This week Spider-Man’s Clone Conspiracy kicks off, and Mark Millar teams up with Greg Capullo for Reborn!
The Clone Conspiracy #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like all of Dan Slott’s major Spider-Man stories, there’s been quite the build up to Clone Conspiracy. After initially being marketed as “Dead No More”, the new Spidey epic is actually about the return of the Jackal, and his use of clones to seemingly bring Spider-Man’s loved ones and enemies back from the dead. Now, before you go running for the hills, remember that Slott has an incredible ability to make really dumb concepts work (remember how we all thought Superior Spider-Man was going to suck?). But even with that in mind, I’m always leery whenever the word “Clones” shows up in association with Spider-Man. Luckily though, Slott and Jim Cheung’s Clone Conspiracy #1 gets things off on the right track.
The issue opens up with Peter Parker reeling from the death of his Step-Uncle Jay. While he’s technically not to blame for his death, the fact that he waited too long to give the go ahead for a controversial cure from New U for his disease weighs heavy on his mind. After Jay’s funeral, Peter decides to investigate New U further, and finds himself face to face with Miles Warren, The Rhino and the new female Electro. All this means to Spider-Man is just another fight, until Gwen Stacy and Doc Ock arrive, leaving Spider-Man with way more questions about what The Jackal is up to.
Dan Slott’s script really works well at setting the stakes for Clone Conspiracy and catching new readers up to speed. While the back-story makes this issue drag a little for long time Slott Spidey readers, it’s necessary to get people coming in off the street looking to pick this issue up. Conspiracy has plenty of nods to other Spider-Man stories from Dan Slott’s run though, and is using that to deliver some pretty awesome moments in this issue. While some may feel that it’s time for Slott to leave Spider-Man behind, Clone Conspiracy shows that Slott still has the characterization of Peter down.
Jim Cheung isn’t usually a name associated with Marvel’s Spider-Man books, but I have a feeling that’s going to change after this. While there’s a few odd panels at the beginning of the issue, once the script calls for Spidey to face off with some of his foes Cheung delivers the goods. Cheung really shows off his skills with composition and layouts as the book goes on, and I won’t be surprised if we start seeing requests for him to take on more Spidey work after this.
Clone Conspiracy is off to a good start so far, but it remains to be seen where this will fall quality wise in Dan Slott’s run. While this has the potential to be as good as Superior Spider-Man, it could also fizzle out like the last much-hyped Spider-Man event “Spider-Verse”. As it stands right now, the cliffhanger endings should be reason enough alone to have you coming back for more, and Spidey mega fans like me will find plenty to intrigue them.
Reborn #1 (Image Comics)
As you all know, Mark Millar’s claim to fame is grabbing the hottest artists in the comic book business and creating a bold new IP with them. He created Chrononauts with Sean Murphy, Huck with Rafael Albuquerque, and now Millar has teamed up with the one and only Greg Capullo to give us Reborn, and what a comic it is. Focusing on a new, war-like view of the afterlife, Reborn stands as not only one of Millar’s best debut issues, it’s also one of the coolest debut issues of the year.
Bonnie Black has lived a long life, and it’s coming to an end. But unlike most fictional characters that are about to meet their makers, Bonnie isn’t ready to die. While she’s been lost since a crazed sniper murdered her husband decades ago, Bonnie isn’t ready to be reunited with him. She doesn’t know what’s waiting for her on the other side of light, but after she suffers a final, life-ending stroke, she’s transported to a warzone, where she has to fight to survive. But she’s back in her young body, and her fellow warriors are her long dead family members. So where is she? Heaven? Hell? Somewhere else?
That’s a question that Millar doesn’t answer quite yet, but he does deliver a really interesting and unique take on the afterlife. Instead of just going to heaven or hell, you’re put in your “perfect self” and placed in battle. It’s a great idea that yes, sounds like a movie pitch, but much like a lot of Millar’s current work, there’s a great deal of heart to be found in Reborn. The first half of the book deals with Bonnie’s life, and how she’s lived it. We see her happiest moments, but they’re all given a slight tinge of sadness, as many of the people who were in those moments are long gone. In a lot of ways, Bonnie’s story has a lot of parallels with Starlight’s Duke McQueen, another elderly Millar protagonist who becomes a stronger person once they leave Earth. It’s these human moments that really help make Reborn (and other recent Millar works) stand out.
What also helps is Greg Capullo’s absolutely insane artwork. We’ve all seen what he can do with Batman, but Capullo lets loose with Reborn. There’s crazy monsters, gigantic battles, huge dudes swinging axes and swords, and even a war dog. But like Millar’s script, Capullo doesn’t forget the human moments in Reborn, and if I’m being honest, those moments were even better than the action scenes. Capullo is able to give a simple panel of Bonnie and her husband watching TV a ton of emotional heft. If you weren’t convinced that Capullo is a master after his run on Batman, Reborn will definitely convince you.
Reborn is not just another solid introductory issue for Millar; it’s a great piece for Greg Capullo to show off his skills. I was a little worried about how these two would work together, but so far they’ve done an incredible job. If you’re looking for a unique comic that has a ton of heart, Reborn is it.