Best Shots Review: SPIDER-MAN: THE CLONE CONSPIRACY #2 Disappoints With 'Cameo-Heavy Exposition'

"The Clone Conspiracy #2" preview
Credit: Jim Cheung (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Gabriele Dell'Otto (Marvel Comics)

Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy #2
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Jim Cheung, John Dell and Justin Ponsor
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Credit: Jim Cheung (Marvel Comics)

The Jackal takes Peter Parker on a walking tour of his new clone facility in Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy #2. Writer Dan Slott, who has been preparing for this storyline for years, packs this issue full of cameos from Spidey’s past and offers an interesting time-warping cliffhanger, but still can’t rise above his near-constant exposition as Peter and an unexpected ally take in the full scope of the Jackal’s new operations.

Thankfully artist Jim Cheung, inker John Dell and colorist Justin Ponsor do their level best to make the dialogue-heavy script pop with a dynamic artwork, including a fight scene between Spider-Man and Doc Ock in the opening and two densely packed double page splashes. Though gorgeous to look at Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy #2 can’t seem to get out of its own way story-wise.

Credit: Jim Cheung (Marvel Comics)

The die is cast and Spider-Man is once again facing his arch-nemesis, Doctor Octopus. Picking up directly after the debut’s cliffhanger, Dan Slott wastes little time getting Peter up to speed on just how the genuine article - or perhaps Otto-cal - is back in the land of the living. Unfortunately, until the issue’s cliffhanger, that’s about the extent of the forward momentum in terms of plot. The rest of the issue settles into an almost roll call for all the dead people in Spidey’s life, now resurrected and on a chemical leash thanks to the Jackal and his New U facility.

Though it is interesting for Slott to details the specifics of the Jackal’s plan and why he did it, his script doesn’t pop nearly as much as it should this early in the event. Seeing Peter once again interacting with the likes of Captain Stacy and Jean DeWolff is cool on a surface level, but their inclusions, though given a defined role in the Jackal’s program, amount to little more than name recognition. The only time the clones give Peter something to react to is when he sees exactly how the Connors’ family fit into the plan, sending him into some earned indignation, but beyond that, Peter is largely a passive participant in his own story. The only Spiders to get active plots this issue are Kaine and Spider-Gwen, and while that’s always great to see, their names aren’t in the title, amounting to a disappointing second installment for Spider-Man’s latest event title.

Credit: Jim Cheung (Marvel Comics)

But while Slott’s script is content with moving slowly, the art team picks up the slack with some fast paced and eye catching pages. Jim Cheung, who probably delivers one of my favorite renditions of Spider-Man, picks up the slack with plenty of smooth lines and spry scene blocking. Starting with the renewed showdown between Spider-Man and Doc Ock, Cheung, backed by the thinly dimensional inks of John Dell, puts the two foes into a stalemate as Ock has an answer for all of Spidey’s new toys spread across an intimidating single page splash of Ock with the spider in his clutches and a widescreen flashback to Spider-Verse framed by packed lines of panels detailing the present.

And speaking of splash pages, Cheung, Dell and colorist Justin Ponsor, who drenches the issue in cool blues, heavy splashes of colors on all the costumes, and gleaming cromes, deliver another doozy in the form of the Jackal presenting his Underworld, which consists of every villain that has ever died on Spider-Man’s watch. As far as character assemblies go, it's a great one, with the villains dominating most of the pages and the Jackal standing like a game show host to the left of the page, presenting his cast of baddies is another impressing showing from the art team, buoying this issue despite its lackluster script.

Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy #2 is a beautiful comic, but readers looking for a new explosive installment of this event series will be let down by its cameo packed script. Though he’s been preparing for this event for a while now, Dan Slott still has too much narrative ground to cover in the early going to make this the blockbuster it should be. Thankfully the art team makes the most of what they have and provide readers the dynamism that the script lacks. The dead are rising but Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy #2 still has a ways to go before it can rise above its own shortcomings.

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