After a long battle with his former ally and clone Spider-Man finally stopped Ben Reilly’s plan of using New U to create a planet of zombie clones. But while Spider-Man was successful in stopping a villainous Ben it does not mean The Clone Conspiracy is over. As we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #24, Ben is alive after faking his death in order to go into hiding. With that fact known to us there is plenty on Spider-Man’s plate to deal with now that the fallout of The Clone Conspiracy is going to fall on his shoulders. Will that fallout cause Spider-Man to crumble under its weight? Let’s find out with The Clone Conspiracy: Omega.
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage (Collateral Damage Main-Story); Peter David (Give Us A Wink); Dan Slott (King’s Favor)
Artists: Cory T. Smith (Collateral Damage Main Story); Mark Bagley (Give Us A Wink); Stuart Immonen (King’s Favor)
Inkers: John Dell (Give Us A Wink); Wade Von Grawbadger (King’s Favor)
Colorists: Justin Ponsor (Collateral Damage Main-Story); Richard Isanove (King’s Favor)
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Rhino hold what remains of the clone of his dead wife, Oksana. As he does so, Rhino remembers all the great times he had, causing himself to feel like he failed her once again.
Remembering Gwen Stacy “dying” again, Spider-Man leaves Rhino to mourn and follows Dr. Clarkson, with Spider-Gwen, Kaine and Anna, to where New U was keeping the patients they were able to save in cryo chambers.
One of the patients turns out to be Jerry (the Parker Industries employee that almost died in a plant explosion). Spider-Man contacts Jerry’s wife with his Webware so she can talk to Jerry. As they talk Jerry starts suffering from his condition and the New U doctors take him away.
Jerry’s wife asks Spider-Man what is happening to him. Spider-Man goes over how New U cloned everyone and that while the Jerry she just talked to is the real one his heart and lungs are still damaged from the plant explosion.
Jerry’s wife can’t believe what is happening and blames Peter Parker for her family’s suffering. Spider-Man tells her that Peter will make sure to ensure her and her son’s future but Jerry’s wife is still intent on suing Peter and Parker Industries.
After Jerry’s wife hangs up Anna tells Spider-Man not to blame himself for what happened.
Spider-Man asks Anna how she is doing. Anna says she is still trying to process almost dying and meeting Doctor Octopus in this way again. Anna then tells Spider-Man once again not to blame himself, as he did not know what New U was doing.
Spider-Man approaches Kaine and asks him if he feels better now for not coming to Spider-Man for help from the beginning. Kaine unapologetically says he is as the Carrion Virus did not infect the world.
Before they can continue their conversation SHIELD barges into the lab with Horizon Labs with them. Spider-Man questions Max Modell about being able to trust SHIELD since Jackal had agents in all levels of government and police officials. Max says that SHIELD is currently in the process of finding all of Jackal’s agents, including those in the SFPD and the clone of villains that survived.
As they talk Lizard is able to sneak himself and his family away before SHIELD can find them.
One of the SHIELD agents wonders what they should do with Rhino. Spider-Man says they should leave him alone for now.
Spider-Man then approaches Silk to tell her to watch over J. Jonah Jameson as he won’t want to talk to him in either of his identities.
Dr. Clarkson hands over all the information she has on the people New U cloned to SHIELD. The SHIELD agent tells her that her cooperation will make her sentencing a lot easier.
Spider-Gwen checks up on Spider-Man. Spider-Man says he is fine.
Kaine suddenly grabs Spider-Man him and says they can’t rest with Jackal (Ben Reilly) still around. Spider-Man says that Jackal is dead but Kaine says they can’t confirm that just because Jackal’s helmet was found in a pile of clone dust. Kaine walks away saying that Spider-Man’s sympathy for Ben Reilly is why he didn’t come to him in the first place.
Spider-Gwen tries to talk to Spider-Man but he brushes her off and tells her to go back home to her universe.
Spider-Gwen finds Kaine in Jackal’s lab and wonders if he is going to leave things on bad terms with Spider-Man. Kaine says that it is Spider-Man’s call and he is going after Ben. Spider-Gwen thinks Kaine should take it easy but Kaine says it is his job to stop Ben.
Before heading back to her universe Spider-Gwen mentions what Spider-Man told her and how he might not see her as the real Gwen Stacy. Kaine tells Spider-Gwen that she is real and the prime Marvel Universe Gwen Stacy would greatly admire her.
Spider-Man enters a room with other dying patients that New U had and asks the SHIELD agents for some time alone. They honor his request and Spider-Man takes off his mask and apologizes to the container holding Uncle Ben’s remains.
Spider-Man’s mourning doesn’t last as he hears Rhino rampaging throughout Haven. The SHIELD agents try to contain Rhino but are unsuccessful.
Spider-Man tries to stop Rhino and reason with him that Oksana would not want to see him this way. Rhino is filled with rage as he rams Spider-Man through buildings, stating without Oksana there is nothing for him. Spider-Man finally gets through to Rhino that he needs to put his head down and move forward and maybe they can get through everything that happened together.
Sometime later at Horizon Labs Max finishes running his tests and finds that Spider-Man and Rhino are not infected. Some SHIELD agents take Rhino away with Spider-Man promising to check up on him so they can help each other out from time to time.
Somewhere beneath San Francisco the Lizard is happy after finding a way to stabilize his wife and son’s condition. He then goes to have dinner with his wife and son, who have now been turned into lizard creatures like himself, though without the ability to speak coherently.
Sometime later Dr. Rita Clarkson goes to her favorite bar to drink away everything that has happened. While sitting at a table she is joined by Ben Reilly. Ben reveals that he faked his death after taking a bunch of pills and stealing someone’s Webware while Spider-Man’s signal was still going out.
Rita wonders how Ben found her. Ben says he knows a lot about her. Rita express how she thought New U was doing good things for the world and now she is being treated as a villain for her involvement. Ben says they were doing good. Rita brings up how they were playing God. Ben defends his actions by saying that God has been lazy and they filled the hole that people needed.
As they talk two men approach them. They reveal to Rita that their loved ones were one of New U’s “patients” that turned into dust. They threaten Rita and tell her to come outside with them to kill her.
Ben steps in and uses his powers to quickly take out the two guys threatening Rita.
After grabbing one of the guys’ hoody Ben goes outside with Rita. Rita takes Ben to her bank where she takes out all of her savings and hands it over to Ben as a thank you for saving her life. Ben mentions that he used what he knew to get the guys to try to kill her but Rita doesn’t care and still gives Ben the money.
Ben takes the money he considers a loan and kisses Rita. He says he is now going to head to Broadway. Rita thinks Ben is heading to New York but Ben says there is other Broadways in the world. He then walks off.
At a restaurant in San Francisco Spider-Man throws several of Kingpin’s guards through the front wall. Spider-Man then threatens the rest of Kingpin’s guards not to mess with him. While Kingpin expresses that Spider-Man’s fight with his guards is disrupting his meal he also mentions just wanting to have a business meeting with Peter Parker. Spider-Man says Peter is a busy guy so he can deal with him.
Kingpin says he understands since Parker Industry’s Webware has failed and Peter and Spider-Man have to deal with the fallout with all the clones. He then says that he wants to now repay Peter in order to be debt-free.
Spider-Man gets pissed off, believing Kingpin is messing with him, and flips the table Kingpin was eating on. Kingpin gets up and shows Spider-Man a flashdrive containing information on his greatest villain. Spider-Man wonders who Kingpin is talking about. Kingpin reveals it is information on “Osborn.” End of issue.
The Good: The Clone Conspiracy had its share of problems that will keep it out of being on the on anyone’s top comic book events list. It didn’t even rank as one of Dan Slott’s best Spider-Man stories like Spider-Verse did when it ended. But what The Clone Conspiracy did do is set-up a lot of interesting angles to further explore all of the corners of Spider-Man’s world that reach farther than just the Amazing Spider-Man title. That is where The Clone Conspiracy: Omega was able to step in and act as a much more appropriate end to Slott’s latest Spider-Man event than the fifth issue did.
The Clone Conspiracy: Omega does exactly what the best aftermath comic books do in how it is able to give readers a good idea of all the fallout from the event. Even though characters like Spider-Gwen and Kaine played admittedly smaller roles than we were led to believe they would Slott shows us how the fallout affects their direction. I particularly liked how Slott used Silk in this issue. While only dedicating one panel to her tie-in story, Slott was able to establish how Silk can play a strong emotional support for J. Jonah Jameson, giving us a reason to read the Silk ongoing series if we weren’t already.
Given his smaller role in the main Clone Conspiracy event it was nice to see Kaine play a bigger role in this aftermath issue. Kaine being the one to call Peter Parker out on being naïve about believing that Ben Reilly is dead was perfect for his character. With the two discussions Kaine has with Peter, Slott is able to give Kaine a reason to stick around and go out on his own now. Kaine’s hunt for Ben also helps to give the character a reason to not be in the Amazing Spider-Man series and possibly play a large role in the upcoming Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider ongoing.
Kaine calling Peter out was also a good way to set the tone for Peter’s state of mind as he went around interacting with various characters involved in The Clone Conspiracy. Seeing how much weight was put on Peter’s shoulders during this event Slott made it clear that as Spider-Man Peter was having a harder and harder time carrying his own guilt. Bringing in Jerry and his wife helped make sure the punch that Peter felt was even harder. And keeping Peter in his Spider-Man gear throughout The Clone Conspiracy: Omega allowed Slott to lay the ground work for everything Parker Industry’s has to now deal with once Peter takes off his mask.
All the work in establishing Peter’s state of mind as Spider-Man helped make the fight with Rhino be executed much more effectively. Even though Rhino didn’t play a large role in the main event Slott and other Amazing Spider-Man writers have done a lot with his character since he married Oksana during Brand New Day. Having that in mind made Rhino’s story feel much more like a payoff for long-time readers. Rhino’s story was even more effective thanks to how it ended with Spider-Man and Rhino becoming allies who will use each other to get past all of these tragedies.
On the other side of how villains are dealing with The Clone Conspiracy aftermath, it was great to see that Lizard didn’t seek out some sort redemption. Keeping the character focused on only saving his returning family made their new status quo even creepier. There are so many ways that Slott and other Spider-Man writers can go with Lizard’s character that makes his next appearance something to be anticipated.
Speaking of anticipation, it was interesting to see how Slott kept Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen from having a real heart-to-heart interaction during The Clone Conspiracy. With how much they have kept each other at arms lengths from one another it did seem that they would finally have a talk about everything that has happened since Spider-Verse. Instead Slott went with a different route by explaining how Spider-Gwen represents what Spider-Man just lost, especially given how much of a role the clone Gwen Stacy had in this event. It at least builds more anticipation for whenever Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen interact with each other next as they clearly have a lot to talk about.
With all that happened with the aftermath of Ben Reilly’s actions I was glad that The Clone Conspiracy: Omega also addressed the sub-plot involving the Kingpin. When introduced during the build-up to The Clone Conspiracy it was hard to see Kingpin playing a big role in this event. Luckily he did by providing crucial information for Spider-Man and now acting as the transition point for the next big story involving Norman Osborn. It made sense that Kingpin would hand over the information on Norman. Not only does this repay his debt to Spider-Man but also helps Kingpin use Peter and Spider-Man yet again to eliminate another rival. In the process Kingpin could also take down Parker Industry’s indirectly and reclaim his wealth and power that has dwindled over the years.
Cory Smith did a very good replicating Jim Cheung’s art style from the main Clone Conspiracy mini-series. Not only was Smith style similar to Cheung but he was also able to show off his own skills in delivering on big character moments. These character moments help the action set piece involving Rhino and Spider-Man work even better, especially with how they kept going through buildings.
It was also great to see Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen back to draw a Spider-Man comic book again. There short back-up stories helped establish the type of tone that Bagley and Immonen are going to go with in Scarlet Spider and Amazing Spider-Man, respectively.
The Bad: Once again where The Clone Conspiracy: Omega falls short is selling Ben Reilly’s new Scarlet Spider ongoing. Though there is an intriguing story to be told with what Ben does next now that he is on the run it is not something that will be interesting to read on an ongoing basis. Ben’s story is much more set up to go into the shadows for a while rather than trying to be a lead, and possibly hero, of a title. This is especially evident with how overexposed Ben felt throughout his back-up story. There was a feeling that I wanted a long break from the character after how heavily involved in The Clone Conspiracy he was.
Though it is a small nitpick I did find it hard to tell that we were following Dr. Rita Clarkson in the first back-up story until Ben called her out by name. This mostly falls on how Bagley drew her to be very different from how Cheung and Smith have drawn her during this event. She looked too much like most female characters that Bagley draws that made it hard to tell if she was a new or old character.
Overall: The Clone Conspiracy: Omega does exactly what it needed to do by giving Spider-Man’s latest event some closure while simultaneously building future stories. Though this issue failed to build interest for the Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider ongoing Dan Slott delivered on where it counted by selling us on more Peter Parker Spider-Man stories. The fact that Peter Parker has to now deal with whatever Norman Osborn is plotting on top of the damage Parker Industry’s suffered from The Clone Conspiracy events makes the future for Amazing Spider-Man very exciting.