Ultimate Spider-Man is arguably the hottest title on the market. Bendis has been working magic with this Clone Saga story arc. Each issue is full of unexpected twists and turns as the story just gets wilder and wilder. I am positive that Ultimate Spider-Man #102 is going to be a great read. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We start with Peter Parker allowing Nick Fury to arrest him and take him away. Peter says that it is over and just wants to go. Suddenly, Spider-Woman appears and takes out Nick Fury and rescues Peter. They disappear into the night.
We see Spider-Woman and Peter Parker riding on top of a truck traveling down the New Jersey Turnpike. Peter Parker asks Spider-Woman who she is. Spider-Woman takes off her mask and reveals that she is a female version of Peter Parker. Peter says he is going to vomit. Spider-Woman tells Peter that she is Peter’s clone.
Spider-Woman tells Peter that a scientist named Ben Reilly, who worked with Dr. Curt Conners on the Carnage project. Spider-Woman is phase five of the project to clone Peter Parker. Spider-Woman was the first successful clone. Ben tells Spider-Woman that she has all of Peter’s memories which is confusing since she is a girl. Ben tells her that they will wipe her memories clean so she won’t remember anything about Peter or about being a clone. Then Spider-Woman will be a C.I.A. special agent. The name they are going to give her will be Jessica Drew. Her C.I.A. codename will be Spider-Woman.
Ben Reilly continues that he and Curt Conners stole some blood from Peter Parker. Conners accidentally incubated a clone prototype that became a horrible monster that ended up killing Gwen Stacy. Conners was put in jail and the Feds gave Ben a “get out of jail” card if he joined the C.I.A. in their efforts to clone Peter Parker. Ben says that they have also broken down Norman Osborn’s original Oz formula. That the Peter Parker clones will be trained and/or experimented on for the government in place of the elusive Super-Soldier serum. That in the future there may be an army of Spider-Men launching ground assaults for the U.S. in a war.
We cut back to Spider-Woman and Peter on top of the truck. Spider-Woman tells Peter that she is still him. That she escaped before they wiped clean her memories. That before they were to wipe clean her memories Carnage broke loose and went on a rampage in the laboratory. Carnage escaped from the facility. During the chaos, the other four Peter Parker clones escaped from their cells. All of the Peter clones then escaped from the facility. One of the clones raved that he had to save Mary Jane.
Spider-Woman tells Peter that she thinks one of the clones may have captured Mary Jane. They jump off the top of the truck once they arrive at the location of where Spider-Woman thinks Mary Jane is being held: Oscorp. There we see the giant red Bigfoot-esque Mary Jane attacking the other Peter Parker clone. Spider-Woman rescues the four armed Peter clone from being smashed by Mary Jane.
The four armed clone tells Peter that Mary Jane was injected with the Oz serum. Peter then asks Mary Jane to calm down. She then transforms back into her human form. Peter then punches out the clone that injected Mary Jane with the Oz serum. Peter asks the clone where he got the Oz serum.
Suddenly, Doctor Otto Octavius enters the room and says he gave it to the clone. Doc Octopus says that he is the clone’s father. Standing behind Doctor Octopus is Reed Richards, Nick Fury and a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
The Good: Damn! Bendis delivers yet another kick ass issue. Ultimate Spider-Man #102 was an absolute blast to read. Bendis continues to mash on the accelerator like a madman at the wheel of a runaway car. There is absolutely no let up in this story arc. Bendis keeps this story arc rolling at a brisk pace. Bendis clearly spent plenty of time making sure he constructed a tight story arc. You can tell that Bendis put a lot of effort in constructing this impressively plotted story arc.
Bendis continues to drop bombs on the reader with each and every issue and Ultimate Spider-Man #102 is no exception. We finally are officially introduced to the Ultimate version of Spider-Woman. Jessica Drew herself. However, the big shocker is that she is a clone of Peter Parker! I love it! What a brilliant and interesting move by Bendis.
I have never liked 616 Spider-Woman at all. That is mainly because I despise derivative heroes. I have always seen the 616 Spider-Woman as a cheesy knock-off of Spider-Man. Plus, it was always annoying that she was a derivative hero that really had no connection with Spider-Man. I mean, c’mon, if you are going to push off a derivative hero on us at least give that character some kind of connection with the root hero.
However, Bendis does an excellent job taking a lame 616 character that has never appealed to me and making her into a very intriguing character. A clone of Peter Parker who is female but has all the memories of a boy. What a cool twist. I can’t wait to see what Bendis has in store for this character.
I also liked the four earlier “failed” Peter clones. All of them are interesting and unique in their own fashion. I like that Bendis took the time to show the progression of the cloning tests rather than just delivering one successful clone.
Bendis also drops a big bomb on the reader at the end of this issue with the appearance of Doctor Otto Octavius who claims to be the “father” of the Peter Parker clone and that he gave that clone the Oz serum. Seeing Doc Octopus flanked by Nick Fury and Reed Richards immediately makes the reader wonder just how connected are S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Fantastic Four with this villainous character. There are so many ways that Bendis can take this storyline. Will this relationship between Doctor Octopus and Reed Richards totally sour Peter’s friendship with the Fantastic Four? Just how deep is S.H.I.E.L.D. in this entire cloning project of Peter? And how does Doctor Octopus fit into this puzzle? I cannot wait to see what answers Bendis has for us in the next issue.
I also dig how Bendis worked in Ben Reilly into this storyline. Making Ben a fellow scientist of Dr. Conners who created the Peter clones was a great idea. I always hated the 616 spider clone storyline and, therefore, always hated Ben Reilly. I’m glad that Bendis wisely avoided making Ben Reilly Peter’s perfect clone. By making Ben the scientist who created all of the Peter Parker clones, Bendis continues to differentiate the 616 Clone Saga from the Ultimate Clone Saga.
And that leads me to another point. Bendis has done a superlative job of taking 616 characters and morphing them into original and unique Ultimate characters. That is something that I think other Ultimate titles have failed to do. In particular Ultimate X-Men, where it seems to be very little difference between the Ultimate X-Men characters and their 616 counter parts. Bendis has done a brilliant job capturing the essence of the 616 Spider-Man and the various characters and story arcs while at the same time making their Ultimate universe counterparts original and different. That is much harder than it seems.
As always, Bendis serves up excellent dialogue. Bendis simply knows Peter’s character. Bendis writes one of my absolute favorite Peter Parkers. The dialogue is so natural and it has a wonderful flow.
I brutally kill Bendis all the time for the hack job over on New Avengers. Therefore, I want to make sure I praise him enough for his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. This is the title best suited for Bendis’ talent. Bendis clearly struggles under the weight of a team title. Bendis cannot handle a large roster and has never demonstrated a good feel for the Avengers and what makes them so great. On the other hand, Bendis clearly “gets” Peter Parker and his talent lies in writing a title that revolves around a solo character instead of a team.
Like always, I found Bagley’s art to be slightly above average. I’m just not really a big fan of his style of art.
The Bad: No complaints at all.
Overall: Ultimate Spider-Man #102 is another incredible read. Bendis is making Ultimate Spider-Man one of the most enjoyable reads on the market. Bendis is creating absolute magic on this title. I think that Bendis’ run on Ultimate Spider-Man is the stuff of legend. This Clone Sage story arc is pure fun. It is like a wild roller coaster ride. I urge anyone to give this title a try. Ultimate Spider-Man is definitely worth your hard earned money.