Spider-Man's Clone Saga is to Marvel Comics what World War II is to Germany -- they try their best to pretend they never did something so awful, because that's the only way to continue living. What makes this particular evil scheme so horrible is that it didn't happen on a single issue: It took place over 20 years of Spider-Man comics. It all started in a 1975 issue where a mad scientist creates a perfect duplicate of Spidey:
"I'M GOING TO PUNCH--"
The clone turns out to be a pretty fly dude, (since he was a perfect duplicate and all) but he still ends up dead by next issue. That would've been the end of the story, if 20 years later Spider-Man writers hadn't decided to shake things up by bringing back the clone ... and revealing that he was actually the original.
Peter himself did a blood test and confirmed this. So, basically, Spidey fans had been buying The Amazing Spider-Clone for the past 20 years, without their knowledge. The Spider-Man who dated Mary Jane, got married, and fought guys like Venom? Sorry, that was a fake. The original had become a drifter, presumably surviving by performing sex acts on other hobos. Now that the truth was out, Peter Parker retired from web-slinging while the original (who had adopted the name Ben Reilly) became Spider-Man once again.
Shockingly, readers weren't thrilled about this development, because apparently having your childhood heroes shat upon isn't popular. So after a year or so in which Ben Reilly was Spider-Man, the writers had to come up with a way to explain everything away, and they did this by revealing that the whole thing had been part of an evil scheme by the Green Goblin ... who was supposed to be dead at the time, but that's the least-confusing part of this story.
This sentence goes on for 20 pages.
It turns out the Goblin came back to life right after his death in a classic Spidey comic way back in 1972. Feeling pretty ticked off over the whole "dying" thing, he devised a long plan to torture Spider-Man psychologically by making him doubt himself (as if he didn't do that already in every issue). The first thing he did was order a clone of Peter Parker: not an evil clone, but an exact duplicate with all his memories and abilities and that same urge to fight evil while making bad puns. So the Goblin enacted his revenge by... doubling his own enemies.
But that's just part one of the plan. Part two involves having Spider-Man meet the clone, letting it become a drifter for a few years, arranging his return to New York and rigging some blood tests to convince Peter that the other guy is the original.
What happened to "breaking his legs"?
To what end? Causing Spider-Man mental stress and hoping he develops an ulcer, apparently. But wait -- doesn't Spider-Man sort of hate his job? If there's another one out there, then Peter can just retire and live happily with his wife ... which is exactly what he did. Even better: If he's not the real Peter this means he's not technically responsible for the death of Uncle Ben, which is the source of every bad thing that's happened in his life. Instead of tormenting Spider-Man, the Goblin made him happy for the first time since he was a kid. Brilliant plan!
Peter eventually learns he's the real thing and gets back into the crime-fighting game, meaning that the only real result that the Goblin got from this plan was giving Spider-Man a much-deserved vacation. If only more supervillains were so considerate.
There's plenty more baffling plot holes to laugh at in our new book!
To read about more Supervillan stupidity, check out The 5 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Murder Plots in Movies.