October 26, 2009
Maximum Clonage! Maximum Chaos! Maximum Stupidity! Maximum boredom!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where (suddenly leans forward in chair) IT'S OUR ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!
(A message reading "Happy Anniversary Atop the Fourth Wall" is shown, backed by fireworks going off, while a triumphant chorus is heard)
Linkara: That's right, everyone. I'm proud to announce that today, October 26, marks the one-year anniversary of Atop the Fourth Wall! It's been a wild ride, hasn't it? Let's take a look...
(A montage of clips of past AT4W episodes are shown, set to "The Way We Were")
Linkara: Good times. In honor of this occasion, we've got a couple of things lined up. First and foremost, (spreads arms wide) WE'RE WIDESCREEN NOW! Yeah, enjoy more of the futon, I guess. Oh, and the shadow cast by the light that's right there. Next up is that we get to take another look at one of the scariest parts of Spider-Man history: the Clone Saga!
(Cut to a closeup of a Spider-Man comic "Smoke and Mirrors")
Linkara (v/o): Now, a year ago, when I reviewed "Spider-Man #56", many of the people on ThatGuyWithTheGlasses were shaking their heads in confusion. Well, the thing is that my first video was actually part 3 of the review, the other two being text reviews, and it was in that first text review that I explained the Clone Saga.
Linkara: And that's right, it's time again for "Comic History You Don't Care About But Need To Know In Order To Understand This", also known as "C.H.Y.D.C.A.B.N.T.K.I.O.T.U.T.". (beat, then quickly) Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?
(Cut to a closeup of a Spider-Man comic called "The Legend of the Arachknight")
Linkara (v/o): In 1994, both Spider-Man and Marvel were in trouble. During the early years of the dark age of comics, it was believed that since older comics were worth so much money in the present, people could buy any comic book deemed a "collector's item", and then they could save it and make oodles of money off of it.
(Editor's note: "Arachknight?")
Linkara (v/o): Much like the baseball card craze, that was complete bullcrap due to simple economics.
(Cut to a shot of an Action Comics cover, showing Superman)
Linkara (v/o): Older comics, like the first appearance of Superman, were valuable because they were made in an era when comic books weren't printed in large numbers, and the few that were still in good condition were rare. Oh, and because it was Superman!
Linkara: If you print half a million copies of "Blood Gun #1", it ain't gonna be worthy diddly-squat now or in a hundred years!
(More shots of DC comics are shown)
Linkara (v/o): The point being, Marvel was in trouble, and they were desperate for anything, any story that might help them compete with DC, which had seen success with the "Death of Superman" and "Knightfall" events for Superman and Batman, respectively. In Spider-Man's case, it was decided to kill a few birds with one stone. See, Spidey had been going through a rough time in his own books.
(Panels of Spider-Man comics are shown that illustrate what Linkara says)
Linkara (v/o): After losing his best friend, facing off the insanity of Carnage, and learning that his long-thought-dead parents were alive, only to discover even later that they were actually robot duplicates – I know, I know, comic books, remember? – he goes kind of nuts and starts calling himself "The Spider", trying to separate himself from his humanity.
Linkara: And fans were collectively scratching their heads and leaving the book in droves. What a shock.
Linkara (v/o): It was also decided that his marriage was making readers not connect with him, or some bullcrap like that, and that needed to go, too.
Linkara: Here's a fun little piece of trivia for ya: At the height of the Clone Saga, one of the ways proposed to finally end it was to have Mephisto be the one behind it all, but the writers and editors decided that that would be stupid, since Mephisto doesn't really belong in Spider-Man's universe! (beat) Hindsight's a bitch, ain't it?
(Cut to a montage of shots featuring the Spider-Man Clone Saga)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the solution was that Peter's clone from a 1970s story was to come back. It was a simple three-act story: the clone returns and causes some tension, it's revealed that the clone is the real Peter Parker, and the clone gets to swing around as Spidey for a short time, and then the original is revealed to actually have been the real one all along, and he comes back triumphantly! Maybe while getting divorced or something; I don't know so much about that part. But still, the idea was set forth, and the stories began to play out. You know how I'll often complain about editors not letting writers do their job? Well, in this case, it was the marketing department of Marvel who made things worse. Marvel was in so much trouble financially that the marketing department had virtually all control over everything. As such, since this new Clone Saga was selling like mad, they insisted and ordered that the storyline be stretched. And stretched. And stretched like mad, even after the original people who had come up with the idea were no longer on it! The Clone Saga lasted about three years before it finally was put to rest, but by that point, no one cared anymore. It was a confusing mess of a storyline that everyone was happy to put behind.
Linkara: And while I will say, in my humble opinion, that a lot of the early stories of the Clone Saga were actually pretty good, the storyline we're looking at today is universally considered some of its worst. So let's look into (holds up a bunch of comics comprising the review for today...) "Maximum Clonage"!
(AT4W title sequence plays, with the bars still on the sides, but suddenly, Linkara cuts in, interrupting the theme)
Linkara: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! It's Year Two now. I think it's high time we saw the full version of the theme song. (calling out) Vincent! Roll it!
(The full version of the title sequence plays, with different instrumentation; there are more lyrics now, too, which can be viewed here; title card for this episode is set to Weird Al Yankovic's "I Think I'm a Clone Now" (a parody of "I Think We're Alone Now"); cut to a closeup of the cover for "The New Warriors", which has a prologue for "Maximum Clonage")
Linkara (v/o): Now, as a prologue to "Maximum Clonage", there was an issue of "New Warriors" that set up some of the initial circumstances in it. But you know what? It's crap, and most of the plot elements introduced in it are gonna be quickly forgotten, so I'm just gonna skim it for this review.
(Cut to a panel for the end of "Spider-Man #56")
Linkara (v/o): Remember at the end of "Spider-Man #56", how there was something inside of that pod? I reasoned that it was the Jackal's homemade butter, but actually, it was another Peter Parker clone, and this one quickly degenerated into a shapeshifting killer called Spidercide.
Linkara: Yes, they actually created a character called Spidercide. You can see why this saga isn't remembered with fondness.
Linkara (v/o): In this prologue story, Spidercide steals some chemicals.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover of today's story "Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Alpha")
Linkara (v/o): The real story starts with "Maximum Clonage Alpha", which ironically also has plot points introduced and forgotten rather quickly. The cover is lazy, and it's just Spider-Man copied and pasted dozens of times, but with Kaine and Scarlet Spider also in the exact same pose.
Linkara: Oh, and by the way, Kaine is actually another failed Spider-Man clone. All of his powers are just exaggerated forms of Peter's own powers, which, admittedly, was kind of clever, but at the same time, you have to ask yourself where the hell the Jackal found all the time to do all this junk!
Linkara (v/o): Also, the cover is holographic and shiny, which I admit, for a gimmick to sell books, does look cool. (the comic proper begins) Anyway, the story begins with Spidercide unleashing a virus that kills everyone in the town except him, the Jackal, and a single civilian. All in the span of three minutes, too!
Linkara: And a virus that effective and deadly doesn't spread beyond the town's limits because...?
Linkara (v/o): And dear Lord, has the Jackal gotten worse! They're not even trying to hide the fact that he looks like the Joker, except with a haircut stolen from Troll dolls. Over to Peter Parker, who's being emo because at this point in the Clone Saga, it's been decided that he's the clone, and that Scarlet Spider is the original.
Narrator: He wishes the rain could wash him away-- could melt him into the cold grey stone of his silent companions...
Linkara: Wait a minute, it's acid rain! It is melting him! (flailing his arms around) ARRRGH!
Linkara (v/o): After going through some lengthy flashbacks to every recent event in his life, we find Scarlet Spider swinging around, being equally emo because he lost five years of his life. And here's another flaw evident in the Clone Saga: constant, grating, irritating rambles from either Peter Parker or Ben Reilly about being a clone. Look, I can see this kind of crap lasting for a few issues, maybe one storyline, but like the saga itself, it just dragged! Hate to break it to you, pals, but, well, you're a clone? Boo-friggin'-hoo! You've both got memories and lives even after your conception that the other person didn't have, and spending all your time being whiny about it isn't gonna do you any good. There are plenty of people in the world who have worse off than either of you.
Linkara: And by the way, they never stop their narration for the entire story.
Linkara (v/o): Over to Mary Jane, who actually has legitimate things to worry about, since she's pregnant via Peter, and she doesn't know if the fact that either clone will have an effect on the baby. However, here comes the Scarlet Spider to make a soliloquy about how he doesn't want to take over Peter's life and that he wants to help them. And... scene over. Back to, you know, the plot, as a hazmat team arrives in the town with all the dead people. The Jackal is listening in on their communications and learns of the survivor, telling Spidercide to return them to the town. And then over the New Warriors, who are basically shoehorned into this event for no legitimate reason, and then over to Kaine, who's being transferred to another cell by people wearing the stupidest-looking guard uniforms I'd ever seen. I mean, what the hell are they wearing? This is the high-tech security uniform of a prison? A ridiculous red visor and a green jumpsuit?
Linkara: It's not even like they're heavily armored or anything; it looks like they're getting ready for a ski trip.
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, Kaine breaks out because he has a vision of Mary Jane dying that, much like everything else in the Clone Saga, will amount to nothing. Back to Spidercide, who is sent by the Jackal to retrieve the survivor to find out why he was immune to the virus.
Spidercide: (narrating) The Jackal said, "Be swift!"-- "Be Silent!"-- "--And most importantly, morph into something really cool--!"
Linkara (v/o): All right, so let's see what Spidercide's awesome costume is. Aaaaand... (bursts out laughing when he sees said costume) Wow, that's really what you're going for in terms of "cool", huh? (?)-up muscles, bell bottoms, and a face with a smiley attached to it. And also, his definition of "cool" includes "bland beyond recognition".
Linkara: I guess the Jackal left his petri dish out in the sun too long.
Linkara (v/o): So the New Warriors arrive; Scarlet Spider shows up too, thanks to a postcard he got earlier – don't ask; and of course, this being comic books, the two end up fighting over a misunderstanding. Back to Mary Jane and– Oh, for the love of crap, comic, pick someone to focus on and stick with it!
Mary Jane: (narrating) Why does life have to be so complicated...?
Linkara: (mocking Mary Jane) I see the way you're acting like you're somebody else gets me frustrated.
Linkara (v/o): So, more fight scene, more Peter being emo... (singing dramatically) This is padding, this is padding! So, the New Warriors figure out Scarlet's not a bad guy, and they all end up fighting Spidercide.
Linkara: (singing) Padding, padding, padding, padding, paddingpaddingpaddingpaddingpaddingpaddingpaddingpadding, padding, padding...
Linkara (v/o): So Spidercide gets away, and the New Warriors disappear from the plot. Back over to Spider-Man, and the Jackal has found him. Upon seeing him, Spidey of course erupts into a heroic spazz attack... and then gets promptly smacked down with one punch.
Jackal: Because you're a clone, Peter-- nothing but a clone. A clone that doesn't belong anywhere in this world of flawed humans-- a clone that doesn't belong ANYWHERE!!
Linkara: (singing wistfully) There's a place for us...
Jackal: OR-- you could join me--help me! Be with others like yourself--!
Linkara: (as Jackal) I call it "Clone College".
Jackal: Together, working side-by-side, we could bring the world genetic perfection through cloning!!
(Cut to the iconic moment in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Darth Vader: (addressing Luke Skywalker) Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
Linkara: I'm sorry, but I thought clones either had weaker genetic material or the exact same genetic material. Once you start deviating from the norm, it's not exactly cloning anymore, it's eugenics and– (suddenly stops as he ponders something) Hey, wait a second!
Linkara (v/o): The Jackal wants to create genetic perfection in the world, it's the 1990s...
(Cut to a clip of an episode the original Star Trek)
Spock: (to Kirk) The mid-1990s was the era of your last so-called "world war".
McCoy: The eugenics wars.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, the Clone Saga is the eugenics war that Star Trek was talking about!
Linkara: Huh. Knowing what I know about what's gonna happen in the Clone Saga, that's kind of a big letdown.
Linakra (v/o): So yeah, Peter's invited to join the Jackal, but we all know Peter. He would never... uh, reach out and shake the Jackal's hand, joining him.
Linkara: Huh, so I guess him making deals with evil people actually has some precedent.
(Cut to a closeup of the next installment of "Maximum Clonage")
Linkara (v/o): Next up is "Web of Spider-Man #127", with a cover featuring Spidey against the Punisher. Wait, this is the Clone Saga, right? Why the hell are we suddenly bringing the Punisher into this? Anyway, the cover's okay, but a little stupid because the bullets are apparently flying out of the Punisher's head and chest, but whatever. (the comic proper begins) So, we're still on the rooftop, which of course looks nothing like what we saw in the previous issue. The Jackal chooses this moment, after shaking Peter's hand, to do a little dance.
Linkara: (as Jackal, dancing in his seat) Do a little dance, make a little clone, get down tonight...
Linkara (v/o): So the Punisher is trying to assassinate the Jackal for some reason, while at the same time, a SWAT team shows up, demanding that they surrender. However, it's not the SWAT team, but the Punisher, who yells out that someone is in his way.
Punisher: Blast it, Spider-Man! Don't make me shoot him through you-- I can, you know.
Linkara: (as Punisher) I totally can! What, you don't believe me when I say I can?! (pointing to camera) You don't think I can?! (beat, then becomes sad) Nobody thinks I'm cool anymore.
Linkara (v/o): To escape the SWAT team, Spidey grabs the Jackal, and they leap off the building.
Jackal: So long, suckers! --See ya in the genetically perfected future! Man, this is a hoot! I think I can see my house from here!
Linkara: The man responsible for our (makes "air quotes") "perfect genetic future", ladies and gentlemen. All the wit and personality of a nine-year-old.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, we cut to the Parkers' house in Queens, where Mary Jane and her aunt– BY DIE HARD'S CROTCH!!! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THAT LADY'S FACE?!?
Linakra: MARY JANE, SAVE ME!!
(The panel, however, shows that Mary has the same eyes as her aunt, much to Linkara's horror)
Linkara (v/o): OH, GOD, IT'S INFECTED YOU, TOO!! You two look like Bratz dolls if they grew up! NEXT SCENE, NEXT SCENE!
(Thankfully, the next panel is back to the Jackal, being held up in the air by Spider-Man with his legs – hey, at least those women are not there anymore)
Jackal: You are the new humanity!
Linkara: (holding up his arms) New Humanity, with kung fu grip!
Linkara (v/o): So, yeah, Spidey is carrying the Jackal around like this before they set down in the middle of the street in broad daylight to continue talking about the Jackal's little cloning plans. And wouldn't you know it, the Punisher somehow is able to keep up with the two and starts shooting. The Jackal get shot – Hooray! – and of course, like anyone who gets shot unexpectedly, starts to monologue. Spidey then suddenly leaps at the Punisher and calls him a lunatic!
Linkara: Gee, Spidey, mood swing much? Not ten minutes ago, you were ready to kill the Jackal yourself! (points to his own head) I think the bump you took on your noggin knocked a few screws loose, dude.
Linkara (v/o): Spidey is convinced that the Jackal was on the level since he tried to take the bullets for him. Why was the Punisher even shooting at Spidey? And he takes the Jackal away, hoping to get him some medical attention. They go back to the Jackal's lab, and the Jackal is put into some sort of cellular regeneration pod.
Jackal: I wanted mankind to benefit from my work. Tell me you'll try, Peter... Tell me you'll help them.
Peter: I will, sir.
Linkara: Okay, one year ago, we looked at "Spider-Man #56". So our brave humanitarian "The Jackal" did what in that story?
(Shots of the Jackal from that comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Well, let's see: he grew a Gwen Stacy clone to screw with Peter's head before letting it melt into a puddle of goo, he screwed around with Ben Reilly's mind, beat the two up, set up his laboratory to explode, and then continually laughed and laughed while telling them that either one of them is a clone. And Spidey buys this bullcrap instantly?!
(Cut back to the Jackal in this current issue)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and in case you're wondering if this is just a simple case of the writers trying to make a sympathetic character out of the Jackal, yeah, right in the next issue, we see that was all a trick, and that the bullets didn't even hurt him at all.
(The cover for the third installment of this series is shown now)
Linkara (v/o): Which brings us to part three: "Amazing Spider-Man #404". The cover is dull and has the two swapping punches that for some reason are missing, despite the fact that they're rubbing up against each other. (the comic opens to the first page) Unsurprisingly, it opens with Peter sulking about the fact that he's a clone.
Linkara: Dear Lord, Spidey could give Shinji Ikari lessons in being a whiny bitch.
(Cut to a clip of Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Shinji Ikari: I'm useless.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Scarlet Spider arrives, having followed a lead on the Jackal. He tries to be nice to Pete, telling he knows what he's going through, but Peter, apparently suffering from brain damage, suddenly goes nuts and punches him. Ben continues to reach out to him, but since Peter's a dick in this and doesn't remember how he was nice to Ben when they thought he was the clone, just walks off to continue sulking. Spidercide arrives. They fight for a bit while Kaine watches.
Linkara: (confused) Is there some sort of convention for Spider-Man clones being held (jerks thumb to the right) right next door? How the hell does everybody know how to come here at the same time?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Kaine pulls the Jackal out of the regeneration pod to rant at him a bit, but the Jackal just smacks him around before once again offering... well...
(Cut to the same Empire Strikes Back clip)
Darth Vader: ...and together, we can rule the galaxy...
Linkara: It's not like the Jackal is some kind of charismatic cult leader here. Why the hell is everybody listening to him?
(Cut to another clip, this one of the Spider-Man animated series)
Spider-Man: This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Scarlet Spider breaks free, and all the clones are suddenly gathered in the same room together.
Linkara: Ah, good! Now we'll find out which of them murdered the rich host of the party.
Linkara (v/o): The Jackal begins mu-ha-ha-ing about how with Peter's blood, he can perfect the cloning process and make everybody hunky-dory and genetically perfect, whatever the hell that means. However, unlike everyone else, the Scarlet Spider is not a moron, and he punches his lights out and starts beating him up. Kaine and Peter intervene to protect the Jackal, while Spidercide walks off. He's confronted by Scrier, the other mysterious fellow who's been a bit player throughout the entire Clone Saga.
Narrator: His name is Scrier-- a being more mystery than man! An ageless, timeless entity whose purpose, if revealed, would be unfathomable to the mortal mind!
Linkara: Yyyyyeah, it turns out that Scrier is actually many people dressed the exact same way who have simple magic tricks. As I said, hindsight is a bitch.
Linkara (v/o): Scrier just touches Spidercide's head. (as Scrier) I heal you in the name of vagueness.
Spidercide: I... know!! It's all so clear...
Linkara: I'm glad it's clear to somebody because frankly, I'm starting to get confused.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Spidercide rejoins the others, and Jackal orders him to kill Kaine.
Kaine: But...you said you were gonna make me perfect--stop the degeneration...
Jackal: Why would I do that?! You're a worthless, walking heap of genetic trash...
Kaine: No...NO, you can't do this!! I believed you-- I trusted you!!
Linkara: (dripping sarcasm) Gee, it's almost as if the villainous, psychotic, manipulative, crazy, green scientist man who calls himself "The Jackal" was LYING or something! Who would've guessed?
Linkara (v/o): Of course, everybody just stands there like they're not sure if this was in the script or not before Kaine walks off for no discernible reason.
Jackal: Is it me, or was he, like, a major downer?
Linkara: Once again, folks, the man who will bring about genetic perfection in the world.
Linkara (v/o): Ben starts to feel woozy, the result of a drug the Jackal used on him during the fight. They drag Ben into a big, ominous chamber and toss him in, while Peter starts to think that maybe this wasn't his best move.
Spider-Man: (narrating) Can I trust a Jackal?
Linkara: Hmm, I don't know, Peter. Maybe you should (holds up his "clue stick") HIT YOU WITH MY CLUE STICK!! (beats the camera with it a few times)
Linkara (v/o): As the Scarlet Spider regains his senses, he looks up to behold hundreds of Spider-Man clones leaping at him. And it's at this point, the halfway marker for this little story, where we realize just how goofy this whole thing has gotten.
(An intermission card is shown briefly before the comic resumes, on the cover of the fourth installment)
Linkara (v/o): Part four is "Spider-Man #61", and the cover is just as silly as that last page, with hundreds of Spider-Men attack our man Ben Reilly. What gets me about this cover is that the artist took the time to detail the web patterns on every one of these Spider-Men except for, like, two or three. And I wouldn't mind if he was in the background, but look at that! He's right there! How do you do it on all those other ones but miss one so prominent on the cover?
(The comic proper begins)
Scarlet Spider: (narrating) You wake up in the morning and think... "Things could be worse!"
Linkara: (as Scarlet Spider) I mean, it's not like I have to fight hundreds of clones of me today. That'd just be downright stupid.
Linkara (v/o): This is just... I'm sorry, folks, but I can't keep a straight face at this, the sheer number of illogical circumstances behind all this! Where the hell did the Jackal find time clone hundreds of Peter Parkers, dress them all, and equip them with web shooters, somehow make them all work for him, despite all other clones we've seen showing plenty of resistance to him, put them all in the same room, and then just have them sit on their asses until the Jackal tosses somebody in for them to play with?!
Linkara: I mean, even if we forgive the idea of these clones growing up faster than regular people in clone pods or whatever, how did he get enough pods for them all to come out at the same time?! And you can't tell me that they did it, like, a hundred at a time! How was he feeding them?!
Linkara (v/o): This was, honest to God, the Spider-Man writer's and editor's attempt at making a serious story, but then they throw in hundreds of Spider-Man clones for no other reason than to try to justify the idiotic title of the story arc. I mean, you can't even hide behind the joking nature of something like "Godzilla Vs. Barkley" or even, God help me, "Adventures of the Kool-Aid Man". This was a mainstream publisher trying to tell an epic story about a hero and his identity, and revitalize their franchise, but in the end, we get the height of laziness, stupidity, and downright what-the-hell-ery! So, anyway, back to what passes for a story: Mary Jane comes home to find Kaine waiting for her on her couch.
Mary Jane: What are you doing here?
Linkara (v/o): By the way, despite all these events transpiring over a single day, Mary Jane is now sporting her third outfit. And how much do you want to bet it won't be her last? Back over to the loser brigade of clones, Jackal tries to reassure Peter about the choices he made.
Jackal: And no matter what happens in the future... you'll always have me, son!
Linkara: Yes, I'm sure it's a great comfort to know that you'll always have your terrible jokes, your plans for world domination, and your hundreds of Spider-Man clones.
Linkara (v/o): The Jackal tells Peter that he needs to go and get the Gwen Stacy clone... Yeah, the one from the original Clone Saga in the 1970s... and bring her there. Why? Well, forgiving the Jackal's bullcrap story, the truth is, the writers wanted to get rid of her, since, believe it or not, "Maximum Clonage" was an attempt to end the Clone Saga and tie up all the loose ends, and the Gwen Stacy's a really big friggin' loose end.
Linkara: And enjoy, as that try falls harder and faster than a piano with anvils and elephants tied to it.
Linkara (v/o): Back over to Kaine and MJ, where Kaine gives his backstory, and he tells her that Peter has joined the Jackal. Oh, and it turns out the Jackal has a room of Gwen Stacy clones in pods who immediately degenerate into piles of goo when he opens their doors. They're also fully clothed for some reason. Why does he have this? Uh, I don't know, maybe he sells the clone goo as silly putty to finance this huge facility. Thanks to a pep talk from Mary Jane, Kaine arrives to help Ben fight off the hundreds of Spider clones, even acknowledging him as a brother. And most especially, he says that he won't kill any of the clones... which is why immediately in the next issue, we see that he starts trying to kill them, not giving a crap about their lives!
Linkara: (looking around, confused, hands up) Hello? Editor? Is there anyone around who can keep a plot point straight from issue to issue?
(The cover of the next installment is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, part five is "Spectacular Spider-Man #227", promising us the death of Kaine, who's scowling like the '90s character that he is. (the comic opens to the first page) And bing! New outfit for Mary Jane! She activates all of Peter's Spider-Tracers at once to send out a signal to get his attention. Speaking of, he found a Gwen Stacy clone and is carrying her back. And she's being quite calm about this whole thing, but whatever. Spidey gets the signal and rides off to try to reach Mary Jane. Over to the Jackal, who's complaining about that one guy from, like, four issues ago that survived the town massacre, not that he will play a role in this story one iota or in fact anything related to the Clone Saga. All it does is allow him to whine that he can't let there be survivors, since otherwise, how else is he going to – you guessed it – take over the world?
(Cut to that legendary clip from the Street Fighter movie, showing...)
M. Bison: Of course!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Over to the clustercrap of clone combat – I love alliteration – the Scarlet Spider is wondering why none of the clones have said a single word since the fight started. All of a sudden, the clones start to decompose! In fact, their clothes are decomposing as well!
Linkara: Wait, you can clone fabric, too?! How the hell does that work?!
Scarlet Spider: The Jackal must have popped them out of the lab before they were fully baked!
Linkara: (incredulously) "Fully baked"?! What, are clones made out of cookie dough?! You just slap a cookie cutter on a big mass of flesh, pop 'em in an Easy Bake oven, and wait two hours?!
Linkara (v/o): While Scarlet Spider stupidly tries to convince the Easy Bake clones that they don't have to fight and die and that they can still play the piano, we cut back over to Peter, the Gwen Stacy clone, and Mary Jane all meeting up. They're all nice and friendly with each other, and it's stupid and I don't care, so moving on. Kaine and Scarlet Spider crash through a glass ceiling onto the Jackal and... wait, what?!? Aren't they in a chamber right next to the... Ugh! Why do I bother? Oh, look, it's the New Warriors! Their scene is completely pointless, next! Spidercide accesses one of the Jackal's computers to send data to Scrier, but the Jackal finds him. When he learns what Spidercide is doing, the Jackal tries to trigger his degeneration, but it turns out Scrier removed it. Anyway, back to Scarlet Spider...
Scarlet Spider: YES! Say yes to life!
Linkara: Are we in a drunk PSA now?! What the hell?!
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, the clones degenerate into a massive puddle of goo. Anyway, Kaine interferes with the fight between Spidercide and Jackal. Spidercide finally puts Kaine out of our misery, impaling him with a technological doodad. The Jackal runs off while the puddle of clone goo suddenly forms into a big gooey monster to fight the Scarlet Spider.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of the sixth and final issue of the series)
Linkara (v/o): All righty, time for the final issue: "Maximum Clonage Omega". And here's our cover and... Good God, that's hideous! The Jackal looks like some deformed Keebler Elf, and I have no idea what the hell is going on! No holofoil is worth this vomited coloring!
(Cut to a shot of Linkara's blog, showing an entry on "The Life of Reilly")
Linkara (v/o): If you'll indulge a brief aside, as I stated before, the intention of "Maximum Clonage" was to finally bring an end to the Clone Saga. According to the behind-the-scenes info of the 36-part essay, "The Life of Reilly", which chronicles the entirety of the Clone Saga, and it's all online, as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff going on at Marvel, the story was given to the then-inexperienced writer Tom Lyle, and they knew they were in trouble. He wasn't a particularly bad writer, it's just he wasn't up to the task of putting an end to all this nonsense. As a result, this issue was constantly rewritten and... well, let's just take a look.
(The comic begins)
Linkara (v/o): The Scarlet Spider fights a puddle of goo that used to be a whole bunch of clones. The stuff of legend, folks. The Jackal suddenly reveals that...
Jackal: I'm off to kill all of your old pals at the Daily Bugle. Taking over the media is such hard work.
Linkara: My God! He's going off to kill all the staff at the Daily Bugle! (a dramatic sting is heard; suddenly, he becomes dumbfounded) Wait, why?
Scarlet Spider: (thinking) Everyone at the Bugle... The human race... They're all in danger from the Jackal's plan to wipe them all out with the Carrion Virus... and replace them all with a world of clones that Jackal would rule over.
Linkara: Wasn't the original Clone Saga just (holds up fingers as he explains) a science professor is in love with Gwen Stacy, clones her because she's dead, tries to kill Peter Parker, but then sacrifices himself when he realizes how evil he was? When did world domination enter this whole thing?!
Scarlet Spider: (narrating) A nightmare. A nightmare of a world of only clones.
Linkara: It seems that we have a new evil plan to add to our ever-growing list of dumb plans!
(A montage of said plans from past comics is shown)
Linkara (v/o): As you'll recall, the other three were: twin clones of Hitler; make Nightcrawler the Pope; and Wonder Girl acting as ambassador between the President and Queen Hippo-lobotomy.
(The dumb plan in this comic is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): And now we have "kill everybody and replace them with clones".
Linkara: Why?? Uh, I don't know, maybe clones are tax deductible or something.
Linkara (v/o): So the Scarlet Spider gets away from the massive goo pile, which I guess just gives up after a while and dies. He swings off to stop the evil plans of the Jackal. Meanwhile, Mary Jane is still wearing the same sweater, but Gwen Stacy is now sporting a new outfit, and her eyes have grown to encompass half of her head. MJ asks Peter to stay with her, but Gwen tells him she doesn't belong with her, and MJ can't understand them and... Wait, last issue, MJ and Gwen were all huggy and crap, but now they're all "You can't understand me"? Oh, screw it! Point is, they're idiots and they leave. Over at a news station, we learn that the Jackal has an army of Jacks now. You know, those annoying little mini-Jackals we saw from "Spider-Man #56". Where did they come from? Who the hell knows? And apparently, he has, like, hundreds of the things because he's sending them to every TV station in the Tri-State Area, killing all of the newscasters and staff, and replacing them with clones!
Linkara: In the interest of fairness, controlling the flow of information? Smart move by the Jackal. Also in the interest of fairness, this is not a plot hole, but a plot bottomless pit! The sheer number of questions this raises is simply ASTRONOMICAL!
Linkara (v/o): At the Daily Bugle, the Jackal is setting up his bomb, and he has apparently mutated into a bunny rabbit in these panels, considering how friggin' huge his ears are! I should note that this issue requires the services of at least nine artists to get this thing out, working on the breakdowns and finishes in an attempt to save it, and it still looks like crap! And there's a whole frigging ton of story here, but this video has gone way too long already, so I'm gonna skip a whole bunch here and just show the highlights of stupidity: Scrier, if you're so powerful, just kill the Jackal! Scarlet Spider, it's a web line, not a cat's cradle! Mary Jane, what the hell is up with your face?! Two-page spread that needs me to put the thing on its side! I hate this comic!
Jackal: Think you'll help these people as much as you helped Gwen Stacy?
Scarlet Spider: So after all these years... that's what this still is all about! The clones, the virus bomb--all because you once loved Gwen...
Linkara (v/o): No, moron, it's because he's nuttier than peanut M&Ms! Spidercide falls to his death, despite the fact that he can shapeshift into water, I really hate this comic! Blah, blah, blah, Jackal monologuing, trying to fill in plot holes about Ben digging with the clone and doing it badly! Spidey and Gwen Stacy arrive, more dumb dialogue, trying to defuse the bomb, I hate this friggin' comic! Somehow we're on a bridge, I HATE THIS COMIC, I HATE IT, I HATE IT!!!
Linkara: (freaking out and throwing comic aside) GAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!
(A montage of Linkara having a meltdown is shown, set to the Wurzels' "Combine Harvester". First, Linkara hits himself on the head with the comic while crying. Next, he holds up his hands and makes them move like puppet mouths. Then he tries to slit his throat with Pyramid Head's huge knife, but gives up. Then he is sitting on the floor, crying and hitting himself on the head with his hat. Then he holds up a slinky)
Linakra: Go, web, go! (throws the slinky)
(He then puts on a par of Dr. Insano glasses)
Linkara: (imitating Dr. Insano) I'm the real Dr. Insano now! (cackles, then cries)
(Linkara is then seen holding up a camera)
Linkara: (drawling tone) This is so deep...
(Linkara is seen looking offscreen now)
Linkara: I AM THE WALRUS, KOO KOO KA CHOO! (reaches out and punches something; he then pulls his hand back to reveal, to his horror, that he is holding Freddy Krueger's claws)
(Now he is seen reading from a book called "Southland Tales")
Linkara: (drawling) Wow... "Southland Tales" is so deep...
(The montage ends as we return to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Um, so anyway, Gwen gets a gun and threatens to kill the Jackal, but then Mary Jane shows up, somehow knowing they're on a bridge, and Gwen gets shoved over the edge. And what should transpire, of course, but a retread of this "Oh, my God, Gwen is falling off the bridge, so I have to save her this time" crap, which even by this point in Spider-Man history had become a cliche! Hell, I think during the entire Clone Saga, they actually had somebody fall off that damn bridge, like, three times! Anyway, they save Clone Gwen, but the Jackal falls to his death in one of the most unintentionally hilarious panels ever made. Well, that expression on his face. Oh, but we can't breathe a sigh of relief, because now we have one more big action sequence and– Wait, they're back on the roof of the Bugle?! What the hell?! Anyway, the bomb's still going to go off, so they need to throw it out into the water. You know, in these last few pages could have been great to fill in some plot holes, maybe even just reduce the size of the book, but no, instead, it had to be pointless stupidity! Oh, and the Gwen Stacy clone just walks off, never to be seen or heard from again. And you know what's even better? The entire point of this moronic storyline was to END the Clone Saga and decide who was going to be Spider-Man and tie up every loose end. Well, not only did it fail to do any of that, but it also... Well, actually, that's it! The Clone Saga continued for a year and a half afterwards, with only more ludicrous ideas, stories and revelations to come. But that's the subject for another episode.
Linkara: (angrily holding up the comics) "Maximum Clonage" sucks! If "Smoke and Mirrors" was the first sign that the Clone Saga was doomed, then "Maximum Clonage" clinched it!
Linkara (v/o): Every issue is dumb, nonsensical, boring, and overall just BAD! The artwork ranges from good to hideous, and I've seen plot analyses of Lost that made more sense than this thing!
Linkara: But you know what the worst part is? I'd still take the worst moments of the Clone Saga over "One More Day"! So, happy anniversary, and here's to many more years of complaining about Spider-Man's deal with the devil! (throws down comics, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll, to Weird Al Yankovic's "I Think I'm a Clone Now", a parody of "I Think We're Alone Now")
It's been a whole year people – you should know by now to check the end credits to find out what songs play. I'm not going to answer that question anymore.
(Stinger: The panel showing the Jackal falling with Spider-Man is shown again)