Ben Reilly returns! Will Spider-Man team with The Jackal? Will they bring about the end of the world? And what about Uncle Ben!?

THE CLONE CONSPIRACY #4
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Jim Cheung
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in The Clone Conspiracy: All of Spider-Man’s villains and loved ones are back from the dead – even Gwen Stacy. They are are all beholden to The Jackal, the villain responsible for cloning foes in the past. Only problem, this isn’t the Jackal you know, but rather Ben Reilly, back from the dead. The Jackal gives Spider-Man an offer he may not be able to refuse – bringing back Uncle Ben.

LET’S BRING BACK UNCLE BEN

Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy of Earth-65), and Kaine Parker (The Scarlett Spider) know if Peter Parker and Ben Reilly join forces it will mean the end of the world. Peter says he would never join Reilly (aka The Jackal), but when Reilly promises they can bring back Uncle Ben for reals, it may be the one thing to make Peter join the cause. But of course, he’s Peter Parker, and his moral fiber is much stronger than the Parker’s of other Earths.

Dan Slott sets up the perfect, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” scenario in The Clone Conspiracy. To date, I’ve loved the moral question The Jackal asks each and every person he resurrects. It’s easy to have Parker be stronger than that, but to have every villain stay under Jackal’s thumb is just too much to last for long. So, when Doc Ock’s ego (and stalker love) gets the better of the situation, everything falls apart, and a new carrion plaque is unleashed on the world.

While it seems this series would be a by the numbers tale, there are two major revelations that surprised me more than I thought they would. The first is the Prowler willing to defy his directives to keep Spider-Man safe from harm when the kill command is given. The other has to do with the true nature of Anna Maria – and now I want to know how THAT happened. There is a reason Dan Slott has been writing Spider-Man for this long; he always has a surprise or two up his sleeve, and if you follow the trail, you realize he’s been dropping clues for a very long time.

UNCLE BEN IS ASH, HE’S NOT COMING BACK

Jim Cheung has done an amazing job throughout this series. The action sequences are very well executed in this issue, and I’m digging how he is able to bring expression to Spider-Man’s masked face, while The Jackal remains stone cold expressionless when things go awry. What really makes the art in this issue shine is when the clones break down and turn into contagious monsters. The desiccated bodies fighting amongst themselves and freaking out over their transformations is a thing to see.

While the art is great, Cheung does rely a great deal on double page spreads. While looking great and giving a cinematic feel to the story, it doesn’t work well on electronic tablets. This is one of those issues that you’ll want to read in physical form, or have a large screen on your computer to see the art Cheung is giving us.

BOTTOM LINE: THE TURNING POINT PAYOFF

It is rather surprising it took four issues to get to the turning point of this five issue series. Either Slott will wrap this up in one issue, which seems rather rushed, or this will launch a giant carrion arc. If it is a carrion arc, I’d be disappointed as we’ve had enough Marvel Zombies. Regardless, this issue was full of action that made for a quick read, contained all the surprises that were needed to keep my attention, and the art is fantastic. If you’ve been following The Clone Conspiracy, this may be the best in the series, and is worth picking up.

[taq_review]

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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