If the Clone Saga is the most controversial Spider-Man story of all time, the "Maximum Clonage" story line is the apex of that saga. With a wink and a nod to the "Maximum Carnage" story line a couple of years earlier, "Clonage" is a 6-part story that started in MAXIMUM CLONAGE: ALPHA, continued through the core books, and ended in MAXIMUM CLONAGE: OMEGA. Ben Reilly is coping with the fact that he is the original Peter Parker, while the person who's been under the guise of Parker for 5 years isn't taking the news so well. This story also concludes the story of the Jackal and his quest for total genetic reengineering of the human race. But first, a few words from Tom DeFalco regarding some comments we made in LoR Part 9.
Tom DeFalco: "Actually the back door was established. Seward Trainer first told Peter that he was the clone, and all the final experiments were conducted in Seward's laboratory with his equipment. We later learned that Seward secretly worked for the Jackal and that everything was rigged to give Peter the desired result.
I believe Glenn was remembering all the arguments and discussions the writers had with Bob Budiansky on the proper way to end the Clone Saga. A simple statement about Seward's duplicity wouldn't have been enough. We needed a big and powerful visual story to bring the story to a proper conclusion. (And I freely admit that REVELATIONS was a disappointment on so many levels!)
As for his belief that a SCARLET SPIDER book would have eventually failed, he is entitled to his opinion. I certainly believe that the powers-that-were at Marvel would have eventually cancelled the book even if it was selling...just like they cancelled THUNDERSTRIKE and WAR MACHINE even though both books were profitable. Since I had access to the actual sales during that period, I can attest to the fact that at the time it was canceled THUNDERSTRIKE was actually selling more copies than both THOR and AVENGERS combined. Why were profitable titles like THUNDERSTRIKE, WAR MACHINE and all the 2099 books cancelled? The answer I was given was that the guy in charge of marketing had decided that these additional titles were hurting the core company franchises. He believed that the sales on THOR would go up as soon as THUNDERSTRIKE was cancelled, and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN would increase with SPIDER-MAN 2099 gone. Nice theory...but I still think it was nonsense."
And now back to our regularly scheduled Life of Reilly...
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I wouldn't exactly call "Maximum Clonage" the apex of the clone saga-it was more like the nadir. Just as "Maximum Carnage" came to be known around the Marvel offices (in somewhat hushed tones) as "Maximum Garbage," this magnum opus "Maximum Clonage" would come to be known as "Maximum Bonage." ]
After the shocking revelation of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226, the next logical step was to wrap everything up (since the clone saga had already gone way past its original intended length) and begin the new era of Spider-Man. Peter and Mary Jane would be written out of the books, and sent off to live in peace with their soon-to-be-born child. Ben would get the chance to establish himself as Spider-Man and move forward. Going into the planning stages for what would turn out to be "Maximum Clonage," the intent was indeed to finish up the clone story line once and for all and quickly get Ben started as Spider-Man. As I recall, the story line was supposed to run through all four core Spider-Man titles for one month and conclude in the quarterly, double-sized SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED book, which would have an issue coming out that month as well. And then that would be it. Over and done. So what happened? Well, we can start by blaming the X-Men.
A short time earlier, the X-Men Group had a tremendous success with a publishing event called "The Age of Apocalypse." This story line began in a chromium-covered, double-sized one-shot called X-MEN: ALPHA, in which the X-universe was radically transformed. The event continued for four months, with all of the X-Men titles reflecting the changes initiated by the events of the ALPHA book. Then, when those four months were over, the event concluded in the chromium-covered, double-sized X-MEN: OMEGA, in which the original status quo was more or less restored.
Like I said, this was a tremendous success, and Marvel's marketing and sales departments wanted the Spider-Man Group to follow suit. The Spider-Man Group's Editor in Chief, Bob Budiansky, agreed that this could be a great success for us, having seen what it did for the X-Men books. The most obvious solution was to use the end of the clone saga as the event for this publishing plan. We'd add a one-shot to the schedule to kick off the story line-our ALPHA issue-and then turn the concluding chapter into a special OMEGA one-shot, instead of it being just another issue of SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED. Both the ALPHA and OMEGA issues would have chromium covers. Why? The guys in the marketing department at that time LOOOOOOOVED chromium. According to them, chromium covers significantly increased sales whenever they were used. So any chance those guys got to slap on a chromium cover, they jumped at it. So the one thing we knew for sure about this event, right from the start? There would be chromium covers.
I was at the meeting where this event got its name. We were all kicking ideas around, and Eric Fein, who was editing SPECTACULAR and WEB, jokingly suggested that we call it "Maximum Clonage." We all groaned-yeah, it was a cute idea, but we really didn't want this to be associated with "Maximum Carnage" in any way. Despite the sales success of "Carnage," that story line wasn't exactly a high point in Spider-Man's history, and it was exactly the kind of thing I thought we were trying to get away from under the new administration. But the next thing we knew, Eric had proceeded to become very attached to the name, and suddenly he wasn't joking about it anymore. I can't remember exactly how everything came together after that, but I guess Eric must have made a very good argument, because the name stuck. I was pretty sure that the title itself wouldn't hurt us too much, as long as there was an exciting, satisfying story behind it.
MAXIMUM CLONAGE: ALPHA was written by Tom DeFalco and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Ron Lim and Al Milgrom. It begins in Springville, PA, where the Jackal and the third Parker, Spidercide, have released the new and improved Carrion virus into the air, killing the entire population of 2600 people. Elsewhere, Peter Parker is sitting atop a building reflecting on the life he thought was his and the events of the past few months which led up to the revelation that he was just a clone.
The Scarlet Spider isn't taking things any better. Although the news that he is the real Parker was welcome, the fact remains that he was robbed of 5 years of his life. While searching for Peter, he goes to the Parker home and confronts Mary Jane. He promises that he doesn't want Peter's life and has no intentions of claiming it as his own. All he wants to do is find Peter before things get worse. MJ gives Ben a postcard from the Jackal, mailed from Springville with the message "Wish you could have been here." Kaine, meanwhile, is being transferred to a new prison but gets an even stronger vision of Mary Jane's death, recognizing the killer as "someone familiar" but still can't place the identity. He breaks free to go search for her and warn the Parkers.
Back in Springville, there was apparently a survivor in the mass viral infection. Jackal, wanting to know why it didn't work on this particular person, sends out Spidercide to capture the guy, but Spidercide runs into problems of his own in the New Warriors. While they engage Spidercide, the Scarlet Spider arrives and they believe him to be on the wrong side of the battle. Spidercide isn't supposed to get involved, so he gives up the survivor in an effort to escape. The Warriors and Scarlet set aside their differences long enough to try and stop Spidercide and get the survivor. They fail on both counts. Spidercide is able to change his body mass and even turn into water. He escapes easily and recaptures the survivor.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : When the Marvel editorial structure was reorganized during "Marvelution" (a.k.a. "Marvelcution," the first downsizing), the New Warriors were integrated into the Spider-Man Group. Tom Brevoort and I were editing NW at that point, and we had brought writer Evan Skolnick and penciler Patrick Zircher on as the creative team. "Maximum Clonage" was the first opportunity since this new structure had been created to really bring the New Warriors into the Spider-Man universe and have them take part in a major Spider-Man event. I think we were all excited about it, because it was a really good opportunity to bring some attention to the NEW WARRIORS book and our new writer and artist. It wasn't going to be a perfect fit, because, when you stop and think about it, the New Warriors really had no business being part of the clone saga, but we were determined to make it work as best as we possibly could, and I think, overall, that we succeeded. ]
Peter Parker is back in the city, picking up his belongings. He feels MJ and the baby are better off without him, so he spends some time reflecting and leaves, taking only his Spider-Man costume, saying that "I may be a clone and not the original Peter Parker, but I'm still Spider-Man." He goes to the Empire State Building, thinking of his last moments with Aunt May and is interrupted by the Jackal, who goads him into a fight. After they exchange punches and taunts, the Jackal tells Spider-Man that he is going to bring the world to genetic perfection through cloning and he can help. It would give Peter's life new purpose, the Jackal says, extending his hand. Spider-Man says nothing, but takes the Jackal's hand.
"Maximum Clonage" Part 2 takes place in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #127, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Steven Butler and Randy Emberlin. As Spider-Man and the Jackal discuss their newfound alliance, both a SWAT team and the Punisher arrive on the scene. Spider-Man takes the Jackal to safety, leaving Punisher to wonder what's going on.
Which is the same thing that Mary Jane is wondering. While everyone else is concentrating on the Jackal and who's a clone and who isn't, Mary Jane is worried about the effects that Peter's being a clone will have on their unborn child.
Spider-Man and the Jackal take to the streets so Peter can digest what Jackal is talking about. They're attacked by the Punisher, who seems to have become more ruthless than ever. Now he isn't stopping to see if innocent bystanders are in the way before shooting. Spider-Man's spider-sense goes off as Punisher gets them in his crosshairs. The Jackal leaps in front of Spider-Man, taking two shots to the chest. As he lies dying, Jackal tells Peter that the answer is in his bloodstream, but before he can continue, the Punisher comes over to finish the job. Spider-Man attacks, knocking Punisher unconscious while he tends to Jackal. He races back to the Jackal's lab to put him into a cellular regeneration pod in an effort to heal his wounds before it's too late. The pass-code to bypass the security system, according to Jackal is 1-4-9 dash 1-5-1 (a nod to the first clone storyline, which took place in Amazing Spider-Man 149-151). As Spider-Man sits next to the pod and waits, the Jackal thinks to himself: "Couldn't have worked out better if I planned it myself...or did I?"
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Todd Dezago had become the regular writer of WEB OF SPIDER-MAN by the time "Maximum Clonage" began. He replaced Terry Kavanagh, who, as has been noted, proposed the clone saga in the first place. It was my understanding that Terry and editor Eric Fein had been having creative differences for quite a while, and it got to the point where Eric felt it was necessary to bring in a different writer. Todd had been doing some Spider-Man work off and on for the department, and Eric wanted to give him a chance as the regular writer of WEB. Budiansky okayed it, and Todd jumped right in. ]
"Maximum Clonage" Part 3 takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #404, written by J.M. DeMatteis and Todd Dezago and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin. Spider-Man still waits outside the Jackal's pod, but is interrupted from deep thought by the Scarlet Spider, who's finally tracked him down. As Ben tries to comfort him, Peter lashes out, asking Ben "what did he ever have to lose." Ben continues trying to reason with him, but Peter just wants to be left alone and walks away, leaving Ben to contend with Spidercide, who isn't happy to see the intruder. Kaine watches from above, deciding to let Reilly die once and for all and turns his attention to the regeneration pod that contains the Jackal. Kaine destroys it, pulling Jackal out and asks why he would take everything away from Peter after he went well beyond Jackal's dreams of what a clone could accomplish. Jackal offers Kaine a chance to be whole again, if he can figure out an end to degeneration.
Spider-Man comes out of hiding to face off between Spidercide and the Scarlet Spider. He hates Ben, but doesn't know if he necessarily wants him to die. When the Jackal and Kaine come in, Jackal makes an offhanded remark that all his boys are together-Robbie, Chip and Ernie-and looks at Kaine saying, "Well, I suppose you'll have to be Uncle Charlie." Ben tries to reason with Peter, but he's too involved with Jackal's schemes. Ben lashes out at the Jackal, but is then stopped by Peter and Kaine, who tell him that he doesn't belong in their world. Peter tells Ben to go take his life back, but to leave them all alone.
During the discussion, Spidercide is compelled to go off down an empty hall. He finds the source of the power summoning him to be Scrier, who's now described as an entity whose purpose, if revealed, would be unfathomable to the mortal mind. Spidercide asks who Scrier is and who he is. With the touch of a finger, Spidercide learns all and goes back to the main room where he is told by Jackal to kill Kaine.
Kaine can't believe it. "But you said you were going to make me perfect," he says. The Jackal responds that Kaine is nothing more than a walking heap of genetic trash, and a complete waste of blood and hair. Kaine breaks down, begging his "father" to not abandon him again before ultimately realizing he was a fool to ever trust the Jackal. Kaine departs, promising to kill him another time. Spidercide then takes Ben to a different room and throws him in. When he comes to his senses, Ben sees an army of Spider-Man clones racing towards him.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I'm guessing this scene was in the back of everyone's minds the moment the decision was made to call this story "Maximum Clonage." But that didn't mean we actually had to DO it. Personally, I HATED the idea of having hundreds of Spider-Man clones running around. As far as I was concerned, this was exactly the kind of silliness we should have been trying to get AWAY from. I mean, we all groaned when the title was first proposed, and now we were going to do stuff in the story that only served to reflect that dopey title even MORE?! Stuff like this, in my opinion, was the epitome of everything that had been wrong with Spider-Man over the previous few years-shameless sensationalism, milking a successful idea to death, overkill reaching ludicrous proportions. I don't remember having too much enthusiasm for "Maximum Clonage" once it headed in this direction. I really thought it was going to be about bringing things to a close and a new beginning, instead of upping the clone ante even more. ]
"Maximum Clonage" Part 4 takes place in SPIDER-MAN #61, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by Tom Lyle and Chris Ivy. Ben decides to run away rather than attempt to face off against hundreds of Spider-Clones. His first priority is to find Peter and try to reason with him with regards to his alliance with the Jackal, who's now telling Peter to bring back the original Gwen Stacy clone. As Ben searches for Peter, he's being hunted by the clones, who have spread out to expand their own search. Luckily for Ben, it means only having to deal with 5 or 6 at a time instead of a few hundred.
Meanwhile, at the Parker home, Kaine arrives to ask Mary Jane why Peter gave up his life to be with the Jackal. She doesn't understand either, but wants to know why Kaine cares so much, so Kaine reveals his full origin to her. He tells her about the day he emerged from the tank and how Warren was so pleased with his creation until a small scar developed on his face. It was small, but enough to distinguish him from the real Peter Parker, so Kaine was cast aside. He ran off before Warren could dispose of him, but stayed close, lurking in the shadows since it was the only life that he knew. He watched as Peter, his brother, emerged, the perfect clone who would go on to take the life he could never have. Peter proved to be the hero, the man that Kaine could never be and a symbol for him that he loved. MJ then gives Kaine a lecture of her own, telling him that he's alive, no matter how he was born. She tells him to do what Peter would do. To do the right thing. He has the power, so accept the responsibility.
Peter finds Gwen, who's been expecting him, and they swing off back to the Jackal's lair. Ben is there, still trying to fight off the clones, when he discovers where the Jackal's new lair actually is: the old smokestack where his supposedly dead body was left. Ben doesn't have too much time to dwell on it, as the entire clone army arrives, cornering him, and ganging up on him until something, or someone distracts them. Kaine. Reilly tells Kaine that he won't stand by and let him kill-not even clones-to which Kaine agrees, saying that they have as much right to live as anyone.
"Maximum Clonage" Part 5 takes place in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #227, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. Kaine and the Scarlet Spider are holding their own against the clones, but there are too many of them. Fortunately for them, the clones start to decompose due to the fact that they were released from the pods too early in an effort to contain Ben Reilly.
Mary Jane has had enough waiting around. She uses all of Peter's spider-tracers to give off a signal so powerful that he couldn't possibly ignore it. Spider-Man tells Gwen that he needs to go to Mary Jane, and they do so. MJ and Gwen meet again, and although she's only a clone, Gwen has fond memories of her old friend. She tells MJ that she's happy that Peter and her finally got together.
Back in the lab, the Jackal is still trying to figure out how the sole survivor of Springville survived. He goes looking for Spidercide and discovers that the clone has been uploading all of the Jackal's files on the Carrion virus, to send to Scrier. Jackal, amazed at Spidercide's betrayal, snaps his fingers, saying how it's good that he programmed all his clones to degenerate at will. Spidercide smiles, telling Jackal that Scrier removed the degeneration factor from him and also wanted to pass along how very disappointed he is in the Jackal. Before Spidercide can kill the Jackal, Kaine interferes. He doesn't know why he saved the Jackal's life, whether he's still a mindless pawn or if some part of him still wants acceptance from his "father." During his battle with Spidercide, Kaine gets a strong premonition of Mary Jane's death, including, finally the identity of the killer, exclaiming, "Oh God, why did it have to be him?" Before he can relay the news to anyone or stop it, Kaine is murdered by Spidercide. When asked by the Jackal why he sacrificed himself, Kaine responds with his last breath, "You gave me life." While the Jackal could care less about the sentimental goodbye, he does think to put Kaine's body into the regeneration chamber.
MAXIMUM CLONAGE: OMEGA concludes the storyline in an issue written by Tom Lyle and illustrated by Robert Brown, Roy Burdine, Mark Bagley, Tom Lyle, Sam DeLaRosa, Randy Emberlin, Al Milgrom and Scott Hanna. Ben has his hands full with a creature made up of the genetic tissue of all the clones. Jackal tells him that he's off to kill his friends at the Daily Bugle, which gives Ben the determination he needs to pull himself out of his predicament.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This issue was, to put it mildly, a disaster. As I mentioned earlier, it was originally supposed to be an issue of SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED. As such, it was going to be written by that title's regular writer, Tom Lyle. There was already a degree of concern among some of us that Lyle was perhaps too inexperienced to handle the conclusion of "Maximum Clonage," and of the entire clone saga. When the issue became a big, chromium-covered, all-the-bells-and-whistles OMEGA one-shot, it became a matter of GREAT concern. We were going to be charging $4.95 for this comic. This was going to be the culmination of a VERY long story line. It was going to be a very important issue for us. Simply put, it HAD to be good. It had to be satisfying. It had to be worth the price we were charging for it. An assignment like this would have been a daunting task for even the most seasoned of Spider-Man writers. And the fact of the matter was that Tom Lyle was still an inexperienced writer, and needed a lot more time to better develop his writing skills before he'd be ready to tackle a project of this magnitude.
Some of the Spider-Man editorial staff (it would be inappropriate for me to mention the other people involved, but I will say that I was one of them) strongly suggested to Bob Budiansky that he should have someone else-presumably one of the other Spider-Man writers-write the OMEGA issue. Bob seemed to agree with us philosophically, but ultimately, he just couldn't bring himself to take Lyle off the book. Perhaps it was because he didn't want to undermine the plans that had been put in place by Spider-Man Group Editor Danny Fingeroth. Ironically, Danny was either already gone from Marvel or on his way out the door when all of this was going on. Danny found that he did not enjoy working within the post-Marvelution editorial structure, and decided to move on. Like Terry Kavanagh, Danny would not be around to see the clone saga come to an end. Regardless, Budiansky was still unwilling to rock the boat in this instance, and kept Tom Lyle in place. (Bob and Danny would share the editor's credit for the OMEGA issue.)
To put it as simply and as delicately as possible, Tom Lyle just wasn't up to the task of writing this issue. Bob came to realize this pretty quickly. The issue went through endless rewrites, and as I recall, Bob ended up rewriting a lot of it himself, but since Bob didn't have a whole lot of experience with Spider-Man, this wasn't exactly a great solution, either. I'm sure Eric Fein and Mark Bernardo gave their input and tried to improve it and make it flow smoothly, but there's no escaping the fact that a comic book-a GOOD comic book, at least-can't be written by committee. I don't think Tom Brevoort and I were too heavily involved in this issue, but we were certainly aware of what was going on.
Oh-and the fact that there were four pencilers and five inkers on the book didn't help matters any. ]
At the Parker home, MJ pleads with Peter to stay home with her and their unborn child, while Gwen tells him that he belongs with the clones. Peter, saying he doesn't deserve MJ or the baby, takes Gwen and goes off to find the Jackal. What they find instead is an empty lab, with the exception of some security traps to keep away intruders. When Peter gets through them, he discovers the Jackal's plans for the Bugle and the world. Mary Jane, meanwhile, digs up some of Peter's spare web cartridges to help her husband and Ben for whatever they may need.
The Jackal, though, is busy setting up a Carrion virus bomb at the Daily Bugle. Before they can go any further, Scrier appears, telling the Jackal to stop, because the destruction of the human race can not be allowed. Scrier orders Spidercide to deal with him. The Scarlet Spider joins in and the battle becomes Jackal vs Scarlet with Spidercide trying to kill them both. As they fight, the Jackal taunts Ben by asking if he thinks he'll be able to help his friends at the Bugle as successfully as he helped Gwen. Ben realizes that it's always been about Warren's anger at Spider-Man for letting Gwen die. Spidercide takes over again and attacks the Jackal, giving Ben some time to rest. Ben doesn't catch much of a break before heading back into the battle just in time to see Spidercide ready to finish the Jackal off once and for all. In the ensuing confusion, Spidercide is dropped from the Bugle onto the street below.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I mentioned this in a previous column, but I just have to reiterate that I never quite understood how the Jackal came to this "world domination/replace all humans with clones" scheme. This came out of nowhere, and is just so far removed from the original concept of the Jackal. And the scheme itself is just so ludicrous. The Carrion virus bomb came off, at least to me, as a very contrived plot element, something that was extremely cliché, and, in the end, was little more than a minor distraction that carried no real suspense or sense of danger. ]
Face to face with the Jackal once more, Ben tries to get him to reveal how he got Ben to believe that he was a clone for all those years. Jackal confesses that he implanted the thought in his head while he was taking cell samples for his clones. Before the Jackal can make a move, Spider-Man and Gwen arrive. Ben tells Peter to deal with the Jackal while he goes to dispose of the virus bomb. Unfortunately, Jackal and Peter take the fight to the bomb, forcing Ben to join in. After webbing up the Jackal, the Spiders go to defuse the bomb. With time running out, they manage to stop the bomb but then have to deal with Gwen, who's gotten her hands on a gun with the intent to kill the Jackal. Jackal frees himself from the webbing and the Spiders plead with Gwen to not become a killer and then Mary Jane arrives. Jackal rushes for Gwen's gun, inadvertently knocking Gwen off the roof. MJ throws a spare web-shooter to Ben, who nabs Gwen before she can fall. The Jackal isn't so lucky. He tries to save Gwen himself, to prove he could do what Peter couldn't, and ends up falling to his death. His final words are, "When the dream ends, the nightmare begins."
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Jackal was so ruined as a character by this point that he can now only be considered "damaged goods." I sincerely believe that it will be a VERY long time before we ever see him again, if indeed we ever do. ]
Before the Spiders, MJ and Gwen can pat themselves on the back, their spider-senses go crazy alerting them that the bomb has been reactivated. Ben volunteers to handle it, since he isn't the one with the wife and the child on the way. He throws the bomb in the air, snags it with a web and spins it around, building up velocity until releasing it high into the air. Since the virus was taken out of the bomb earlier, by Peter and Ben, the explosion causes no damage. In the ensuing confusion, Gwen disappears again. Ben and Peter part ways, with Peter going home with his wife. They talk about how he's been acting and how sorry he's been. He tells MJ that he has one more thing to take care of and then it's all over.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I can laugh about it now, but back then, I was ready to smash my head against the wall. You see, the Gwen Stacy clone was supposed to be definitively disposed of by the end of the OMEGA issue. The whole clone thing had started with her back in the 70s, after all, and it was felt by everyone in the Spider-Man Group that once the saga came to an end, Gwen's clone should be eliminated as a dangling plot thread once and for all. This would be a major element of the OMEGA issue.
But rewrite after rewrite went by of the OMEGA issue, with no resolution for the Gwen clone, and I distinctly remember asking Bob Budiansky, point blank, "So, is the Gwen clone being killed off in this thing or not?" I kept being told, "Yeah, yeah, that's gonna be worked in." And it wasn't. I couldn't believe it. She just takes off again for parts unknown in the midst of all the chaos. And to this day, I'm still not sure why that happened.
So she's still out there somewhere. She can be brought back at any time, by any writer who decides to do so. The status quo, at least in that regard, is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT from the way it was in 1975 when the original clone story line ended. And that's exactly how we DIDN'T want it. ]
Peter arrives at Ben's apartment just as Ben is thinking how he should be Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Peter arrives and they talk. Peter tells Ben that he wants to give the name and the costume back, but Ben says it's too easy an answer. They agree that there has to be a Spider-Man, but they have to figure out who it should be.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : So you get to the end of the issue, and find that... IT'S STILL NOT OVER! Bwah hah hah hah hah! Oh, well.
Ideally, everything would have and should have been wrapped up in OMEGA. But that didn't happen. There was still the matter of who would be Spider-Man, and there was no room for that to be dealt with in OMEGA. Well, okay. Under the circumstances, I could see extending the story for a one-issue coda, which would be done in one of the core Spider-Man books (in this case, it would have been WEB). And in this coda, all remaining pertinent plot threads would be sorted out and then that's it. No more clone saga. Time to move forward. But that didn't happen. No, yet ANOTHER multi-part story line that extended the clone saga even further was kicked off instead, much to my dismay. I really don't remember who was responsible for this idea, so I can't say for sure whether it was motivated by greed or a sincere belief that there was a genuine, story-driven need for yet another multi-parter. Either way, whoever it was apparently didn't know the meaning of the phrase, "Enough already!" ]
Beginning with NEW WARRIORS #62, written by Evan Skolnick and illustrated by Patrick Zircher and Andrew Pepoy, and continuing for the next several months, the Scarlet Spider is a member of the team. The Scarlet Spider and the Warriors first meet during the "Maximum Clonage" storyline, when the team is searching for the mysterious survivor of the Carrion virus.
In this story line, the character is dubbed Helix and it's up to the Warriors to contain him. There are a few interesting moments, such as Scarlet Spider having a crush on the Mary Jane lookalike, Firestar, as well as him trying to fit in with a team dynamic. For the most part, though, it was more of a benefit for the Warriors to have this guest star on the team than it was a crucial piece to the clone saga.
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Shortly after Tom Brevoort and I had been integrated into the Spider-Man Group, we were at a meeting with Bob Budiansky and Danny Fingeroth. We were talking about possible things that could be done with the Scarlet Spider, to take the fullest advantage of his growing popularity. Danny surprised Tom and me by suggesting that the Scarlet Spider could join the New Warriors. Danny's rationale was that it would give the Scarlet Spider even more exposure, and it would also be good for the NEW WARRIORS comic. Tom B. and I were pretty taken aback by that. We figured that with the Scarlet Spider becoming so high-profile, Danny would become extremely protective and possessive of the character, and wouldn't allow anyone outside of his office to use the Scarlet Spider-especially not for an extended period of time. So as far as Tom and I were concerned, this was a VERY generous offer from Danny. I think the offer was possibly sparked by the fact that Danny was the original editor of the NEW WARRIORS book, that he still had a fondness for it, and he wanted to see it continue to do well. Tom and I knew a good thing when we saw it, and immediately took Danny up on his offer.
I think that Tom felt that the Scarlet Spider, purely from a character standpoint, could never be part of a team. But like I said, it was too good an offer to pass up, and Tom was willing to put aside his reservations for what would undoubtedly be a good thing for our book. I, on the other hand, was able to rationalize it a bit more. My feeling was that after so many years alone, Ben Reilly would want a place where he could feel like he belonged. If given the opportunity to be around other people just like him, to be in an environment where was readily accepted, I felt that he would definitely take it.
I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe it was I who suggested that Ben would be attracted to Firestar, considering the very important roles in his life played by two other beautiful redheads-Mary Jane, of course, and Janine (from SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS). And if Firestar was attracted to Ben, this could immediately introduce a new character conflict in the Warriors, an immediate animosity between the Scarlet Spider and Justice, and some great romantic drama between Justice and Firestar. Evan Skolnick worked this into the stories as much as he could. We couldn't do all that much with the Scarlet Spider, obviously, since he wasn't really "our" character, and we knew we weren't going to have him for very long, but for the time that we had him, we had some fun with him. ]