Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Clone Conspiracy #4 - Marvel Comics

It’s probably a safe bet that the clear majority of this twenty-two-page periodical’s 54,947-strong audience found the second half of its narrative far more to their liking, than the first. For whilst Dan Slott’s opening sequence does somewhat heavily feature both Curt Connors and Doctor Octopus, as well as Otto Octavius’ much-anticipated ‘first meeting’ with his love Anna-Marie, it isn’t until the Jackal clicks his fingers and (finally) orders his murderous gang of duplicate criminals to kill Spider-Man that Issue Four of “The Clone Conspiracy” really takes off.

Indeed, up until the point where Peter Parker’s alter-ego forces his clone “brother” to realise that ‘their’ Uncle Ben would never approve of his “honey trap”, the Berkeley-born writer’s script is somewhat lack-lustre at best and only really piques the interest whenever Marconi is shown working alongside her mechanically-limbed “repugnant” ex-boyfriend. Certainly, it’s hard to take a storyline seriously when it depicts the Lizard cheerfully playing soccer with his long dead infant son and wife amidst an idyllic village scene packed full of happy-go-lucky super-villains like the Green Goblin, the Rhino and the Hobgoblin; “Sspider-Man, pleassse. Leave me alone with my family.”

Fortunately however, once Spidey does become “very disappointed in” Ben Reilly, and starts fighting “the bad guys” alongside the Prowler, the pace to this publication picks up quite significantly. In fact, what with Anna-Marie’s revelation that she knows “how to stop the cellular decay” of Miles Warren’s clones, followed closely by Spider-Gwen’s literally shocking fisticuffs with Electro it’s almost as if a completely different author was penning the book’s plot…

Jim Cheung’s breakdowns also appear to become reinvigorated once the wall-crawler finally decides to oppose the original Scarlet Spider, and genuinely produces some superb pieces of artwork, such as when Doctor Octopus decides that not even the Jackal may “make such an offer to the woman I love” and attacks him, or Otto pipes the amplified harmonic which will destroy all Reilly’s duplicates into the madman’s base and eradicate “everyone in Haven!” It’s just a pity the same can’t be said for some of the British comic book artist’s earlier panels, where perhaps ‘newcomer’ Cory Smith doesn’t ink the penciller anywhere near as well as co-worker and mini-series regular, John Dell?
The variant cover art of "THE CLONE CONSPIRACY" No. 4 by Mark Bagley

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