When you find something that works, it makes sense to try to replicate that success rather than going to the trouble of starting from scratch. That’s why we have fifty seasons of five different versions of Law & Order, and why Disney keeps cranking out reworked versions of movies that have already netted them a fortune.
Well, if replicating success works out so well for movie franchises, why not apply it to people, too? For one thing, it’s highly unethical, but when has that ever stopped a supervillain? Cloning may be a rare and restricted process in the real world, but for your average superhero, it’s almost as common as those movie sequels and remakes. Our heroes never know when the person they bump into on the street will turn out to be their artificial twin — and whether that twin will be out for blood. Because again, cloning is usually a supervillain thing.
Like anybody would, our heroes tend to freak out when they discover their DNA has been repurposed against their will. And when heroes freak out, the fists generally start flying. So for today’s #SuperheroProblems, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the most infamous ways our heroes have reacted to meeting their genetic equals.
Steal Her Husband (Without Knowing It)
After Jean Grey died, Cyclops was heartbroken, convinced he could never love again — until he met Madelyne Pryor, a pilot who just so happened to look a whole lot like the deceased Ms. Grey. They married without realizing that Madelyne was a clone designed specifically to mate with Cyclops and create a super-powerful mutant (the future Cable).
The marriage was not a happy one, as Madelyne felt she and their son came in second place to Cyclops’s X-related activities. So when Jean came back from the dead, Cyclops wasted little time in abandoning his family while failing to tell Jean he even had a family. Things went swiftly downhill from there, culminating in Madelyne becoming the villainous Goblin Queen.
Kon-El was a clone of Superman created to replace the Man of Steel after his apparent demise at the hands of Doomsday. So when Kon-El, AKA Superboy, was himself struck down in battle, it made a weird sort of sense for his friend and teammate Robin to try to clone him back to life.
But after nearly one hundred unsuccessful attempts, in Teen Titans #37, Robin finally has to accept his friend is gone. And then he, uh, smashes the tube with the failed clone in it and makes out with Wonder Girl in the clone sludge. Is this really cheaper than therapy, Rob?
Get Super Pissed
Thor was MIA during the original Civil War event. The pro-registration side thought that was a darn shame, as they really could have used his firepower. So they grabbed a strand of Thor’s hair that Iron Man just happened to have lying around and created a clone.
This clone, informally dubbed Clor, did not exactly do Thor proud. When Thor eventually came back and found that his faux-self had murdered people, you can bet it took quite a long time for him to even consider forgiving Iron Man for the breach of trust.
Throw a Tantrum
Cyborg’s whole thing is that he’s, well, a cyborg: a human man with machinery making up a significant part of his body. Except for this one period in the late ’90s when his soul was transferred into alien armor for reasons. Anyway, that’s not the point.
Nightwing, feeling bad for other reasons that are also not the point, tried to square things by politely asking some Russian scientists to clone Cyborg a new human body. After learning about this in Titans #20, Cyborg was initially angry that Nightwing seemed to be trying to micromanage his life. But he got over that in short order, and his super-alien brain was implanted in his own human body. Guess how long that lasted.
Inspire the Worst Event Ever
In Amazing Spider-Man #149-150, Peter Parker’s creeper biology professor clones him and forces the two Spideys to fight each other. Each is convinced that he is the original Spider-Man, and they end up fighting to the death, with the clone seemingly dying. But the surviving Spidey is still unsure of his identity until his love for Mary Jane convinces him he’s the real deal.
What’s so bad about that? Nothing. In fact, it’s a pretty interesting story. But the fact that the clone later returned under the name Ben Reilly and became the focus of the Clone Saga, which Marvel kept going long after it stopped being interesting in an attempt to generate sales, makes this clone much harsher in hindsight.