Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Clone Conspiracy #5 - Marvel Comics

Painfully bringing “the Spider-Event of the Year” to a most unsatisfactory conclusion, Issue Five of “The Clone Conspiracy” must surely have disappointed more than its fair share of followers due to a sickly sweet ending which sees Anna-Marie far too easily work out “the inverse frequency” required to save the world from the “lethal Carrion virus”, and unbelievably reveals that all the original New U patients, such as Hobie Brown and Jerry Salteres, have actually been safely stored alive deep underground in cryogenic freezers the entire time.

Admittedly, this ‘feel good’ finale does mean that the Prowler, Spider-Gwen and Kaine Parker ‘live to fight another day’, as do some of the wall-crawler’s more notably-deceased adversaries like the Rhino. But such poignant positives still don’t erase the feeling that Dan Slott’s narrative could easily have attained a similar result far earlier on in the mini-series if the Berkeley-born writer had simply ‘cut-out’ the story-arc’s superfluous sub-plot of having Ben Reilly trying to ‘recruit’ the CEO of Parker Industries to his cause, and “cloning nearly everyone who has died in Spider-Man’s life, from friends and loved ones like Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy, and Jean DeWolff…”

Happily however, the Diamond Gem Award-winner’s script does contain a few quality moments, which whilst not ensuring that “this is the issue-Spider-fans around the world will be talking about for years to come”, does at least provide a modicum of entertainment. Indeed, the American author’s handling of Aleksei Sytsevich as he cradles his dying wife Oksana in his powerful arms, or Jonah’s pitiable plea to his crime-fighting nemesis not to tell Peter that “he was right” when he realises that his cloned beloved was simply a pawn in the Jackal’s plans, are arguably worth this comic’s cover price alone; “I beg you. Don’t tell him.”

In addition Jim Cheung’s pencils are simply outstanding throughout, and genuinely bring some quite extraordinary dynamism to this twenty-page periodical’s frequent fight-scenes. Certainly, as a result of the British artist's illustrations, it’s hard not to wince as the titular character is dramatically drawn smacking his ‘not-brother’ in the head for being “just another lunatic in a mask”, or give Doctor Octopus, still disturbingly enamoured with Marconi, a noble nod of assent as he dutifully battles the Jackal until both of them have ‘melted’ into “dust and empty suits.”
The variant cover art of "THE CLONE CONSPIRACY" No. 5 by Mark Bagley & Scott Hanna

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