Since Wednesday, I have been sharing with you my shameful love of 90′s comics. Much of what was printed back then was gimmicky (can you say “holofoil cover?”) and is justifiably scorned. But in that giant recycling bin of comics from the decade that saw the birth of The Real World, there is gold, my friend. There is gold.
On Wednesday, we reviewed Milestone’s Icon and yesterday we looked at Defiant’s Warriors of Plasm. Today, I confess my most scandalous of passions for it is a disgraceful love I bear for the Spider-Man Clone Saga.
Truly, truly shameful.
Spider-clone Ben Reilly (aka The Scarlet Spider) was the shizzle.
Ben Reilly was the clone of homeboy Peter Parker grown by the Jackal way back in the original 1970s clone saga. Long thought dead, the clone returns calling into question who’s the clone – the guy we know as Ben Reilly or the fella we’d accepted as Peter Parker?
Cue the crazy wall-crawling hijinks!
The Spider-Clone story line spanned all of the spider titles even rolling into one shots and one particular beautifully illustrated limited series, SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS. One of my favorite writers, J.M. Dematteis, and legendary penciller John Romita, Jr. told the story of Ben Reilly’s missing years. The artwork stunned, drawing the reader into the brooding state of a man displaced from all he knows, striving to find his place in the world.
The saga wasn’t always great and was often downright confusing over the three years it took to tell the tale. There were misses, but – oh man – there were hits. For instance, Peter’s wife Mary Jane gives birth to a baby that is reputedly stillborn, though we are given to suspect otherwise.
And we know that in the MC2 universe that child becomes Spider-Girl.
But what about our universe? It sure does seem that Marvel – a company with strong doubts about the marketability of a married Spider-Man, much less a parenting hero – has disavowed the Spider-Baby as well as the Clone Saga.
It’s not referenced anymore. You can’t get it in a collected trade paperback. Hell, it’s never invited to holiday meals.
The Clone Saga is Marvel’s bastard child.
Maybe that’s why I like it so much? I’m an evil bastard, after all.
These stories are fun, action-packed, and emotional. The saga is a journey of discovery not just for Ben Reilly and Peter Parker, but also for the reader. What does it mean to be you? What are the implications when you become plural? These are big themes told in a big, bold way.
Say what you want, but I like the Clone Saga. ‘Wish I could get it in a bookshelf collection.