Nope, it was Spider-Man. Specifically, the Clone Saga. A time of huge controversy in the Spider-titles as what started as an interesting idea, got thrown wildly out of control by marketing excess. By the time the dust settled, the various elements introduced were brushed away with a seemingly unspoken promise at Marvel to never speak of it again.
A great shame though, as for all the problems with the Clone Saga it had its highlights as well. Aunt May’s death was a beautifully written issue that moved the character of Peter Parker forward, Kaine was a compelling new villain, and Ben Reilly a brilliant new character that added something new to the franchise by giving Peter a brother. I’ve always maintained that the whole thing went wrong only when phrases involving the words “one, true” came into the mix. Until that point it had been great fun having the two brothers running around. Something that was briefly recaptured towards the end of the story albeit with Ben now in the Spider-Man role rather than as the Scarlet Spider.
Despite the unravelling of the Clone Saga I actually stuck with the Spider-titles for a while afterwards, only eventually dropping them in protest over Aunt May’s resurrection. It was a horrible story and a worse retcon. And subsequent storylines such as Mary Jane’s “death”, Spider-totems, Sins Past and One More Day only served to underline my decision to walk away.
Until now. Now they’ve managed to do the one thing guaranteed to bring me back to the fold. The Clone Saga is back, and not just in the form of the new mini-series that started this month. Nope, its turned up in Amazing Spider-Man as well, with flashbacks to Ben Reilly, and Kaine himself appearing (and due to be the focus of a story in this week’s Web of Spider-Man). For me, this is really exciting, and makes so much more sense than the previous “pretend it never happened” ethos. Obviously, partly this will be due to the amount of time that’s passed, so now readers and fans of the clone saga will be the writing professionals, so why shouldn’t Marvel embrace those pieces of the storyline (which occupied a fair chunk of the 90s) that actually worked?
Of course, sadly this is all unlikely to result in Ben Reilly actually coming back (a pity as I’d love new stories with Ben back as the Scarlet Spider), but the return of Kaine should be very interesting, as he was always a powerful opponent and his very personal links to Peter should be interesting to see what he’s actually up to.
And of course, I have to mention the first issue of the Clone Saga mini-series, which is re-presenting the series, altered to present something more along the ideas of the original writers. It was definitely fun to see the story being revisited, although I personally found the first issue a little rushed. Its hard to criticise it for that though, given it was trying to set the scene, and had to incorporate about a years worth of events in the Spider-titles in order to get the reader to the point where the main story of the Clone Saga can be told. It was definitely fun to see the new spin on Peter and Ben’s meeting and it was so nice to see the characters working together again. I’ll be very interested to see what the rest of the series brings, especially now the necessary evil of catching the reader up is out of the way.