Dan Slott’s latest Spider-Man event official started last with week with the release of The Clone Conspiracy #1. Much like past clone-centric storylines in Spider-Man’s past this latest event comes with its own history. That history is something that made The Clone Conspiracy #1 not so new reader friendly, as we explained in our review.
So with The Clone Conspiracy not provided all the details that make at an easy jumping on point like other Marvel events here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
What Is The Clone Conspiracy?
Before it was officially titled “The Clone Conspiracy” this latest Spider-Man event was called “Dead No More” in Marvel’s advertisement. The title “Dead No More” was first shown as part of the Captain America Free Comic Book Day issue. In that issue we got our first glimpse at Jackal bringing people back to life who have passed away during Peter’s career as Spider-Man.
As for who exactly The Jackal is bringing back to life, they aren’t just people that Peter Parker was close to. While we have seen Gwen Stacy and Doctor Octopus return there are others he doesn’t know very well who have also returned. These characters include Rhino’s wife and Doctor Connor’s wife and children. Through these returning characters The Jackal has been able to get both Rhino and Lizard on his side
Now while this latest Spider-Man story does have “Clone” as part of the title The Jackal did clarify some parts of his latest experiments in The Clone Conspiracy #1. The biggest thing that The Jackal clarified is that these people that he is bringing back to life aren’t clones from characters’ blood samples like in the past. Instead The Jackal with the help of New U Technologies is using DNA directly from the corpses of the deceased bodies of these characters. By doing this the returning characters have all the memories of their previous life until the moment they died. Another change seems to be the pill The Jackal has each of the returning character take. As of The Clone Conspiracy #1 it is not clear what the pills are for but are sure to be a key sub-plot to the overall story.
WHO IS THE JACKAL?
The Jackal was the secret identity of Miles Warren, the person responsible for the Clone Saga. Before the events of the Clone Saga Miles Warren was Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy’s professor at Empire State University. It was during this time that Miles secretly fell in love with Gwen. Because of this love he came to hate Spider-Man, who held responsible for Gwen’s death. This hatred caused Miles to become obsessed with destroying Spider-Man and his Jackal persona was born.
As the Jackal, Miles tormented both Peter Parker and Spider-Man with numerous clones of the young hero, the most famous of them being Ben Reilly and Kaine, and Gwen. After fighting many of Jackal’s clones throughout his history Peter Parker was tricked into believing himself to be a clone and Ben Reilly to be the real Peter Parker, something Jackal also believed. In the end it was revealed that Jackal was unknowingly being controlled by the real orchestrator of the Clone Saga who would be none other than Norman Osborn.
At the conclusion of the Clone Saga the Jackal disappeared into the shadows for a period. The Jackal ended up appearing years later during the events of Spider-Island working alongside the Spider-Queen to take over the world. When Spider-Island came to an end the Jackal once again went into the shadows but not for long.
While not playing a major role in the Spider-Man books until “Dead No More” began The Jackal did appear sporadically. It was during these appearances that the Jackal obtained DNA samples of the Spider-Queen, Kaine and Spider-Man.
WHO IS WORKING WITH THE JACKAL?
Through various issues of Amazing Spider-Man Dan Slott has established that there are already several characters working with the Jackal in his latest plot. These characters include the following:
Gwen Stacy – No doubt one of the most important character’s in Spider-Man’s history Gwen’s return has already caused a major impact. One of the most interesting changes that Dan Slott has already made is the revelation that in the moments leading to her death Gwen did learn that Peter and Spider-Man are one and the same. This is an important new detail as up until now it was never shown that Gwen learned about Peter being Spider-Man. This new change brings into question if this is a real memory or possibly a fake memory that has something to do with the New U process of bringing people back and the pill Jackal is taking.
Another thing of note with Gwen’s return is the fact that thus far she is the only returning character that does not set off Peter’s spider-sense. This fact brings into question not only New U’s cloning process but also if Gwen and the other returning characters are the real deal.
Doctor Otto Octavius – Since beginning his work on Spider-Man as Spidey’s Braintrust during Brand New Day back in 2008 one of the characters that has benefited the most from Dan Slott’s run is Doc Ock. Though Slott did not really work on Doc Ock’s character until Amazing Spider-Man #600 that issue began to re-established the character’s prominence as one of Spider-Man’s deadliest villains. Slott not established Doc Ock as one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains again but also developed him as one of Marvel’s greatest minds, even getting complimented by Tony Stark himself.
Doc Ock’s brilliance allowed him to do what very few villains have accomplished: definitively defeat a major superhero. Not only did Doc Ock defeat Spider-Man but took over his life as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the critically acclaimed Superior Spider-Man series. Eventually the original Peter Parker defeated Doc Ock and reclaimed his mind and body at the conclusion of Superior Spider-Man.
Even with this Doc Ock has still been a prominent character in Slott’s continued Spider-Man run. Slott did this by including Doc Ock time as Superior Spider-Man appeared in Spider-Verse. This appearance played an important part in Doc Ock’s return in his original form as he used the technology he developed during his time in the 2099 timeline during Spider-Verse to transfer his memories up to Spider-Verse into a droid. After this the droid transferred Doc Ock’s memories into the Living Brain where he failed to reconnect with Anna, his girlfriend when he was Peter Parker, and in a fit of rage went to New U Technologies. It’s there where we find out during the end of The Clone Conspiracy #1 that he has teamed up with The Jackal and has regained his original body.
Rhino – One of the characters that benefited the most out of the whole Brand New Day relaunch of Spider-Man was Rhino. During this time it Rhino’s character was fleshed and we got to learn more about the man in the suit. Not only did Aleksei Sytsevich finally establish a life outside of crime but also built a relationship a waitress named Oksana, who would go on to become his wife. Unfortunately Aleksei’s happiness did not last as a new Rhino appeared and killed his wife. This caused Aleksei to return to his Rhino identity and kill the second Rhino.
After this Rhino teamed up with Doc Ock as part of the new Sinister Six. As part of the Sinister Six Rhino almost destroyed the world during the events of End Of The Earth. In the end Spider-Man with some help from the Avengers was able to defeat the Sinister Six and save the Earth.
Interestingly enough it looked like Rhino perished during the events of End Of The Earth, with his death being somewhat confirmed when Peter, after being defeated by Doc Ock, saw both Aleksei and Oksana in the afterlife. Surprisingly Rhino would appear alive during the latest volume of Amazing Spider-Man and was convinced to join The Jackal’s side after his wife was brought back to life by the villain. So while Rhino is on The Jackal’s side the question around the character is if he is the real deal, having survived End of the Earth, or if he is one of The Jackal’s clones without his knowledge.
Electro – The Electro that we see in The Clone Conspiracy #1 is not Max Dillon. Instead the new Electro is Max’s girlfriend, Francine Frye, that Max accidently killed in at the beginning of the previous volume of Amazing Spider-Man during the “The Parker Luck” storyline. This death was caused due to Max’s powers being out of control following Doc Ock’s experimenting on him while he was the Superior Spider-Man and he kissed her.
Eventually the Jackal resurrected her but since Francine originally died from a kiss from Max she had some of his DNA in her. This mix of DNA gave the resurrected Francine electric powers and she quickly became obsessed with power. Francine obsession led her to absorb Max’s powers, killing him in the process, right before the events of The Clone Conspiracy #1. In one of her first acts as the new Electro she supposedly killed one of Spider-Man’s closest allies in the Prowler.
Lizard – The long suffering Doctor Curt Conner’s life became even more miserable after his Lizard persona fully took him over. As the Lizard, Curt lost the last shred of his humanity after killing both his wife and son. While the Lizard would appear sporadically to cause havoc in Spider-Man’s life he never had a prominent role in Amazing Spider-Man’s various volumes.
After being imprisoned once again The Jackal appeared before the Lizard with a proposal to join his side. To sweeten the deal the Jackal brought back Curt’s wife and son. Even though this helped him to regain his humanity Curt was still stuck in his Lizard appearance. But now with his mind returned Curt is helping the Jackal, with his wife, in his New U experiments
Prowler – Following the events of Secret Wars Peter Parker became one of the richest people on Earth. Now with having more eyes on him Peter hired Prowler to become Spider-Man when he didn’t have the time to and to convince the mainstream that Peter and Spider-Man are two different people. This move has been successful as Peter continued to run around as Spider-Man without people questioning his dual life.
Though Prowler also found success as Spider-Man when Peter couldn’t wear the costume it did lead to his downfall. In a job given to him by Peter, Prowler broke into a New U facility in order to find information on the company’s experiments for Peter. During his investigation Prowler was confronted by the new Electro who did not hesitate to kill him. Prowler’s death did not last long as the Jackal brought him back and convinced Prowler to work as a double agent within Parker Industries.
While he did not appear in The Clone Conspiracy #1, Prowler is sure to be a major player in the event. Not only because of his current job by Peter’s side but also the fact that Marvel is using The Clone Conspiracy to give Prowler his own ongoing series. The question with Prowler’s role is if he really died during his fight with Electro as it was not fully clear that in fact happened.
WHO ARE SOME OTHER (POSSIBLE) MAJOR CHARACTERS?
J Jonah Jameson – As we saw in The Clone Conspiracy #1 Jonah is not Peter Parker’s biggest fan as he blames Peter for the death of his father. This along with his long-standing hatred of Spider-Man puts Jonah in unique position as a wildcard in this event.
Also, while Jonah has never been a big part of Spider-Man events, Slott did have the Jackal bring back Jonah’s wife before The Clone Conspiracy started. Add this in with Jonah’s anger makes him a character to watch out for.
Parker Industries – As we have already seen, Anna Maria is playing an important role as one of the people helping Peter investigate New U. This along with her previous relationship with Doc Ock makes her a character that will be one to watch for several reasons. In addition to Anna Maria there are other employees at Parker Industries that can come into play, one of them being Harry Osborn, who is working for Peter as a business advisor. Given the return of Gwen Stacy it would not be surprised if Harry somehow got involved given their past together. For all we know he may actually be character that could be Peter’s closest ally in this story.
Kaine – There isn’t a clone story without some involvement from Kaine. As one of Peter’s most prominent clones Kaine has a long standing connection with Miles Warren and other clones. Even though Kaine supposedly met his end during Spider-Verse we did see Slott tease his return at the events conclusion. So with Kaine still possibly alive it would not be surprising to see him return during the events of The Clone Conspiracy.
Kingpin – Though Kingpin has no previous involvement with Spider-Man clone-related stories he does have some connection to the Jackal’s latest plot. During the “Dead No More” build-up Jackal sent Rhino to recruit Kingpin, even bringing Vanessa Fisk back to life. Not one to be tricked by others, Kingpin quickly rebuffed the Jackal’s offer by killing the returning Vanessa, who he saw as nothing more than a fake. Even though Kingpin rejected the Jackal’s offer it wouldn’t be surprising to see him involved given how Slott dedicated time during the build-up to the Kingpin.
Silver Sable – Silver Sable has always been one Spider-Man’s closest allies. Dan Slott even fleshed out their relationship a bit during the events of End Of The Earth. That storyline was also the last time we saw the character as she supposedly perished alongside Rhino. With Rhino returning alive and well it Silver Sable appearance would be something to look for since Spider-Man will need allies in this fight against Jackal. And given Slott’s previous development of the character Silver Sable would be a perfect fit to work alongside Spider-Man or even against if the Jackal brought her back to life.
THEORIES ON WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN
Since we are only one issue into Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy there are still a lot of details about the Jackal’s plot to be revealed. But while we only have one issue of the actual event to go on there are some tidbits that we can somewhat discern how things will end. For one thing Slott has highlighted the importance of having Jackal making the revived characters take a pill to maintain their DNA’s stability. With this information and the condition we saw the employee of Parker Industries be in because he didn’t take the pill it seems like the Jackal’s cloning technology is not perfect. And from how we see Jackal smirk whenever characters take the pill it could be his way of also controlling the characters.
The other thing that I believe will happen is that this Jackal will be revealed to not actually be Miles Warren. As we have seen over the years, including most recently in Spider-Island, Miles became a real looking Jackal due to all his experiments. While it could be that Miles created a cure to return himself to his original appearance that may not mean he is the Jackal we have been seeing. In fact we saw a Miles Warren in his normal form running away in fear of Spider-Man’s appearance during The Clone Conspiracy #1. While this may be an act to conceal his identity as the Jackal in the Anubis mask I don’t believe that to be the case.
Given the characters appearance this Jackal we have been seeing looks to be younger than the old man Miles Warren we have grown to know. In actuality this new Jackal will turn out to be Norman Osborn. At the end of the original Clone Saga it was revealed that Norman was responsible for everything that happened in that long running event, including convince Peter Parker that he was actually the clone. Additionally, it has been shown in the latest volume of Amazing Spider-Man that Norman Osborn is working on destroying Peter and his Parker Industries. While doing his best to accomplish this, Norman has only been hiding his face behind bandages. So given what we have seen of Norman thus far it could be easy to see him once again being the orchestrator of another clone event.
Now this is just one theory I have from what we know of The Clone Conspiracy thus far. As we learn more through the mini-series and it’s tie-ins I’m sure we will all have other theories.