So here we go again on another clone adventure with Spider-Man. Twenty years out from the conclusion of the infamous Clone Saga, writer Dan Slott has decided the time is ripe for the Jackal to emerge from the shadows once more and plague Marvel’s wall-crawler with a whole new scheme: reanimating the dead.
This first issue picks up after the events of The Amazing Spiderman No. 19 in which Peter Parker decided not to use New U Technologies’ experimental procedure on his aunt’s ailing husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr. died, and the fallout has fractured Peter’s already broken social life even further.
Slott wastes little time getting to the meat of the event, having set up many of the details in the last few issues of his main Spider-Man series. That being said, nothing about this issue feels like the reader has missed anything by not reading the lead-ins.
The premise is pretty easy to pick up, and the action ramps up very quickly, bringing in new villains and some familiar faces that further serve to amplify the mystery already inherent to this new conspiracy: Are these people really being brought back from the dead? Or are they just better clones that are more lifelike and stuffed with memory?
Not much of that is explored here, but the final two panels, while coming as little surprise for anyone keeping up with the news on this event, bring in two of the most exciting characters The Clone Conspiracy is looking to take on. We’ll save you the surprise.
Penciller Jim Cheung is always a sure bet for Marvel, bringing his strong, clean lines to bear beautifully here. He’s always been excellent at rendering Spider-Man, going as far back as 2012’s Avenger’s vs. X-Men No. 9. He defines the musculature under the suit superbly, twisting Spider-Man into every possible shape and still retaining the grace the webbed warrior is known for. In some places his facial work gets slightly muddy, the features stiffening when drawn at a distance. In close up, however, his faces shine. A notable close-up of one character while inside the New U lab shows individual wrinkles, the attention to detail combining beautifully with color artist Justin Ponsor’s colors. The synergy between Cheung, Ponsor and inker John Dell is at its best during the larger fight scene between Rhino, the new Electro and Spider-Man.
After a weak showing from Marvel’s headlining Civil War 2, true believers needed something to hold on to. Slott and Cheung give us just that with their Spider-Man-centric event, Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. With an intriguing take on the classic Clone Saga and a strong art team, The Clone Conspiracy is a strong start for Marvel’s latest series.