SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Amazing Spider-Man” #24 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Giuseppe Camuncoli, and “The Clone Conspiracy” #5 by Slott and Jim Cheung, on sale now.
The latest Spider-event concluded last week in “The Clone Conspiracy” #5, which served as a potential reset for most of Spider-Man’s past supporting cast, save for a couple in particular. The issue seemed to spell the end for Otto Octavius (again), as well as Ben Reilly (again), although the latter’s return has already been foreshadowed by way of the upcoming “Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider” series. “Amazing Spider-Man” #24, however, shows that the fates of these characters weren’t necessarily as they appeared at the end of “The Clone Conspiracy” — in fact, it turns out another key player had never even died in the first place.
Doctor Octopus – Dead or Alive No More?
The Jackal’s New U biotechnology, as well as Anna Maria Marconi and Peter Parker’s means to stabilize it via a specific harmonic frequency, has largely made the idea of death an irrelevant concept in the Spider-Man universe. After Doc Ock was revealed to have been brought back to life within the course of “The Clone Conspiracy,” the series just as readily took him back – or so it seemed. While Otto’s demise was strongly implied by way of his mechanical arms lying in the dust of his former new body at the conclusion of the event, this issue reveals a previously unseen moment during that climatic battle. That critical event takes place just before his disintegration while confronting The Jackal, where Otto apparently transfers his consciousness into The Jackal’s previously seen proto-clone before fleeing the scene.
That proto-clone, which The Jackal had also referred to as “the ultimate template,” had been revealed to be free of the genetic defect that caused The Jackal’s other clones to eventually decompose. This sets the stage for a potential reinvention of Doc Ock’s look, possibly one more fitting to a new generation of readers. Whatever the ultimate template is, it’s likely to be something far different than the previous template used for Ock’s appearance, which for decades seemed to be based on the look of an aging Roy Orbison who needs to lose a few pounds. Of course, like his seeming demise, his implied rebirth also takes place off-panel, so potential revelations still remain regarding what’s in store for Otto Octavius.
The revelation also provides a possible new context for a comment made by Anna in “The Clone Conspiracy” #5. When she makes a reference to the ultimate template in that issue, the meaning was unclear, although it could have been interpreted as her potentially reconsidering The Jackal’s offer of a new body. This issue likely indicates that her statement simply meant that she noticed that the proto-clone was missing, although any potential and unspoken considerations she might have regarding it could linger.
Ben Reilly – Dead No More, Or Not Dead At All?
Everyone already knew that, regardless of the outcome of “The Clone Conspiracy,” Ben Reilly would remain. What they likely didn’t expect, then, at the end of the series was, well, Ben Reilly’s remains. Knowing that writer Dan Slott now needed to come up with a way to bring Reilly back (again), they probably also didn’t expect he and Christos Gage to do so – in this very issue.
With Otto having seemingly absconded with The Jackal’s proto-clone, Reilly is forced to resort to a hastily compiled Plan B. After taking a handful of his own medications to momentarily halt his body’s decay, Reilly vacates New U and stops the degeneration of his body completely with a passerby’s smartphone, which is still broadcasting the frequency put in play by Peter and Anna to prevent the destruction of The Jackal’s clones worldwide. So Reilly doesn’t need another resurrection after all, having succeeded in preserving his existing form despite the strong implication otherwise at the end of “The Clone Conspiracy.”
When Reilly then heads to a nearby safe house, one that itself is a clone of sorts of Peter’s childhood home, he finds himself reunited with a pseudo-father figure — and no, it’s not Uncle Ben.
Miles Warren – Dead? No Way.
Professor Miles Warren’s name has been practically synonymous with clones in Spider-Man’s world ever since the very first such storyline decades ago. Several of Warren’s clones served as The Jackal’s henchmen throughout “The Clone Conspiracy,” so as all of The Jackal’s clones are shown to be disintegrating around him, it’s a bit o a surprise when one of Warren’s supposed clones does not. This, of course, reveals that this particular Warren isn’t a clone at all, but instead the actual Miles Warren.
Exactly how the real Warren remains alive after all of these years is presumably a story for another time, but upon discovering that he’s the real deal, Warren makes his way to Reilly’s safe house to await his inevitable return. When he does return, Reilly arrives to find Warren in his classic Jackal costume, with Warren now seeking to destroy what he considers a failed experiment by burning the home that inspired Reilly’s planted memories, with Reilly in it. Reilly upends his creator’s plan by bringing the burning house down on top of Warren, and in doing so hoping to expunge his fake past and pave a new future.
The return of the original Jackal might seem unnecessary since he doesn’t even survive the issue, but the showdown between the original cloner and his original clone serves as a reset for Ben Reilly, just as the “The Clone Conspiracy” has for so many other characters once believed to be dead. With death having less of an impact on the Spider-cast than a mosquito bite, though, the return of Miles Warren, clone or otherwise, seems all too likely. And of course, Warren only deduced he wasn’t a clone – it’s entirely possible he was somehow immune to dissolving for another reason, such as possibly being another of the new Jackal’s proto-clones.
Ben Reilly’s story will continue in “Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider” #1, on sale April 26. “The Clone Conspiracy Omega” #1, officially wraps up the event and goes on sale March 1.
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