- Published on Amazon.com
Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider survive the Jackal's latest trap. This isn't exactly good news, since he's found another way to aggravate their lives, by leaving them with the knowledge that either Scarlet Spider is the real Peter Parker while Spider-Man is the clone, or the both of them could be clones and the real Peter Parker is locked up somewhere else. A pod holding the real Peter Parker or a clone opens, and he makes his way back to the city. -summary
This third volume in the infamous Clone Saga has its highs and lows that stick out like a sore thumb. Now make no mistake, when it's good it's really good, while at times it can be way too silly for its own good. In any case, the story becomes even more engrossing with some very interesting plot twist as there are hidden motives galore, and the suspense can be through the roof when it wants to. This volume collects Amazing Spider-Man 400 - 401, Spectacular Spider-Man 222 - 224, Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special 1, Spider-Man 57 - 58, Spider-Man The Clone Journal, Spider-Man Super Special 1, Spider-Man Unlimited 9, Web of Spider-Man Super Special 1, and Venom Super Special 1.
The story begins with a recap taking place in Spider-Man The Clone Journal. I'm a little unsure about this story's placement here, because it feels like it was only added to fatten up the book, and I feel even in original form it was just a waste, since it only shortens things you already know. If someone is interested in going into this TPB series, I kind of doubt they will go into the third book first. The story finally kicks off with the arc, Players and Pawns. Here, the Jackal begins his plan by attacking people close to the Spider-Men, in this case Flash Thompson. The battle takes place between Scarlet Spider and the Jackal, and this one ends leaving the reader guessing on what was the Jackal's purpose in this fight in which you will find out later, but the outcome of that situation will leave one wondering once again. Spider-Man also encounters Kaine for the first time in a brief fight. Plus, Judas Traveller's right hand man Scrier, makes various appearances throughout and his purpose still remains a mystery by this point, but there's one thing about him that one can pull away; he must be very dangerous because Kaine is obviously afraid of him.
This volume jumps the shark very early (the series a little later on). I understand the purpose of this entire series is to showcase the Scarlet Spider, but I don't believe this book benefited from the five part story Planet of the Symbiotes. This story begins when Eddie Brock questions his bonding with the Symbiote. He rejects the alien, and in a moment of emotional pain, well, things get crazy.
The origin of the alien has an interesting story, and it feels as if it was influenced by Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, but the plot is pretty ridiculous and I found little enjoyment here. This story was nothing more than a vehicle to add on to the already over-exposure of Venom and Carnage; like we didn't get enough of those two from Maximum Carnage and the various mini-series between the two. This story also damages the pacing a great deal, because the whole clone situation is far more interesting than this. The TPB finds its footing once again with the story The Gift. Aunt May awakes from her coma and everything appears to be back to normal. The less said about this story the better because it doesn't need any spoilers. I will say that the story features no action, instead it has great potential to pull emotional strings for long time fans. The suspense begins to build when Peter Parker is arrested and locked up on a murder charge with unbeatable evidence; this is when all hell breaks loose as the story flows into the five part arc The Mark of Kaine.
The Mark of Kaine brings the third Peter Parker clone or real deal into the fray fighting like mad to reclaim his lost life. Kaine is convinced this man is a clone and proceeds with his plan. There are several battles here, and Kaine on one occasion battles all three of the Spider-Men. The only somewhat downside I can think of here is the final chapter in this arc. The Hobgoblin reforms the Sinister Six, now calling themselves the Sinister Seven, with the group made up of Hobgoblin, Electro, Mysterio, Scorpia, Vulture, Beetle, and Shocker. Their mission is operation Kaine-Killer, since they believe him to be a threat because he already killed two of Spider-Man's major enemies, and they all believe they're next. If it wasn't because of the very cool action I probably wouldn't like this story at all, since it really does nothing for the plot.
After the conclusion to Planet of the Symbiotes, the story becomes very well paced but the action takes the front seat which is a good thing. There are many cool battles here and the artwork shines on several occasions. The action can be brutal with Kaine slamming people face first into walls, as well as throwing Spider-Man head first off the side of a building. I definitely enjoy some of the facial features and character designs. Unfortunately, the artwork isn't so great at times, with Spectacular Spider-Man looking pretty bad with overly dark lines and poor designs. Planet of the Symbiotes really isn't too easy on the eyes either.
This volume would have been a whole lot better had the symbiote story been left out and made into its own TPB. It heavily distracts from the storyline and it could make one feeling the need to skip it altogether. Overall, this volume is decent and there were enough cliffhangers to make the next volume almost a must read.
Pros: Some solid arcs here and there, very good action and suspense
Cons: Unnecessary story and some bad artwork at times