If you’re thinking you’re seeing double, don’t worry those are just the clones. After months of teasers, hints, comic epilogues, a poster, and a Free Comic Book Day prelude chapter, Marvel (by way of EW.com) has announced the true name of what we have been calling “Dead No More”. The official title is actually The Clone Conspiracy.
Not only that, but the identity of The Man in Red has been revealed to be… none other than… drum roll please…. yeah, okay you guessed it. It’s the Jackal. While the Jackal was the obvious choice for the Man in Red’s identity, don’t be disappointed just yet (sorry everyone who was #TeamKidMiracleman). Dan Slott has some tricks up his sleeve, teasing that the Jackal has always been focused on cloning Gwen and Spider-Man, but with The Clone Conspiracy, we should expect to see a grander scheme that is, as editor Nick Lowe puts it is “not your normal super villain plan.”
Publication details have also been released; The Clone Conspiracy will not run in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, though there will be a lead up to the story in Amazing Spider-Man #16 – 18. The Clone Conspiracy will release as a five-issue miniseries starting in October. Writing will be done by Dan Slott, of course, but art will be handled by the amazing Jim Chueng of Young Avengers fame. Amazing Spider-Man will run co-currently to The Clone Conspiracy with Christos Gage stepping in to assist Slott on writing duties on Amazing as he sometimes does, most recently (as of this article) with Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 4) #14. Along with the main mini-series there will be “a few other” tie-ins including an Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 featuring an Alex Ross cover.
If this sounds like the treatment for “Spider-Verse” and “Spider-Island” before it, then it should. Both were large Spider-events that bridged the end of the year with several big-tie ins. But neither separated from the main book in the form of a mini, which might imply that Slott does not want to confuse readers who started Amazing with volume 4 with a story that deals with baggage from the twenty years, but that’s not the case. Slott expressed that the story will be able to be enjoyed by new and old readers alike. So why the mini? That’s anyone’s guess.
So what all can we parse from the two images released? The first image is of Spider-Man and the Jackal in pitched combat with the words The Clone Conspiracy written in the same font and color as the logo to Christopher Yost’s phenomenal Scarlet Spider featuring Kaine, the “flawed” clone of Peter Parker who was last seen being KIA in the climatic final battle of “Spider-Verse” after fully embracing the Other and transforming into a huge mythical spider. Is this font choice a hint that Kaine will make his return, or is it just a throwback to when Amazing used this style logo during “The Clone Saga”? I’m willing to say both.
So, why return to such a controversial point in Spider-Man history? Slott aims to fix the “scar tissue” marring the character left by “The Clone Saga”. On the other hand, he also wants to subvert the someone dies aspect of every event with “people come back”, while also playing against the feelings of loss that he says are integral to Peter Parker’s character. This wouldn’t be the first time Marvel has released a story in attempt to tie up some loose Spider-threds. 2010’s “One Moment in Time,” written by Joe Quesada, was an attempt to answer lingering questions about the “One More Day” story’s implications. While “One Moment in Time” might have left more questions than answers, I’m sure Dan Slott and his love for continuity means a lot of old faces and a lot of loose ends addressed. And I know there’s one question that’s lingering on everyone’s mind… and that’s “If Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 ties in to The Clone Conspiracy…. Does it count?”. Sadly, I’m sure we’ll have to wait until Dan and Mark release The Counting Conundrum, their referendum on Annual issues, to find out.