If there’s anything as cliché in comic books as dead characters coming back to life, it’s clones—but good news! The next Spider-Man event series is combining both. The event previously known as Dead No More is, well, no more: It’s now called The Clone Conspiracy.
Revealed by Entertainment Weekly this morning, the five-part event sees long time Spider-Man troll The Jackal—seriously, this guy was involved in both the Clone Saga and Spider-Island, two events that were basically only about making Peter’s life miserable—bringing back a plethora of departed friends, family, and villains from Peter Parker’s long life as clones. We’d seen a taste of this upcoming event in Marvel’s recent Free Comic Book Day issues, which featured a seemingly villainous and revived Gwen Stacey serving as the Jackal’s henchman.
Writer Dan Slott is promising that this time the Jackal’s plans will evolve beyond dicking around with Peter Parker through clones to something that questions “the very boundary between life and death”:
The Jackal has always seemed to be obsessed with cloning Spider Man and Gwen. He’s had a very narrow focus. That’s led to very interesting stories in the past, but you have to stop and think, if you’re The Jackal and you take science to the next level, what’s more important to you than just cloning Gwens and Peters? What does this character want, and what’s he going to do with this awesome science?
But here’s the thing: Spider-Man has a really bad history with clone stories. Say “The Clone Saga” or “Ben Reilly” to any Spider-Fan and they’ll probably be hit with whatever the comic book equivalent of post-traumatic stress is, remembering the dark days of the infamous ‘90s event that saw Peter Parker “discover” his life was a cloned lie—a story that collapsed into ridiculous incoherence that had to be systematically purged from the storyline with a complete reset. It’s consistently regarded as one of the biggest black marks on Spider-Man’s history.
Clones and Spider-Man have bad blood, both on and off the page, so Marvel is sort of tempting fate by turning this latest event into a clone-a-palooza. We’ll have to wait until October to find out if their promises of evolving the Jackal’s scientific villainy really pan out, when The Clone Conspiracy miniseries hits shelves beginning this October.