Spider-Man versus the Jackal, and the lives of literally the entire world hang in the balance.  Will anyone come out of this alive?  Your Major Spoilers review of The Clone Conspiracy #5 awaits!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: John Dell, Jay Leisten, Jim Cheung
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in The Clone Conspiracy: “Years ago, a mad scientist called The Jackal cloned Peter Parker and created Ben Reilly, the original Scarlet Spider.  Ben fought against him and for a time took up the mantle of the Amazing Spider-Man before sacrificing his life to save Peter’s  But his story didn’t end there.  In an effort to perfect his cloning technology, The Jackal re-cloned and tortured Ben again and again.  Ben snapped, freed himself and took over as The Jackal, hoping to use the villain’s tech to save the world…  Ben has cloned nearly everyone who has died in Spider-Man’s life, from friends and loved ones like Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy and Jean DeWolff, to his worst enemies like Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin, hoping to convince Peter to use Parker Industries’ reach to make New U global…”


As we open, The Jackal has engaged his end game, turning all his resurrected clones into Carrion bombs that infect everyone around them, announcing over broadcast channels that everyone is going to die but that they’ll all be reborn as family!  It’s…

…kinda nuts, actually.  With the help of Gwen Stacy, original flavor, Peter Parker makes his way to the Jackal’s lair, while his other clone, Kaine is thrown to his inevitable doom.  They battle briefly before Anna-Maria takes the MVP award for the crossover, figuring out a counter-frequency that will negate the virus and convincing the resurrected Otto Octavius to battle The Jackal so that she and Spider-Man can deploy it to save the innocents.  The momentum of the story (you Should excuse the expression) peters out just short of the finish line, leaving us with an ambiguous status for the clones and hitting the reset button for a number of seemingly dead characters, including Hobie Brown, the recently murdered Prowler.  We end with Peter Parker facing a brave new world…


…which is immediately undermined by the ad for “Clone Conspiracy: Omega”, coming soon from Marvel!  The ending of this story leaves half a dozen story hooks, as we never see Gwen Stacy die, nor do we have any visual proof that Doctor Octopus and the Jackal are truly gone.  Though the setup for Spider-Man and Anna-Maria’s successful endgame have been in play for a while, the way they’re utilized here makes the end of the book feel strangely abrupt and a little anticlimactic.  Jim Cheung’s art is wonderful throughout (certainly better than the cover art, which is disturbing and features a nightmarish Spider-Man mask) and there are strong visual and story moments to be had.  Gwen Stacy’s sacrifice is a lovely moment, only undermined a little bit by the presence of the other, super-powered Gwen in these pages.  Silk makes a sudden appearance as well, a moment which adds to the feeling that this story didn’t so much end as it ran out of space…


Questions of pacing and ambiguous endings are important, but even with those concerns, this is an exciting story that manages to balance a lot of characters’ spinning plates and features some really emotional moments for J. Jonah Jameson, Kaine, Gwen and several others.  The Clone Conspiracy #5 isn’t a perfect wrap-up, but it is a better than average comic book issue, an dis successful on many levels even with its pacing flaws, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I just hope that the inevitable sequel and return of Ben Reilly again is far enough out that the events of this story have a  little room to breathe…



Well-drawn and featuring some impressive moments of character and story, but hindered a bit by some pacing/plotting flaws...

User Rating: 3.8 ( 1 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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