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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2011
This is it, folks. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Spoiler Alert, as usual.

So far, I've looked back at the Clone Saga and found a story that was definitely problematic but not beyond help. Take away a few of the lamer characters (Traveller, go die in a fire kthxbai) and refrain from dragging it out for so long and you've got a story that could work. There were compelling parts of this saga, which is probably why it feels so frustrating when it totally unravels. But hey, it's still probably better than the Spider-Man musical!

In all seriousness, this fourth volume of Marvel's new "Complete Clone Saga" collections offers the answer to why this storyline is so maligned. It's got a handful of the most infamous storylines of the era; the ones that made loyal fans like me want to throw our comics out the window. Despite my huge disappointment in the obnoxious plot twists, I stuck around for another year or so hoping things would get better. They didn't. Ironically, the Clone Saga finally ended shortly after that. However, given what came after (the "One More Day" story seems destined to be even MORE reviled than the Clone Saga), it was probably good I got out when I did.

The end of Volume Three left us with Ben Reilly offering to take Peter Parker's place in prison so that he could be with his wife while also hunting down the murderer who had framed both of them. For some reason, Peter also starts wearing the Scarlet Spider costume. I guess variety is the spice of life or whatever. The first story is "Lives Unlived," in which Peter encounters the clone of Gwen Stacy from the original 70s Clone Saga that laid the foundation for all this craziness. She's living with a clone of Professor Miles Warren (aka The Jackal). It may be worth noting that the name "Stacy" is misspelled towards the end of the story, a bit of a surprise considering how important Gwen is to the mythology. It may be an indicator of the level of care that went into some of these stories. Anyhow, she thinks her name is "Gwen Miles" and doesn't even know she's a clone. Well, she finds out and is pretty sad. Moving on.

Then we have the two part "Crossfire" storyline...and wow. I'm in awe at just how terrible this story is. It should come as no surprise at this point that Judas Traveller has a prominent role. In his ongoing cliche quest to understand the nature of good and evil, he creates a series of illusions to mess with Peter Parker, even claiming that he could restore Aunt May's soul. Then he supposedly takes Parker one day into the future, where NYC has been leveled...supposedly by Peter Parker himself. Right. Anyhow, everything goes wrong because Traveller shouldn't have been playing with alternate realities or whatever...as one character notes, "the space-time continuum is a delicate thing." Whatever. Traveller is stopped, Peter goes back to the present, nobody cares. The single redeeming scene in this mess is a bit where Mary Jane reveals that a doctor has detected an "anomaly" in her unborn baby. The doctor's not sure why, but the couple knows that it's probably because of Peter Parker's radioactive blood. It's heavy, and manages to touch on real fears of aspiring parents despite the fantastical setting. Would have made a good story on its own, but we all clearly needed to be reminded of the delicacy of the space-time continuum. Sheesh, save it for friggin' Star Trek.

Next up we have "Return of the Green Goblin." The twist this time is that the new goblin isn't a villian, but a Daily Bugle intern named Phil Urich who stumbled upon one of Norman Osborn's secret labs. As you might expect, adapting the look of a notorious supervillain gets him a fair share of negative attention and he gets blamed for a string of murders involving homeless people. Spidey investigates and finds out the real culprit is a guy named Firefist, who has been killing poor people out of some warped belief that they contaminate society as a whole. He was never seen again after this story. Maybe he found a better way to pursue his goals of screwing over the poor, like being elected to Congress. As for the new Green Goblin, he starred in a very short-lived series spearheaded by veteran Spider-Man writer Tom DeFalco that wasn't half bad.

Now we move on to "The Trial of Peter Parker," a four-part saga ending with the revelation that nobody wanted. Ben Reilly, posing as Parker, faces the jury while Spider-Man hunts the real murderer - Kaine. Part One is mostly just a slugfest between the two of them while opening statements are given in the courtroom. But Judas Traveller shows up in Part Two, so we know we've hopped the train to Suckville. The second part regurgitates a plot we've all seen on Saturday morning television countless times - the hero is put on "trial" by his adversaries. Carnage is the prosecutor and Kaine must now defend Spider-Man. So after a few pages of talking, everyone fights and Traveller undoes everything and returns us to our regularly scheduled fight between Spider-Man and Kaine. Total waste of time.

During Part Three, Kaine reveals his true identity. He was the Jackal's first attempt to clone Peter Parker, but the process went awry and he developed extreme versions of the original's powers. Jackal tossed him away as a failed experiment, but he lived on and understandably got very moody and depressed. So now we understand the ease with which he could frame Peter Parker. Spidey's had enough of slugging it out with Kaine and threatens to unmask himself in front of the jury as a last ditch effort to save Ben from the electric chair. Kaine really admires Parker and doesn't want to see him screw up his life, so he reluctantly confesses to the murders and is arrested. Part Four starts with what looks like a happy ending - Peter is exonerated and he and Ben have become true friends. Ben gets to start a new life for himself. Would be great if it ended here, right? Sadly, no.

Seward Trainer, a friend of Ben Reilly's who is a geneticist, wants to do some tests on Mary Jane's unborn child. During this process, the bombshell is dropped. The man everyone knows as Peter Parker is the clone...and Ben Reilly is the original. In other words, the protagonist readers have known since the 1970s (following the first Clone Saga) was a clone. That's mind-blowing, amirite?!?! I guess, but the reaction of the fans was not "OH COOL!" and I don't really get how Marvel could have expected that. No, the reaction was more like "What, really? (pause) That sucks!" So how does Parker take this news? Well, he goes berserk and accuses Reilly of trying to steal his life. They have a stupid fight and when Mary Jane tries to intervene, she takes one of Peter's blows and goes flying into a wall. Already brutal, and given that she was also pregnant...well, it was pretty upsetting. Peter feels instantly remorseful and runs off.

So believe it or not, the next story is even worse. Get ready for "Maximum Clonage," and yes, that was the real title. This six-part saga is preceded in the collection by an issue of New Warriors where the titular team of superheroes fight a clone of Spider-Man, but it's not Ben Reilly. So as "Maximum Clonage" starts, the New Warriors mistake the Scarlet Spider for this creature and they fight. The true culprit was "Spider-Cide," the shape-shifting clone from "The Mark of Kaine" storyline. He's helping The Jackal execute his nefarious plan - to kill the entire human race with a deadly virus and replace them all with clones that The Jackal will rule over. Yes, I'm serious.

So Peter Parker is acting like a total idiot during this story. Because he's a clone, he's somehow convinced that he has to go live in a hole alone somewhere or something, so he just abandons Mary Jane and winds up hanging out with The Jackal. Ben Reilly, who is also coping with the revelation that he has spent the last five years of his life thinking he was a clone, tries to talk some sense into Peter but Jackal won't have it. Reilly and Kaine wind up fighting an army of mindless Spider-Man clones.

Meanwhile, Spider-Cide betrays The Jackal and almost kills him. However, it is Kaine who intervenes on the Jackal's behalf and dies heroically. Diminishing this whole incident is the fact that Kaine hated the Jackal and his change of heart isn't really explained very well - "You gave me life" is all we get.

By the time we get to the last chapter of this saga, everything has gone nuts. The writers have apparently just given up trying to keep these issues consistent with one another and there's literally a different artist at work every five pages or so. Jackal attemps to deploy his deadly virus, but is now attacked by the Gwen Stacy clone. During the scuffle, Gwen nearly falls to her death. That reminds everyone of the original Gwen's death, which was what caused Professor Warren to snap and become The Jackal in the first place. He attemps to save her, but falls to his death after shouting a cryptic warning. His plan is foiled, Peter returns to Mary Jane and now he and Ben must decide who will wear the Spider-Man webs.

This whole story was just a total fail. In addition to Parker's bizarre behavior and the overall goofiness of the plotline, there's a lot of little things that are lame. As one example, in part four of this story Kaine promises Reilly he has renounced his murderous ways and will not kill the attacking clones. In part five, he asks Reilly "why should you care if they die? They're only clones!" as he beats the hell out of them. And though it has been well-established that Spider-Cide has power similar to that of T-1000 and is thus virtually indestructable, he dies from falling off a buliding. "Maximum Clonage" is FULL of stuff like that and provokes a lot of very justified nerd rage.

Jeez, so what the hell happened? Well, I think it's clear that this whole "replace the hero" gimmick of the 1990s started with the Death of Superman saga, which is far more well-received than this. Marvel was jealous of its success and decided to do something similar, but why did The Death of Superman succeed where the Clone Saga failed?

Death of Superman has a very clear three-act structure.

1. Superman dies.
2. Four "Supermen" compete to take his place, with some claiming to be the real one.
3. The real Superman returns and all is well.

The "Knightfall" Batman story has almost an identical structure.

1. Bane breaks Batman's back.
2. Azrael takes over as the new Batman.
3. Bruce Wayne returns and defeats Azrael, who has gone off the deep end. All is well.

I guess the Clone Saga could have worked within this framework.

1. Peter Parker's clone returns.
2. The clone is revealed to be the real thing. He takes over as Spider-Man.
3. It turns out Peter Parker was the real one all along. All is well.

But since this saga concluded, some of the creators have spoken publicly about how the editorial board at Marvel actually wanted Ben Reilly to permanently become the new Spider-Man. Some of the editors were worried that having Peter Parker as a married father made him too "old" for the readers and that the parade of tragedies in his life had made him too dark and gloomy. With that in mind, we start to understand why Peter was behaving like such a jackass in these clone stories. The writers were trying to manipulate the readers into going along with their scheme to install Ben as the new Spidey...for good.

Didn't quite work out like yet. But in the next part of this series, we'll see them give it their best shot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2015
Ben Reilly aka the Scarlet Spider, also revealed to be the clone of Peter Parker, had decided to take Peter's place in prison while Peter searches for evidence to prove his own innocence. His search leads to Kaine being the killer and he seeks to bring him in. In the mean time, Judas Traveller returns to torment Peter once again. -summary

Here goes the volume that contains the chapter in the Clone Saga that sent the entire Spider-Man fan base into a bloody uproar. In fact, it got under the fans skin so bad that several stopped reading the Spider-Man books altogether. I remember being furious about it back then myself, but I never truly thought it as a bad story. Marvel were very bold in taking the risk, and even now I look back at it and I can commend them for doing it. This fourth book contains quite a few good stories draped in suspense and intense action. The plot twist work out in developing a gripping story. If there's anything holding it back, then it's several stories that just come off as filler, and personally, I just found them hard to get through. This TPB collects Amazing Spider-Man 402 - 404, New Warriors 61, Spectacular Spider-Man 225 - 227, Spider-Man 59 - 61, Spider-Man - The Jackal Files, Spider-Man - Maximum Clonage Alpha and Omega, and Web of Spider-Man 125 - 127.

The first story follows Spider-Man in the Scarlet Spider outfit, as he goes through some of the Jackals files. He tracks down the first clone of Gwen Stacy whom happens to be married to another clone of Miles Warren aka the Jackal. This lands him into a brief battle with the new Green Goblin. Outside of the story elements pertaining to the Clone Saga, this story was pretty bland to me, and it took awhile before anything truly grabbed my interest. I was never interested in these stories in original form, and time hasn't helped matters at all. This leads into the first arc Crossfire, and later into another boring story with this new Green Goblin, as Spider-Man also takes on a villain that is running around incinerating homeless people.

Judas Traveller returns and his mission has been made clear. He wants to study Peter, because he wants to learn what makes him into a hero. He reveals that a decision Peter is going to make will destroy New York City in a mere 24 hours later. Seriously, by this point Traveller has become a total bore, and these interactions have reached an annoying level of redundancy. The only thing truly interesting going on in these stories is Mary Jane dealing with her pregnancy. She was warned that the baby could probably be born abnormal due to Peter's irradiated blood, which causes her to lash out at him, to include she was pulled into the Spider-Men battle earlier when Kaine kidnapped her. The stress has definitely been pounding her, and Peter Parker being put on trial for murder doesn't help in the least.

The story finally begins to move during the next arc, The Trial of Peter Parker. Here, Peter hunts down Kaine with intentions on forcing him to confess as the murderer. This story is very action packed as they collide in a furious brawl, where Kaine is clearly the stronger of the two. Plenty of things are cleared up here, such as who Kaine is exactly and why he has invaded Peter's life in the first place. I remember wondering how Peter would be cleared of the murder charge, and I have to admit I didn't see this coming. The writing does have moments where it can keep you guessing, which makes the suspense one of the stronger attributes in this saga. The suspense picks up again as Peter and Ben, once and for all, seek the answers on who is truly the original and who is the clone.

The final arcs in this book, Maximum Clonage Alpha and Maximum Clonage Omega, puts the Jackal's plan in full view. The events that took place earlier in the story in regards to the Jackal allowing himself to be caught and imprisoned in the institution only to escape later, finally takes form as he seeks to attack humanity. There are several interesting story elements here that shouldn't be spoiled. I will only mention that it does feature battles amongst the four Spider-Men: Scarlet Spider, Spider-Man, Kaine, and Spidercide, plus the New Warriors and the Punisher make appearances.

The writing really does have its bad moments in the form of some pacing issues; Judas Traveller returns again in a story that just seems to come too far out of left field, and it just bothered me having to go through with it. Plus the New Warriors felt like too much of a last minute add on. I was following their stories back then too, and it always felt like a cheap Marvel trick to squeeze them in just to buy their book.

The artwork as usual has that same mixed reception from me. The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man books have the best artwork; the character designs are very well drawn with some nice detail, while the Spectacular (especially) and Web titles can have some down right bad artwork, with overly dark panels and lines. The facial expressions can look too out of line and are just too ugly, Spectacular 226 comes to mind. Spidercide has a design reminiscent of Venom in his earlier days, and the various artwork watching his wild abilities in battle can be pretty cool. The action panels were rarely boring as there are plenty of fisticuffs with some punishing looking blows.

Overall, this volume isn't bad to me. Once you get pass the filler it's not a bad story. The issue has always been fans not liking Marvel's decision, but I would be lying if I said there was no enjoyment here at all.

Pros: Lots of action, suspense, surprises, and some very good artwork

Cons: Some bad artwork too, and interesting stories as well
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on January 6, 2014
This volume got very poor reviews; I can see why it was disliked, especially the lame episodes that include the teenage The New Warriors. But it also had its interesting and surreal moments, such as the weird alternative Miles Warren and Gwen Stacey (the good clones), and also the twin trials of Peter Parker (by a judge and jury) and the other trial of Spider-man by Traveller and his court of merry psychotics. "The Battle For Aunt May's Soul" is a trippy nightmare with Traveller and Scrier, with Spider-man given the choice of saving the world, or inadvertently saving Traveller. Huh?!?! Several issues have that great Sal Buscema/Bill Sienkiewicz art pairing, which I love, and our heroes go crazy. But… there's the lame Firefist line, about a psychopath who's out there killing vagabonds… with the appearance of a "good guy" Goblin. Huh?!?! Sometimes there's a break in continuity between stories, which is peculiar… maybe because of varying production schedules (the later issue is drawn first or consecutively, etc).

The highlight of the book is probably the trial of Peter Parker, with its ironic testimonials by Betty Brant (nice art), and even the art credits, which go on about "courtroom coverage", "police artist", "court stenographers", "judge", "jury", "executioner" for the art, script, editor, publisher, etc roles. The mock trial of Spider-man in "Judgement at Bedlam" is sheer nonsense and kangaroo court lunacy. Love it. Stunner has a role here, but she's not too interesting… There's the weird confession of Kaine, and Peter Parker freaking out when he finds out that he's the clone after all… much self-pity to follow. Right in the middle we get a weird Jackal-narrated walk-through of Spider-man's world (which for some reason includes The New Warriors) as the Jackal uploads Spider-memories into another clone, the incredibly weird Spidercide. He's introduced in an episode of the incredibly immature The New Warriors (not destined to become a classic Marvel title, despite the hot Asian chick who wears Strange Tales t-shirts and has a Stimpy phone). The Jackal launches a terroristic bio-war by poisoning an entire town (why?), there's another strange interaction with The Punisher, fighting between Spider-man and the Scarlet Spider and Spidercide, which gets weird, an alliance between Spidercide and Scrier (why? is it because Scrier finally does something active?), an army of enemy spider-clones, more dissolving Gwens (it's like a broken record now), before the finale where all of the bad guys die… finally (terrible art in that one).

Sadly, this volume shows Ben Reilly as the voice of reason, while Peter Parker turns into a sniveling weirdo, who at one point even sides with the Jackal! Mary Jane Parker is a freaky Frau. Then there's the re-appearance of the Green Goblin as… a crazy hero? Kaine shows up, but rather than being a lunatic killer he's more like some guys who pops up here and there at random. By now I've lost track of who he hates, whether it's Peter Parker or Ben Reilly. Even the characters in the story have lost track.

As usual, the art is (mostly) amazing, with cool shots of a very nice Gwen Stacey, Mary Jane Watson (usually attractive, sometimes funny-looking), and nice moods and variety throughout.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2010
My first comic ever was The Amazing Spider-man no. 403, where Peter is put on trial by his villains (Judas Traveller as judge, Carnage as prosecution, etc.). Meanwhile, Ben Reilly takes Peter's place in a murder trial. The real murderer...Kaine. That comic is in this volume.

Later in the volume tons more clones come on the scene, the New Warriors get invovled and the Punisher shows up. It's also revealed who the original Spider-man really is (Peter or Ben).

A lot of fans were pissed about the results. But to me, the whole point of the Saga was to dive into the question of what really makes a man a man. Is he still significant if he's just a carbon copy of someone else? (The Parker Years in Volume One really gets into this as well.) And honestly, at that point, I knew Ben just as well as Peter, so I was just excited to see the outcome - not rooting for either side.

I guess aside from the length of the Saga, my biggest complaint is all of these books introduced some really cool, interesting characters who probably deserved their own stories outside of the Clone Saga, but with Ben Reilly swinging around and the Jackal running all over the place the same time they came on the scene - it kind of felt like they were robbed of being Spidey's featured villain or ally for a month or two.

Luckily, the majority of stories in this volume are relevant to the overall story and not too many new faces show up.

If you didn't like the original Clone Saga, you still won't. Don't buy it. If you did enjoy the Clone Saga, this is the part that will suck you in the most.

It's also the volume with the quickest pace and some pretty cool art by guys like Mark Bagley (check the page where Peter busts out of the chains in Amazing 403 "I...Have...Had...ENOUGH!!"
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on November 29, 2011
I'll repeat a little from my review on part 1 and 2

Everyone knows the Clone Saga was a mess. Heck it Drove me away from Spider-man at the time. But what everyone doesn't know is that after the Saga was over the Story was actually fun and is the longest story arc the web spinner has ever had. Sure there are ups and downs and less then stellar parts but its one Large Epic story.
Its Marvels Answer to the Death/Rebirth of Superman

Here we are at Part 4 This is what the Series has been building towards. Crazy things happen in this Trade, but to keep some perspective its no crazier than a kid in high school getting bitten by a radioactive spider and Gain super powers. This trade has some out and out crazy action scenes and moments that make you wonder what the hero is thinking but also is interesting in how would a person react if his world had been turned upside down and had an army of clones at every corner. Art is the same Drastically different from issue to issue. and be warned you get something called "Maximum Clonagae" which is the less than stellar part but essential to the story non the less. This is where things really start to feel padded but its padding that in a collected trade isn't to bad as something is always happening (for better or worse)
This is truly the middle book at part 4 because after the clone Saga Epic finishes in part 5 it directly feeds in to "Spider-Man: The Complete Ben Reilly Epic Book 1"
3 stars instead of 4 this time due to the Art being a little more inconstant this go around.
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on June 25, 2014
It took me a while and cost me a bit, but I have secured Clone Saga books 1-5 and Ben Reilly Saga 1-6 and I must say that I couldnt be happier. I read this series every night before bed right now and have never enjoyed comics more in my life (I am 29). I am just finishing the first book in the Ben Reilly Saga, which continues right where the Clone Saga leaves off. Book 4 of the Clone Saga is no different than book 1-3. There are moments that are more interesting than others, but it doesnt really affect the enjoyability when each book has so many single issue comics in it. So many people call this Saga one of the worst story arcs in Marvel history, and I could maybe see how they would feel that way if you had to wait over 2 years in order to read it all. But If you own this collection you can read it at whatever pace you want. I honestly feel that this changes the entire experience. I am excited every night to read this series, and I will be 100 times the Spider-Man fan by the time I am done. Warning though, when I purchased them these books were already no longer in print. While I was able to find some at sticker price, this particular issue cost me the most at $130 or so CAN (after priority shipping from Cali). It was the last issue I needed, so I was willing to make the sacrifice. This series is the crown jewel of my soon to grow collection. HIGHLY recommended for Spider-Man fans / fans of extended story arcs.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2013
The Clone Saga, in which Spider-Man's "clone" (Ben Reilly) returns to his life, has a horrible reputation. The stories in this book are a large part of the reason why.

The Clone Saga could make so many mistakes, and Book 4 chooses to make a surprising number of them. The most important error is undermining the hero, Peter Parker. Book 4 does this as often as possible: Peter has to be goaded into acting like a hero, does little to investigate a murder he's accused of, hits his wife, and runs out on his responsibilities to join up with the Jackal, a mass murderer and the man responsible for the chaos of the Clone Saga. He even lets the Jackal call himself Peter's "father."

Nothing devalues the uniqueness of a character like a clone, especially one like Spider-Man, who is often imitated but never equaled. Four major versions of Peter Parker wander through Book 4: Peter, Ben, Kaine (the original clone), and a third clone. The Jackal renames the third clone -- a cackling thug who is similar to Peter in zero ways -- "Spidercide," a name so awful even the Jackal later disavows it. The Jackal also releases a hundred half-baked clones to stop Ben, which he and Kaine defeat easily, and the Jackal keeps mini-servitors, dressed in Jackal costumes, that he claims are clones of Peter.

By the end of Book 4, you wonder who isn't a clone of Peter Parker. Perhaps, you might suspect, you are a clone as well. It makes as much sense as anything in Book 4, and it would be a great deal more welcome.

The Jackal dominates Book 4. He's one of those villains with mysterious, overreaching goals, so prevalent in the `90s. He keeps his goals secret whenever he can, and when he can't, he lies. The Jackal's big plot is replacing everyone in the world with genetically perfected clones, but he doesn't do much work on the project, seeming to prefer messing with Spider-Man and his clones. How dull. The only positive is the Jackal makes other villains in the Clone Saga look better by comparison.

There's more to complain about than what I have listed; I didn't even get into how cavalierly the Spider-Men treat the presence of a Gwen Stacy clone or how little Det. Raven does to see justice is done or ... or any number of things. The Complete Clone Saga, Book 4, is a black spot on Spider-Man's half-century history. If I could have given it 0 stars, I would have.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2013
i bought used 5 books in a series,3 of them were Libray books, in other words there was no discription that 3 of them were libray books. I got ripped off. I will not be using amazon any more.
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