Review by Frank Plowright
This is one of those books where Dan Slott’s unavailable to give matters his entire attention, so Christos Gage is a writing collaborator with both plot input and supplying dialogue. They manage quite the feat in still ensuring a coherent Spider-Man graphic novel comprised of chapters that slot between the larger Clone Conspiracy story, although anyone coming here directly from Before Dead No More might be surprised at the opening. On the other hand anyone who’s not read The Clone Conspiracy and intends to do so will have several surprises ruined by reading this first. While that can be read separately without reference to other titles, this will blow the jaw-droppers included there, although the entire content is included in the hardback version of The Clone Conspiracy.
Instead of directing our attention to the larger story the writers use these chapters to flesh out those with prominent parts to play in The Clone Conspiracy. Some are characters Slott has worked with extensively during his years writing Spider-Man, while others are hooked from the past and haven’t appeared for some while, but to name them all would step into spoiler territory. The episodes here add detail to their backgrounds and bring us up to date on how they reached the place they were at when that story begins. Beyond that, however, there’s an admirable variety in the types of story provided. We get alternate worlds, artificial intelligences, and variations on a conclusion. There is a standout chapter concerning a conversation that never occurred due to extenuating circumstances. Slott delivers a real heartbreaker, but not everything is up to that standard.
There is a slight problem with art as Giuseppe Camuncoli’s seemingly not on message about how one of the characters is supposed to look. Great play is made of this in the dialogue, yet Camuncoli illustrates a normal human. Otherwise his chapters are the usual professional job with clear storytelling and well planned page layouts.
It’s conceivable that readers exist who can’t be bothered with any clone story, even if they know how good Slott can be, and those readers can skip this book entirely and move straight to Worldwide volume six. The events of ‘The Clone Conspiracy’ are thrilling, but have no lasting effect on Spider-Man’s world beyond the passing on of a specific piece of information right at the end. The Osborn Identity is next.