It’s finally revealed – what made the Prowler, Gwen Stacy, and Captain Stacy all decide to join the cause! You know it must be something big and now it will all be known. All this and pretty much every character you could care less about (plus some Marvel Zombies too)! Join us for another Crawlspace joint review! Excelsior!
The Devil in the Details
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: John Dell
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover Artist: Gabriele Dell’otto
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: November 9, 2016.
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test
Kaine is trapped in Sprinting Dead world and barely gets out (maybe with some damage) to discover that it was a dream (or is it a memory? – hard to tell). It seems he has a mysterious roommate and a mysterious guest who needs her meds fast. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is fighting Doc Ock (picking up where we last left off) while Gwen just watches casually.
Jackal stops all this bickering with a snap of his finger and proceeds to explain to Spidey how he is a good guy now and how he is not cloning, but reanimating and this is going to bring goodness to Peter and the world (I’m Miles Warren, and I approve of this message). We finally get to the special door that convinces everyone that the Jackal’s plan is one to go along with. Gwen tells Peter that this is the door that usually puts doubts to rest, but then she tries to get out of going there. What’s behind door #1? Every dead loser villain that Spider-Man ever faced (reanimated, natch!).
Meanwhile, JJJ is having a snuggle moment with reanimated Marla and we get a teaser for Silk (who could the mystery reanimated person be? (it’s about as difficult to tell as the Who’s-That-Pokemon? silhouette)).
Back to the story you shelled out $4 to read – Miles is going to reform all the bad guys. What could go wrong?
Then, Captain Stacy pulls a gun on his daughter? What the heck? Turns out, it’s not Gwen Stacy, or rather, it is, but not THE Gwen Stacy. It’s Spider-Gwen and she and Spidey escape through the ventilation shaft. Kaine and Spider-Gwen are working together because this has been done before on other worlds and it always ends in fast zombies and is, of course, Spidey’s fault.
I came out of this with mixed feelings. I liked seeing Kaine again, but was unclear on his role early in the story. Was it a dream sequence? A memory? Something that happened before he went to sleep? And his face – I couldn’t tell if he was degenerating or just worn ragged from constant zombie fighting. Plus Gwen Stacy shouting out, “I need my fix!” is a bit off of how I would expect Gwen to react in that situation. Tears, maybe. But then again, I’m getting used to not recognizing iconic characters lately. The bringing together of Kaine and Spider-Gwen makes this story quite a bit more convoluted, so it is beginning to feel much like the second clone saga.
The fight with Doctor Octopus was … O.K. I was distracted by the fact that Gwen is just standing there watching it. Sure, hindsight tells us it is not THE Gwen, but still…. It felt off and prevented me from enjoying the fight. The exposition during the fight, while not enjoyable, was understandable to get new readers up to speed. An editor’s note telling readers to refer back to issue this or that instead of the long, drawn out conversation would have been appreciated.
However, it was two things that really took me out of my enjoyment for this series. The first deals with the identity of the Jackal. I feel that the new mask, younger look, different attitude, and change of mission and tactics makes the case that there is more to this Jackal than just Miles Warren. However, up to this point, everyone has been calling him Miles or Warren. This issue is no different with Ock and Kaine calling him Miles Warren. With Kaine having seen this in several worlds, he should know at this point who the man in the mask is, so why all the hints to the contrary? It just seems so anti-climactic. If there is a twist to who is behind the mask (like it being Ben Reilly or Norman Osborn), then why have Kaine say it is Miles Warren? If anyone should recognize Warren, it would be Kaine. It just makes that whole idea now seem pretty cheap. Despite that, I’m still thinking it’s got to be something out of the ordinary and maybe I’m looking too hard, but does that look like a scar on his cheek?
The other thing that took me out of this comic was the what was behind the door. When Prowler first “woke up”, he was not going to work with the Jackal until he was shown what was behind the door. When Gwen woke up, she wasn’t going to work with the Jackal until she was shown what was behind the door. It appears Captain Stacy had a similar moment as well. So, what was behind the door? What grand thing was there that got so many people to believe in the Jackal?
Actually, to be even more specific – VILLAINS ALL WITH THEIR COSTUMES AND DEADLY EQUIPMENT!
Now, if Miles Warren thinks this is a good idea, I can buy that. I can buy Kafka believing this balderdash I can buy. But Peter, Prowler, Gwen, DeWolffe, and Captain Stacy? Nope. Nope. Nope. I don’t care how many multi-verses you travel to – nope. It is such a stupid idea (it has more holes in it than the Hey-pretend-You’re-Spider-Man-So-Deb-Whitman-Will-Think-She’s-Crazy idea her psychologist came up with) and so obviously is going to backfire that I’m out (only I can’t be out because BD has me contractually obligated to finish out the arc). To make matters worse, Captain Stacy pulls a gun on Gwen – while surrounded by a dozen or so not yet fully reformed villains? Geesh!
All that said, the art was good and I particularly enjoyed the Spider-Verse panel.
Name all of the reanimated villains seen two pictures up.
I want to like this story. I was really into the lead up for it. However, the issues with the Jackal’s identity and the utter let-down of what was behind that door makes me drop my grade to a
Maybe I’m being too hard on it. Let’s check with the other reviewers.
Look at me, I’m Negative Neil, low grade time, hurr-hurr-hurr!
Now, to the comic’s credit, I was blown away by the art, particularly how well Cheung draws Gwen and Kaine. The colorist managed to redeem himself this time and really nail down the right amount of shading. But the art really doesn’t do all the heavy lifting for salvaging the book. Slott is clearly pouring all of his A-game material into this mini, and it does show, for better or worse. He wraps up plot elements we thought were finished and continues adding new layers to them, but only a few of them have any actual payoff. It was cool seeing a lot of these obscure villains all grouped in one place (holy crap, was that Jack O’Lantern?) as well as some we weren’t too keen on seeing (Massacre) and some that don’t make any sense. (Green Goblin) The double swap with Spider-Gwen was good, and it was good to see good ol’ Agro Kaine again, but this issue relies heavily on the now B-tier Amazing Spider-Man to understand what’s going on, which is probably the biggest detriment to this mini. The biggest question, again, being: how the hell is Kaine back, and why is Spider-Gwen here? I’m just hoping Slott delivers on these payoffs. Another problem I had with this issue is that while the stakes are raised enough for me to be invested, it veers off to another subplot due to a lack of proper pacing.
I’m just worried that the Clone Conspiracy mini will be reliant on subplots and tie-ins like Spider-Verse, but for now, Slott’s earning my trust with the mini so far.
To say that I enjoyed seeing Kaine in the issue is an understatement. However, the structure of the issue disoriented me greatly. Spider-Gwen, who I’m on record for somewhat disliking, was a nice surprise. Kaine, Otto and Jackal all were part of Dan’s run. And zombies are familiar ground. The Art is exceptional. I don’t care what that old man on the podcast says. I do not think Dan understands Kaine powers. His webs are organic. Other than that it was enjoyable. Well done.
Nah, Fire Away: Dan Slott continues to impress with the second issue of The Clone Conspiracy. There are a few weak moments, things like: two and a half pages wasted on a dream sequence with little to no importance, an awkward passing of the torch to Silk, and some awkward pacing that has our climax leaving Peter to crawl around in a vent for a month.
But the rest is great. I love the Spider-Gwen twist, which is a nice way to isolate Gwen-Prime from the other reanimates. I love the potential for zombie carnage. Slott pairs Peter up again, without sidelining him in the process; a real flaw of his. Peter Parker is a great but flawed hero and Slott explores his more violent tendencies here.
Otto is the star though and this confrontation between Peter and Otto has been building up for awhile. It is handled well and distinguishes a more aggressive Ock from the pack of docile villains. I feel Otto will be the one to bring the downfall of New U; whether it is done with heroic intentions remains to be seen.
A lot of people are expecting Ben Reilly and I am expecting him to be the Peter who destroys the world. Whether or not that is also Anubis Jackal, I cannot say; still holding out hope for Norman. But making it Ben turns this into a family affair between Peter/Ben/Kaine.
There is a strong dynamic between Slott and Jimmy Cheung, where he allows Cheung to silently tell parts of the story; like how Kaine’s face seems to be degenerating in the opening scene. Justin Ponsor does an excellent job with the colors, making things glow and pop off of the page appropriately.
Dan Slott continues to impress me, damn near matching the quality of his stellar artistic team. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.
Ah, Clone Conspiracy! What have you done? Let’s start with the positives – Jim Cheung. As ever, this dude kills it on art, especially with the splash page of old Spidey villains. I can’t wait to see what else he has to deliver throughout the series. Another positive is that this is Slott’s Spider-Story coming full circle – Spider-Man is faced with a world where ‘no one dies’.
This would be a brilliant conclusion to his story if it wasn’t for a problem I found with this issue: New U is clearly in the wrong – they cause a zombie apocalypse. Therefore there is no tension on whether Spidey should go for this new idea based on what he has wanted since the start of Slott’s run. If we know that New U needs to be stopped there is no tension in regards to his dilemma. This is not the only thing that falls flat in this issue. The Spider-Gwen twist is cool until I realized it felt entirely out of character. The passing of the torch to Silk felt clunky and awkward. Want to find out how Kaine’s back, go read a tie-in!
Overall the ideas in this issue felt good but the execution was awful. So it is with a heavy heart that I give this issue a pitiful:
D+, B, B, A-, D- Well, if anything, this series is at least speaking to people in different ways!
What grade do YOU give it? Put your grade in the comments section. You can explain it if you want to or just post the grade.
THE CLONE CONSPIRACY CONTINUES! SPIDER-MAN is on the run from his resurrected rogues! The Jackal’s master plan is further revealed. Just how deep does it run? And why is Doctor Octopus playing second fiddle to the Jackal?