Characters Appearing: Ashley Kafka, Boone, Carnage Symbiote, Chakra, Cletus Kasady (Carnage), Judas Traveller, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Mary Jane Watson, Medea, Mr. Nacht, Scarlet Spider, Scrier (Charles Bates), Spider-Man, Vermin
Spectacular Spider-Man #217
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man #217
Judas Traveller teleports the two Spider-Men away (or whatever). And since the real Spider-Man is currently a moron, he immediately picks a fight with the clone.
Their fight is interrupted by the arrival of the non-powered inmates of Ravencroft, who are of course a murderous horde.
Spider-Man responds in kind, and the clone has to pull him back.
The Spiders get past the horde, and now we get to the point where you'd think the Spiders would have to team-up to fight all the villains held at Ravencroft. But it feels abbreviated; they only fight two such villains. The first is called Wild Whip. This is to show that the clone has been having adventures on his own (but they obviously haven't been very good ones).
They quickly dispatch him and then have to fight Carnage...
...who is also easily dispatched.
Maybe the idea was to get us to like the Spider-clone by showing us how quickly Maximum Carnage would have ended if he were around.
And that's it for Ravencroft's inmates.
The Spiders then make it to Judas Traveller and his goons. Spider-Man takes on Traveller while the clone goes after the goons. Almost immediately, the clone is seemingly killed in an explosion, and then Traveller teleports away.
We later see Traveller and his goons reviewing the recent events.
The "real" Spider-Man is currently in Over The Edge mode. So Traveller is clearly describing the one we think of as the clone as the original (decent, noble, etc.).
And it turns out that the "clone" has survived.
There's also a weird bit about Traveller having forged a post mark on a letter saying that he won't be able to visit Ravencroft.
Meanwhile, our first indication that Mary Jane is pregnant:
Sal Buscema's layouting abilities allow for more actual story than some of the previous chapters, but this is still a drag. Judas Traveller and his gang are still a bore. Some of the interactions between the Spider-Men make things a little more interesting. In other ways the interactions still suck; like it's treated as completely reasonable that Spider-Man would lunge at the Spider-clone the minute they are alone. Let me amend that: in most ways they still suck; there's just a slight uptick in the technical competency here.
Overall this crossover is a terrible introduction to the Clone Saga. The way the mystery is allowed to linger, with the clone seemingly dying and then seen just walking down the street, is... typical of the time period, but really bad. And it's all mixed in with a vaguely defined and very uninteresting new villain and his gang of randomly powered goons. It definitely shows that the problem with the Spider-books at this time wasn't Spider-Man's status quo; it was the writers.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is Power and Responsibility part four.
Crossover: Power and Responsibility
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
My disgust for this storyline aside, I’m glad that you’re covering it even if it’s small doses at this time. It’s important that we don’t forget the past. To date, none of the people involved with this have been prosecuted so we need to continue shedding a light on their horrific crimes.
Posted by: Robert | April 5, 2018 4:35 PM
It occurs to me that this is the second of Marvel's big attempts to provide a sales boost to one of their franchises that goes sprawling out of control and is eventually retconned into submission by revealing that the whole thing is a deliberately confusing mindgame of some kind.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 5, 2018 5:35 PM
Glad to see Our Pal Sal getting some props in the midst of all this awfulness. He might not have been the most beautiful artist, but his ability (along with others of his era) to tell a coherent story with his art is something I took for granted before the 90s.
Posted by: Bonez | April 5, 2018 8:00 PM
Fnord, note that Peter comments on how easily he and Ben defeated Carnage. I think the idea was that Traveller was influencing Carnage since he didn't want them killed and that's the only reason why Carnage was defeated so easily. That could have come across more clearly.
Posted by: Michael | April 5, 2018 11:30 PM
this is the second of Marvel's big attempts to provide a sales boost to one of their franchises that goes sprawling out of control and is eventually retconned into submission by revealing he the whole thing is a deliberately confusing mindgame of some kind.
What was the first attempt then?
Posted by: Tuomas | April 6, 2018 3:14 AM
My guess for the first attempt is the Crossing from the Avengers, retconned by Busiek/Brevoort in Avengers Forever to all be an Immortus/Space Phantom plot rather than an Avengers one.
I too am happy to see Sal Buscema getting praise, it's sad he left right when DeMatteis returned once more to Spectacular. I think the Chameleon and Kraven stories that were done at that time would've benefited from his art style. The angularness is very compelling to me. He draws the best Green Goblin. And his Doc Ock is also masterful.
I think making Ben "the original" would in no way invalidate the issues between ASM 150 and now, because the clone is as real as the original, that is the entire point. In Farscape, they made it such a point that they killed one of the John Crichtons and you couldn't tell if he was the first one or the copy. Because the copy is indistinguishable.
What it would do in Spider-Man's case is give us a Peter Parker who did go through a lot of the Stan Lee/Gerry Conway stuff, but didn't have endless fights with his own rogues gallery. So you could put a fresh spin on his interactions with all the villains new and old. Of course Mackie, Kavanagh and DeFalco were the last people that would've been able to do so, but the sentiment was a good one. It probably never would've happened if not for ASM 400 looming though.
Posted by: PeterA | April 6, 2018 5:09 AM
I would think "the second" implies that the first one had come before this, which the Crossing didn't, but there isn't really anything else prior to this that would fit Omar's description that's coming to mind.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 6, 2018 6:03 AM
I think making Ben "the original" would in no way invalidate the issues between ASM 150 and now, because the clone is as real as the original, that is the entire point.
The original plan was for Peter to retire and Ben to become Spider-Man again, so those issues would've been invalidated in the sense that the new protagonist of the series wouldn't have lived through any of those events, and they wouldn't have any effect on his character.
Posted by: Tuomas | April 6, 2018 6:54 AM
But isn't that the perfect kind of invalidation? Because in practice, most of the events since ASM 150 didn't have much effect anymore on his character either, because of the nature of the sliding timescale. So you get a "back to basics" approach that doesn't require the rejiggering of the universe, since "our" Peter Parker would still exist and have MJ and a child, so the marriage wouldn't have to be dissolved/undone either. Everything happened the way it did, and the person it happened to, exists and counts, but he gets to live happily ever after (with the ability to return eventually) without the actual series Spider-Man needing to end. Of course you need to commit to that idea, and neither the company nor the writers could. It could've given us Ben Reilly the Spectacular Spider-Man while Peter Parker gets to be his brother who advises him, the person Peter himself never really had. So much potential squandered, really.
Posted by: PeterA | April 6, 2018 9:12 AM
I should have called it the second one I could think of, not the second chronologically.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 6, 2018 3:24 PM
Wild Whip might be the worst possible advertisement for clone-on-the-lam adventures, but I think Spider-Man: The Lost Years is pretty good. It probably should have been a four-issue mini instead of three to give the story more room to breath, however (issue 0 is just a collection of the flipside stories mentioned in the review of Web #117).
Posted by: Mortificator | April 6, 2018 4:10 PM
A flaw in the plan of replacing Peter with ur-Peter, though, is that Ben couldn’t take Peter’s identity, not without explaining to all his old supporting cast what happened to MJ. So ur-Peter becomes Ben, but Ben Reilly and his setup are much farther removed from classic Peter than married Peter ever was.
But maybe Traveller gives us the true explanation for the clone saga and all its madness: it’s all just a psychological experiment gone badly awry...
By the way, I took the forged letter to be a real letter, not a forgery, that implied the Traveller we see here was someone or something that had stolen the real Traveller’s identity. Maybe he’s a clone, too!
I need Sturky...
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 9, 2018 7:18 PM
Walter, Traveler specifically orders Chakra to forge a postmark- it was definitely the letter that was fake.
Posted by: Michael | April 9, 2018 8:00 PM
That's how you knowo they're major villains: only the worst of the worst commit mail fraud.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 9, 2018 8:14 PM
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