Written by Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie
Art by Todd Nauck
This book begins with an expanded recap page from Tom DeFalco. He describes the downward spiral of Peter Parker’s life in the early 1990s, before it finally fell into the jumbled mess of the original Clone Saga. With one line, DeFalco explains this is the true way the story should have been told and makes us all want a blue hoodie again.
Spider-Man: The Clone Saga accepts the incredible challenge of cleaning up the original Clone Saga, making for a much more streamlined version. Similar to Chris Claremont’s current X-Men Forever, this book can essentially fit right into where it takes place in past mythos. It even picks up right where the original did, with Aunt May near death.
Because of this and the fact that DeFalco and Mackie were key players on the original Clone Saga creative team, the book feels very retro. It’s very fast and very wordy. Almost too wordy as narrative boxes and dialog and thought bubbles litter all the pages.
The fast pace is almost necessary. Even with trimming the fat of the original, this miniseries is taking the daunting task of compressing the entire ‘90s story, putting multiple years into a mere six issues. The speed causes the emotional impact to suffer. The audience doesn’t get a chance to feel Peter’s pain for the ailing Aunt May or his shock at his returning clone because the issue is quickly trying to find its stopping point.
With that said, this is the first issue of an already-told story. Most of this issue is covering the basics and laying down the foundation for the story to come. While this may explain why DeFalco and Mackie wanted to rush through the exposition, the loss of emotional impact may lessen the audience connection to the rest of the miniseries, but probably not.
What this book is NOT is a modern retelling. This isn’t updating to fit current Spidey canon. This may be completely non-canon with its supposed original ending to the Clone Saga. More to the point, this story is not in the One More Day world. The status quo of the ‘90s is the status quo. Basically this means Peter and Mary Jane are still married, so congrats to all the MJ lovers (or sorry that she’s taken … again). Because of this, Ben’s one anachronistic line about American Idol might shake up readers momentarily.
This is a cleaning up of the original story, fine-tuning and fixing it so that it actually works cleanly and quickly. As this is only the first issue, we don’t know to what extent changes and omissions will be made (please no Judas Traveller),
The art matches the ‘90s feel of the book, in both design and style. Leather jackets are in as both Peter and Ben sport them. Mary Jane returns to her thick, flowing hair and large ear rings. The characters look similar to how they were drawn in the time period.
Also similar to the period is the over-emphasized muscular detail. The limb muscles are well rounded and the ripples around Spidey’s ribcage are quite visible. Spidey’s shoulders are too wide and broad. Still, the art isn’t to the extent of the muscular exaggeration notable of the decade’s super hero comics, with muscular shape and body movement defying logic. It fits the story’s feel, and while it takes a little of the negative aspects of the ‘90s contemporary design, it’s not too bad.
The colors are vivid and bright, and the shading gives a certain shine to many surfaces. A slip up does happen occasionally though, such as a panel with Ben’s jeans in the wrong color.
The layout generally works. Flashbacks are distinct from current story with panels in thick colored boarders. Panel placement is not without its problems though. Sometimes there is too much blank white space in the background. Perhaps some panels could have been slightly wider or taller, or some could have been shifted to cover it better. With some panels appearing over other panels, the white space behind others feels pretty empty.
In the recap page, DeFalco describes two readers of the ‘90s version – those who thought it ruined Spider-Man and those who actually enjoyed some of it (Full disclosure: I’m the latter). This entire miniseries is for both camps. This is an attempt to fix the problems readers originally had, such as the convoluted story, useless tangents and a refusal to end. This is a gift to those fans that saw the true potential in Ben Reilly and the Peter/Ben dynamic. Those camps should enjoy this. Others may find it too fast and get lost in the time period, but they’ll still want the blue hoodie.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10