Appearing in "Truths & Deceptions"
- Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)
- Gwen Stacy Clone (Death)
- Mary Jane Watson-Parker
- Aunt May (Impostor)
Synopsis for "Truths & Deceptions"
This story continues from Amazing Spider-Man #399...
During their confrontation with the Jackal, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider are shocked when a cloning chamber opens up revealing the naked body of Gwen Stacy. The Jackal has claimed that this is the real Gwen Stacy, who he helped cheat death years ago.[Continuity 1] He orders his assistant, a Parker clone named Jack, to bring Gwen some clothes and asks the two Spiders to avert their eyes while the woman gets dressed. However, Spider-Man refuses to believe that this is the real Gwen Stacy and lunges at the Jackal. Before he can beat his foe into submission, his hand is stopped by Gwen Stacy. Revealing that she knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, she begs him to believe that the Jackal's claims are true and that she is the real Gwen. While she asks Peter to hold her, the Jackal recovers from the attack and begins mocking the couple. That's when the Scarlet Spider grabs the Jackal by his jacket and demands that they talk. The Jackal agrees, saying that there is much he could tell the young man and then asks how Aunt May is doing.
At that moment, Mary Jane is visiting Aunt May in the hospital where she is told that May has stabilized but is still in a coma.[Continuity 2] May's physician, Doctor Julia Captuo has also heard that Mary Jane is pregnant and congratulates her on the good news.[Continuity 3] Left alone with May, Mary Jane begs May to come back to her and her husband, Peter Parker.[Continuity 4] Although the words appear to fall on deaf ears, somewhere deep in the mind of Aunt May hears them. Although she is happy to hear that Peter and Mary Jane are expecting a baby and she wishes she could be there, she feels so tired.
Back at the Jackal's lab, the mad scientist gets Ben to really look at Peter and Gwen together. He tells his creation that this could be him. That it could be Ben and Mary Jane, or Ben and Gwen together again. He tells Ben that he feels bad for what he has done, sending him on the five-year path of exile he endured.[Continuity 5] However, this speech is interrupted by Jack, who begs the Jackal to cure him of the degeneration that the other Parker clones have recently been suffering. Furious at being interrupted, the Jackal knocks Jack aside and offers to tell Ben Reilly the truth about who he really is. Meanwhile, Gwen Stacy continues to convince Peter that she is the real Gwen Stacy. However, Spider-Man refuses to believe this as he has been tricked by Warren's clones of Gwen in the past.[Continuity 6] Seeking to expose this deception, Spider-Man begins trashing the Jackal's lab.
Not far away, the Jackal begins whispering in Ben Reilly's ear, trying to convince him that everything he told them earlier was a lie.[Continuity 7] He then tries to convince Ben Reilly that he is really Peter Parker and that Spider-Man is the clone after all. He explains that he used mind control to convince Peter Parker and the clone to think they were the other. Then tricked Spider-Man into thinking his clone was dead and later recovered the body, brainwashed Ben into thinking he was the clone and sending him on his way.[Continuity 8] He then offers to give Ben his "old" life back by the end of the night. As the Jackal makes this offer, Kaine watches from a catwalk above, his anger growing as he hears all of this. Just as the Jackal and the others are unaware of Kaine, Kaine is unaware that he is also under observation by the mysterious Scrier.
Back below, the Jackal continues trying to tempt Ben, telling him that all he has to do is kill Peter and that life will be his. That's when Jack interrupts again, making the Jackal lose his temper. Swatting Jack aside, the Jackal decides that he is also tired of waiting for Ben to make up his mind and attacks him as well. Unlike Jack, Ben Reilly's spider-sense allows him to dodge the Jackal's attacks. He then orders Jack to obscure Ben's vision so he can attack. However, before he can kill Reilly, Spider-Man grabs him from behind and strikes the lunatic. Recovering from the blow, the Jackal then goes back on his word -- saying that Peter Parker is the real Spider-Man, pointing out that he is behaving as the real Spider-Man would. Having heard enough, Spider-Man slams the Jackal into one of his machines. He demands that the mad geneticist admit that he has never created any clones, that these are people transformed by genetic templates, like he was told by the High Evolutionary.[Continuity 9] The Jackal scoffs at this, questioning what the High Evolutionary have to benefit from telling Peter all of this.[Continuity 10] Warren then says that this is beside the point and tells Spider-Man that he is the real Peter Parker, confirms that Ben is the clone, and tells them that they know this in their heart. He then tells Peter to go to Gwen and take back what was always supposed to be his.
He tries to convince Peter to kiss Gwen, that this one thing will convince him, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is actually Gwen Stacy. Even though Gwen claims that she is real and not a clone, the wall-crawler refuses to kiss her. Not because he doesn't want to, but because so much has changed since Gwen died, he has an entirely different life and cannot bring himself to do it. When he apologized to her, Gwen hugs him and tells him not to explain himself. Suddenly, she begins to feel sick. When they take a look at her, they realize that this Gwen Stacy was a clone after all thanks to the telltale markings caused by clone degeneration. The two Spiders watch in horror as the Gwen clone dissolves into a genetic soup on the floor. The two attack the Jackal, demanding to know why he has done all of this. He fends off their attacks and tells the two men that this has all been smoke and mirrors. He once again promises to level with them and tell them the truth. He then reveals that neither Ben or Peter is the real Peter Parker, but clones. Suddenly, he the Jackal passes through a teleportation screen. As the Spider-Men try to break through the barrier, the Jackal tells them that they are failed experiments that must be destroyed and activates the self-destruct sequence of his base. By this time, Jack is looking at the remains of the Gwen Stacy clone and doesn't like what his future has in store for him. As the building begins to self-destruct, Jack decides to help Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider escape the complex before they are killed in the self-destruct sequence. As the pair make their escape, Jack is captured by his master.
The two Spiders manage to escape just moments after the facility explodes. Recovering from the blast, Spider-Man asks the Scarlet Spider if he believes anything the Jackal ever said. Ben tells Peter he is used to being sold nothing but lies and assures Peter that he will grow to get used to it. As the two confused men walk away from the scene, they are unaware that they are being observed by the Jackal and Jack, the former is eager to see where things go next. Also watching this scene is Kaine, who is also being secretly watched by Scrier. Lastly, down below in part of the facility untouched by an explosion, rests an unopened cloning pod.
... The Clone Saga continues in The Spectacular Spider-Man #223.