When Amazing Spider-Man #149 first came out and pitted Spider-Man against Spider-Clone, the world of Marvel Fandom was not kind. The story was not well received, the loop-holes and incongruities abounded, and the editors quickly turned their attentions elsewhere.
The appearance of Carrion in Spectacular, around #28, was of course another post-humerous off-shoot of Miles Warren's work, but the Carrion story was superbly executed and well received. Yet, the foolish mortals at Marvel could not help but tinker with clones, and they brought back the clone of Gwen Stacy in the 1989 Spectacular annual.
Encouraged by the ambivalance of the response, when Spider-Man found himself recently floundering - the family man, child of the 60's failing to appeal to Generation X (the market, not the comic) - the clone was ingloriously reborn. The following trail of Clone, Not Clone, Clone, Not Clone, Traveller, Jackal, Seward, Clone, Not Clone, Green Goblin! must have left even the hardened multi-threaded-plot-watchers in a dazed state.
Here then is Marvel's kind response to our confusion - The Osborn Journal. The title is lent some credence by that fact that Osborn's journals have been mentioned many a time, and have served to keep his work alive as the Goblin Torch was handed from villain to madman and back again.
The Osborn Journal is a single narrative, explaining the important details of the twisting thread of the clone saga, and Norman Osborn's part in that tale. Since the decision to bring back the Green Goblin was made late in the piece, it is a tricky task indeed to retroactively engineer Norman's involvement in the events of the clone saga.
The story starts with Amazing #122, with Norman's supposed death, and his subsequent time in Europe. It covers the pivotal details of the careers of the various Hobgoblins, and then turns its hand to the harder task of tying the apparantly independent lives of Scrier, Judas Traveller, Seward Trainer, and Jackal into one consistent story. No mean feat, if it can be achieved!
In fact, it is essentially achieved. Perhaps there are certain inconsistencies, but I myself am glad to see the many tangled threads of this over-long clone mess gathered together at last. If a few strands slip from the bundle, then that is a small price to pay for the closing of the lid on what had become the Pandora's Box of comicdom.
The comic itself is purely a source of information with little artistic component - but to new and old readers alike, it provides a single, definative view of the confusing, conflicting events of the past two years of books.
This is an essential comic. Rated on its historical importance alone, I give it five webs.