We won’t pretend to know the complicated scientific processes that go into creating a genetic clone of someone, this isn’t a science journal after all. However, it doesn’t take a scientist to recognize when cloning has gone horribly wrong. Clones both good and bad are a staple of both pulp fiction and comic books. Clones and evil twins alike have appeared in every major superhero book on the shelves for decades. It’s a concept that makes sense, to clone a powerful hero or villain so you can have a superhuman under your control or to replace a lost one.
However, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you planned. Sometimes the clone is evil, or maybe you wanted them to be evil but they turned out good. Heck, maybe their very presence in comics is enough to make them horrible duplicates, muddling up narratives and story arcs. It’s a good thing that cloning isn’t a readily available technology in comics, or else there’d be a bunch of unnecessary duplicates running around. Of the few clones that have gotten loose (or still are), there are definitely some dysfunctional duplicates, which is why CBR decided to countdown the 15 worst clones in comics.
Though his name is arguably a lot cooler than the original, this Bart Allen/Impulse clone is kind of the worst. An evil duplicate, Inertia was named Thaddeus Thawne II by his “creator” President Thaddeus Thawne. President Thawne created Thaddeus II after failing to recruit Bart Allen (part Thawne himself) into the long-standing war between the Thawne and Allen Families. After this failure, he cloned Bart and created Inertia to replace Bart in the past.
The opposite of Bart Allen in many ways, Thaddeus is not only, as Wally West put it, “an irredeemable sociopath with Bart’s face,” he also ages slower. While Impulse aged up to 15 in only 2 years, Thaddeus grew up slower and learned to be more calculating and methodical, not “impulsive.” After his first attack on Max Mercury (Impulse’s mentor) Inertia would go on to have a long rivalry with Impulse.
14. THE STEPFORD CUCKOOS
Created from the cells of Emma Frost, the Stepford Cuckoos were grown for the purpose of being able to kill every mutant on Earth. The Cuckoos are powerful telepaths that become more powerful by combining their powers into one hive mind. Fitting since they all look, dress and act alike.
The sisters — Celeste, Esme, Irma, Phoebe and Sophie — definitely live up the name “Stepford.” For those of you who don’t know, this is in reference to “The Stepford Wives,” a book about an idyllic neighborhood full of submissive housewives that seem to act like perfect robots (because, SPOILER, they are). While the Cuckoos are far from submissive, they definitely keep a prim and proper appearance and demeanor about them, to the extent of being rather stuck up and snobby. But we’ll forgive them since they have been a powerful asset to the X-Men for quite some time now.
13. JOE GARDNER
Guy Gardner is already kind of a jerk. He’s loud, he brash and he’s not all that keen on authority. So what would an evil clone of him be like? Enter Joe Gardner, a clone of Guy created by the Draal. The Draal are an alien race bent on controlling the Green Lantern Corps through clones of the guardians. They attempted to do just that with Joe Gardner, but it didn’t work out quite like they planned.
During the cloning, Guy tampered with the process, causing mental problems with the duplicate including loss of memories and psychopathic tendencies. After failing to destroy and replace Guy, Joe wasn’t heard from for a while. He returned laters as the Enforcer, capturing Green Lanterns and selling them as slaves. Without Guy’s morality, Joe is just a psychopath with a power ring. Not a good combination.
12. THE OMEGA CLAN
A Russian mutant and “graduate” of the Weapon X program, Arkady Rossovich was once a serial killer with life-draining powers. He was equipped with retractable carbonadium tentacles in each hand by Weapon X to increase his literal and figurative reach, becoming a powerful mercenary for various evil organizations until his death by Wolverine.
This wasn’t the last of Omega Red, however, as an organization known as The White Sky was commissioned to create clones of the villain. These three were Omega Black, a female clone with carbonadium tentacles in her chest; Omega White, a clone with the power to create energy constructs; and Omega Red, a clone that was almost exactly the same as the original. Dubbed “The Omega Clan” the clones were created for the purpose of hunting and killing mutants.
Despite being raised to be an assassin to kill his father, Damian Wayne eventually grew into his own as both a sidekick to Batman, and as his own person. Talia Al Ghul did not wish for any of this, she wanted Damian to help her enact her plan to have a “perfect family” with Batman, a family that could rule the world together. After Damian sided with Batman, she decided to take more drastic measures.
Enter Heretic, a clone of Damian created to be the perfect child, one who could help Tahlia enact her plans. The clone was trained much like Damian, but was genetically modified, surgically enhanced and gestated in a whale’s body to have peak human strength. If that’s not weird enough, his rapid aging and growth gave Heretic the body of a muscular adult with the head of a child. Creepy.
10. THE MANY CLONES OF MR. SINISTER
Originally known as Nathanial Essex, Mr. Sinister was once a brilliant biologist in 19th Century England. Essex was shunned by his peers both for his immoral methods of human experimentation and his theories on a “great mutation” that existed in humanity. Eventually, Essex would fall into the hands of this great mutation when Apocalypse himself awoke and granted Essex great power and immortality. Essex renamed himself Mr. Sinister, becoming the villain we all know and love.
As a biologist and villain, it makes sense that Mr. Sinister is a fan of cloning. Sinister has cloned both himself and others countless times. He oft uses clones of himself to stand in during attempts on his life or to merely stroke his own ego. Sinister has also created various clones of other mutants include Jean Grey and Hank McCoy, each being used in some crazy and convoluted plot against the X-Men.
9. MADELYNE PRYOR
Speaking of Mr. Sinister Clones, Madelyne Pryor is the worst of them all. Cloned from Jean Grey, Sinister created her with the purpose of being a stand-in for the original. This is where things get creepy, as Sinister believed that an offspring between Jean Grey and Cyclops would create a powerful mutant, one strong enough to defeat apocalypse. However, Jean grey was known to be a bit reckless, so Sinister created the clone to replace her and create his desired mutant offspring. Gross.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Madelyne and Scott actually would have a child who would eventually become Cable. It was also Madelyne herself who infected the infant Nathan Summers with his techno organic virus. She did so as the Goblin Queen, a persona she chose after turning on Scott Summers and the X-Men, brandishing powerful telekinesis, telepathy and a wide variety of magical, reality-warping spells.
8. THE MAULER TWINS
From the pages of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, The Mauler Twins are simultaneously some of Invincible’s best and worst enemies. Massive, strong, durable and brilliant, The Twins are actually clones. Or rather, one clone and the original, though they might both be clones… man this is confusing. Whichever combination it is, the original Mauler mastered cloning technology and used it to create a clone to do his bidding.
His plan didn’t work out too well, however, since his clone gained all of his memories and thoughts, believing himself to be the original. While they are evil geniuses, the Mauler’s plans are often halted due in part to their own bickering over who is the original and who his the clone. Further, what makes these two blues the worst is that they are in part responsible for creating one of Invincible’s deadliest and most ruthless villains, Angstrom Levy.
7. PROFESSOR X
Some people might be confused with this entry. We know that the original Charles Xavier as he appeared for most of his X-Men comics career was in fact the original Charles Xavier. However, after having his body implanted with a Brood egg, Charles was under the control of the hive mind aliens. He even created the New Mutants under Brood control as a means of creating more hosts for reproduction of the aliens. The creature inside Charles would eventually destroy his body, but leave his soul intact.
After defeating the creature that burst forth from the professor, the X-Men were able to recover Charles’ soul from the monster, but it was without a body. However, thanks to the Starjammers, the X-Men were able to clone Charles a new body, one that was a bit younger and had functioning legs. Ain’t that convenient?
6. THE SUPERIOR OCTOPUS
In a somewhat controversial story arc, Dr. Otto Octavius, A.K.A. Dr. Octopus, cheated death by switching bodies with Peter Parker, or so we thought. At the end of Superior Spider-Man, Peter’s consciousness has reclaimed his body and Otto Octavius is out of the picture. Fortunately for Ock though, he put in safety protocols so that his consciousness would survive and, after a long, arduous process of finding his original body, he was able to clone himself a young, superior body to occupy.
With his new young body and his tentacles back in his hands, Doctor Octopus was back. His body also had a bit of Peter’s DNA since, after his time in Spider-Man’s body, Otto became obsessed with it (that sounds creepy) and determined it to be absolutely perfect (even creepier), thus he wanted some of his genetic material for himself (we’re sorry).
*Warning: The following contains spoilers for Invincible*
Also from the pages of Invincible, Robot is a rather interesting character. Originally thought to just be a sentient robot of sorts, fans of the Image series would later learn that the character had a lot more going for him. Born a disabled and deformed human, Rudy used his vast intelligence to build a robot drone to control and live through. But living life as a robot was not enough for him.
This is where things get kind of creepy. After noticing a fellow superhero and love interest Monster Girl was attracted to Guardians of the Globe teammate Rex Splode, Robot used Rex’s DNA to clone himself a new body. The new body, made to be the same age as Monster Girl, served as a host for his memories and thoughts and he would kill his original deformed self. It get’s worse too, since Robot would eventually seek world domination.
4. BEN REILLY
There’s quite a few clone stories in Spider-Man comics, each more confusing than the last. Perhaps the most well-known, and most controversial, is the Ben Reilly clone saga. Back in the ’70s, Spider-Man villain and serial cloner Jackal created a duplicate of Spider-Man, pitting the two Spider-Men against each other, each believing themselves to be true Peter Parker. After the battle, Peter thought the clone had died and dumped his body.
However, the clone survived and started a new life for himself as Ben Reilly. The most controversial part of Ben’s clone saga was when Ben was revealed to be the original, and Peter the clone. Fans were shocked by this reveal and the following stories in which Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man. Eventually though, readers were relieved to find out the tests results were switched by a manipulative Norman Osborne.
3. SUPERBOY (KON-EL)
After the death of Superman Project Cadmus decided to clone him and create their own man of steel, one that would follow their orders. However, cloning Kryptonians isn’t as easy at it seems. Instead of a Superman clone, Cadmus genetically engineered a human to look exactly like Superman and decided to replicate Kryptonian powers by other means. This came in the form of a telekinetic aura surrounding their clone, one that would give him flight, strength, invulnerability and limited super speed. There was, however, another problem with their clone.
Despite being designed to replace Superman, the clone was released too early, having only aged to a teenager. Nicknamed Superboy, and eventually dubbed Conner Kent/Kon-El, this “Superman Clone” had quite the career with the Teen Titans, rocking a spiffy, but kind of dorky costume before going casual with his signature “shirt and pants” look.
Created by “The Agenda,” this clone has, well, an agenda. Match was created to be Superboy’s match (man these people are literal), cloned from his DNA and given his memories. Meant to destroy Superboy and further The Agenda’s agenda, Match had much more control over his superpowers, due in part to the data downloaded into his brain, an advantage he had over his originator. However, as strong as this clone was, he was eventually defeated by Superboy, and that’s not Match’s only imperfection.
Match’s genetic coding was susceptible to deterioration; as a result, his body eventually started to rot away. This gave Match an appearance and demeanor similar to Bizarro. With a calcified face, rotting body and slurred, opposite-oriented speech, Match had essentially become Bizarro Superboy. In this state, he was much more forceful and violent, forcing his feelings upon Wonder Girl and attacking the Titans without mercy.
Alright, before we get angry comments on here, we’re not saying X-23 is THE WORST. We love her, she’s badass and awesome, it’s just the circumstances surrounding her creation are pretty terrible. Originally appearing in X-Men Evolution, Laura Kinney was created to be the cloned daughter of Wolverine.
Laura was part of a Weapon X revival meant to create another soldier with adamantium-bonded bones. In an attempt to clone Wolverine as a subject for the process, they found their DNA samples were lacking a Y chromosome, so a female clone was proposed. A female embryo was grown inside the head scientist on the project, Dr. Sarah Kinney. Laura was born and subjected to horrible radiation poisoning to activate her mutant gene before having her claws ripped out and coated with adamantium. Jeeze, no wonder she’s so grumpy, though that might be Logan’s genes at work.
Which clone do you think got the crappiest treatment? Let us know in the comments!
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