Wednesday, September 30, 2009
While Green Lantern #46 surprised me with how good it ended up being and forced me to do a special review for it, my original plan was always to spotlight Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1. I liked a great many things about the original Clone Saga, particularly the back to basics approach, Ben Reilly and his supporting cast once he took over as Spider-Man (something Peter hadn't had in a long time), Kaine and, eventually, the brother-like relationship that developed between Peter and Ben throughout the saga. It was by no means perfect and had its share of bad, oft times horrible, sections, but, unlike many of the detractors, I think the good outweighed the bad.
While I didn't see a point to revisiting the story, especially with how Ultimate Spider-Man already did an Ultimate version of the storyline, I wasn't going to pass up a remake of one of the earlier eras of my comic book reading days. Hit the jump to find out what I thought of the newest iteration of the Clone Saga.
Written by Tom DeFalco & Howard MackieArt by Todd Nauck
As I've already prefaced this review with me being decidedly in the pro-original Clone Saga camps, I'm going to start by saying, bias aside, this was surprisingly good. Even with my love of the original Clone Saga, I was expecting an unmitigated disaster of 90's storytelling here. What we got was a solid, though equally rushed (in comparison to the years long saga) and decompressed, first issue.
The "new" Clone Saga appears to take place around the time of Power & Responsibility, which is when Ben Reilly first returned to New York after Aunt May went into a coma. Unlike P&R, this version of the Clone Saga has a much cooler and collected Spider-Man confronting his clone on top of the hospital roof to kick off the clone madness. There's also no Judas Traveller or taking over of Ravencroft Institute and it looks like that will be ignored moving forward, too.
"Does my ass always look that big in costume?"
In regards to the confrontation on the rooftop, it played out roughly the same as the original saga with Ben and Peter fighting, but, as I said, the calmer Peter seems to dial it down a notch and talks it out with his clone instead of being insanely paranoid and over the edge like he was back in the original. It was a bit sudden for me knowing what I know of the original Clone Saga, but without relying too heavily on that old baggage, it's not that far a stretch to see the two come to terms like this and is a quicker step towards the brotherly relationship I enjoyed in the original saga.
"That word you use, I don't think it means what you think it means."
From there, Kaine, who, in the original saga, was a failed clone of Peter Parker whose powers were amped up due to the degeneration process, makes an appearance. Instead of being the hidden guardian angel for his fellow clone in an attempt to give him the perfect life, it looks like Kaine is working for a mysterious benefactor in the version. It's still implied he has a history with Ben Reilly, but he was shown speaking to who I'm guessing is Norman Osborn at the end of the issue and is apparently attempting to force Peter and Ben to bond together for some unknown reason.
"Admit it, you loved Kaine and want to see him back. Better than that Raptor guy anyways..."
Kaine carries out this plan hidden away from Peter and Ben (as a clone, he doesn't set off their spider-senses). He does so by first throwing a car at the two, causing them to overlook their differences to help save some bystanders and, afterwards, uses some weird bio-bombs, which coat the two in some kind of goop that almost looks like webbing, and forces Ben to save Peter. This leads to Kaine's conversation with the mystery villain. They mention Harry Osborn a lot in the opening recap page, but never speak of Norman Osborn. I'm curious if this will follow the original with Norman as the big bad or if they'll opt for someone different like Harry. As it's already a well known storyline, I'm surprised they are playing the cloaked, mystery man angle like this.
"No, I have no idea what this #$%^ was either."
As for negatives with the issue, it's a very slow start for someone with intimate knowledge of the original Clone Saga, mostly setting up the premise with how Aunt May is in the hospital, Ben Reilly had to return to New York to see her one last time, MJ maybe being pregnant and so on. Most of the action doesn't pick up until about three quarters of the way through the issue and mostly revolves around pedestrian acts like stopping a car from landing on people or dealing with some really odd bio-bomb things. I don't need action or fights in every comic I read, but with the recap oriented opening, I was hoping for it to kick up a notch to get the juices flowing.
"Norman? Is that you?"
There's also the price of the comic, which is Marvel's new standard - $3.99. I'm happy spending that much on this issue for my love of the original Clone Saga and desire to see the Scarlet Spider and Kaine again, but people with a morbid curiousity for the infamous Clone Saga may feel a bit disappointed with the content at that price.
Artwise, Todd Nuack does a fantastic job. It's clean, does a good job telling the story and is easily some of his best work ever. He's not a super star artist like a McNiven or Quitely, but I have no complaints about the art for this issue and was quite happy with what was on display.
Verdict - Check It. It's a remake of an infamous storyline from the 90's at a $3.99 pricepoint. That's probably quite off putting for most people, but, if you have the extra cash on hand, it's not nearly as bad as most would expect and, my love of the Clone Saga aside, this is actually a very solid, well put together opening issue.