Spider-Man: The Complete Clone Saga Epic - Book 3 Paperback – Sep 15 2010
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With the third volume in this new "Complete Clone Saga Epic" series, I've started to realize that Marvel is not kidding around when they say "complete." Every Spidey comic published during that era seems ripe for inclusion in these volumes regardless of whether or not it dealt with the core plotline. I certainly appreciate the throughness of this approach, but it works against them this time.
But where were we at the end of Volume 2? The original 1970s Clone Saga mastermind, The Jackal, had just returned and planted seeds of doubt about just who is the real Spider-Man - Peter Parker or Ben Reilly? We start this time with "Players and Pawns," a two-part tale featuring more of Jackal's shenanigans. There's also a third Peter Parker who emerges suddenly. Is he the real one? Spoiler alert - no. Jackal's smugness and puns get old quick, but at least this story is short. The most notable thing that happens is that Aunt May finally comes out of her coma.
But anyone who reads this volume is in for a serious endurance test before we get to see the emotional ramifcations of Aunt May's return. Specifically, it's time to wade through the five-part "Planet of the Symbiotes" storyline. This story was published outside the four main Spidey-titles in a series of "super special" one-shots. Special...this story is special the same way that Forrest Gump was special. Venom and Carnage were quite overexposed during the 1990s. I still think the over-the-top "Maximum Carnage" storyline is a guilty pleasure, but this story is one of the most absolutely godawful Spider-Man tales I've ever read. And keep in mind we're in the middle of the Clone Saga when we say this, so that carries some weight.
I'm not even going to try and summarize the sheer stupidity that passes for a plot in this comic abortion, but I will point out a fairly amusing mistake. At one point in this story, Eddie Brock and the two Spideys are chilling with Mary Jane as they hide out from the invading symbiotes (seriously, don't ask) and good old MJ is very cordial with her husband's duplicate. Nothing wrong with that on its own, except Mary Jane's first meeting with Reilly happens later on in this same volume and she's not exactly in the best mood at the time. So not only is the story terrible, it's not even placed in the right spot. Like I said, I do appreciate that Marvel wants to include all the stories where the clone appears, but honestly nobody would have cried foul if this one was missing.
So if you made it through that, you get rewarded with "The Gift," the story originally printed in Amazing Spider-Man #400. The "gift" of the title is the week that Aunt May gets to spend with Peter Parker before her death. Yep, this was the story when she bowed out of the Spidey universe (at least for a few years...let's not go there). It made sense. She had been in poor health since the early 1960s and it was probably time to send the old girl out with dignity.
That's exactly what J.M. DeMatteis did in this exemplary story. There's no action whatsoever and it relies totally on characters and dialogue to make its impact. As a pre-teen when this came out, it was easily the most emotional thing I had ever read...and it still holds it own when you read it as an adult. Once May has peacefully passed, this story ends with a big shock. There were a lot of "shocks" in the Clone Saga that felt as revelatory as Tuesday coming after Monday, but this was a big one. Just as May's funeral is over, the police show up and arrest Peter Parker. The charge? Murder.
The two-part "Aftershocks" story comes after this, and this stuff is decent enough. The only drawback is seeing that lame-o Judas Traveller show up again and do nothing but blow a few things up and then go on his merry way. The final storyline included in Volume 3 is "The Mark of Kaine." Remember him? Well, he was impossible to forget during this Clone business. We were told that this story would answer our questions about the mysterious figure, but it ultimately didn't answer much. The first half focused on Kaine's prophetic visions of Mary Jane's death, which he hopes to prevent by kidnapping her and hiding her underground. Naturally, neither of the Spider-Men are too happy with this. Parker breaks out of jail (assisted by Traveller...just go away already!) and even the moody third Parker joins in. In the second half, the story goes off the rails as the third Parker is revealed to be some genetic abomination who can shapeshift in the style of T-1000. Yeah, it's really weird...and some of the art is just ghastly. In the final part, Kaine picks fights with a bunch of Spidey's enemies...*yawn* The best part of this story is the scene where Reilly unselfishly decides to switch places with Peter and remain in jail so that he can be with Mary Jane while hunting the real murderer. It's pretty epic.
That does it for now. Next time, we get into the really bad Clone Saga stuff. At least we're done with Venom for a while.
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
In this volume, the mismanagement moves further off the rails. The first issue in the volume recaps a bunch of things that happened. While this is worthwhile in terms of being complete, it adds nothing worth reading for people who are purchasing each volume.
The strangest elements are things like the whole Planet of the Symbiotes thing. It's a strange story, not especially well done.
There's another problem that has been cropping up in most of these volumes, and it's a sign of the times. Artists are no longer bound to character design. While many artists make slight tweaks to character design in the interest of putting their own stamp on the character, the degree to which characters like the Jackal change from one artist to another is really annoying.
I still feel bad for the character of Ben Reilly. I think he had a lot of promise, and they could have made a nice spin-off for him.
Judas Traveller is back again, and seems a little less malevolent.
I still feel glad to be reading this storyline in this format. The jumping between titles went way too far during this storyline.
Everyone knows the Clone Saga was a mess. Heck it Drove me away from Spider-man at the time. But what everyone doesn't know is that after the Saga was over the Story was actually fun and is the longest story arc the web spinner has ever had. Sure there are ups and downs and less then stellar parts but its one Large Epic story.
Its Marvels Answer to the Death/Rebirth of Superman
So Now we are on to part 3 of the Trades and this has one has the large Reveal yet and Biggest moments in my opinion. at the time this was coming out monthly it was the hardest part because you honestly did not know where they were going with the Series. the Quality is still up to par as part 1 and part 2 (good and bad). The Story starts to turn a little darker but thats how the middle parts of most story's go. Things get worse before they get better.
Art Wise its still Drastically different from issue to issue Know that. Not a bad thing just make sure your ready and make sure you have read Trade 1 and Trade 2. This is not a place to jump in.
A Great Trade in a long Store.
This is the third edition of the clone digest that Marvel put together, and starts with a rehash of the past few years of clone wars, before getting into a very cool edition pencilled by Sal Buscema and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz, which shows a confrontation between the mysterious Scrier, the Jackal, Jack, and Kaine... and the release of yet another Parker clone! Or is this the real one? MJ goes to the doctor, and Flash Thomson gets involved in some silly battle with the Jackal's gene monsters. This launches into the silly Planet Symbiotes story line, where the Symbiotes nearly take over Earth... but Eddie Brock's Other helps our heroes to destroy his entire race. Say what?!? Nothing's great about this, not even the art. This one shows Spider-man and the Scarlet Spider ally for a while, and even Venom becomes part of the picture... and so does a giant Carnage, who feeds on symbiotes, before being done in by a tanker explosion. Silly. Traveller seems to be studying Spider-man's character now, not trying to figure out how to defeat him, although he and Ben have a great confrontation! Peter and Ben have a few serious conversations. Aunt May reveals she knew who Peter was all along... and the she dies! This is after years of her being in a coma. Wow...
The rest of the series is about mourning May, and figuring out why Peter Parker is in jail, and why he's always freaking out. There's a cool little episode showing a young Peter freaking out at the bullies, drawn by Darick Robertson, nice. Raven gets tortured by Kaine and even Stunner, Mary Jane gets kidnapped by Kaine, who seems to have a vision that he's seen her lying in a pool of blood, and seems to be trying to prevent that, it's all nutty. Kaine constantly defeats his foes, murdering the bad guys, but running away from the defeated good guys. Weird. Mary Jane with a gun - ooh, sassy! Peter and Ben switching uniforms, switching spots, taking on the freaky Peter-mutant. A silly episode of the Sinister Six taking on Kaine (before he takes them on, I guess), and then another re-hash of the moralistic creation of the young Spider-man. The End.