Amazing Spider-Man #24: This issue just doesn't make a lick of sense, and I say that as someone who read the original Clone Saga. Let's start at the top. First, Ben has become so over-the-top melodramatic that a Bond villain would tell him he's trying too hard. Seriously, he's a mustache and damsel short of being a 1920s silent-film villain. I get we're supposed to believe Warren repeatedly murdering him drove him insane, but why did his insanity just start manifesting itself now? What about the sensible guy we saw in the first two-thirds of this event who just wanted Peter to help him help other people? Where'd he go? My suspension of disbelief became even less willful when Otto steals the only perfect clone from Ben. Otto just so happened to invent only one perfect clone, all without Ben knowing? Ben -- with all his knowledge, as Peter, of Otto's deviousness -- never had Otto show him his plans? Although he had the upper hand with Otto given his control of the pills he had to take, Ben was never like, "Hey, Otto, you're a crafty guy, I'm going to make sure I can access all your research and audit it daily." I guess not. They just don't make geniuses like they used to make 'em. At any rate, Ben manages to get near a Webware device to access Peter's signal, forestalling his disintegration. He retreats to his safe house, an exact replica of Aunt May's house that he had the Miles clones build for him. (Who knew Warren was a brilliant geneticist and an expert carpenter?) Conveniently, it means the real Warren knew where he'd go, and he's there waiting for him. Seriously, I have no idea how it could be the "real" Warren, given how many times he's died in the past. But "Clone Conspiracy" #5 already established some clones survived the Carrion virus, so I guess it doesn't matter if this version of Warren is a clone or the original: suffice it to say, he's alive. That is, he's alive until he sets Ben's perfect little house on fire and then Ben collapses it on top of him. Ben escapes the police who converge on the house, dedicating himself to putting his past behind him. At this stage, even if you buy the completely ridiculous series of events that gets us to this point, it's hard to see how Marvel is going to treat Ben as anything other than a totally bat-shit crazy villain. They're also going to have to explain how he and all the other clones who survived haven't crumbled into dust, though I imagine they'll try to avoid that if they can. Honestly, as much as I love Ben Reilly, I just don't know if I can read his new series. The original sin of this awful event may just be too much.
Prowler #5: As launches to a series go, it's probably not a great idea to reveal in the fifth issue that the main character you've watched whine his way through the series so far was actually a clone of the main character, meaning you won't actually see the main character until issue #6. But, you know what? I won't be here to see it.
IvX #5: As expected, the NuHumans open the door to the X-Men's salvation, as Moon Girl helps Forge miniaturize his invention. They head to Ennilux, apparently an Inhuman city, where they expect Black Bolt's son (who apparently rules there) to provide them with the materials necessary to build the new machine. (I don't know why he'd help them destroy the last remaining Terrigen cloud, but I don't really care at this point.) Separately, Mosaic possesses Emma during the X-Men's attempt to stop the NuHumans, so it seems likely everyone will learn the truth about "Scott's" role in the destruction of the first cloud. That said, the X-Men are now trying to do what "Scott" was trying to do then, so I'm not sure why the truth would matter. It's hard to see how some sort of deus ex machina isn't going to resolve this event, with only one issue left, but I feel like we all knew we'd be here, didn't we?
Captain America: Steve Rogers #12: Slowly but surely, Spencer is really starting to sell me on this story. He's built it layer by layer, and it might be the most exciting one on the shelves because it's so difficult to predict where it's going. At first, it seems like Taskmaster's video is going to get broadcast publicly after he offers it to Maria Hill as a way for her to get back her old job. (Brilliant.). But, then, Madame Hydra captures them and reveals herself to be Elisa Sinclair! (Brilliant-er!) In the past, Helmut reveals to Cap that Elisa is a traitor to HYDRA, though it seems unlikely she's betraying HYDRA to the Americans; she seems more like the type trying to keep the organization pure and running afoul of the leadership in so doing. Moreover, Dr. Selvig is surprised by Helmut embracing Steve's story about their past friendship, and he starts to realize Kobik could be involved in this "secret history." In other words, several of the wheels seem to be coming off the bus at the same time, and it's an open question if Steve is going to manage to get where he wants to be before it's too late.
Thunderbolts #10: Damn it, Marvel. Stop making me like this series. I'm only reading it because of its connection to "Captain America: Steve Rogers" and because Atlas is adorable. (Wait, did I say that aloud?)
Black Panther #11: I'm not sure if Coates meant it this way, but we wind up getting a pretty solid lesson in the advantages that come with enjoying entrenched power. T'Challa is able to summon the ghosts of past leaders of Wakanda and uses them as an army, overwhelming Tetu. He also used his technological superiority to broadcast Changamire's appeal to the rebels to put aside their hate, winnowing down Tetu's army significantly. In the end, regardless of the nobility of his cause, T'Challa wins because he has all the tools a King needs to win, an advantage Tetu can't overcome. T'Challa needs to realize this truth; if he and Shuri are given this opportunity to put aside the mistakes of their past and heal Wakanda, they'll only succeed if they acknowledge how their power is the problem and solution at the same time.
Detective Comics #951: Tynion adds evidence to Snyder's argument that Batman is actually a fucking moron as it appears Colonel Kane was right: the League of Shadows not only exists, but Shiva appears to runs it. Shiva comes to Gotham after capturing a Colony team sent to eliminate her three months earlier. The head of the team tells her Batman (or, more accurately, Tim) prevented their attempt to eliminate the League in Gotham and they're now unable to return there. She informs an underling that this information changes "everything," though we're not show why it did so in this issue. In Gotham, she goes directly after Batman, framing him for the assassination of Mayor Hady. (!) Then, as they're reporting that story, two news anchors are killed by Joker gas, though Shiva's hand is pretty obvious behind this event. Batman and the team deploy to Adams Square, where Jokerized citizens are attacking each other. However, the citizens go from Jokerized to Shadowized almost immediately. Again, it's unclear why Shiva is acting now and what her aim is, but we'll obviously learn both those things soon enough. In the meantime, Bruce is probably going to have to admit his insistence (repeated again this issue) the League of Shadows doesn't exist is getting more and more difficult to believe.
Occupy Avengers #4: This issue is OK. I don't really understand why Walker repeated the same parts of Nightshade's monologue throughout it; he clearly had a specific impact in mind, but the only one I felt was tedium. I also still don't understand why Nighthawk hates Clint; I'm left to assume it's due to an altercation that occurred in his series. (Really, Alanna? No editor's note?) But, it's fun to watch Hawkeye try to explain to Nick Fury why Ronald Reagan isn't President, so I guess that part is a plus. Also, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to discover Nick Fury, Jr. is even alive, for how little we've seen of him over the last few months. I like this series, but I keep expecting there to be more to the stories. For example, it seemed like we were setting up the Fireheart brothers spending some time on the road with Clint and Red Wolf, but instead they just stayed in New Mexico. We also seemed ready to learn all about Nighthawk's beef with Clint, but then Clint just takes his sidekick and leaves. In other words, both arcs of this series so far felt like they should've been three or four issues each, not two issues each. I'm not sure what Walker's rush is, but I'm OK with us slowing down a bit so we can fully explore the pretty great concepts he's putting out here.
Spider-Gwen #17: OMG, this script could not have gotten more awkward if you added...well, if you added another teenager to the mix. I mean "awkward" in the best possible way, because Latour really ups the ante when he has Ms. Marvel stumble upon Miles getting all confessionally close to Gwen. Awesomesauce, as the kids would say. (I'm also pretty sure Miles was delayed in following Gwen and Kamala not because dogs smelled the egg salad on his pants but because he had to...wait...for things to...simmer down. Latour totally wanted us to think that, right?) In terms of the plot, I feel like it's either deceptively simple or I'm missing something significant. As I understand it, the S.I.L.K. agents, led by Earth-65 Jefferson, are trying to steal enough Earth-616 equipment and batteries to sell on their Earth to fund their own dimension-hopping watches. But, Gwen made it sound like they needed Earth-65 Reed to build said watches. Would he really build such a watch for S.I.L.K.? Or, he wouldn't, and S.I.L.K. is trying to build their own watch? But it's not going well because they don't have Reed? And that's why they can't control the watches? Maybe? Eh, who cares? More awkward adolescent adoration!
Uncanny Avengers #20: The story Duggan is telling here really reminds me of Remender's original run on this title. His sprawling (in the best sense of the term) Kang story was truly epic, involving a lot of supporting characters from across the Marvel Universe without forcing us to buy separate mini-series or tie-in issues. (I'm looking at you, Dan Slott.) In the latest installment of Duggan's epic, Wade goes to war with the Skull, as his immunity to telepathy makes him the only person capable of getting past Professor X's power. It's the culmination of this entire series, as Remender's "Red Shadow" arc opened this title. As Deadpool and his bros fight their way to the Skull, we get some stellar moments from Spider-Man, from a number of great quips to his legitimate panic at the Skull's threat to harm Johnny Storm. (He's too pretty to hurt, the way Larraz draws him. I swear the colorist invented a new shade of blond for his hair.) But, Duggan also gives Wade some honest-to-goodness emotions here, as he gets increasingly nervous as events spiral into chaos. I don't know where we're going, but I legitimately can't wait. If not you're reading this one, pick up the last few issues and get ready for a roller-coaster ride.
Also Read: Avengers #4.1; Batgirl #8; Champions #1.MU; Extraordinary X-Men #19; Mighty Captain Marvel #2; Pathfinder: Worldscape #5