Monday, January 23, 2017

Clone Conspiracy #4 Review

Clone Conspiracy #4

Writer: Dan Slott
Art Team: Jim Cheung, John Dell, Corey Smith, Justin Ponsor
Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 18, 2017
Price: $3.99

Something, Something, About Power and Responsibilities

We’re getting closer to the finish of the Clone Conspiracy here, with our penultimate issue, and if your anything like me you have enjoyed this event so far but you’re probably ready for this “related” tie-in business to wrap up already.  I mean how much nonsense does Marvel expect one individual to read, buy, and support at one time? Civil War II just wrapped up, the InHumans vs X-Men is continuing at the same time as the Clone Conspiracy, and the publisher just Unleashed Monsters on the masses as well.   I don’t know about you but that sounds like the definition of event fatigue to me. So for review purposes we’re going to ignore all that tie-in material here and focus on some meat and cheese, the main story. So let’s swing into it and see where Spidey ends this issue when it’s all said and done, after surprising us last month, with his decision to follow Jackal-Ben.

We start off issue four by checking in on our various resurrected villains hanging out in New U headquarters while Doc Ock flat out roasts the Lizard … I guess you could say “he got Ock-ed”.  The ol’ Doctors mood changes suddenly though when his lady love, Anna Maria, walks into the room bringing the drama with her, much to the amusement of the new Electro.  If you listen very closely you can hear the sound of a whip being cracked because Doc Ock has it bad for Anna Maria.
From there we transition to Peter and Jackal-Ben hamming it up on the ride back to New U headquarters. If you recall after a long conversation (see Amazing Spider-Man #22), the two have seemingly reached an understanding together, and Ben is pushing for Spider-Man and Parker Industries help to take his new cloning practices global.

Upon the pair’s arrival back to New U, where the magic happens, Ben Reilly has another reveal for Spider-Man.  This reveal centers around a town underneath his facility he’s established, called “Haven”, where all the resurrected people are seemingly living in harmony while receiving the care and medicine they need, to not turn into goo.  This is an attempt on Ben’s part to continue and show Spider-Man his intentions are pure, albeit confusingly so. Even Gwen Stacey acknowledges she’s forgiven Peter to help sway his decision in their (team New U’s) favor. (NOTE: for more on the Gwen Stacey, Peter/Spider-Man conversation, see Amazing Spider-Man #23, that’s all the book is).
At this point in the story/event the pace of things really kicks into high gear.  After briefly checking in on Otto and Anna, who discover a breakthrough in how to stabilize the cloning process, we’re quickly shown why Peter has a change of heart about this entire situation and the aftermath of this decision. Peter’s change of heart forces Ben Reilly’s hand. As soon as Ben has the answer he doesn’t want, he counter is to sick the entire “goon squad” he’s resurrected on Spider-Man, as the apparent villain heads off to implement Phase 2 of his plan, without Spider-Man’s cooperation. 
Jackal-Ben quickly arrives in the lab area however his plans continue to go down the drain. Even though the long lost lovers, Doc Ock and Anna Maria, have helped discover a possible cure to this clone problem, Ben’s not so careful choice of words directed at Anna about her size and stature, offend both parties (Ock and Anna alike) which only causes further conflict inside New U headquarters.  Now with the villains, Ock and Jackal, at each other’s throats, Ock makes a desperate move to take down the Jackals entire empire. The multi-armed villain hits a signal on the lab control board that sends out a high pitched sound targeting Clone’s to degenerate at an accelerated rate in the surrounding area. As the signal is broadcast, everyone around begins changing into the dreaded “Carrion’s”, which Kaine and Spider-Gwen have tried to warn people of, and it appears doom and gloom is striking as our issue comes to a close.

Well things escalated quickly here without a doubt in this issue and setup the series finale well in my opinion. I’m genuinely interested in how this event will be concluded which is more than I can say about the last couple high profile Marvel events titles.  Spider-Man going back to one of his first lessons learned as a means to turn down the Jackal is a nice nostalgic callback, which should please long time Spider-Man fans, who might have felt Peter losing his way as this event progressed.  The art continues to be event worthy. My concerns of the dark coloring overshadowing the art itself have eased as the series has progressed, probably because the characters have spent less and less time in a dark, dreary lab, which is welcome.

Bits and Pieces

The story as a whole continues to be interesting, and well-drawn, which has taken Peter/Spider-Man on an emotional journey, testing the foundational beliefs of him as a person established at a young age.  I appreciate the story at its core, which feels like a more traditional Spider-Man tale than more recent events, like Spider-Verse. If you felt like Peter (Spidey) has been a little too much like Tony (Iron Man) lately, Clone Conspiracy might be the righting of the ship you’ve been looking for.


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