Dan Slott’s latest Spider-Man event is coming to a close. So far the journey through The Clone Conspiracy has delivered plenty of surprises that have rocked Peter Parker’s world to its core. With the entire world learning about what Ben Reilly and New U have been up to in the worst ways possible everything is set for Spider-Man and his allies to save the world. If they don’t than the Marvel Universe will be turned into Marvel Zombies. Is that the fate of the Marvel Universe in the lead up to Secret Empire? Or will Spider-Man and his allies save the world? Let’s find out with The Clone Conspiracy #5.
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Jim Cheung
Inker: John Dell, Jay Leisten and Ju Cheung
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: People around the world begin to suffer the effects of the Carrion virus as the clones New U created start breaking down around them. Jackal continues his broadcast by telling the world he will bring everyone back. He goes on to say that they should all be happy as now everyone will have the same birthday.
Inside the Haven complex Spider-Man tells Jackal he is crazy as the residents of the complex suffer from the Carrion virus. Spider-Man continues to say that he will stop Jackal and save the day. Anna tells Spider-Man over the broadcast that she needs him to come to the lab.
Spider-Man quickly heads out to the lab Anna is in, leaving Prowler and Jean DeWolff to keep all the villains inside of Haven.
As he is dying from the Carrion virus, George Stacy tells Gwen Stacy to help Spider-Man reach the lab while she is still able to walk.
As Gwen leads Spider-Man to Jackal’s lab several Goblins chase after them.
In Jackal’s lab, Jackal and Electro fight off Spider-Gwen and Kaine. At the same time Doctor Octopus tries to apologize to Anna, but she just tells him to back off and help her save the world.
Jackal is able to easily overpower Kaine and grabs him by the neck. Jackal calls Kaine “brother” which causes Kaine to realize he is fighting Ben Reilly. Jackal cuts the family reunion short by tossing Kaine out a window. Spider-Gwen dives out the window to try and save Kaine from dying.
As Jackal tells Electro to go after Spider-Gwen and Kaine he is grabbed by an enraged Doctor Octopus.
Elsewhere Spider-Man and Gwen head up to Jackal’s lab. As they do that Spider-Man reveals that the reason his spider-sense keeps going off since arriving at New U is because all of Ben’s clones are contagious.
There talk is cut short when they see Spider-Gwen diving after a falling Kaine. Gwen realizes that there is a better version of her that exists. Spider-Man says that is not true because there is only one Gwen Stacy.
Spider-Man and Gwen soon reach a door. As Spider-Man goes through it Gwen locks the door behind him. Spider-Man tries to get Gwen to open the door but Gwen says she already knows she is dying. Gwen then has Spider-Man promise her to save the world as Peter Parker. Spider-Man promises and heads out.
Gwen turns around to face the Goblin trio without fear. The Green Goblin throws one of his pumpkins, which Gwen catches with one hand.
At another level of New U’s building Spider-Gwen is able to save Kaine from dying from his fall. They then see that Prowler and DeWolff’s fight has reached the level of the building they are on. They both join in on the fight with all of the villains.
Behind a wall Lizard takes his wife and kid away to take the cure he was able to come up with.
Back in Jackal’s lab, Jackal and Doctor Octopus are in the middle of their fight as Spider-Man enters the lab. Spider-Man punches Jackal for all he has done. Anna stops Spider-Man from continuing the fight as she needs his help, leaving Doctor Octopus to fight Jackal.
Spider-Man sees that Anna has contracted the Carrion virus but she doesn’t worry about that. Anna reveals he already downloaded the frequency to cure Carrion onto her Webware.
Doctor Octopus tells Spider-Man to get Anna out of the lab while he finishes off Jackal. Just as Spider-Man and Anna go to leave Doctor Octopus wonders how Spider-Man knew he would help him. Spider-Man says it is because Spider-Man was inside Doctor Octopus head before.
As Spider-Man and Anna swing to the broadcast room in New U, Anna activates the inverse frequency so she and Spider-Man can start to heal from the Carrion virus.
They then run into Silk outside the broadcast room, where one of the producers reveals that the signal has been cut by Marla Jameson, who is dying in Jonah’s arms. As Marla is dying she tells Jonah that Jackal can save them. Jonah sadly tells Spider-Man not to tell Peter about what he sees.
Spider-Man tells Silk to watch over Jonah. He then reveals that his real plan is to use Webware to broadcast the signal from the broadcasting room as the shielding in the building is weakest there. Anna is hesitant to use Webware since it could destroy Parker Industries reputation. Spider-Man says they have to risk it or else everyone in the world will become zombies. Anna agrees with Spider-Man’s point and sends him the inverse signal.
Spider-Man activates his Webware to send Anna’s inverse signal across the world. Everyone who was infected by the Carrion virus that is still alive is suddenly cured, including Kaine.
As the signal spreads across the world Jackal and Doctor Octopus’ bodies are to broken down and both begin to become dust.
Spider-Man and Anna go back to Jackal’s lab only to find Ben’s Jackal helmet and Doctor Octopus’ tentacles on the ground. Spider-Man goes to check the hallway and finds Gwen’s jacket on the ground.
Spider-Man and Anna then go to Haven where they find Rhino, Jonah and Silk mourning everyone they lost. Kaine and Spider-Gwen reveal that most of the clones dissolved but several people survived. Spider-Gwen mentions some of the surviving villains escaped while others she captured.
Spider-Gwen congratulates Spider-Man on saving the day though Spider-Man doesn’t feel like he did.
Dr. Clarkson suddenly comes out of a room. Spider-Man wonders why Dr. Clarkson helped Jackal at all. Dr. Clarkson said she helped Jackal to do some good and reveals that there are several bodies defrosting downstairs.
As Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, Kaine and Anna follow Dr. Clarkson, the doctor reveals that the patients New U had are still barely alive. She goes on to say that they were able to use some of the cloning technology to help cure some of the patients’ real body’s.
In another lab Spider-Man and the others are shocked to see a number of people coming out of their stasis tubes, including the real Hobie Brown. Spider-Man spots Jerry Salteres fully healed. Spider-Man tells Jerry he is going to keep his promise to Jerry’s family. End of issue.
The Good: The Clone Conspiracy has been a wild, unpredictable ride thus far and this final issue continued that trend right until the end. Rather than have things be reset by The Clone Conspiracy #5, Dan Slott opted to go with a route that left things open for plenty of other stories to be told in the future. By doing this Slott was able to carry the unpredictability of this event to the very end that leaves us with more questions than answers.
The big thing about The Clone Conspiracy has been how Peter Parker as Spider-Man can overcome everything Ben Reilly and New U have set against him. The emotional drain on Spider-Man was clear throughout The Clone Conspiracy #5. At the same time this issue helps define how far Peter has come in maturing into his role as Spider-Man. Rather than be overwhelmed by the moment, Peter found a way to overcome the odds and use his brain to save the world.
This aspect of Slott’s run is something that I have grown to appreciate very much. We have seen plenty of times where Peter had to straight up defeat his villains in a fight before. What Slott has brought to the table is show us how now an older and more experienced Peter understands his greatest weapon is his mind. That also means not having Peter as Spider-Man fight every single time. And for as action packed as The Clone Conspiracy #5 was we hardly saw any fighting from Spider-Man. This helped to elevate the fact that it was Peter not Spider-Man that saved the day as he was able to figure out a Plan B after Plan A was taken out from under him.
As great as this was to see what made The Clone Conspiracy #5 even better is that Slott did give us a payoff from bringing in Gwen Stacy into this conflict. Whether it’s clear or not that this was the real Gwen that was brought back to life through Ben’s cloning process can be left for debate. But what isn’t up for debate is how strong Gwen turned out to be at the end of this story. Her interaction with Peter showed that at least to her she was the real Gwen. And to see Slott give Gwen her own hero moment when she took on all the Goblins alone made the fact she isn’t sticking around have a somber mood to it.
Unsurprisingly, Doctor Octopus once again had his own moment to shine as we got to see the hero side of his character come out when he saved Spider-Man and Anna from Ben. This was a great payoff for all the work that Slott has done with Doctor Octopus. Anna telling Spider-Man to get her out of the lab quickly was a nice touch to show that there was a brief moment that Doctor Octopus regained her favor. It at least gives Doctor Octopus a good note to reset on whenever he reappears.
On the other side of things, it was great to see that Slott did not go down the redemption route with Ben Reilly’s character. With all the character work Slott has done for this new version of Ben it would’ve been a shame if he made him a hero just because Marvel announced a new ongoing series for him. By keeping up with how Ben has developed over the course of the series it made Spider-Man saving the day much sweeter. His villainous rant about everyone being reborn on this day was also enhanced with how brutal a speech it was with all the people suffering from Carrion virus.
Now I do wonder if because Ben did not get his moment of redemption and Kaine was cured of his Carrion virus what this means for the upcoming Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider ongoing. Given the outcome it wouldn’t be out of the question that Kaine takes on the name of Ben to help redeem his brother in some way. This would definitely be an interesting angle for the new Scarlet Spider to take, as it would give Kaine a much different mission from all the Spider-Man related characters.
Speaking of which, having multiple Spider-Man villains and supporting characters live through the Carrion virus effects was interesting note to leave The Clone Conspiracy #5 on. Since it wasn’t clear who actually survived Slott leaves himself and other Spider-Man writers a lot of room to explore new takes on previously dead villains. This will actually be refreshing since there are a lot of great villains who have been forgotten as Spider-Man’s reach have extended to the rest of the Marvel Universe.
I’ll also be interested to see where Slott goes with J. Jonah Jameson’s character from here. Jonah was by far one of the characters that has been most affected by the events of The Clone Conspiracy. Not only did he battle personal turmoil but he allowed Ben to use him as a face of New U’s technology. Now that New U’s reputation has been destroyed there is a lot of ways Slott can go with Jonah’s character.
Jim Cheung’s artwork was once again the star of the show in The Clone Conspiracy #5. With how chaotic things got in this finale, Cheung made it easy to follow everything that was going on in Slott’s story. His delivery with of all the emotional scenes in this issue was absolutely stellar. The first double page spread in particular captured the horror of the Carrion virus, which Cheung drew just as well any time we saw how the world was affected. This all made the action sequences Cheung also drew have a greater impact on the overall story.
The Bad: As cool as it was that Spider-Gwen and Kaine got involved in The Clone Conspiracy to help with the connection to Spider-Verse they did not factor in as much as they should’ve. Since being captured Kaine’s role in this story didn’t help move the story forward outside of giving Anna a clue into how to cure the Carrion. But even that role was nullified by the fact Peter was able to figure out how to cure Carrion on his own after discovering everything Ben was doing.
Similarly, with each passing issue Spider-Gwen’s role in The Clone Conspiracy diminished. Her role in helping Spider-Man was minimal at best as she was only used to show the Gwen clone a real version of Gwen Stacy. With how she was introduced into the story Slott should’ve had Spider-Gwen factor more into how Spider-Man saved the day rather than just fall into the same role that Prowler was in.
But as bad as Spider-Gwen and Kaine’s involvement in the finale at least they had some role to play in helping Spider-Man out, unlike Silk. Her sudden appearance towards the end of the issue had zero impact on the story. The only thing that Silk’s appearance did was remind readers that her ongoing series had tie-in issue to The Clone Conspiracy during these five months. Her appearance was just a waste of valuable screen time that could’ve been given to Spider-Gwen or Kaine, since they have been a consistent presence in this mini-series.
Overall: The Clone Conspiracy #5 did not stick the landing as the latest Spider-Man event came to a close. The lack of development for certain characters left a lot to be desired. That said, Dan Slott did a great job with how Spider-Man saved the day by overcoming tremendous odds in the face of all the horrible things Ben Reilly and New U did. The ending of The Clone Conspiracy #5 also leaves enough things open for future stories in all the Spider-Man books to follow up on.