With this week's release of "Spider-Man: The Clone Saga," Marvel Comics is reopening the book on what might just be the most '90s comic of all time. And really, despite all the flak they got for replacing Spider-Man with a Johnny-Come-Lately in a sleeveless hoodie, we can honestly say we can see where they were coming from. After all, if you like one Spider-Man, then you oughta love five or six, right?
Still, despite the fact that Spider-Man accounts for about 90% of clones in comics, there are plenty of other genetic duplicates in the longbox, which is why ComicsAlliance contributor Chris Sims has donned his lab coat and mapped out the genomes for eleven of the greatest and strangest clones in comics!
First things first, folks: Spider-Man had a LOT of clones. We've already mentioned the Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly (who briefly took over the Spider-Man identity himself by dying his hair blonde and eking out a living at a coffee shop called the Daily Grind) and CA favorite Kaine (who totally melted dudes' faces with spider-powers that pushed even the absurd boundaries of comic book science), but the craziest of them all was Spidercide. Not just because he was blown up and reanimated, or because he could shapeshift and change his size because apparently Spider-Man didn't already have enough powers, but mainly because his name is Spidercide.
Long before the Clone Saga of the '90s, Dr. Doom zapped up a pair of slightly imperfect duplicates of Spider-Man in the kid-oriented, easy-to-read Spidey Super Stories, which, thanks to panels like the one above, is one of the all-time funniest comics ever printed. Though Webby and Webby-2 only made one appearance before Spidey shattered the magic mirror that created them, we're pretty sure they're still a better idea than making Ben Reilly the "real" Spider-Man.
The Modern Age Superboy, introduced in 1994 as one of Superman's replacements following his short-lived "death," was a clone created from hybrid DNA. It was later revealed that he got his Kryptonian half from Superman and his human half from Lex Luthor, but it's still a mystery which of those genes motivated him to rock the hi-top fade well after "House Party 2" lost its popularity.
Occasionally referred to as "Clor," goldilocks here was engineered by Reed Richards and Tony Stark during the super-hero Civil War, because apparently two of the smartest guys in the world couldn't see any potential problems with making an unstable carbon copy of their dead pal, giving it the power of a Thunder God, and teaching it to blow up super-heroes. In a shocking twist, Clor went nuts and killed Goliath in an act of premeditated symbolism, and later got into a tussle with the recruits of the Initiative that ended up blowing up Stamford.
Judge Dredd keeps the peace in the dystopian, fascist future as Mega City One's toughest lawman--so tough, in fact, that he once met the embodiment of fear itself and punched it right in the face-but like his "brother" Rico, he's actually a clone of Eustace Fargo, the founding father of the Judges. Mysteriously, though all three characters appear in the 1995 "Judge Dredd" movie, they're played by actors that don't really look that much alike. Then again, when you consider that the movie also starred Rob Schneider, this ceases to be its biggest problem.
Why waste time with genetic manipulation when you can create a clone with Lex Luthor's duplicator ray? Because, as we learned from Bizarro, the clone will come out as a creepy mixed-up goofball with polygonal skin that will make even creepier versions of Lois, Jimmy Olsen, and even Krypto the Super-Dog, that's why. In short, Bizarro is a schizophrenic four year-old with all of Superman's powers, which, if you stop to think about it for a minute, makes him the scariest villain of the entire Silver Age.
THE GOBLIN QUEEN
It's never easy to get over the death of a loved one, but Cyclops from the X-Men found it a lot easier to recover from his girlfriend sacrificing her life on the moon when he met -- and married! -- Madelyne Pryor, who just happened to look exactly like Jean Grey. She later became the villanous Goblin Queen and it was revealed that she was a clone created by Mr. Sinister, but considering that Cyclops ditched Madelyne and their infant son at his earliest opportunity once Jean Grey popped back to life, her heel turn didn't really need the additional motivation.
Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson's Manhunter stories from "Detective Comics" are considered one of the high points of comics in the '70s with a story that pit Paul Kirk, a resurrected Golden Age hero, against an an army cloned from his cells by the sinister Council. Though most of the clones were killed off over the course of the series (which climaxed in a team-up with Batman that ran as the book's main feature that month), one survived and, taking the name Kirk DePaul, joined Kurt Busiek's short-lived super-heroes-for-hire firm, the Power Company.
If you've ever wondered what it would be like if Wolverine was a teenage girl with claws that came out of her feet that was introduced to comics as an underage prostitute and then shuffled around until she ended up on a team that was pretty much entirely made up of people who stab things, then boy, have we got the character for you.
Though they differ in many very, very important ways, Hitler is second only to Spider-Man when it comes to having clones. The most well known is probably Marvel's Hate-Monger, but the one that sticks out in our memories comes from DC's Adventures of the Outsiders, for reasons that we'll let Wikipedia explain:
In Adventures of the Outsiders #33-35, a clone of Hitler is created by Baron Bedlam. Planning to give the clone the same persona as the original, Bedlam gives him a mentally retarded Jewish maid, several films of the Holocaust, and a handgun.
The 1980s were a strange time for comics, folks.
BEN FRANKLIN II
In "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja," the mentor and friend of the title character--a doctor who is also a ninja--is a clone of Ben Franklin whose mission to conquer death itself came to a halt when he was killed by action movie star Franz Rayner, resurrected as a hair-eating zombie, and finally turned into a Headless Horseman by Dracula at his castle on the moon. What we're getting at here is that "Dr. McNinja" is totally awesome.
These ten are our picks for the greatest, but they're just the tip of the genetically identical iceberg! There's the clone of Captain America that the Red Skull put his mind into, Cable's armored nemesis Stryfe, and more! If you've got a favorite, let us know!
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