Late last week, Marvel revealed that the much-hyped “Spider-Man: Dead No More” storyline was actually something else entirely. Now the event has been re-titled “Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy,” and that’s a name that has some negative connotations for Spider-Man fans!
Clones have been a part of Spider-Man’s story all the way back to the ’70s, in the aftermath of Gwen Stacy’s murder. Dr. Miles Warren became obsessed with bringing back Stacy as a clone, and Warren went on to clone himself and Spider-Man multiple times. But it was the “Clone Saga” of the ’90s that alienated the fanbase with a storyline that went on way too long and it even had a brief retcon that the Peter Parker whom fans had been following for decades was secretly the clone of the original Spider-Man. That twist did not go over well, hence its reversal a few years later.
Dan Slott has been writing the Amazing Spider-Man series (with occasional co-writers) since 2010, and he’s been a part of the Spider-Man creative team since 2008. Slott has brought back Dr. Warren’s supervillain alter ego, the Jackal a few times, including a prominent role for him in the “Spider-Island” event. Now, it’s been revealed that the Jackal was the mysterious individual who appeared on the last page of this year’s FCBD: Captain America #1 as a setup for “The Clone Conspiracy.”
During the announcement on Entertainment Weekly, Slott and Marvel editor Nick Lowe hinted that “The Jackal’s plan is different, in both style and scope – one that will possibly go beyond cloning, to questioning the very boundary between life and death.” Note that the Jackal has apparently adopted the imagery of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death. This suggests that the Jackal is trying to convince his new partners-in-crime that he really does have the ability to return their lost loved ones as more than mere clones. The Jackal might not even lying about that, as Lowe teased that “this is not your normal super villain plan…that’s what makes his evolution even more interesting.” This is also probably going to be the way that Doctor Octopus’ mind will get out of the robot called the Living Brain and back into the flesh.
Spider-Man has no shortage of dead loved ones, most of whom have died tragically during the course of his superhero career. Since the Jackal apparently still knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, he’s already got the inside line on who he can clone or resurrect to tempt him. Ben Parker, George Stacy, Jean DeWolff, and others have all been glimpsed on the “Dead No More” promo art. However, there’s at least one significant character who wasn’t clearly visible on that cover even though Spider-Man blamed himself for her death: Silver Sable.
During “Ends of the Earth,” the Rhino apparently drowned Silver Sable and himself in an attempt to punish Spider-Man for failing to save Oksana, the Rhino’s wife. A few months back, the Rhino reappeared in the Marvel Universe and agreed to work for the Jackal in exchange for Oksana’s apparent resurrection. The last time that Silver Sable’s name came up in the Spider-Man comics, Madame Web claimed that Sable wasn’t dead. So, if Silver Sable isn’t dead, where has she been? It seems like a good bet that she’ll finally make her return in “The Clone Conspiracy,” and perhaps we’ll get some answers then.
We know that Slott’s time on Amazing Spider-Man has drawn a few detractors, but he’s proven himself to us with the Superior Spider-Man series, “Spider-Verse,” and his continuing ability to reinvent Amazing Spider-Man‘s status quo without retreading the past. If you’ve liked his Spidey stories to date, then you don’t have any reason to skip “The Clone Conspiracy.” If anyone can pull off this story, it’s Slott!
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Images: Marvel Comics