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Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1 – Review

By Tom Defalco and Howard Mackie (writers) Todd Nauck (pencils) Victor Olazaba (inks), and Javier Tartaglia (colors)

The Story: As Aunt May lies in critical condition on a hospital bed, Peter is confronted by his clone, Ben Reiley, as a mysterious villain strikes against the duo. Meanwhile, Mary Jane learns she has a condition that will effect her and Peter’s for the rest of their lives.

What’s Good: A little disclaimer here: I never read the original Clone Saga as it launched right after my gradual hiatus from reading ASM. So, I come to this mini-series with fresh eyes and an open mind (sort of; more on this below). Those readers that were bothered and up-in-arms over the original Clone Saga will probably have a different experience with this read and I’d like to hear what you guys think of this issue in the comments section.

Anyway, this comic has its strong points in its heavy nostalgic feel with it’s early nineties style. It rings true as a representation of an era when the likes the likes of McFarlane and Larson were telling their stories and Peter was at a stable point at his life as far as maturity while his life was twisted by ridiculous dramas like Robots in the form of his parents invading his and MJ’s life.

After reading the most recent ASM annual, I was intrigued to learn more about this Ben Reiley character and his effect of Spidey’s continuity. To this end, Defalco and Mackie did a good job in making Reiley a solid character with a logical personality for being a clone that knows who he is. The dialogue between he and Peter normalized and became quite good in characterizing their relationship.

The art was decent, like a glossy version of 90’s Spidey, The action scenes, which was most of this book, were skillfully done with detailed scenes full of momentum.

What’s Not So Good: Well, this is whole project is pretty much Spider-Man’s version of X-Men Forever. Like Chris Claremont pining for his X-Men series that should have been, Tom Defalco and Howard Mackie were apparently losing sleep and chomping at the bit to tell their vision of the Clone Saga that never was. Look, I understand that writers/creators need to create, but part of me questions the whole validity of this product. Here is the safest thing that I can say in this vein: Comics today are much, much better than comics in the mid 90’s. MUCH BETTER. There may be no remedy to correct whatever creators and editors were drinking when they came up with the gruel they shoveled out in front of the hungry fanboy. Seriously, for the most part, comics back then were non-sensical, self-righteous, and overly dramatic affairs that turned many of us off of comics completely.

All that being said, this comic should be criticized for how it stands on its own. In this regard, I found the breakneck pacing very mechanical and cliché’.  This wasn’t an organic story, but rather everything was methodically told by the characters. Perhaps things will become more natural and flowing in the future, but this issue seemed forced and predictable. Let’s not forget that the villain remained unseen by the Parker and Reiley, and just threw stuff at them like a car, a water tower, and a biological weapon. Yeah, pretty lame.

Also, despite the action scenes being well done and Spidey looking pretty good, the art in all was uneven. Faces were inaccurate and never looked the same page-to-page. Also, the heavy shadow and tone left much to be desired.

Conclusion: As a web-head, Spidey junky I’m compelled to buy this issue. But truth be told, I didn’t really want to. It felt like spending time with an old-friend you’ve grown apart from. I will say that this issue was decent and even exceeded my low, low expectations. I think there are elements to work on here to make future installments better than this first one, but the bellowing question of “Why print this series” will continue to paint this whole affair in mediocrity. Oh, did I mention this was 4 bucks?

Grade: C

-Rob G


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