Spider-Man has no shortage of classic storylines throughout his comic history, but there will always be a special place for the Clone Saga. Granted, that place is surrounded by either hatred or slightly less hatred if you ask most people, but hey, a special place regardless.
With the clone conspiracy hitting full swing, it was time to take a look at some highs and lows of the event that made a clone an evil word, though to be fair it wasn't all doom and gloom. This also includes not just storyline elements, but the real world ones that made this storyline so controversial, both at the time and in hindsight.
High: Lots Of Money Was Made By Marvel
Marvel was experiencing some difficult times in the late 1990's, and Spider-Man: The Clone Saga came along at just the perfect time.
In an era where it was commonplace for books to launch with gold foil and die-cut variant covers, having a months-long epic saga with by far their most popular character was a boon for the company, and the first issue sold like gangbusters.
The dollar signs continued to wrack up, and while the company paid for it dearly from a creative perspective, financially the event was an extreme success.
Low: It Almost Killed Spider-Man
After the event came to its conclusion, Marvel was left with the unfortunate aftermath, which saw the Spider-Man books struggle for critical and general approval from fans.
Everyone was so burnt out on clones and alternate Spider-Men that people needed a breather from it all, and Marvel's premiere hero was all of the sudden struggling for relevancy. Marvel took varying steps to right the ship and even pulled Norman Osborn out of a hat after about a year to take some of the more controversial pieces of the story away, but by then the damage was done.
It would take years for the character to fully recover, but luckily for fans he did.
High: It Gave Us Ben Reilly
If you're a glass-half-full sort of person, then you can look at some of the positives from The Clone Saga, and one of those has to be Ben Reilly.
Reilly's story was by far one of the best parts of the Clone Saga, especially his miniseries that detailed the time he was in exile so to speak. The character was easy to empathize with, and his Scarlet Spider identity was an immediate draw for fans due to his wit and simple but effectively designed costume.
He went on to be involved in numerous storylines over the years, and there is a general fondness for the character that fans would never have had to chance to have if not for The Clone Saga.
Low: Clone Oversaturation
While Ben Reily and even Kaine were clones that fans managed to embrace, the Clone Saga overshot the green considerably when it kept making more, including the "embodies everything bad about the 1990's" clone Spidercide.
Yep, that was his name.
By the end of the storyline, it felt like there was going to be another clone reveal on the next page, and signs of relief were expressed when that turned out not to be the case. The story was a perfect example that more is not always better.
Also, seriously, Spidercide?
High: The Climactic Ending
This one is quite subjective, but here it's ranked as a positive.
The story itself was bloated and extended way past its original design, but the ending had so much promise. It's hard to shock people these days, and reading that last issue where Peter is revealed to be the clone was a genuinely shocking moment.
You always knew that it would be reversed or changed down the line, but the best part of the clone saga is how Marvel stuck with it for a year before ultimately revealing it was all due to meddling from Norman Osborn. It was a gutsy call, but you have to be willing to mess with your characters to elicit reactions from fans, and if taken on its own it's an intriguing premise.
It was the fact that Marvel mishandled the lead-up and the aftermath that took away from it, but in a perfect world this is an ending that should be held higher than it is.
Low: Marvel's Greed
The Clone Saga was originally pitched as several months long Spider-Man story that had a beginning, middle, and an end. It would have been an intriguing event that would have told its story and then left before it wore out its welcome. That didn't gel with Marvel's bank account, however.
They saw this as an opportunity go bleed more money from the fans while the iron was hot and they, therefore, extended the event and haphazardly changed the original storyline to fit their new goals, goals that changed from telling a good yarn to make oodles of money. Their desire for a quick buck managed to almost kill their premiere character, and all so they could sell a few more foil covers. Well, few being a few thousand books, but you get the point.
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