This is “How Can I Explain?”, which is a feature spotlighting inexplicable comic book plots.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Stephen D., we look at the strange circumstances behind Ben Reilly’s survival during the original Clone Saga.
While he was obviously not called Ben Reilly at the time or was anything other than just “the Spider-Man Clone,” the character debuted in the middle of Amazing Spider-Man #149 (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito), the climax of the original Clone Saga. Professor Miles Warren, the villainous Jackal, had the two Spider-Man fight each other while a bomb is about to kill Ned Leeds…
Luckily for Ned Leeds, Miles Warren got into the whole cloning business because he was obsessed with Gwen Stacy. Thus, the clone of Gwen Stacy was able to get to Warren by guilting him over how evil he has gotten, which leads to Warren (who had been blaming all of his evil deeds on his secret “Jackal” personality) sacrificing himself to save Ned Leeds before the explosion goes off…
Now, you might say, “Gee, Brian, shouldn’t the two Spider-Men have figured the problem out sooner and just saved the innocent Ned Leeds themselves?” Well…yeah, probably.
Anyhow, in the aftermath of the explosion the Spider-Man clone is killed. However, now the surviving Spider-Man has to wonder, “Am I seriously the real Spider-Man?”
Okay, here’s where it starts to get kind of weird. So the clone is seemingly dead here, right? So Spidey obviously gets the body out of the way, gets Ned Leeds to safety and then we get the first epilogue, where he goes to visit Gwen Stacy’s grave alongside the clone of Gwen Stacy. They part ways, with Peter realizing that he is now fully over Gwen and totally into Mary Jane Watson.
We now get a SECOND epilogue, where Peter returns home to find MJ waiting for him and they likely celebrate their love in a way that couples often do behind closed doors….
So now we have to be talking hours at this point, right? We have to be? And all through this, the seemingly dead Spider-Man clone continues to seem, well, you know, dead!
Now we get AN ENTIRE OTHER ISSUE!
Gerry Conway has left the series, but fill-in writer Archie Goodwin takes over for a single issue in Amazing Spider-Man #150 (art by Gil Kane, Mike Esposito and Frank Giacoia) where Spider-Man visits Dr. Curt Connors to get the lowdown on whether Spider-Man is the real Spidey or not…
As you can see, the tests looked pretty darn exhaustive, right? Not only that, but then Connors tells Spidey that it will be several hours until the results are ready. Spidey then gets into a fight with Alistair Smythe (because how can you have an “anniversary” issue without Smythe involved?).
When Spider-Man finally defeats Smythe and returns to Connors, hours have passed and Connors is asleep with the results of the tests ready (Spidey could have saved a lot of trouble by reading the results, but alas, he just wasted Connors time for nothing)…
So we’re talking pretty much that the night is almost over. It is almost morning. The clone has been seemingly dead since the afternoon (note that it was still daylight when Spider-Man visits the grave of the real Gwen with the Gwen clone) and he still remains seemingly dead.