Slott & Lowe On Spider-Man's "Clone Conspiracy," Kaine's Return, Ben Reilly's Fate & More

Marvel Comics' Spider-Man started off as a loner, but with over 50 years of superheroing under his webbed belt, now anything but. As the CEO of Parker Industries, Peter Parker oversees and regularly interacts with employees all over the world, and as Spider-Man, he's a friend, mentor and confidant to dozens of costumed heroes. That's helped Spidey overcome any number of challenges in recent years, but on the flip side, when a villain launches a scheme that threatens to destroy the wall-crawler and everything he's built, it's bound to have a ripple effect.

This October, all that comes into play as the villainous Jackal returns in the five-issue Spider-Man event "The Clone Conspiracy," by writer Dan Slott and artist Jim Cheung. In the first half of of our look at mega-Spidey storyline, Slott and Executive Editor of Marvel's Spider-Man titles Nick Lowe joined us for an in-depth chat about the Jackal's latest scheme and the miniseries it will unfold in. Below, they return for a look at how the event will impact "Amazing Spider-Man," whether you should expect the return of Ben Reilly, and which other books in in the Spider-Man line, like "Silk" and the new "Prowler" ongoing series, tie into the event as well.

CBR News: Dan, yesterday we talked about how "The Clone Conspiracy" is its own miniseries, but what does that mean for "Amazing Spider-Man," which is also written by you? Do readers need to follow both books to understand the event?

Dan Slott: "Clone Conspiracy" is the one you should be following. It is a five issue arc. It is the- Spider-Man event this year. So much happens in "Clone Conspiracy."

"Amazing Spider-Man" #20-24 will come out at the same time. Those issues will be co-written by myself and Chris Gage, and each one fleshes out "Clone Conspiracy." Each one tells a story that focuses on a different character and will answer many of your questions, but in a thrilling way.

Nick Lowe: When you're telling an event story there's a velocity to what's happening and you don't get a lot of time to really dig into an idea and show all sides of it. You're on the move. So in these issues Dan, Christos, and Cammo [artist Giuseppe Camuncoli] are going to dig deep into some characters and the situations surrounding them.
Slott: Right off the bat is the Otto Octavius issue, and if you read "Amazing Spider-Man #18, which is really our Living Brain issue, you're going to be like, "I need to know what happens next!" That's "Amazing Spider-Man" #20. Then, in issue #21 we'll answer many of the burning questions surrounding Kaine like where's he been? And what's he secretly been up to?

I don't want to tell you what we're doing in issue #22, though! [Laughs] It's a doozy! It is one of the creepiest stories we will ever tell in "Amazing Spider-Man." I'm really looking forward to that one and how much it's gonna mess you up.

Cammo [artist Giuseppe Camuncoli] is wrapping up "Amazing Spider-Man" #19 right now. That's a landmark issue in Spider-Man. When we do a story like the current "Before Dead No More" and October's "The Clone Conspiracy," there's the promise that we're going to bring people back, but "Amazing Spider-Man" #19 is our way of showing it doesn't mean that people can't die. That issue is going to be a hard hit.

You mentioned Kaine, is getting some spotlight in "Amazing Spider-Man." Will this be the first time readers have seen him since his apparent death and possible resurrection at the end of "Spider-Verse?"

Slott: There are a lot of people who read "Spider-Verse," but didn't read the epilogue. Some of those people reach out to me through social media and ask, "When are you bringing back Kaine? We're so mad that he died," and I'm like, "Did you read the epilogue?"

When the Kraven family brought Kaine back [during the 2010 "Grim Hunt" storyline], he became the spider-character who had the "Other" in him; that otherworldly spider-magic mojo. In the heart of "Spider-Verse," he actually mutated into a giant Spider-thing and had an epic battle with the Inheritors. At the end of that, he died, but then, in the epilogue, we saw that spider-creature burst open and a very human hand emerged.

Kaine has been back for some time -- we just haven't seen what he's been up to. I can say now, now that he's gone through that process, he is not "The Other" anymore. That part of him is gone. That means you really haven't seen him. All you've seen is an arm. So who knows what crawled out of that spider? He could have eight arms. He could be anything. You don't know. We do. You don't. [Laughs]

Kaine is just one of the Jackal's famous Spider-Man clones. The other, of course, is Ben Reilly, who's been dead for several years. But since "The Clone Conspiracy" is a tale about characters coming back from the dead, is there a chance we'll see Ben during this story?

Slott: Ben is tough, because the last time we saw him, he was goo. He melted into goo. Goo isn't giving me much to work with. I don't know if I can help you there. [Laughs] There are some things where you just have to shrug and go, "Well there you go."

The recent batch of Marvel NOW! teasers suggested that some other books in the Spider-Man line would be tying into "The Clone Conspiracy." The "Silk" teaser featured an image of the title character, J Jonah Jameson, and is that Mattie Franklin, who was slain by the Kraven family back during "Grim Hunt," in her old Spider-Woman costume?

Lowe: Yep! Because of the events of "Dead No More," characters are coming back as clones. But remember, they're not your usual clones. They're far better than any clone we've ever seen in comics.

Mattie Franklin is back, though! She was J. Jonah Jameson and Marla Jameson's adoptive daughter. So he's back with his daughter, and the story is going to go even deeper than that. Robbie Thompson has an incredible story planned, and we've got a guest artist coming in, Irene Strychalski, who just did some issues of "Gwenpool" and is fantastic. She's coming in and drawing the "Clone Conspiracy" issues of "Silk."

In them, we'll be dealing with a lot of Jonah, and of course a lot of Cindy Moon. There's also a character named Spectro who we've been dealing with in "Silk." He'll play a big role in the story as well.

Will other established titles like Brian Bendis' "Spider-Man" or Dennis Hopeless' "Spider-Woman" have tie-ins where a problem arises from the sudden return of a deceased love on as a clone?

Lowe: "Spider-Man" and "Spider-Woman" have been tying into "Civil War II." They need to unpack and deal with the ramifications of that, so they won't be tying in, and neither will "Spider-Gwen," "Spider-Man/Deadpool" or "Spider-Man 2099." A lot of those books are in the midst of their own crazy stories, or they've just come out of "Civil War II."

What about some of the new Marvel NOW! titles that are launching in October? The teaser for the new "Prowler" series by writer Sean Ryan and artist Jamal Campbell where the title character is throwing dirt on a what appears to be a deceased person dressed in his costume suggests the series initial story will involve clones and matters of life and death.

Lowe: Yep, Prowler is a brand new launch. I'm really excited about that book. We've been putting more and more focus on Prowler, culminating in "Amazing Spider-Man" #17. Then we'll have the launch of the new "Prowler" series that I think is really going to thrill some people. It's a great story that ties deep into what Dan and company are doing in the main "Clone Conspiracy" book, and will continue on after the event. It's a book unlike anything I've ever read in comics, which is really exciting.

What about the new "Kingpin" series from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Ben Torres? Or the new "Venom" series by writer Mike Costa and featuring art by Gerardo Sandoval? Will they have tie-in arcs to "The Clone Conspiracy?"

Lowe: Those books will be too busy establishing themselves, and they're going to be crazy. We've got a lot of great Spider stuff launching in October. "Renew Your Vows" won't be tying in either, but wait until you see that book! Ryan Stegman and Gerry Conway are just kicking so much ass.

You will see the character of the Kingpin in "Amazing Spider-Man" #19 as we show the other side of the Free Comic Book Day story that the Kingpin was involved in.

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