Web of Spider-Man 125: Clones or not, its still 3 or 4 types of creepy

Story 1: Lives Unlived

Credits: Written by Terry Kavanagh, breakdowns by Steven Butler, finishes by Randy Emberlin and edited by Eric Fein.

Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker dressed in Ben Reilly’s Scarlet Spider costume (that I really hope he was washed), Ben ‘Scarlet Spider’ Reilly dressed as Peter whilst taking his place in prison, Gwen Stacy (the clone), Miles Warren (another clone), Mary Jane Watson-Parker and Felicia Hardy.

Plot: The story opens at night in the Daily Bugle’s offices where Peter (dressed as Scarlet Spider) researches Dr Miles Warren, whose alter ego the Jackal is behind much of Spidey’s recent troubles, including the reason that Ben is sitting in prison for a crime Peter is innocent of. Peter finds a news article about Miles Warren being married, but this was after the original clone story. This means it was after the Jackal’s apparent death. Before he can look more, a relative of a Bugle staffer starts looking in the offices and Peter has to leave.

The article leads to a house in Ridgefield Valley, New Jersey and to a suburban house and a car outside, Peter drops a tracer onto the car. The roof is electrified and the basement holds a lab, far beyond what a science teacher should be able to put together. The house above is a lot more typical, reminding Peter of his own suburban childhood. He is then attacked by the lady of the house and he finds it is Gwen Stacy. Peter is shocked, unmasking himself. He is then tasered from behind by Gwen’s husband Miles Warren.

Elsewhere, Park Ave New York, Mary Jane is confiding in Felicia, just before she goes into action as the Black Cat. MJ is grateful for having someone to talk to, but needs to talk things over with Peter now, wherever he is.

Peter wakes in Dr. Warren’s house alone, after Miles  and Gwen have left. He looks around and finds evidence that this Miles Warren knows he and Gwen are clones. It also looks like he was looking into the clone degeneration disease. Using the tracer, Peter follows the car, leading to a chase that leads to the George Washington Bridge, which is where the original Gwen died. Also they car and Peter are being chased by a new Green Goblin. Miles crashes the car and it is teetering on the edge. The new Goblin pulls Gwen from the car. Now another Green Goblin is holding another Gwen Stacy  over the GW Bridge. Miles climbs onto the boot of the car and starts shooting at the Goblin. This causes a deja-vu laden falls as Peter leaps down to try and save Gwen. Recognising the problems from last time, Peter swings to below Gwen and catches her safely.

By this point the car has fallen off the edge and the clone of  Miles Warren falls into the river and dies, his body degenerating. Gwen leaves as soon as she is safe as does the Green Goblin, who flies back to the Daily Bugle. Peter laments on the events as elsewhere Gwen remembers that she is a clone of Gwen and not the original or Joyce Delaney. (This was from a quickly ignored retcon to explain the original clone mess) and she leaves having lost her husband, her home and herself all in one night.

Notes: By this time in comics, any multiple of 25 was either a bigger comic than usual or had some kind of cover enhancement and in this case, both. We have a hologram sticker on the front. The story does seem to try an explain what happened to the original clone of Gwen, last seen around the time of the Jackal’s apparent death. This does undo the previous ret-con, but doesn’t really add anything, because by the end of the story, ‘Gwen’ is on her own again.

But I suppose this isn’t fair, this story serves two purposes, the first is the introduction of a 4th Green Goblin and maybe give him some heat as a new series is clearly in the works. (Note it was, the series was lasted a year or so with some great Scott McDaniel artwork) This part it does well, little is answered and that just whets your appetite for his next appearance. With a very different design and a more altruistic outlook, what we see is positive.

The other things this story does, is show us one of the creepiest and unethical relationships it comics that does not feature Charles Xavier. First off, we have the age gap, which is significant, but not the worst thing in the world. Then it’s the fact that he is a clone of the man who created her (daddy issues much?), then there’s the fact he was HER TEACHER. I know I didn’t need to emphasise that, but it is clearly not addressed anywhere, like at all. After the that, there’s the gaslighting of their wedding (see story 2) and the fact that she doesn’t seem to remember actually being the clone. He has literally altered her memories to end up with her. I mean with the absence of any kind of commentary on these things, it’s like these aren’t massive red flags. Maybe this isn’t something that I would have paid attention to when I read this years ago, but damn it’s all I can see her. Also, this is a bit of weird question, why isn’t Peter in his old costume? Or a spare one, he is wearing the clothes of his clone, who is languishing in prison wearing Peter’s clothes. I would have at least worn a different outfit. All in all, the red flaggy elements and going back to the well of Gwen’s death on the bridge leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It felt like we needed a bigger sized issue whilst we get some parts into place for the next big story.

Verdict:

Writing: 2 out of 5 – This isn’t a badly told story. Peter’s reactions to everything make sense and the emotion in the bridge scene works really well, but the rest of it is just creepy and no one seems to be mentioning it, which stretches credulity far more than clones and a man with spider-powers

Art :4 out of 5 – Butler and Emberlin continue to do good work, with consistent figure-work and good story-telling. Their Gwen looks like the Gwen you remember and their rendering of the new Green Goblin is eye-catching and full of motion. There’s a muddle in pacing at the bridge, but the quality of the art carries you across this rough patch.

Overall:6 out of 10 it’s not a great issue, it’s subject matter is a little on the creepy side and it was another bloated non-anniversary anniversary issue and yet, there were moments I enjoyed. That said, I’m not so sure this story needed telling.

Story 2: Shining Armour

Credits: Plot by Terry Kavanagh, script by Mike Lackey, breakdowns by Ted Smith, finishes by Jimmy Palmiotti and edited by Eric Fein.

Cast: The clone of Gwen Stacy and the clone of Miles Warren.

Plot: The Past, Gwen Stacy has left Manhattan and ends up in a cabin in upstate New York. She collapses on the floor and is at some point found by Miles Warren. He nurses her back to to health, both physical and mental and through a Florence Nightingale effect this becomes love. They marry in a small ceremony and as they leave, all of the guests and the officiant degenerate, proving they were clones.

Notes: This story is the game of spot the red flags. There’s the age gap, there’s the caregiver grooming the person they care for and then there’s the fact he was HER TEACHER!!!!! Just reading this makes me feel uncomfortable. This is a relatively unnecessary story that is here to pad up the slightly bigger issue and it’s about that good.

Verdict:

Writing: 2 out of 5 – Perfunctory at best, this is a story that’s told as thinly as possible and it shows.

Art: 2 out of 5 – there’s no bad here, but by the same rationale there’s no good. It’s bland and adds to the feeling of it being filler.

Overall: 4 out of 10 – This is the ‘this meeting could have been an email’ of comic stories and it’s no more than that.

Next Time: More Clone Silliness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s