The X-Men comics have an especially complicated — and important — history with clones. Considering the franchise’s ties to genetics (you know, the mutant gene), it makes sense that their manipulation would factor heavily into any number of stories.
With the Spider-Man comics set to explore clones (again) in the recently revealed “Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy” event, and “X-Men: Apocalypse’s” clone tease in its post-credit scene, it seems clones will be making a big impact on the Marvel Universe both on-screen and on the page in the foreseeable future.
CBR rounded up the most important and influential clones from more than a half century of X-Men comics, paying respect to the memorable copies that have served (or hurt) mutantkind.
One glance at Longshot circa 1986, and you’d guess that mulletted mutant has been in limbo for the past 30 years. Rather, the character has sustained as a key member of the X-Men or its satellite teams pretty consistently over the decades. Why? He’s an incredibly charismatic character — and genetically engineered mutant from the Mojoverse — with a cool skill set and a Star-Lord-esque magnetic personality. Created by Ann Nocenti, Art Adams and Whilce Portacio for his own miniseries that acted as a social satire of the media-obsessed ’80s (could you imagine?), the character went on to be a member of the Australia-based “Outback X-Men” and appear in “Exiles,” as well as Peter David’s acclaimed “X-Factor” run, before starring yet again in his own incredibly fun miniseries, “Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe.”
9. Cassandra Nova
Cassandra Nova might not necessarily be a clone, but she’s the identical twin and offshoot of Professor X’s consciousness who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. The character had a truly grotesque origin that began in utero when Xavier, who recognized her evil, attempted to kill her in the womb. Unsuccessful, Cassandra formed a body by growing as a mass of cells in a sewer wall, hellbent on exacting revenge on her brother. Of course — as you can probably tell from the origin — the character was created for Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s “New X-Men” run, where she caused psychic mayhem for Marvel’s Mighty Mutants, and did so again very notably in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s “Astonishing X-Men.” Cassandra’s incredible psychic power and genocidal tendency make her one of the most terrifying mutants in the Marvel Universe. She even managed to make Wolverine think he was a kitten — which was equal parts adorable and horrifying.
8. Kid Apocalypse
Evan Sabah Nur is a prime example of Xavier’s legacy — that mutants, when raised in the right environment, can live alongside humans and use their abilities for good. A clone of Apocalypse, Evan was created by Fantomex using the blood of the villainous mutant during Rick Remender and Jerome Opena’s “Uncanny X-Force” run. Playing a key role in defeating Archangel during the “Dark Angel Saga,” Evan went on to be a student of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, where he fights his ancestor’s legacy and attempts to carve his own path alongside the X-Men. Manipulated by Red Skull to become a full-fledged version of Apocalypse in Marvel’s “AXIS” event, Evan managed to (with the help of Deadpool, of all people) find the good within himself to ward off Red Skull’s manipulation and strike back against the Axis.
If those “Wolverine 3” rumors are true, X-23 is going to become a household name a lot sooner than we think. The female clone of Wolverine made her debut in the “X-Men: Evolution” animated series of the ’00s, before writer Craig Kyle transitioned the character to comics, where she would appear in “NYX,” “New X-Men,” “X-Force” and eventually “All-New X-Men,” currently operating alongside the time-displaced original X-Men as the all-new Wolverine. Taking the mantle of the mutant who is the best there is at what he (or she) does, X-23 has proved staying power as an intriguing character with an edge that’s infectious to read. The character has the dark emotional depth and mystique (no pun intend) of Wolverine, with her own teenage touch. If she can become popular so quickly in the comics, there’s no doubt a “Wolverine 3” appearance could skyrocket X-23’s popularity far beyond the comics-reading world.
6. Madelyne Pryor
While Madelyne Pryor is often painted as the X-Men’s Wicked Witch of the West, she’s actually a very tragic character. Created by Mr. Sinister so that she and Scott Summers could reproduce an all-powerful mutant to take on Apocalypse, Madelyne (a clone of Jean Grey) was manipulated by outside forces from day one. Despite being introduced as a simple love interest for a heartbroken Cyclops, Pryor was transformed into an antagonist because of an editorial mandate — as Marvel wanted to get the original X-Men back together for “X-Factor” — becoming the villainous Goblin Queen alongside her creator, Mr. Sinister. Apart from appearing as a villain throughout “X-Factor” and “Inferno,” Madelyne is a consistently entertaining and visually-stunning antagonist to see pop up in X-books over the years. The character is also notable as the biological mother of Cable — in addition to being a former lover of both Scott and his brother, Alex Summers (AKA Havok).
Anyone raised by Apocalypse has to be bad news. Created as a clone of Cable in the event that he didn’t survive the Techno-Organic Virus, Stryfe was later taken under Apocalypse’s wing and raised to be an arrogant, merciless mutant killer. A founder of the deadly Mutant Liberation Front terrorist group, Stryfe went on to pose as Cable in an effort to frame him for assassinating Professor X and spread the mutant-killing Legacy Virus, among other nefarious plots. The ’90s character made a comeback in 2009’s “Messiah War” event a number of years back, where he was manipulated by Bishop to take over Earth and kill Cable and the young mutant Hope — the only shot (at the time) for resurrecting the mutant gene. By the end of the story, Stryfe was defeated and taken hostage by Apocalypse, who planned to use him as a new vessel for his soul.
Oh, Joseph — you could quite possibly be the worst character to grace the X-Men comics of the ’90s. The long-haired clone of Magneto managed to spark a romance with Rogue during his brief tenure with the X-Men, despite having the personality of toast. He didn’t spend much time as a member of the team, and went into limbo for a number of years after his death (good call, editorial), but successfully made a comeback a few years back in a much more suitable role as a villain. Recruiting a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Joseph is like Magneto if he never turned over a new leaf, or had a haircut. While he’s lame when he tries to be a good guy, Joseph actually managed to find his place in the Marvel Universe as a truly detestable villain for the X-Men — a role that suits him well — when he made a comeback in the “Magneto: Not A Hero” miniseries by Skottie Young and Clay Mann.
3. Madrox/Multiple Man
Though he’s not a clone, per se, Jamie Madrox AKA Multiple Man has the ability (as his name suggests) to create duplicates of himself that actually take on their own consciousness and individual personalities. While this can be handy in solving mysteries for his “X-Factor Investigations” — previously called “XXX Investigations,” but changed, because it sounded too much like a porn — Madrox has run into some sticky situations with his copies (or dupes, as they’re called) who have gotten him into trouble with crime bosses, alternate dimensions and demons, among other foes. But aside from his super-cool powers, Madrox has been a consistently hilarious and compelling character to read, thanks in large part to writer Peter David who penned the character throughout his ’90s “X-Factor” run, the “Madrox” miniseries, and the beloved second run on “X-Factor,” where we saw the character grow from an emotional child into a fully-formed human who settled down with Layla Miller, who enjoyed a similar, if more literal, journey of her own.
2. Miss Sinister
What’s scarier than Mr. Sinister, you ask? Well, that would be Miss Sinister, a copy of his own DNA injected into a female host. When Mr. Sinister died in 2008’s “Messiah CompleX” crossover, he had a failsafe put in place that saw his consciousness live on through a new host (and former test subject), Claudine Renko. Becoming Miss Sinister, the character first appeared during Mike Carey’s landmark run on “X-Men Legacy,” where she took on her “father’s” ability of telepathy and knowledge of genetics. The character managed to convince Daken he should kill his own father, Wolverine, and attempted to switch the bodies of Gambit and X-23 as a genetic experiment. With the same horrific desire as her predecessor to experiment on mutants, Miss Sinister is — apart from being a continuation of Sinister’s legacy — a creepy, super-powerful and intelligent character who isn’t to be underestimated.
1. The Cuckoos
The Stepford Cuckoos are easily the sassiest clones on the list, and by that caveat, some of the most fun to read. The triplets originally started out as quintuplets who were created from the harvested eggs of Emma Frost at the hands of the Weapon Plus program. They were engineered to be capable of combining their telepathic abilities to wipe out every mutant on Earth, and were sent to the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning to hone their abilities. The Cuckoos had a big role in ruining the sacred Jean Grey-Scott Summers romance by informing Jean of Scott’s psychic affair with Emma Frost — proving they can be just as devious as the mutant from which they originate.
Are there any memorable X-Men clones you think we left out? Let us know in the comments!
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