Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #226

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)


Peter was imprisoned awaiting trial for full multiple murders in Utah on the basis of fingerprint evidence. He didn't do it and his clone Ben Reilly has swapped places with him so Peter can be with his pregnant wife, Mary-Jane. MJ has been told that there could be a problem with the baby she's carrying due to Peter's infected blood. Judas Traveller has been revealed as some sort of mysterious, well traveller, who is hundreds of years old and is searching for the true meaning of evil and good. Peter saved his life after he had played with the time continuum. A new Green Goblin has appeared - and seems to be a good guy - and the mysterious character of Kaine is still over-looking the events in Peter's life. Also, the Jackal has yet another Peter clone.

Story 'The Final Verdict'

After a ruckus in the court where Spidey jumps into save Ben, Raven ends up holding a gun to Kaine's head. Kaine is arrested. Back at the Bugle everyone celebrates the news while in the Jackal's lair he is working another Carrion virus alongside 'the real' Peter Parker (Just for reference, that's now four on the loose - Peter, Ben, Kaine and this one).

Back at Pete and MJ's, Pete tells Ben he is now free to pursue his own life free away from Kaine. The phone rings and Seward Trainer says MJ and co must go to meet him in his labs as soon as possible. At the lab, he tells MJ her baby is fine and she hugs Pete. Ben asks why Seward asked them down there if there was no problem.

Seward says the baby will be fine - but that one of the parents is a clone. Peter doesn't believe and wants to leave. Seward says Ben and Peter can perform their own tests to see if either of them are the real Peter. MJ begs Peter to do it and they both do - Peter is the clone.

Peter loses it and lunges at Ben saying he won't let him steal his life. He says the tests were rigged and that Trainer is trying to play with his life. As they battle, MJ rushes to help but Pete half-turns and smashes her halfway across the room into a machine. Pete can't believe what he's done and runs for it, leaving MJ sobbing away.

Back at the Jackal's lab, Jackal says the Carrion virus is nearly ready. He just wants his Peter to steal him one ingredient. He gives him a new Spider suit and says it won't be long before clones 'like you' (so he's not the real one) rule the earth.

General Comments

Well, this is probably the most controversial story of them all. Peter Parker - the person we've been following since issue #150 - is a clone. Ben is the original character. As a revelation in itself - I'm not too bothered by it. The story makes sense, sort of and the writing from ASM #149 and #150 always left the way open for something like this. Ben is a likeable-enough character and the door isn't shut on Peter, either.

As for Peter hitting MJ - the art is ambiguous enough to see that it wasn't intended. It wasn't a moment where he went out of his way to hit his wife - something that would have been abhorrent. He didn't really know what he was doing considering the rage he was in and didn't see it was MJ until she had flown across the lab. He was also not only instantly remorseful but shocked at what he'd done too.

Also, at least things have finally come together now. It looks as if Judas Traveller has gone - although the point of him being involved in the first place is still unclear. Kaine has also been unmasked as (yet another) clone and imprisoned - again that's fine.

As for the stories itself, four parts seemed excessive. Not much happened in part one while part two was irrelevant (you really can read parts 1, 3 and 4 and have it make as much sense).

Overall Rating

Overall, not bad. There's an fairly obvious 'out' to the whole who's the real Peter scenario and most of the loose ends have been cleared up. There's still too many Peters around though and you have to wonder quite why it's the Jackal's goal to populate the world with clones.

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)