After months -- possibly years -- of clues, the true nature of the Spider-Man story "Dead No More" has been revealed. Hints involving a man in a red mask and dead characters that have slowly reappeared have all been leading to a story presumably titled "Dead No More." But "Dead No More" isn't the real title of the event; Entertainment Weekly has revealed that the real title of the story is "The Clone Conspiracy."
"The Clone Conspiracy" kicks off in October and will be a standalone five-issue miniseries from writer Dan Slott and artist Jim Cheung. "Amazing Spider-Man" #16-18 will lead up to the event, with Slott teasing that "some big, primal things happen that will have a long-standing effect." Slott and co-writer Christos Gage will also write the tie-in storyline in "Amazing Spider-Man," that will take place in issues #19-23. "Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #1 will come with an Alex Ross cover and tie-in with the event.
The Jackal, the villain at the heart of the less-than-fondly-remembered '90s "Clone Saga" will return for "The Clone Conspiracy." While the specific details of the plot and Jackal's scheme remain a mystery, both Slott and editor Nick Lowe promise that the villain's plans will be different this time around and that he might even expand his operation to go past cloning; the boundary between life and death may be questioned.
"I think more than any character in the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is about heart," Slott told EW. "And ever since 'Amazing Fantasy' #15, for him it's also been about loss. 'With great power comes great responsibility.' He learns that lesson at the life of Uncle Ben. And then, years later, Captain Stacy dies in front of him, and it's almost the exact opposite. He did everything he possibly could! He did try to live up to his responsibility and use his power, and still he lost someone very dear to him. So loss surrounds Spider-Man. We live in a day and age of comics where you're always seeing another important death. 'Here's someone who dies!' We're subverting all of that. Here's people coming back."
Slott also promises that the storyline will be geared towards both new readers and those that are intrigued by the allusions to the long-running '90s storyline "The Clone Saga." The original storyline, which revealed that the Peter Parker fans had followed for 20 years was actually a clone created by the Jackal, and the original Spider-Man was now a man going by the name Ben Reilly. The new/old Spider-Man took over the lead of the Spider-titles for a year in the mid-'90s, before it was revealed that Ben Reilly had actually been the clone all along, and Peter Parker was -- and had always been -- the one true Spidey.
"As much as there's all these touchstones for people who have been reading the book for a long time, there'll also be great jumping-on points for people who have been Spider-Man fans their whole lives who want to come back and see what we're doing," Slott said. "When you jump in to the prelude issues, or the series proper, it will take you by the hand and lead you into this fresh hell."
"The Clone Conspiracy" launches in October.