Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy

Go To

Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy (formerly Spider-Man: Dead No More) is the 2016 Bat Family Crossover for the Spider-Man series of titles and a part of Marvel NOW! (2016). The story is intended to tie up a number of plots from the early days of writer Dan Slott's tenure as Amazing Spider-Man writer.

Miles Warren, the infamous Jackal, is back in business with cloning again. This time, however, instead of trying to create weapons of sorts to defeat the web-slinger once and for all, he's doing something new: cheat death. Having already resurrected the wife of the original Rhino and the family of the Lizard, he opts to do more with others... if they're willing to bow over and help him. This looks like a job for Spider-Man, but when someone close to him dies, should he?

The storyline kicks off with a series of prologues in The Amazing Spider-Man #16-19 that lead into a five issue mini-series, tie-in issues within Amazing and Silk, and a spin-off starring the Prowler.

Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Suprisingly enough, the Jackal. While he does some downright awful things for his research and blackmails pretty much everyone he can into joining him, he has a legitimately good goal of trying to bring people back from the dead. This is later explained by him turning out to be Ben Reilly rather than Miles Warren.
  • Back for the Dead: By the end of Issue 5 and the tie-in issues, many of the heroes and villains resurrected by Ben are killed off again, including George and Gwen Stacy, Marla Jameson, Mattie Franklin, the Goblins and Jack O' Lantern, Doc Ock, and Rhino's wife.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Deconstructed. The main basis of the storyline as the Jackal resurrects various people from both sides of the alignment spectrum dead during all the Spidey history. The Jackal asserts often that it's not actually cloning, but something akin to "reanimation". However, their bodies are still vat-grown clones that degenerate even if all memory is retained so Peter doesn't consider it true resurrection, telling Gwen that although he sees her as a real person with value entitled to life, he can't see her as the "true" Gwen.
      • Complicating matters is that clones can co-exist with a still living original (like in the case of Prowler) but we later learn that some characters like Ben Reilly and Billy Connors retain their soul and therefore are the original person truly resurrected.
      • The list included: Rhino's wife, the Lizard's family, Mattie Franklin (the third Spider-Woman), J. Jonah Jameson's wife, Marla (brough back in the prologue issues), Cassandra Webb, Montana, Mirage, Massacre, the first Kangaroo, one of the Tarantulas, and one of the Jack O'Lanterns. The Clone Conspiracy #2 expands the roster even further with Alistair and Spencer Smythe, Big Man, Ox, Stilt-Man, Eduardo Lobo, Hitman, one of the Hobgoblins, one of the Roses, one of the Mysterios, and the Bart Hamilton Green Goblin.
    • Though the actual revival was shown at the end of Spider-Verse, the events surrounding Kaine's resurrection are finally shown.
    • Probably the biggest one thus far Ben Reilly, who's now the Jackal.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Thanks to the fact that his cloned body comes complete with Peter's memories, Doc Ock hops back in and battles Peter for control and wins.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Ben went through a Face–Heel Turn after Miles Warren used him as his main guinea pig to resurrect which unfortunately for Ben meant being killed in pretty much every way imaginable a total of 27 times. Kind of easy to see why he snapped...
  • Big Bad: The Jackal, AKA Ben Reilly. Although the story really resolves around preventing him from unwittingly bringing about the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Peter and Anna Maria are able to stop the cloning degeneration of many of the clones, but a handful still die, including the Rhino's wife, Jameson's family (Jonah begs Spidey not to tell Peter he was right), Jean DeWolff and the Stacys. A number of surviving villains are able to escape, including the Lizard, who has rescued his family. While Kaine is saved from his own degeneration, others such as the Prowler Clone and Mattie Franklin don't. Miles Warren is killed by Ben but Doc Ock snatches the final cloned body and runs for it while Ben rejects any hope of redemption. Peter also finds out that many of those cloned were in suspended animation and could still be saved, including Hobie Brown and the man who kicked off this event, however, they're still in the same condition they were in before their cloning and saving them may be impossible, which leads the wife of the man who kicked off the event to threaten to sue the pants off of Peter for lying and the Webware program is heavily damaged. The final Silk tie-in reveals that J. Jonah Jameson's involvement in the New U fiasco has lead to him being unceremoniously fired from Fact Channel.
  • Body Horror: The end result of not taking the pill: your body suffers from a cellular degeneration that leaves only your brain, your eyes and your nervous system. And you are still alive. But before that you become a Carrion-like zombie.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: The Jackal reminds the reanimated Gwen Stacy of how she once gave a blood sample to her "amazingly talented" college professor, Dr. Miles Warren. The reveal that Ben Reilly is the one under the mask subverts this somewhat; either he was simply keeping up the charade, or actually paying Warren a genuine compliment. Or his comment was demeaning and he was simply being sarcastic.
  • Cain and Abel: Ironically, Kaine is not Cain. Ben is.
  • Call-Back:
    • From Spider-VerseDoc Ock escapes from the destroyed Living Brain body inside his old gauntlet, which he had programmed prior to being tossed out of Earth-001.
    • Peter's vow that Everyone Lives crops up again. This time with Ben Reilly offering him something even better: everyone they've lost comes back... including Uncle Ben.
  • The Cameo: The pre-Spider-Verse version of The New Warriors as well as Spider Man India appear in Amazing Spider-Man #22. Spider-Man Noir is name-dropped as well.
  • C-List Fodder: Inverted. Most of the villains resurrected by the Jackal are third-stringers such as Stilt-Man and the Bart Hamilton-Green Goblin.
  • Clones Are People, Too
    • Peter and Gwen discuss this trope when Peter is sharing his doubts whether or not Gwen can truly be considered the "real" Gwen. He acknowledges that even if she is a clone, she still deserves her own life.
    • Also Prowler, who unlike Gwen is without a doubt considered a clone, who dies protecting Julia Carpenter is mourned by her and Kaine. Julia tearfully tells the real Prowler that he was a good man.
    • Ben Reilly has also ditched his Clone Angst but is now a villain. Miles Warren on the other hand, flips his lid and goes after Ben for making him think he was "an imposter".
  • Covered with Scars:
    • Following the Other's death, Kaine is once again covered in scars and suffering from cellular degeneration.
    • In Omega, Ben Reilly is covered in scars from the Carrion Virus.
  • De-power: With the Other's death in Spider-Verse, Kaine no longer possesses the augmented powers it bestowed upon him and is once again suffering from cellular degeneration.
  • Deal with the Devil: Averted twice.
    • Kingpin tries to pull one of these, agreeing to lead Spidey to where the men who provide Jackal with his dead bodies in exchange for one favor but Peter shuts him down, pointing out that, due to the Jackal having cloned both his wife and son it's personal for Fisk and that if Peter goes after the Jackal, The Kingpin owes HIM a favor. Fisk agrees. This comes back in Omega as Spidey confronts Fisk, only for Fisk to hit him with a reversal by revealing the location of the missing Norman Osborn.
    • When Anna Maria is captured, it turns out she has an idea on how to solve the cloning problem. In exchange for forking it all over, Jackal was going to put her memories in the "proto-clone" to test it out, doing away with her "defects" (re: her dwarfism). She's thoroughly insulted by this and plainly tells him "Up yours!"
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: In the Silk tie-in, Mattie Franklin dies in Silk's arms after helping hold off a horde of Carrion zombies. The following issue shows Silk tearfully digging up Mattie's grave to bury an urn containing her remain on top of her coffin, and it leaves her so depressed and traumatized that she quits her job at the Fact Channel and considers leaving heroics behind altogether.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Jackal clones Francine Frye, the Monster Fangirl love interest of Electro. When the Jackal's attempt at repowering Electro fails, Francine's clone briefly comes into contact with him, sparking a reaction that causes her own Electro powers to activate, since it turns out that the piece of the original's face that the Jackal used to create her contained a trace amount of a pre-depowered Electro's DNA in the form of saliva (they were making out when Francine died). She proceeds to kill Max while using him to power up, and willingly joins the Jackal as the new Electro.
  • Driven to Madness: Being killed and revived a painful twenty-seven times will do that to you. Poor Ben.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Unlike the last time she died, Gwen (or more accurately, a clone of Gwen with memories of the original) spent her final moments locking Spider-Man in the lab and staying behind to confront the Goblins head-on as a distraction.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Subverted with Prowler. After being revived by the Jackal, he is forced to switches sides as the Jackal has a pill that Prowler must take daily. But when Jackal orders all the revived villains to kill Spider-Man, Prowler intervenes to defend him.
    • Ben Reilly is the Jackal this time around.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In issue #2 Spidey mentions every clone other than Gwen sets off his his spider sense she simply says "I'm not a clone." At first it seems she's feeding him the same stuff Jackal said about resurrection but in fact it turns out she's Spider-Gwen of Earth-65 there to help Peter.
    • In Amazing Spider-Man #21, Kaine notes that the alternate version of Peter seems to be in charge over Miles Warren. Given later reveals, we may very well be looking at an alternate version of Ben Reilly, who is in charge of Miles.
  • Genetic Memory: Jackal uses some technobabble about technologically applied psychometry to reconstitute the memory of his clones up to the point of their genetic source's death. As it turns out, he has personal experience - Miles Warren killed and resurrected Ben Reilly a whopping twenty-seven times and drove him mad.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Miles Warren's actual role in the story. He was the one who killed and resurrected Ben Reily 27 times, which led to him becoming the Jackal instead. Ben snapped and tried to kill Warren, but stopped at the last second and tricked him into thinking he was a clone while cloning him enough times that none of them knew who the original was until after the Carrion Virus was activated.
  • He's Back!:
    • Dr. Octopus returns to physical life, having been dead (mentally) for two real-life years. It's worth noting that this Dock Ock is technically an artificial duplicate of the original's mind... taken before his redemption at the end of Superior Spider-Man, and thus a full-on villain once more.
    • Kaine Parker, the Scarlet Spider, also returned in #2, having been presumed dead in-universe since Spider-Verse.
    • Gwen Stacy, her father, Marla Jameson, and a whole slew of old supporting characters and villains are revived.
    • Ben Reilly... this time as the Jackal.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The dying Gwen Stacy locks herself behind to give Peter time to save the world. When confronted by Jack o' Lantern, Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin, she decides to stand her ground, opting that this is a better way to die than her original sad death.
    • Mattie Franklin crumbles to dust in Silk's arms after protecting her and and her uncle from Carrion zombies.
  • Idiot Ball: In Omega, Spider-Man has to endure the wrath of people who were duped by New U's promises, such as the wife of a terminally-ill employee who declares her intent to sue Peter Parker for everything he's worth when she learns her husband is still dying and only has days left. Why Peter should be responsible is a mystery and, despite this, he acts like it's his fault.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Peter openly admits to the revived Gwen that he can't think of her as the real Gwen Stacy, although he does still admit to caring for her. Later on Earth-65 Gwen tries to comfort him but, since Peter is really worn down mentally at this point, he rather crudely gives her the cold shoulder. She later complains to Kaine that Peter acted like she wasn't the real Gwen either, which offended her. Kaine dismisses Peter as an idiot and assures her that the Earth-616 Gwen would have loved her.
  • Informed Attribute: The Jackal claims that his reanimates are far healthier than the originals ever were, but he's either exaggerating or simply picking and choosing what to fix; George Stacy no longer needs a cane, for instance, but Madame Web is still blind and paraplegic, Marla Madison and Doctor Octopus (who is admittedly no longer crippled like he was before he died) still need glasses, and (most baffling of all) Massacre still has the disfiguring injury that gave him the brain damage that turned him into a violent borderline-sociopath.
    • Madame Web still being blind is justified, as her powers are to blame for this: when she selected Julia Carpenter, Arachne and formerly the second Spider-Woman, as her successor and transferred her powers as she lay dying in Grim Hunt, Julia lost her sight.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Otto's Heel Realization at the end of Superior Spider Man is undone as he believes that the only reason he accepted that Peter is superior to him is because Peter's brain couldn't handle his "awesome" intellect. Though it should be noted that his mind was copied before the experiences that led to epiphany meaning that he never actually came to that conclusion himself.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Jackal insists that the reanimates are not clones, but the actual people back from the dead. However, everyone else, including the original Jackal, who developed the process, and Dr. Octopus, who is working to improve the process, considers them clones and the process merely a different form of cloning.
  • It's All My Fault: J. Jonah Jameson's dad died because Peter refused to let him take up treatments from New U. He later confides in Anna Maria that it's because it set off his Spider-Sense when he met with someone who had went through the treatment.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Kaine's revival is only a temporary thing as, without The Other, his cellular degeneration is kicking back in.
  • Kick the Dog: The new Electro torturing Madame Web, and her callous indifference to killing people, which she repeatedly excuses with "the Jackal can always bring them back."
  • Killed Off for Real: Electro is killed by his girlfriend Francine (accidentally killed by him in past and cloned by the Jackal) that became the new Electro.
  • Kill and Replace: When Peter rejects Ben's offers and Ben sics the villains after him, Peter realizes why Ben kept the brown hair — he had every intention of replacing Peter if he didn't join him.
  • The Last Dance: Faced with the fact that he's once again dying of cellular degeneration, Kaine decides to make his last heroic act hunting Ben Reilly down and killing him for what he did as the Jackal.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Silk is attacked by Spider-Woman III, who had been killed during the Kravinoff family's Grim Hunt. Later, they meet as Cindy Moon and Mattie Franklin, discover they both know J. Jonah Jameson, and become friends. Tragically, Mattie sacrifices herself to protect Silk from Carrion zombies, and crumbles to dust in her arms.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The Jackal only cares about Peter Parker, so none of the "Spider-Man Family" titles besides Silk are getting tie-ins; and in Silk's case it's only because she happens to be close to Jameson, whose second wife and niece/stepdaughter are among the people that the Jackal has brought back.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Jackal reveals that, by bringing back everyone who has died under his watch, Peter has a second chance with these people. Peter's just flat-out sick.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted. Peter's rampant "No Kill" policy is what allows the Carrion clones to rampage through the worlds. It's later implied to be a Villainous Breakdown by Ben taking Peter's place.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Kingpin calls Peter Parker out to San Francisco to make good on the debt he owes, Spider-Man curb stomp battles Fisk's team of bodyguards and enforcers without cracking a single joke, then furiously confronts Fisk for having the audacity to mock him to his face over the New U fiasco.
  • Pass the Popcorn: This is Jackal's reaction when he sees Doc Ock's mind battling the copy of Peter's for supremacy of his resurrected body.
    Jackal: Get the popcorn. This's gonna be good. [Beat] I'm serious. Get me popcorn.
  • Phlebotinum Dependence: The Jackal makes it clear to the newly cloned people that they have a "time limit" before their bodies break down. He give them a drug designed to delay those effects as a way of ensuring they do as he says or die once more.
    • When Jackal offers the drug to Doctor Octopus and his "this is to keep you in line" speech, Otto simply smirks that he knows the real reason is that the Jackal honestly doesn't know how to correct the clone degradation and the drug excuse is to make the clones think he's more in control than he really is.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ben is still insistent in having Peter join him, still using Uncle Ben as his trump card. Peter points out that he hasn't resurrected Ben at this point because, if he had, he'd tell him he was wrong to do this. This sets off Ben's Villainous Breakdown.
  • Retcon: A minor one that changes a character's entire motivations: The Night Gwen Stacy Died is changed to reveal that, before the Goblin knocked her over, Gwen Stacy had woken up and heard Spidey call himself "Peter". She automatically hates both because of what happened to her father. In issue 4, however, when Peter finally confronts Gwen (or worse, what he believes to be another clone with her last memories), she does say that she forgives him and, in a tie-in, she admits that she's still in love with Peter, but she feels betrayed by him being Spider-Man, though she understands why he does what he does.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Ben wants to enlist Peter's help to ensure "everyone lives", and his pursuit of this goal makes him the Big Bad of the story. Unfortunately, Kaine has already visited several bad futures where Ben's ambitions bring about the Zombie Apocalypse, and even sees Miles and a version of Peter/Ben dying at the hands of Carrion Zombies.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: The Jackal's dumped his green getup for a red suit with a mask of Anubis, Egyptian God of Death.
  • Shout-Out: In issue 4, while showing Peter his heaven, The Jackal starts to sing "Pure Imagination". He also jokes about bringing back Gene Wilder.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Captain Stacy pulls his gun on Gwen Stacy in the gathering of villains, proclaiming she isn't his daughter and he knows his daughter. He's right - it's Spider-Gwen in disguise.
    • Doc Ock, infuriated that the Jackal insulted Anna Maria lashes out at him. When the Jackal easily dodges it, he realizes that he isn't Miles Warren because the only way he could dodge that with ease is with a Spider-Sense.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Anna Maria does this twice in issue 3 pointing out that due to Kaine being immune to the carrion virus, he could be the cure for it and then suggesting they call the authorities due to knowing a pandemic is coming and where it comes from though the latter fails due to Jackal already having bought out the authorities.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: The first issue of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy seems to hint that there's someone else hidden behind the mask of the Jackal than Miles Warren. It turns out in issue 3 to be Ben Reilly.
  • Taking You with Me: Infuriated that the Jackal was a Spider-Clone and that Anna Maria was insulted, Doc Ock opts to send out a signal that breaks down the clones, turning them into Carrion zombies.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: After watching his wife die in his arms a second time, Rhino goes berserk when S.H.I.E.L.D. attempts to arrest him and tries to commit Suicide by Cop. Spider-Man talks him down, empathizing with the agony of watching someone he loves dearly die a second time but urging him to be the man his wife would want him to be and keep moving forward one step at a time.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • The Jackal shows the Kingpin his returned wife, who even tells him that he could bring back their son as well. The Kingpin casually snaps her neck and vows revenge for desecrating her grave.
    • In issue 5, when Ben calls out to Peter to help with Ock, Peter tells him off, telling him that he's not his brother, but another bad guy to punch. This is later inverted in Omega when Kaine calls out Peter for thinking that Ben died some sort of hero.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Solicitations for issue 19 seems to hint that someone close to Peter will die. It ends up being J. Jonah Jameson's dad.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Subverted. At first it seems like the Jackal has somehow become much faster and stronger then before but it is revealed to really be Ben Reilly. So it's not Miles Warren becoming stronger as Ben is as strong as he was before.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Coming after the end of this event, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider, also featuring Kaine. So we know they both survive.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The new Electro has all the powers of the original, but no experience. Spider-Man easily overcomes her in their first encounter by dousing her with water.
    Spider-Man: See? This is what's nice about having a new Electro... ...You're not used to all the old tricks
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ben Reilly may be the Big Bad of the arc, but he is entirely well-intentioned and has no idea he risks bringing about the Zombie Apocalypse via Carrion Virus. This ends up being subverted when he realizes what they'll do and he decides to kickstart it.
  • Villain Team-Up: While the Lizard and Rhino are working for the Jackal, Doc Ock is working with the Jackal. This is because Octavius knows that the clones are flawed and only live because of the pills they take. They know that, together, they can perfect the cloning process.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Twice in issue 4:
    • When Spidey delivers "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Jackal, he turns everyone against Spidey. It gets worse when Doc Ock causes all the clones across the world to fall apart and he decides he'll just revive the world.
    • Doc Ock gets one when he realizes the Jackal is a Spider-Clone.
  • Wham Line: The key in that the Jackal isn't who he seems this time around.
    Jackal: Please, Peter. This is darker than red. It's more of a... scarlet.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Issue 2 of the main title ends with Scarlet Spider revealing that Peter Parker will bring down the world by siding Parker Industries with New U, as he's discovered that there are other dimensions that have done the same thing and they've all been destroyed.
    • Issue 3 tops it with The Jackal taking off his mask to reveal Ben Reily.
  • Wild Card: The Kingpin may want to take the Jackal down, but that doesn't mean he wants to help Spidey. Hell, he intends to use him if he can to destroy Miles Warren.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Ben Reilly. Being cloned, killed, and resurrected 27 times by Miles Warren drove Ben mad, to the point where he decided to do better than Miles. He (supposedly) killed Miles and had him cloned multiple times, all of them unsure of who was the real one and who wasn't. He decided to improve the cloning process and wants Peter by his side to keep going, not knowing that doing so will unleash an army of Carrion clones.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: To Kaine's horror, worlds where both Peter and Miles have teamed up have become this, overrun with Carrion clones.