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Old 10-27-2011, 01:12 PM   #26
ben_reilly_s_s
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 20b:
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I've discussed in the past that once it was decided that Peter had to return as Spider-Man, there was no chance that he could become a father. What you probably never knew was that Peter's return as Spider-Man was also going to coincide with the end of his marriage to Mary Jane. It was felt that Peter Parker should go back to being single, and that the end of the clone saga was the place to do it. So you see, the breakup of Peter and Mary Jane's marriage, which happened in the 2001 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL, was actually something that was intended to happen six years ago!

The first memo, dated June 29, 1995, comes from Todd Dezago. In a nutshell, Todd proposed that we announce a storyline called "The Death of the Clone," which would get all of fandom thinking that Peter (still believed to be the clone) was going to either die of clone degeneration or get killed by some super-villain. As the suspense builds to a dramatic peak, Ben Reilly is the one who gets the clone degeneration and melts away, revealing that Peter was the real deal all along.

An interesting fake-out, isn't it? Sort of like the way Alfred Hitchcock made audiences think that Janet Leigh's character was going to be the main character in Psycho, only to kill her off within the first third of the film. But wait, there's more.

As Peter copes with both the sudden restoration of his identity and the loss of the closest thing he's ever had to a brother, the pregnant Mary Jane also develops clone degeneration and melts away! Mary Jane was a clone, too! It turns out that the Jackal captured the real Mary Jane years earlier and kept her in suspended animation for all that time! She and Peter were never married! As Todd wrote, "No baby! Peter's single! No clone! Disoriented MJ has to readjust! We play down the tragedy of Peter losing his family by having a 'new' Mary Jane around... (Peter) will feel responsible in that she lost five years of her life and was drawn into it all because he was Spider-Man!"

I honestly don't remember what my reaction to Todd's memo was back then, but considering how wacky some of the later ideas were, this one is pretty reasonable to me. Hell, I'm wondering now why we didn't pursue this any further! I kind of like it, actually. It's simple, it's clean, and it accomplishes everything it needs to. It's not a perfect solution, but then again, neither was the one we ended up using for real. And this one has that extra twist of Mary Jane having been a clone since 1975. I mean, who would've seen that coming?
Posted by Andrew Goletz at 12:59 PM
Part 21a:
Quote:
Part 21
This time out, we cover a self-contained story in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #232 and then move right into the next inter-title crossover, "Web of Carnage." Let's get this show on the road, shall we?


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Before we get into the core books, I wanted to take a little personal walk down memory lane. The 1995 SPIDER-MAN HOLIDAY SPECIAL came out in December 1995, more or less around the time of "Web of Carnage," and it featured my very first professional Spider-Man comic book story. Entitled "A Matter of Faith," the story was about Ben Reilly's first Christmas Eve back in New York, after five long years on the road.

Here's the story in a nutshell: Now assured that he had been the original Peter Parker all along, and having taken back the role of Spider-Man, Ben Reilly has regained so much of what he thought was lost to him forever. But he nonetheless laments the fact that he's still all alone in the world. And when you're all alone, Christmas is the most depressing time of the year. As Spider-Man, Ben ends up rescuing a young lady named Jenny who's dealing with the holiday blues far worse than he is - she attempted suicide by jumping off the same bridge where Gwen Stacy was killed. Spider-Man takes Jenny on a web-slinging ride over Manhattan as she explains the terrible circumstances that led her to the bridge, but the conversation is cut short when Spider-Man ends up battling the Scorcher, who had previously been seen in UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN #1. Jenny, standing nearby, ends up saving the life of an innocent bystander who is nearly crushed by wreckage resulting from the fight. She realizes that had she succeeded in killing herself, the man she just saved might very well be dead. Knowing that she's made a difference, reassured that her life is worth something, Jenny's spirit is renewed and she commits herself to the world of the living. Spider-Man's spirits are also lifted, and as he swings off into the night, he wishes Jenny - and the readers - a Merry Christmas.

I was really excited to be writing this story, and the icing on the cake was that one of my favorite artists at that time, Kevin Maguire, was the penciler, with Jimmy Palmiotti on inks. For a neophyte like me to have such talented, well-established pros working with me... well, I felt very, very lucky. But there's a story behind the story.

You see, in my original version, I established that Jenny had just been diagnosed with a terminal disease. I was never going to come out and say it in the story, but in my mind, she had contracted AIDS. And she took the news very badly. She felt that she had just gotten a death sentence, that she had nothing left to live for, and that was why she decided to commit suicide. The rest of the story played out pretty much the way it saw print, but there would have been much more poignancy at the end, with Jenny realizing that she could still make a difference and vowing to devote however much time she had left to making her life count for something. That version of the story was the one that was bought by the Holiday Special's editor, Sarra Mossoff, but it was then submitted to the Spider-Man Group's Editor in Chief, Bob Budiansky, for final approval. And Bob demanded changes. Bob's main problem with the story was that it was a downer - at the end of the story, Jenny still had the disease, so she was still eventually going to die. Bob insisted that I remove the disease aspect from the story, and give Jenny another reason for wanting to do herself in, something that could be more fully resolved at the end.

When Sarra told me about this, I was shocked and upset. I felt that Bob completely missed the point of the story, which was that we should all try to make our lives count for something, because NONE of us knows how much time we have. I felt that leaving Jenny with a somewhat gloomy fate, but nevertheless confronting her future with courage and determination, made the story inspirational, not a downer. I made all these arguments to Sarra, who listened patiently, but she finally said that Budiansky was firm on these revisions and if I wanted to do the story, I would have to make them.

Well, I wasn't going to walk away from my first opportunity to write Spider-Man. Who knew if such an opportunity would ever come my way again? So I made the changes. Instead of a terminal disease, Jenny was dealing with a long string of personal problems and all-around bad luck, leading her to want to end it all. To this day, I still think the story was neutered. When it saw print, one Marvel editor who had read my original version said to me that Budiansky had "butchered" the story. Looking at it again for this column, I have to say that it's not altogether bad as a first attempt to write Spider-Man, and I still think it's so cool that Kevin Maguire penciled one of my stories. But I can't help but think about what it could have been.

Now, back to Andrew... ]

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, #232 written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and Jimmy Palmiotti, brings back Peter and Mary Jane Parker from Portland and also brings Dr. Seward Trainer out of cyberspace. It seems that the skeleton story has made J. Jonah Jameson crazy and he made a call out to Peter to see if he could come and get some incriminating shots of Spider-Man and the skeleton.

One nice moment occurs as Peter and MJ get reacquainted with Ben, commenting on his new hair style, which MJ likes, and his new apartment, complete with an airshaft for ventilation purposes that goes straight to the roof. It's a great feature for anyone in need of a change of identity and easy escape route. Peter's sole comment on the airshaft: cool. After Ben shows Peter the skeleton, Jessica comes to the apartment. The two scramble to find a way to hide Peter, so Jessica doesn't discover their secret since they look the same. MJ, the most calm of the 3, suggests that Ben introduce Peter as his cousin from Portland.

Jessica buys the story of Peter and Ben being cousins, but things still manage to get hectic. Pieces of the skeleton are on the floor and Ben tries to discretely gather them while Peter distracts Jessica with talk of photography. Then Seward appears on Ben's television, using the abilities that he demonstrated months ago. Seward tells Ben that he's figured out a way to get back to his body, but Carolyn disconnected the wiring from the hospital machines that would let the cyber-Seward make the jump. In a cute bit, Peter and Jessica come into the room and ask Ben and Mary Jane what they're watching. When MJ says "the Weather Channel," Seward begins to rattle off the five day forecast.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I remember that Todd Dezago had a lot of fun with this Ben/Peter sequence, and he would continue to play their scenes together for all they were worth, in terms of both the comedic and dramatic possibilities, throughout the rest of the clone saga. ]

Ben is able to concoct a story about going with Peter to visit an uncle in the hospital and when Jessica leaves, Ben puts on the suit and races to the hospital to try and rescue Seward. Carolyn has already arrived with her goons in tow. She and Spider-Man battle inside the hospital and out until a fed up Spidey takes her down. Seward is able to be hooked up again, which allows for the cyber Seward to return to his body, and awaken from the coma. After checking on his friend, Ben goes to pay a visit to Jessica, who's finishing up in the darkroom of her apartment. When she tells Ben to come in, he is shocked to find dozens of Spider-Man pictures plastered all over the walls.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Considering that Jessica was a "Jurgens" character, and the whole story line was really Dan's brainchild and therefore his to play with, Todd did a really good job of taking the character and moving her forward in this issue. ]

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #3, written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens and Klaus Janson, begins the 4-part "Web of Carnage" story line. Spider-Man is still being hunted by the police for swiping the skeleton. He's just come from Ravencroft, where he was investigating the possibility of Carnage having escaped. Spider-Man clears the perimeter and is rescued by Peter Parker, who's sporting a Corvette. Pete tells Ben that he followed Spider-Man's whereabouts via a police scanner, an old trick he picked up from hanging around Bugle reporters.

During the ride home, Ben tells Peter that he's concerned about his new girlfriend, Jessica. He shows Peter a picture of Jessica on her 7th birthday, with a blurred image of her father in the background. He says that there's something about her father and her hatred of Spider-Man that's connected. Jessica was upset at Ben's reaction to her wallpapered room of Spider-Man photos and asked that he trust her. She revealed that her father was sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. He was accused of murder, but says the truth was that an old man mistook her father for a burglar, pulled a gun on him and there was a struggle. The old man died and her father was found guilty.

When Ben tried to figure out how Spider-Man was connected, Jessica kept going on about how Spider-Man is a murderer. Of course, Ben tried to defend the wall-crawler, but she would have none of that. Ben asked if her father ever interacted with Spider-Man and she clammed up, saying that she doesn't like to talk about it. Ben then headed over to the Daily Grind to drop off his time card and noticed that the place was packed. When Shirley asked if Ben could pitch in and help for a bit, he apologized and said he had other plans. Ben mused about how much this was like the old days, when his life as Spider-Man collided with his real life.

Ben switched to Spider-Man to blow off some steam when he came across the victim of an attack by someone who sounded suspiciously like Carnage. This led Spider-Man to check out Ravencroft for answers, and it appeared that Carnage was locked away safely in his cell. Then the authorities showed up and Peter arrived shortly thereafter to help.

Peter and Spider-Man then head for Avengers headquarters to get answers to the skeleton mystery. Spider-Man tells Giant Man that Peter's there to photograph the moment where he's cleared of being "the imposter who murdered Spider-Man."

While Giant Man runs tests on the skeleton, Peter fools around with the picture of Jessica's 7th birthday on a photo enhancer. Giant Man runs his tests and then runs a second batch using Reed Richard's computers to double check.

Peter finishes with the photo and discovers that Jessica's father is the burglar that killed Uncle Ben! Their next shock comes from Giant Man, who says that the skeleton was in the smokestack for 5 years and is a clone of Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The "Web of Carnage" story, as I recall, was the brainchild of Bob Budiansky. It came up at the June 1995 Spider-Man writers conference, which I attended. (Incidentally, and I've mentioned this before, it was the one and only Spider-Man writers conference attended by Dan Jurgens.) Bob felt, and rightfully so, that Carnage was a big sales draw, and that it was time to bring the character back to face Ben Reilly. The specific idea that was discussed at length at the writers conference was for the Carnage symbiote to bond with Ben and try to possess him.
As for the skeleton aspect of the story, well, I got into this at length last time, so I won't rehash all of it here. I will say that I don't remember whose idea it was to definitively establish in SENSATIONAL #3 that the skeleton was that of a Spider-Man clone, and that it had been in the smokestack for the previous five years. Once we went down that road, though, we raised a whole bunch of questions for which we had no answers.

For one thing, we still hadn't figured out who or what Ben Reilly was going to be, if the skeleton was indeed going to be that of the genuine, original clone of Spider-Man from AMAZING #149. ]

"Web of Carnage" Part 2 takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #410, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt and Randy Emberlin. The issue opens with Peter and Spider-Man coming back from Avengers HQ. They don't know what to think. If Ben is the original and the skeleton is the original clone, then what does that make Peter? Peter doesn't know what to think or who to trust anymore. He decides that he wants to pay a visit to Seward to straighten some things out. Before they go their separate ways, Spider-Man lets Peter take a picture of him with the skeleton, to make Jameson happy and for Peter to look good.

Rumors still swirl around Carnage or an imitator roaming around, but apparently Carnage is still incarcerated. Spider-Man decides to follow a Ravencroft employee named Dickerson, who he sees going into an underground club dedicated to super-villains. It turns out that Dickerson is selling authentic merchandise, like bandages and towels, from "guests" at Ravencroft. Spider-Man is just watching when suddenly Carnage bursts into the club.

Although this Carnage is a genuine alien symbiote, capable of the same powers as Carnage or Venom and just as deadly, Spider-Man deduces that the person is too tall and bulky to be Kasady, the original Carnage. Carnage manages to get away.

Back at the hospital, Peter and Mary Jane arrive to see Seward. A vehicle on the street stands guard and a mysterious occupant of the vehicle calls Seward's room, warning him of what to do. Seward, recognizing the voice on the other end of the line, tells the person that he understands. He then orders the front desk to not allow Peter or MJ to see him at that time. Peter is immediately suspicious, but accepts the setback for now.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This sequence, indicating that there was more to Seward Trainer than met the eye, kicked off what was intended to be the story line that would end the clone saga once and for all. In a way, it still did, but the story line was supposed to end a whole lot earlier than it ultimately did, and in a significantly different way. For one thing, the identity of the mysterious character who called Seward's room ended up being radically changed from the original plans. More on this later. ]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:12 PM   #27
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 21b:
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Meanwhile, at the Daily Bugle, Jessica is showing her Spider-Man photos to Robbie. Jameson overhears the discussion and joins in. They both admit she has talent but tell her that great shots don't necessarily equal a great story. Jameson suggests that photos showing Spider-Man coming off bad are more likely to sell, which inspires Jessica even further.

Spider-Man is tailing John Jameson of Ravencroft, having turned up nothing more than a petty thief in Dickerson. His hunch works out, as Jameson transforms into Carnage. Spider-Man takes him on, and tries to find out how the symbiote bonded to Jameson. He wants to help his friend, or rather Peter's friend. Jameson manages to explain to Spider-Man that the alien is only using him as a temporary host until it finds someone stronger. At that moment, the Carnage symbiote grafts itself onto Spider-Man. The Spider-Carnage begins to tear through the city, with Jessica in a perfect place to take photos.

SPIDER-MAN #67, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr, Al Williamson and Al Milgrom, continues "Web of Carnage." The grotesque Spider-Carnage spots Jessica and moves in for the kill, but Ben Reilly has enough control to keep the alien from achieving its goal. Spider-Carnage swings off, and waits for Peter at Ben's apartment.

The symbiote is trying to overtake Ben's conscience. It tells him how if he were to kill Peter that there would be no question as to who is real and who's the clone. When Ben says he knows he's the real one, the alien asks how he can be sure and suggests killing Peter and ending it all now. Ben manages to stay in control enough to not do anything, but the internal struggle makes Peter suspicious even more. Peter wants Ben to go with him to see Seward and try to get some answers. A possessed Ben lashes out at Peter, forcing him to leave.

Peter checks out the hospital on his own, only to find that Seward has been discharged and there is no information of his billing address. Peter's only lead is that Seward's medical bills were paid for by something called the Multivex Corporation. At the same time, Spider-Carnage has been following Peter, hunting him. Peter and Spider-Carnage have their confrontation and again Ben regains control long enough for Peter to live through the experience.

The story line is concluded in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #233, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema, Art Thibert and John Stanisci. The Spider-Carnage continues its insanity as the Ben side seeks to continue to fight crime and help innocents while the alien part disperses extreme justice to criminals, almost killing them before the Ben side takes back control. Ben is able to gain enough control to head for Ravencroft, where he hopes the people there will figure out a way to control the alien.

Peter, though, is busy tracking down Seward's whereabouts and heads for the Multivex Corporation. He's not given a warm reception and is escorted outside. After Peter's taken care of, a mysterious person inside the building tells Seward that they wish to see Seward continue his experiments in private.

Spider-Carnage finally reaches Ravencroft, where the security team tries to bring in the symbiote. In the end, the symbiote just wants to be returned to its proper host, Kasady. The alien frees itself from Spider-Man and goes back to its host via the plumbing in the sink, explaining how it was able to get out in the first place.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : And now it's Spider-Clone Memo time. This week, I present a memo submitted by one of the core Spider-Man writers of that time, but he was so disenchanted by his own ideas that he submitted the memo under a pseudonym! Even after all these years, I'm not sure he would want his real name revealed, especially in a public forum such as this, so I will protect his identity.

The basic gist of the idea is that a major story line would end with both Ben and Peter getting caught in a terrible explosion. In the following issue, we pick up some days later, and reveal that only one of them survived. The problem is, the survivor has partial amnesia and can't remember if he's Peter Parker or Peter Parker's clone! Since there doesn't seem to be any way to fully restore his memories and allow him to be sure about his true identity, our hero decides to just continue on as Peter Parker. As it said in the memo, "The important thing to keep in mind is to have the amnesia over and done with in one story line... And now we proceed and never look back." Comparisons were made to the phenomenal success that Marvel was enjoying with Wolverine and Cable, both of whose true origins remained mostly unknown. (This was six years ago, remember, long before there was any thought of doing a WOLVERINE: ORIGIN limited series or fully fleshing out Cable's back story). The memo argued that a similar approach could now be applied to Spider-Man.

And there was more. For one thing, the still-pregnant Mary Jane would be missing. For a time, it would seem as if she's dead. But enough clues of her survival would be dropped along the way that Spider-Man would begin to question whether she and the baby truly died. This would eventually lead to a whole new story line, "The Search For Mary Jane," and when he finally does find her, she's no longer pregnant, but has no idea what happened to the baby. That, then, could kick off a "Baby Quest" story line that would keep the momentum going, maintain the sense of mystery, and keep readers guessing. And what would the answers turn out to be? Nothing! The mysteries would never be solved! As it said in the memo, "(The readers) may claim to want all the answers... they may demand the answers... we may even want to give the answers to the readers, but... once you do, you are bound to piss someone off... (The readers) don't really want to know! Take away the mystery and it's over."

I did say the ideas got wilder as we went along, didn't I?

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:13 PM   #28
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Part 22a:
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Part 22
The six-part "Blood Brothers" story line is covered here. Since it spans over two months of stories, we've broken it down into 2 parts. LoR Part 22 will cover "Blood Brothers" parts 1-3, as well as SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #12, which wraps up the 'skeleton mystery" (for now) and LoR Part 23 will cover "Blood Brothers" Parts 4-6, as well as an important installment of WHAT IF. Let's get to it.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #4, written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens and Klaus Janson, starts the "Blood Brothers" story line, with Peter showing Jameson the photo of Spider-Man with the skeleton. Jameson is very pleased, but tries to cheat Peter out of what he's supposed to be paid. After a bluff by Peter, Jameson caves, but also says how he's hired a forensic scientist to reconstruct the skeleton to get to the bottom of the mystery.

At the Daily Grind, Shirley tells Ben that his social security number came up as being incorrect, so Ben promises to fix it later. Jessica then comes in to confront Ben for avoiding her. Outside the café, Ben asks Jessica again to tell him about her father. She presents a very skewed version of the facts, again talks of how her father was mistaken for a burglar, and tried to wrestle a gun away from the "old man" when the gun went off and killed the old man. After serving time in prison, her father was released, but Spider-Man hunted him down, caught him in a warehouse, and strangled him. She says the coroner called it a heart attack, but she believes that they were just covering for Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The actual account of the final confrontation between Spider-Man and the burglar who killed Uncle Ben was chronicled in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #200, written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by Keith Pollard. It was also in this milestone issue that Aunt May finally overcame her great fear of Spider-Man.

By the way, I found the end of AMAZING (Volume 2) #35, which I just read, quite interesting. In 1998, when the Spider-Man creative teams were ordered by Marvel's then-editor in chief, Bob Harras, to bring Aunt May back, they were specifically told that she could not know that Peter was Spider-Man. Essentially, they were told to undo everything that had been established in AMAZING (Volume 1) #400, and make it clear that Aunt May had NEVER known about Peter's double life. This was not negotiable. Harras hated the idea of Aunt May having ever known, and wanted to make sure this was wiped from continuity in the most definitive way possible. Hence the "startling revelation" that it was actually an "actress" playing the part of Aunt May, set up by Norman Osborn, who really appeared in that story and died. Looking at the new AMAZING #35, all I can say is: what a difference a few years and a new editor in chief can make, huh? ]

Their conversation is cut short when Ben sees a SWAT van speeding down the road. He makes up an excuse and runs off to change into Spider-Man. Jessica follows the van, too, hoping to score some good shots. Spider-Man is able to take care of the situation, and then ducks back into an alley to change back to Ben Reilly. In his haste, ignores a low level Spider-sense buzz. The buzz was warning him that Jessica was trying to get some Spider-Man pictures and instead snapped some of him without his mask. Ben puts the mask back on and races to try and explain things to Jessica, who tells him that she never wants to talk to him or see him ever again.

Ben tells Peter about the disturbing news as they get rid of the skeleton properly, burying it in a graveyard, away from Jameson's inquisitive scientists. Peter again suggests that Seward may not have performed accurate tests, and when Ben tells Peter that Seward can be trusted, he's accused of being blind to the truth due to his allegiance to Seward.

The story continues in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #411, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt and Al Milgrom. The Bugle is putting up a $100,000 reward for the return of the missing skeleton. The police are angry, feeling that such a reward will bring every crackpot and mercenary into the city, but Jameson just wants publicity, and to see Spider-Man suffer.

Ben's woes continue as he tries to keep his mind off Jessica, and discovers that the heat in his apartment's been shut off since his rent check bounced. When he goes to the bank to check on his account, he finds that there's an anomaly with his social security number. Since Seward is the one who created the number, Ben needs his help to get things straightened out. In the meantime, he hopes to ask Shirley for an advance. When he gets to the Daily Grind, Ben finds out that two men, claiming to be cops, warned Shirley that Ben had a history of violent and erratic behavior against employers.

Across town, Peter and MJ are debating when they should go back home to Portland. Peter wants to get to the bottom of the mystery of the skeleton, but MJ doesn't care about who is who. She tells Peter that he's the man she loves and he can't go around playing Spider-Man. His responsibility is to her and their unborn child.

At the Multivex Corporation, the mystery man who's been hounding Seward is shown in more detail. He has to wear an environmental suit to keep his body operating and Seward's job is to repair his body and restore the man to his physical prime.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The mysterious figure was intended to be the sole mastermind behind the entire clone saga, a powerful and influential figure who was controlling Seward Trainer and manipulating the lives of Peter Parker and Ben Reilly from the shadows. Forced to wear an environmental suit to maintain his life functions, he would eventually be restored to health by Seward, and at that point, we would reveal his identity. At least, that was the plan when the "Blood Brothers" story line was produced. ]

Peter and MJ do some shopping in the city and then Peter agrees to move the return to Portland up immediately. They share a kiss, but they're suddenly abducted into a blind alley. The attackers reveal themselves to be a cybernetically enhanced merc squad called Cell-12 that has been assigned to "take out" Peter and MJ. Peter tries to reason with them to let MJ go, but they know she'd just try and get help and decide that she's to be kept, though safe, theirs for now. The team proceeds to attack Peter, who's no match for them without his powers. While a badly beaten Peter asks, "Why?" one of the squad tells him that he's been poking his nose in places it doesn't belong. They continue to assault Peter while MJ can do nothing but watch her husband fall.

At that same time, Ben returns to his apartment to find it completely stripped bare, with the words "We Know Who You Are" scrawled on the floor. Realizing that whoever did this to his apartment might want to lash out against his workplace, Ben rushes towards the Daily Grind, only to find it burning to the ground.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : With his chapter of "Blood Brothers," Tom DeFalco once again turned in a very solid, dramatic, engaging issue that raised lots of questions and deepened the mysteries, ensuring that readers would come back for more. ]

SPIDER-MAN #68, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr, Al Williamson and Al Milgrom, continues the "Blood Brothers" story line. Spider-Man stands amidst the ruins of what was the Daily Grind as the two cops from the other day survey the damage with Shirley and her son. They again try to implicate Ben Reilly, mentioning that he has a history of lashing out against his employers this way.

Elsewhere, Peter and MJ are having a crisis. Peter lacks the faith in himself to carry on. His recent beating at the hands of Cell-12 made him feel like the "puny" Parker of old and he feels helpless. MJ promises that nothing will happen to any of them and that she will be with him no matter what he decides to do.

On the other side of town, Jessica is returning to her apartment, still debating on whether to use the photo of Ben or not, when Spider-Man appears in her apartment. He's furious. Ben believes that Jessica is behind all of his misery of late and warns Jessica to back off and to stay out of his life. He swings off, still as mad as he was before, and tries to cope with the fact that there's no one he can turn to or trust anymore. He feels that he has only one hope left and that's to find Seward, which should be easy since he put a spider-tracer on his equipment.

Spider-Man arrives at the location and finds a note reading "you were warned." Cell-12 members scurry in the shadows and then suddenly strike out, trying to take Spider-Man by surprise. He's able to deal with Cell-12 pretty easily, and then comes face to face with the leader of the squad, the Hobgoblin. The goblin looks very different this time around, with many cybernetic enhancements to the costume. This Spider-Man has never faced any Hobgoblin before, though, and mistakenly refers to him as "Green Goblin," a comment that the Hobgoblin doesn't appreciate. As they battle, the Hobgoblin reveals that he's been orchestrating everything that's been happening to the Parkers and Reilly, as per his boss's instructions. He gains the advantage over Spider-Man and almost kills him before Seward Trainer orders him to stop.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The cyber-enhanced Hobgoblin was an attempt to revitalize the character, to make him cooler and more than just a second-rate Green Goblin. It's necessary to point out that this Hobgoblin was NOT the original one created by Roger Stern back in 1982. This was the second Hobgoblin, Jason Philip Macendale, who had previously been the Jack O'Lantern, and had never been particularly effective as the Hobgoblin after he took over the role around 1987.

Howard Mackie was aware of that fact, and had previously done a multi-part story line that attempted to rectify the situation. Perhaps aware that he had not achieved his goal with that earlier story, Howard tried once again to revamp the Hobgoblin by adding the cyber enhancements. Personally, I wasn't particularly enamored of this revamp (hell, I never cared for Macendale as the Hobgoblin anyway), but I felt it was very appropriate that John Romita Jr. was on board to update the costume, as he had designed the original version of the character. ]

Spider-Man is shocked to see Seward involved, but watches helplessly, battered and bloodied, as his friend walks away with the Hobgoblin, to get back to "the boss." Spider-Man gathers enough strength to get out of there, thinking about how wrong he's been about everything. He awakens Peter and MJ from a sound sleep by coming into their room and collapsing onto the floor.

Let's take a break from "Blood Brothers" to tackle SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #12, written by Evan Skolnick and illustrated by Paris Karounous, Steven Butler, Steve Geiger, Randy Emberlin, Derek Fisher, Scott Hanna, and Al Milgrom. This issue came out the same month as the "Blood Brothers" story line, yet concentrated solely on the question of what to do with the skeleton. Jameson wants to have scientists analyze the bones, which could spell disaster for Peter and Ben should the identity of the skeleton be revealed.

The issue opens with the Beetle in town to try and collect on Jameson's $100,000 reward. After Spider-Man deals with him, he has to face a swarm of other super-villains like Shocker, Boomerang, and the second Jack O'Lantern.

Jameson has his forensic team in place and Peter willingly agrees to be a test subject, since he figures backing out would cause suspicion. The scientists scan his head, and then break away the layers until only the skull remains. They then reconstruct the head from the skull, showing how they'll use photo imaging to learn the identity of the skeleton.

The Pro arrives on the scene and forces Peter to dig up the skeleton, while Spider-Man has to deal with the menace of all the new super-villains in town. After dealing with them, Spider-Man goes to the graveyard to get Peter out of his jam. Unfortunately, a welcoming committee of police and reporters are there. Peter tells Spider-Man that it's best to hand over the remains and reluctantly, Spider-Man agrees.

Later, everyone watches the scientists do their work with bated breath. The reconstruction process starts and the image of Peter Parker appears on the screen for all to see. Immediately, Peter jokes about it to alleviate any tension and someone else deduces that the computer must have transposed Peter's earlier photo from the test to this new one. The experiment is labeled a failure and Peter and Ben breathe a sigh of relief. At least there's one less problem they have to worry about.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Okay, it's "Clone Memo" time, and it's gonna be a long stretch this time around. We're now up to the solution that, for a while, looked like it would actually be used.

I vividly remember the day it was introduced. It was early July, in 1995. I was actually out of the office that day, sick and bedridden. I had called in later in the day to check with my boss, Tom Brevoort, and asked him if any progress had been made in solving the clone dilemma. Brevoort told me that he had suggested an idea that surprised and intrigued everyone on the editorial team (that would be Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky, Associate Editor Eric Fein, and Assistant Editor Mark Bernardo). I asked Brevoort what the idea was, and he summed it up in two words: "Time Loop.

In a nutshell, the idea was that neither Peter Parker nor Ben Reilly was the clone - both were the original. How, you ask, could this be possible? Glad you asked. Brace yourselves, because here we go.

The idea was that Peter Parker would somehow be sent back in time five years, where he would co-exist with the Peter Parker of that time, and somehow be led to believe that he was the clone. Peter would then spend the next five years living as Ben Reilly. When Peter/Ben reaches the point in 1996 (the year this story would have taken place) where he is sent back in time to become Ben, the "time loop" is closed, and there is only one Peter Parker left in the present - the one who's lived the past five years as Ben Reilly. The Ben Reilly of 1996 then regains all the memories of Peter's adventures from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 on, thus validating over 20 years of Spider-Man stories and (hopefully) pleasing longtime fans.

This scenario met the most important requirements laid down by Bob Budiansky, which were that Peter Parker must be restored as Spider-Man, but Ben Reilly must be validated as a character, as well. Ben couldn't be written off as just another clone that was lying around, or a robot, or something else that could be easily and casually dismissed.

After Brevoort told me the concept, I was silent on the phone for a good long moment. I was shocked. I was intrigued. I immediately saw the potential this idea had, and was very excited about helping to develop it further. I became its biggest cheerleader around the office, defending it from any and all criticism and skepticism.

As time passed, we began refining the idea. I pointed out to everyone that there was one key thing we had to get around: the Marvel Universe rule that whenever a character goes back in time, he or she is not going to end up in the same time line he or she left. A new time line, virtually identical to the original one, is created by the trip through time, and that's the one the character is visiting. The best example of this rule is MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #50, wherein the Thing went back in time to the earliest days of the Fantastic Four, as part of an experiment to cure himself. The Thing realized by the end of the story that even if his younger self was cured, it would have no bearing on his current self, because the younger Thing who received the cure was from an alternate time line created by the Thing's journey back in time. Gaaaah! Hope I haven't lost you here! This is the simplest explanation I could come up with!

Anyway, the end result of this rule was that no trip to the past could cause any changes to the Marvel Universe of the present. And under this rule, if Peter Parker was sent back five years, he wouldn't land in the time line that he left. We had to get around this rule, so the suggestion was made that Judas Traveller and Scrier could be brought back into the story line and be responsible for the time loop. The rationale was that these characters were presented as being so vastly powerful - Traveller had once said that he wasn't God, but he was pretty close - that we could just establish that they were able to sidestep this universal rule and make sure that Peter stayed in the same time line when he was sent back in time. That seemed to work, so we went with it. Then, a short time later, I had a new idea that I felt could be inserted into the story, so I asked for a lunch meeting with Brevoort and Budiansky to present it to them. We had the meeting, they thought that my idea could work, so I wrote up an 8-page memo that incorporated everything into one streamlined story treatment.

In short, my idea was that we would reveal that Traveller wasn't exaggerating his closeness to God - that he, in fact, was a fallen angel, "an agent of good who somehow lost his way, and, as punishment, was sentenced to spend his existence wandering the Earth and learning the nature of good and evil." In bringing Traveller back into the story line, we would establish that he now believes in the inherent goodness of mankind, thanks to the example set by Spider-Man, that most human of super heroes. Convinced of mankind's goodness, Traveller would declare that he planned to use his powers to eradicate all evil from the Earth - at which point the enigmatic Scrier would say, "I cannot allow that to happen." We had previously seen that Scrier was working behind Traveller's back, perhaps undermining Traveller, and now we would see why. Scrier reveals his true self to Traveller.

Other important events would be Mary Jane's miscarriage, and the fact that Ben Reilly is beginning to have flashes of "memories that couldn't possibly be his, namely because they belong to Peter Parker!" Eventually, Peter and Ben would discover that neither of them is the clone - both test positive as the genuine article!

The rest of the scenario involved Traveller and Scrier, now clearly in direct conflict with each other, having concocted a contest - one in which winner would take all. "The contest, like so many of Traveller's recent experiments, would revolve around Spider-Man... (it) would settle Traveller and Scrier's dispute about the inherent nature of mankind. Spider-Man will represent all of humanity, and his actions during the contest will determine the outcome... and the winner." If Spider-Man's actions proved Traveller's theory that mankind is inherently good, then Traveller would win the contest and be allowed to remove all evil from Earth. If Spider-Man failed, then Scrier would win and Traveller would have to end his studies and would owe Scrier a very special payment.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:14 PM   #29
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Part 22b:
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Peter and Ben refuse to participate, but they're not given any choice in the matter. In a great show of power, as Ben Reilly and Mary Jane watch, Scrier blasts Peter Parker into oblivion! Peter is apparently disintegrated, gone forever! A horrified and anguished Ben, with vengeance in his heart, closes in to tear Scrier apart. But then Scrier asks what Ben would give to have Peter back. Would he offer his soul and risk eternal damnation, just to restore Peter to life? "Having come to love Peter as a friend and a 'brother,' and unable to bear the sorrow of Mary Jane, one of his closest and dearest friends, Ben says that he would be willing to give anything to bring Peter back... even his own soul."

And here came the kicker: "Scrier laughs, and finally reveals himself to Ben (and the readers) in his true form: MEPHISTO! He says, 'Okay, Peter's alive. In fact, he never died! Because you're Peter! You always have been Peter!"

Here's more: "Mephisto reveals that he never really disintegrated Peter, he just sent him back five years in time, de-aged him, stripped him of his last five years of memories, and placed him in the smokestack, where he would be found by the Jackal... Following his own agenda, the Jackal would then make Peter believe that he was the clone! This Peter would go off to become Ben Reilly, while the Peter Parker who was already living in that time period would continue in New York as Spider-Man."

My story treatment went on (and on and on and on), to discuss the ramifications of these revelations, how everything fit in with established continuity, the backstory of Traveller and Scrier's relationship, and so forth. Traveller would have lost the contest, because in saving Peter, Ben was in essence saving himself, thus supporting Mephisto's argument that mankind is at its core a very selfish beast. The "very special price" that Traveller had to pay Mephisto was his own soul.

I wrote in conclusion: "We know that involving Mephisto and all the metaphysical stuff is a bit far removed from the usual Spider-Man type of story, but the mysticism and metaphysics have been an undeniably prominent part of the series since Traveller and Scrier first appeared. The plan is to pull out all the stops, use these elements to tell and finish off the story once and for all, and then return to the types of Spider-Man stories we're all more familiar (and comfortable) with... After Scrier is revealed to be Mephisto, and Traveller fulfills his role in the saga, and we finish off this story line, we never have to see either of them again in the pages of Spider-Man comic."

Looking back on all this, I think it would have made for an intriguing, compelling, thought-provoking story... but not anything that should ever be done in a Spider-Man comic. In fact, what's so blatant to me now is how Spider-Man is completely overshadowed by the events of this story - he's little more than a plot device, a pawn. And that's not what the readers want to see. Hell, it's not what I would want to see, either! But somehow, I just got so wrapped up in this concept and the story possibilities and the fact that it solved so many of our problems that I lost sight of what makes for a good Spider-Man story. Obviously, I wasn't the only one, since Brevoort came up with the initial idea and Budiansky was onboard for it. But having presented myself in so many installments of this column as one of the very few "voices of reason" during the clone saga, I have to take the blame for being a key part of the "Time Loop" scenario.

Bob Budiansky distributed my story treatment to the Spider-Man writers and Marvel's on-staff continuity cop, Peter Sanderson, who responded with a 7-page memo of his own detailing what worked about the scenario and how things that didn't work could be made to work. This too was sent to the writers. Then Budiansky wrote up a 13-page master overview of his own that was distributed to everyone working on the Spider-Man books. This overview mapped out the whole "Time Loop" saga and proposed that the story line would be brought to a close in the Spider-Man books published in April of 1996.

Next time, I'll discuss why this scenario, which came so close to becoming a reality, was ultimately abandoned, and what came along to replace it. ]
Part 23a:
Quote:
Part 23
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Last time, I went on at great length about the "Time Loop" scenario that was devised to wrap up the "clone era" of the Spider-Man books. It looked for a while like we were actually going to use this scenario, but as you know, we didn't. In this installment, I'll explain why.

First and foremost, the writers were a bit, shall we say, taken aback by the "Time Loop" concept. Dan Jurgens was perhaps the most vocal about his misgivings. "Time travel stories always give me a headache!" he wrote in response. "They're often hard to explain, seem like an easy way out, and are usually incredibly cumbersome."

Dan also argued against using Judas Traveller and Scrier as part of the solution to the clone saga. "If they're so powerful that they can create time loops, why the heck do they care about Spider-Man? (They) create a scenario in which Ben is yanked around by guys way more powerful than him."

Dan wanted to keep things simple. His solution: "Ben is the clone. Peter is real. That's the goal." Was it a flip-flop? Sure. A cop-out? Absolutely. But it was also the quickest, cleanest, simplest way to settle the matter. Dan's idea was that a classic Spider-Man villain would be behind the whole thing, preferably Doctor Octopus, who at that time was still believed to be dead (murdered by Kaine), but was actually operating as the mysterious Master Programmer. "Doc Ock was the first true super-villain (Spider-Man) ever fought, so it's kind of appropriate (that he be behind it all). Doc also knows now that Peter is Spider-Man, so he has the knowledge to pull this off… This is a story that could ultimately mean more to Spider-Man. It brings it down to a more real level than Scrier and Traveller and it seems somehow appropriate that one of his classic villains should be behind all this."

Tom DeFalco's response to the "Time Loop" was equally unenthusiastic. "Mephisto is not a Spider-Man villain," he wrote in a memo dated October 2, 1995. Further, he noted that "we ultimately learn the fate of the 'clone' Peter Parker and Ben Reilly from the ol' Prince of Lies himself." In other words, how can we trust anything that Mephisto says? Another thing DeFalco noted: "Neither Ben nor Peter plays a significant role in the story's resolution. Traveller becomes our major protagonist, and he is the one who must rescue the star of our series."

DeFalco proposed that Seward Trainer simply lied. "Peter Parker was correct when he claimed that Seward had jury-rigged the tests in SPECTACULAR #226. Ben Reilly starts to melt. Peter Parker must return to help Ben. MJ has the miscarriage while Peter is gone. Ben dies heroically. MJ realizes that she has had enough, and can't be married to Spider-Man anymore. Peter becomes Spidey again."

Todd Dezago tried to work with the time travel concept, but suggested that we use Doctor Doom's time platform instead of Traveller and Scrier/Mephisto.

Evan Skolnick, writer of NEW WARRIORS, sent in a memo suggesting that we simply stay the course: preserve Ben as the original Spider-Man and Peter as the clone. No other solution could be simpler than that!

A flurry of memos went back and forth between the Marvel offices and the writers, and an "us versus them" mentality started to creep in between the editorial staff and the writers. Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky and the rest of the editors were pretty convinced that the "Time Loop" idea could work. But the writers, who would be the ones who'd have to write the actual stories and put their names on them, disagreed and tried to suggest alternative scenarios. None of these alternative scenarios were deemed satisfying enough. We had reached a creative stalemate. It was very frustrating, for both sides. Things got tense all around.

Another big problem was that since nothing definite was being decided, all the upcoming Spider-Man special projects were being affected. The key questions surrounding all these special projects were: Would they feature Ben as Spider-Man? Or would they feature a restored Peter Parker? Which version of the Spider-Man costume? What would be the status of Mary Jane and the pregnancy? Since most of these special projects were being edited by Tom Brevoort and myself, our office ended up stuck in a sort of limbo. We couldn't move forward on ANY of these projects because we didn't know what was ultimately going to be decided for the core Spider-Man books. And by not moving forward, we were losing time on the schedule, which meant it would be more and more difficult to get the books out on time. (One of the projects, for example, was a sequel to SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS, set in the present, so it was absolutely essential for us to know the status quo of the Spider-Man books for the middle of 1996.) Tom and I would regularly ask Bob Budiansky for an update, and each time, he'd give us a different answer. "We're definitely going with 'Time Loop,'" he'd tell us. Then, next thing we'd hear is that he wasn't sure. Back and forth, over and over again. Budiansky was mired in indecision, and it was hurting the entire line.

When Brevoort and I would try to explain to Bob that his inability to make a decision about what to do was hurting our projects and was making it increasingly impossible to get these books done on time, he'd bring out his tried and true "tail wagging the dog" line. "I can't let your projects dictate the decisions that need to be made for the core books," he'd say. "That would be the tail wagging the dog." That line became like a mantra to Bob. He said it to us over and over again. Finally, it got so frustrating that after another fruitless meeting with him, in which he said the line again, Brevoort and I quietly walked back to our office, entered it, and then I just exploded. I yelled, "If the dog doesn't know what the hell it's doing, but the tail does, LET IT ****ING WAG!!!!!!!"

Looking back, I think the intense frustration over Budiansky's indecision was the main reason why I was so supportive of the "Time Loop" idea - at least it was a SOLUTION! One that would get us rolling again! It was not a perfect solution, not even a particularly good solution for the Spider-Man books, but it was a solution nonetheless - one that solved most of our problems and gave Budiansky what he'd said he wanted. I honestly would have been just as happy keeping Ben as the original and Peter as the clone. The solution I liked the least was the "flip-flop" scenario, since I felt that was a cop out and was extremely unfair to the readers - not to mention incredibly anti-climactic. But even that was a solution! By this point, all we wanted was a decision made, and we would have happily lived with any one of them.

Tom DeFalco, in an attempt to get things rolling again, suggested that we go in another direction. In a memo dated October 9, 1995, DeFalco proposed this: "I suggest we move forward. Everything we told the readers is true. Peter is a clone. Ben's the real guy… Ben and Peter team up to battle Scrier in a major story line. While Ben and Peter are involved with Scrier and Traveller, MJ miscarries. During the course of a cataclysmic battle, both of our heroes are critically injured. They're both going to die. However, Traveller knows a way to save them. Employing all of his power, at the expense of his own life, Traveller merges Ben and Peter into a single being. The new post-Ben Peter has the memories of both Ben and Peter, validating both of their histories. Thus, we have fulfilled our three goals. But, in order to have a single Spider-Man, MJ will have to reject the new post-Ben Peter… and the hate mail starts again."

The "Time Loop" idea was still in play well into October. Even Kurt Busiek, who wasn't writing any of the core Spider-Man books but was at the time writing UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN for Tom Brevoort and me, wrote up a 6-page memo of his thoughts on the matter, at Bob Budiansky's invitation. The memo reveals that Kurt was right in step with Dan Jurgens: "The finale to the clone saga should be a Spider-Man story… it should be something that fits the tone of the character, or the series at its greatest points, something that connects to what Spider-Man's really about."

Needless to say, Kurt was not in favor of the Mephisto angle, nor did he like Traveller and Scrier. "They don't fit in SPIDER-MAN any more than Loki would fit into THE PUNISHER… This should be a Spider-Man epic, a story in which Spider-Man truly belongs… The most direct way I can think of to yank (the clone saga) back to being a story that feels like a Spidey story is to reveal that behind it all, pulling the strings, is a major, classic Spidey foe." Kurt supported Dan's idea that Doctor Octopus was behind it all, and the bulk of the memo described how the scenario could work.

Of course, Dan and Kurt were 100 percent correct about this story line having to be, first and foremost, a Spider-Man story, with a down-to-earth feel and a suitable villain at its center. (Ironically, and sadly, Dan didn't stick around for the end of the clone saga, and Kurt never ended up writing any of the core Spider-Man books at all.)

More memos followed, with each scenario becoming a bit simpler, a bit more down to earth, and with less involvement from the likes of Traveller and Scrier. Time travel, however, did remain part of the scenario, much to the chagrin of Dan Jurgens.

By the end of October 1995, Dan was getting very frustrated and impatient. In a memo dated October 27, Dan wrote, "For months we've all sent a flurry of memos flying hither and yon regarding the resolution of the Ben/Peter saga. Everybody has gotten involved be they editor, assistants, the guys writing the books, guys not writing the books, and continuity cops… I think the entire process has stepped over the line from being productive to being ridiculous."

I have to say that Dan was absolutely right. If I was one of the core Spider-Man writers, I'd probably be pissed as hell if I was being flooded with long-winded memos from my editor in chief, my fellow writers, some overeager assistant editor kid, a continuity cop, and "outside" writers, all detailing what I should be writing in my book.

Looking back, I've asked myself whether or not I, the aforementioned "overeager assistant editor kid," had crossed the line by contributing my memos to the process and taking such an active part in developing the "Time Loop" scenario. Technically, the answer is no, because my editor in chief had asked me to take part and write those memos, and he encouraged and seemed to value my contributions. But when I look at it from the point of view of Dan Jurgens and the other writers, I definitely have a different opinion. The bottom line was that the core writers were hired to write the Spider-Man books. Therefore, they had to do the writing. If the editorial staff was not going to let the writers do the writing, or wanted to write the books themselves, with little-to-no-input from the writers, then there was no reason for the writers to be there, other than to just do exactly what they were told and collect a paycheck. And that's a lousy situation for any writer who wants to be more than just a hack.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:14 PM   #30
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Part 23b:
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Continuing with Dan's memo, he maintained that Traveller and Scrier should not be used at all, and that time travel should be dropped from the mix, as well. The skeleton from the smokestack would be revealed to be that of the Peter Parker clone from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149. Ultimately, Ben would be revealed to be yet another clone that the Jackal had created. Well aware that this went against what Budiansky had wanted, Dan argued that Ben's actions would define and validate him as a character and as a hero, not his origin. As the story reaches its climax, "Spider-Man/Peter is on the brink of death at the hands of our master villain. It's a fight in public, by the way. In full validation of his life as a hero, Ben, dressed in civvies, sacrifices himself to save Spider-Man/Peter."

Spider-Man would go on to defeat the villain (at this point, Dan was open to options other than Doctor Octopus), but he's lost Ben… and back in Portland, Mary Jane is losing the baby. By the time Peter gets back to Portland, he finds out that Mary Jane miscarried. Dan wrote: "MJ tells him she can forgive him for not being there. She committed herself to living with Spider-Man. But no child should have to live that way and she won't subject herself or any future children to such torture. 'What if it was our daughter or son, only four or five years old, lying in a hospital bed screaming for daddy?' Only daddy can't come because he's out fighting the Lizard!' Peter knows she's right. They part. He goes back to NYC… We're left with one Spider-Man, possibly on his way to divorce and a clone saga that is concluded. For the fans who loved Ben, he went out a hero with his history intact. The skeleton is all it ever was… This proposal has holes. But I believe it serves as a general framework we can all work with to fill in as needed. This is my last shot. After this, I give up."

Obviously, Dan was at the end of his rope. He had no idea that coming on to the Spider-Man books was going to be such a frustrating experience. As most of you know, we pretty much ended up going in the direction he outlined above. (Again, it's very ironic and sad that he would not stay around to help us get to the finish line.)

Dan's memo must have been as persuasive as he'd intended it to be. On November 3, 1995, a new story outline, developed by Dan and Bob Budiansky, was sent around to everyone. It was in this outline that the "Blood Brothers" story line took form. The original plan was that by the time "Blood Brothers" ended in April of 1996, the clone saga would be over. That didn't happen, and I'll explain why later. Now, I'll let Andrew continue with his synopsis of the version of "Blood Brothers" that actually saw print. ]

"Blood Brothers" Part 4 picks up in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #234, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and John Stanisci. A bruised and battered Ben Reilly lies on Peter and MJ's bed, talking about how he's a failure. He says that everything he's had and everything he is has been taken away from him. Ben admits that he was also wrong about Seward.

The next scenes take place at the Multivex headquarters. Seward is arguing with the frail-looking mystery man. Seward says that Ben was never supposed to come to any harm and the man tells him that Seward should only concern himself with finding a way to reverse his condition before Ben finds himself privy to information that he'd find quite shocking. The Hobgoblin gives his report on the Parker and Spider-Man assaults and when the mystery man asks if Spider-Man appeared during the attack on Parker, the Hobgoblin asks if he was expected to. The man replies, "No, not at all."

After Ben has gathered up enough strength, he goes to visit Jessica to apologize for the way he's treated her. She says that she thinks it's time to forget the past and start over and as she and Ben embrace, he screws up by asking her to burn the negatives. Believing this to be the only reason for Ben's apology, Jessica throws him out.

Meanwhile, at Osborn Industries, Liz Allan Osborn is checking the books and finds something that doesn't add up. She calls on her brother, Mark Raxton (aka the Molten Man), who's the CEO of the company, and asks him for information. It seems that Osborn Industries has been pumping huge amounts of money into one of their smaller companies, Multivex.

Spider-Man returns to Peter and MJ's place and finds that Peter has gone off to Multivex again to look for Seward. Peter is able to break into the building, but Cell-12 is waiting for him. Before they can inflict another brutal beating on him, Spider-Man shows up and Peter reveals that he has web shooters under his sleeves. The two team up to take out Cell-12, but then the Hobgoblin shows up. Peter and Spider-Man split up, but not before Peter gives Spidey some advice on how to take out the Hobgoblin. Spider-Man then deals with the Hobgoblin as Peter tries to find Seward.

Their respective missions take them to the same place: the top of the Multivex building. Peter gets the grab on Seward, finally, but then notices the goblin glider (which got loose after Spider-Man put a beating on the Hobgoblin) heading straight for a fuel tank. Peter jumps for the glider to steer it to safety, but is knocked off the glider. Spider-Man sees Peter fall and swings over to rescue him, but they lose precious time. The Hobgoblin and Seward have both disappeared again. They do manage to piece together the fact that Hobgoblin isn't the one responsible, which leads them back to square one: who is behind all this, and why?

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #5, written by Dan Jurgens and illustrated by Jurgens and Klaus Janson, features "Blood Brothers," Chapter 5. A frustrated Spider-Man stops a mugging and proceeds to beat the mugger senseless, until the would-be victim stops him. Spider-Man reveals that it was no coincidence that he was in the neighborhood, as he was following the woman, who happens to be Trish Kowalski, the Financial Controller at Multivex. Spider-Man tells her that the company's involved in dirty business and asks her to tell him who's funding the company. She reluctantly gives up the name: Osborn Industries.

Spider-Man goes off to Peter to fill him in, and then asks for a recap on what happened between him and the Osborns in that time. Peter mentions that he should make a record of what's happened in the last five years so as not to hamper Ben, but then goes on to explain how Harry followed in his father's footsteps until the enhanced Goblin formula killed him, and that Liz Osborn and her brother Mark Raxton (The Molten Man) watch over the company now.

Back at Multivex, Raxton has broken in and is searching for any clues on what business Osborn Industries has with the company. At the same time, Peter pays a visit to Liz and starts asking questions as to why OI would want to go after Spider-Man. Although Liz personally hates Spider-Man now due to what happened with her husband, she says that there's nothing going on. When Peter asks about Raxton, Liz says that he's been legit for years now, although she hasn't seen him in years.

Peter fills Spider-Man in on the details. They both seem to think that Raxton may be the one behind all their problems. Spider-Man also casually mentions how it's a shame that the relationship with Liz has soured because of what someone else did in the Spider-suit. Peter and Spider-Man go back to Multivex, where Spidey spots Raxton inside. Spider-Man accuses Raxton of trying to ruin his life, but of course Raxton defends himself. The two begin to fight, and Peter comes down to check things out. He observes that while they're supposed to be the same person, all those years on the road must have given Ben a quicker temper.

The fight between Spider-Man and Raxton ends in disaster as they inadvertently hit a power supply, causing a minor explosion, which sends the two of them and Peter down to where Seward is putting the finishing touches on his mysterious boss.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #412, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, concludes the "Blood Brothers" storyline. Raxton, Spider-Man and Peter are surrounded by Multivex security forces. Peter wants to try and help, but Spider-Man reminds him that his only concern should be his pregnant wife and to stay out of harm's way.

Elsewhere, Raxton has his hands full with the mystery guy in the environmental suit. The mystery man is strong enough to take hits from Raxton, and give some out as well. He explains that his body is dying and rotting away and that all that sustains him is the suit. He'd do anything to be free of it and that's why he's working for the devil himself.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : So the mystery man was actually working for someone else, ay? This requires explanation. As I've mentioned in a previous column, the mystery man, who had become known as Gaunt, was intended to be the master villain behind the whole clone saga. His identity was going to be revealed at the climax of "Blood Brothers." Now, the truth can be told.

Gaunt was intended to be Harry Osborn. It would have been revealed that the Goblin formula had not really killed Harry in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #200, but it did cause his body to start to weaken and wither away. Harry had essentially become a living corpse, and the environmental suit he wore was the only thing keeping him alive. Harry was blackmailing Seward Trainer into restoring his body, holding some great secret over Seward's head. (Bob Budiansky suggested that the secret was that Seward had worked with the Jackal on his original cloning experiments, which would explain why he felt such an attachment to Ben Reilly.)

So Harry, the second Green Goblin, Peter's onetime best friend, would have been the architect of the whole thing, and Ben would have died in the final confrontation. So what happened? Well, around the time "Blood Brothers" got underway, Marvel reorganized again and Bob Harras, the EIC of the X-Men Group, became Marvel's one and only Editor in Chief. Budiansky, now the Spider-Man "Group Editor," had to answer to Harras. And one of the first things Harras did was tell Budiansky to postpone the end of the clone saga until at least October. Harras's explanation was that there was going to be a big X-Men event happening in April 1996, and he didn't want the end of the clone saga to have to compete with that. Since "Onslaught" happened around that time, I have to assume that that was the big X-Men event Harras was referring to.

The other thing Bob Harras did upon taking over as EIC was reject the notion that Harry Osborn would be the big villain. Harras told me personally, "I never felt that Harry had the power or the presence of his father, he always seemed very ineffective to me as the Goblin." So even though work had already begun on the story, and clues were already being dropped that Gaunt was Harry, Harry had to be dropped from the plans.

We had no idea who else Gaunt could be, but it didn't seem to matter, since we couldn't end the clone saga at that point anyway. We were basically stuck in a holding pattern, forced to circle around and around, literally for six months, until we could land. The solution was to add one more layer of mystery and intrigue, and establish that Gaunt was actually working for someone else, someone he referred to as "the devil himself." We had no idea who that would be, but as long as Bob Budiansky had any say over it, we knew who it wouldn't be: Norman Osborn. As Budiansky wrote in a memo dated November 9, 1995: "Norman's death should never be undone, in my opinion. It's too classic… Let him rest in peace." Ahhhh, the irony! Now, back to Andrew… ]

After dealing with Raxton, the mystery man turns his attention to Spider-Man. When Spider-Man asks if he's supposed to know the mystery man, the villain responds, "You should, but I'm not at all surprised that you don't recognize me in this form. My appearance was quite different at our last encounter." Spider-Man wonders who this person from his past could be: Jackal, Kraven, Doc Ock. He shudders when he considers that it could be Harry Osborn, the Green Goblin.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Ahhhhhh, the irony! ]

Peter is still looking for Seward when a voice over the intercom announces that the game is over. Mary Jane came to warn Ben and Peter, but was captured herself. Peter surrenders.

Seward calls out to the mystery man, calling him Gaunt, and tells him that the regenerator is ready and he can initiate the rebirth procedure immediately. Gaunt gases Spider-Man, but not before teasing him with more information. He tells Spider-Man that his true identity, and that of his employer, must remain a secret for now. When Spider-Man asks, "employer?" Gaunt responds, "Another former acquaintance."

Gaunt prepares for his rebirth as Peter, MJ and a bound Spider-Man and Raxton look on. When MJ asks if Peter will help Spider-Man, Peter replies that this is all Spider-Man's fault. Spider-Man then says that without him, Peter wouldn't even exist so he should be quiet. It turns out that the fake fight enabled Spider-Man to expand his chest muscles enough to break free from his chains without interference from the Multivex guards. During the ensuing fight, the regenerator is damaged. Peter, MJ, Raxton and Spider-Man are able to make it to safety, while Seward stays behind to keep the machine from exploding before they're free. Spider-Man mourns for what he believes to be the death of his friend, but wonders if he was trying to save the machine or sabotage it.

The next day, Seward listens to Gaunt as the villain wonders aloud whether the fire was a result of sabotage. Seward denies the accusation but then another mysterious person claims that no matter what happened, those two could have ruined everything. The new mystery man then says, "For years I have secretly built my criminal empire! Cautiously manipulating events and people from the shadows. Spider-Man and Parker were getting too close and had to be discouraged. That insufferable pair will eventually pay for all they have cost me-but it shall be at a time and place of my choosing."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : When Bob Harras made the decision to postpone the end of the clone saga for another six months, my first thought was that Dan Jurgens would NOT be happy about it. I waited until after Bob Budiansky called all the writers to break the news, and then I called Jurgens myself. Dan and I were pretty friendly by this point, we had spent a lot of time talking on the phone, and we had done a couple of short-term projects together. I hoped that I could keep him pumped up and enthusiastic, that I could convince him to look at the bright side of things and see the story opportunities that could be explored over those next six months. I thought I could succeed in this. After all, the end of the clone saga would definitely be done, probably very much in keeping with the way Dan wanted it done. It was just going to take a bit more time to get there, that's all. I felt that Dan was a great asset to the Spider-Man group, that we really needed him and his vision, and that I could help him see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I was too late.

When I called Dan, he told me that he'd already told Budiansky that he had decided to leave SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN. The six-month postponement was, for him, the last straw. And his decision was final. I was very disappointed. But I really couldn't blame Dan for how he felt. Why put up with all this nonsense if you didn't have to? And Dan didn't have to. He had other irons in the fire, including some new projects at DC Comics, and was more inclined to focus his attentions there.

The clone saga had lost another key player. And there was even more turmoil to come. ]

Our next focus this month is on WHAT IF #86, written by Terry Kavanagh and illustrated by Doug Braithwaite and Sean Hardy. The title of this issue was "What If…Scarlet Spider killed Spider-Man?" This issue is important for the simple fact that it gave away several plot elements before they were revealed in the core books. Which ones were revealed and which were red herrings? Well, you'll have to read the books, or at least the rest of LoR to find out.

The issue opens with Peter and MJ celebrating the birth of their daughter, May. Peter's mind starts to wander as he thinks that MJ doesn't realize the truth: that he's not the man she married. He's not Peter Parker. Well, not exactly. Through a series of flashbacks we go back to the point where Peter was under the Jackal's control. As Spider-Man, he and the Scarlet Spider face off until there's an explosion. Ben's body washes up on shore, and his vital signs are weak.

Later, he awakens in a hospital to find that Mary Jane and all of Peter's friends are around his bedside. They all believe that Ben is really Peter. He decides to let them keep on believing it for their own benefit, particularly MJ's, since she needs Peter now more than ever.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This bears a remarkably strong resemblance to the "amnesia" idea that was submitted by one of the core writers, which I described in "Life of Reilly" #21. (To refresh your memories, this was the idea that one of the writers submitted under a pseudonym.) I sincerely doubt that this was mere coincidence. Since the writer who submitted that idea was close friends with Terry Kavanagh, it's more likely that Writer X "loaned" the idea to Terry for the WHAT IF story, once it was clear that the idea would never be used in the main Spider-Man books. ]

Cutting back to the present day, Peter/Ben and MJ get some terrible news. May has some sort of unknown blood poisoning that they don't have a cure for. Peter only does the Spider-Man thing when absolutely necessary, opting to care for Mary Jane and their daughter instead.

One night Peter wakes up to find that baby May has been kidnapped. Peter puts on the webs and frantically searches for her until he comes face to face with the Green Goblin. Though Spider-Man believes him to be dead, the Goblin responds, "Of course, Petey, aren't we all?" He jokes that though Spider-Man probably suspected the Jackal of being the mastermind behind all his misfortune, the truth is even worse.

The Goblin says he needs May's blood for a serum that he has. Spider-Man lashes out at the fact this monster wants to take his daughter's blood. The two battle atop that very familiar bridge until they both fall to their possible doom. Spider-Man comes out of the water with a Goblin mask and the serum, never knowing who the Goblin was, although he has a couple of guesses. When Spider-Man gets back to MJ, she calls him Ben. She says that she's probably always known he was Ben, but she needed him just the same. They part with Mary Jane telling Ben to take time to find his own identity, something he's never had the chance to do yet.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:14 PM   #31
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[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As the “Blood Brothers” story line was coming to a close, Marvel had another major downsizing, and Spider-Man editors Bob Budiansky and Eric Fein were laid off from the company. As long-time readers of this column know, Budiansky had been the Editor in Chief of the Spider-Man Group, but became Spider-Man Group Editor when Bob Harras was promoted to Editor in Chief of Marvel.



There was no lack of irony associated with the firing of Bob Budiansky. My understanding is that under Marvel’s “Five Editors in Chief” system, which was in place from the end of 1994 to the end of 1995, each of the EICs had to increase the sales figures of their lines of books by a certain percentage over the course of that year. (Those groups consisted of the Spider-Man Group, the X-Men Group, the Edge Group, the Marvel Heroes Group, and the Licensed Titles/Marvel Alterniverse Group.) The way I’ve always heard it, the only group to meet its sales figure requirements over that year was the Spider-Man Group, under the leadership of Bob Budiansky. But the “Five Chiefs” scenario was ultimately phased out and Harras was appointed the one and only EIC. Shortly thereafter, the order came down from on high that more heads had to roll. To the people deciding who would stay and who would go, the fact that Budiansky had managed to maintain the sales on Spider-Man, and even improve them, during a time when sales were going down across the entire comics industry, was not enough to save him from being downsized.



The year that Bob Budiansky supervised the Spider-Man line had its fair share of creative turmoil, frustration, indecision, and abrupt changes in the writing team. Looking back on it all these years later, I would say that the bad moments probably outnumbered the good. But I attribute that more to the situation we were in than anything else. Bob Budiansky didn’t initiate the clone saga – he inherited it. And I know he came into the situation feeling very uncomfortable about what was planned for the future. He wanted to resolve everything in the best way possible, but the whole thing just spiraled out of control and he didn’t know quite how to deal with it. And he was fired just as we were finally settling on a solid new direction and a definite way out of the clone saga. Like I said, there was no lack of irony here, and a certain degree of unfairness, as well. But unfortunately, fairness and business don’t always go hand in hand.



Once Budiansky was gone, Bob Harras promptly dissolved the Spider-Man Group and placed all four of the core titles with one editor. That editor was Ralph Macchio, to whom it fell to end the clone saga once and for all. Harras also placed longtime Spider-Man assistant editor Mark Bernardo with Ralph, to maintain some continuity amongst the Spider-Man editorial staff. Tom Brevoort and I were still editing UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN and some other Spider-Man projects, including the SPIDER-MAN: LEGACY OF EVIL painted one-shot by Kurt Busiek and Mark Texiera, and a long-planned sequel to the SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS limited series. Ralph told Brevoort and me that he greatly valued our input, and he asked us to remain in the loop and continue to be part of the creative process. We gladly obliged.



Now, I’ll turn things over to Andrew…



Short one this time around, as we handle the last two books from the month of June 1996: SPIDER-MAN and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN.



First up is SPIDER-MAN # 69, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson. Spider-Man is on a hunt for the Hobgoblin, turning over every rock and two-bit crook he can to find his whereabouts. One slimeball, a doctor who works for the underworld, gives up the goods on the Hobgoblin, but asks how Spider-Man knew he was connected. Spider-Man replies, “You might say I have a brother who’s got connections.”



Cut to Peter Parker trying on blond wigs at a department store with his wife and asking how Ben thinks it could possibly fool anyone.




[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was Howard Mackie’s way of expressing his disdain for the idea that Ben Reilly would dye his hair blond to avoid being confused for Peter. The “blond Ben Reilly” idea had been pushed by Bob Budiansky, and was worked into the books as of SENSATIONAL #0. I’m pretty sure Howard worked this bit in AFTER Budiansky was gone.



Peter talks to her about how he turned up a lead at the Daily Bugle about an underworld doctor, which he gave to Ben. Neither Peter nor MJ notices a shadowy figure following them. They end up at the Daily Bugle, where Peter gives MJ a trip down memory lane, including the faces and places that make up the paper. After they pick up Peter’s final check, Jameson tells them that there’s an opening on staff for a photographer and leaves it at that.



Spider-Man pays a visit to the construction site that will be the newly revamped Daily Grind, and takes a moment to speak with the owner, Shirley. He apologizes to her for her misfortune and tells her Ben Reilly is innocent and that he’s going to clear his name. Spider-Man then catches Peter and MJ as they’re leaving the Bugle and asks Peter for some important help.


Elsewhere, the Hobgoblin is having a dispute with Gaunt. Gaunt says that he is cutting the Hobgoblin off from the plan. He admits that he, too, will be cut off from his mysterious employer, but that it all comes with the territory. Gaunt also clues the Hobgoblin in to the fact that Spider-Man will soon come for him, and that under no circumstances is Hobgoblin allowed to kill him. He can hurt Spider-Man all he wants, but no more than that.


Shortly after Gaunt leaves, Spider-Man arrives and goes after the Hobgoblin. Their battle takes them across the rooftops of New York until Spider-Man creates a web net to catch them both. The Hobgoblin gloats about being the one who torched the Daily Grind and attacked Peter Parker, but laughs since he says no one will believe Spider-Man. This is when Spider-Man calls out Peter and Ben Urich, who were photographing and taping the exchange.


The next day’s headlines clear Ben Reilly, who joins Shirley back at the new and improved Daily Grind. He joins Peter and Mary Jane for a celebratory dinner. Peter accidentally breaks a glass in his hand and jokingly tells the others that there’s no conspiracy and that it was just an accident. Peter and MJ then ask Ben if he has any objection to them moving back to New York. Of course, Ben says it’s okay and welcomes them back home.


SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN # 235, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and John Stanisci, sees the return of Will o’ the Wisp. Spider-Man is breaking up a gang fight when he’s abducted and by someone who seems to know him. Although his first instinct is to strike back, Spider-Man realizes that the abductor could be a friend of Peter’s, which is one of the downsides of being out of action for so long. He’s not sure what sort of reputation Spider-Man has now and who his friends and enemies are. The stranger, who Peter later tells Ben is Will o’ the Wisp, has had an implant put into him by Jonas Harrow, and is being forced to commit crimes.


Ben uses Peter’s contacts at the Bugle to find out more information about Wisp and what he may be up to. Ben thinks how good it is that Peter and MJ have decided to move back to New York. He appreciates the help in his crime fighting duties, plus he can’t wait to be an uncle.

Spider-Man goes searching for Wisp and ends up finding him as he’s ready to begin another minor crime spree. While Spidey tries to convince Wisp to take control, Wisp explains that if he doesn’t succeed in following Harrow’s orders, his molecules will be scattered. When Spider-Man asks how he can help, Wisp tells him that Harrow controls the implant with a remote control device. If Spider-Man can gain control of the remote, he’ll be able to free Wisp. Spider-Man goes looking for a way to get this done, while at the Daily Bugle, Peter finishes severing ties with Portland and readying for a permanent move back to New York. After making some phone calls, Peter has a violent spasm that ends as soon as it begins.


GLENN’S COMMENTS: Peter’s mysterious spasms were part of a story line that I developed with Mark Bernardo, which we then presented to Ralph Macchio during a particularly productive lunch meeting. Ralph liked our ideas, and spoke to the writers about incorporating them into their plots. I’ll get into more details about this story line shortly.


Spider-Man finds Wisp again and offers another suggestion for gaining control of himself. Since Wisp has the ability to become intangible, he can make part of himself like that so Spider-Man can reach in and grab the implant. Wisp doesn’t think there’s enough time, so he does Harrow’s bidding instead, in an effort to keep himself alive a little longer.

After he does what is asked of him, Wisp returns to Spider-Man and they try his plan. Although the pain is unbearable, Wisp is able to control himself long enough for Spider-Man to make it work. After having the implant removed, Wisp passes out from the shock. Spider-Man’s doing just fine though, until he sees what Wisp was so upset about: Dragon Man!


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Since the end of the clone saga was going to be delayed for six months (as I mentioned in the previous column), the Spider-Man writers were pretty much free to tell whatever stories they wanted, at least for a little while. This gave Todd Dezago the chance to do some fun stuff he wanted to work in to SPECTACULAR, such as bringing back Will o’ the Wisp and using Dragon Man.


Since it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Ben was indeed going to be a goner by the time it was all over, Ralph saw this six-month period as an opportunity to make Ben as likable as possible, and to really establish the brotherly relationship between Ben and Peter. This would make the readers feel the loss of Ben all the more when it finally happened, and thus make his demise far more shocking and powerful. Ralph’s goal was to make even the fiercest Ben Reilly detractors get choked up when he heroically met his end. I certainly couldn’t disagree with Ralph on that. Especially since I had become one of Ben’s biggest supporters at Marvel, and was in no rush to see him go. Hey, until I was definitively told “He’s toast” by a Marvel executive of that time, I was even holding out hope that Ben could remain as the original Spider-Man.


Anyway, with six months to play with, there were a lot of conversations about what could be done to keep the books moving forward. At one point, there was some discussion about having Ben actually adopt the Peter Parker identity (with Peter and Mary Jane’s blessing) and start wearing the original Spider-Man costume. This would be presented as a major turning point, and would absolutely throw readers off the scent. After all, if Ben has become Peter, there’s no way we would kill him off, right? I can no longer recall how long this idea was actually under consideration, but I still think it would have been intriguing.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:24 PM   #32
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All the Spider-books were self-contained in July of 1995. We kick off with the final Dan Jurgens Spider-Man work in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #6, written and illustrated by Jurgens with finishes by Klaus Janson, as well as an interview with Dan Jurgens himself.

Jessica is re-evaluating her life in the wake of the startling discovery that Ben Reilly is Spider-Man and that there’s been a different point of view suggested regarding the life and death of her father. She’s in love with Ben Reilly, a man she’s supposed to hate, but she can’t bring herself to make a decision on what to do. Should she destroy the photo implicating Ben as Spider-Man or pass it on and expose him? Destroy him?

Just when it seems that Jessica is about to let her heart overcome her anger and do what’s right, she spots Ben having lunch with Desiree across the street. Ben was just doing it to be sociable and to stay out of the rain, but Jessica sees it as something much more underhanded. With that, she takes out a pen and addresses the photo of Ben to Jameson. On her way to a mailbox, she sees Spider-Man swing by overhead. Ben had noticed that there was an out-of-control fire nearby and made up an excuse to run out on Desiree to take care of business. A curious Jessica decides to follow him.

What Jessica witnesses is one of the most heroic displays she’s ever seen or heard about. Spider-Man goes in and out of the fire-engulfed building repeatedly until he’s sure that he’s saved everyone inside. Running out of web fluid, oxygen and time, Spider-Man doesn’t take a moment to even think of resting or giving up. He continues to pull people to safety until everyone has made it out alive. Jessica realizes that she’s been a fool and goes to give Spider-Man the envelope. When he shows some confusion, she tells Spider-Man that his secret is safe with her and that she wants him to have the photos. As reporters swarm the scene, Jessica runs off again before Spider-Man can have time to talk to her properly.

Jessica later goes to the grave site of the Parkers and pays her respects to Ben Parker, for all the lies and ignorance that she bought in to all these past years. She makes her peace with Uncle Ben and realizes that she’s finally made peace with Spider-Man, too. With that, she walks off to parts unknown.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The Dan Jurgens Clone Saga Recap Interview


Andrew : The story I heard was that you wanted to do the new book because you'd be writing the “real” Peter Parker (Ben Reilly). When it was decided that Ben was the clone and it'd go back to status quo, you decided to leave. What’s the real story?


Dan : When I was hired, I knew Marvel was in the midst of the Clone Saga. Even then, there were those who wanted to do all Ben Reilly stories or all Peter Parker stories. I did think that having two Spider-Man characters was a cop-out, as was the notion of Ben Reilly. I wanted to move to Peter Parker as the one, true Spider-Man as fast as possible. More than anything, I wanted to do stories that touched on classic Spider-Man themes. That was impossible under that time's editorial and character situation. To this day, I feel as though I've never really done Spider-Man.

Eventually, I left because the editor and I seemed to disagree on what made a good story.

Andrew : How do you look back on the experience of the Clone Saga?


Dan : I wish I'd been able to do real Spider-Man themes and stories.


Andrew : What was your take on the Clone Saga from a creator's point of view?


Dan : It reflected Marvel's schizoid take on Spidey. On the one hand, they wanted their characters to age. They wanted to have Mary Jane sitting on a bed, in a teddy, waiting to jump Peter's bones every time he walked in the door.

But that was never the essence of Spider-Man. Peter Parker, as originally conceived, would never have married a supermodel. His life was destined to be one of loss, even as Spider-Man's was one of victory. Once Peter married Mary Jane, the classic essence of Peter was lost.


Andrew : What do you think of Ben Reilly as a character?


Dan : A needless reaction to the stifling situation they'd already put Peter in. If they wanted classic Spider-Man, they should have done it with Peter.


Andrew : Do you think Ben Reilly is a viable character even if he's presented as a clone, in a shared existence in the Spider-Man universe?


Dan : No. Not at all.


Andrew : Do you remember the feedback you got at the time? Was it mainly positive regarding your work and the story direction, or by that time was there an overwhelming resentment of the clone?


Dan : My memory is that most of the fans disliked the Clone Saga and Ben Reilly.


Andrew : Would you ever be interested in working with Spider-Man or revisiting Ben Reilly if the opportunity presented itself?


Dan : I'd love to do some Spidey work one day, but I think it's best to leave Ben Reilly in the past.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I had known all along that Dan Jurgens and Bob Budiansky had experienced what’s known as “creative differences” during the time in which they worked together on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN. I had hoped that they would be able to work through those differences and settle into a more comfortable relationship, because I wanted Dan to stay. I valued his presence on the Spider-Man writing team, both from an editor’s point of view and as a fan. But things didn’t really improve between them, and Dan became increasingly frustrated.

When Bob Harras became Editor in Chief of Marvel and postponed the resolution of the Clone Saga for another six months, that was the final straw for Dan, and he quit the book. In fact, when Harras first told Budiansky to postpone the end of the Clone Saga, Budiansky warned Harras that Jurgens would most likely quit as a result of that new decision. Harras simply shrugged off the warning, figuring that Jurgens could simply be replaced on SENSATIONAL by another writer.

Shortly thereafter, Bob Budiansky was laid off from the company and Ralph Macchio took over as the Spider-Man editor. Ralph had lined up Todd Dezago to write SENSATIONAL #7, and hired Luke Ross to become the new regular penciler, but he had not found a permanent writer for the book, and was asking for advice. My thought was that with Budiansky gone, maybe Dan would be willing to come back. Sure, he’d still have to deal with a few more months of Ben Reilly, but there would be a new editor in charge, and it would be a different, more easy-going creative environment. And the way the schedule worked, if Dan agreed to come back, he would only have to miss one issue – the one that Todd was writing!

I mapped out a whole publicity campaign. I suggested that we could do a full-page ad in all the books, with the tag line: “The only man who could replace Dan Jurgens as the writer of SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN is… DAN JURGENS!” Ralph liked the idea, and called Dan to invite him back as writer, explaining that he’d already made a commitment to Luke Ross as penciler. But the door was definitely open for Dan to come back, and things would be a lot more fun than they had been. Dan told Ralph that he needed time to think about it. During that time, Ralph sent Dan some copies of the pages that Luke had penciled for SENSATIONAL #7, to hopefully entice Jurgens into accepting the offer. Apparently, Luke’s wonderful artwork was not enough for Dan to jump back into the world of Spider-Man, because, as most of you know, he ultimately decided to pass on the opportunity to return to the book that he launched.

After that time, once the clone saga was over and Peter Parker was back in the suit, I tried to find ways to get Dan to return to Spider-Man. I figured that if Dan’s problem was with Ben Reilly, and he felt like he never really got to work on Spider-Man, then it wouldn’t be too hard to get him to come back now that Peter was restored as the one, true web-slinger. For whatever reason, Dan politely turned down every offer Tom Brevoort and I made him. I’m not sure why. Maybe he felt so burned by his one experience with the character that he was in no real rush to work on him again. All I can say is that there WERE several opportunities for Dan to come back, and he chose to pass on them.

Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Dan off and on over the years. When I was promoted to Associate Editor, he and I talked about possible projects that we could work on together, but unfortunately, none of them came to fruition. To this day, I think it’s a damn shame that his time on Spider-Man was so brief, and that his presence was one of the few bright spots of the Clone Saga era. ]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:24 PM   #33
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The self-contained July issues continue with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #413, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt. This issue begins with Spider-Man trapped in a jar (with the appropriate small air holes punched in the top), being shaken by a little boy. He doesn't remember how he got to be so small, but all of a sudden Spider-Man's become a child's toy.

After the young boy leaves, Spider-Man is able to free himself from the jar, but then has to face off against the wrath of… other toys!?! It seems that Spider-Man is trapped within his own nightmarish version of "Toy Story," with all of the toys wanting him dead. Between the Godzilla-like monster trying to fry him and the attacking ninja turtles and aliens, he's starting to become overwhelmed.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Godzilla-like monster also appeared on the cover of the issue, and apparently it looked TOO MUCH like Godzilla, because Marvel was very nearly sued by Toho, the Japanese film company that makes all the Godzilla movies and owns all the rights to the character. They are very protective of the character, and they go after anyone they feel has exploited the property without their permission. That's very understandable and any other character-driven company, including Marvel, would and should do the same exact thing. As I recall, Toho sent a "cease and desist" order to Marvel, and although the issue was already in print and could not be recalled, we had to go back and change the artwork so that if the story was ever reprinted, the monster would look nothing like Godzilla. ]

Back at the Daily Grind, Shirley's ex husband, Garon, makes a surprise appearance. Shirley doesn't seem at all happy to see her ex, even though he just says he's interested in making sure their son Devon is okay. And at the Daily Bugle, Peter's trying to concentrate on his new job, assisting Ben Urich on some gangland stories, but is having some serious headache pains.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Peter's headache pain was part of a subplot that was conceived and suggested by me and my fellow assistant editor, Mark Bernardo. Mark and I worked out the scenario and suggested it to Spider-Man editor Ralph Macchio over a work lunch, and he liked it. Ralph passed the idea on to the writers, who worked it into their issues.

The idea was born out of the fact that we needed to keep things interesting and dramatic during the six months in which we couldn't resolve the clone saga. We knew already that Ben was probably going to end up being bumped off by the end of the run, and Peter was going to return to the role of Spider-Man. Which meant that Peter would need to get his powers back at some point. Since the readers didn't know that Peter was ultimately going to be revealed as the original Spider-Man, I suggested we take advantage of that fact and have some fun with it. I suggested that we make it look like Peter was starting to come down with the first signs of clone degeneration, and that he was going to die. The readers would think that we were finally going to clear the decks, get rid of the clone, and make Ben the one and only Spider-Man, the last Peter Parker standing. Peter's illness would be stretched out over a few issues of each Spider-Man title, get progressively worse, and then it would apparently kill him. But in reality, the "illness" would just be Peter's powers coming back spontaneously - a dramatic way to undo the ending of the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series, in which writer Fabian Nicieza had Peter's powers "blanketed." With both Ben and Peter possessing their powers, the readers wouldn't know what was going to happen next.

Since most of the core Spider-Man writers had expressed their displeasure with Peter having lost his powers in FINAL ADVENTURE, they were amenable to this story line idea, and quickly incorporated it into their books. ]

Later, it's revealed that Spider-Man's tiny adventure is the result of some treachery on the part of Mysterio and his partner, Armada. They created a giant version of a child's room, complete with a giant robot boy. Armada designed some robot pets to destroy Spider-Man, but he's upset that his creatures are being hurt. Mysterio says that it's more fun to toy with Spider-Man, as it shows true artistry. Armada tries to take matters into his own hands and confronts Spider-Man himself. Spider-Man takes control of Armada's armor and rides him into the control room, where he defeats Mysterio. Only this Mysterio turns out to be a robot. Spider-Man doesn't know if the real person was ever even there, but at least he's managed to apprehend Armada again. The issue ends with Peter and Mary Jane getting settled in their new (and Aunt May's old) home, and Peter has another attack, dropping some dishes.

SPIDER-MAN #70, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson, opens with a scene of Fortunato's growing criminal empire. Recently, Wilson Fisk was forced to leave his position as Kingpin of Crime, which led to a huge void in the New York underworld. Fortunato has been building his army, while maintaining a persona of harmless old grocer in a quiet Manhattan neighborhood. Just outside Fortunato's place of business, Peter Parker and Ben Urich are jumping rooftops, trying to get closer. Urich has a lead regarding a high level meeting between rival crime families and he wants to get the scoop.

Outside the Daily Grind, Ben Reilly finishes up a hard day's work and gets caught in a firefight between some high tech assassins and a large looking brute of a guy named Jimmy. Jimmy pushes Ben out of the way as they open fine. Then, Ben slips away and Spider-Man comes back to deal with the would-be assassins. When he asks Jimmy what the story is, the man gets defensive and tells Spider-Man to butt out.

Cut to Hong Kong and the offices of investigators Stacy and Cheung. Arthur Stacy is looking at a stack of photos of Spider-Man. He thought he could forget the past, but as he explains aloud to a family picture (of his brother George and niece Gwen Stacy), he can't.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Arthur Stacy was first seen waaaaay back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Volume One) #'s 93 and 95. Although Howard Mackie would establish him as Captain Stacy's younger, more reckless brother, Arthur was originally presented as the OLDER brother, and there was no reference to him being a private investigator. Arthur was only seen in those two issues, in the aftermath of Captain Stacy's death (in ASM #90). Arthur was reintroduced at the insistence of Editor in Chief Bob Harras, who remembered those two brief appearances and wanted to work the Stacy family (or rather, what was left of it) back into the Spider-Man mythos.

With regards to the contradiction about who was the older brother, I'm not sure what it stems from. It might have been an intentional change on Howard Mackie's part. Howard might have felt that making Arthur the younger brother would give the character a more interesting backstory to play with, and he didn't want to be hampered by decades-old continuity that only the most die-hard fans would remember. Or, it might have been a case of Howard simply having not read the original stories and just making a mistake. In the end, as far as I know, we didn't get any letters asking for a No-Prize, so I guess this adjustment to the continuity wasn't particularly earth-shattering for anyone.

Peter and Urich make it into the theater, where Hammerhead seems ready to take control of New York's underworld. Then, he's attacked and almost killed, but Peter flashes the camera to divert attention. Urich isn't too happy about now having to run back across rooftops and hail a cab to get the hell out of Dodge, but Peter seems to be reveling in the action.

Spider-Man comes back to deal with some of the other gangsters that got away, in a few great-looking scenes done up by JR Jr. He was hitting a real visual stride here, with the return to the classic gang war stories that fans always loved. Spider-Man again tries to help Jimmy, who's too proud to want or ask for it. A little while later, Ben Reilly comes back and asks to help Jimmy as a favor for saving his life earlier.

Peter rushes home to tell MJ about his exciting evening with Urich, but ends up passing out on the floor, and he's not breathing. MJ makes a frantic 911 call.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #236, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema, sees Peter on a gurney inside a hospital, being rushed to the emergency room. The doctors have been trying to stabilize him, but they're clueless as to what's caused Peter to fall ill all of a sudden. Mary Jane worries that she may know the truth. Peter could be suffering from Clone Degeneration.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man has his hands full with Dragon Man, who's been brought back by Dr. Jonas Harrow with some help from the now incapacitated Will o' the Wisp. Soon, the local security forces are coming to Spider-Man's aid, but at the expense of Dragon Man. Though he's a powerful being, the Dragon doesn't fully comprehend the situation he's in. Spider-Man redirects the guards and takes on Dragon Man himself, calming him down long enough for Wisp to regain his strength and knock out the beast.

Spider-Man and Wisp then ride Dragon Man back to Harrow's labs, and destroy his projects. Wisp, free to make his own decisions again, looks forward to living his own life for a change. The Dragon Man flies off, but Spider-Man chooses to let him have his freedom and a shot at a second chance.

Back at the hospital, the doctors inform Mary Jane that Peter's condition is deteriorating and that there's nothing they can do to stop it.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I was really pleased with the way the "Peter is Dying" sub-plot was developing, and was happy to be making what I felt was a significant, positive contribution to the books. I don't remember what the reaction was from the readers, whether we fooled them or not into thinking that we were really going to get rid of Peter, but I thought the Spider-Man writers did a really nice job with this particular story line.

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August is another month of self-contained stories, with the only common theme being Peter's failing health in all 4 core books, plus SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #7 sees Todd Dezago writing and Luke Ross and Al Williamson penciling as the "guest creative team" after Dan Jurgens's departure from the title after 6 issues (and one "#0" issue). Ross's Spider-Man illustrations especially bring back memories of early Todd McFarlane, particularly on the first page.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Luke Ross was a fairly good Spider-Man artist, and an excellent storyteller. I got to work with him when I wrote some issues of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN in 1998, and I was very pleased with the way he illustrated my stories. His work on SENSATIONAL #7 was solid, but he got much better as time went on. ]

Storywise, Ben has come to the hospital to check on Peter. Though the two are letting other people think of them as cousins, they've been referring to each other as "brothers" more and more. There's a long, touching scene in Peter's room where old friends and co-workers come to visit him, giving Ben a chance to meet some people that he hasn't seen since before he went into exile. He notes how lucky Peter and MJ are to be surrounded by such love.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The idea of old friends and co-workers coming to visit Peter in the hospital came directly from Editor in Chief Bob Harras. In fact, once the "Peter is Dying of a Mysterious Illness" story line was approved and incorporated into the books, Harras pretty much insisted that all the old supporting cast members show up to pay their respects to Peter. Harras felt, rightfully so, that the Spider-Man supporting cast had been woefully neglected over the last few years, and Peter's illness would be the perfect excuse to work these characters back in. My response to that was, "Great! And hey, if they're showing up again, how about we actually keep them around and DO stuff with them again?" I'd always felt that Spider-Man had one of the best supporting casts in all of comicdom, and what had happened to those characters over the years was a damn shame. Most of them had been killed off or they simply disappeared with no explanation. From my very first day as part of the Spider-Man Group, I was lobbying for the supporting cast to return on a regular basis. I made this a point at our first Spider-Man Group Editorial Meeting. Danny Fingeroth was still the Group Editor at that time, and he replied, "We've got regular supporting characters. There's Betty Brant, there's Flash Thompson, there's Robbie Robertson and J. Jonah Jameson…" I said to Danny, "But when was the last time you used any of those characters? We haven't seen any of them in months, and nothing significant has been done with them in years!" And in truth, anyone picking up a Spider-Man comic for the first time during that particular period would have had no idea that those characters even existed. But Danny just sort of shrugged off what I was saying, and nothing really changed. ]

Later, Spider-Man swings off to check out reports of a jumper atop a high rise. The jumper has positioned himself so high up that no one can get to him, and as the winds whip at him, time is running out. Spider-Man pops on over to have a heart to heart with him. George, the jumper, tells Spider-Man that his life is worthless and he doesn't want to deal with it anymore. Before he can say anything else, one of the nearby helicopters is caught in a wind shear and slams into the side of the building. Spider-Man gets George to a safer area and goes to rescue the helicopter passengers.

After bringing a few to rest where George is, Spider-Man asks if anyone knows CPR because one of the passengers isn't breathing. George admits that he knows the procedure and ends up performing it and saving the person's life. Spider-Man takes care of the remaining passenger, as well as webbing the copter so it doesn't crush anyone before the police and fire department can evacuate the area. After all of the passengers have been rescued and tended to properly by paramedics, Spider-Man asks George if he wants to go back up top to finish what he started. George declines the offer, now realizing that his life may not be as worthless as he once thought. Elsewhere, a jewelry store is robbed by someone fitting the description of the Shocker.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This "suicide jumper" story is similar to my very first professional Spider-Man story, which was published in the 1995 SPIDER-MAN HOLIDAY SPECIAL (and which I discussed a few columns back). Even the conclusion is similar, with the would-be jumper saving someone else and realizing that life is worth living after all. Not for one second do I believe that Todd stole from my story, which was published first. In fact, I doubt Todd was even aware of my story. The stuff in the HOLIDAY SPECIAL wasn't really considered "essential" material to the canon, and I think it was all pretty much below everyone's radar, other than the people who actually worked on it. I guess there are only so many ways you can deal with the topic of suicide in a Spider-Man story! ]

Throughout the issue, there are scenes running parallel with Peter going into cardiac arrest. The doctors are able to get his heart beating again, but things are looking very bad for Peter Parker. The issue ends with a specialist being called in to look at the case and hopefully provide some more insight. The specialist's name: Dr. Curt Connors.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #414, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, introduces Delilah to the Spider-Man universe. Delilah is a ruthless assassin who is first shown wiping out an entire room of mobsters and then reporting to her mysterious boss, who gives her a new assignment: Garon, Shirley's ex-husband.

Ben is visiting Peter in the hospital again and suggests to MJ that they reveal to the doctors that Peter is a clone. Perhaps it will give them other alternatives to help him. They ultimately decide against it, thinking that Peter would become more of a scientific curiosity than a patient in need of help. When Robbie Robertson shows up, Ben makes a quick getaway, but not before overhearing Robbie reveal that J. Jonah Jameson's been missing.

Spider-Man swings on over to start his shift at the Daily Grind, and overhears that a merchant was robbed by a man who used rings against him, possibly the Ringer. Spider-Man wonders if the current reunion of bad guys means the Grizzly's going to be coming back soon. When he gets to work, Ben sees that Shirley's acting irritable, a trait that isn't like her at all. She explains that Garon is making her miserable since he wants to spend more time with their son, Devon. Shirley says that Garon is bad news and Ben inquires as to when their next get-together is.

Spider-Man makes an appearance in Central Park, where Devon is meeting his father and questioning his reappearance in his life. When Delilah makes an attempt on Garon's life, Spider-Man intervenes. He checks on Devon and then goes underground after Garon, who's gone after Delilah. Spider-Man and Garon don't care much for each other, but find something in common when Delilah reveals herself, and takes Devon as her captive. Garon tries to negotiate with her, drawing Spider-Man's ire, and manages to get Delilah to reveal that Hammerhead ordered the hit on him.

Delilah then drops Devon out of one of the drainage pipes as she makes her escape. Spider-Man leaps up into the air to catch the boy and bring him to safety. Once they're sure that Devon is okay, Spider-Man grabs Garon and asks what his connection is to Hammerhead and Delilah. Garon reveals that he's a special agent in an organized crime task force. Before Spider-Man can apologize, Garon accuses him of being prejudiced and goes off to file his report.

At the Daily Bugle, Robbie breaks into Jameson's office to find out that it's been ransacked and locked from the inside. And over in a secret location, Delilah meets with her real boss. She explains how she gave Garon Lewis Hammerhead's name to foil the flattop's chances of seizing control of the underworld. Then, Delilah's boss reveals himself to be the Rose.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Rose was originally introduced during Tom DeFalco's first run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, back in the 1980s. Tom kept his true identity a secret, but after DeFalco left the title, writer Jim Owsley revealed that the Rose was really Richard Fisk, the son of the Kingpin. From conversations I've had with Tom over the years, I got the impression that he never intended for Richard Fisk to be the Rose, just as Roger Stern never intended for Ned Leeds to have been the Hobgoblin. In fact, Tom D. once said to me, "As far as I was concerned, who the Rose really was behind the mask was irrelevant. His true identity wasn't really a mystery, because it was never really played as one!" With Tom writing AMAZING again, it seemed like a good opportunity for him to bring back the Rose, revamp him a bit, and do some new stuff with the character.]

SPIDER-MAN #71, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson, sees Fortunato "disposing" of two captains who failed to eliminate Hammerhead. He tells the others to go find Hammerhead and finish the job properly and then find out who took incriminating photos and get rid of them, as well.

Back at the hospital, Peter is not doing well. His heart rate and blood pressure are all over the place and even though the doctors seems to be stabilizing him when things get bad, Dr. Connors tells Mary Jane that he doesn't know if Peter will make it through the night. Spider-Man is on his way to the hospital when he discovers that another robbery took place, this time with the perpetrator getting glue all over the place, which is the M.O. of the Trapster.

Ben arrives at the hospital where Peter is telling MJ to get something to eat and take a much-needed break. Once they're alone, Peter admits to Ben that he doesn't think he's going to make it and has Ben promise to take care of Mary Jane and the baby after he dies.

In another area, Hammerhead subdues a doctor, telling him that he needs discreet and immediate medical attention. After he's stitched up, Hammerhead gets ready to leave but spots Ben Urich in the hallway (on his way to visit Peter). He grabs Urich just as Ben is ready to talk to him, as well. Hammerhead starts threatening Urich if he doesn't reveal what he saw at the earlier meeting, but Spider-Man bursts through to interrupt. Spidey starts questioning Hammerhead about Delilah, but his accusations go denied. Hammerhead also reveals an exo-skeleton that he wears which was designed for him by the Tinkerer. The two get into it inside the hospital, each of them taking turns pummeling the other. Hammerhead warns Spider-Man that the city is being carved up by various crime bosses, and that he's going to be the one standing over everyone in the end. Hammerhead creates a diversion and then gets away.

Spider-Man starts to go after him but then hears "Code Blue to Room 314," which is Peter's room. When he gets to the room, he notices doctors leaving. Spider-Man rushes in, apologizing to MJ and finds Peter saying that he can feel his heart slowing down. He tells Ben that it's all his now and tells Mary Jane that he loves her, and then, closing his eyes, passes away.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #237, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and John Stanisci, opens with Ben Reilly, Mary Jane and several doctors standing over the body of Peter Parker. Their sorrow and pain is undeniable and Ben walks MJ out of the room, holding her close to his heart as they cry together.

Alone in his room, Peter begins to spasm uncontrollably. His muscles are spasming and he awakens to find himself crashing into walls and flinging his body across the room. Ben and MJ rush back to the room to find Peter on the floor, smiling, in the middle of a disaster area that was his room, asking if anyone has a dustpan.

There's cleaning up to do at the Daily Bugle, too, as Robbie Robertson tells Glory Grant that the mess in Jameson's office seemed more like a search and destroy than a break in. Since it's been more than 48 hours, they also file a police report for a missing person. On the streets, Dr. Connors walks, looking at all the people and noticing newspaper headlines and television reports regarding Graydon Creed, an anti-mutant propaganda machine who is intent on running for office. Connors is fed up with the way people treat each other and wonders what kind of world he'll be leaving for his son. Reports of an Onslaught menace are also popping up in the city.

In another part of town, Spider-Man leaves Mary Jane to be with Peter and finds out that the police are seeking Stiltman for another crime spree in the area. As Spider-Man wonders why all these former villains are popping up at one time, he runs into the Lizard. Spider-Man battles the Lizard, who seems to be heading for the hospital. The problem is, the Lizard's alter ego, Curt Connors, is already now at the hospital saying goodbye to Peter.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : And here begins the story line that (thankfully) undoes the "revamping" of the Lizard, which happened during the SCARLET SPIDER backup series that appeared in all of the 1995 Spider-Man Annuals. As you may recall, Tom Brevoort and I worked on that Scarlet Spider series and we were less than pleased with the results. So it should not come as any surprise that we fully supported the notion of wiping that story from the continuity and restoring the original Lizard to Spider Man's rogues gallery.

I thought it was clever to reveal that the new, mutated Lizard turned out to not be the original Curt Connors version. I don't remember for sure who came up with the idea, but it was probably either Todd Dezago or assistant editor Mark Bernardo, who played an important role in developing this new story line. ]

Sensing that Spider-Man may be overmatched, Peter dons some scrubs and joins his "brother" against the Lizard. Spider-Man wonders what Peter is doing, but Pete says that his powers have returned. As the fight goes on, it looks like whatever powers Peter has are coming back in a shaky manner. His spider-sense isn't "on" yet and his other powers seem to be going in and out. Spider-Man saves Peter from near death, but it allows for the Lizard to get away.

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #13, written by James Felder and illustrated by Joe Bennett, Randy Emberlin, and Al Milgrom, resolves the mystery of J. Jonah Jameson's disappearance. The first page reveals that Jameson has been abducted by Mac Gargan, the Scorpion, who sports an updated costume with an even deadlier stinger. Jameson tries to bargain for his life, but the Scorpion reveals that his employer is paying good money to keep Jameson out of the way, not to kill him.

In the meantime, Robbie has hired Luke Cage to find their missing publisher. When it's revealed that the Scorpion has their boss, Cage doesn't back down and promises that he'll crush Gargan like the bug he is.

Spider-Man and Cage team up to stop Gargan, but the Scorpion is more powerful than either of the two imagine. Cage enlists the help of his old friend, Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, and the trio is able to get Jameson to safety and stop the Scorpion.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : It was around the time that these stories were produced that Bob Harras told us who should be revealed as the master villain responsible for the entire clone saga. The reaction was not enthusiastic. I don't think ANYONE - from the writers to the editors to the assistant editors - agreed with Harras's idea, although his rationale certainly made sense to a certain extent. Harras felt that there was only one person who could have had the money, the resources, the connections, the knowledge, and the motivation to orchestrate the clone saga and disrupt Peter Parker's life to such a profound extent. Harras felt that the mastermind had to be Norman Osborn.

I was one of the most vocal opponents to this idea. "But Norman's dead!" I argued. "I mean, there was a body! We saw his funeral! There was no doubt left in anyone's mind that he died. Beyond that, he died in one of the most powerful Spider-Man stories of all time. It was a key event in Spider-Man's entire history! We would be totally betraying the trust of the fans if we went in and undid that story!" I remember someone muttering, "Who are we gonna bring back next? Gwen? Or how about Uncle Ben?" But Harras felt that no other option would work, and he made it absolutely clear that he would not be bound to a story that had been published almost 25 years earlier. Harras felt that for the here and now, Norman was the only solution, continuity and history be damned.

The "who" part had been resolved. Now the "how" part had to be figured out. Little did I know at the time that that task would ultimately fall to little ol' me. ]

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The core books continue to strive for individuality as one more, major interconnected story looms on the horizon.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #8 introduces the new creative team with writer Todd Dezago, penciler Mike Wieringo and inker Richard Case.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : At the risk of sounding immodest, I have to say that I was instrumental in getting Mike Wieringo onto SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN as the regular penciler. I had just recently served as the assistant editor on a one-shot penciled by Wieringo, entitled SPIDER-BOY. It was part of the AMALGAM crossover event orchestrated by Marvel and DC Comics, and Spider-Boy was an amalgam of Spider-Man and Superboy. I was aware of Wieringo and his work, but I was never particularly impressed with what I saw. That ended when his pencils came in for SPIDER-BOY. It became clear to me that on his previous work, he had not been paired with appropriate inkers. I was simply blown away by Wieringo's pencils on SPIDER-BOY, and, thankfully, we paired him with inker extraordinaire Karl Kesel. They meshed perfectly. Based on that experience, I became convinced that Wieringo would be a great Spider-Man artist. Editor Ralph Macchio had already picked Todd Dezago to become the new regular writer of SENSATIONAL, replacing Dan Jurgens, but he was still looking for a new regular penciler. I immediately began lobbying for Wieringo. I showed Ralph the SPIDER-BOY pencils, and I basically just kept nudging him until he finally called Wieringo to see if he would be interested in becoming the new penciler. Wieringo accepted the assignment, and SENSATIONAL finally had a new creative team in place. Ralph has always given me the credit for bringing Wieringo to his attention and influencing his decision to hire Wieringo for SENSATIONAL. ]

Spider-Man is searching for the mysterious new Lizard while it's revealed that the Looter is responsible for the recent criminal activity being blamed on various other super-villains. During the battle at the Iron Rock facility (where Spider-Man and Will o' the Wisp fought Dr. Jonas Harrow), the Looter was able to steal various weaponry from the likes of the Shocker, Stilt Man, Trapster and the Ringer. He's been able to commit crimes while remaining in anonymity. His true plan remains a mystery, though - one he believes will make him the man who unlocked the mysteries of the universe.

Ben pays a visit to Peter and Mary Jane in the hospital to go over the robberies and see if Peter has any advice. They deduce that the crimes are being committed shortly after certain stores place big ads in the paper. Peter offers to help and then MJ starts to give him hell, telling him that he isn't going to even think about leaving the hospital until the doctors give their okay. As Ben begins to laugh, MJ turns her ire to Reilly. It's a cute scene that further strengthens the bond between these three after the earlier tension months ago over the initial clone findings. Pete and MJ also ask for Ben's advice on whether they should have a sonogram to find out the sex of the baby, to which Ben's response is, "Boy or girl, I'm gonna love the little bugger either way."

Spider-Man checks out a lead based on the latest ad he saw in the Daily Bugle and waits patiently until the Looter strikes again. The Looter actually gets the upper hand against Spider-Man in a surprise move and uses the Web-head's own web shooters against him. Spider-Man asks how long he's been webbed up and the Looter responds, "About an hour." He also reveals that he's been stealing to get enough money to buy the twin meteor of the rock that gave him his powers. Spider-Man wonders why the greatest looter didn't just steal the meteor, which makes the Looter pause long enough for Spider-Man to break free and take him down. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents soon arrive on the scene, taking the Looter and the meteor with him.

As Spider-Man sits atop a roof later, contemplating what the hell happened, he looks up to see a group of Sentinels flying overhead.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This, obviously, kicked off Spider-Man's involvement in the infamous ONSLAUGHT event that led to the equally infamous HEROES REBORN. ]

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #415, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt, finds Spider-Man in the middle of the Onslaught storyline.

SPIDER-MAN # 72, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson, was another Onslaught tie-in.

Then came SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #238, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Sal Buscema and John Stanisci. It's been almost a week since the newer, deadlier Lizard struck and Dr. Curt Connors is heading home to Florida after his trip to advise Peter and Mary Jane Parker.

His trip to New York was not a good one. He became even more aware of the pollution, the attitudes, and the crime that surrounded the more populated area. He realizes that Palm Beach isn't too different, just more fakery, but it is a bit better. Dr. Connors is fed up. He tries to calm himself, knowing that anxiety and obsession is what caused him to become the Lizard in the first place. He thinks back to how he lost his arm in the war. He was helping another GI when shrapnel hit him, gangrene set in and he had to lose his arm. Connors experimented on himself, injecting a reptilian formula into himself in the hopes of regenerating his arm. He ended up with a lot more than he ever bargained for. He later recalls how in an effort to rid himself of his Lizard metamorphosis, he and another scientist experimented further. The result was a Lizard that changed into a human sized beast, devoid of anything but its own primal instincts.

Back in New York, Ben Reilly watches the news and sees reports of a monster on the East Coast that seems to be heading South. Reilly figures out that the Lizard is stalking Connors and rushes off to try and get down to Florida in time.

Later, in Florida, the Lizard does indeed catch up to Connors. Dr. Connors knows he doesn't have much time and that this Lizard is too powerful for any normal person to take on. In an effort to save his family, Connors once again transforms himself into his version of the creature. Spider-Man arrives at the Connors home and tangles with the beast Lizard before seeing the creature finished off elsewhere. To Spider-Man's shock, the Connor's Lizard emerges, holding the seemingly lifeless beast Lizard by the neck.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Last time, I talked about Editor in Chief Bob Harras's decision to make Norman Osborn the mastermind behind the whole clone saga. The reaction to this decision among the Spider-Man creative staff (writers and editors) was not very enthusiastic. We all felt that Norman's death was definitive and the story in which he died (chronicled in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Volume One #'s 121-122) was a bona fide classic, considered to be one of the absolutely canonical, key defining moments in Marvel history. But Harras was the boss, and his decision was final. As much as some of us (including me) tried to change his mind, he was firm in his belief that Norman was the only solution. There were a lot of resigned sighs, and then we settled down to figure out how to make it all work.

The Spider-Man writers, along with Ralph, editor Tom Brevoort, assistant editor Mark Bernardo, and myself soon got together for an all-day meeting to discuss the subject. Harras popped in several times to check on our progress and make suggestions. The biggest question, of course, was: How the hell could Norman have survived being impaled on his own bat-glider? I provided the solution to that problem. I suggested that the same formula that gave Norman his super-strength also gave him a special healing factor that would allow him to conceivably survive pretty much anything short of getting his head blown off. He certainly wouldn't be immortal, and he wouldn't be nearly as hard to kill as, say, Wolverine - but we could establish that although he seemed very much dead, his chest wound actually starting healing almost immediately. Everyone accepted my idea - some more reluctantly than others - but at least we were now rolling. Someone even suggested that Norman would still bear an ugly scar on his chest where the bat-glider had crashed into him, just to confirm that this was, indeed, the genuine article we were dealing with. No clones or impostors or androids or any other cheats. I thought that was a good idea, and would be very effective.

The next obvious question was: If Norman's been alive all this time, then why haven't we seen him until now? Why didn't he return long ago and try to kill Spider-Man directly? I suggested that Norman didn't return any sooner because he simply couldn't. He'd been incapacitated for all that time, slowly healing and regaining his strength. The idea was that even though he hadn't really been killed by the bat-glider, he was seriously wounded - worse than he ever had been before, and he would not recover for a long time. We would establish that he had only recently made a full recovery and was finally ready to emerge again. I felt this was the best solution, because I was of the mind that Norman absolutely would have struck back against Spider-Man shortly after ASM #122, had he been able. The only thing that could have kept him from seeking final vengeance would have been the fact that he was physically incapable of doing so. As I recall, Tom DeFalco agreed with me on this point. But Bob Harras nixed the idea, because he didn't like the notion of Norman not being active and vital for all that time. It was Harras's vision that Norman had been secretly orchestrating the events of the clone saga, manipulating everything from the shadows, and for him to do that to the extent that Harras wanted, Norman could not have been in a hospital bed for the past five years.

I clearly remember Tom DeFalco's response to Harras. Tom bluntly stated that he didn't buy for one second that Norman Osborn would ever be satisfied with operating in the shadows, hiding, secretly manipulating everyone and everything over such a long period of time. Tom felt that this would be way out of character for Norman. "Norman deals with his problems directly," Tom argued. "He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. He's a guy who addresses his problems by putting on a Green Goblin costume, flying across the city on a bat-glider, and destroying any obstacles with his own hands. He knows he has power, and he likes to use it. He's not a master manipulator who likes to stay hidden."

I felt Tom was right, but Harras insisted on doing it his way, so the idea of Norman being incapacitated fell by the wayside. DeFalco rebounded by suggesting that Norman went to Europe after ASM #122, and spent the next five years building a criminal empire. Harras apparently found this to be a more palatable solution, because he didn't reject it upon hearing it. I still raised the point, "But why didn't Norman go after Spider-Man if he was able to? Why would he just pick up and go off to Europe after suffering his worst defeat? Wouldn't he be totally out for Spider-Man's blood after that?" The response I got was, "We'll figure that out later."

The next thing to do was retroactively establish a connection between Norman and Professor Miles Warren, aka the Jackal, who of course was the creator of all the clones. There had been absolutely no connection between the two characters before - in fact, Norman was long gone from the series by the time Warren became a prominent supporting character. But now there had to be a clear link between the two men. DeFalco took care of that in the 1996 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL, which he wrote. This annual was edited by Tom Brevoort and me, and I have very fond memories of working on it. It's a wonderful little story, a real blast from the past, and I still remember how I called DeFalco to ask him if he had gotten Stan Lee to ghost write the script for him - that's how much fun it was! The art team was Ron Frenz on pencils and John Romita Sr. on inks, and they did a fantastic job. The story took place during Peter's college years, when Gwen Stacy and her father were still alive, and it revolved around Peter's attempts to inform Captain Stacy that he and Gwen had decided to go steady. Norman and Harry Osborn figured prominently in the story, as did Kraven the Hunter. In one particular scene, we see Norman in his office, and his secretary tells him that Professor Warren is calling to discuss additional funding for his experiments. Connection established, simple as that.

While all of this was going on, Tom Brevoort and I were also working on the SPIDER-MAN: LEGACY OF EVIL one-shot, written by Kurt Busiek and painted by Mark Texiera. Conceived and begun while Bob Budiansky was still Editor in Chief of the Spider-Man Group, LEGACY OF EVIL explored the entire history of the Green Goblin, from Norman's earliest appearances to the death of Harry in SPECTACULAR #200. Although it featured many flashbacks, the main story took place in modern times, shortly before Ben Reilly became Spider-Man - it's clearly Peter Parker who's wearing the costume, even though we never see Spider-Man without his mask throughout the entire book. As written in LEGACY OF EVIL, both Norman and Harry are long dead and buried, and the modern-day threat that Spider-Man has to face is a deranged computer program left behind by Harry. At the time we began work on the book, there were no plans to bring Norman or Harry back. By the time we finished it, Harry's return had been planned and cancelled, and Norman's return was quickly becoming a reality. It got to the point where the key thing for Tom and me was to just get LEGACY OF EVIL finished and out on the stands well before Norman was revealed. Otherwise, the one-shot would have absolutely no dramatic impact whatsoever. In the end, we were successful, as LEGACY OF EVIL came out in March of 1996 and Norman wasn't revealed until October of that year.

More fun with Norman next time! ]

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My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:25 PM   #36
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Part 29
This time around, we're covering SPIDER-MAN: REDEMPTION, a sequel of sorts, to SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS. Written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod (the classic "Kraven's Last Hunt" team), REDEMPTION takes the longstanding Ben Reilly/Kaine war and brings it to an explosive resolution in the present day.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I was the one who really pushed for this limited series. It dated back to the Bob Budiansky era of Spider-Man, when there was still talk of launching THE LOST YEARS as a new Spider-Man franchise. I wanted the Brevoort/Greenberg office to be at the forefront of this new franchise, and Tom Brevoort was generous enough-and had enough confidence in me-to allow me to take point on getting everything moving.

My goal was to get J.M. DeMatteis back on Spider-Man, even if it was only on a short-term basis. Since Marc had written the first LOST YEARS series, it only made sense to me to call him and ask him to do the second one. I called Marc and found him quite willing to return to what we all still believed at that time to be the secret history of the one, true Spider-Man. John Romita Jr., who penciled the first series, was already committed to penciling the monthly SPIDER-MAN title, so he wouldn't be available. The most natural thing then, I believed, was to invite Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod to do the project, since they had worked together so well with Marc on "Kraven's Last Hunt" and its sequel, SOUL OF THE HUNTER. I called Mike and Bob, and was fortunate to reach them at a time when they had openings in their respective schedules, and could work on the four issues. DeMatteis was really excited when I told him that Mike and Bob had agreed to do REDEMPTION-he always loved working with them.

Tom Brevoort let me continue on as the hands-on editor of the project, although he of course had final say over everything and had the option of overriding me if he didn't like something. As I recall, though, he never did exercise that option, although he did offer notes and suggestions along the way, which I passed on to Marc. I've always been very grateful to Tom for giving me the chance to put this project together and supervising it. ]

A lot has happened to both Ben Reilly and Kaine, and this mini-series sought to clear up a lot of what had happened and deal with the relationship between Kaine and Ben Reilly, as well as reintroduce a character long thought gone.

REDEMPTION #1 begins with Ben Reilly discovering that Janine, or rather Elizabeth Tyne, his former love (introduced in LOST YEARS) is still alive and that she's come to New York. Ben can't believe his good fortune. Finally, after suffering through 5 years of life stolen from him and relationship troubles and betrayals now again in New York, he may have a chance at happiness.

And he does, until Kaine returns, as well. Kaine abducts Janine and Reilly goes looking for her. Kaine is having a personal crisis of his own. His instinct is to hurt Reilly and anyone who's close to him, but deep down Kaine knows that he and Reilly are the same. Why can't he forgive him? Ben tries to get the jump on Kaine and rescue Janine, but he's too late. He finds Janine's lifeless body dumped in a pile of clothing dummies.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : There was a wonderful scene in REDEMPTION #1 that had Ben Reilly, as Spider-Man, visiting the grave of Harry Osborn and expressing his deep regret over Harry's death. What anguished Ben the most was that he never even gotten to say goodbye to the young man who had been his best friend. After all, Ben was on the road and Peter was in the Spider-Man suit when Harry had his final nervous breakdown and resumed his role as the Green Goblin. I thought it was great that Marc had picked up on this and worked it into the story. Ben's mourning the loss of Harry was a necessary thing to address, and oddly enough, none of the regular Spider-Man writers had ever dealt with it. The great thing about DeMatteis is that he understands the Spider-Man universe and its characters so well, and portrays them in such a realistic, believable way. Is it any wonder that I felt the need to get him back into the Spider-Man Group, in whatever capacity possible?

The thing I remember most about REDEMPTION, though, is the hell we went through during the development stage. It was my idea to have the main section of the story line take place in the present day, with the "Lost Years" segments done as flashbacks. Marc DeMatteis loved this idea, and set about trying to tie the present day material in with what was going on in the core Spider-Man titles. The problem was that at the time we started working out the details of the story, we were getting different information almost every day from Bob Budiansky on what the status quo was going to be in the core books at the time in which REDEMPTION was going to be published. As a result, Marc DeMatteis had to keep revising his story outline over and over and over again. He revised the outline no less than SEVEN TIMES before we finally knew once and for all what we could do in the series. The original version was simply a direct sequel to THE LOST YEARS, focusing on Ben Reilly's relationships with Kaine and Janine. But after DeMatteis turned in the first outline, we were informed that Ben was going to be killed and Peter was going to be back in the Spider-Man suit, established once again as the original web-slinger, and he will have broken up with Mary Jane. DeMatteis revised the outline to accommodate the changes. With Peter as the star of the story, it made little sense to put the LOST YEARS name on the project, and it began to look like the entire project itself was utterly unnecessary. At one point, it was looking very much like the plug was going to be pulled.

But then we were informed by new Editor in Chief Bob Harras that the resolution to the clone saga had to be delayed for six months. That meant Ben would still be around, and would still be Spider-Man. It also meant that the LOST YEARS sequel could still happen, even though starting a LOST YEARS franchise was now a dead issue. Consulting with Bob Budiansky, who was still editing Spider-Man, we worked out a new version of the story that was based on what was going to happen in the core books during those six additional months.

DeMatteis now had to work in the fact that Ben Reilly had taken on the Peter Parker identity and would be wearing the original Spider-Man costume, with the blessing of the "clone" Peter Parker and Mary Jane, who were staying in Portland, Oregon. Ben, as Peter, would explain to friends and acquaintances that he and Mary Jane split up, and that he didn't want to discuss it. Mourning the death of Harry Osborn would bring him into contact with Harry's widow, Liz, and her son, Normie. Ben/Peter would establish an emotional bond with the both of them, and the seeds are planted for a possible future romance between Ben/Peter and Liz.

Once Budiansky was gone and Ralph Macchio had taken over as Spider-Man editor, we were then informed that Ben would NOT take on the Peter Parker identity after all. We once again began to doubt that the project would ever see the light of day, as Bob Harras made it known that he was not enamored of all the Spider-Man limited series and special projects that had proliferated the market in recent times. I could see his point, but I still wanted to do the project. I thought it had merit, it had a strong creative team, and we'd already put so much work into it already. Fortunately, we were allowed to proceed. What we ultimately ended up with was something not all that different from the original version, although DeMatteis did have to do yet another revision.

It was funny - it had gotten to the point where I think Marc dreaded getting a phone call from me, because I had called him so many times to let him know that there was a new status quo and ask him to do yet another set of revisions. But I have to say this: he had the patience of a saint, and didn't complain once about all the work he had to do for a project that he knew could have been cancelled at any moment. It was always a pleasure to work with Marc DeMatteis, and I regret not having more opportunities to do so.

I also have to mention that it was a blast working with Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod, two artists I admired long before I was working at Marvel. I got along very well with the both of them, and it was always exciting when Zeck would drop by the office for a visit. I never got to meet McLeod, but I worked with him on a number of projects, and he always turned in a great job. ]

In REDEMPTION #2, the police have arrived to see Ben holding the body of Janine, talking about how Kaine killed her. Ben lashes out at the cops for getting too close and they draw their weapons. Angered, Ben tells them that they don't know what he's capable of and that he's going to find Kaine and kill him. Before he goes off in a mad rage, Reilly composes himself, realizing that he's better than that. He won't kill Kaine. He won't become like him. In that moment of clarity, he checks the "body" of Janine again to find that it's some sort of construct, with a note attached reading "meet me in the womb."

Elsewhere, Kaine, suffering even more from the ravages of deterioration, looks at himself in the mirror, seeing Reilly's face, the face of the man he hates. But he also understands that Reilly is his "brother" and that Kaine is as much a reflection of him as he is of Kaine. Kaine puts on his specialized suit that slows the degeneration and goes to visit Janine, whom he's holding captive. She's afraid of him, but Kaine tells her that she has nothing to fear: she's only bait. Kaine, reminded of his one true love, kisses Janine, who then pulls back.

Spider-Man shows up at the lab where the Jackal first cloned him, "the womb." Kaine welcomes his brother and discusses his past again, and how their "father" tried to destroy him since he was flawed. Ben makes the mistake of saying he understands, which sets Kaine off. He starts to smash Ben's face onto the floor, telling him that he's going to learn about pain. As Kaine begins to hurt Ben, he wonders why he wants to see him suffer. Does he loathe his weakness or his bleeding heart or does he just feel unworthy of him? Kaine knows Ben will lash out, fight back, fight hard. And then he'll contain his rage and maybe even forgive Kaine. Kaine laughs as he thinks of Reilly, knowing that he's beyond redemption and forgiveness.

Kaine fights back, knocking Ben unconscious. When Ben awakes, he's pierced by a needle containing a formula of Kaine's creation. It's something that will give Ben a small taste of what Kaine goes through when his cells degenerate. Ben begs for mercy as the pain becomes too unbearable, before finally passing out. He awakens a short time later, with Kaine, outside Aunt May's old (and Peter and Mary Jane's new) home. Kaine talks to Ben about the memories in the house and how it tears him apart to think of the life he only knows in memory. Kaine takes Ben and leaves, anguished at the loss of one opportunity to find redemption.

Ben awakens the next morning to find himself back in his apartment, his arm stinging from an antidote that Kaine gave him while he was out. He finds Janine, the real one, sleeping in his bed. He wakes her up and holds her for the longest time. She tells him that they should pack up and move away from everyone and everything. Suddenly, Ben's spider-sense goes off. Thinking it's Kaine, Ben grabs Janine and they race out the door only to find police waiting for them. They're arresting Janine for the murder of her father.

As REDEMPTION #3 begins, Janine is being transferred and Ben won't lose her again. He puts on a makeshift costume, as to protect both of his identities, and stops the police van that's escorting her. He pretends to kidnap her so as to not draw attention to Ben Reilly. Ben reveals himself to Janine and they go off to a diner to get something to eat and plan out their future. Ben tells her that he has some money stashed away and they can leave right now and go off into a future with just the two of them. Janine remembers how years ago all Ben would talk about was how he wished he could have Peter's life. Now that he's back in New York, why would he want to leave? Ben tells her that he finally got a chance to see his Aunt May again, but now she's gone and everyone else he knew is either dead or irrelevant. He's not Peter Parker and he can go back out into the world with Janine and not look back.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : THE LOST YEARS had ended with the revelation that Janine had died, but when we got the go-ahead to do the sequel, I encouraged Marc DeMatteis to find a way to use her again-either in flashback or in the present day sequences. I really liked her character, and I felt that there was a lot more that could be done with her. Marc told me he was thinking along the same lines, which made me even more enthusiastic to see this project come to fruition. ]

Before they think about it any further, Janine has to explain how she "died" and reentered Ben's life. She relates how she and Ben were in Santa Cruz, thinking about what to do next when Kaine abducted her and threatened her. Kaine knew the truth about her past and threatened to reveal it. If she ran off with Ben again, Kaine would follow until the police finally caught her. When Janine asked what she needed to do, Kaine told her that she had to leave and never come back. Ben had to think she was dead, that she had been ripped away from him, as Gwen had been years earlier. In return, Kaine would let Janine live and stop hunting Ben. Kaine also supplied the body of a genetic construct so Ben would have something to identify.

At that moment, Kaine crashes through the diner, setting Reilly off. "No more!" Ben screams as he punches and kicks at Kaine with everything he has. To Ben, Kaine isn't just a clone; he's the darkness in his own soul. Janine stops Ben before he goes too far in his beating. Kaine tells them that Ben has already become just like him and vice versa. He then says it's all over and before Ben or Janine can react, the diner explodes.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : My original idea for the title of this project was SPIDER-MAN: LOST YEARS FOUND, to acknowledge that it was a sequel to THE LOST YEARS. But it didn't fly. Marc and I came up with a list of possible titles, and settled on REDEMPTION-although RESURRECTION came in a close second. I ended up using LOST YEARS FOUND as the cover copy for the first issue of the series. ]

REDEMPTION #4 begins with Kaine remembering his life. Born in a sea of fire with chemicals molding his genetic structure, molding him! His "father" turned him into a clone of the person he hated most in the world. Like any son, Kaine just wanted his father's acceptance and love, and for a time, he received it. But then the father discovered an imperfection and cast his son out. This was Kaine's first lesson in how cruel the world was. He was born, and intends to die, in a sea of fire.

Kaine brings all of the guests and employees of the diner out of the building as it burns out of control. One of the witnesses asks if that's all of them, but Kaine tells him there are two more. When the witness asks if Kaine is going to rescue them too, he replies, "No, I'm going in to perish with them."

Back inside, Kaine finds Janine and Ben injured but still alive. Ben pleads with Kaine to let Janine live. She isn't part of their war and doesn't deserve to die with them. All she's known in her life was suffering and abuse at the hands of her father. Ben tells Kaine that he of all people should understand and let her live. Moments later, Kaine pulls Ben and Janine from the flames and brings them to rest on a rooftop. He tells them to go and love each other and try to find happiness. He only has one request: for Ben to kill him.

Ben tells him that he won't kill him, but that he has to take him and have him held accountable for his crimes. They begin to fight and Ben tries to reason with him, telling Kaine that accepting responsibility for what he's done is the only way he'll find the peace he's looking for. The police arrive on the scene and Kaine engages them, hoping for a "suicide by cop" scenario where the police have no option but to kill him. As the police prepare to open fire, Ben races over, complete with a makeshift mask, and pulls Kaine out of the line of fire.

Kaine is wondering why Ben saved him again. No other words are exchanged and none are necessary. For the first time, they realize that they are the same. Kaine, who dedicated his life to destroying Ben, had saved him, and Ben had done the same for Kaine.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Duality comes up a lot in Marc DeMatteis's writing, as it's a favorite subject of his. He has a real penchant for exploring the darkness and light in the souls of his characters, and stripping away the layers surrounding them to reveal their deepest selves. It's particularly enlightening when he does it long-established characters such as Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman, about whom you might think everything has already been said. ]

Janine tells Ben that she's turning herself in. Ben's speech to Kaine hit her personally and she knows the only way for things to get better is for her to face her responsibility. Moments later, Kaine follows and surrenders to the police. He thinks that his "brother" showed him the way to take the first step in redeeming his corrupt soul.

Ben thinks of the chain of events, knowing Janine would find her way and that when the facts were laid out, there would be mercy. He also thinks that he'll try his best to help Kaine find peace. To find a way to slow the degeneration or tell the judge or prosecutors about the horrible circumstances that made Kaine the way he is. "His greatest enemy would become his greatest advocate."

On the final page, Ben as Spider-Man looks down from the rooftop as Janine is taken into custody. "And as long as I live, I'll love her. As long as I live, I'll be watching over her. Both as Ben Reilly…and Spider-Man."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As you know, there was no LOST YEARS franchise ever launched out of the Spider-Man line. REDEMPTION represents the one and only extension of the LOST YEARS limited series, and it was the final word on Ben Reilly's years on the road. I think it's safe to say that it'll never be collected in a trade paperback, and will never be referred to again in Spider-Man continuity, since Marvel has wanted to distance itself as much as possible from the clone saga and Ben Reilly and everything connected with them. I certainly understand that sentiment, and I don't blame the folks at Marvel for wanting to move forward. It's just a shame that REDEMPTION, which I consider to be an extremely entertaining and satisfying project, with a top-flight creative team, is lumped in with the most unpopular era in Spider-Man's history and will probably be forgotten-if it hasn't already been. ]

__________________
My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
My 3DS friend code: 2492-4192-0317
My XboX GamerTag: KaineKinetic

Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:30 PM   #37
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Part 30
Part 30 As SPIDER-MAN: REDEMPTION heads into its second issue, the Spider-Books get closer and closer to the "big one."

First up is SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #9, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Mike Wieringo and Richard Case. The issue begins with an attack by bees on a science lab. As the scientists try to defend themselves, their foe introduces itself as Swarm, a former physician who was devoured by bees until they absorbed his consciousness into their "Hive Mind." Though they wanted to take control of the world and usher in a new age as the planet's dominant species, they felt that by waiting, they could assume control anytime. Unfortunately, the Onslaught attack unleashed a psionic storm, which severed the telepathic bond between the members of the colony. They were drawn to the origin of the storm. They need the help of the scientists to be made complete again through their technology. When the scientists say it's untested and dangerous, the Swarm tells them that the scientists can complete the task or die.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Swarm first appeared in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #'s 36 and 37, back in 1979. The character had not been seen since these first appearances. Swarm was created by writer Bill Mantlo and penciler Jim Mooney, who were the creative team on the book at that time. ]

Peter and Mary Jane are having a better afternoon. They're scheduled for their sonogram, which will tell them the sex of their unborn child. Mary Jane is prepared for the procedure and Peter stands by her side as their doctor shows them the first photograph of their little baby… GIRL.

Ben heads home after a long day's work to find Jimmy 6, the mobster who saved his life (and vice versa) a few weeks ago, in his bathtub with a female friend. Since Ben offered to let him come by anytime Jimmy's decided to take him up on his offer. Ben rushes to get ready since he has a big date with Desiree.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The moment where Ben walks in to find Jimmy 6 and his bimbo in the bathtub was pretty funny. I remember we were talking about this moment long before it made it into print. Assistant Editor Mark Bernardo particularly got a kick out of the idea when it was first suggested (by Dezago, I believe), and was looking forward to seeing it finally be worked in to one of the books. ]

Unfortunately, shortly into their date, Ben notices the sky filling with bees and realizes that there's a problem. He makes up an excuse to slip away and change into Spider-Man. Since this type of problem is new for him, he decides to just follow the bees, which works as they lead him directly to Swarm.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #416, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Ron Garney and Al Williamson, deals with the aftermath of Onslaught. Pieces of Sentinels litter the streets of New York. The damage to the city is severe. The Avengers and Fantastic Four sacrificed themselves to end the menace of Onslaught. Spider-Man is doing his best to pick up the slack in their absences, but it's difficult, to say the least.

After Spider-Man takes care of a simple robbery, a police officer walks over to thank Spider-Man for his help, which the wall-crawler greatly appreciates. Back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson and Joe "Robbie" Robertson make the toughest decision of their careers: cutbacks. Kate Cushing, Jacob Conover and close to 100 others are laid off, and Peter loses his staff position. Feeling guilty for having to put Peter back to freelancing after uprooting the family, the Bugle offers him a generous severance package and paid benefits for a year.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This issue gave Tom DeFalco an opportunity to work through his feelings about Marvel's most recent layoffs, which occurred in January 1996, shortly after Bob Harras became Editor in Chief. Many of the people who were fired during this round of layoffs had been hired during DeFalco's tenure as EIC, and it could not have been easy for him to see all of these people whom he had brought in now fall by the wayside. In his Daily Bugle scenes, Tom D. worked in a lot of in-jokes and references to what was going on at Marvel, all of which probably went over the heads of people on the outside, but were glaring obvious to anyone who was working (or had been working) at the company. ]

Elsewhere, the Rose is upset that Spider-Man interfered with the robbery earlier in the day, since Rose's men were attempting to rob his rival, Fortunato. Delilah offers to help out, but they're interrupted by Scrier, who informs the Rose that he's the new partner. Scrier later appears to Gaunt and reports on his meeting with the Rose. Though their data shows that the Rose was Richard Fisk, they're not sure if it's the same person now. A now-unmasked but hidden Scrier tells Gaunt that they got lucky having the crime lord's struggles coincide with the demise of so many costumed vigilantes. When Scrier suggests that their mutual employer must be pleased, Gaunt tells him that their boss's attention is focused on a more personal project right now.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : And here we get the first indication that Scrier is not as "mystically powerful" as he had been portrayed in earlier stories. This scene also establishes for the first time that Scrier-whoever he is-is working with Gaunt, who in turn is working with the "mystery mastermind" behind the whole clone saga.
Throughout the clone saga, Tom DeFalco had proposed on a number of occasions that at some point, there should be a scene where Scrier reveals to the audience that he was just a guy in a mask. At various times, Tom D. suggested that Scrier turn out to be the Jackal or Harry Osborn wearing a Scrier costume, and that all of the "awesome power" displayed by both Scrier and Judas Traveller was just clever trickery. I took this to mean that DeFalco felt the exact same way that I did-that characters like Traveller and Scrier, at least the way they had been presented in their earlier appearances, really had no place in the world of Spider-Man. It was clear that Tom D. wanted to "debunk" the two characters, and as we headed to the end of the clone saga, he finally got his chance. However, Tom only got to scratch the surface of the whole Traveller/Scrier thing. I eventually got to elaborate quite a bit on it, and added many of my own ideas, when I wrote the OSBORN JOURNAL one-shot that provided the entire back story to the clone saga and Norman Osborn's return. ]

Spider-Man is letting off some steam after the news at the Bugle when he runs into a couple of kids arguing over mutants and how they're responsible for the deaths of the other heroes. Spider-Man picks them up and swings them through the city. He talks of their heroic deeds and explains that assigning blame only diminishes their sacrifice. He says the best way to honor them is to live their lives as the heroes would. The kids ask Spider-Man how he carries on and he admits that sometimes it's difficult, especially in times like this, but he tries to do his best and knows that his friends will always be close by, right in his heart.

Peter goes back home and sees Mary Jane, who's more concerned about Peter than the lack of a job. She shows off a baby outfit to lift Peter's spirits and suggests that they name the baby "May" in honor of Peter's aunt. Peter apologizes for the way he was acting and tells MJ that no matter what happens, they'll always find a way to get through their troubles, together.

Elsewhere, Chakra is reporting to Judas Traveller. She informs Traveller about Scrier's duplicity and Traveller says that he suspected as much. If what he was worried about now is truly at hand, then "dark days are ahead for both the true Spider-Man and Judas Traveller and his Host."

SPIDER-MAN #73, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson, begins with Peter Parker spying on a huge gathering of crime bosses, including Hammerhead, Tombstone, Silvermane, Slug and the Rose. They agree that Fortunato must die for them to go on and take over the city's power.

Meanwhile, Ben Reilly is having some mob problems of his own, dealing with his new roommate, Jimmy 6. There's a knock on the door, and Jimmy 6 hides in a closet, thinking it may be one of the other families looking for him. Ben's relieved to see that it's only Peter, but when Pete starts talking about what he saw at the crime meeting, Jimmy 6 comes out, gun pointed, and asks him to start talking.

After Peter explains, Jimmy gets ready and says that he needs to warn Fortunato. Ben asks why he would do that, after Fortunato's put a hit out on him, and Jimmy explains that he owes the old man. Jimmy leaves and Peter questions Ben on why he didn't try to follow him or put a tracer on him. Ben jokes that he isn't an amateur and slipped a tracer on him earlier. Peter says that he'd love to come with Ben to help, but Ben tells him to go home and be a father and that he'll take care of things.

Jimmy arrives at Fortunato's compound and easily makes it through the security systems that he helped to design. Thinking that Jimmy is here to kill Fortunato, Spider-Man shows up and tries to intervene. At the same time, the crime alliance's hit squad makes their entrance and tries to take out Fortunato. Jimmy and Spider-Man take care of most of the squad, but the superhuman Tombstone is still on his feet. Spider-Man asks Jimmy why he came here, if not to kill the old man, and Jimmy reveals that Fortunato is his father.

Tombstone doesn't care about who's who, as long as he can kill Fortunato, but Spider-Man isn't about to let that happen. The two fight to a standstill when, all of a sudden, an electrical blast takes them both out. Fortunato tells Jimmy to call a meeting and reveals his new allies: Hydra.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #239, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Luke Ross and John Stanisci, wraps up the Lizard storyline. Curt Connors's wife, Martha, wakes up to find Spider-Man and her husband (now the Lizard again) fighting in the lab next to their home. Spider-Man realizes that the Lizard only did what he did to protect his family. It was a noble sacrifice on Connors's part, but that doesn't matter much when the Lizard is trying to kill him now.

Spider-Man tries to take the fight outside, to protect Connors's family, but in doing so he's put the Lizard on his true home turf, in the swamp. The Lizard is a bit different now, though, he seemingly has control over all the reptiles in the swamp and orders them to attack. Even though he has an advanced metabolism, the more Spider-Man gets bitten by various snakes, the greater danger he's in. Things get worse when Billy Connors comes out to try and talk some sense into the creature that is his dad.

The Lizard claims that the boy is Connors' weakness and he'll have no part of it, but when a tree starts to fall in Billy's direction, the Lizard leaps towards him. He manages to get Billy out of the way, but gets pinned under the huge tree. A weakened Spider-Man doesn't have the strength to pull the tree off and the water is rising, which will drown the Lizard in minutes. To make things worse, the Lizard used his telepathic ability to "freeze" the reptiles near Billy. If the Lizard dies, the link will be broken and Billy will die.

Spider-Man tells the Lizard to change back to Connors, which would mean there is no arm where the tree has fallen, leaving Connors free to get out from under the massive object. As the water rises above the Lizard's head, suddenly the reptiles back off. Moments later, Dr. Connors comes out of the water. After reuniting with Billy, Connors gives Spider-Man an anti-venom which helps quicken his recovery.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : With Norman Osborn firmly set as the mastermind behind the clone saga, Mark Bernardo and I agreed that it should be figured out just how much of a role Norman secretly played in Spider-Man's life during all that time that he was believed to be dead. If he could manipulate all the clone-related stuff from afar, were there any other important events that occurred directly because of his actions-or his failure to act? For example, if Norman was alive and watching everything from the shadows, why did he let his son Harry die? Why did he let the first Hobgoblin come into being-especially since Hobgoblin #1 broke into Norman's secret hideout and stole his personal journals? Stuff like that.

Mark and I would discuss this stuff a lot, sometimes in the presence of my boss, Tom Brevoort. I recall that Tom B., who's always placed great value on Marvel continuity and has always tried not to blatantly disregard it, kind of shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in our discussions. As I remember it, Brevoort didn't think Norman's return could ever possibly work anyway, at least from a continuity standpoint, so any efforts to make it work with the rest of Spider-Man's history was ultimately a futile effort. Brevoort felt that there was just no way that Norman could have been alive all that time, considering all that happened in the world of Spider-Man since his apparent death. Tom B. felt that if Norman could manipulate Spider-Man's life from afar, for so long, to such an extent, then so much of what had occurred in the books over the years would never have happened, or would have happened very differently. So Brevoort's attitude was to just go with the flow and forge ahead and not get too bogged down in the background details, because there was simply no way that we'd ever be able to address and fix every continuity conundrum raised by Norman's return.

Brevoort's attitude was certainly justified, and there was another major reason why: None of the core writers had extensive, encyclopedic knowledge of every facet of Spider-Man's history, and they weren't about to go back and start rereading every single Spider-Man story ever published from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122 to the present. Besides, realistically speaking, how much of this background information would ever make it into print in the comics, anyway? The worst thing we could do as storytellers would be to get to the final chapter of the clone saga and bog it down in a long series of flashbacks explaining everything Norman did since his apparent death, and how it all worked with the concurrent events in Spider-Man's life. By being so slavish to continuity, we would end up stopping the main, present-day story dead in its tracks. And no one wanted that. But still, there were so many nagging questions that needed to be addressed! Hell, there was enough material to fill a whole separate book! But now I'm getting ahead of myself… ]

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My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
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Last edited by ben_reilly_s_s; 10-27-2011 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:30 PM   #38
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 31a:
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Part 31
Here it is. The last four issues of Spider-Man before the landmark, epic, and most controversial storyline in Spidey's history, "Revelations," unfolds.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #10, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Mike Wieringo and Richard Case, wraps up the Swarm storyline. As the Swarm continues to grow with the addition of thousands and thousands of migrating bees, Spider-Man realizes that the bees are afraid of him. They seem to remember their previous encounter years ago and don't want any part of it.

Back at the Parker homestead, Peter is painting the ceiling of baby May's room, upside down, loving the return of his spider-powers. Unfortunately, his Spider-sense goes off moments before his powers go "out" again, causing him to crash to the floor, paint and all. Mary Jane teases her husband on his erratic powers and offers to kiss him to make him all better.

Spider-Man breaks through the massive swarm structure, which has grown over the research lab and talks to the scientists who fill him in on Swarm's plan. He's using their harmonics generator to communicate telepathically to the bees, while increasing his spectrum, making him and his telepathy stronger. When he gets to a certain point, Swarm will have control over every bee in the world. Spider-Man asks what would happen if the scientists refused to help and Swarm shows him by invading the body of the scientist as a warning.

Spider-Man and the scientists come up with a plan to break up Swarm. They trick Swarm into sending Spider-Man to do some adjustments to the device, telling him that they don't have the manpower or time to make it work. Swarm forces Spider-Man, who could get it done a lot faster, to go and do the adjustments. After he "fixes" the device, Swarm makes Spider-Man turn it on, which he gladly does. Moments later, a shock burst rings out, disrupting the Swarm's vibratory pattern, robbing the bees of their ability to fly and stay in the Swarm. The effect is so powerful that Jean Grey of the X-Men feels its power, as the bees rain down from the sky until it's all over and Swarm is no more.

The issue ends with a scene at Osborn Industries, where Liz Allan Osborn has asked Donald Menken, director of personnel, to come in. Liz has done some investigating on the whole Multivex fiasco and made a list of people that she wants files on, to get to the bottom of the mystery. Menken tells her that the files will be transferred within the hour, but thinks to himself that Liz should be very careful where she keeps digging, in case she discovers something that will cost her.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This last scene was written by Todd as a favor to me and Tom Brevoort. Tom and I were developing a new three-issue limited series called SPIDER-MAN: HOBGOBLIN LIVES, to be published after the conclusion of the clone saga. HOBGOBLIN LIVES was going to reveal once and for all who the original Hobgoblin really was. The project was being written by Roger Stern, the creator of the Hobgoblin, and without a doubt one of the best Spider-Man writers of all time. I had been trying to lure Roger back to do a Spider-Man project for quite a while. Given the chance to finally resolve the Hobgoblin mystery the way he'd always intended, Roger simply couldn't say no to me. (For those of you who weren't aware, Roger Stern never intended for Ned Leeds to be the Hobgoblin. Roger actually left the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN series before revealing the Hobgoblin's true identity. That task ultimately fell to writer Peter David and editor James Owsley, who came up with their own solution, which saw print several years after Roger's departure.) As with the SPIDER-MAN: REDEMPTION limited series, Tom Brevoort allowed me to be the hands-on editor of HOBGOBLIN LIVES, and I got to work very closely with Roger in developing the story.

Back when Roger was the regular writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and had first introduced the Hobgoblin, he had a number of characters set up as suspects, any of whom could have possibly turned out to be the super-villain. Among them: Daily Bugle photographer Lance Bannon, J. Jonah Jameson, wealthy businessmen George Vandergill and Roderick Kingsley, and Osborn Industries executive Donald Menken. Over the years, several of these characters had been killed off or deposited in that zone we refer to as "comic book limbo." Lance Bannon, for example, had been killed off pretty definitively in the early 90s. For the HOBGOBLIN LIVES series, Roger hoped to reuse some of the old suspects-at least the ones who were still alive. Because, as it turned out, one of those old suspects was going to revealed as the original Hobgoblin.

Donald Menken hadn't been seen in a comic book since Roger stopped writing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Roger and I agreed that it would be kind of jarring and dramatically ineffective to just drop Menken and the other long-lost suspects into HOBGOBLIN LIVES from out of the clear blue and give them prominent roles in the story. With them having been unseen for so long, many readers would have no idea who they were, and even faithful, longtime readers might have a hard time remembering them and their relevance to the series. We hoped that maybe these characters could start appearing again throughout the main Spider-Man books in the months leading up to HOBGOBLIN LIVES.

I went to Spider-Man editor Ralph Macchio and asked if it would be possible to use the main Spider-Man books, and possibly SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, to reintroduce some of the characters that Roger had intended to use. Ralph immediately agreed. I had Roger write up a list of the specific characters he wanted reintroduced, and what key information he wanted revealed about them when they made their appearances. Roger came through with the list, and with Ralph's assistance, I was able to coordinate with Todd Dezago and Glenn Herdling (who was going to be writing the next issue of the quarterly UNLIMITED). Todd and Glenn were very cooperative. Todd, as you read above, dealt with Menken, and wrote a very good scene for him with Liz Osborn. Glenn dealt with some of the other characters on Roger's list, and you can read more about that below. But thanks to Todd and Glenn, all of these "suspects" were set up perfectly for their roles in HOBGOBLIN LIVES. ]

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #417, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Ron Garney and Al Williamson, finally reveals the truth behind Judas Traveller and Scrier. Peter Parker wakes up in a cold sweat after having a dream (or is it nightmare?) in which Judas Traveller appears to him, warning him that they've both been betrayed and manipulated. Mary Jane tries to comfort Peter by putting his hand on her belly and telling him that she thinks their daughter is anxious to be born, as she's having a restless night.

The next day, the members of Traveller's Host try to apprehend Chakra, whom they know has been revealing information to Traveller. When Chakra tries to defend her actions, the Host tells her that they all know the truth, that Traveller is not their leader. Chakra is able to get away, but not before Nacht gives them a warning about how their employer is going to be upset with their performance.

At the Daily Grind, Peter pays a visit to Ben and talks about the dream he had. Ben jokes that he prefers to dream about Jenny McCarthy but to each their own. They compare notes on Traveller and his Host. When Ben mentions how it seemed like Traveller could do anything: read minds, time travel and destroy city blocks with a thought, Peter wonders why he would need a team then to back him up. After changing the subject to all things baby, Peter extends a request for Ben to stand up to become May's godfather. Ben gladly accepts and then Peter's pager goes off. Peter explains that he got the pager since Mary Jane entered her third trimester and that he needed it to be accessible to the Daily Bugle for freelance opportunities. Peter calls Robbie, who asks if there's a way they can contact Spider-Man because John Jameson needs him at Ravencroft.

In an abandoned warehouse, Mr. Nacht meets with Gaunt and Scrier, and reports the Host's failure. Gaunt is furious and explains how their employer doesn't even consider death a viable excuse for failure. Their employer wants Traveller neutralized before he can interfere with the employer's plans for Spider-Man. Scrier tells Gaunt to calm himself. They'll find Chakra and Traveller is in no position to save himself now, as the scene cuts to Traveller sleeping in a containment pod.

Spider-Man and Peter Parker arrive at Ravencroft where John Jameson introduces them to a frantic Chakra. She tells them that Traveller is not who they think he is and that the power he holds isn't what it seems. He's in great danger and she needs Spider-Man's help. When Peter says, "We'll help," Spider-Man tells him that he doesn't need the help of someone who's about to become a father. Peter walks home, amazed that Ben ditched him, but laughs, thinking, "Bet the bozo doesn't even realize I planted a spider-tracer on his back." Aunt Anna, who flew into help Mary Jane with the pregnancy, greets Peter at the door.

Elsewhere, Spider-Man and Chakra are checking out an abandoned gym, uncertain that Traveller is there, but Chakra can feel him. Spider-Man wonders how much help he can be to a being that had power at a near cosmic level, but Chakra tells him that it was all an illusion. Judas Traveller possesses some psionic powers, but his primary talent was the ability to alter people's perceptions of reality. She explains that many of the manifestations he witnessed were a result of technology supplied by Scrier. When Spider-Man mentions how he wondered how Scrier fit into the equation, Chakra begins to tell him that unlike Traveller, Scrier is far more than he appears. Before she can say any more, the members of the Host come in, attacking.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : According my notes from when these issues were being written, it was Tom DeFalco's idea that the noted criminal psychologist Judas Traveller had an uncanny ability to alter people's perceptions of reality. Later on, when I wrote THE OSBORN JOURNAL, I went one step further and established that Traveller was a mutant, and that this power of his, which had long been dormant within him, had been unleashed after he suffered a nervous breakdown several years ago. ]

Back at the Rose's base of operations, he and Delilah are paid a visit by Scrier. Scrier wants an answer on his suggestion of an alliance between his organization and the Rose's. The Rose responds that his European contacts dug up a lot of information on Scrier and his "so-called" organization and he didn't like what he had found. Rose explains that he doesn't like surprises or being lied to. "You said you were Scrier, but you didn't tell me the whole truth… Scrier isn't an individual-it's the name of your entire organization."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I believe Tom DeFalco suggested that Scrier's ability to seemingly pop up anywhere, at any time, could be explained away by establishing that there was more than one Scrier, that he was really just a whole bunch of normal guys dressed up in identical costumes. I took that idea and added a lot to it. At a lunch meeting with Spider-Man editor Ralph Macchio, my boss Tom Brevoort, and Spider-Man writers Howard Mackie, Todd Dezago and DeFalco, I suggested that the group of Scriers be more than just a criminal organization, that they be something of a cult. I suggested that this group originate from Europe, and that Norman Osborn became aware of them and involved with them during the time when he was over there following his "death" in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122. I saw the Scrier cult as a group that was made of men bent on achieving power, wealth, and control, and that it bore many similarities to the Mafia, the Ku Klux Klan and the Hellfire Club.

Ralph pointed out that we probably shouldn't COMPLETELY debunk Scrier. He mentioned that writer J.M. DeMatteis, who helped create the character, had future plans for Scrier in another Marvel title (I believe it was THE SILVER SURFER), and was going to be portraying him pretty much the same way he had been portrayed before-as a mystical being of great power. To accommodate DeMatteis's plans, I suggested that the cult of Scrier was originally inspired by an ancient, legendary, powerful being of the same name who may or may not have actually existed. ]

While Rose explains in more detail the information he's received, Spider-Man and Chakra face off against an army of Scriers. They start to get a little overwhelmed until Peter, appearing in street clothes with a mask and gloves, arrives telling Spider-Man, "Family should never ask for help."

Rose reveals all that he has learned about the Scriers to the one who stands before him. The Scrier is a secret cabal which was inspired by a mystical being who was the inspiration for their attire. The cult was almost wiped out of existence until 5 or 6 years earlier when an unknown mastermind took over, with dreams of becoming the European version of the Kingpin of Crime. The mysterious new leader honed their fighting skills, and espionage techniques and gave the Scriers sophisticated armaments. Rose tells Scrier although their organization is impressive, he's not sure they have what it takes to make it in the American market.

Scrier responds with threats against Rose, revealing that he too knows the other's secrets. Scrier's research indicates that Rose is known by many names: Richard Fisk, the Schemer and Blood Rose. The Rose responds that the list is interesting, all identities of the same man, but not necessarily him and that Scrier can't prove otherwise. When Scrier returns to the warehouse with news of Rose declining the invitation, Gaunt snaps his neck, again reiterating that their employer has zero tolerance for failure.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : The Rose of these stories, as some of you probably know, turned out not to be Richard Fisk after all. But Fisk was certainly the original Rose. I have to say, having just read the last few issues of DAREDEVIL, I am quite intrigued by Brian Michael Bendis's portrayal of Richard Fisk. It's radically different from what we've seen in the past, and shows just how far from grace Richard Fisk had fallen. You'd never think that the weak-willed, desolate, sad sack of a man depicted by Bendis could ever have been one of New York City's most powerful crime lords. ]

Back at the abandoned gym, the two Spider-Men and Chakra are able to hold the Scriers off long enough to find Judas Traveller in a containment pod at the bottom of the swimming pool. Spider-Peter is able to free him and that's when things get really strange. Traveller is tired of being used and manipulated and launches into a powerful "mind bend" which takes out all of the Scriers, weakens himself and even dazes Peter and Ben. Traveller and Chakra want to make their exit as quickly as possible, but not before passing on a warning to Peter and Ben. "Beware. The madman behind Scrier… the monster who pulled my strings has also orchestrated against you." The Spider-Men aren't sure what he means but have a feeling that things are about to get real bad.

SPIDER-MAN #74, written by Howard Mackie and illustrated by John Romita Jr and Al Williamson, concludes the Fortunato/Mob War storyline. The issue opens with Daredevil catching a bank robber who wears a suit of armor. Though the armor is high tech and could be difficult for Daredevil to win against, the wearer is an amateur and is easily beaten. Daredevil offers to put in a good word for the crook if he reveals where he got the armor. Reluctantly, the crook spills the beans about something her heard on the street and informs Daredevil that Fortunato will be executing Spider-Man in front of everyone who's everyone in crime.

Back at Fortunato's estate, the old man gives a speech in front of dozens of other mob bosses and his Hydra partners. He speaks of how costumed heroes have always been a threat to their business, but promises that won't be the case now. As a sign of faith, he reveals that he's captured Spider-Man, one of the last of the heroes (after the events of ONSLAUGHT), and will unmask and then kill him. Then there's a great two-page splash of Spider-Man, bound in front of everyone.

Fortunato also brings out Tombstone, who's shackled, and says that he will have to pay for his indiscretion, as well as several civilians taken from territories controlled by each of the crime bosses. Fortunato's belief is that if civilians are harmed, people will turn against the mob bosses and any other incidents by the bosses against Fortunato will result in more bloodshed. He orders his son, Jimmy 6, to give the bosses their weapons to do the executions themselves.

Jimmy refuses, saying this is why he left his father in the first place. He realizes that Tombstone knew the risks when he got into "the life" but the innocents don't deserve to be harmed. While Jimmy is stalling, Spider-Man is mustering every bit of strength he has to break free from his bindings. It's another great shot by Romita Jr. Spider-Man strikes fast, hitting the gunmen with stingers, giving him time to get the innocent hostages to safety.

Daredevil arrives and helps Spider-Man with the hostages, and then with the Hydra agents. There's a good moment where they talk about the death of the heroes and whether they can live up to increased needs and expectations with them gone. Spider-Man puts it simply: all we can do is what we do best, and do it more often. Daredevil, Spider-Man and the hostages reach the end of the road, a heavily barricaded gate. With Hydra closing in on them, there's not enough time to destroy the gate and save the hostages. Spidey and DD prepare to face off against Hydra on their own, but then Jimmy 6 shows up with a Hydra Gun Ship. He sets the copter down, lets the passengers, Daredevil and Spider-Man board, and gets back in the air, leaving Hydra behind.

Spider-Man realizes that Tombstone is still down there. Even though Tombstone is a criminal and probably deserves what Hydra has in store for him, Spider-Man can't let him get killed like that. He swings down from the copter and grabs up Tombstone, bringing him back up. Before he can get inside with him, Spider-Man's web line is cut by a Hydra shot. Daredevil thinks quickly, and uses his own billy club rope to snag both Spider-Man and Tombstone. After being thanked by Spider-Man, Daredevil says not to bother since he wasn't looking forward to being the only hero left in town. Spider-Man replies that he has a feeling, "I think things are going to get easier from here on. No, really."

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #14 doesn't come out until the following month, but for the sake of the flow of the column and continuity, we're covering it now. Written by Glenn Herdling and illustrated by Joe Bennett, Joe Pimentel and Tim Dzon, this issue wraps up the "Great Game" storyline started way back when the Scarlet Spider titles were launched.

__________________
My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
My Daughter Jubilee Morrison was born 08/17-2010.
My 3DS nickname: Kinetic
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:31 PM   #39
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 31b:
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Appropriately enough, the story opens with the Scarlet Spider's line being ripped by a sniper shot and him falling to his death. The killer earns 2000 points to squashing the Spider, and Ken Ellis and Peter Parker are called to the morgue for their report. Peter's understandably shaken until the doctor says they've determined that the Scarlet Spider was definitely… Asian.

While the Bugle team debates whether the Scarlet Spider is the real deal or not (only Peter knows the truth), Jameson tells Peter to get pictures of the Scarlet Spider's murderer, the only person who had motive: Spider-Man. At that moment, Spider-Man comes into the office and lets everyone know that he's just fine. He notices the look on Robbie's face and asks if seeing him and Peter together makes him jealous.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was a subtle reference to the fact that Robbie had begun to suspect that Peter Parker was really Spider-Man. This suspicion really came to the fore in the SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE limited series. By seeing Peter and Spider-Man together in the same place at the same time, Robbie's suspicions would have to be squelched - at least for the time being. ]

Later on, Ben and Peter touch base and Ben informs his "cousin" that he thinks the Scarlet Spider impostor's death has something to do with the Great Game. When Peter realizes that Ben knows James Johnsmeyer is one of the sponsors, he accuses Ben of being irresponsible. The two debate procedure but are interrupted by Betty Brant, who ends up joining them for lunch, and then making a date with Ben later.

Ben's relationship with Betty is a major subplot in this book. They go on a date, share several quiet moments together and even share a kiss. Ben goes so far as to ask for Peter's blessing to continue seeing her, since they have a shared past as well. Another important moment in this book is a cameo during J. Jonah Jameson's party (which Betty and Ben attend) by a person who will later be revealed as the original, true Hobgoblin, in a mini-series several months from now.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Thanks to Glenn Herdling's cooperation, two of the suspects from the forthcoming HOBGOBLIN LIVES limited series were worked into the party scene. As Andrew mentioned, one of them was revealed to be the original Hobgoblin. Which one? If you don't know by now, find yourself the back issues of the limited series, or the trade paperback collecting the whole thing, and read it. I think you'll like it!

Much like Tom DeFalco had done in several issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Glenn Herdling worked his dismay over Marvel's financial situation-and the manner in which the company was being run-into the dialogue of his story. During the party scene, Jameson has an encounter with businessman Roderick Kingsley, who offers his advice on how to reinvigorate the failing Daily Bugle. Kingsley says, "Sell the majority of your shares to the public!" (That, of course, is what Ron Perelman had done with Marvel in 1991, and what is believed by many experts to be what ultimately led to the company going bankrupt in 1996.) Jameson replies, "I'd never take the Bugle public, Kingsley-because I know that its long-term integrity would suffer under corporate connivers like you, who dream up ridiculous little 'schemes' which only produce short-term gains!" Yep, that pretty sums up what was going on at Marvel. If only J. Jonah Jameson could have been our owner… ]

Spider-Man is an unwilling participant in the game, but he does what he has to do to put an end to Johnsmeyer once and for all. In the end, Johnsmeyer is arrested, even though he was only a pawn for the untouchable Justin Hammer. Peter and Ben make peace with the way they debated procedure earlier on.

Later that night, Spider-Man visits Jameson in his office. Jameson's just received a check for $50,000 for winning the game. Spider-Man deduced earlier that Jameson sponsored him. Since the rules of the game call for the sponsor to share the winnings with the player, Spider-Man tells Jameson to give his share to a critical patient at Mercy Hospital, Hobie Brown (the Prowler) who was almost killed.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:43 PM   #40
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 32a:
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Part 32 "Revelations," the interconnecting story that will conclude the Clone Saga once and for all begins here. And the Spider-Man character will never be the same again.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I don't know if I agree with that last statement. The whole intent of "Revelations" was to go back to the Spider-Man that everyone knew and loved. In other words, the same old thing, almost exactly the way it was before the Clone Saga began. But if we're talking about the BEN REILLY Spider-Man, then yeah, HE'D never be the same again after this. ]

"Revelations" Part 1 takes place in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #240, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Luke Ross and John Stanisci. The issue begins with Seward Trainer running some final tests on Gaunt before they begin the final rejuvenation process. Gaunt's employer reveals himself to Trainer, asking how long the process will take, since time is of the essence. Seward can't believe that this is the man who's been pulling the strings. Now, more than ever, he realizes that he has to get to Ben and Peter and warn them both.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This story line was originally going to be called "Book of Revelations," and the inciting incident was going to be Seward Trainer finding out the identity of the mysterious mastermind and stealing one of his journals-the one that outlines the entire master plan of the clone saga, from the beginning to the present-to get this book into the hands of either Ben Reilly or Peter Parker. Seward would die in the attempt, but the journal would make its way to our heroes and, once they learned the truth, the stage would be set for the climactic showdown.

During the chapters of "Book of Revelations" that would take place in the core Spider-Man titles, the readers would just get the most pertinent information from the journal: who was behind the Clone Saga, why, and a brief explanation of how. The full contents of the journal would be laid out for all to see in THE OSBORN JOURNAL, which I was writing. I was excited by this plan. It tied my book directly into the story line, and made the OSBORN JOURNAL one-shot a more essential piece of the event. However, as the story evolved and the journal became less and less important, the title was changed to "Revelations." In the end, the journal didn't even figure into the story line, and THE OSBORN JOURNAL more or less became a stand-alone project for those continuity-minded readers who were very curious about how everything tied together. ]

Our first symbolic tease occurs on the credits page, which is the first shot of Peter and Mary Jane. Hanging on a tree is a little ghost in the same pose as Mary Jane. Another tease appears as Peter and Mary Jane talk about the life they're going to have for their daughter. This talk occurs as Peter and MJ walk past a "dead end" sign.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Todd Dezago did a great job on these little visual gags and bits of foreshadowing. He put a lot of thought into them, and they worked very well. I remember how much fun it was to read the Spider-Man message boards on AOL and see whether the readers picked up on the gags and could guess where the story was headed. ]

Seward races to find Ben at his apartment, but is cornered by Gaunt, who's wearing a new and improved robotic armor. Gaunt's there for one reason: to kill Seward Trainer now that he's outlived his usefulness. Trainer makes it out of the apartment okay, but Gaunt is following close behind. Seward heads for the subway, hoping to find a way to get to Ben or Peter before it's too late. Seward makes it as far as just outside the Bugle building before Gaunt catches him. Seward ends up running down a blind alley, straight into the mystery man behind it all. With Gaunt on one end blocking Seward's escape, the mystery man wraps his hand around Seward's neck. Asking if he has any last words, the man breaks Seward's neck and tells Gaunt to dispose of the body. He then orders Gaunt to kill Ben Reilly and to do it in front of Peter. He doesn't want Peter with his wife tonight. Tonight, he wants Peter to pay for having a life.

At the Daily Grind, Shirley hires a new waitress, Alison Mongrain. For some reason, two of her best girls didn't show up or even call the other day, so Shirley needs someone to back her up. One of the first images of Alison has her standing next to a picture of a witch.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Andrew is one sharp reader-I completely missed that bit, and didn't notice it until he mentioned it in this column and I went back to the issue to check it out! ]

Ben comes to visit Peter, who's trying to make room in their home. Peter doesn't want to just throw things out since they're Ben's memories, too. Peter and Ben sit in the attic, amidst all the toys, junk and memories of their past and reflect on their lives: joint and individual. The two of them look through the boxes (Ben is sitting beneath an upside down horseshoe) before deciding what to keep and what to throw out, and they find boxes and boxes of books. Ben wonders where they found the time to read everything. "I don't know how to tell you this, Ben," Peter says, "but we were…well…we were a nerd." After picking up Peter Pan, and remembering how Aunt May used to read it to them, Peter reveals to Ben that Aunt May knew they were Spider-Man. Peter says that he would have told him sooner, but after discovering he was the clone, he wanted to hold on to that, that one special thing that made him feel like a real person. Peter says this as he holds the book Pinocchio. As Ben is handed The Prince and the Pauper, he says that he understands.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was a great scene. The stuff about Peter Pan ties in with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400, that beautiful story by J.M. DeMatteis, in which Peter quotes a famous line from the classic children's story to Aunt May as she passes away: "Second star to the right, and straight on till morning." ]

At the Daily Bugle, a couple of former Osborn Industries and Mulitvex employees get a job at the paper. The hiring manager explains that several of his people quit without explanation the other day and he needs them to start immediately. Meanwhile, at Osborn Industries, Liz Allan Osborn calls Foggy Nelson to invite him to the Daily Bugle. Apparently, Ben Urich invited her and she wants Foggy to tag along. She says this while sitting in front of a shadowy painting of the company's founder.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Editor in Chief Bob Harras pushed for Foggy Nelson to be involved in this story, since Foggy and Liz had started seeing each other over in DAREDEVIL and Harras wanted there to be more of a "shared universe" feel amongst the Marvel books, especially since the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and most of their related characters had been shunted off into the "Heroes Reborn" universe controlled by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. Ultimately, however, Foggy's presence in this story line didn't really amount to anything-it didn't even lead to an appearance by Daredevil. He was essentially used as one more bit of cannon fodder for the big climax, which was kind of a disappointment. ]

Back at the Parker homestead, Mary Jane calls Peter, who's playing Battleship with Ben, and asks if the boys want to join her and Aunt Anna for dinner at the Daily Grind. Peter confirms that they'll be there in a half hour, but a mystery man, eavesdropping, thinks, "Don't count on it."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Bob Harras played a major role in the plotting of this story line. Indeed, as I recall, he pretty much outlined the whole thing, chapter by chapter, and told the writers what he wanted in each issue. There were certain elements he absolutely insisted on, such as having the entire supporting cast lured, one way or another, to the Daily Bugle, where their lives would be jeopardized by the master villain once he finally revealed himself.

Assistant Editor Mark Bernardo pointed out during a plotting session that the "Revelations" story line would run through the month of October, with the last chapter coming out around the time of Halloween. Mark said that since the villain was going to be the Green Goblin, and his trademark weapons were his pumpkin bombs, wouldn't it be perfect to tie the story line into Halloween? In fact, why not have the whole story take place on that day? Harras liked the idea a lot, and decided to go with it. ]

"Revelations" Part 2, written by Todd Dezago and illustrated by Mike Wieringo and Richard Case, takes place in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #11 and opens with J. Jonah Jameson getting word of an emergency board meeting to take place at 11:30 that night. Jameson is furious, although Robbie explains that they have every right to want to call an emergency meeting with the recent rash of layoffs. As Jameson heads towards the elevators, he finds the newest Bugle employees working on them.

Peter and Ben leave and head towards the Daily Grind for their dinner with MJ and Aunt Anna and get to talking about the heroes and how they're almost all gone now. Peter says that New York needs all the help it can get, even if maybe they come in the form of two Spider-Men. Ben smiles, knowing he was going to say it, and was actually thinking of the same thing. But Peter has responsibilities and there's the problem of Peter's powers going on and off. Peter tries to say that they've almost fully returned but Ben tells him that MJ told him all about Peter falling off the ceiling. Peter tries to prove it to Ben one more time by doing some stunts up a tree and Ben asks him to stop before his picture shows up in the Weekly World News.

Over at the police station, Arthur Stacy, back in the United States, pays a visit to Detective Trevane, who worked with his brother, the late Captain George Stacy. Arthur asks if Trevane can bring him up to speed on Spider-Man. Over at Flash Thompson's place, Flash gets a Fed Ex, apparently from Peter, inviting him to a party that evening at the Daily Bugle. It turns out that several other people in Peter's life are invited to go to the Bugle that evening for a variety of different reasons.

Peter and Ben continue their walk to the Daily Grind with Peter still pleading his case to join Ben in wearing the webs. Ben finally gives in and says it's a good idea but tells Peter that he's going to be keeping a close eye on his "little brother." They run into a bunch of kids playing super hero and warn them to be careful, but the new and improved Gaunt crashes into the building, making the warning come a little too late. Ben puts on the costume and battles Gaunt while Peter tries to save the kids, who turn out to be attack robots that turn on Peter.

Mary Jane and Anna are waiting for Peter and Ben at the Daily Grind, but MJ needs something to eat so she orders a bowl of chicken gumbo. The waitress who takes her order is Alison, who goes into the back and drops the contents of a mysterious vial into Mary Jane's food. Moments later, paramedics are on the scene as Mary Jane has apparently gone into labor shortly after eating the gumbo. She asks what's happening to her and if the baby's okay, but the medics aren't listening. They're focused on the baby as their readings are all over the place. "Something's really wrong. We gotta get her to the hospital right away."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This of course was the most uncomfortable part-planning the undoing of Mary Jane's pregnancy. But it had been put off for so long, and had been discussed over and over and over again, that it got to the point where we just had to bite the bullet and confront the situation head-on. ]

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is able to discover Gaunt's true identity. Gaunt is really Mendel Stomm, the so-called "Robot Master" and former partner of Norman Osborn, who's been "dead" for quite some time. Spider-Man and Peter Parker go back to back as Stromm and the child-like robots move in for the attack. Just then, Peter gets a 911 page from Mary Jane.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Mendel Stromm first appeared in 1966, in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Volume 1, #37, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He apparently died of a heart attack at the end of the story, and had not appeared since then. However, a robot version of Stromm showed up in 1982, in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #68, written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Luke McDonnell, and inked by Jim Mooney.

It was Mark Bernardo who suggested that Gaunt should turn out to be Stromm. Amusingly enough, none of the Spider-Man writers even remembered who Stromm was! I can't say I blame them-Mark ran the idea by me first, and even I had to go back to the "Marvel Masterworks" volume that reprinted ASM #37 to read up on the character.

Once it was explained to the writers who Stromm was, and how he had a strong connection to Norman Osborn, they all agreed that it seemed like a reasonable enough idea. However, there was a great deal of concern about having Gaunt turn out to be an obscure character that hadn't even been mentioned in the books in about 14 years, and hadn't been seen in about 30! None of the writers could come up with a better solution, though, and I think they just sort of gave in and agreed to go along with it, rather than really get behind it and completely embrace the idea. In fact, the manner in which Stromm is dealt in the next chapter would seem to indicate that at least one of the writers wanted to send Stromm back into comic book limbo as quickly and as efficiently as possible. ]

"Revelations" Part 3 takes place in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #418, written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Steve Skroce and Bud Larosa. The issue opens at the hospital, where Mary Jane is greeted by Dr. Folsome, who will be handling the delivery. He explains that they've been unable to locate her regular doctor, who's apparently out of town. Anna is still frantically trying to page Peter and wonders what could be more important than returning a 911 call about Mary Jane and the baby.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Steve Skroce was brought on to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN at the behest of Bob Harras. Skroce had previously been the regular penciler on X-MAN, but expressed to Harras his great interest in Spider-Man and in becoming a penciler on one of the core Spider-Man titles. By that point, Harras was already looking to take longtime AMAZING SPIDER-MAN penciler Mark Bagley off of Spider-Man and have him work on other projects, such as the new THUNDERBOLTS series. Harras believed that Skroce's "X-Men connection" gave him a certain degree of "heat" in the industry, which would presumably help Spider-Man's sales. Harras strongly encouraged Spider-Man editor Ralph Macchio to replace Bagley with Skroce.

Skroce was certainly a talented artist, but in my opinion, considering how much affection he claimed to have had for Spider-Man and how interested he said he was in becoming a regular Spider-Man penciler, he showed very little commitment or dedication to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN once he got the gig. He lasted less than a year (seven-and-a-half issues in all, not consecutive), and in that space of time, he took two "sabbaticals" from the book. After penciling just three issues (#'s 418-420), another artist had to be brought in to pencil half of #421. After that, Skroce took a three-month leave of absence to work on storyboards for the first "Matrix" movie, so Joe Bennett filled in as the penciler of issues 422 through 424. Skroce returned for issues 425 through 428, but then he took another "sabbatical"… one from which he never returned.

With Mark Bagley having been a regular part of Spider-Man's adventures for so long, and having been part of the Clone Saga since the beginning, I felt (and still feel) that it was a damn shame he didn't get to at least see the story line through to the end. It would have been nice for him to get the chance to illustrate the ASM chapter of "Revelations," and to have been the artist who got to finally reveal the identity of the master villain on the last page of the issue.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #41
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 32b:
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Mark, off course, later went on to pencil the highly successful and critically acclaimed ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN series, for which he is still the regular artist, and I'm happy for him. He was always a pleasure to work with, and I regret that I didn't get to work with him more often.

As for Steve Skroce, he did some covers for me when I became the editor of X-MAN, and I know he did a story arc for WOLVERINE a while back, but I don't know where he is these days, or what he's up to. ]

Elsewhere, Spider-Man and Peter have their hands full with Stromm and the robots. Spider-Man tells Peter to go and be with his wife, but Peter can't leave. He knows Ben wouldn't survive without his help. Peter joins Ben in the fight, taking on the young-looking robots and in the course of the battle, finds a telephone. He makes a quick call to Anna's cell phone to find out what's going on. He tells Anna that he's been stuck between stations in a subway car and asks how Mary Jane is. Anna tells him that MJ is already in the delivery room but that there seem to be complications. She tells him to get to the hospital as soon as possible and Peter tells her that nothing will keep him from his wife's side.

Back at the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson gets a call from Bugle photographer Angela Yin, who was at the hospital when Mary Jane was brought in. She tells Robbie that she thinks something has gone wrong with the pregnancy. At the hospital, Mary Jane is in active labor, with Dr. Folsome telling her to push. She asks if everything's okay and the doctor responds that things are going exactly as planned. From another room, a mystery man observes the events and thinks, "Indeed, Mrs. Parker…exactly as planned."

At the police station, Detective Trevane introduces Arthur Stacy to the other detectives. Arthur tells them that the man who was responsible for his brother's death was never brought to justice and he wants that to be rectified. The man he wants is Spider-Man.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Originally, Arthur Stacy's daughter, Jill, was going to be introduced in this story line, and she was going to be established as a New York City police officer. John Romita Jr. penciled the pages that introduced her, but there was some rethinking of her character at the last minute and the pages never saw print. Jill would not be introduced until the Clone Saga was over and done with, and the concept of her being a cop was totally abandoned. ]

At the Daily Bugle, Jameson wants answers. He tells Robbie that they both received emergency board meeting notices that take place at the same time as some party that he's just heard about. Throughout the building, workers are decorating the offices with pumpkins that just happen to have detonators in them.

Spider-Man's pretty busy with Stromm, and is asking him questions during their fight. He wants to know where he's been all this time and why he's so intent on killing him. More importantly, he wants to know who Stromm's boss is. Peter joins Spider-Man in the fight, and Stromm releases a gas, which doesn't seem to have an affect on either of them. Peter gets hit with a punch as Stromm reveals the truth about Seward Trainer to Spider-Man and how he was another pawn in the overall plan-a pawn that outlived his usefulness.

Spider-Man tells Stromm that the killing ends now and lays into him with a series of moves that end in Spider-Man ripping his armor apart, leaving Stromm defeated before him. Peter looks on to see that things have been taken care of and then heads off for the hospital. Spider-Man tells Peter to give his new daughter a kiss from her future godfather and then goes back to dealing with Stromm. He asks again for the identity of Stromm's employer. Stromm says that he can't divulge the name, or the person would kill them both. Just then, an energy blast hits Spider-Man and a voice calls out, "Why ask an underling when you can go directly to the source?" Spider-Man wonders how the person was able to sneak up on him and rushes towards the man. As he gets closer, Spider-Man recognizes him. "It can't be you! Not you! I saw you die." The man hits Spider-Man with another energy blast, knocking him unconscious, while saying "Appearances are often deceiving." The man goes over to Stromm and reminds him what the penalty for failure is, aiming a finger at his head and firing another energy blast.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Tom DeFalco intended for this to be the last we'd ever see of Mendel Stromm. I had another opinion on that. My feeling was that we had bent over backwards and jumped through a number of continuity-related hoops just to bring Stromm back and establish that he had been Gaunt. Having brought him out of obscurity and comic book limbo after 30 years, why should we be so quick to kill him off again? I felt that maybe we could still get some mileage out of him in future stories, that with his connection to Osborn and his mastery of advanced robotics, maybe he could be an interesting addition to Spider-Man's rogues gallery. I expressed my opinions to Ralph before ASM #418 was completed, and he seemed to agree with me, but he also didn't want to interfere with Tom DeFalco, which I completely understood. But as Ralph and I agreed when the issue came out and Stromm was apparently killed, "It's comics! Anyone can come back!" Especially since we didn't actually see Stromm get killed in the issue, nor did we ever see his dead body. Everything was implied, but nothing was confirmed.

Months later, I got to bring Stromm back, and even established a backstory for him, when I wrote SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #17, which served as sort of a coda to the Clone Saga. Andrew and I are planning to cover this story in one of the last installments of this series of columns. ]

Finally, at the hospital, Mary Jane gives birth and wonders why the baby isn't crying. The doctor and attendants go silent as Mary Jane begins to cry and think, "Dear god no."

Later, Alison Mongrain, the waitress from the Daily Grind (who's wearing surgeon's scrubs) pushes a large container out of the delivery room and outside to a pier. The mysterious employer asks if she has the delivery to which she replies "Yes." "I trust you'll make sure it's never seen again," the mystery man says. "I hope you enjoy Europe." As Alison thanks her employer for his generosity, the man tells her that she doesn't need to be so formal in the future. She should feel free to use his real name. "It's Norman…Norman Osborn."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I vividly remember all the little bits and story elements that Bob Harras absolutely insisted had to be in the "Revelations" story line. Among them was the sequence where the Parker baby is apparently delivered to Alison Mongrain, and Norman Osborn tells her to make sure it's never seen again.

Some of us on the editorial staff (myself included) absolutely disagreed with this sequence being included, because it raised a question that shouldn't have been raised. We strongly felt that the baby story line should have a clean, clear, definitive ending, and that there should be no lingering doubts or mysteries about the baby's status. If the baby's dead, then let's say the baby's dead and move on. I remember discussing this matter with Harras, and his response was that his way of ending the baby story line "gives hope to the readers who have been waiting for the birth of the baby, it lets them believe that the baby is still out there somewhere, alive, and maybe Peter will find her someday. It'll keep them coming back."

The problem with that was that there was NEVER going to be a resolution. In fact, Harras said that he didn't want the baby referred to again once the Clone Saga was over. He even wanted it established in the first post-Clone Saga issue, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #241, that six months had elapsed since the end of "Revelations, " so we could just skip over Peter and Mary Jane's mourning period and show that they were pretty much back to normal and Spider-Man was his old, wisecracking self again. Harras wanted the Spider-Man books to move on and away from the Clone Saga as quickly as possible… but he also wanted to play with readers' expectations.

When some of us editorial staffers privately discussed the situation, we agreed that Harras's approach was very unfair to the readers. Deliberately dangling a plot thread in front of the readers and then just as deliberately abandoning it, with absolutely no intentions to ever resolve it, just didn't seem like the right thing to do, but at that point, we knew better than to even try to talk our editor in chief out of something he obviously felt so strongly about.

Then again, if we hadn't done it Harras's way, there probably never would have been a SPIDER-GIRL comic book series. As I'm sure many of you already know, writer Tom DeFalco eventually picked up on the Harras-dictated plot thread and ran with it, creating an entire "alternate reality" in which the baby was eventually recovered, alive and well, and grew up to become a web-slinger in her own right. SPIDER-GIRL has certainly earned the critical acclaim it's gotten-it's a fun, enjoyable comic, and it's managed to stick around for several years, escaping cancellation more than once, so I guess something good CAN come out of something bad! ]

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My Son Kyle Morrison was born on 04/12-2009.
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #42
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Default Re: The Life of Reilly (collected)

Part 33a:
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Oh, you were expecting PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75? Sorry, not yet. Even though these two issues came out after the aforementioned PP 75, in the interest of pacing, we're going to deal with them first. Besides, there are no spoilers contained in these issues so those of you who are waiting with baited breath to see how it all ends can relax. We're not going to ruin it here.

First up is 101 WAYS TO END THE CLONE SAGA. Written by Mark Bernardo (who, like Glenn, was an editor who experienced the whoooollle thing) and illustrated by Ben Herrera and Mike Christian, this one-shot sought to take a lighter look at the controversial Clone Saga.

The premise of the story is pretty simple: readers are taken into the offices of Marvel Comics to watch as the ending of the clone saga unfolds. Featuring appearances by Mark, Glenn, Bob Harras (Marvel's EIC at the time), Ralph Macchio, Tom DeFalco, Tom Brevoort and many, many more, the issue was done tongue-in-cheek, like the old "assistant editor" issues and behind-the-scenes gimmicks that Marvel used to do way back when.

Throughout the issue, while the editors wait for Spider-Man Group Editor Ralph Macchio to show up for work, the different editors, writers, marketing department guys and others throw out ideas to Bob Harras on how to end the Clone Saga once and for all, but also in a way that will make fans happy. The real treat of this issue is getting a glimpse at some of the ideas that were presented as a way to end the storyline.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I've said in previous columns, I kept all of the infamous "Spider-Clone" memos that had been passed around since the days when Bob Budiansky was in charge, and if you've been with us for a while, you know that I've included material from those memos in my comments. I supplied Mark Bernardo with copies of all these memos when he started writing 101 WAYS. When I gave him the package of memos, and he saw that it was thick enough to choke a horse, I think he started to have second thoughts about taking on this project! At the very least, it brought home just how much time, effort, thought, and paper had been devoted to solving this quandary. ]

One of the interesting things was that the storyline for WHAT IF: SCARLET SPIDER KILLED SPIDER-MAN was originally suggested by Howard Mackie as an ending to the clone saga, only in this one, Mary Jane is missing and presumed dead. Some of the more outlandish suggestions dealt with time travel and time and various other cosmic anomalies that were deemed too "sci-fi" for Spider-Man. I also thought that the suggestion by Tom DeFalco (he had just had enough, already), where Ben just degenerates out of the blue had a simplistic, if not ridiculous, charm.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : All of these scenarios were covered by me in previous installments. If you want to read about them in more detail, go back to those older columns and check them out. As John Belushi said in National Lampoon's Animal House, "It don't cost nothin'!" ]

There was one suggestion that wanted the end of the Clone Saga to tie into ending the Master Programmer saga, but this was nixed because the MP's identity was to be a major storyline plot point in a future issue. Interestingly enough, they showed just enough of this potential clone ending to spoil the Master Programmer mystery. The marketing ideas were interesting in that they tended to go for things that appealed purely to the dollar, without regard to story or fan reaction. One quickie suggestion was for Ben to get squashed by a Sentinel during Onslaught. They furthered the argument by saying they could do it as a special issue with a chromium cover and add real Spider-blood as the fifth color ink. This spawned the potential "101 Uses for a Dead Clone" one- shot idea where the purpose would be to show, obviously, what you could do with a dead clone: coat rack, passenger for the car pool lanes, etc.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Marvel came very close to actually doing a "101 Uses for a Dead Clone" one-shot. I'm glad we didn't. ]

This special issue ends with Bob Harras returning to find that no one has any idea on how to end the storyline. He tells the staff he doesn't care if they drown in paper as long as the Clone Saga is resolved by the end of the day. Someone mentions that the pressure must be getting to Bob since he's acting irrational, manic, insane: sort of like the Green Goblin. Then Ralph Macchio says, "You know…we may have something there."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Mark did a great job with this book. It showed that despite all the frustration and aggravation we went through, we could still have some fun with this clone nonsense, and even take some potshots at ourselves. ]

The next one shot, SPIDER-MAN: THE OSBORN JOURNAL, was written by our very own Glenn Greenberg and illustrated by Kyle Hotz, Jason Moore, and Al Milgrom. Ironically enough, Glenn had the pleasure/burden of explaining exactly how Norman Osborn came to live again and how he ended up manipulating everything from behind the scenes. Glenn also had the daunting task of making sure that all the pieces, mysteries and loose ends from the Clone Saga were wrapped up into one package.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Okay, now we're in for a loooong stretch from me. THE OSBORN JOURNAL was put on Marvel's publishing schedule for a December 1996 release, before anyone knew what it was. It was just a title that one of our execs came up with, but there was no concept. At a casual Marvel lunch one day, I suggested to Ralph what I thought the project should be: an explanation of the whole Clone Saga, and how Norman Osborn fit in with the previous 24 years worth of Spider-Man continuity, told in Norman's own words and from his point of view. My idea was to take a similar approach to how Marv Wolfman occasionally wrote issues of the classic TOMB OF DRACULA series from the 1970s, in which the stories were taken directly from Dracula's journal and were told from his point of view. Ralph liked the idea, and he suggested that I should be the one to write it.
But I turned him down.

While it had been a longtime tradition at Marvel, starting with Stan Lee himself, that editorial staffers could also write comics, Bob Harras had made it known after he became Editor in Chief that it was now considered a conflict of interest for staffers to do freelance writing and it would only be allowed on certain occasions. I certainly did not want to bring myself to Harras's attention by trying to go against his edict, so I advised Ralph to go with another writer, and I suggested Kurt Busiek. Kurt had just recently written the SPIDER-MAN: LEGACY OF EVIL painted one-shot that recounted the entire history of the Green Goblin, and was still writing UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN for Tom Brevoort and me. If there was anyone who knew Spider-Man's past and present continuity and could weave it all together to make it work with the notion that Norman Osborn had been alive all along, it was Kurt. Ralph understood my reasoning for turning down the assignment, and agreed that Kurt would be a good choice.

A short time later, Ralph came back to me and said that he spoken to Kurt about doing THE OSBORN JOURNAL, but Kurt turned him down. According to Ralph, Kurt said that having just written LEGACY OF EVIL, he didn't want to do another book focusing on the Green Goblin. Also, Kurt apparently wanted to start moving away from writing "historical" projects like MARVELS and LEGACY OF EVIL and even UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN. (Within a year, Kurt would find himself firmly rooted in the present, taking on both THE AVENGERS and IRON MAN after "Heroes Reborn" was over.)

With Kurt having turned the project down, I told Ralph that I'd love to write it, but I was still concerned about how Bob Harras would react to it. Ralph told me that he would talk to Bob and clear everything, so I shouldn't worry. Next thing I knew, I was writing the thing and never heard an angry word from Harras about it, so I guess Ralph came through on his end.

For a variety of reasons, I couldn't follow the format of the "journal" issues of THE TOMB OF DRACULA as much as I'd originally envisioned. The project became more of an illustrated sequence of events, with running commentary from Norman Osborn. But at least with Kyle Hotz doing the art, it was a BEAUTIFULLY illustrated sequence of events! Kyle really wanted to get into Norman's twisted mind with the visuals, as much as I wanted to with the words, and he did a wonderful job. Kyle added great little touches as he penciled the pages, little details and ideas that he came up with as he went along, and these really enhanced the project. It was an absolute pleasure working with him, and I regret that I covered up so much of his work with my damned captions and word balloons!

To get started on THE OSBORN JOURNAL, I wrote up a detailed time line of Norman Osborn's probable whereabouts and activities from his "death" in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122 up to his dramatic return in PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75. Once that was done, I gave a copy to Ralph for his feedback, to see if I needed to make any adjustments. Ralph told me he liked it so much that as far as he was concerned, my time line was an official part of the canon, and he sent copies of it to all of the core Spider-Man writers so they'd have it as reference for when they had to deal with Norman in their issues. I was off to a good start! ]

The story takes place the night before PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75. Osborn is writing in his famous journal, reflecting on the events that led up to this moment. He thinks back to the day he was killed seven years ago, and how the formula which gave him super strength also gave him an incredible healing factor. Osborn gets off the slab he was laying on to find an autopsy report written about him, even though none was performed yet. He also spots his son, Harry, paying off the coroner for faking the autopsy report. Osborn sneaks out of the morgue, killing a homeless drifter of the same height and build as himself and having the drifter buried in his place.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : My original idea for the beginning of THE OSBORN JOURNAL was to show Norman bursting forth from his grave. But Tom Brevoort rightly pointed out to me out that an autopsy would have to have been performed on Norman before he was buried, and there's simply NO way he could have survived that, healing factor notwithstanding. So I had to work around that. But I soon realized that by addressing the autopsy directly as a story point, a door had opened for me that would allow me to bring in Harry Osborn and have him get involved as early as possible in terms of protecting the secret that his father was the Green Goblin. It was a way to show Harry beginning to take some real initiative, which would impress Norman. ]

Osborn ponders his situation. With the world believing him dead, he can go anywhere and do anything without being suspected. It would also be a perfect time to launch an attack on Peter Parker since he'd never see it coming. He heads back to his old warehouse hideout to find Harry promising to take his father's place as the Green Goblin. Thinking that his son is acting like a man for the first time, Norman decides to let him have his chance and goes to Europe, where he could move about freely.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Since I had already written a detailed time line for Norman, and that would serve as my guide for THE OSBORN JOURNAL, it was a breeze for me to write the actual plot. I had the entire framework for the plot laid out within a 25-minute bus ride from one part of Brooklyn to another to visit my parents! ]

In Europe, Osborn kept tabs on every aspect of Peter Parker's life, due in part to a personally created information network second to none. He also joined up with the Cabal of Scrier. Initially, Norman liked their appearance, which reminded him of a ghost, but eventually Norman killed their leader and therefore became the new leader of the Scriers. Soon, Norman got word that Harry was defeated as the Goblin and ended up being institutionalized. Norman decided to begin his own plan to destroy Peter Parker by sending a Scrier to visit an old acquaintance, Professor Miles Warren. The Scrier told Warren that he had the means to help him perfect the cloning process, for a price: the cloning of Peter Parker. The Scrier later finds one of Warren's assistants, Seward Trainer, stealing files on the cloning process. Trainer begs the Scrier not to tell what he knows to Professor Warren. The Scrier promises to keep the secret but tells Trainer that one day he'll call on him for a favor that he will not be able to refuse.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I mentioned in a recent column, Tom DeFalco retroactively established in the 1996 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL that there had been a connection between Osborn and Miles Warren, in anticipation of the "Revelations" story line, so it was fairly easy for me to just expand upon it and flesh it out. ]

Osborn goes on to recall that fateful day at Shea Stadium where Spider-Man battled his clone. After an explosion (due to a bomb planted by the Jackal), Parker and the clone were unconscious and the real professor Warren (the one who died in the explosion was just a clone) examined both Spider-Men to determine who was the clone. When he identified the real Peter Parker, Warren injected him with a drug that would simulate death. Unbeknownst to Warren, however, Scrier had Seward Trainer rig the tests so that the clone would show up as the original and vice versa, so the clone was the one given the "simulated death" drug.

After Peter dumped the clone in the smokestack, Warren retrieved the clone and put in another, earlier, failed clone as part of a long range plan to confuse Parker. Professor Warren thought he had the real Spider-Man in his clutches and not the clone. The Scrier ordered Seward Trailer to perform another act of service. Trainer was to keep tabs on the clone going by the name of Ben Reilly and periodically update the Scrier when he came in contact with him. Osborn didn't suspect that Trainer would bond so well with Reilly and develop a fatherly relationship with him.

Norman tried to focus on building his criminal empire in Europe but distractions from home were frequent. He learned of another Green Goblin (Bart Hamilton) who died after battling Spider-Man. About a year after that, Osborn got the most shocking news of all: his old partner, Mendel Stromm, whom he ousted years ago, is alive. Norman checks this report out and finds that Stromm tested the Goblin formula on himself before he "died." His body withered over the years, but he's still alive, in suspended animation. Osborn does his best to revive Stromm, and he does so to some success, but Stromm wants to know why he bothered to revive him. Osborn offers Stromm a chance to be restored to his former self in exchange for his services for an extended period of time. Outfitted with a special life support suit of armor and calling himself Gaunt, Stromm became one of Osborns's most lethal and effective operatives. Stromm's scientific expertise was put to use by creating holographic and special effects devices for the Scriers, making it seem like they could mystically appear and disappear at will.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : With Stromm alive and working for Norman, I had a way to more fully explain the technology that enabled Scrier to appear as one single being of great mystical power. Stromm had already been well established as a brilliant scientist and robotics expert, so it didn't seem like too much of a stretch to have him be the developer of the Scrier technology as well. ]

Things were going well but Osborn learned of something going on in New York that tempted him to return for the first time in the four years since his "death": the appearance of the Hobgoblin. Before he was able to deal with him, Osborn learned of something, or someone, more important: Dr. Judas Traveller. Traveller was a world renowned criminal psychologist who suffered a severe nervous breakdown. The breakdown triggered his latent mutant ability, which was the power to alter a person's reception of reality. The power extended to Traveller himself who now believed he was a god-like being who had walked the Earth for centuries. Osborn had one of the Scriers befriend Traveller, and become his confidant. He also supplied Traveller with a team of special operatives he referred to as The Host: more pawns under Osborn's control.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : In his first appearances, the original Hobgoblin raided Norman's old hideouts and stole his journals, his costumes, and his equipment. My feeling was that if Norman was alive when all of this was going on, there was simply no way that he wouldn't have taken action against his mysterious successor… unless there was something more important occupying his attention. I decided that it would have to be the discovery of Judas Traveller and his amazing power, which Norman would immediately recognize as a great asset. ]

Soon after, Osborn learned of Peter and Mary Jane's wedding. Osborn never forgave Mary Jane for rejecting his son and choosing Peter, but allowed the marriage to go on, knowing the more happiness Peter achieved, the more he could strip from him later on. Ironically, it was Harry who almost took that from Peter. He suffered another breakdown and became the Green Goblin again, threatening to expose Peter as Spider-Man. Harry had taken a new version of the Goblin formula, making him stronger, but it was toxic, destroying Harry from within. Since it was the formula itself that killed Harry, he wouldn't be coming back. Though he was a failure, Harry was still Norman's only son. He blamed Peter for driving Harry to use the new formula. He blamed Peter for killing him. Osborn gathered his operatives and began to plan his strike against Parker, but it seems that fate took some matters into its own hands.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : You know, having just seen the Spider-Man movie and watched the relationship between Peter and Harry played out on the big screen, I'm reminded of how great a character Harry was, and what a loss it was to the Spider-Man mythos when he was killed off. It's really a shame that he's not a part of the supporting cast anymore. But then again, Spider-Man doesn't really HAVE a supporting cast these days, which is also a shame. ]

May Parker suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma as Mary Jane became pregnant (which provided Osborn with the impetus to move into the next phase of his plan) and Ben Reilly found out about May, prompting him to return to New York. This saved Osborn the trouble of concocting an elaborate scheme to bring him back to the city. May died, delivering a major blow to the Parkers. Osborn's only regret was that he wasn't the cause of this particular tragedy. This statement, delivered by Osborn himself, will become even more important much later on in the Spider-Man comics. But in the end, Osborn's greatest need was fulfilled: Parker and Reilly had met and a sea of confusion, suspicion and resentment filled them.

GLENN'S COMMENTS: There's a SPOILER ALERT for this section, which involves stuff that happened after the Clone Saga. But I have to address this. I very intentionally established that Norman played no role in the death of Aunt May. The reason I did this was because when it was decided that Norman was going to be our villain, and that he had been manipulating many things from the shadows for years, Bob Harras became concerned that Norman was going to become too all-encompassing a figure in Spider-Man's universe. Bob issued an edict: "I don't want the Spider-Man books to become too Norman-centric. I don't want Norman to have been responsible for everything that's ever happened in Peter's life since 1972."

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #43
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Part 33b:
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I totally agreed with that edict. I didn't think Norman should be some god-like figure who controlled every facet of Peter's life from afar. I felt there were certain things he did control, and other things he did not. At times, fate would intervene and end up working in his favor, or fate would work against him and he would have to adapt. That's how I approached THE OSBORN JOURNAL when I began putting it together.

As a result, I established that Norman played no role in the death of Aunt May, but he benefited greatly from its occurrence.

Later on, when Bob Harras decided that Aunt May's death had to be undone, he wanted it established that Norman had faked her death and was keeping her hidden the whole time. Ralph and I pointed out to Harras that THE OSBORN JOURNAL had clearly established that Norman had no role in the Aunt May situation, and that the main reason I established that in the first place was to follow Harras's own edict that Norman should not be responsible for everything in Peter Parker's life. Violating that bit of continuity would also raise the question: WHY WOULD NORMAN LIE IN HIS OWN JOURNAL?!?!

And it would raise another question as well: If he lied about that, what ELSE in the journal did he lie about? Can the journal as a whole even be believed anymore? What had once been enthusiastically accepted by Ralph as totally canonical was now about to have its entire credibility called into question.

Harras's response was that we couldn't be hampered by one line of dialogue that didn't even appear in one of the core books. He also argued, "Norman didn't lie in his journal. He said he wasn't responsible for Aunt May's death, and he wasn't, because she never really died." I felt that was just a fast rationalization that didn't even begin to take into account what I actually wrote and the context in which it was written. I even offered an alternative solution on how to bring back Aunt May while preserving the integrity of THE OSBORN JOURNAL, but it was dismissed. As far as Harras was concerned, the matter was closed.

Thus far, thankfully, the Aunt May aspect has been the ONLY thing to contradict what was established in THE OSBORN JOURNAL. ]

Unexpectedly, the Jackal was reborn at this time, too. Osborn didn't expect this, but the Jackal actually was playing into Osborn's hands, confusing the two Spider-Men even more. Nevertheless, Osborn decided to return to New York in secret. He couldn't let the Jackal run around unchecked. The Jackal's red herrings and lies prompted Peter and Ben to want to run conclusive tests to determine who was the real Spider-Man. Osborn had Gaunt pay a visit to Seward Trainer, telling him to rig the tests in advance. No matter what, Ben Reilly would be revealed as the real Spider-Man.

Osborn later learned of another new Green Goblin, who fancied himself a crime fighter. He wanted to send Gaunt to kill him, but even Gaunt felt that he was beneath their efforts and nothing more than a talented amateur.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This fourth Green Goblin was Phil Urich, nephew of Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, who starred in a short-lived monthly series edited by Tom Brevoort and me. Tom DeFalco was the writer, and the artist was Scott McDaniel, who would eventually leave GOBLIN to go over to DC to pencil their new NIGHTWING title.

I strongly felt that Norman should have taken some action against Phil for daring to take on the Goblin identity, and I had plans for this to happen in a later Spider-Man story line I wrote, called "Goblins at the Gate." The story line saw print, but the Phil Urich element was dropped at the request of the editor. ]

Osborn's plan to have Reilly revealed as the original Peter Parker worked perfectly. Peter went over the edge, for a time. Osborn was too occupied with the Jackal to enjoy Parker's pain, though. The Jackal had gone insane, threatening to wipe out all life on Earth and replace them with clones of his creation. Osborn sent a Scrier to deal with Warren and the Jackal was ultimately defeated and apparently killed. But Osborn knows all about the possibility of surviving death.

Norman became furious with the idea that Peter and Ben were able to overcome their problems. Each of them accepted their fates. Peter and Mary Jane moved to Portland to start a new life together and Ben Reilly stepped into the webs to become Spider-Man. Osborn still had another wild card up his sleeve. Through Multivex, Osborn purchased a certain factory in Brooklyn with a certain smokestack and ordered it torn down. Since the Jackal never got around to using the clone corpse in the smokestack, Osborn would. This brought Peter and Mary Jane back to New York and created more confusion.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : And so, I got to finally solve the mystery of the skeleton in the smokestack… long after anyone cared about it. But at least it was finally addressed and finished. ]

Parker and Reilly agreed to work together in the hopes of finding the truth. Osborn was dealt a potential blow when he discovered that Judas Traveller had learned of Scrier's double-dealings. Osborn had the Host betray and capture Traveller, but the Spider-Men ended up rescuing him anyway.

Later, Gaunt came to Osborn to tell him that Trainer was ready to start the regeneration process for him. Osborn doesn't know what he'll do with Trainer after he fulfills his bargain and rejuvenates Stromm, but right now his attention is focused only on Peter Parker. Norman Osborn thinks to himself how he's done more to Peter Parker than anyone else and yet Parker perseveres. His only alternative is to take everything from him so he has nothing left to live for. With Mary Jane about to give birth, the time has come to strike. "'For everything you ever did to me, to my son…you're going to pay. Tomorrow night, Peter. Tomorrow night, the journey comes to an end. Tomorrow night is Halloween night. The night for ghosts…and Goblins!"


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I actually finished writing the script for THE OSBORN JOURNAL at around 10:30 PM on Halloween night. Appropriate, don't you think?
In retrospect, I wish I could've had more pages to create a real STORY to weave around the journal, some kind of dramatic arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end, similar to what Kurt had done in LEGACY OF EVIL. But based on all the feedback I've ever gotten on THE OSBORN JOURNAL over the years, from my editor, my peers, my colleagues, and the readers, I seem to be the only one who has this criticism about the book, for which I'm very gratified.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #44
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Part 34a:
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The End of the Clone Saga
PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75
Written by Howard Mackie
Illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna
With Special Thanks to Glenn Greenberg


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I mentioned in this column waaaaay back, writer Howard Mackie was not much of a "continuity" person. When writing stories that had to deal with or debunk past continuity, Howard tended to give hurried and unsatisfying explanations, or he would simply dance around the matter and quickly move on, hoping that no one would care too much. This did not make him the ideal person to write PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75 (which, by the way, was the first issue to bear this modified title).

This story, after all, would have to confront and debunk a bona fide classic Spider-Man story, one that had rightfully achieved legendary status. The most important job of PPSM #75, besides ending the Clone Saga, was to convince long-suffering and long-jaded readers that, despite all evidence to the contrary, Norman Osborn had not really died, that he had been alive all along and was manipulating Peter Parker's life from afar. For this to work, to get the readers to accept this, the explanation had to be clear and logical. It could not raise more questions than it answered. Just as importantly, the information had to be conveyed with crisp, compelling dialogue rather than stiff, overwritten exposition.

None of this, however, played to Howard's strengths as a writer.

For this reason, PPSM #75 became very much a group effort. For starters, Editor in Chief Bob Harras was heavily involved in developing the plot. The jeopardy at the Daily Bugle involving the supporting cast came from him, as did the tone of the interactions between Norman and Peter-right down to some of their dialogue.

At the request of editor Ralph Macchio, I was also heavily involved, along with Ralph's former assistant editor, Mark Bernardo, who had just recently been promoted and was no longer working on the Spider-Man books. (I believe my boss, editor Tom Brevoort was also involved, but to a lesser extent.) We made comments on each draft of Howard's plot, pointing out inconsistencies, continuity gaffes, and instances where Howard strayed too far from what had been agreed upon (or requested by Harras) in advance. Howard went through several drafts of the plot before we all agreed that it was satisfactory enough to be sent to John Romita Jr. for penciling. ]

The issue begins in the streets on New York with a disguised Norman Osborn running into his grandson, Normie, who's going trick or treating. Norman tells the boy to be careful since Halloween, the night of the goblins, can be a dangerous night. As Norman walks away, the little boy watches him and whispers, "Grandpa…?"


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This was, in my opinion, a GREAT opening scene, and it was suggested by good ol' Mark Bernardo. ]

At the Daily Bugle, Jameson demands to know what's going on, now that the staff and other people have come up for a party that no one is responsible for throwing. Elsewhere, Peter rushes over to the hospital, regretting the time he wasted trying to help Ben. When he gets there, he finds the hospital staff to be of no help. The woman at the information desk even tells him that they don't have a record of Mary Jane being admitted. Dr. Folsome finds Peter and tells him that there's been a problem. Before Peter can do anything, Folsome injects Peter with drugs that knock him unconscious.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : It should be pointed out here that the reason why Peter's spider-sense didn't warn him about Dr. Folsome and the injection is because his spider-sense had been temporarily nullified by the mysterious gas that Stromm used on Peter and Ben during the battle in AMAZING #418. (This is also the reason why Norman was able to sneak up behind Ben and render him unconscious at the end of that same issue.) Looking back, this plot point should have been made much clearer in the actual "Revelations" story line. As written, it was handled far too subtly and was easy to miss. ]

Peter wakes up in costume later, still disoriented and weak as someone in the shadows tells him that it's time to lay their history to rest. Peter thinks that it's Harry Osborn, but the man replies, "No, Peter. My son is dead. You saw to that. And now I've come back to see to it that you pay for every transgression you've made against me and my family." He reveals himself to be Norman Osborn, which sends Spider-Man reeling. Norman taunts him with memories of how he killed Gwen while all Spider-Man could do was watch. He then explains that he's not a clone, a doppelganger or a mechanical construct, but the real Norman Osborn, and he rips open his shirt to reveal the scar on his chest (from being impaled by the goblin glider) to prove it.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : There's no denying that this was a very powerful and dramatic moment, beautifully illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna. In fact, I would have to say that the best thing about PPSM #75 was getting the chance to see JR Jr.'s depictions of Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, both of whom he'd never really gotten a chance to draw before. Say what you will about the story, and I know how much Spider-Man fandom was split on that, but I don't think ANYTHING negative can be said about the work that John and Scott did on this issue. ]

Norman begins to put on the Green Goblin costume as he explains to Spider-Man that the formula which gave him his super strength also provided him with a healing factor that began to repair his vital organs immediately. Spider-Man asks Norman what he wants, and Norman replies, "Your life." As Norman tells Spider-Man how its always been about the two of them and this final moment. Spider-Man begins to tell Norman that he's not the real one and just a clone, but Osborn interrupts. "You really don't have a clue as to how much I've been involved in the events of your life, do you?" Norman asks.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : In addition to the plot, Mark Bernardo and I were also very involved in the script stage of this issue. With Ralph, we went through the entire script and tightened, punched up, and rewrote the dialogue where it was needed.
When Howard Mackie was scripting the first scene between Peter and Norman, he called me and asked how Norman survived his apparent death in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122, how he'd gotten away, where he'd been all this time, and what were the most important bits of information about Norman's activities that would absolutely need to be covered in PPSM #75. I was a bit taken aback, because all of the information Howard was asking for had been included in the detailed Norman Osborn time line that I put together, which Ralph Macchio had already sent to Howard and the other Spider-Man writers. Now, here was Howard, making it very clear that he had never read the time line. I found that interesting, since Howard, of all the regular Spider-Man writers, was the one who would exclusively be dealing with Norman in this story line, and therefore the time line would be of most use to him.

Nevertheless, I gave Howard the information he needed, and when the script pages for this scene came in, I did some tweaking on the dialogue to ensure that the information would be consistent with the time line and, more importantly, with THE OSBORN JOURNAL, which was well underway at that point.

When I thought about how much work I had done on PPSM #75, and the fact that a significant amount of material that I had developed for THE OSBORN JOURNAL would first appear in PPSM #75-well before my one-shot would hit the stands-I went to Ralph and asked for an acknowledgment in the credits. Ralph agreed that I had made enough contributions to deserve such an acknowledgment, which is why I received that "With Special Thanks To" credit. ]

Norman pulls out a bloodied and unconscious Ben Reilly and taunts Spider-Man some more. He tells Spider-Man that he was manipulating Miles Warren, Seward Trainer and more aspects of his life than he could ever imagine. Pointing to Ben, Osborn says, "This thing here-this Ben Reilly. He is the clone, Peter. He always has been and a victory over him means nothing."


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I really liked how Norman referred to Ben as a "thing," and considered his victory over Ben to be meaningless. I felt this provided a very nice insight into Norman's character and how he viewed the whole clone situation. This dialogue came purely from Howard Mackie, and I remember calling him just to compliment him on it. ]

Putting his mask on, Norman rants some more about how he's wanted Parker to suffer for what he did to the Osborn family. He later taunts Spider-Man more by telling him that what he took from him earlier tonight was to even the score for the loss of his son. Fighting off the effects of the drugs, Spider-Man lunges at the Green Goblin, who is pleased to see Spidey back to full strength. "Good," he says, "I want this final battle to be a grand one."

The Goblin sends Spider-Man crashing out the window. Spider-Man shoots a web to save himself but it gives the Goblin time to head across the street to the Daily Bugle. Ben wakes up and tells Spider-Man that Norman filled him in on his master plan. Osborn has rigged the Bugle with pumpkin bombs and trapped everyone inside. He's going to kill them first to torture Ben and Peter. Spider-Man tells Ben to clear his head and try to rescue the people from the Bugle while he goes after the Goblin.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Ben Reilly's Spider-Man costume is completely tattered and torn when Norman pulls Ben out to show him to Peter. When Ben heads over to the Daily Bugle, he's wearing the clothes that Peter was wearing at the beginning of the issue. As I recall, this was my idea, as I felt there was a great deal of irony in having Ben meet his final fate wearing Peter Parker's clothes. ]

The Green Goblin crashes through the window of the Daily Bugle and grabs Jameson, who seems to recognize the Goblin's voice. "Norman?" Jameson asks. The Goblin is pleased that Jameson remembers and tells him that he's not going to kill him just yet. He tells the people in the room that they've all earned his hatred and disgust, even though some of them probably don't even know how. Spider-Man comes in and forces the Goblin to take the fight back outside. Pumpkin bomb explosions and laser blasts light up the night sky as Spider-Man tells the Goblin to come out and show himself if he really wants to fight.

The Green Goblin launches another assault that takes Spider-Man by surprise, causing him to crash onto the roof of the Daily Bugle. As the Goblin laughs maniacally, Spider-Man begins to rise, raising his hand and gesturing for the Goblin to come at him again if he dares. "If you want me dead, you grinning green clown… you're going to have to do much better than that! Let's finish this…now!" This Romita Jr.-illustrated panel, of Spider-Man getting back on his feet, is my favorite in the book. Classic. The Goblin is furious. He wants to know how Spider-Man can keep getting up, but Spider-Man replies that he's not going to fall until he knows the truth about Mary Jane and their baby.

Soon, news teams are covering the fight between these two. Different people in Spider-Man's life, such as Devon and Arthur Stacy, race to the Bugle to get a firsthand look. Out of his costume, Ben breaks into the Bugle offices using his spider-strength and tells everyone to get out. Once the innocents are free and clear, Ben uses his spider-sense to find and gather up the bombs to take them to the roof. Flash comes back and tells Reilly not to try and be a hero, but goes to pick up a bomb. Ben pushes Flash out of the way as the bomb explodes, taking most of the force of the explosion that knocks Flash unconscious. Ben can see the Osborn building across the street and decides that's where he's going to drop the bombs. First bring down the building, and then the owner.

As Spider-Man stands ready for another barrage of hits from his opponent, the Goblin asks why he doesn't give up. Why doesn't he just lie down and die? Spider-Man delivers a powerful kick to the Goblin's chest that takes the wind out of him and replies, "I do it to spite you. I do it in spite of you." Spider-Man takes off his mask and the Goblin's, saying "No more masks. This has never been about Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. It's always been about Peter Parker and Norman Osborn and tonight they settle this face to face…as men." Spider-Man sends a powerful right hook to the Goblin, knocking him down and apparently out.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : As I recall, that bit about "This has never been about Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, it's always been about Peter Parker and Norman Osborn" came directly from Bob Harras. It was his feeling that this was what the whole story should really be all about, what it should all come down to.

Well, it makes for an intriguing line of dialogue, but it was my opinion then, and it's still my opinion now, that it doesn't hold any water when you stop and think about it. As far as I can tell, it IS, and always HAS been, about Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, because WITHOUT Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, there would be NO conflict whatsoever between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin were archenemies long before Peter and Norman ever knew of each other. Of course, the conflict between them greatly intensified after they discovered each other's true identities, but when all is said and done, it was really Spider-Man and the Goblin who were at war with each other, and that was what everything revolved around. I can't argue with Bob Harras's knowledge and understanding of the X-Men, but when it came to Spider-Man, I didn't think he had as firm a grasp, and I think it's possible that he saw the Peter/Norman relationship as something along the same lines as the Charles Xavier/Magneto relationship-which is simply not correct. ]

Ben comes over to congratulate his cousin on a job well done, but he's too weakened to dispose of the bombs properly. Spider-Man takes the bag containing the pumpkin bombs and agrees to drop them off at Osborn's building. At that moment, Osborn pulls out his "impaled on a glider" trick. The jagged front of the glider heads right for Spider-Man, but Ben gets in front of it, taking the glider right in the back. The force of the collision sends Ben off the top of the roof of the Bugle and he crashes onto a car below.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I'm not sure who came up with the idea that Ben should be impaled on the Goblin's bat-glider, although I do know that it wasn't me. Obviously, this was done to echo Norman's "death" in AMAZING #122. I think I reacted positively to the idea when I first saw it in the plot. I do know that I didn't try to argue against it. With the Green Goblin back and Ben Reilly having to die, the idea actually seemed pretty appropriate to me.

I know that a lot of fans complained about how Ben was killed. Some people said that it was ridiculous for Ben to have flung himself in front of the glider, and that he didn't even NEED to do it, as Peter's spider-sense would have warned him in time. But, as I mentioned before (and as it SHOULD have been made clearer in the actual story), both Peter and Ben's spider-senses had been temporarily nullified, so Peter wasn't aware that the glider was headed right for him. Also, Ben had been badly beaten so his reaction time was down, and he was out of costume, so it's not like he could use his web-shooters to snag the glider and fling it away from Peter. ]

The Goblin gets back on his glider and heads right for Spider-Man, who looks down onto the street in shock. "Goodbye, Peter," the Goblin says as he heads for Spider-Man. Spider-Man swings around quickly and hits the Goblin with the bag of pumpkin bombs. "Goodbye, Green Goblin," Spider-Man says.

As the bombs begin to go off, covering the Goblin in flames, Osborn continues to rant, telling Spider-Man that he'll never kill him. "Besides, I've already won. Take your pyrrhic victory. You have no idea what I've taken from you!" And with that, the Green Goblin disappears.


[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : People have asked me over the years if Peter was really intending to kill the Goblin when he hit him with that bag of pumpkin bombs. I'd like to think he wasn't, because Spider-Man is simply not a killer, no matter the circumstances. He's a hero, and a hero should never kill if it can be avoided. I guess we can assume that with Norman having revealed to Peter the existence of his incredible healing factor, Peter knew that the bombs wouldn't kill Norman, that they would only incapacitate him temporarily. Which we now know was exactly what happened, since Norman came back, strong and healthy, a little less than a year later.
I was actually very much in favor of Norman coming back again after PPSM #75, and I was looking forward to it. In fact, as our work on this issue was coming to a close, I made the point to Ralph and Bob and the Spider-Man writers that this simply couldn't be the final death of Norman. I argued that we could not have gone to all the trouble of bringing him back, could not have gone to such great lengths to undo one of the all-time greatest deaths in comic-book history, just to kill him again, and to do it in a way that could never live up to what had been done that first time. I said that we should get as much out of Norman's return as we possibly could, and make him a powerful, ongoing presence that could really shake things up in the post-Clone Saga era of Spider-Man. I guess they all felt the same way I did.

The other reason I wanted Norman to return was because starting with SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #241, the first issue after the Clone Saga, J.M. DeMatteis was back as a regular Spider-Man writer, and I knew that Marc would do some really great stuff with the character. Marc had shown a unique flair for dealing with the Osborn continuity in his powerful and gripping story lines about Harry, culminating with SPECTACULAR #200, in which Harry died. I couldn't wait to see what DeMatteis would do with Norman once he got the chance. And when Marc finally did bring back Norman, in a story line that began in SPECTACULAR #248, I for one was not disappointed. ]

Spider-Man rushes down to the street where paramedics are already at Ben's side. They tell Spider-Man that there's nothing they can do for Ben. Ben is alive, barely, but he's fading fast. He tells Peter that from this day on, clone or not, he is Spider-Man and needs to carry on. Ben's last words are to ask Peter to tell his niece about him. "Tell her about her uncle Ben." Spider-Man notices something on Ben's arm and carries him away to a more private area, where Ben turns to dust. "No, Ben," Spider-Man says. "This can't be happening. Osborn was telling the truth. You were the clone. I am the real Peter Parker. Rest easy… brother."

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #45
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Part 34b:
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[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : We knew that with Ben's death, it had to be made abundantly clear who was the original and who was the clone, once and for all. To finally get past this Clone Saga, there could be absolutely no more questions about who was who. Sure, Norman had explained everything earlier in the issue, but he was the BAD GUY! Who could believe anything HE says, right?

Bob Harras suggested that the simplest, most effective, and most dramatic way to resolve this was to have Ben's body experience clone degeneration upon his death. That would prove without a shadow of a doubt, to both Peter and the readers, that Ben had been the clone. Mark Bernardo and I had mentioned to Bob that clone degeneration, as established throughout the entire Clone Saga, didn't really work that way, but Harras's reponse was something along the lines of, "It works that way in this instance." Mark and I just shrugged our shoulders and went along with it.

Since the conclusion of this story line, some people have asked why Ben Reilly had to die at all. They've wondered why he couldn't just find out that he wasn't really the original Peter Parker, pack up his things, leave New York, and head out on the road again. Well, I'm afraid Ben's death was a foregone conclusion once it was decided that Peter had to be restored as the original. As it was said in the first "Highlander" movie, "There can be only one." There simply was no room in the Marvel Universe for two characters with the same exact powers, and many of the same memories. Spider-Man had to be unique, and he couldn't be unique with Ben Reilly out there somewhere. As much as I liked Ben, I agreed with the Powers That Be at Marvel that for the good of Spider-Man, he had to be killed off. ]

Peter Parker arrives at the hospital a short time later. Mary Jane tries to explain what happened, but Peter tells her that he already knows. "We'll get through this," he says. "Through the tears. Through the pain. And our love will be stronger. And we'll face all our tomorrows together. Husband and wife."

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : Ironically, the end of the Clone Saga had long been planned to coincide with the end of Peter and Mary Jane's marriage. And yet, when it finally came down to wrapping up the Saga, the story line ended with the marriage-and Peter and Mary Jane's devotion to each other-being stronger than ever. I don't remember the reason for this about-face. Maybe we figured that we'd get so much hate mail just from bringing back Norman Osborn, that if we also broke up Peter and MJ, we'd have a full-scale riot on our hands!
Looking back at PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #75, I have to say that it's far from being the completely satisfying, never-to-be-forgotten classic that it probably should have been. Let's face it: it was no AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122. But it could have been a LOT worse-it could have been another MAXIMUM CLONAGE OMEGA.

Months after the "Revelations" story line was completed, it was collected into trade paperback form. When the book was first being put together, ideas were kicked around on how to make the package a bit more special. At one point, there was talk about including THE OSBORN JOURNAL in the book, perhaps as the opening chapter, since OSBORN JOURNAL led directly into "Revelations" Part One. Naturally, I got pretty excited when I heard about that idea. But it was ultimately decided to only collect the 4-part story line. As a bonus, however, Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr. were asked to provide some all-new pages, produced exclusively for this paperback edition. Thus, two new epilogues were added to PPSM #75.

The first epilogue showed the aftermath of Ben Reilly's death and the death of Peter and Mary Jane's baby. The members of the supporting cast (Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Robertson, etc.) gathered at the Parker house in Forest Hills, Queens, to pay their respects. One expected guest was Jimmy-6, the son of the crime lord Fortunato, who had once befriended Ben Reilly and now, upon Ben's death, pledged his friendship to Ben's "cousin," Peter.

Howard Mackie, who was writing this bonus material long after he had finished PPSM #75, indicated in the plot for the new pages that Arthur Stacy and his children, Jill and Paul, should also be included in the scene at the Parker house. The Stacys would express their sympathies to Peter and Mary Jane, and Arthur would take Peter aside and let him know that at some point, he'd like to get together with Peter to talk about his brother, George Stacy, and his niece, Gwen… both of whom had been close to Peter and had died in the presence of Spider-Man.

The problem with this, of course, was that the Stacys hadn't even MET Peter and Mary Jane at this point in the continuity! Peter and Mary Jane didn't meet Jill until PPSM #76, and Jill first introduced Peter and MJ to Arthur in PPSM #77. The Stacys simply COULDN'T be included in this epilogue. (Remember what I said about Howard not being much of a "continuity" person?)

I can't remember how I entered the picture, but I read Howard's plot pages for the trade paperback shortly after they arrived at the Marvel offices. (Either Ralph asked me to read them to make sure the continuity was straight, or I just happened to ask Ralph if I could read them, purely out of curiosity.) In reading the pages, I immediately noticed the problem, and pointed it out to Ralph, who promptly called Howard to let him know about the gaffe and to ask for revisions. The revised version is what ultimately saw print. So, months after "Revelations" had ended, I once again acted as a consultant on it! Talk about déjà vu!

The second epilogue showed Norman Osborn emerging from the wreckage caused by his epic battle with Spider-Man in PPSM #75, and heading back into the shadows to plot his next comeback (which would be in the aforementioned SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #248).

The new material didn't really add anything to the story, nor did it take anything away from what was already there. It did, however, give us some brand-new John Romita Jr. pages to behold, and NOBODY could complain about that! ]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #46
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Part 35a:
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Part 35
And so it ends.

The 35-part experiment that many scoffed at last year is complete. And in the process, we managed to become the most popular feature at both web sites that the column was hosted on. We were linked to at one time or another by virtually all of the major comic book sites on the Internet. We've even been transcribed into two different languages by some admirers overseas. The cynics have all but disappeared. Their initial remarks drowned out by the roar from fans across the net, with each new installment of this column. Could a print collection of "Life of Reilly" be next? Hmmm. That's up to you. And for those of you who've been wondering what Glenn and I will do next…well, we're going to keep you wondering a bit longer. We will be collaborating again in the near future, on a new Spider-themed column, but that's all I'm saying right now. After doing this for over a year (and more frequent delays towards the end of this run) Glenn and I both need a bit of a breather before taking on our next joint project. If you enjoyed 'The Life of Reilly', you're going to love what comes next…

Before we get on with this, I'd like to give the floor to Alan David Doane, founder of the website Comic Book Galaxy (www.comicbookgalaxy.com), who was crazy enough to inspire and encourage this experiment.

Alan: Just the other day I bought a Scarlet Spider action figure for my desk. I like Ben Reilly -- in fact, he was part of the reason I came back to comics. I was curious to know how Marvel would bring back a character that had quite definitively been killed. I have always been a sucker for evil twin and time travel stories, and over the course of LoR we learned about the first part (not that Ben was evil, but you know what I mean) and we learned that time travel almost played a role in the saga, as well.

Funny thing is, they never really did explain Ben's return, and the Clone Saga essentially consisted of a few good ideas and a couple boatloads of bad ones, mis-managed and drawn out and it left a stain on Spider-Man that I'm not sure has even yet fully faded. For the record, my favourite issues from that time were the handful of Dan Jurgens/Klaus Janson Sensational Spider-Man issues, which I think still hold up pretty well, and artistically represent some of the finest work ever done in any Spider-Man title. There wasn't much else from that time worth saving and re-reading, unfortunately, but I still have those issues in my collection.

The Clone Saga also gave us The Life of Reilly, though, a unique piece of longform comics journalism that summarizes and explains not only the complex, at times non-sensical plotlines, but more importantly, it includes first-hand reportage of how this story went so horribly awry from the editors, writers and others involved in its creation.

Life of Reilly got its start on Comic Book Galaxy, when Andrew pitched it to me and I gave it the green light and came up with its title. I have to grab on to that small bit of fame, because from there Andrew and Glenn took a mad, much-maligned plan -- months and months of looking back at comics' most disrespected story ever -- and turned it into perhaps the most compelling series of online comics articles ever. Life of Reilly is onscreen crack -- once you start reading, you simply cannot stop.

I hope to see LoR published in book form someday. It's excellent work and it deserves to be permanently collected. Congratulations to Glenn and Andrew for making it happen. And when the book finally gets produced, remember where you got the name. :-)

Alan David Doane Editor-in-Chief Comic Book Galaxy http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com

I don't know whether the popularity of the column comes from the complete in-depth retelling of one of the most controversial stories of all time, or the behind-the-scenes revelations as told by the man who witnessed all of this firsthand, Glenn Greenberg, or the interviews and pro comments or just a love of Ben Reilly. I think in the end, that it's a combination of all of the above. And who knows, maybe one day we'll get those Clone Saga trade paperbacks or new Ben Reilly tales in the "Startling Stories" or "MAX Comics" lines. Time, and your enthusiasm, will tell.

The Clone Saga is over and the loose ends have been tied up. Except for the Scriers, who are still running around. And Kaine, who, by the time the Clone Saga concluded, had turned himself into police at the end of SPIDER-MAN: REDEMPTION. We can't forget the original Gwen Stacy clone, who's still somewhere, doing God knows what. There's also the issue of baby May, who apparently died, though Alison Mongrain was seen exiting the delivery room with a container that Norman Osborn needed Alison to protect/guard in Europe.

Marvel editor and writer Tom DeFalco offered fans the best of both worlds with regards to baby May. In a WHAT IF issue, the story flashed forward over a decade to feature a teenaged May who followed her father's legacy with her uncle's suit and fought crime as Spider-Girl. The story was popular enough to warrant a series, which continues its alternate reality tales to this day. In fact, SPIDER-GIRL will soon be celebrating its 50th issue.

Not only is SPIDER-GIRL a perfect title for younger readers and female readers, but the series is almost like an indirect sequel to the Clone Saga, without the baggage. Peter is the one true Spider-Man, but in this world, he eventually was reunited with his kidnapped daughter. Kaine is out there, still watching over (or is that hunting?) the Parkers. There's also Reilly Tyne, son of Ben Reilly. Recently, an issue was dedicated to May's Uncle, Ben Reilly, and even Alison Mongrain has turned up again. You want more? How's this? Now there's even a new Scarlet Spider running around…! If you're one of those who enjoyed the Clone Saga and always wondered 'what if?', well, SPIDER-GIRL should definitely be on your must reading list.
I need to thank some people.

In Alan David Doane I found someone who was as crazy as I was to even carry this thing. Neither of us thought anyone would read it, even as I pledged to finish all 35 parts regardless. In the days and weeks to follow that first installment, we began to realize that there were a lot more people interested in this than we could have ever imagined. Alan took a big risk, endured a lot of criticism initially for this and deserves a lot of thanks for being the one who promoted us and got the ball rolling.

It goes without saying that this wouldn't have done nearly as well without the help of my partner in crime, Glenn Greenberg. Glenn contributed so much more to this than just his insider comments. From editing my jumbled writing to helping me with contacts and my own facts, he was the keystone of this entire experiment and I think its popularity rests squarely on his shoulders.

I also have to thank Tom DeFalco for his guidance and help at crucial points in this column. Tom was always willing to help and spend time making sure that we didn't get too off track, and even jostled with Glenn for a bit many, many chapters ago.

I also have to thank the two very patient chiefs at Marvel, now: Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada. Poor Joe's first encounter with me was during a Marvel Press Conference when I asked if Ben Reilly would ever come back. One can still hear the silence of the moment immediately following. And Bill Jemas, who now has at least a dozen questions a week (for his Q&A column) from fans asking if Ben Reilly will ever be back or if the Clone Saga will ever be reprinted. My reputation with these men is irreparably damaged, but damn if they haven't been the best sports about all of this.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : If goes without saying that I wouldn't be involved in this endeavor at all if not for the fact that Andrew e-mailed me out of the blue many months ago and asked if I would be interested in offering some commentary for a column that would recount the entire Clone Saga from beginning to end.
What started out as me just sprinkling in brief anecdotes and "fun facts" became a major undertaking, one in which soon I found myself digging out my massive "Clone Saga Files" and reading through them all over again, in order to recreate for the column all of the meetings, conversations, and frustrations that came up amongst the Spider-Man editors and writers. It was not unlike traveling back through time!

I had a lot of fun co-writing this column, and it was gratifying to get such positive feedback from the readers. I must admit, I was a bit concerned about having a "voice" on the Internet again, as my previous online experience had ended somewhat unpleasantly, thanks to some extremely hostile comic book readers who goaded me on and my own immature reactions to the goading. But once Andrew and I got underway, I found it quite easy to regain my online "voice," but it now reflected what I'd like to think of as the wisdom and maturity that I've acquired over the last few years. So much so that, despite initial misgivings, I even agreed to write an additional column for Andrew's Web site, entitled "Greenberg's Grumblings." I've found that writing both columns has been an absolute pleasure, and has definitely helped me to further hone and develop my writing skills and to take my writing in new and different directions.

So, first and foremost, I'd like to thank Andrew Goletz for inviting me to get involved with "Life of Reilly." And I'd like to thank Alan David Doane for being so supportive of the column in its early days. Alan and I exchanged many a friendly e-mail and Instant Message when the column was over at ComicBookGalaxy.com, and it was a pleasure to get to know him, albeit electronically.

I'd also like to extend my gratitude to Tom DeFalco, who was very helpful and made significant contributions to the column as it went along. Tom and I remember some behind-the-scenes aspects of the Clone Saga very differently, but that's usually the case in group efforts, and I think it made for some very interesting exchanges between us in the column. In reviewing all the Clone Saga memos and notes, and running through my own memories of that era, it's clear to me that Tom was one of the true unsung heroes of the Spider-Clone story line, someone whose instincts were almost always right, and someone who wasn't listened to nearly as much as he should have been by the various Powers That Be of that time.

I also need to mention J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bernardo, Tom Brevoort, and Bob Budiansky, all of whom offered information, advice, their own recollections of certain events, and just general support along the way. Thanks, guys.
Thirty-five installments… who would have that we'd go the distance with this thing? Hard to believe it's finally over… or is it? ]

And now, one last piece of business: SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #17, written by our own Glenn Greenberg and illustrated by Joe Bennett. This issue came out several months after the Clone Saga ended, but one loose end remained that needed to be dealt with. Well, several loose ends remained, but Mendel Stromm, the Robot Master/Gaunt, who was seemingly killed by Norman Osborn in "Revelations," still had to be followed up with.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : After we went through all the trouble of bringing back as obscure a character as Mendel Stromm for the Clone Saga, and giving him such a significant role in the story line (he, of course, was the true identity of the mysterious villain known as Gaunt), I felt it was a mistake to just kill him off in part three of "Revelations." My feeling was that if Stromm was back, why not keep him around and see if we can make him into a worthy new addition to Spider-Man's collection of super-villains? Certainly the Spider-Man rogues gallery needed some new blood! I made my opinion known to editor Ralph Macchio and writer Tom DeFalco as "Revelations" was being plotted, and Ralph seemed pretty receptive to it, but I think Tom just wanted Stromm out of the way and forgotten about. Tom got his way with his chapter of "Revelations," in which he had Norman Osborn apparently fry Stromm's brain. But it was never definitively stated that Stromm was dead, and what happened to his body afterwards had not been shown. I kept that in mind as time went on, hoping that perhaps I could make something come of that.

I also saw that in the months following the introduction of Arthur Stacy, who I felt was a potentially fascinating character, virtually nothing significant was being done with him in the core Spider-Man books. We really didn't learn anything about him. We knew he had two kids, Jill and Paul, and that he wanted to know what the connections were between Spider-Man and the late Captain George Stacy and his daughter Gwen. But what kind of man was Arthur? How was he different from his brother George, who had been such an important character in Spider-Man's history? What kind of choices would Arthur make if he was thrown into a crisis situation? Just how obsessed was he in finding out the truth about Spider-Man, and would he let that obsession blind him to more immediate responsibilities?

I wanted to see that stuff explored, and I was disappointed to learn that there were no plans to really get into any of that in the core books. Call it arrogance, but I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to see a story in which we learned more about Arthur Stacy, I would have to write it myself.

I asked Ralph Macchio if I could pitch a story for an upcoming issue of the quarterly SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED title, a story that featured Arthur Stacy in a prominent role. Ralph was fine with that, and suggested that I consult with Howard Mackie, who had first introduced Arthur and had primary control over the character in the PETER PARKER, SPIDER-MAN title. I then called Howard, who generously gave me advice on how to handle Arthur in the story, how he should be portrayed, and what was really going on in the character's head. Howard also agreed to read my story synopsis before I submitted it to Ralph, and he gave me some valuable feedback and suggestions that I incorporated into the story. This is why, in the printed issue, there is an addition to the opening credits that reads, "Special thanks to Howard Mackie for his time and advice".

Since I wanted to do an Arthur Stacy story, and I also wanted to do something with Mendel Stromm, I decided that both characters would feature prominently in the same story. Once I decided that, the story itself came together fairly easily.
This would be my first and only time working with penciler Joe Bennett. I thought he did a really good job on the artwork, and I have to say that he's grown by leaps and bounds as an artist in the years since we did this story. His recent work on THOR has been absolutely beautiful. ]

As we come into the story, Peter Parker is accompanying Betty Brant to the children's ward of a hospital. A mysterious person has been leaving toys for the kids at various hospitals and the city is abuzz with who it could be. As Peter gets ready to take some pictures, he notices that one of the toys is an exact miniature replica of the robotic armor that Stomm wore in his last encounter with Peter and Ben Reilly. Peter cuts out immediately and changes into Spider-Man to get to work, while Betty simply thinks that Peter ran off because of the emotional strain of seeing so many young kids so soon after Peter and MJ miscarried.

Finding the Stromm toy sends Spider-Man's mind racing, as he thinks back to his first encounters with the evil genius, all the way up to his most recent battle alongside Ben Reilly. Another problem exists in the fact that if Stromm is alive, he also would now know Peter's identity and could prove to be as dangerous an adversary as Osborn.

While Spider-Man has to deal with finding whoever is behind the toys, his alter ego faces tough questions from Arthur Stacy, uncle to the late Gwen Stacy, who is searching for answers. Stacy wants to know what Spider-Man's involvement was in the deaths of his brother and niece and believes Peter can help him out. Peter quickly changes the subject to the mystery of the children's benefactor, hoping that Stacy's experience as a private eye could provide tips for him. Stacy does offer advice, but also notes to himself that Peter was being very obvious in his attempts to change the subject.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : I loved writing the scenes between Peter and Arthur. Being around Arthur always made Peter uncomfortable, and having Peter trapped at a diner with Arthur for an extended period of time, with no way to get out of it, was fun to write. And I also liked showing how sharp Arthur was, and how he didn't always let on to Peter just how much he was aware of. ]

After his meeting with Arthur Stacy, Peter and Mary Jane have a heart to heart. She wonders if he is ready to face Stromm (if it is Stromm) so soon after the events depicted in "Revelations." Stromm was working hand in hand with Osborn, who took so much from their family in recent months, and Mary Jane worries that her husband may not be prepared emotionally for such a rematch. Some assurances are made and Peter is off as Spider-Man, in search of his quarry.
Eventually Spider-Man catches up to the mysterious person who's been dropping off the toys and it is, indeed, Stromm. As Spider-Man prepares to take Stromm down, he realizes that his opponent has amnesia. He doesn't remember anything about the past several years, let alone what he's been doing in the last couple of months. During their last encounter, Osborn left Stromm virtually brain dead.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : We knew that Norman Osborn had, at the very least, blasted Stromm through the head with a massive jolt of electricity. My reaction to that was to give Stromm severe amnesia. And while Stromm would regain some of his memories by the end of the story, he would NOT remember that Spider-Man was really Peter Parker. It was felt, rightfully so, that far too many people knew Spider-Man's true identity, and I made sure that if Stromm was going to be alive from this point on, he would not have that knowledge.
I also thought this situation would give Spider-Man a complex and interesting dilemma to confront: if Stromm really doesn't remember anything from his past, and is genuinely trying to be a good person, should he still be held responsible-and punished-for his crimes?

Through this story, I wanted to show that Stromm was very much a tragic character, not completely evil the way Norman Osborn is. In fact, he was someone whose life was destroyed just from being associated with Osborn. In that sense, Norman was as much a part of this story as Stromm was, even though Norman doesn't actually appear. ]

Spider-Man pokes and prods a bit more, and after mentioning Norman Osborn's name, something clicks in Stromm. His memory only comes back partially, particularly his hatred of Osborn and Spider-Man.

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:50 PM   #47
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Part 35b:
Quote:
[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : My favorite bit of dialogue from this story comes when Stromm partially regains his memory and describes Norman Osborn: "I can't remember who he is, only his evil! His power! And-strange hair!" I remember Howard Mackie telling me on several occasions how much he loved that bit. ]

Stromm runs off and returns in a new set of armor, battling Spider-Man. The hero easily defeats Stromm, who thinks that Spider-Man is in league with Osborn out to destroy him, but not before structural damage is done to the building they're in.

Spider-Man manages to hold tons of debris off himself and Stromm as Arthur Stacy, who was trying to track Spider-Man and Peter, comes in. Spider-Man asks Stacy to pull Stromm to safety so he can get out of harms way but the PI contemplates taking advantage of the situation to remove Spider-Man's mask. Coming to his senses, Stacy saves Stromm, allowing Spider-Man to let the debris fall safely.

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : This scenario allowed me to explore Arthur's obsession with Spider-Man, and show whether he was willing to let someone die in order to seize the opportunity to learn Spider-Man's true identity. In the aftermath, I also showed that Arthur didn't regret his decision to choose rescuing Stromm over pulling off Spider-Man's mask, which I think made Arthur a more likable character. ]

Stromm is taken to Ravencroft and is assigned to Dr Ashley Kafka who later tells Spider-Man that most of her patient's memories are lost for good, with the exception of his burning hatred for Norman Osborn. Feeling that his secret is safe and that Stromm is in good hands, Spider-Man pays a visit to the hospital as Peter Parker and offers one of the young patients a poster of Spider-Man, autographed. In a cute scene, the boy mentions how Spider-Man's other costume (the one Ben Reilly wore) was cooler. Peter leaves to go meet up with Mary Jane, who asks how he feels.

"A loose end from that horrible night has finally been tied up," Peter says. "I feel like it's time to move forward…once and for all!"

[ GLENN'S COMMENTS : 'Nuff said! I can't think of a better way to end this column, so I'll sign off by thanking all of you for following us through this long journey! ]

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #48
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Original Comments from Life of Reilly:
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Cherndawg said...

I'm so excited to see this! If it is published, I plan to own a copy. I've always had a soft spot for Ben Reilly, mostly because of the controversy surrounding the story. I love how the writer tried something NEW, and even though the fans ultimately didn't like it, it was a worthy endevour. My son was born just 2 days ago, and we decided on the name Benjamin reilly, not only because we like how it sounds, but because we felt that the most important thing we could teach our son was that it's okay to try new things and to change things up, but people may have trouble accepting it. If you;d like a picture (Benji's 3 days old now) please e-mail me at mikecherniske@yahoo.com. He's currently in the icu, so we hope to bring him home soon.
March 30, 2008 1:41 AM
Shaun said...

I'm incredibly excited about this idea as well. I've loved Life of Reilly since it's creation, and to own a book of it would be a great joy. Not only would it give the unknowing a great look at the creation and passing of a great character, but perhaps also create some knowledge as to just how hard comic creatives can fight to try and create a great story, even when all hope is gone. Looking at your track record, I have total faith the book will be a success. Long live the Spider clone!
April 20, 2008 1:13 AM
rwe1138 said...

I just wanted to drop by and say that I loved reading this. I'm greatly looking forward to the book as well.
December 9, 2008 10:53 AM
Andrew Goletz said...

I should be updating the site soon. Thanks to everyone who've commented or emailed me. All of the main work is done and I'm in the process of editing the thing now. Target date of early 2010 right now which isn't as far away as I'd like to think....
June 9, 2009 9:08 PM
Dusk said...

Hey Andrew,
Are the doors still open to fan submissions regarding The Clone Saga?
June 10, 2009 8:27 PM
Andrew Goletz said...

Sure thing Dusk
June 15, 2009 7:25 PM
Dusk said...

Right on, Andrew. Can I have your email address for when it's completed?
June 23, 2009 11:06 PM
Andrew Goletz said...

Hey Dusk,

It's grayhaven05@hotmail.com
July 10, 2009 6:14 AM
Playboy said...

It is really interesting to read your posts. I always learn something new from the blog. Keep it up.
October 22, 2010 6:16 AM
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #49
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Comments:
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William Young said...

Very well written and intriguing, sir. I look forward to the rest of your blog!
August 27, 2009 10:37 PM
musicguy568 said...

I did not see a spot to contact the author here so I am going to just leave a message here in hopes of getting a response.

I run a website for comic/sci fi/horror fans. I would love to interview you about Life f Reilly either on site or in our weekly podcast.

I can be contacted at genesplice71@yahoo.com or at the site www.fancentral.ning.com
October 16, 2009 5:28 PM
eric3381 said...

I just finished reading this 35-part retrospective and it was amazing! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the clone saga. Thank you, to Alan, Glenn and all the other contributors for providing the insiders' perspectives.

I first started reading Spider-Man comics in 1991 when I was 10 and continued on until about 1996, so the clone saga was kind of the big Spider-Man story from my comic book reading days. When it first started I was totally hooked, but by the end I stopped buying them. There were just too many twists and turns and eventually I lost interest - I guess I felt like I was being jerked around.

But looking back on it now it is fun to read this blog and hear about how the creative team basically made it up as they went along. I think if it had ended shortly after ASM 400 it could have been a classic. But for me the whole thing went south when Peter was revealed as the clone, and I bet this was the departure point for a lot of other fans too. You can't play with a 14 year old's emotions like that!

I guess the original objective of the clone saga was to undo the marriage, which is funny because it ended up being left alone. So I hear MJ was cut out of the picture a couple of years ago in another controversial story. I hope this time around they stick to their guns. There's only so much a fan can take.
January 2, 2011 11:09 PM
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August 8, 2011 12:35 AM
Bill Higa said...

I cant wait to read all of this!! Im a HUGE Scarlet fan...and do cosplay as him as well. This is a great idea and look forward to this.

But we are all aware he is back already as of very recently...most just dont know it yet
August 10, 2011 10:33 AM
Quote:
comments:
Darrell said...

I'm not sure how active this blog is any longer. I just discovered it a few days ago. Having just finished part 5 I am hooked. I was born in 77 and have always been a fan of comics. Although I really got into them with the X-Men #1 from 1991 (Claremont and Lee). During this time I explored pretty much everything marvel was putting out. I naturally loved Spider-Man as he was written and drawn so well. I'm 31 now and still read comics weekly. I was curious at how much of the clone saga I would remember and wanted to see what the original plans were. This blog is fantastic and I wish there were many more like it. I recall reading a great one about the "third-summers brother" which is a storyline that has been revisited with Gabriel Summers in the X-Men books. I guess when I finish the parts, i'll find out if anyone is still updating this. For what it's worth ... thanks for such a cool undertaking. I am totally reliving my teenage years here.

-Darrell Mitchell
June 16, 2009 2:00 AM
Quote:
comments:
Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this: interview with former Spider-Man comics group editor Danny Fingeroth. Fingeroth is also the editor of "Disguised as Clark Kent" and "Superman on the Couch," and is editor of "Write Now! magazine.
March 31, 2008 10:18 AM
Quote:
comments:
running said...

hello, I enjoy this site, but part 18 is obviously missing or, the counting is wrong

anyway, thanks

I never read the clone saga, thanks, one more day was just enough
February 21, 2009 2:46 AM
Quote:
comments:
Brian said...

I bet that writer who suggested that resolution to the clone saga was Howard Mackie.
May 25, 2008 9:48 AM
Quote:
comments:
Ping Pong said...

Mephisto making a major change in Spider-Man continuity? Ha, that's funny. Luckily the powers-that-be decided against it. I can't imagine an editor deciding to do something THAT stupid!

Whoops.
October 1, 2008 7:46 AM
Pablo said...

Wow! So Mephisto is behind everything since then...now, that makes sense!!
June 14, 2009 9:28 PM
Lucas said...

"We know that involving Mephisto and all the metaphysical stuff is a bit far removed from the usual Spider-Man type of story"

Sweet irony.
June 29, 2009 10:28 AM
Eugene (황유진) said...

And this is why I don't buy Spider-Man anymore. I started reading Spider-Man with the Marvel vs. DC crossover and wanted to know what was the deal with Ben taking on Superboy and not Peter. Then I learned about the clone saga and fell in love with Ben! I mean, I had been a Spider-Man fan before, but a lot of the time I couldn't relate to anything going on in his life. I knew the basic story from seeing the '70s TV show and the '60s cartoon in reruns, but there was all this continuity that I had no idea about, such as what Spider-Man had been doing in the comics for much of the 1960's, 1970's and early 1980's. I was aware of who Venom was and I had a fairly basic knowledge of the supporting cast, but there were times when I was reading the Spider-Man books where I wondered who all these people were. (I am glad I took the time to find out later, but at the time I felt like I didn't really know the character.) Then, along comes Ben Reilly, who does away with all the baggage, keeps the early stuff in tact, and is new and fresh and has an edge, whereas Peter has been starting to get stale. You can imagine that I was very pleased after assembling the clone saga in back issues at most of the twists and turns it was taking. I was moved by the death of Aunt May, and I thought the new Spider-Man costume and gimmicks were awesome. I was even considering getting a subscription to all the regular Spider-books! Marvel had exactly accomplished the objective of the clone saga with me. I was hooked!

This ending with the time loop would have kept Ben alive, AND restored Peter as Spider-Man. It would have explained the skeleton in the smokestack. The shock of what had happened could force MJ to divorce Ben/Peter, or we could have gone with the MJ was a clone idea. This is a perfect ending.. (and actually when I first read about the skeleton, that's where I thought it was heading, that both of them were in fact the same person somehow.)

So you can imagine my dismay as it became painfully obvious that over the next few months Peter was coming back and Ben was going to die. You guys did a terrible job of hiding that one. When it came to fruition in SM75, I used that as my jumping off point.

This ending would have been awesome and the reason it wasn't used is because Mephisto is not a Spider-Man villain. FINE, use someone else like Kang the conquerer, Dr. Strange, or dammit, Doctor Emmit Brown for all I care, this ending is airtight.

Anyway after all that, I was extremely pissed off to learn that Mephisto was eventually used to remove Peter from his wife. You can't use Mephisto in the clone saga because he's not a Spider-Man villain, so you bring back a character that's supposed to stay dead in Spider-Man history (well two actually, Green Goblin and Aunt May), totally disrespecting their deaths. Then later you bring in Mephisto to handle something that could have easily been done by Peter and MJ going to city hall to get a divorce. I can't tell you how angry I am about how any of this was handled.

On a side note, I just finished reading Civil War from Spider-Man's POV and I liked it a lot. I can't say the same for any other post clone saga Spidey that I have read.

I read the 2009 Spider-Man annual and you could only imagine the huge grin I got when I turned to the page that used old art and showed Ben Reilly.

But now it looks as if they are going to tarnish his name even more and make him a murdering criminal.

This just makes me so angry.
September 15, 2009 3:34 PM
Benjamin said...

Haha, involving Mephisto to alter the history of Spider-Man? Yeah right, what a ricockulous concept!! Totally un-Spidey. Good thing Marvel got over their temporary insanity and learned from their mistakes, never to repeat them. ... (I think I'm going to barf...)
September 28, 2009 10:56 AM
Oliver said...

It's a shame this ending never made it to print - I honestly think it would have been a great and intriguing way to finish the whole clone saga to everyone's pleasure.

I never got the whole "Traveller and Scrier don't fit into the Spiderverse" discussion. They were neither the first metaphysical beings in the stories nor the last ones. I always liked stories that included the Traveller and I think DeMatteis (who generally was attracted to mysterious and powerful characters) handled him greatly. The way his whole story was solved at last was a mere disappointment to me and did not work with a lot that was presented about him earlier.

Coming back to the whole time loop scenario: I definitely think it would have worked and knowing how everything finally was resolved with the return of the Green Goblin, which was not done very well if you ask me, it's a pity that such a great alternative was put down.


BTW: unfortunately Mephisto's involvement in retconning Peter's marriage made it to print - and this was a far worse story!
July 16, 2010 6:30 AM
philipp82 said...

ok, apart from the obvious irony that Mephisto was not used because he's 'un-spidey' ... that solution would have been PERFECT. Seriously. If you did it like that it would have seemed from the outside like this was your plan all along. It would have made sense. It would have seemed like the clone saga was a nicely choreographed piece of comic book history, and not ... well ... a good idea that went to hell along the way.

I can relate to most of your comments, but this time I don't get it. You recognized that you were in a sinking clone-ship, and you found a life belt, and now you argue that it was good that you didn't use it because the color was wrong? How was this ending in any way worse than what you actually did?
October 30, 2010 6:30 AM

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Old 10-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #50
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Oliver said...

" The solution I liked the least was the "flip-flop" scenario, since I felt that was a cop out and was extremely unfair to the readers - not to mention incredibly anti-climactic."

And that's exactly how "Revelations" felt.
July 16, 2010 7:13 AM
Quote:
comments:
Daniel said...

Frankly this whole thing, as much as you guys try to be really good about it, makes Dan Jurgens sound like a bit of a tool. He joined during the Clone Saga, complained about it every step of the way because he didn't want to write Clone Saga stories and then quit.

I realize it was a high stress situation but it'd be like joining a company that used to make blue shirts but is currently only making red shirts then complaining because you really, really have some good ideas, and fond memories, of blue shirts.

That said I think he's pretty talented, especially his Superman / Aliens work. He took something inherently not an interesting idea and really ran with it.
March 4, 2010 3:56 AM
Quote:
comments:
Eugene (황유진) said...

You didn't fool me. I knew he was coming back for sure.
September 15, 2009 4:09 PM
Quote:
comments:
Eric said...

Didn't anyone think to use the Kingpin? He has the resources and weren't you trying to get him back into the MU at this point?

I think that would have been ideal. But then we wouldn't have this Dark Reign, eh? Which I will admit is pretty cool.
October 14, 2009 2:51 PM
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Ike Carr said...

Good news. Kaine will featured in the lead story of the premiere issue of the new Spidey series, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN. The story penned by J.M. Dematties himself, and set shortly after, REDEMPTION.
Quote:
comments:
Michael said...

Swarm did not first appear in Spectacular Spider-Man. He had earlier appeared in an issue of The Champions, which was referred to by Mantlo in Spectacular.
October 2, 2009 7:36 PM
Kieran said...

wasn't swarm also on Spider-Man and his amazing friends? "swarm... swarm... swarm... swarm..."
January 5, 2011 7:39 AM
Quote:
comments:
Michael said...

Well, it's been revealed now that the Goblin Formula actually helped to regenerate Harry after his 'death', and that Norman was there and had him taken to Europe. I've never read the Osborn Journal, but I assume this contradicts it pretty seriously.
If I haven't been misinformed, this resurrection of Harry was also forced into the book by the Editor-in-Chief. (It could've been worse. I heard that he originally wanted to bring back Gwen, but everyone was able to talk him out of it.)

I'm normally against bringing back dead characters (unless the death was purposely unclear), but one exception that I'd be willing to accept is if they could resurrect Gruenwald. Then he could be Editor-in-Chief and continuity would be important again. But I don't think even Marvel could figure out a way to bring him back.
October 2, 2009 8:28 PM
Quote:
comments:
Justin Alexander said...

Interesting thing about the "this has always been about" thing. I feel that Glenn is right that, for Osborne, it has always been about Spider-Man -- not Parker.

But, on the other hand, I think for Peter the Green Goblin is the one villain who has gotten behind the mask. So when Peter says it, I think there's a lot of truth to it.
March 11, 2009 1:44 AM
michael41973 said...

Having read all the previous chapters and finally this one (even though I read the books at the time and have a majority of them somewhere) I just really have to wonder how the OMD/BND storyline completely destroy this issue and the clone saga.
June 22, 2009 8:49 PM
Quote:
comments:
jscimmortal said...

thank you all for a wonderful behind the scenes look at the clone saga. i started reading spider-man when i was 11 at the height of the spider-man animated series. my first issue was amazing s-man #402 which was somewhere in the middle of the saga itself. i remember it all fondly and even though i have mixed feelings about the clone saga now, i loved it then. i do find myself missing ben as spider-man and peter as supporting cast but alas it was never meant to be. thank you so much for allowing me and so many others to see how everything unfolded and what a mess it all turned out to be. i still love spidey and still read him to this day. well except for the whole 'let's dump mj down a hole' thanks to omd/bnd. oh well if we learned anything from the clone saga its that nothing is perminate.
June 29, 2009 12:34 PM
Alex said...

I just went through the whole thing, brilliant stuff Andrew. You to Glenn, really enjoyed the look at Marvel back then. God it must of been hectic. Such a good blog this, hope it does go to print.
August 17, 2009 9:25 AM

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