|Just kidding. I'm boss.|
See recently, I was trudging through the volumes of literary gold on display at Exclusive Books’ thoroughly improved comic book section. There, I came across the complete collection of Spider Man’s seminal (I said seminal LOL) Clone Saga for a decent price. I was quite close to buying it but then I realised why Clone Saga was seminal. It’s because the Clone Saga was monumental...ly shit.
|And this is a shit monument. Can't even keep Zombies out I bet.|
First some background info. Spider Man is not only my favourite super hero - he’s also one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. Alongside Calvin, Hobbes, Calvin’s Dad, Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat and of course my imaginary friend named Z%slfn12 (pronounced John), Spider Man captured a large chunk of my childhood and basically set me well on my path to becoming a super hero myself. That didn’t happen.
|Instead I became a ninja. Fuck yeah.|
I love Spider Man. His books are exciting, you can always identify with his life and he’s funny as hell. He’s just the perfect example of how to get the dynamics of super hero just right. He’s also the star of two of the funniest damn memes on the internet today.
|Gold. But why does it only have six legs?|
Not only is the character enduring, Spider Man is the icon of Marvel like Super Man is for DC. A lot of people believe Marvel’s icon is Captain America but Captain America is just stupid. He’s got a big stupid Arial Black A on his head and stupid wings sprouting out on either side of his stupid face.
|To be played by Chris Evans. He didn't make Human Torch look bad enough I guess.|
Of course being a cultural icon is useless without some iconic enemies. I mean Churchill had Hitler, Tupac had Biggie and Charlie Sheen has himself. Yin and Yang. Spider Man’s Rogue’s Gallery rolls off the tongue (ironically “rogues gallery rolls off the tongue” is quite a tongue twister). From Dock Ock to Green Goblin to The Lizard, they’re each a popular character in their own right and have all gone on to guest star in Spidey’s most enduring adventures. Sinister Six, Maximum Carnage, Separation Anxiety, The Other... all great, iconic stuff.
|Iron Spider. More badass than a sack of Chuck Norris.|
Then comes the one saga that fucks it all up. I’m talking about the motherfucking Clone Saga. This vile arc was so bad that if I had the intellect of Doctor Doom, I’d go back in time to learn Evil Magicks and then go forward-er in time to use said Evil Magicks to summon ancient demons to collectively perform bukkake on Terry Kavanagh. It was after all, his brilliantly misguided idea to open this Pandora's Box over the collective head of mankind.
|Don't open it Pandora! It's full of CLONES!|
First of all, this bitch didn’t end when it was supposed to. See dumbasses like me kept on buying the issues, hoping it’d end epically. So Marvel prolonged it for a further 12 months to keep leeching our allowance. In short, it was a trap!
|Listen to the Admiral.|
To further make my point, let’s put the “Saga Duration” thing into perspective. Age of Apocalypse lasted one year. The recent Dark Reign and Siege stories lasted 4 months. DC’s Infinite Crisis ran for 7 months. These were huge story arcs that encapsulated their respective universes entirely - changing directions and shaping characters for years to come. The Clone Saga lasted from 94 to 96 - a hell of a long time for a storyline starring ONE real character and several clones of him.
|There's only one character in this picture.|
Secondly, the Clone Saga was confusing. Don’t even get me started on this one.
The thing was a mess. By the end of it, I didn’t even know how it began. There were just too many twists. First Scarlet Spider is the clone then Peter is the clone, then another clone pops out with a fucked up navy blue face, then Mary Jane has a baby and then the baby turns out to be Hispanic so all three Spideys attack the dude from The Darkness and make the chick from Witchblade make ‘em all a Samwich. Ok I made that last bit up. Ole!
|Now your name is Samwichblade. More mayo.|
Thirdly, it ended stupidly. There were two endings to The Clone Saga and both of them were abominably shit.
In the first, it ended up that Peter Parker was the clone and that Ben Reilly (aka Scarlet Spider aka the dude we thought was the fucking clone of Spider Man the whole time) was the original. Cue deaths due to suicide all around the comic geek community – a community I’d be part off had I not decided how incomparable the fucks I didn’t give were regarding this saga.
|Entire boxes full of fucks, never to be given!|
Of course Marvel realised their error so they did what is called it “retconning” which in comic book speak means “Pepl dnt leik it. We mayk difrnt.” So they basically made Norman Osborne (The Green Goblin) the brain behind the entire thing and then killed off Ben Reilly who was revealed to be the clone after all. As Stormin Norman is a great villain on par with Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom and Osama Bin Laden, it was a good save, but it happened just as we were getting attached to Ben and his drop dead awesome iteration of the Spidey costume.
|It was really hard to look at the old costume again after this.|
I stopped reading Spider Man for years after that. I read the issue where Osborne blasted Ben Reilly out of the sky to get some much needed closure and then just parted ways from web-head, never to return again. The Clone Saga basically ruined my entire experience of comics for a good long time.
Thankfully the clone saga is now a distant memory and I’ve gotten back into collecting comics - albeit digitally. I’m very pleased to see how adult Marvel has gotten. They’ve always been more realistic than DC mind you but lately they’ve become very good at tackling and incorporating cultural memes, popular references, current affairs and public opinions into their literature. The Civil War and Dark Reign sagas in particular, are credible critiques on how fickle, short sighted and rash, we as the public can be.
|We occasionally get it right though.|
Marvel have also done great work with the more minor characters in their universe – taking heroes and villains that the world couldn’t give a single fuck about and making them relevant. Ms Marvel has gone from being most famous for being absorbed by Rogue, to being the Marvel’s most important female character. There are other examples too - Moon Knight, Sentry, Moonstone and Deadpool are among the most significant.
|Words can not describe how wrong the Deadpool in X-Men Origins was.|
Anyway, as I said before, digital comic book readers have revived the medium in a big way for me. I can amass entire volumes of the things without worrying about them taking up physical space (thus maintaining the minimalist feel of my room). They also won’t end up in tatters after a weeks use.
|I know Cereal Guy. I'm a bad person.|
Explaining that - I love comics like all comic geeks do but unlike them I don’t much care for plastic sleeves and other anal shit. Being anal is by definition gay and I am not that so I literally mutilated any resale value my comics might have had. The few limited edition shiny foil issues I did manage to hold onto were thrown away by my loving mom. Never to be seen again like the Irish chick from Heroes Season 2.
|Peter left her in the future and just forgot about her forever.|
So I’ve rediscovered my love for an art form that defined me. I’ve even written the synopsis for my own super hero comic book and I hope to bring in some artists and stuff in the near future to make it real. Looking at the Clone Saga on the shelves, I was so entranced by the webs and the prospect of 100+ pages of spidery immersion. that forgot for a moment that this story – with its long-windedness, capitalist motivations, terrible ending and all-round amounts of suck – ruined comics for me for the largest part of two decades.
|Almost two decades Marvel. How could you?|
I put that piece of shit back in shelf, in the cooking section, never to be discovered by another unsuspecting comic book fan again. See, I know that the Illuminati poster child that is Disney bought you out Marvel. But that’s no reason to be like them. By reprinting something that spat herpes on the shelves of bookstores the world over for two years, you’re violating a contract of trust between geek and comic book publisher.
|You clowns are worse than The Violator! See what I did there?|
See Marvel, we trust you: to keep us enthralled, to keep us entertained and to let sleeping clones lie. Do that and the geeks will show up in their multitudes to keep on buying your amazing comics. Your inability to do so however, despite recent success, has made our contract null and void – so I’ll be downloading everything you do from here on out. Illegally and for free.
I’d have bought the Age of Apocalypse, I’d have bought Maximum Carnage and I’d have even bought One More Day. You expect me to buy the Clone Saga Anthology? Pffft. Clone deez nuts Marvel.
Seriously. Clone them.