From writers Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie, artist Todd Nauck, inker Victor Olazaba, color artist Javier Tartaglia, letterer Dave Sharpe. Published by Marvel Comics.
Ah, the Clone Saga. To this day considered one of Marvel’s worst stories and one that writers keep coming back to still. In fact, before discussing the Real Clone Saga, I read another Spider-Man graphic novel that I can’t be positive about so I’ll put my thoughts into this article.
Amazing Spider-Man: Return of the Black Cat (from many talented creators, but because I’m saying negative things I will skip their names) is not a collection of a six issue Black Cat centric arc, which is what I wanted. Two issues of a Black Cat story and then four and a half featuring Kaine. The over sized Peter Parker clone who switches alliances more times than the Big Show.
Peter and the Black Cat get wrapped up together, in every sense. This is post One More Day and it’s fresh again to see Peter and Felicity together. Plus, the new at this time character of Peter’s roommate Michele Gonzales. Great attitude, drawn well, and while I disagree with retconning the marriage, I’m enjoying these characters as part of Peter’s Archie-esque love life. However, then there is an epic monologue as Kaine debates his past and future. Continuing on, Kaine and the clone hunting Raptor get wrapped up into a mess with Norman Osborn and thankfully Spider-Man is there to save the day. But Raptor thinks it’s Ben Reilly. Here we go again. I did like the addition of Screwball though. A viral media super villain who is more attention seeking than evil. She was a fun new addition but it doesn’t appear that anyone else has really run with the screwy ball. This collection finishes up with a one off Spider-Man and Deadpool interaction which is solely because someone paid Deadpool to make sure Spidey is looking the other way. Who? Stay tuned. Except I won’t be because this is false advertising a Black Cat story and nothing but filler.
Speaking of filler though, the Clone Saga went on and on for years. Much of it ended up being fluff. A lot of it is hated. But this “The Real Clone Saga” book streamlines all of that into six issues of the original plan. And it’s good! Ben Reilly comes back to New York. Aunt May is sick. Mary Jane is pregnant. Kaine appears. Someone is plotting things in the background. We get the who is the real clone question twist. Ben fills in for Peter for a bit. Then everything comes to a satisfying conclusion after six issues. Plus a message that’s not quite “with great power” but still good. It doesn’t matter where you came from (even a test tube), what matters is what you do with your time and abilities while you’re alive. The hero within is awakened, even somewhat in Kaine. Some classic villains pop in. Reilly inherits the Parker luck. If this is where the story ended there’s potential to revisit some of these characters later. An enjoyable visit. Not that family member that you’re forced to go see over the summer.
I wouldn’t reread the entire Clone Saga like my friends over at Longbox Heroes are doing. But to reimagine the story and take this streamlined version as official continuity is a great way to spend an afternoon.