and defeats the Looter pretty quickly and SHIELD agents come in and arrest the Looter. How did they find out where the Looter's hideout was? Who knows.
 This leads into the issue's cliffhanger: an army of Sentinel robots blast towards New York City! This is all a part of the ongoing Onslaught crossover in the X-Men books at the time, so we're not getting into that. However, we will see Spider-Man fight some Sentinels in the next edition of this column, so yay for that!

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  • The Looter is the mystery robber and mystery Roxxon thief
  • Sentinels invade New York City

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Judas Traveller
  • Mr. Thorpe
  • The Scrier 
  • Gaunt
  • Mystery Boss
  • Mystery Stalker
  • Mystery Roxxon Man- REVEALED  to be the Looter
  • Mystery bank robber- REVEALED to be the Looter
  • The Rose
  • Mystery person who bankrolled Scorpion

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
  • 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
  • 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- Six is crashing at Ben Reilly's apartment
  •  Hammerhead has an exoskeleton
  • A shadowy man is stealing from Roxxon- UPDATE The Looter robbed the Roxxon supervillain weapons vault
  •  A shadowy person with the multiple villains' powers commit robberies- UPDATE The Looter is using different villain weapons to commit robberies
  • A new Rose is starting a gang war with Hammerhead
  • A shadowy person upgraded Scorpion and has other plans

Clones Running Around:

  • Ben Reilly
  • The first Gwen clone
  • The four mini-Jacks
  • Kaine
Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition: And
  •  No repetition this issue! Yay!

    Verdict

 This story is pretty much as polar opposite as "Redemption", but it is really great in a different way. The comedic tone is something that is sorely missing from a Spider-Man comic, especially given the two years of straight Clone Saga melodrama. It's not a perfect issue, but-dang it-if it isn't fun.

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

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