Warning! Spoilers ahead! Scroll to the My Opinion section if you wish to avoid them.
It seems like all great comic series start with a funeral. Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy Issue #1 starts with Peter Parker at a funeral. He is standing beside his Aunt May as they bury her husband J. Jonah Jameson Sr. It wouldn’t be a comic funeral if there wasn’t some conflict with Peter being blamed by the son of the deceased, the feisty editor of The Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson Jr. What makes this funeral stand out is that we get to listen to the inside voice of Peter as he yet again stands at a funeral and buries another loved one. He has come a long way since the death of his Uncle Ben, and even though he is a powerful force for good, he has lost much, and those losses have left their scars.
The story kicks into high gear as we learn why Peter feels responsible for the death of Jameson. Originally, the products and procedures of New U, a high-tech company were seen as a life saver. Jameson Sr. was encouraged by his doctors to use the New U products but it Peter Parker who convinced Jameson Sr. and Aunt May to forgo the procedures.
Peter Parker has some grave concerns about New U. After an employee of Parker Industries, Jerry Salteres was hurt in an explosion, he received New U help, and seemed to be back to normal. When Peter met with the man, his spider senses clanged like a church bell, and this resulted in his doubts of New U.
Post funeral, Peter goes to investigate New U and discovers that Jerry Salteres has disappeared. While sneaking around the New U laboratory, Peter finds the remains of Salteres floating in a liquid tank. Miles Warren, the Jackal, appears and calls for security. But ordinary security guards don’t show up, Rhino and a version of Electro appear. The dead villains have come alive.
Parker isn’t stopped. He easily defeats them, but is stopped in his tracks as Gwen Stacy walks into the frame. His lost first love is standing in front of him. Parker’s confused because he knows what he sees are clones, but yet, Gwen seems real, and his spider sense is not acting up. As he is questioning his surroundings Otto Octavius captures him.
Since this is the start of an epic Spiderman series we do get an extra story. The Night I Died shows us what happened to Gwen Stacy the night Green Goblin killed her. We see how she is kidnapped and pushed off the bridge to her death. We watch as Spiderman fails to save her. Then she wakes in a futuristic laboratory with Miles Warren, in full Jackal mask to greet her. She agrees to join him to make the world a better place. Of course, it’s easy for her to join because her dead father is standing next to her encouraging her to join.
To quote Peter Parker from the book, “This is all one of his stupid frickin' cloning experiments! Again!” This story line has been done many, many times before. Bad guys are cloned from death and live to fight the good guys another day. The hero is tormented by his failures and the losses that he has endured. This type of story arc is repeated constantly, but it works perfectly in Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy Issue #1.
Spiderman is not a teenager. He’s an adult with issues. He has endured a lot throughout his time as a hero. On the second page of the book, we see him thinking about all the people he lost. Gwen Stacy is the one character in this montage of sadness that stands out.
I cannot imagine the loss Peter Parker feels. That is the central question that the reader gets to explore in the start of this Spiderman arc. If you lose the ones you love and have a chance to get them back, even if they are clones, is that a bad thing? Peter Parker is not only confronted by the nastiest of his rogue’s gallery, but his first love is only feet away from him. This story might be going to the clones well, but I want to see more.
I’m looking forward to seeing Spiderman: Homecoming next summer. It will be great to see a teenaged version of Peter Parker on the big screen. But the older, more seasoned Peter Parker that is left questioning what is happening, is the Spiderman I want to read about in Dead No More.