Fan Retrospectives: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga: Part 51: Legacy

 

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.

"Legacy", "Last of the Heroes"  Spider-Man #73-74

Writer: Howard Mackie

Artist: John Romita Jr.

Review by Eric Lee

We pick up on the Fortunato/ gang war plot again. Unfortunately, for Ben Reilly, while this plot thread started with him, he doesn't live to see it get resolved.

But lets not fret about the future, lets see this cool opening with all the gang leaders teaming up against Fortunato. We even see a super cool role call: Hammerhead, Tombstone, Gavin Thorpe, Silvermane and Caesar Cicero, the new Rose, and the Slug (aka fatter Kingpin).

Wait- Gavin Thorpe? That guy was introduced as a mystery man waaaayyyy back in the beginning of the Clone Saga. The only thing we knew about him was that he was rich and he wanted to kill Spider-Man. We literally didn't even know his first name until right now.

What a hilarious way for writer Howard Mackie to resurrect an old plot thread and then do nothing with it. Mr. Thorpe never appears again. 

Also another side note, the Rose is sporting an altered version of his purple mask. Typically, he is drawn with a full hood.  But here it cuts off the top of the mask, presumably so his hair can breath. There's nothing important about it. I just find it amusing that the Rose sometimes gets too hot to wear a full mask.

So back to the actual plot, the other mob bosses decided to ban together to take down this new up-and-coming crime boss called Don Fortunato.

But unbeknownst to them, Peter Parker is sneaking around and overhearing their plans to whack Fortunato.

Peter tells Ben Reilly at his apartment, without knowing that Ben has a roommate called Jimmy-6 overhearing their conversation. 

Normal people would hear this info and think "Weird" and then go back to what they're doing. But not Jimmy-6! Jimmy-6 hides in a closet with a gun and then threatens to shoot Peter if he doesn't give him more information. 

Oh, and he does all of this in just a towel and slippies, because that's how Jimmy-6 rolls.

In fact, to show how baller Jimmy-6 is, he brushes his teeth while drinking beer at the same time! I want to grow up to be like Jimmy-6. Now he's a character that should be brought back.

 Jimmy-6 breaks into Forunato's mansion to warn him about the hit. Spider-Man interrupts their conversation just in time as a gang of Tombstone leads a gang of hitmen into Forutnato's living room. 

A fight breaks out and JImmy-6 reveals a twist: Fortunato is.... JIMMY-6's FATHER!!

 But why did Jimmy-6 leave in the first place?! Well Fortunato wired his floors to zap and incapacitate both Tombstone and Spider-Man. 

Fortunato also reveals who has been his financial and weapons backer: Hydra!

I gotta admit, that's a pretty good twist. It also lines up with what happened in the Daredevil title a few years prior. In "The Last Rites" story arc,  Hydra began expanding their reach to organized crime and were instrumental in taking down the Kingpin.

Additionally, even career mobster like Jimmy-6  thought that allying himself with Hydra was too extreme and which is why he left his father's organization initially.

Speaking of Daredevil, he's in the second part of the storyline! Bonus! After taking down some noob villain called Bolt, Daredevil catches word that there is a huge mob gathering where they plan to publicly unmask and execute Spider-Man.

By the way, all those gangsters who were plotting Fortunato's assassination earlier? Well they're now all aligned with him. What a bunch of bandwagoners. 

So Fortunato makes a big show of it where each gang leaders will kill Tombstone and a bunch of civilians on stage in front of a crowd of other mobsters.

 However, Jimmy-6 points his gun at Fortunato and saying he is going too far.

Fortunately, Spider-Man breaks free of his restraints, knocks out the gang leaders and leads the civilians away from the mob. Man, Ben is-if nothing else- efficient.

Daredevil also comes into help take down both mobsters and Hydra agents. This all culminates in an amazing double vertical splash page with the two fighting side-by-side.

 Jimmy-6 hijacks a helicopter for our heroes and civilians to make their escape. Spidey even takes an extra second to drop down and save Tombstone despite Jimmy-6's protests.

Spidey saves Tombstone and Daredevil saves both of them when his webline broke.

The end. This issue ends really abruptly. Would it kill Mackie to have an extra page for an epilogue? This dude really struggles to properly pace his comics in 22 pages.

Amusing side-note: Ben makes an ironic statement about how things are going to get easier moving forward.

It's ironic because he dies pretty soon. How soon? Like, if you turned the page, they have a preview image of a bloody, beatened  Ben Reilly. Now that's some good irony!

By the Numbers

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

Notable Developments:

  •  Don Forunato unites the mob bosses in New York
  • Don Fortunato reveals that he is backed by Hydra
  • Jimmy-6 reveals that he is Don Fortunato's son
  •  Mr. Thorpe's first name is revealed to be Gavin (but nothing else is known about him)
  • First and last appearance of Bolt

Shadow Mystery Men:

  • Mr. Thorpe- REVEALED to be GAVIN Thorpe
  • Gaunt
  • Mystery Boss
  • Mystery Stalker
  • The Rose
  • Mystery person who bankrolled Scorpion

Subplots Count:

  • Peter and Mary Jane are pregnant with a girl
  • 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 laid off and now back to being a freelance photographer
  • 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- UPDATE Don Fortunato unites the New York crime scene and revealed to work with Hydra
  • Jimmy-6 is crashing at Ben Reilly's apartment
  •  Hammerhead has an exoskeleton
  • A shadowy person upgraded Scorpion and has other plans
  •  Donald Menken is plotting something at Oscorp
  • Aunt Anna moves in with Peter and Mary Jane 

Clones Running Around:

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

Repetition is My Job, My Job is Repetition:

  •  Ben making ironic statements about not dying: 2

    Verdict

This two-parter is really good. Mackie is a writer who excels when he writes things that interests him. You can tell he is interested in writing about street-level crimes. The Hydra twist was a good pay-off too. It's logical and shocking, unlike the Judas Traveller twist, which was disappointing and annoying.

Probably the biggest shame is how these plot threads are not addressed again, like Jimmy-6 being Ben's roommate or the whole mob war plot. Everything gets cut short because of Ben Reilly's upcoming demise. And that's a bummer because these past couple of months worth of Spider-Man stories really shows Ben coming into his own.

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

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