Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1 By DeFalco / Mackie / Nauck
Where to start? The Clone Saga is probably one of the most hotly debated storylines in comic book history. Despite the fan backlash it provoked at the time, the storyline and the characters it introduced (perhaps excluding Spidercide) have a massive cult following. For this reason Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie's reimagining of the saga has been arguably one of the most hotly anticipated mini series of the year. As a massive fan of the Clone Saga myself I have been eagerly awaiting it since it's initial announcement. Now that the first issue has finally arrived, does it meet its massive expectations?
Well...Not yet. Compressing a storyline that ran across four books plus various minis and one shots for years into a six issue mini series was always going to be a tough task, and despite Defalco's fast paced style being well suited to this sort of project, this issue feels very rushed. It would perhaps be unrealistic to expect a 12 issue mini series but I feel that that would have been a more suitable length for a project of this nature. Despite this the issue is generally well written, the highlights being Peter and Ben's internal monologues. Ben has been away for so long and its just great to see him again. It's also a treat to see Kaine in his classic costume, it sadly looks like when he returns in Amazing Spider-Man he will be sporting an updated look. Defalco and Mackie also manage to keep up the tension in a storyline that could become predictable with the introduction of a shadowy figure giving Kaine orders, and a mystery surrounding Aunt May's illness. I'm not crazy about the idea of Kaine working for someone but I am willing to see how it is developed, and I'm glad that Mackie and Defalco are doing their best to keep the storyline fresh for more seasoned readers. Getting rid of the Judas Traveller subplot was another welcome change, while the character has his fans he has no place in an already overcrowded storyline. Sadly the dialogue for the most part wasterrible, although this could be a subtle comment on the style of most 90's comics it really took me out of the story at times. Neither Mackie or Defalco are famed for their good dialogue however so luckily I was prepared for this and it wasn't too much of a dissapointment. The original saga's strength was more in it's plotting than it's dialogue anyway so I will be more willing to overlook this negative if the story stays on track
I am a big fan of Todd Nauck's art and he does not dissapoint here, indeed I don't think I could think of a better choice to pencil this series (perhaps Mark Bagley aside). His work looks a lot more polished than it was during his run on Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, and I look forward to seeing his renditions of some classic Clone Saga characters.
Overall a solid read, perhaps harmed by the weight of my expectations. Still, the original saga took a while to get going and I look forward to seeing the direction that Mackie and Defalco take the story in. I'm slightly underwhelmed, but still expectant!