REVIEW: Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #4 – “Responsibility”

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Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: John Dell and Corey Smith
Colorists: Justin Ponsor
Letterers: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 01/18/17
Rating: Rated T+
Price: $3.99

Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is a story that has roots going back over Over 40 years. Marvel did a story where Professor Miles Warren, who taught biology at Empire University became infatuated with his significantly younger student and girlfriend of Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey. This infatuation grew after her death. Her death also drove Professor Warren to hate Spider-Man, and adapt the villainous identity of The Jackal.

Professor Warren assisted the High Evolutionary honing his skills at genetics. After Gwen’s death Professor Warren gave his lab assistant Anthony Serba, who had successfully cloned a frog tissue samples of Peter and Gwen, telling Serba they are from rats. Serba tells Professor Warren that the tissue samples are human and has to be destroyed which made Professor Warren snap and kill him. His mind was not able to handle what he had done so Professor Warren’s mind created a new personality dubbed The Jackal.

The Jackal would be a pain for Spider-Man over the years and it was revealed that Professor Warren had successfully cloned Peter Parker with a clone Kaine. Kaine was flawed and suffered from clone degeneration. Another clone, the first without any degeneration flaws was created. The two met with the clone believing himself to be the real Peter Parker. The Jackal kidnapped Peter and both he and the clone awoke dressed as Spider-Man. The clone was to believed to have died in an explosion. Fearing how he would explain a dead body that looked like him, Peter as Spider-Man dumped the clone into a smoke stack. Turns out the clone didn’t die and climbed out of the smoke stack. The clone saw Peter with Maryjane and having the same strong moral code of Peter decided to leave and adopt the name Ben Reilly, taking his Uncle’s first name and Aunt May’s maiden name.

Years later Ben finds out that Aunt May had suffered a stroke and was dying. Having all of Peter’s memories Ben returns to New York so he can see her. While visiting he encounters an emotionally raw Peter who had faced several recent tragedies and the two fight. Soon they begin to work together with Ben creating a suit of his own and being dubbed by the media as the Scarlet Spider. Peter and Ben are tricked by Seward Trainer that Ben was actually the real Peter Parker. Peter decides to retire so he and his expecting wife can raise their unborn child. Ben becomes Spider-Man until Norman Osborn returns as the Green Goblin and kills Ben. This time Ben lays in Peter’s arms and decomposes confirming that Ben was indeed the clone and Peter was the real Peter Parker.

Plot:  Ben takes Peter back to his second site where he has the clones. Dr. Octopus and Anna discover a frequency that breaks down the clones faster. Ana also says she has discovered a cure for the clones. Ben offers Anna a new perfect full-sized body that offends hers and Doc Ock which makes him flip the switch causing the frequency free on the world causing all the New U Clone to degenerate spreading the Carrion Virus to humans as well with Anna being among the first to contract.

Story: I need to preface this with a little warning, that may piss off most Spider-Man fans. I like Ben Reilly more than I do Peter Parker. I know this is a huge statement to make, but as a long time fan of Spider-Man in the 90’s I watched them change Peter into this broody angry anti-Parker character almost. So when the Clone Saga came alone and we were introduced to Ben Reilly, I found the Parker I had loved as a child again. Ben Reilly embodied all the best attributes of Peter. So Ben is by a small percentage (because they did repair Peter Parker over the years) is my favorite Spider.

I really like the Clone Conspiracy but I have some big issues with it. My first issue is that they seemed to have lost the essence of Ben Reilly. This issue showcases this. Ben here actually has a plan to not only kill Peter, but replace him! This is the same Ben who willingly exiled himself due to his morality. But I will have to say this issue does really showcase that morality but from Peter.

I loved the scene where Peter confronts Ben on reviving Uncle Ben and tells him he had no plan on ever doing it because Uncle Ben would remind him how wrong it is to do what he has been doing. Peter  Peter also has this nice moment here where he says to Marla, who talks to him about his vow after she died, he tells her it was a dumb vow, because no one person can bear that. It is impossible to not let anyone die ever in the world in which they live. I thought these scenes really gave us nice character moments. Another nice one was after Gwen’s father Captain Stacey reminded Peter that before he died Peter had promised to protect Gwen. Peter apologizes to both of them and Gwen tells Peter that she forgives him. This is something that should have a significant impact on Peter’s life.  

Art: The art here is really well done. Cheung is one of my all time favorite pencilers, and Justin Ponsor is one of the best colorists. I love the way the two of them along with John Dell and Corey Smith’s inks makes each and every page a delight to see.

I really like how they take each scene here, that not just puts together panels and pages to make a comic, but to almost make a cinematic experience. I feel like so immersed in the story because of the art here.

Verdict: Overall this issue has me torn. I felt a little spoiled because so many of the tie-ins featured them the past two weeks, that it took that moment from this book. I also really loved the character moments here, but Ben Reilly is just so out of character that it makes me fear his ongoing, more than that costume does. So while I do have my issues with this issue, I do think it is a very well done book and that you should pick it up.


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