Smoke and Mirrors Part One - The Call
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (plot), Todd Dezago (script), Steven Butler (breakdowns), Randy Emberlin (finishes), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist)
The Plot: Peter Parker and Ben Reilly are suddenly assaulted with visions of the past. A subconscious prompt sends Ben to the mountains. There, he encounters Jack, a diminutive clone of the Jackal. Another deformed Peter Parker clone attacks him, leaving Ben for dead in the snow. Meanwhile, Peter tries to fight off his hallucinations, until he has a vision of Ben’s lifeless body. He declares that he won’t turn his back on Ben.
The Subplots: Kaine watches Ben’s battle with the clone from a distance. In New York, MJ and Anna Watson keep vigil over Aunt May. MJ’s adamant that May will live to see her baby, but Anna prepares her for the worst.
Web of Continuity: Peter has visions of awakening in the Jackal’s lab, causing him to question for the first time if he is in fact the clone.
*See _________ For Details: MJ announced her pregnancy in Spectacular Spider-Man #220. The next chapter of “Smoke and Mirrors” is Amazing Spider-Man #399.
Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership lists average sales for the year as 199,708 copies with the most recent issue selling 152,500.
Review: And now begins the clone saga phase that has every ridiculous idea from the original storyline exhumed and hauled into modern times. I can understand why the creators would want to revive the Jackal in a storyline about the original clone, but I consider it one of those ideas that is so obvious it's not really worth doing. The Jackal already did everything he needed to do for this storyline back in the ‘70s. He created the clone. And as Gerry Conway revealed while he went out of the way to make his silly old story a bit more respectable, the Jackal wasn’t even capable of cloning in the first place.
Hardly anyone even remembered the Jackal at this point -- his true claim to fame was hiring the Punisher for his first appearance -- so what exactly was served by bringing him back? Apparently, someone thought it was a good idea to give him a tiny clone, a drastically altered “funny” personality, and a ridiculous new motivation that changed his desires from “hot blonde co-ed” to “world domination.” He’s the Jackal in name only, and yet he’s just as pathetic a villain now as ever. I can’t imagine the people invested in this story, the ones who were dying to know about Ben’s past and whether or not Peter was a clone, cared anything about the Jackal, his annoying clone, or his stupid genetic time bombs. He’s just a distraction that unnecessarily stretches the story out for a few more months. Unfortunately, he won’t be the only one.