Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Jim Cheung, John Dell and Justin Ponsor
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 9, 2016
Review by: Branden Murray
I’ve been all in on this Spider-Man event, Clone Conspiracy, so far but am slowly becoming more and more anxious to discover some answers after months of setup introductions. Basically I want to feel reassured, after reading this issue, that my decision to go all in on this event, tie-ins and all, was justified with some genuinely interesting developments. So with my insecurities being laid out on the table let’s swing into the events of the latest Clone Conspiracy issue and discover just what the hell is going on here.
Off the bat we get a huge surprise as Kaine starts the issue off running from what looks to be a zombie hoard of some sort as he talks to a mysterious character that’s currently off panel. This beginning comes off a little confusing because not only have we not seen Kaine since the end of the Spider-verse storyline, when he seemingly died, but on top of that the beginning of this comic turns out to be a dream … or does it? Anyway, Kaine wakes up to an even worse nightmare, he’s being hollered at before he’s even out of bed … by two different people! I gather Kaine has been busy man since we last saw him.
Jumping back to how last issue ended, Spider-Man is being held at the mercy of Dr. Ock, as Gwen Stacey looks over the events in action like a teacher ignoring the classroom after a bad break-up. To the chagrin of Dr. Ock, the Jackal arrives and orders the recently resurrected villain to put Spidey down because Spidey and Jackal simply need to have a chat to understand each other.
Jackal and his entourage, including Gwen, walk Spider-Man through the New U facility. The Jackal promises the hero along the way his intentions are far from nefarious in anyway. Spider-Man still has his reservations about the entire process, not particularly liking what he hears, vowing to shut down the company at any cost. The situation improves zero percent when the Jackal reveals his “big” surprise to Spider-Man ... all the villains that Spidey has killed or that have perished during his time in the suit ARE ALL BACK and in the Jackal’s possession!
Spider-Man assumes the battle position expected a fight since he’s severely outnumbered but Jackal assures him the villains are held in check because of his “chemical leash”. If they disobey orders Jackal will fail to provide this formula to the offending party eventually resulting in a total body failure. Just as it seems all the Jackal’s plans are laid out on the table and the situation is under control Captain Stacey, Gwen’s dad also back from the grave, senses something is off with his daughter pulling a gun on her. The big reveal here is Captain Stacey is correct and that the Gwen Stacey who’s running around with Jackal is really Spider-Gwen who’s from a different dimension and not his daughter in this world. Sensing the jig is up Gwen grabs Peter and the two head for the exits of New U headquarters with this newfound information.
Our issue concludes as we jump back to the current Scarlet Spider Kaine, we witness him arrive at a Horizon Labs facility, one of the buildings owned by Parker Industries, with the cloned version of Gwen Stacey. Kaine drops Gwen off with Anna Maria and a few employees at the facility so they can conduct some tests and deduce what’s going on and how they can stop once and for all. Before leaving though Kaine provides Anna with a newspaper headline, issuing a grave warning to Peter’s confidant from a different world/timeline, explaining “I’ve seen this New U madness happen on a dozen different worlds … because of Miles Warren’s ideas and Parker Industries global tech Peter Parker (becomes) the man who destroys the world”.
That’s all for the Clone Conspiracy #2 and I have very conflicting feelings about this issue after initially being fully onboard with whatever I was previously reading in this event. The reveals and story beats discovered in this issue just feel very odd and out of place with what we were previously getting. I don’t understand Dan Slott’s motivations at this point and why he chose to reintroduce the concept of multiple Spider dimensions again. Suddenly it feels like the story has transitioned on me from a Clone Conspiracy title to Spider-Verse 2 literally out of nowhere with Kaine, Spider-Gwen, teases of multi-dimension Peter Parkers, etc.
Now a personal story concerning Peter and his darkest days no longer feels that way at all and I’m disappointed. I liked Spider-Verse I just didn’t love Spider-Verse so it’s not something I care to revisit especially so soon. All is not lost though as the art team of Jim Cheung, John Dell, and Justin Ponsor do a great job rendering a large cast of characters you’ll enjoy seeing on the pages again. I would like to see the colors brightened up a bit though, especially inside the New U facility everything is colored in very dark tones.
Bits and Pieces:
Overall this issue was a mixed bag because while the art does a suitable job of representing event quality comics the story suddenly feels all over the place by introducing new concepts and ideas that feel very out of place from what we were previously reading. A possibly classic personal tale about Spidey has turned into a dimension hopping affair that I feel suits Dr. Who fans more than traditional Spider-Man fans like myself.