Lives have been changed.
The Scarlet Spider comes into a battle taking place between the New Warriors and the super brute named Helix. After their victory, the team takes a liking to him and offers him membership. Later, he enters into a battle with a mercenary terrorist group called Shadowforce Alpha, and thwarts their plan as well, but this altercation is only the beginning of something else. -summary
Here's the final volume of the Clone Saga, which ties up whatever loose ends that were left hanging, and like the first two volumes, it begins with a pretty rough start. The stories aren't exactly bad; they actually have some mildly decent moments of entertainment. It's just that when compared to the main storyline taking place with the clones they just really can't compare. The actual clone stories did a far better job gripping me with the suspense and character development. It never really gets old listening to the characters complaining about their situation because it's quite serious. During the earlier parts of the story, there were many moments where Kaine was getting painful visions seeing Mary Jane's death in the very near future. Being the first clone of Peter Parker, these thoughts were driving him mad to the point where he actually kidnapped her, with intentions on keeping her safe from the threat he couldn't completely see. Well we finally learn who her possible murderer is, and although predictable, even back then I doubt anyone saw how it was going to take place. This final volume collects New Warriors 62 - 64, Amazing Spider-Man 405 - 406, Amazing Spider-Man Super Special Flipbook, Spectacular Spider-Man 228 - 229, Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special Flipbook, Spider-Man 62 - 63, Spider-Man Super Special Flipbook, Spider-Man Team Up 1, Spider-Man Unlimited 10, Venom Super Special Flipbook, Web of Spider-Man 128 -129, and Web of Spider-Man Super Special Flipbook.
After the New Warriors story in the very beginning, the next arc takes place through the Super Special series, as Scarlet Spider makes a new ally in a super strong man named Armstrong. Armstrong was saved by a doctor, and the means used to do it has attracted the attention of long time Spider-Man foe, the Lizard aka Curt Connors; whom has went through a metamorphosis changing him even closer to his namesake. He's far more vicious now, and he doesn't hesitate to kill all in his path. This five part story is decent at best, and it was just another arc to build up the Scarlet Spider into the new star of the series. I don't believe it did that great of a job, but at least the story is readable. Things get interesting when it focuses on the main situation at hand in the story arc Exiled.
During the Exiled storyline, Ben Reilly finds himself soul searching once again pondering should he stay in New York or not. This story features several flashbacks of him meeting and befriending Seward Trainer, and you learn how the two became so close. He also ends up in battle with the Vulture whom has become an energy sucking vampire due to his old age returning, and he embarks on a demented mission to remain young, by siphoning the very life force from any healthy people crossing his path. This is a decent arc with some nice action panels and side stories that plays into the character development. Nothing too special here though. The next stories taking place with the New Warriors are mainly action oriented and have nothing to do with the Clone Saga. Besides Marvel wanting to over expose this maxi-crossover, these stories are mainly meant to develop Scarlet Spider as a team member, and for New Warrior fans, focuses on a personal issue taking place with Firestar, plus returning Night Thrasher and Rage to the ranks.
Things really heat up with the next two arcs: Time Bomb and The Greatest Responsibility. In the former, Spider-Man goes berserk due to a post-hypnotic command, and he finds himself fighting against The New Warriors and the Scarlet Spider. There's some very good action here, with the Wall-Crawler nearly destroying the entire team with his spider abilities being used to the max. One would have to wonder if he always fought like this; how often would he lose? The latter follows the Scarlet Spider as he ends up in battle with the new Doctor Octopus, whom happens to be a female scientist that did away with all of the original Doc Ock's weaknesses. She's very tough and cunning, and also uses a force field that gives both Spider-Men a hard time. Although the story is action packed, the character development overshadows everything, as we see Peter Parker behaving differently than usual and his new attitude is completely believable and understandable. In addition to the drama, the usual witty comedy is present with some funny dialog exchanges between the two Spider-Men. Sometimes it can be too fun watching them work together, and that's not a bad thing either.
The artwork is stronger in this volume than all the others. Web of Spider-Man 128 looked really good, with some fantastic character designs of the female heroine Black Cat, and the night time backgrounds with the moon seemed to capture the beauty of the character. The attention in detail in regards to Mary Jane's pregnancy is also a stand out, as she's displayed in many different outfits. The facial features captured my notice as well, with Peter Parker waking up in very cold sweats with the look of fear on his face. Spectacular Spider-Man is still the weak link here, with vapid character designs and not exactly so good backgrounds. Many of the action panels are entertaining and easy to follow.
Overall, in hindsight I don't believe the Clone Saga is all that bad of a series anymore. The length was definitely an issue and I can understand long time fans gripe with a major decision. It bothered me also, and even after reading it again after so many years it still does. However, I refuse to join the herd and call it garbage or terrible; there were too many occasions where I was entertained, and the story did move in a very interesting direction later on. In any case, if you're at all a fan of Spider-Man, this is one story arc that shouldn't be overlooked.
Pros: Some very good artwork at times, character development
Cons: A little bad artwork here and there, some things still feel like filler