Writer Dan Slott and artist Jim Cheung bring Spider-Man’s brush with his past to a close this week in The Clone Conspiracy #5, a story that, while it takes some dark turns, never crosses the final line for Peter Parker. While there are still many mysteries left unsolved, The Clone Conspiracy #5 clears the board for Norman Osborn’s upcoming return.
Spoilers ahead for The Clone Conspiracy #5
After last issue’s climactic ending in which the Jackal broadcast a signal that would destroy all New U clones across America, Peter has to make unlikely allies, first with the clones that are his enemies, and then with perhaps his greatest foe, Doctor Octopus.
Trapped in New U’s Haven when the signal hits, Peter teams up with Prowler and Jean DeWolff to take on some of his enemies. In the course of escaping, he finds the clones of George and Gwen Stacy. As George deteriorates, he asks Gwen to promise to help Peter - much like he made Peter promise to help Gwen when he died the first time. Gwen helps Peter escape Haven, where he makes his way to the Jackal’s lab.
Once there, Peter and Doc Ock take on the Jackal, with Ock infuriated that his beloved Anna Maria has contracted the contagion from him, despite not being a clone. Leaving the fight to Octavius, Peter and Anna Maria formulate a plan to use Anna Maria’s countersignal to end the deterioration of the clones.
As clones disintegrate all around him - with Marla Jameson dying in front of him a second time - Peter decides the fastest way to spread the countersignal is to send it through Parker Industries WebWare, reaching millions of people instantly, but potentially frying all the WebWare tech in the process.
The countersignal is successful, and numerous clones survive the Jackal’s attempt to destroy them. Electro, Massacre, Prowler, Kaine, and a few others survive, including, potentially, many more villains, as Peter admits there’s no way to know who lived to escape and who died when the clones aged into dust.
Returning to the lab, Peter and Anna Marconi witness the final moments of the clash between Jackal and Doctor Octopus, which apparently leaves them both reduced to dust.
Of course, Ben Reilly will return for his new ongoing series Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider - and the ground work for that return is laid in the end of The Clone Conspiracy #5, with Anna Maria realizing Jackal's "perfect template" clone is also missing. But whether it's actually Ben Reilly that made it into that body - or perhaps Doc Ock - is a question that may well be answered in The Clone Conspiracy: Omega, due out on shelves March 1.