A year ago, Amazing Spider-Man gave us The Clone Conspiracy and now it’s conveniently collected along with a large number of other tie-in and supporting issues. Is it good?
The Clone Conspiracy is a 20 issue collection that tells the story of the return of Jackal and, with him, the majority of Spider-Man’s friends and foes that have perished in one way shape or form. Faced with these familiar faces, both friendly and villainous, Spider-Man must team up with a handful of allies from other worlds to determine Jackal’s intent of raising the dead. Clone Conspiracy covers a huge range of Spider-verse characters including fan favorites such as Silk, Kaine, and Spider-Gwen.
This collection is a lot to take in, with 20 issues that span six different titles and 496 pages. With so many titles involved, the editors were faced with a tall task of assembling a coherent storyline for old and new readers alike. While the collection begins with the Free Comic Book Day event precursor and a couple of Amazing Spider-Man issues, the rest of the collection is organized by series. The main Clone Conspiracy title is towards the beginning of the book so even though you’ve finished the story, you’ll still have the tie-ins from Amazing Spider-Man, Silk, and Prowler that contribute the additional storyline. What I like about the collection is that it also includes a map of the reading order in case you want to read the story chronologically.
I’m not familiar with the recent Spider-Man series, but I found this collection to be easy to follow for the most part. There are plenty of recaps and summaries so this collection can be read independently and considered new reader friendly. This event is a classic example of an archetypical Spider-Man story with plenty of action, comedy and, of course, clones — a fixture in Spider-Man tales. There are a number of shocking moments throughout this collection and Dan Slott is able to deliver a handful of quality shock-and-awe moments, whether it’s the revelation of Jackal’s identity or the familiar faces Peter’s reacquainted with. But while Clone Conspiracy sets itself up as your typical apocalyptic, super villain threat, it’s more of a story about mourning and acceptance, which obviously strikes a cord at the heart of Spider-Man lore.
While I enjoyed the main storyline, I didn’t connect with the Silk tie-ins which felt especially superfluous because it comes after reading the main title (granted, I’m not familiar with Silk, so it might have been wasted on me). Prowler was a darker, more intriguing storyline and when paired with Jamal Campbell’s artwork I was able to appreciate the issues more despite my lack of knowledge of the character. However, Jim Cheung’s artwork is truly the visual gem of this collection. His penciling is truly beautiful and he doesn’t hold anything back in his five issues.
Is It Good?
Like many major events, I have a feeling this book will be better received by casual fans and newcomers than by the dedicated readers. There are a lot of cliché Spider-Man plotlines that will feel recycled and, while there is page dedicated to a story map, the structure of the collection doesn’t motivate you to finish the tie-ins after finishing the main storyline. That said, this is still an enjoyable read with a number of shocking moments and some great artwork.