Send in the clones! In most media, clones are considered, as a rule, to be totally rad. You’ve got the award-winning clone drama on TV’s Orphan Black, and of course the Clone Armies and Wars of the Star Wars franchise. However, amongst the comic book crowd, the word "clone" might as well be four letters. This is in no small part due to Spider-Man’s infamous Clone Saga, a messy, confusing, and convoluted storyline that was meant to only last a few months, but ended up lasting years. Still, there have been dozens of clone-based storylines over the ages, and they can’t all have been bad, can they?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. Both Marvel and DC Comics have re-visited the clone well on numerous occasions, and they can still occasionally draw up great stories and characters. Over at Marvel Comics, clones are regaining their reputation thanks to X-23’s starring role in 2017’s Logan. DC had a less successful experience with Doomsday, a partial clone of General Zod, but the fact that they tried shows there is still potential left in the seemingly overused clone trope. Like superheroes themselves, clones of heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and quality of writing. The best, however, definitely have stories worth telling.
X-23, also known as Laura Kinney, might just be the most famous comic book clone in the world after her starring role in 2017’s Logan. The original Wolverine has a long history with evil government experiments, so it’s no surprise that someone tried to clone him at some point.
The best result was X-23, a female clone with two adamantium claws in her wrist and another in her foot. Logan took on some responsibility for Laura and helped raise her, but she’s gained greater independence as time went on. In fact, after Logan's death in comic continuity, X-23 picked up the mantle of Wolverine herself.
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Over the years, there have been a lot of versions of Superboy in DC Comics. The original was just a young Superman, and the 2017 version is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Somewhere in between came Kon-El, who showed up shortly after Superman was thought dead following a battle with Doomsday.
Kon-El, who went by Conner Kent, turned out to be a clone who shared the genetic material of both Superman and Lex Luthor. Despite his half-villainous origins, Kon-El was a hero through and through, and eventually gave his life to save the world.
#10 on The Best Teenage Superheroessee more on Superboy (Kon-El)
During Spider-Man’s much maligned Clone Saga, Peter Parker encountered a large number of duplicates of himself. Among them was one perfect clone, Ben Reilly, and a number of flawed or damaged versions. One such iteration was Kaine, a disfigured and grotesquely over-muscular version of Spidey.
Kaine received a broken version of Spider-Sense, which allowed him to catch glimpses of the future at the cost of his sanity. Kaine went on a murdering spree, which Peter Parker got blamed for due to DNA evidence, but eventually was cured of his irregularities and had a brief crime-fighting career of his own. Basically, he was Spider-Man minus the morals and responsibility. It was exactly as awesome as it sounds.
#30 on The Best Spider-Man Villainssee more on Kaine
“Me am not Bizarro!” Bizarro is either adored or loathed, depending on one’s tolerance for novelty language. Bizarro has shown up in a few different iterations, but he’s usually a horrifically flawed clone of Superman, usually created by Lex Luthor.
Bizarro has most of Superman’s powers, but none of his charm, and he’s pasty white and covered in scars. Worst of all, Bizarro speaks in a halting and dim-witted “opposite language,” where he always says the opposite of what he means. The beginning.
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Cable is a character who already had a convoluted and clone-related backstory, and then he went and got cloned himself. Cable is the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey, who was taken into the future and raised there as a way of dealing with a techno-organic virus.
At some point, Cable was also cloned, and the result was Stryfe, essentially an evil version of the uber-powerful mutant. Stryfe was an X-Men villain for a while before his Cable-esque face was even revealed, and he’s stuck around as a major antagonist ever since.
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For a while in X-Men continuity, the Stepford Cuckoos were a group of quintuplets who just so happened to have near-identical appearances and the same abilities as Emma Frost. Eventually, however, it was revealed that Sophie, Phoebe, Mindee, Celeste, and Esme were actually clones of Frost created by the Weapon Plus program, the same organization responsible for Wolverine and X-23.
The group of powerful psychics were only informally known as the Cuckoos, and preferred their own codename of Five-In-One. Sadly, that had to later be shortened to Three-In-One when Sophie and Esme were killed in close succession.
Several deceased Spider-Man characters returned to life in 2016’s Clone Conspiracy, although most of them ended up dead again by the end of it all. One who didn’t, however, was Otto Octavius, better known as Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock, who had most recently spent time controlling Spider-Man’s body as the Superior Spider-Man, collaborated with the Jackal in return for getting his old body back.
In secret, Otto worked on an improved clone body that combined his own DNA with Spider-Man’s, and he leapt into that body after inevitably betraying the Jackal. Endowed with spider powers and youth, Otto Octavius re-entered the game as the Superior Octopus. The die is cast!
Madelyne Pryor has the sort of convoluted comic book history that can only come from the X-Men universe. After Jean Grey's death, Cyclops took some time away from the team, and journeyed to Alaska, where he met a woman named Madelyne who looked suspiciously like his late lover.
The two quickly married and had a child, who eventually grew up and became Cable. When Jean returned to life, Cyclops unceremoniously dumped his new family to rejoin the X-Men. Since this made Cyke look pretty bad, later writers fixed it so that Madelyne was actually a crazy clone of Jean called the Goblin Queen. She ultimately attacked the X-Men in what seems like totally justified revenge.
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