At the start of this year we took a crack at solving Marvel's latest Spider-Man event when it was still called "Dead No More", as opposed to "The Clone Conspiracy". Looking back, our track record on unspooling the conspiracy before it was even officially a Spider-Man event turned out to be about 50-50.
We were correct that this meant the return of Doctor Octopus, recently revealed in the pages of The Clone Conspiracy #1. However, our guess regarding the mastermind behind this plot appears to have been off base.
We originally suggested it was Norman Osborne, missing since the conclusion of Superior Spider-Man. Now that there is more information available, we think that guess was wrong. In fact, we're all but certain of who the mastermind behind The Clone Conspiracy and the Jackal mask is now…
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
We believe that the current incarnation of The Jackal is none other than Peter Parker, himself. Or rather, a clone of Peter Parker.
That may sound crazy, but just stick with us here. If you take into consideration both the clues in the story itself and the long-term story being written by Dan Slott in Amazing Spider-Man, it makes a lot of sense. So, let's review what we know.
The original Jackal was professor Miles Warren, whose obsession with his student Gwen Stacy led him to target Spider-Man for revenge after her death. His mastery of the cloning process led to the creation of another Gwen, another Spider-Man, and eventually dozens of other clones in the much maligned "The Clone Saga".
Miles Warren is clearly not The Jackal in "The Clone Conspiracy" though. There are at least a dozen copies of Warren running around The Jackal's lab currently. If Warren were behind the mask, he would have no reason to hide his face. The concealing of his identity suggests The Jackal is nobody else currently involved with the conspiracy. Furthermore, The Jackal appears to be younger and taller than Warren with dark brown stubble.
All of these are features that match Peter Parker. Furthermore, his bright red suit also reflect both of the identities of the man he was cloned from. The refined suit reflects Peter Parker as the CEO of Parker Industries, while the red coloration matches that of Spider-Man. The Jackal has fused both of the real Peter's identities behind a brand new mask.
Every resurrected individual participating in the conspiracy has a direct tie to Spider-Man. While the technology has been offered to some individuals outside of Spidey's web of friends, all of those kept behind the scenes are parts of Peter Parker's life in some way or another. This suggests that The Jackal is somehow tied to Peter and is aware of both of his identities.
Yet why would someone who seeks to attack Parker choose to resurrect his loved ones intact and let them roam free? It makes sense to bring villains like The Rhino and Massacre into their fold, but what benefit does someone like Gwen Stacy offer? This would be far from the first time Peter has met a clone of Gwen either, so its psychological impact would certainly be inclined to suffer from the law of diminishing returns.
Gwen Stacy is roaming free at The Jackal's compound as well and appears to be happy and trust The Jackal. These two characters were never terribly foolish in life, and it's unlikely they would be so complacent in the hands of a masked captor. But if that person were actually their trusted friend Peter Parker, their status and trust would make perfect sense.
The combined resurrections of anyone Spider-Man could have been seen to fail, good guy or bad guy, also suggests a leader with good intentions. Peter has never accepted the death of any of his foes easily, and would seek to give them another chance. The risk taken in resurrecting Hobie Brown, one of Spider-Man's confidants, is another altruistic action unlike any of Peter's foes.
No One Dies
This is where the theory becomes a bit meta in nature because it delves into the themes Dan Slott has been exploring with Spider-Man for more than five years. One of the biggest moments in his run on Amazing Spider-Man to date came in #655 and 656. The first issue was a beautiful, almost entirely silent issue where both Peter and J. Jonah Jameson prepared for the funeral of Jameson's wife Marla. At the end of this issue, after having a nightmare of everyone he has seen die, Peter swears a vow that while he is around "no one dies."
That oath is put to the test soon after when he is forced to stop a killer with no conscience and a lot of hostages named Massacre. Spider-Man manages to save all of the hostages from Massacre and the villain from the police who are prepared with sniper fire. Spider-Man took this vow as seriously as could be and upheld it until he died at the hands of Doctor Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man #900.
What the new Jackal has accomplished is perfectly in line with this oath and everything Spider-Man strives to accomplish, albeit in a twisted fashion. Already The Kingpin has rejected the return of his wife, pointing out that no matter how similar a person may be death is permanent and these individuals are clones. This would not be the first time that Peter Parker placed the possibility to do the right thing before common sense though.
Also, consider some of the key individuals resurrected by the Jackal's formula so far: Marla Jameson, Massacre, and Gwen Stacy. Marla Jameson is the person who led Peter to finally make this oath. Massacre was the first person who challenged the oath, and who was only killed after Peter's body was controlled by Doctor Octopus. Gwen Stacy represents the biggest failure in Spider-Man's career after Uncle Ben. Each of these characters are building on years of Spider-Man stories focused on his obsession with saving everyone.
The Missing Link
There are two key figures missing from this scenario. First, there is Uncle Ben whose death motivated Peter Parker to become a superhero. If Peter gained the ability to resurrect loved ones, it is impossible that he would not bring Uncle Ben back. It doesn't seem like Ben Parker is off the table though.
Last month at New York Comic Con, Slott winkingly answered a question regarding the resurrection of Uncle Ben. Furthermore, the revelation that Uncle Ben had returned would serve as an explosive twist and one best kept under wraps as long as possible. It would be the perfect way for the Jackal-version of Peter Parker to convince the real Peter Parker to not stop him and his plans. How could any Peter put the kibosh on something that returns Ben to the world?0comments
There are still some questions that need to be answered in this theory. When was this Peter Parker created? Who created him and are there others involved in this conpiracy? What is his ultimate goal and why do these clones put the real Peter's Spider-Senses on the fritz? We certainly have ideas, but no clear answers to these questions yet.
The one thing we are 99% certain of is that the face behind the Jackal's mask is one that we see every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Peter Parker is the mastermind of "The Clone Conspiracy".