Comic Review: ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ #1

Written by:  Dan Slott / pencils by:  Jim Cheung

What’s this issue about?

With the return of the Jackal, Peter Parker soon finds that the odds are once again against him as he faces demons from the past…

In review

Spilling out of the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott launches the next Spider-Man event which could prove both surprising and controversial as Peter Parker is set to face ghosts from the past.  Further elaboration would result in spoilers, but needless to say there are certain elements to The Clone Conspiracy presented here that threaten to undo defining events from Spider-Man history, which will either be welcomed or derided in the months to come.

Building on the “Before Dead No More” arc in Slott’s recent ASM issues, Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1 opens at the funeral of Jay Jameson as Peter wrestles with the decisions he’s made and the ongoing mysteries tied to the New U corporation.  Slott sets the scene with some emotionally charged exchanges between Peter and Anna Maria, yet it proves to be a slackly paced opening as the dialogue becomes weighed down by exposition designed to make this series accessible to new readers whilst also serving as a recap for existing ones.  To an extent, it works however there’s a definite sense that those who haven’t been following this current volume of ASM and without some familiarity with previous events such as the Superior Spider-Man run and Spider-Verse (as well as overall Spider-Man history) will ultimately wind up a little lost and less invested in this particular saga than established fans.

Luckily, once the set-up is out of the way and Peter continues his investigations of New U as Spider-Man, Slott’s narrative begins to gather pace and before long thrusts the reader into some wonderfully staged action, culminating in a confrontation with Dead No More’s central villain, the Jackal and a cliffhanger that will leave readers anxiously awaiting more.  It’s in these moments that artist Jim Cheung shines with detailed, cinematic layouts that accentuate the excitement. Some wonky character facials during the early funeral scenes aside, Cheung’s art is a perfect fit for the title – especially if it proves to be pacier in subsequent instalments.

The book closes with a back-up story from Slott with art by Ron Frenz that harkens back to a key, classic Spider-Man story that plays as a fitting tribute to that particular era of comics whilst adding layers to one of The Clone Conspiracy’s biggest twists.

The bottom line:  Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1 is a decent, if slightly uneven start to Dan Slott’s latest Spider-Man saga that certainly shows signs of promise.

Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1 is published by Marvel Comics and is available in print and digital formats now.

Cover art for Marvel's 'Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy' #1 by Gabriele Dell'Otto.

Cover art for Marvel’s ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ #1 by Gabriele Dell’Otto.

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2 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ #1

  1. Being able to please both the longtime fan while capturing a new fan base by the hook has always seemed controversial for me. I’d always prefer if they’d stick to the story, focus on continuation and not try to tone it down in any way possible to help newcomers feel welcomed. I’m glad you found some highlights for this new beginning. The cover art made it seem like it was going to be one hell of a dark story too.

    By the way, where would you tell anyone who’d want to start reading about Spidy to begin at? Just curious on your expertise on our friendly neighborhood superhero. 😀

    – Lashaan

    • I certainly agree to, the need to bring in new readers seems to be mainly business driven these days (all the more evident with the more and more frequent resets with new #1’s).

      Spidey was one of the first comic book characters I discovered and have loved ever since. Although I became a lapsed reader of Spider-Man comics, I’m really enjoying this new run and I definitely recommend that as a starting point for new readers (currently being collected in the ‘Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide’ volumes). There are callbacks to previous arcs so it might also be worth checking out Superior Spider-Man and Spider-Verse alongside Worldwide which’ll also add some extra depth to the “Dead No More” arc.

      Spidey has such a rich backstory and there are numerous classic stories that are worth checking out – 60s and 70s Spider-Man is quite iconic so Marvel’s Masterworks collections are fun.

      If I was to pick just one classic story it would have to be the “Death of the Stacys” as that is such a hugely important and defining era for the character.

      Don’t get me wrong, “Dead No More” look set to be an exciting ride for our friendly neighborhood webslinger but there it could also become quite controversial for spoilery reasons I daren’t mention here!

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