Ah, the Spider-Man Clone Saga. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, occasionally ugly, it not only contained some of the highest heights and lowest lows of the nearly 60-year-old Spider-Man comic but it introduced an entire line of characters probably only rivaled by Spidey’s other group of frenemies, the Symbiotes. Some were great and others … questionable.
All the clones (at least in the 616 continuity) can trace their origins back to one man: Professor Miles Warren. Warren was a biology professor and mentor to both Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy at the fictional Empire State University. Warren harbored a romantic obsession for Gwen and when she was killed at the hands of the Green Goblin, he snapped. Warren not only attempted to “resurrect” Stacy via DNA samples she had donated as part of a class experiment, he sought to do the same with Peter Parker in an attempt to avenge himself against his former student, who he blamed for Stacy’s death. After killing his assistant, Warren took on a criminal identity of his own, The Jackal. And then he made a lot of clones. Like a whole lot. Let’s count ’em down from worst to best.
If at first you don’t succeed, clone, clone again. Warren’s first attempts to clone Peter were not exactly perfect, it was later revealed. As he tampered with the strains of Parker DNA he ended up with some “interesting” results, including an over-muscled version of Peter with a power level that far exceeded Spider-Man’s and resembled Conan the barbarian more than he resembled Peter Parker.
Thankfully, Guardian suffered from an accelerated cellular generation syndrome and died soon after he was released to attack Peter.
More or less born out of the same batch of DNA soup as Guardian, Jack was a more successful version of Peter. Though he was imperfect, and like Guardian would deteriorate over time — albeit more slowly — Jack became The Jackal’s right hand eventually, due to possessing the same scientific intellect as the real Peter Parker. However, he would eventually betray his master in order to save Spider-Man.
Yes, you read that right. Spidercide is totally a thing and it’s totally a Peter Parker clone. Spidercide was almost a blueprint for how to make an extremely Xtra 90s comic book supervillain with his edgelord name and his goopy molecular shapeshifting ability coupled with, of course, Deadpool-style nigh-invulnerability (not to mention the costume design).
Spidercide also repped for the 90s excess of taking a thing that had worked (a Spider-Man clone), putting it on steroids, and giving it a slightly different paint job. The Character would probably be at the bottom of the list were it not for the current Ben Reilly: Spider-Man series by Jim DeMatteis that’s actually making the character compelling for the first time.
7. Ultimate Scorpion
The next three clones are all out of the reimagined Ultimate continuity as written by Brian Michael Bendis. The Scorpion is the first to be encountered by the Ultimate version of Peter Parker and, while he was easily defeated, the twist that he was another Peter Parker was Ultimate Spidey’s first clue that someone was up to clone-y shenanigans.
6. Ultimate Tarantula
Pursuing The Scorpion Clone, Peter encounters a black-suited other version of himself with multiple arms and venomous fangs. His genetic modifications were added to him by his creator, the Ultimate version of Doctor Octopus, who later destroys The Tarantula.
5. Ultimate Carnage
Completing the hat trick is the villain Carnage. In Ultimate continuity he isn’t just another, badder, Symbiote though, but a result of Doctor Curt Connors combining Parker’s DNA and the Venom Symbiote, creating a highly dangerous clone that takes center-stage in one of Ultimate Spider-man’s most disturbing storylines.
Amalgam Comics was a collaboration between Marvel and DC that featured mash-ups of their most popular characters in the mid-90s. Readers got to see a Batman/Wolverine combo, a Superman/Captain America combo, and even a clone combo featuring original clone Ben Reilly with DC’s popular Cal Kent Superboy clone. And because it was the 90s, he of course got a regulation leather jacket and garter- style holster for his web gun. Thanks, Rob Liefeld!
3. Ultimate Spider-Woman / Jessica Drew
Not to be confused with the Spider-Woman/Drew of 616 continuity, Ultimate Spider-Woman is, yep!, another Peter Parker clone. Like most of the Ultimate clones, she was created to be a form of government super-soldier but unlike them, she actually believes that with great power comes great responsibility. She ends up becoming an ally of Ultimate Spidey and joining S.H.I.E.L.D which, technically, is still working for the government, right?
2. Kaine Parker
Our last two entries are the fan-favorite clones of all time. Both are results of The Jackal’s original experiment. Kaine (as in the biblical “Cain”) was Warren’s first “successful” clone of Peter Parker but he rapidly deteriorated into a deformed and mentally unstable version of Parker and was ultimately discarded.
Kaine went through a long period as a Spider-man antagonist but when he relocated to Houston, Texas, and took up his “brother” Ben Reilly’s mantle as The Scarlet Spider, he quickly became a favorite of Spider-Fans and is easily the second-most successful clone of the saga.
1. Ben Reilly
Ben (named for Uncle Ben, obviously) was the “original” clone, the very same clone Spider-Man that the original faced off with waaaay back in the original 1975 clone storyline. Ben was one of the main characters of the ’90s clone saga and a fan favorite due to his turn as the hoodie-sporting alt-Spidey, the original Scarlet Spider. Ben’s had his ups and downs over the years at the hands of various creators but is riding — or swinging — high again in the pages of Ben Reilly: Spider-Man by J.M. DeMatteis, David Baldeon, Israel Silva, and VC’s Joe Caramagna. If we see a Spidey clone in the MCU, the best money says it’s Ben.