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  1. #1

    Default Revisiting the Clone Saga for its 25th Anniversary

    Newsarama had an interview with Tom DeFalco, Terry Kavanaugh and Howard Mackie on the 25th anniversary of the clone saga.

    https://www.newsarama.com/48385-spid...-turns-25.html

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Until the Clone Saga, Spider-Man's continuity was on the realistic side.
    -- No characters came back from death,
    -- Nobody said 20 years of stories didn't happen,
    -- Stories progressed organically, logically, coherently. There was growth and progression.

    The Clone Saga destroyed that forever.

    That is it's chief lasting important contribution. It took everything that made Spider-Man special, which still distinguished it among other comics in Marvel and DC, and threw it into the trash. The Clone Saga made Spider-Man like any other superhero comic.

    Pity-driven think-pieces reconstructing the Clone Saga need to address that and own up to that before anything else. I am glad that Tom Defalco at least in this article is pushing back on this nostalgia.

    Writers like Kavanagh especially should...well, take some responsibility for that. Instead, there's blame passed around at management and others, and never to himself. Kavanagh blathers again about how hard he found it to write the marriage, which I would buy if there was ever a moment he proved capable of writing a decent Spider-Man comic, married or unmarried based on his published stuff.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Until the Clone Saga, Spider-Man's continuity was on the realistic side.
    -- No characters came back from death,
    -- Nobody said 20 years of stories didn't happen,
    -- Stories progressed organically, logically, coherently. There was growth and progression.

    The Clone Saga destroyed that forever.

    That is it's chief lasting important contribution. It took everything that made Spider-Man special, which still distinguished it among other comics in Marvel and DC, and threw it into the trash. The Clone Saga made Spider-Man like any other superhero comic.
    Well, that's an extreme over-exaggeration.

    Mind you, the Clone Saga drove me away from reading ASM for years so I'm no fan of it - although time has allowed me to regard with curiosity rather than hostility.

    It was a storyline that got away from its creators and a story that suffered from its own sales success, ballooning into something unwieldy.

    But to blame it for ruining Spider-Man is way over the top.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Until the Clone Saga, Spider-Man's continuity was on the realistic side.
    Debatable. And, Clone Saga or no, time itself would have rendered Spidey's continuity unrealistic eventually.

    His continuity had the illusion of being realistic for awhile simply because not much time had passed so it was easy to accept that Peter had grown from a teen to a twentysomething in semi-realistic fashion. But once we got past thirty years or so of comic continuity, Peter's perpetual youth would obvious be a gift of "Marvel Time."

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    -- No characters came back from death,
    I would count the Gwen clone as a character coming back from the death. She existed solely because Stan wanted to appease fans outraged by Gwen's death.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    -- Nobody said 20 years of stories didn't happen,
    They still don't. All the marriage stories happened, just without the marriage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    -- Stories progressed organically, logically, coherently. There was growth and progression.
    That might be your perception but, in reality, stories were often dictated by editorial decree before the Clone Saga. The marriage, for example.

    And whatever growth Peter experienced was still always dictated by a need to maintain a status quo, just as it is now.

    The Clone Saga is certainly a mess but it's a fascinating mess and did nothing to permanently damage ASM.

    I know there's many fans who initially got hooked on Spidey thanks to this storyline so, in that regard, some good came out of it.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    But to blame it for ruining Spider-Man is way over the top.
    The Clone Saga ruining Spider-Man was the widespread opinion at the end of the 90s and is the overall opinion across the industry. To the extent that it's not, it's because OMD displaced it. But we wouldn't have OMD without the Clone Saga.

    Debatable. And, Clone Saga or no, time itself would have rendered Spidey's continuity unrealistic eventually.
    There's a difference between sliding timescale and large-scale retcons. There's a difference between Jean Grey and Scott being always in the 20s, and the retcon in the 80s which said that Jean Grey was alive the whole time and it wasn't the real Jean in the Dark Phoenix Saga.

    I would count the Gwen clone as a character coming back from the death.
    The character was explicitly shown to us and told to us to be a clone. It's not the original Gwen who returned. And she's marked as an entirely different character from the original Gwen by the end of the First Clone Saga. That's not even remotely the same thing as Gwen coming back from the dead.I mean if they wanted to really bring Gwen back, the simple thing is to say that the Gwen who died on the bridge was the clone...and this character is in fact the real Gwen (which is what they did with Jean Grey in the Dark Phoenix Saga).

    They still don't. All the marriage stories happened, just without the marriage.
    This is straight-up Orwellian or Trumpian level disingenuous-ness, maybe Putin-level. Fact is they altered the continuity and told people that the stories they read didn't happen the way that people read it. That's changing the continuity and then lying and denying it to readers.

    The Clone Saga started this disgusting gaslighting trick.

    Terry Kavanagh disingenuously going on in this newsarama interview, " everything that had happened over the previous years was real history to our characters" denies the fact that making Peter Parker a clone means that the Peter Parker in stories like "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, The Cat Came Back, The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man, Secret Wars, Kraven's Last Hunt" among others isn't the Peter Parker of AF#15. It means that Felicia Hardy and Mary Jane never had a relationship with the Peter Parker of AF#15. It means that the character that Timothy Harrison met in The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man isn't the Spider-Man of AF#15. Had they succeeded it would have robbed all emotion from those stories and that's the biggest reason why Ben Reilly didn't take. There was no audience who wanted to pick up from ASM#148-150. Ben Reilly never romanced Felicia Hardy, so you can't tackle any connections there. Since Peter and MJ entered a relationship in ASM#149, that also means he doesn't have the complicated relationship with her, the marriage with her which made them both grow. Ben Reilly didn't fight Juggernaut, Firelord or Venom. Didn't have any bond with Daredevil during the Death of Jean deWolff (or know Jean DeWolff).

    They failed in doing this. Joining the continuity dots and saying it doesn't affect stuff ignores the emotional center and gravity of the stories and what people cared about. It's treating stories and characters as stuff on an encyclopaedia page and online nerd stats game rather than actual stories and characters that people care about and are invested in.

    Stories like KLH and the original Venom saga among many others simply doesn't make sense without a married Spider-Man. Many of the writers of those stories said the same, with DeMatteis being explicit about this. Telling readers otherwise is just insulting them. It's not respecting readers, it's insulting them. It's lying to them. Kavanagh saying that the Peter of the last 20 years was a clone is likewise insulting readers, it's telling them that the character of the last 20 years isn't the real Peter. It's insulting also to Roger Stern, Defalco, Wein, and Michelinie among others by telling them they didn't write the real Peter Parker.

    The Clone Saga is certainly a mess but it's a fascinating mess and did nothing to permanently damage ASM.
    It in fact did do so. In the immediate short-term it definitely did so. It created a rut in the continuity that didn't end until JMS came in. In the long-term it marked the start of retcon-heavy attempts to rewrite the character and infantilize him and ride roughshod over good storytelling values to do it.
    Last edited by Revolutionary_Jack; 12-28-2019 at 01:27 PM.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    I do get what Jack is saying as it went against the very things that define Spider-Man. Iíve went through it before, and each sub-setting has things that define them such as:

    • Avengers is defined by epic stories involving many characters and elements drawing from different sources.
    • Doctor Strange is defined by its psychedelic and sometimes horror-esque lovecraftian fantasy.
    • X-Men is defined by soap opera-like plots, use of social commentary, and science fiction with occasional magic.
    • Daredevil is defined by the focus the grim and gritty, down and dirty, noir-esque stories with slight mysticism.
    • Fantastic Four is defined by being adventure stories with themes of family, extensive worldbuilding, and the call of something greater.
    • Hulk is defined by his constant struggle both internally with himself, and externally with the outside world.

    Itís important for a universe to feel whole and well-written, while unique depending on the perspective, otherwise the experience would just be the same across the board.

    Then thereís Spider-Man, who is defined by being the corner where realism reigns; Spidey struggles with the mundane, characters develop, dead is dead, and the status quo changes have actual and meaningful consequences. One may not like it, but it's understood and agreed that they shouldn't just throw it all away. There was a definite science-fiction element, but it was perceived through the eyes of the mundane, and nowhere near as embraced to a fantastical degree of the other titles.

    Clone Saga just pissed on all that, and what Spidey is about, on top of just being a bad time for the comics in general. I wish more creators were willing to take responsibility instead of shifting blame.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    I do get what Jack is saying as it went against the very things that define Spider-Man. I’ve went through it before, and each sub-setting has things that define them such as:

    • Avengers is defined by epic stories involving many characters and elements drawing from different sources.
    • Doctor Strange is defined by its psychedelic and sometimes horror-esque lovecraftian fantasy.
    • X-Men is defined by soap opera-like plots, use of social commentary, and science fiction with occasional magic.
    • Daredevil is defined by the focus the grim and gritty, down and dirty, noir-esque stories with slight mysticism.
    • Fantastic Four is defined by being adventure stories with themes of family, extensive worldbuilding, and the call of something greater.
    • Hulk is defined by his constant struggle both internally with himself, and externally with the outside world.

    It’s important for a universe to feel whole and well-written, while unique depending on the perspective, otherwise the experience would just be the same across the board.

    Then there’s Spider-Man, who is defined by being the corner where realism reigns; Spidey struggles with the mundane, characters develop, dead is dead, and the status quo changes have actual and meaningful consequences. One may not like it, but it's understood and agreed that they shouldn't just throw it all away. There was a definite science-fiction element, but it was perceived through the eyes of the mundane, and nowhere near as embraced to a fantastical degree of the other titles.

    Clone Saga just pissed on all that, and what Spidey is about, on top of just being a bad time for the comics in general. I wish more creators were willing to take responsibility instead of shifting blame.
    Agreed with this.

    Sturgeon's Law applies...not every story in Spider-Man before the Saga was good, not every story during the Clone Saga is bad...but overall to pretend that this is business as usual and that this didn't mark a change is to be pretty disingenuous.

    The entire Clone Saga with its focus on clones, and conspiracies, and cabals, and so on is fundamentally alien to what works with Spider-Man and Peter Parker as a character. The ridiculous amount of stuff that had to be swept under the rug (Peter hitting MJ, Peter taking Jackal's hand when he plots genocide on the human race, Baby May) simply can't be swept or sentimentalized into some nostalgic halo. This stuff had consequences, and negative ones.
    Last edited by Revolutionary_Jack; 12-28-2019 at 01:42 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    This is straight-up Orwellian or Trumpian level disingenuous-ness, maybe Putin-level. Fact is they altered the continuity and told people that the stories they read didn't happen the way that people read it. That's changing the continuity and then lying and denying it to readers.

    The Clone Saga started this disgusting gaslighting trick.

    Terry Kavanagh disingenuously going on in this newsarama interview, " everything that had happened over the previous years was real history to our characters" denies the fact that making Peter Parker a clone means that the Peter Parker in stories like "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, The Cat Came Back, The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man, Secret Wars, Kraven's Last Hunt" among others isn't the Peter Parker of AF#15. It means that Felicia Hardy and Mary Jane never had a relationship with the Peter Parker of AF#15. It means that the character that Timothy Harrison met in The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man isn't the Spider-Man of AF#15. Had they succeeded it would have robbed all emotion from those stories and that's the biggest reason why Ben Reilly didn't take. There was no audience who wanted to pick up from ASM#148-150. Ben Reilly never romanced Felicia Hardy, so you can't tackle any connections there. Since Peter and MJ entered a relationship in ASM#149, that also means he doesn't have the complicated relationship with her, the marriage with her which made them both grow. Ben Reilly didn't fight Juggernaut, Firelord or Venom. Didn't have any bond with Daredevil during the Death of Jean deWolff (or know Jean DeWolff).

    They failed in doing this. Joining the continuity dots and saying it doesn't affect stuff ignores the emotional center and gravity of the stories and what people cared about. It's treating stories and characters as stuff on an encyclopaedia page and online nerd stats game rather than actual stories and characters that people care about and are invested in.

    Stories like KLH and the original Venom saga among many others simply doesn't make sense without a married Spider-Man. Many of the writers of those stories said the same, with DeMatteis being explicit about this. Telling readers otherwise is just insulting them. It's not respecting readers, it's insulting them. It's lying to them.
    You can still read any old story and enjoy it exactly as it was written. Nothing that happened after can negate that. KLH still is the same story that it always was. I re-read issues featuring a married Peter and MJ all the time and I never read these stories with the mind set that, well, I have to imagine that they're not married or that this scene or that must never have happened.

    All those stories still exist with a married Spidey.

    Yes, according to current continuity, the characters don't remember it that way but as readers we certainly do so there's nothing to prevent us from reading those stories in their original form and enjoying them exactly as they were intended.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    It in fact did do so. In the immediate short-term it definitely did so. It created a rut in the continuity that didn't end until JMS came in.
    As I've gotten older, I've realized that one person's rut is another person's favorite era. When you have a character that's in continuous publication in a never-ending, open narrative, you have to realize not all of it is going to appeal to you, personally. There will be whole patches that are just unpalatable to you while being the root of someone else's fandom.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    You can still read any old story and enjoy it exactly as it was written. Nothing that happened after can negate that. KLH still is the same story that it always was. I re-read issues featuring a married Peter and MJ all the time and I never read these stories with the mind set that, well, I have to imagine that they're not married or that this scene or that must never have happened.
    I am talking about overall continuity. Individual stories will always endure regardless of whatever external stuff.

    ASM#400 by J. M. Dematteis endures as a great story and one of the best single-issues regardless of being written during the Clone Saga, regardless of the mean-spirited retcon that came later. None of that takes away from the story.

    The truth is Marvel's very much about continuity. It's an article of faith that the characters we read originate from 1962. Until the Clone Saga that was honored in both spirit and letter, after that, not so much.The lack of continuity and ignorance or outright hostility towards it as shown by some Marvel writers and others, actively spits on that.

  10. #10
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    I'm not sure I would've been as into Spidey as I was as a kid if not for the Clone Saga. Those initial issues hooked me completely.

    Everyone has their opinions on it, obviously; but it gave us Ben and Kaine, so you'll never see me wishing it away.

    -Pav, who's never seen Spidey "ruined" in his 25ish years of Spidey reading...
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Until the Clone Saga, Spider-Man's continuity was on the realistic side.
    -- No characters came back from death,
    -- Nobody said 20 years of stories didn't happen,
    -- Stories progressed organically, logically, coherently. There was growth and progression.

    The Clone Saga destroyed that forever.

    That is it's chief lasting important contribution. It took everything that made Spider-Man special, which still distinguished it among other comics in Marvel and DC, and threw it into the trash. The Clone Saga made Spider-Man like any other superhero comic.

    Pity-driven think-pieces reconstructing the Clone Saga need to address that and own up to that before anything else. I am glad that Tom Defalco at least in this article is pushing back on this nostalgia.

    Writers like Kavanagh especially should...well, take some responsibility for that. Instead, there's blame passed around at management and others, and never to himself. Kavanagh blathers again about how hard he found it to write the marriage, which I would buy if there was ever a moment he proved capable of writing a decent Spider-Man comic, married or unmarried based on his published stuff.
    I recent revisited the Clone Saga to see if it I still felt the same way I did as a kid when it was unfolding in the titles. My response was mixed. I feel that the first half of the Clone Saga is pretty decent stuff overall (I'd say everything leading up to and including Amazing #400).

    But then it went off the rails pretty quick by introducing more clones, more twists and endless plots that ultimately went nowhere (half of which had to be explained away in books other than the 4 main titles).

    Like other editorial departments at Marvel during that time, the Spidey office was under pressure to come up with a storyline to rival Knightfall and The Death Of Superman. They were at a total loss for ideas and the floor was open to suggestions. Kavanagh blurted out that they should bring the clone back (he has since said it was meant as a joke). The one who really pushed for it was Dematteis.

    Nobody else wanted to do it. But they couldn't come up with anything else. They felt Spider-man had become too dark and he needed a reset. But those same writers were the ones who made Peter depressing to begin with.

    Still, what we got is heads and shoulders above the other ideas being thrown about. My personal favourite is that Scrier was going to be revealed as Mephisto and that he was engaged in a game with Judas Traveller about good vs evil in which Ben/Peter's actions were going to determine who won. That idea got shot down because Mephisto was deemed to be way out of Spider-mans wheelhouse. Oh, the irony lol.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Somecrazyaussie View Post
    Like other editorial departments at Marvel during that time, the Spidey office was under pressure to come up with a storyline to rival Knightfall and The Death Of Superman.
    I think that may have been how some saw it, but Kavanagh and others didn't. Kavanagh outright wanted to nullify the Peter Parker that existed then and bring in Ben Reilly as the One True Peter. That very motivation is the reason why this story is so corrosive.

    That's completely against the premise of Knightfall and Death of Superman. Neither of those events were nullifications of the Superman and Batman of that time, in fact they are tragic vindications of those characters. Nobody had any intent to remove Bruce and Clark forever or say that the Bruce and Clark we follow weren't the real ones. Whereas the intent of the Clone Saga was to nullify Peter and replace him.

    The weird thing about this DC-envy is that Knightfall and Death of Superman is DC following in on what happened with Kraven's Last Hunt (which is the real Death of Superman and Return of Superman for Spider-Man) and Venom (who is basically Azrael and the Eradicator and other Superman anti-heroes that showed in that event). So they had already done the stuff that DC did before in Spider-Man years back which makes Clone Saga's entire project even more redundant.

    The other problem with the Clone Saga as compared to OMD is that Clone Saga was conceived as a means to an end...i.e. they wanted a single Peter to do more stories with but they got bogged down in an event overly long and convoluted to get there. Whereas OMD, being run by smarter crooks, pulled of its heist since its brain-dead story was done in a short story arc and then they got to splurging their loot in Monaco away from the law, whereas the Clone Saga never made it to the getaway car.

  13. #13
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    Well, it was interesting to hear the creative minds give their thoughts on the subject.
    Doctor Strange: "You are the right person to replace Logan."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    I think that may have been how some saw it, but Kavanagh and others didn't. Kavanagh outright wanted to nullify the Peter Parker that existed then and bring in Ben Reilly as the One True Peter. That very motivation is the reason why this story is so corrosive.

    That's completely against the premise of Knightfall and Death of Superman. Neither of those events were nullifications of the Superman and Batman of that time, in fact they are tragic vindications of those characters. Nobody had any intent to remove Bruce and Clark forever or say that the Bruce and Clark we follow weren't the real ones. Whereas the intent of the Clone Saga was to nullify Peter and replace him.

    The weird thing about this DC-envy is that Knightfall and Death of Superman is DC following in on what happened with Kraven's Last Hunt (which is the real Death of Superman and Return of Superman for Spider-Man) and Venom (who is basically Azrael and the Eradicator and other Superman anti-heroes that showed in that event). So they had already done the stuff that DC did before in Spider-Man years back which makes Clone Saga's entire project even more redundant.

    The other problem with the Clone Saga as compared to OMD is that Clone Saga was conceived as a means to an end...i.e. they wanted a single Peter to do more stories with but they got bogged down in an event overly long and convoluted to get there. Whereas OMD, being run by smarter crooks, pulled of its heist since its brain-dead story was done in a short story arc and then they got to splurging their loot in Monaco away from the law, whereas the Clone Saga never made it to the getaway car.
    Accounts differ on the intentions. They were absolutely dead set on having Ben replace Peter at one point (Glenn Greenberg recounts this in The Life Of Reilly blog). Then there was a change in spidey editors. Then Marvel got restructured and Defalco was out as EiC. Then Harras became sole EiC. So the storyline and its ultimate intentions were always up in the air (hence why DeMatteis and Jurgens left).

    I wouldn't say it was envy on the writers behalf. The Marketing Department had total control over Marvel's output around that time. They saw the big numbers from what DC was doing and wanted to cash in with events of their own. People involved with Marvel at the time have all been consistent in the view Marketing were the ones dictating how storylines were conceived and written (in this case extending the Clone Saga well beyond its natural lifespan).

    I also think there was added pressure for other titles to be successful because of how well the X-Men line was doing. Over there they had been doing annual "events" every year. Spidey had just come off an event with Maximum Carnage when the Clone Saga was being planned and the spidey office was in no rush to do another so soon. But sales dictated otherwise.

    Well, they definitely thought having a single Spider-man would open up more narrative possibilities (I disagree with that since you can do stuff with married couples). The Clone Saga allowed them to have their cake and eat it. On one hand, Peter stays married to MJ and they go off into the sunset. On the other, you have a Clone of Peter who is the exact same apart from living a different life for 5 years and is unattached. I can see the reasoning. But they should have known replacing him wasn't going to work. Not with a character that entrenched in the public's mind's eye.

    And true, OMD got away with it because it was shorter and only did away with the marriage. If The Clone Saga would have been successful, Peter's entire supporting cast would have been replaced with those at The Daily Grind. At best, the Clone Saga should have lasted a year as they had multiple titles to cross it over with (5 if you count Unlimited). It just went on far too long and everything they did to extended it was more idiotic than the one before.

    Defalco and Mackie's Clone Saga from 09 isn't perfect, but it got the storyline done in 6 issues.

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Somecrazyaussie View Post
    Accounts differ on the intentions.
    Mackie and Defalco point this out in that newsarama interview where they note it's like Rashomon since everyone has different ideas.

    I can see the reasoning. But they should have known replacing him wasn't going to work. Not with a character that entrenched in the public's mind's eye.
    The real thing is that the Spider-Man they were nullifying from 1975-1996 is the period where the character had his highest sales in its entire publication history. Where the character had his peak in popularity and comics' sales, where he ended up displacing Superman's comics in terms of sales.

    There was no market for the Spider-Man they wanted in place of the one that worked.

    If The Clone Saga would have been successful, Peter's entire supporting cast would have been replaced with those at The Daily Grind.
    That's the thing Ben Reilly's popularity by itself discredited the entire thing. Ben Reilly was supposed to be Peter Parker, they planned to switch over but the longer he was known as Ben Reilly, the longer he had that red hair and so on...the longer he became established as Peter's sidekick rather than the original Spider-Man.

    I don't care much for Ben Reilly to be honest. I think the concept of Peter seeing a clone of himself as his brother or his close male friend...makes him a touch narcissistic. Quite aside from the big ask of whether you can get over the idea of a clone as a human being and valid character in his own right.

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