So last issue I told everyone just how much I loathe the Clone Saga and yet here we are with a book filled with Clone Saga characters and continuity. Can this issue transcend its roots or is it just a clone of the staggeringly awful trash that spawned it?
Superior Spider-man Team-Up #2
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Color Art: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Paolo Rivera & Joe Rivera
Spoilers to follow after the break:
The Plot: Peter’s unfortunately not-dead evil clone Kaine has returned to NYC wearing the costume of Peter’s mercifully dead insipid clone Ben just in time for the Jackal to grow yet another batch of clones. Really we’d all save ourselves a headache if we stopped with that sentence there, but I suppose if I had to suffer through reading this thing we may as well go into specifics.
Kaine goes to visit Peter but Octo-Parker is less than thrilled to see him because Kaine killed Ock during the never-ending nonsense that was the Clone Saga. So they fight with Kaine being confused—which is pretty much the natural state of all the damn clone characters—as to why Peter is attacking him. Before anything can be resolved several more Spider Clones attack along with the Jackal and Carrion thus forcing the “heroes” to band together. And then clones of both Gwen Stacy and her frickin’ father show up carrying shotguns in probably the most absurd panel in 18 years (and remember I also review the book that had the Venom Mobile in it but that’s noting compared to this nonsense.) Gwen shoots Spidey and we fade to black.
Critical Thoughts: This is a microcosm of why the Clone Saga suuuuuuckkkkkeeddd so bad and all of the characters associated with it need to never ever under any circumstances be even mentioned in a comic book ever again let alone actually used in a story.
Let’s start with page 1 in which we see an issue of the Daily Bugle informing us that Scarlet Spider has come to New York and speculates that he is “Believed to be a clone created by Professor Miles Warren, also known as the super villain the Jackal.” How is any of that public knowledge? I can’t imagine Peter told anyone he has an evil clone running around because if someone unmasked Kaine they’d know who he was too. It’s not like there aren’t other spider-powered people in the Marvel Universe besides Peter: for example the 57 Spider Women. So where is that conclusion coming from? And why do people know that the Jackal grows clones? How is that common knowledge? Admittedly I’ve blocked large portions of the Clone Saga from my memory in order to preserve my sanity, but I don’t think Jackal’s ever gone on TV and said, ‘Hey know what I like to do in my spare time? Grow clones.” For that matter I’m not sure Jackal’s identity should be publically known as to my knowledge he has never been to prison to be finger-printed and identified by police; instead he tends to die at the end of every story arc he appears in. But that’s the least of the awful in this story.
I think the moment that really crystallizes how bad this is occurs when the new Spider Clones show up and Ock thinks while fighting them they “appear to be half human, half spider with some kind of extra . . . extra as in X” and deduces they are mutant Spider Clones with X-men-like powers. This is literally the kind of deductive logic found in the Adam West Batman series only it is being played straight in this thing without a hint of irony. Want an example? The 1966 Batman film has Batman attacked by a shark in the opening scenes. It bites his leg until he uses his “shark repellant” aerosol spray can to escape (still less dumb than the Clone Saga). Afterwards Batman meets up with Robin and Comm. Gordon to figure out who arranged the shark attack. At first they suspect Penguin because “where’s there’s a fish there’s a Penguin” which isn’t a bad deduction all things considered, but things quickly go downhill when they note “That shark was pulling your leg—the Joker!” Which is then followed by this deductive gem, “But the attack happened at Sea—C for Catwoman,” which is the exact same deductive process Ock just used to determine these clones have X-men powers, he happened to say a word in a sentence that sounds like another unrelated word and voila he has his solution. That’s the intellectual level the story is aiming for folks and yet it still misses the mark. Or to go back to the Batman parallel, after deciding those three villains may be working together they conclude with this sound-alike clue, “the three of them working together, oh what a deadly riddle that would be–Huh? Riddle-rrr!” Errrr, indeed.
There is however one moment of insight in this story. On page 2 Jackal is talking about his work on the Spider Clones and says the “Trials are going well. The losses have been acceptable . . . Of course all losses are acceptable when you can make more.” And that in nutshell is what is wrong with Jackal and his clones as villains. There are absolutely no dramatic stakes in anything they do. His little spider clones die fighting Ock and Kaine, well who cares? We’ve seen him lose literally 100 spider clones in one day in the nuclear nightmare of suck that is Maximum Clonage. Jackal himself dies, who cares? He’s died at least three times and just comes back as a clone again and again and again to appear in yet more God-awful stories.
Well I suppose a second moment of insight occurs on the last page. Before passing out Ock says, “This is not . . .” and then the Jackal says “This is going to be good.” If we connect the dots and read that as one sentence we more or less get “This is not going to be good,” which is at least truth in advertising.
Grade: F- (x) infinity. Remember last issue when I said the terribleness of the Clone Saga made me quit reading comic for 10 years? This book is a sad reminder of that awful era. Take your $4 and pay a hobo to hit you in the head with a hammer rather than reading this: it will be far less painful for you as the reader and the hobo can use the money.