Comics
Published December 6, 2022

Copy That: Marvel’s Wildest Clone Stories

Ahead of ‘Dark Web’ #1 grab our refresher on some of the most important clones—and their storylines—in Marvel Comics.

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A battle of the clones in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #404.
A battle of the clones in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #404.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but does that still hold up if you're an exact copy of another living being? For former Spider-Man, now “Chasm,” Ben Reilly and Jean Grey clone Madelyne Pryor, flattery is off the agenda as they prepare to unleash a new INFERNO in DARK WEB (2022) #1. This kickoff issue to the ongoing comics event puts Marvel’s carbon copies in the spotlight as the two most famous clones in Marvel history are brought together by Zeb Wells and Adam Kubert in a story unlike any other. Let’s just say Spider-Man and the X-Men aren’t ready for what’s coming…

[RELATEDWhat You Need to Know for 'Dark Web']

Ahead of DARK WEB, we’ve got you covered on the clones. Here’s our rundown on some of the most important (and kookiest) stories featuring clones in comics that you can read now on Marvel Unlimited.

DOOM'S "SON"

Meet Victor Von Doom the 2nd in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #199.
Meet Victor Von Doom II in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #199.

Though he's far better known for creating robotic duplicates, Doctor Victor Von Doom has also dabbled in a bit of genetic tomfoolery. Back in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #198-199, the leader of Latveria surprised his subjects when he revealed a never-before-seen son creatively named Victor Von Doom the 2nd (though he had appeared a few issues prior starting with issue #193). In issue #198, Doom completed a process that gave his duplicate all of his memories and intended to grant him the complete powers of the Fantastic Four.

Doom kidnapped the Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch to fulfill the latter part of his plan, which brought Mister Fantastic to the small European nation looking to save his family and friends. Reed Richards even teamed up with the local resistance to storm Doom’s castle, interrupting the power transference at hand. But when Doom the Elder attempted to crown his clone, they were stopped by the freed FF. Even worse for the emperor, Doom the 2nd began exhibiting powers, but also a disgust for his creator's hatred for humanity. Elder Doom could not tolerate his copy's perspective, and clone Doom fought with his creator ultimately dying at the hands of his “father.” Adding yet another tragic complex to the complex-ridden Doom.

CAPTAIN SKULL

Red Skull’s transformation in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #350.
Red Skull’s transformation in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #350.

Creating a clone of yourself to enhance your powerbase is one thing, but making a duplicate of your greatest enemy and putting your mind inside of it? That's a feat only the Red Skull has accomplished! After dying in an epic storyline culminating in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #301, the Nazi had ally Arnim Zola place his consciousness inside a perfect replica of Steve Rogers' body, complete with the Super-Soldier Serum.

That was just one part of the Skull's plan, though. He also got involved with a variety of other groups including Power Broker, Inc. and the Watchdogs, all of whom worked to not only destabilize the United States, but specifically target the Sentinel of Liberty. The plan worked as Rogers became so disillusioned with his nation's government that he gave up his famous identity and simply became “The Captain.” But with issue #350, the Red Skull revealed his new face only to have it ultimately transformed into his usual crimson visage. Rogers became Captain America again shortly after, yet the Skull remained in this super-powered body for quite some time.

RISE OF THE GOBLIN QUEEN

Madelyne Pryor learned about her roots as the Goblin Queen in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #241.
Madelyne Pryor learned about her clone roots in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #241.

Few clones have had a rougher go of it than Madelyne Pryor. For quite some time after her UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #168 debut, it was believed that Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops) just had a thing for redheads. Madelyne and Scott got married and even had a kid together, but when Jean Grey returned from her (presumed) death following the PHOENIX SAGA, it was "So long, Madelyne." Eventually, in UNCANNY X-MEN #241 it was revealed that there was no Pryor prior to Mister Sinister creating her in a lab for his own nefarious purpose! (That purpose being a Summers-Grey baby that Sinister wanted for its genetic potential.)

This all came to a head during the INFERNO event when Madelyne had had enough, became the Goblin Queen, and literally made a deal with some demons to turn the Earth into a fiery hellscape. The X-Men stopped her from fulfilling that mission, but she recently resurfaced in HELLIONS (2020) where she lived far removed from Krakoa’s paradise. After taking over one of Sinister’s clone labs, the Goblin Queen threatened to make a Marauders clone army of her own but was killed by Greycrow before that promise could be fulfilled. Denied a mutant resurrection because of her clone origins, Madelyne’s ex-Goblin Prince lover Havok was left to carry the guilt.

[RELATEDMadelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen: Meet the X-Men’s Most Dangerous Clone]

THE INFINITY DOPPELGÄNGERS

The doppelgängers descend in INFINITY WAR (1992) #3.
The doppelgängers descend in INFINITY WAR (1992) #3.

What's better than one clone? A whole army of them! That was just part of the Magus' plan when he sought absolute control over all of reality in INFINITY WAR (1992). As seen in the first few issues of that series event—as well as most of its tie-ins—Magus’ copies could look exactly like the person they were impersonating and mimic their abilities, but could also take on a more monstrous look.

Magus used alternate reality versions of Cosmic Cubes to create these doppelgängers who wreaked havoc in the hero community and even managed to replace two very prominent members: Iron Man and Mister Fantastic. However, both Wolverine and Daredevil were able to sniff out these fakes. The copies were taken off the board when Magus was defeated, except for the six-armed Spider-Man facsimile appropriately known as Doppelganger who was mystically saved by Demogoblin.

EVERYTHING IS SINISTER

A Sinister city in UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #1.
A Sinister city in UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #1.

Given that messing with genes is his whole thing, it should be no surprise that Mister Sinister pops up on this list again. To kick off series UNCANNY X-MEN (2011), Nathaniel Essex managed to use the head of the Dream Celestial to remake an entire part of San Francisco in his own image, filling it with clones of himself. And, with so many versions of himself around, Sinister could split his consciousness amongst all of them.

For most of the first three issues, Sinister managed to stay several steps ahead of Cyclops' X-Men. Every time they thought they had him dead to rights, he would casually switch bodies. While this would have been a problem anyway, it became all the more dangerous when the clone-related chaos attracted the attention of a host of Celestials who started making their way to Earth. Emma Frost managed to shut Sinister’s plans down so the others could convince the space gods not to destroy the entire planet.

THE BLACK WIDOWS

A Red Room secret revealed in TALES OF SUSPENSE (2017) #103.
A Red Room secret revealed in TALES OF SUSPENSE (2017) #103.

In SECRET EMPIRE—a story about a sentient Cosmic Cube copy of Captain America causing all sorts of trouble—the leader of Hydra shocked everyone by murdering Black Widow with one blow. However, even before that story came to an end, there was hope that Natasha might still be alive. Readers weren't the only ones interested in this lead; so were Hawkeye and Bucky Barnes who began investigating in TALES OF SUSPENSE (2017) #100-104.

When Natasha seemed to return to life, she learned about the Red Room and how it managed to keep the Black Widows going all these years. The Russian spy consortium utilized copies of Black Widows like Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova to replace them when they died. On top of that, the Red Room also used Epsilon Red to archive and copy their memories. However, the organization would excise certain remembrances that did not serve their greater purpose. Natasha was less than pleased when she discovered this system and took action to see that it would not continue. The downside? Now the Black Widows have just one life to live!

THE COUNTERFEIT WALL-CRAWLER?

Ben Reilly becomes Chasm in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #93.
Ben Reilly becomes Chasm in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #93.

The Spider-Man clone that just keeps coming back. This distinction belongs to the one and only Ben Reilly, otherwise known as Scarlet Spider and, briefly, Spider-Man. Reilly’s roots actually go way back to 1975's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 when the Jackal created a copy of Spidey that supposedly died at the end of that story under a smokestack. Twenty years later, that clone made his infamous return in the year-long CLONE SAGA event, which briefly stated that the Web-Slinger readers had been following all that time was actually the replica! By the end of that epic tale, it was revealed that Peter Parker was the real deal and Reilly appeared to die once more.

But the drama didn’t end there. Between the “Dead No More” and CLONE CONSPIRACY storylines from 2016 and 2017, Reilly returned. This story tied together not only elements from the original Clone Saga, but also other stories revolving around Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, and a variety of other characters who may or may not have been cloned in Spider-Man comics over the years. Ben seemed to have gotten his life together from there, but he did have a nasty brush with Peter Parker after taking on the “Spider-Man” mantle under the employment of the Beyond Corporation (more on that here). After being flooded by quantum-unstable polymers in a radioactive battle, Reilly was further mutated and adopted the name Chasm to reflect his unpredictable state. Now, he’s more than ready to strike a deal with fellow spurned clone Madelyne Pryor, as seen in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM (2022) #1.

 

Want even more cloned tales? Read Spider-Man’s original Clone Saga on Marvel Unlimited, or pick up DARK WEB #1 in print and digital comic shops!

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