The problem with The Other

I just posted on Infinite Crisis, possibly one of the biggest DC Comics series in recent years, but I actually purchase about five times more (minimum) Marvel comics whenever I go to the comic store. So since something has occured to me regarding that, I’ll write a post about it.

I first started collecting Spiderman comics waaaaay back during the Maximum Carnage storyline, though technically it was the reprint of the Maximum Carnage storyline in 1993 (In Britain in the 1990s the reprint-comics were far easier to obtain than the imports, especially after the distribution fiasco). That’s just a couple years before the Clone Saga for those familiar with the Clone Saga, though I contend that the Clone Saga really began when Peter found out the people he thought were his parents were clones and he discovered The Jackal was behind it. (At first he thought The Chamelion or The Green Goblin II was the culprit, but The Chamelion and The Vulture were just being used and the possibility of Harry Osborn being involved was just a red herring.) Of course, if you want to say it really started when Peter’s Clone-parents showed up in the first place, then the Clone Saga actually predates and takes part during Maximum Carnage.

(Let me attempt to sum up the Clone Saga. Back in the late 60s after the death of Gwen Stacy, her science professor went nuts and made a clone of her. He decided to call himself The Jackal and made a fine mess of thing for Spiderman, culminating in Spiderman facing… himself! The clone and The Jackal end up dying (or so Peter thinks) and the clone-Gwen ends up starting a new life with a new name. End of story.

Exceeeeeept, in the late 90s another Spiderman shows up (as I mentioned earlier, this is not the actual start of the storyline, but I’m trying to be breif) calling himself the Scarlet Spider and Ben Reilly and dying his hair so people can tell him and Peter apart. It turns out he’s the clone, who did not die after all. Another clone, named Caine, shows up who hates Ben Reilly, because secretly it was the clone who won the first back in the 60s. So the guy who thought he was the original is the clone and Ben Reilly is really Peter Parker. Also, The Jackal shows up again and this time he has enhanced strength and speed and is actually even more obnoxious and evil than he was originally (I contend that the second Jackal is a clone, simply because the clones he made kept dying but the original Jackal’s clones all lived. But that’s a minor point.) Spidercide, another clone who has an array of freaky powers, mortally wounds Kaine though Kaine survives. During all this, Aunt May and Doctor Octopus die, a lot of other subplots and characters get tangled in the mess, and eventually Spidercide and The Jackal are killed off in a big climactic battle where Pete and Ben save New York from the top of The Daily Bugle. Ben Reilly takes over being Spiderman so Peter (a clone) and Mary Jane can retire in peace.

For a while. You see, Norman Osborn (who wasn’t-dead-actually) was really behind the whole thing. Ben Reilly was actually the clone and Peter was the real deal. For some reason Kaine steals Peter and Mary Jane’s baby and dissapears. Aunt May turns out to actually-not-be-dead and Doctor Octopus is literally ressurected by the sacrifice of a minor antagonist(who, like everything else about the Clone Saga is promptly forgotten). Peter now has to deal with Norman Osborn being back and worse than ever, but at least he’s Spiderman again and really-honestly-isn’t a clone. Meanwhile, in the future, May Parker (Peter’s daughter) inherits Ben Reilly’s version of the Spiderman costume and calls herself Spider Girl. )

So, yeah, I’m a big Spiderman geek. So big a geek, that I actually understand the Clone Saga for the most part, but I also sympathise very much with the decision to kill off/ressurect/forget about everyone involved and pretend it didn’t happen. It did get waaaay too convoluted, especially the friggin’ Traveller sub-plot, and there were quite a few niggling inconsistencies by the end. I kinda miss Kaine and Ben Reilly, though. They were both pretty cool.

Anyway, the most recent thing going on in the Spider-verse is that there’s this big cross-over storyline (but not nearly as bad as the Clone Saga) full of drama and tension wherein it is revealed that Peter is dying. The name of this storyline is “The Other”. Getting injected with radioactive spider venom, permanently altered/mutated on a number of occasions, bonding with the Venom symbiote only to have it removed and, of course, all the fighting and injuries has just put too much stress on his body. So Peter’s body is going to give up if he doesn’t give up being Spiderman or unless they can find a cure. This is a very cool storyline concept and I like it very much. However…

It’s a crossover storyline between three different Spiderman comics. Normally, this would give it more credibility since “Hey! this is impacting all the books! This is major!” but one of those comics is a new, ongoing title. You can’t, by definition, kill off Spiderman and/or force Peter to retire when you’ve just started a new ongoing series in the real world. Unless you’re going to call in a replacement for Spiderman, temporary or otherwise. As cool as The Other storyline is, the knowlege that they just started a new Spiderman comic really kills the suspense. I know, going in, that there are only two outcomes: Peter gets cured or he gets replaced. Or both. If he gets replaced, it’s almost certainly because he’s forced to retire, because this sort of thing has happened several times before. Two examples: during the Clone Saga as I mentioned earlier and at the end of the last Spider-comic reboot (when the new Peter Parker: Spiderman and Amazing Spiderman number 1s came out).

On the other hand, maybe they got rid of Peter Parker: Spiderman (the comic) and started up Freindly Neighborhood Spiderman (the comic) precisely because Peter is going to get replaced. But it doesn’t seem to be that way, at least at this point. Besides, unless there’s some kind of big plot-twist/revelation, there’s no way Morlun is going to be the one who kills Peter. I mean: come on, Morlun? The tough looking guy who’s actually a crybaby lizard-thing? “Oh Peter, please don’t kill me! I only went around murdering people because I had a superiority complex and now that I’m on the receiving end of a beating I finally sympathize with my victims, so please Mr. Avatar-of-the-Spider-pumped-up-on-radiation please don’t kill me. Oh, nevermind, a relative of one of my victims has just shot me in the head.”? So I really doubt they’re going to really kill Peter off that way.

So, yeah, I’m a big Spiderman geek.

A link: http://www.marvel.com/

P.S. Incidentally, as a big Slingers geek, I nominate Ricochet to replace Peter. He’s got very similar (but not identical) powers, he’s got the whole “I save the world and nobody seems to care” shtick going, and he’s not a clone nor a member of any other major supergroup since the Slingers broke up. Plus, he was my favorite member of the Slingers. I guess one can dream…

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