SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Death of X" #1, which is still on sale.
Tragically, Marvel's recent event mini-series, "Death of X", which takes place soon after the events of "Secret Wars" (so almost a year before the relaunched "X-Men" titles), established the deadliness of the Terrigen Mist (the mist that gives Inhumans their powers) to mutants through the death of a longtime character from the X-books, Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man!
Madrox will be missed, although this actually isn't even the first time Madrox has been killed off, so fans of the character can still cross their fingers and hope for the best. In the meantime, let's celebrate a great character by counting down the greatest Madrox the Multiple Man stories ever told!
15 Madrox's FIRST Death: X-Factor #100
J.M. DeMatteis took over as the writer on "X-Factor" in an odd position, as he inherited a number of subplots from previous writers Scott Lobdell and Peter David that he had to resolve, including Madrox having the Legacy Virus, which was killing many mutants around the world. DeMatteis' solution in his first solo storyline (after scripting the book based on Lobdell's plots for a few issues) was a five-part storyline introducing the mysterious Haven, a woman who promised a bright future where mutants and humans would live together in harmony.
What she failed to note was that she planned this harmony by first exterminating 3/4 of the world's population. She wooed Wolfsbane to her side by curing her of being stuck in werewolf form (resolved plot #1) but the rest of X-Factor did not trust her and they fought her and defeated her plans. As she was about to escape, though, she offered to cure Madrox of the Legacy Virus and X-Factor leader Havok ultimately had to give her the go-ahead. However, she failed and Jamie seemingly died (resolved plot #2) We would later learn that this was a duplicate of Jamie who died, not the original.
14 Madrox's Debut: Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4
It may seem odd that a major X-character debuted in the pages of the "Fantastic Four," but that's just what happened in this special issue written by Len Wein and Chris Claremont and drawn by John Buscema, Chic Stone and Joe Sinnott. The Thing came across Madrox (who Wein wanted to name Zerrox at first) and Madrox really showed how powerful he could be by actually defeating the Thing in battle!
We then learned the origin of Madrox, how his scientist parents made him wear a special suit to absorb kinetic energy to keep his powers from activating and when they died, he just lived by himself for years on their farm until the suit malfunctioned and he felt compelled to come to New York for some reason. In the end, Reed Richards fixed Jamie's suit and then sent him off with Professor Charles Xavier. By the way, since the book came out before "Giant-Size X-Men" #1, people sometimes think that Wein intended for Madrox to be a part of the All-New, All-Different X-Men. That is not the case.
13 The Fallen Angels: Fallen Angels #1-8
Madrox's first real spotlight following his debut adventure occurred in the 1987 eight-issue maxi-series, "Fallen Angels", written by Jo Duffy and drawn by Kerry Gammill, Marie Severin, Joe Staton and many inkers. The series followed Sunspot of the New Mutants, who quit that team after recklessly injuring his best friend, Cannonball, during a game that they were playing. His teammate, Warlock, followed Sunspot to New York City, where they got roped into the Angels, a group of thieves put together by the former X-Men villain, the Vanisher. The team consisted of the teleporter Ariel, the mysterious Chance and the cyborg Gomi (who had two cyborg lobsters as pets/allies).
Madrox and Siryn came into the picture when they were both sent to keep an eye on Sunspot and they ended up falling in with the Angels as well, who soon moved past being thieves (although never quite into being outright superheroes). While together, Madrox and Siryn began a romance. Ariel turned out to be an alien who was collecting mutants for her planet, but she ended up turning on her planet and the group ended up back on Earth, only with Sunspot and Warlock returning to the New Mutants.
12 X-Aminations: X-Factor #87
One of the all-time classic single issues of any X-Men related comic book was "X-Amanations," an issue of "X-Factor" by Peter David, Joe Quesada and Al Milgrom where the head of the government-operated X-Factor, Val Cooper, sent the team to a therapist (revealed to be Dr. Leonard Samson, guesting from David's other major Marvel book at the time, "The Incredible Hulk"). The issue is famous for the in-depth character work David did with all of the X-Factor cast, with the most famous being David's brilliant defence of why Quicksilver seems like such a jerk (in brief - imagine living your whole life while on a long line at an ATM).
David does some good work with Madrox and how lonely he is and how his comedic antics are just to make sure people pay attention to him, but Madrox doesn't get as much of a spotlight as his teammates, hence this classic issue being so low on his specific greatest stories list. But really, go out and get this comic! It's amazing.
11 Messiah Complex: X-Men: Messiah CompleX, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, New X-Men #44-46 and X-Factor #25-27
Jamie ended up playing a fascinating role in the "Messiah Complex" crossover, the first line-wide X-book crossover in years at that point in time. After Decimation occurred and no new mutants were being born, suddenly a new mutant was born, and everyone wanted her. Cable, though, was ahead of the pack and took her for himself. The X-Men wondered why Cable took the girl, so they came up with a plan where Forge would send duplicates of Jamie Madrox into the future where they would live, find out information and then die, sending the information back in time to the Jamie of the present.
However, Layla Miller, the young pre-teen who hung around X-Factor Investigations, suddenly went into one of the futures with Jamie where they were taken into mutant camps and branded with the M sign (a brand that remained even when they returned to the present). Jamie and Layla grew close, setting up a future romantic storyline for them, but they also met a young Lucas Bishop and realized that the greatest danger to the baby in the present day was Bishop, who blamed the infant "messiah" for all that went wrong in his time.
10 Rhapsody in Blue: X-Factor #79-81
In this interestingly framed storyline by Peter David, James Fry, Larry Stroman and Al Milgrom (it was told as the main plot of one issue and the B-plot of two more issues), Quicksilver and Madrox are sent to investigate a music teacher who allegedly murdered the man who got her fired. The reason for the firing was that her skin turned blue because her mutant powers kicked in later in life than what's normal. She was very popular with the students, but the school board just wasn't comfortable with a mutant teaching their kids. The head of the school board then died of a heart attack.
When confronted, the teacher, Rachel Argosy (known as Rhapsody), began to play a violin, which helped fuel her powers. You see, her mutant power was that when she hears music, she can fly and also warp people's minds. She bonded with Jamie in his hallucination and he became determined to prove her innocence. In the end, it was Jamie's innocence that took a hit when it turned out that she actually did kill the man, albeit not intentionally (she used her power to make him feel good, but he ended up feeling so good that his heart gave out).
9 X-Cell: X-Factor Volume 2 #17-20
"X-Cell" was a fascinating look by Peter David, Khoi Pham and Sandu Florea at how the actual world would react to something like nearly all of the world's mutants all losing their powers at once. Naturally enough, there would be people out there who would blame the government, which was the driving plot behind this storyline that saw Jamie's old boss, Val Cooper, pitting Madrox and his X-Factor Investigations against X-Cell, a terrorist group made up of former mutants who want the government to give them their powers back.
X-Cell's desires are exploited by Quicksilver (who knows darn well that it was his sister who got rid of mutants), who used stolen Terrigen Crystals to give himself powers. He gives the crystals to some of the X-Cell members as well, giving them all-new powers. In an awesome scene, an army of Madrox duplicates stormed Quicksilver's headquarters, but then the whole thing fell apart when the crystals reacted negatively, beginning to kill all of the X-Cell members who had taken them. The threat was over but Madrox was sucked back into working for the government, which had its own issues.
8 Breaking Points: X-Factor #241-245
"Breaking Points" was an excellent storyline where Peter David and artist Leonard Kirk pared down the cast of "X-Factor" through well-examined spotlights on some of the members of the team, giving them new insights into their selves (in the case of Polaris, she finally got a definitive origin) and sometimes new settings for their lives, with a bunch of the members of the team deciding to leave the group.
The storyline also sort of perfectly showed how much of a loss of control that Jamie Madrox had over what was, at one point basically his team, but the stories had long evolved beyond revolving around Madrox. However, as his teammates were in disarray around him, Jamie found himself in a very surprising situation with Layla Miller, as they actually got married! This storyline was a bit heavier on development of the other members of the team for it to be this high on Madrox's list, but the culmination of years of set-up for the Jamie/Layla plot made this one crack the top ten.
7 Multiple Problems: X-Factor #71-75
This was the storyline by Peter David, Larry Stroman and Al Milgrom that introduced the All-New, All-Different X-Factor, as a new government-sponsored mutant team took over from the previous team using the X-Factor name. The team members were Havok, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Guido (who gives himself the superhero name "Strong Guy" in this arc, as every team has to have a Strong Guy on it, right?), Quicksilver and Madrox.
Before they are even introduced as a superhero team, however, someone seemingly gunned down Jamie! Luckily, he had used a dupe to open the door. But when they finally do have their press conference, another Jamie Madrox showed up, claiming to be the real one! This turned out to be the Jamie Madrox from "Fallen Angels." He had joined up with Mister Sinister and his new team, the Nasty Boys. The Jamies battled before the "real" Madrox conceded that the other Jamie was the original and allowed himself to be absorbed. He then absorbed the other dupe from within before helping his teammates take down Sinister and the Nasty Boys. These issues were very notable at the time for their use of humor.
6 Multiple Issues: X-Factor Volume 2 #14-16
After a rough patch in his life, when he learned that his origins might not be what he thought that they were, Jamie Madrox decided to collect some of his errant dupes in this excellent three-parter by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi. Jamie had sent his dupes out to learn new skills, but a few of his dupes have been out on the range a bit too long and have carved out lives of their own. What will Madrox do when it comes time to collect them? Will they fight him? Will he let them stay away?
The three duplicates he follows are an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a pastor, and a private detective. Each visit comes with it its own particularly tricky pitfalls, including getting captured and brainwashed by Hydra (how Jamie got out of that one needs to be seen to be believed)! David did a wonderful job establishing each dupe as a distinct personality while still being very much different versions of Jamie.
5 Re-X-Aminations: X-Factor Volume 2 #13
One of the rare sequels that lived up to the hype of the original, "Re-X-Aminations" was Peter David and Pablo Raimondi's little "Godfather Part 2", as Leonard Samson once again paid a visit to X-Factor to give them some therapy, only now it was Jamie Madrox's X-Factor Investigations. David did his standard excellent job getting at the depths of each of the characters, but perhaps the best aspect of the comic was how well David handled the whole idea of this as a sequel.
This issue was very much about these character growing up. Jamie waxes nostalgic about the funny days of the All-New, All-Different X-Factor, but Samson rightly points out that this is just a part of being a grown-up. Very well-handled, while still including some strong humor. Raimondi's work with the facial expressions of the characters was wonderful, and added a great deal of depth to the proceedings.
4 Multiple Birth: X-Factor Volume 2 #39
Jamie Madrox and Theresa "Siryn" Cassidy were having a baby together, as the couple who almost were during "Fallen Angels" were now firmly a couple, despite some missteps like Jamie not telling her that X-Factor Investigations had been doing work for Val Cooper and the government. Still, as Theresa began labor, those issues seemed unimportant, as Jamie prepared himself for a new life with a son and, most likely, a new wife (he proposed to Theresa while she was in labor).
However, Peter David, Valentine De Landro and Craig Yeung couldn't let things go by as easily as that, now could they? Instead, they pulled off one of the most gut-wrenching twists imaginable, one that left us with an ending where Theresa broke Jamie's finger and warned him that the next time she would snap his neck. The surprise in this story is still so strong that we don't want to spoil it even now, years later.
3 Time Off/Overtime: X-Factor Volume 2 #40-50
Things ended so badly in the previous issue that Jamie had to split from the rest of X-Factor Investigations and he went on a soul-searching journey which ultimately takes him into the future where he meets Layla Miller, who has grown into a woman after her adventure through time with him (during "Messiah Complex" a year earlier). Jamie and Layla grow closer to each other in the future alongside their new ally, Ruby Summers, as they fight against the evil and mysterious Cortex. Cortex, meanwhile, shows up in the present and fights against modern day X-Factor, who are dealing with their own issues (especially Siryn).
This storyline introduced former X-Force member Shatterstar to the team. David’s take on Shatterstar and his relationship with Rictor was quite refreshing. Like most Peter David storylines, a bunch of plots are balanced well as he gives each cast member strong character development, but Jamie got a ton of character work in particular. Valentine De Landro and Marco Santucci were the main artists for this storyline (accompanied by a lot of different inkers).
2 Multiple Choices: MadroX #1-5
This mini-series by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi pulled off the ultimate upset. It did so well sales-wise that Peter David was given a brand-new "X-Factor" series! The mini-series re-envisioned Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, as a private detective. David added a new twist to Madrox’s powers. He would send off his duplicates to learn certain skills. When they mastered them, Jamie would re-absorb them and gain all of the skills himself.
Jamie was currently working as a private detective along side his former X-Factor teammates, Rahne Sinclair and Guido in XXX Investigations (soon to be re-named X-Factor Investigations). He got caught up in a noir crime story -- a noir crime story involving mutants, of course. It is all beautifully written and Raimondi’s art style is perfectly suited for the noir genre. Again, in the history of comics, very rarely has a minor character been given a mini-series to "test the waters" and actually have that mini-series lead to something new, so this was a historic series.
1 The Longest Night: X-Factor Volume 2 #1-6
The opening arc of Peter David's new "X-Factor" ongoing series showed X-Factor Investigations as an expanded force, adding Siryn, M, Layla Miller and the now de-powered Julio Rictor. However, the whole concept of the original "MadroX" mini-series was that Madrox and his colleagues would serve as mutant private investigators for mutants. Well, now that Decimation happened, there are almost no more mutants anymore, so who will X-Factor Investigations' clientele be?
This story introduced a new villain who would soon throw Jamie's entire life into upheaval as Jamie learned new things about himself and his origins. This series also played up with a new twist in Jamie's powers, as now his dupes demonstrated different facets of Jamie's personality, including aspects that were only glimmers in his soul, but still present nonetheless. How do you deal with a duplicate with a death wish? These are the wonderfully complex ideas that Peter David routinely included in his work and it is why Jamie Madrox was one of the best-developed characters of the past decade. And the meat of it all started with this excellent first storyline, with art by Ryan Sook at first and then Dennis Calero filling in for Sook.
What's your favorite Madrox story? Let us know in the comments!