Spider-Man Revisited: Lifetheft, Clone Saga Part 1

Posted September 30, 2013 by Beau Roth in Comic Books

I started reading comics when i was about 10 years old in 1992, my father wanted me reading anything so he took me to my local comic shop & purchased all these number 1’s, thinking they would all be worth something and also what’s a better place to start then number 1’s?

A lot of these were IMAGE comics like “Supreme”, “Maxx” etc but in that pile he had also purchased “The Death of Superman”, “Venom: Lethal Protector” and 1 “Marvel Tales Featuring Spider-Man” reprinting an old issue. Out of all those books, The Death of Superman and Venom grabbed me – I guess it was the darkness that attracted me, I had always been a drama queen growing up & from there I started collecting my first 2 series. Superman and Venom…..quite the contrast.

I followed Superman all through his funeral, Reign and Return but being so young, i could only afford to follow 1 hero. As much as I loved Superman, the rivalry between Venom/Eddie Brock & Spider-Man/Peter Parker just swept me away. I loved them both in and out and Eddie Brock was the perfect arch nemesis to Pete. From there I was hooked to Peter Parker’s life.

These days its a lot easier to know where a storyline starts and ends but The Clone Saga is one storyline that has a lot of debate because at the time, the writers themselves (I believe) didn’t realize just how many hands this was going to go through. Storylines these days either start at a particular issue and then end on a particular issue and also most of the time have an prologue and/or epilogue. To know when The Clone Saga starts really depends on how much you want to know before the clone (Ben Reilly) actually appears. You could go back for instance to when Peter’s parents mysteriously reappeared but then you’d find yourself going back even further to answer another question. In my opinion, The Clone Sage starts with this issue Amazing Spider-Man #386.

Two years passed and it was 1994. David Michelinie scripted a 3 part story called “Lifetheft” that would kick start a change of everything we knew about Spider-Man/Peter Parker and was also the catalyst for a story that would last over 4 years dubbed “The Clone Saga.” In hindsight, a lot of people did not like it but I’m here to try to change that opinion, with my installments of the story arcs that made this epic journey so awesome.  ‘Lifetheft’ was a 3 part story that debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #386 and the Spider-Man the world knew at the time…was about to be history.

At this point in the Spider-Man timeline, Peter’s parents had made a remarkable return some time ago and even though that opened up a whole lot of questions, they had all been resolved in previous issues and readers accepted they were back and were happy for Peter, the only one not convinced was Aunt May, who had Richard and Mary followed by a private investigator, making Peter question May’s old age.

Amazing Spider-Man #386 opens up with Adrian Toomes a.k.a the Vulture working on a new set of wings he crafted together from bed slats and sheets to make his escape from Ryker’s Island. Over the last few years Adrian had been dying of cancer and wanted that last big score but unfortunately for him, Spider-Man always got in the way. This time Adrian proclaimed “He wont let me die, then I’ll live forever.”

The Vulture had read about this revolutionary equipment that was in the testing stages called the Juvenator mechanism that was designed to take life energy from one source and transfer it to another  – this was Adrian’s first stop on his revenge plan. Coincidentally this was the same place Peter was visiting a Dr Sanchez, inquiring whether Aunt May could possibly have Alzheimer’s. After a battle ensues, this results in the Vulture using Juvenator gauntlets on non other than Spider-Man himself…

Amazing Spider-Man #387: Lifetheft Part 2 has a young and rejuvenated Vulture soar to the skies proclaiming he’s done better than kill Spider-Man – he’s left him to die of old age. With Peter puffing and panting and hardly being able to web swing without pulling a muscle, Adrian is in the skies doing multiple loop-the-loops cackling.

Meanwhile in Mary-Jane’s life, she had an appearance at a shopping mall for her T.V. show where a fan pulls a gun out and attempts to kill her because of something terrible her character did. When MJ comes home to seek support, Peter cannot give it to her because he doesn’t want her to see him so fragile, although a few pages later, the Vulture is old again and Spider-Man’s young.  This means the Vulture needs to use the machine again…and for longer.

Also a mysterious janitor has been lurking around since last issue, where in this installment, he tells the Vulture that he’s much more than what he appears and can help him with his problem, making readers guess at his real identity.

The Vulture then attempts to steal the Juvenator so he can use it with a more permanent affect and when Spider-Man tries to thwart him…we see Dr Sanchez holding a gun up to another Dr Sanchez’ head – letting the Vulture escape. Spider-Man could not stop the fake Sanchez throwing the real one out of a window, letting all the bad guys get away.

This issue ends with Peter realizing just how important family is and decides to tell his parents he is Spider-Man once and for all – only for the last page to show Richard and Mary deciding that now they can kill Peter…Aunt May was right after all.

In Amazing Spider-Man #388: Lifetheft Part 3 – Peter has to battle his parents, the Vulture and the Chameleon resulting in one of the most eventful issues I can ever remember while also making it a milestone in Spider-Man’s history, not seen since the death of Gwen Stacy.  At this point in my reading career, I had never seen Spider-Man fight so hard for what he believes in. Spider-Man had always been the funny hero but there was a change coming and this was nearly 20 years ago, long before anything Superior was coming out. Whilst the battle kept going, what pulled at the heart strings even more was the fact that Peter’s fake mother Mary had been demonstrating genuine emotion towards Peter and did not want to kill him anymore  – so much so, that Mary jumped in the way of the Vulture’s juvenator gauntlets when he tried to attack Peter from behind, sucking the artificial life force from Mary… killing her and leaving the Vulture in a vegetative state. The Chameleon gets away, swearing this isn’t all he’s had in store for Spider-Man and the issue ends with Peter swearing he’ll hunt the Chameleon to the ends of the earth with a look of such determination on his face – I knew I was going to follow that journey. I had no idea what i was in store for…

Issue #388 also featured back up stories starring Venom,  Cardiac and Chance.

It’s my intention to hopefully make readers go back and check out these issues I write about and maybe make people understand why it was so hard for me to let go of continuity. I grew up with these stories and the characters meant the world to me. So when they start making new Venom’s, Vultures etc – I was alone in hating that. Now through my other comic book friends, I’ve finally learned that continuity just doesn’t exist or shouldn’t anymore. (new 52 and all) but its all about choice. Your choice on how you want to remember these stories

Next week : PURSUIT

About the Author

Beau Roth

I live in the comic universe and read about the real world.....