While clones have been a reality ever since Dolly the sheep hit headlines back in the ‘90s, so far, there hasn’t been a human clone that we know of. Despite this, they’ve been commonplace in the world of comic books for many years. The game of clones has been an easy way to retcon a particularly bad storyline. Any odd or out-of-character behaviour can be easily forgotten by simply saying it was down to an errant clone (Thanos- we’re looking at you!).
But some clones have gone on to be great characters in their own right. Far from being a stand-in or a forgettable plot-line, they’ve gone on to establish a life away from their genetic source material and in some cases have even surpassed the originals.
Given that a very special clone is about to make her on-screen debut in Logan, we take a look at The 15 Greatest Comic Book Clones, Ranked.
The clone of the man known as Cable, Stryfe was created after the young Cable (Nathan Christopher Summers) was infected with a techno-virus and not expected to survive. He had been taken to the far-future for medical help, and the sisterhood of the Askani created a clone to take his place if they were unsuccessful. Nathan lived, and the clone was taken by forces loyal to the ancient evil mutant, Apocalypse. Apocalypse raised the child, unaware he was a clone, and named him Stryfe after an enemy who once almost killed him (unaware that the child would travel back in time and BE that enemy).
Both boys grew to be adults after the death of Apocalypse, but on opposing sides. Cable led a rebellion, Stryfe became a tortured soul and grew ever more insane. Believing himself to be the original, he travelled back in time to take revenge on his parents (Cyclops and Jean Grey of the X-Men), Apocalypse, and even Xavier. He was stopped by Cable, who had also gone back in time, but Stryfe managed to release a devastating Legacy Virus which killed many mutants before it was eradicated.
The original Guardian was a golden age hero, a former police officer, who resembled Captain America in that he had no super powers and carried a shield. In his original story, his life was saved after his mind was transferred out of his old and dying body into that of a new, cloned, body which resembled himself in his prime. This clone was also killed, and Jim was put into yet another clone body. During the original Jim’s adventures, he befriended a wayward group of boys who he mentored as he believed they were basically good. They later grew up to become the heads of the original Cadmus project and were the first ones to create a perfect clone body for Jim.
Post-infinite crisis, this story was retconned and Jim Harper wasn’t killed in the line of duty but shot by Cadmus’ head of security, Jonathan Drew. Jim is cloned many times, but always dies within a short amount of time. However, the original Guardian clone left to pursue a life away from serving Cadmus and forged a life for himself. He moved to Metropolis with his adopted daughter, Gwen.
After Magneto’s mind was wiped in a battle with Professor Xavier, he spent several months in a comatose state being cared for by his followers, the Acolytes, and the zealot known as Exodus. After the Acolytes unwittingly brought the frozen form of the Age of Apocalypse refugee, Holocaust, on board their space station, he killed several Acolytes and his battle with Exodus destroyed the station. Magneto was placed in an escape pod, and when he resurfaced was assumed to have de-aged into a man in his 20s. This young man had no memories, and took to calling himself Joseph.
After serving with the X-Men for quite some time and fighting foes such as Onslaught and the Phalanx, Joseph was revealed to be a clone of Magneto with the actual Magneto plotting away from the public eye.
Joseph had been created by Astra, a former associate of Magneto, as a weapon to use against him. During a battle between the two of them, Joseph had received a head injury which was the cause of his amnesia. Eventually, the two men faced down once more and Joseph’s clone body began to degrade under the stress of using so much power. He appeared to die saving the world from Magneto’s scheme to reverse Earth’s magnetic field.
12. Bentley 23
Created by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham, Bentley 23 was introduced as a clone of long time Fantastic Four villain, The Wizard. After The Wizard was defeated, the Fantastic Four adopted the young clone. The boy referred to himself as “23” feeling for some time that he had not earned a name.
Eventually, he began to use the name Bentley (the name of the original Wizard) and joined the Future Foundation alongside a group of other child geniuses who were mentored by the Fantastic Four. Despite his poor temperament and aloof manner, he was accepted wholeheartedly by the other kids and grew close to the daughter of Reed and Sue Richards, Valeria. After he encountered the original Wizard, his “father” remarked that Bentley 23 was what he could have been if he had been raised in a healthy environment and was content that Bentley was better off where he was.
11. Lex Luthor
After years of developing more and more financial and political power, Lex Luthor was considered to be the “Most powerful man in Metropolis”. That is of course until Superman arrived on the scene and shone a light on Lex’s criminal activities, shattering the image of humanitarian Lex had been so careful to build.
Luthor grew to hate Superman and did all he could to destroy the “Alien Menace”. Lex fashioned a ring of pure Kryptonite, which prevented Superman from getting too close. Unfortunately for Lex, the continued exposure to Kryptonite gave him cancer, causing him to have his hand amputated and replaced with a prosthetic. Eventually, his body weakened so much that he created a younger clone of himself and had his mind transferred into it, faking his own death.
He resurfaced, claiming to be his own (previously unknown) son sporting an Australian accent and long red hair and beard. Convincing the public he was a separate person entirely, he was free to begin his vendetta against Superman again, albeit in a subtler way. He had the same lack of success the second time around.
10. Ultimate Jessica Drew
Unlike the Jessica Drew of Earth 616, the Ultimate version was a clone created as a female version of Peter Parker, Spider-Man.
Unlike the sprawling Clone Saga of the 616 timeline, the Ultimate Clone Saga was a much shorter affair and centred around Doctor Octopus and (a non-clone and very human) scientist named Ben Reilly. The only surviving clone was female and they christened her Jessica Drew. She held all the memories and experiences of the original Peter Parker as well as all his powers. Initially, she took the name Spider-Woman and became a major player in the Ultimate Universe. Later, she adopted the name Black Widow after the first two Black Widows of the Ultimate Universe died.
Ultimate Jessica Drew was one of the many Spider-People who were pulled into the multiversal events of Spider-Verse and fought with Spider-Men and Women from across the marvel multiverse. Although her home dimension was destroyed during Secret Wars, Ultimate Jessica Drew has been revealed to have survived and is traversing the multiverse as one of the Web Warriors.
9. Kid Apocalypse
After his final defeat at the hands of the Avengers and the X-Men, Apocalypse appeared to die with his body and soul being taken by the Celestials with the promise of future sufferings. Although he will inevitably return, his followers were unwilling to wait and created a clone of their living-god.
This clone was found by members of Wolverine’s X-Force, who discovered that the clone was being conditioned to believe in Apocalypse’s “Survival of the fittest” mantra. This clone was shot and killed by Fantomex. Fantomex then raised another clone of Apocalypse within “the world” where time moves more rapidly. This Clone was reintroduced into the real world as a young teenager who went by the name Evan, a play on Apocalypse’s given name, En Sabah Nur.
This clone was enrolled into the Jean Grey school as a student and appeared to be a good-natured boy, despite his heritage. He transformed into Apocalypse after an inversion spell caused all heroes to become evil, and villains to become good. As Apocalypse, he set out to destroy all humans on earth, but was eventually restored to his good self.
8. Madelyne Prior
Despite being a clone of the X-Man Jean Grey, Madelyne is one of the most central characters to the wider mythology of the X-Men universe. Created by Mister Sinister, Madelyne was part of Sinister’s plans to harness great power to use against Apocalypse. Initially, he wanted Jean herself but as she was already in the care of Charles Xavier, he chose to avoid a confrontation and settle for making a clone from a sample of Jean’s blood.
When the clone reached puberty, it didn’t materialise any powers and sinister thought his work had failed. When Jean died, the clone was given life by the Phoenix Force which was trying to find Jean. This caused Madelyne to have some of Jean’s memories. Sinister then placed Madelyne with the grandparents of Cyclops and arranged for her to meet Scott and the two to bear offspring. They married, and had the child Nathan Christopher Summers, who would become Cable.
After Cyclops left her to return to being a superhero, Madelyne began to be psychically seduced by a demon named N’astrith who promised her great power. She became the Goblin Queen and caused Manhattan to become infested with demons from Limbo. Deciding to sacrifice her child in order to gain ultimate demonic power, Madelyne battled Jean and was ultimately defeated. She has since returned twice, but has died and been sent to the astral plane each time.
During the epic events of the first Civil War, Thor was absent due to the then-recent events of Ragnarok and was dead along with all other Asgardians. Thor’s allies, Iron Man, Hank Pym, and Mister Fantastic, created a cybernetic clone from a strand of Thor’s hair. Initially merely referred to as the clone Thor, or Clor, it eventually began to use the name Ragnarok.
In his first battle, Ragnarok attacked Captain America’s resistance fighters and mercilessly killed Black Goliath. Reprogrammed, he fought in the final battle of the war where he was pummelled by the Olympian God, Hercules. After the war, his broken form remained in suspended animation in Camp Hammond until he was rebuilt and joined Norman Osborn’s second team of Dark Avengers.
When DC decided to kill off Superman, none of his established villains seemed worthy, otherwise they’d have done it before. So, the decision was made to create a foe powerful enough to defeat the Man of Steel. Initially, there was little explanation for his origins. Doomsday was seen pounding on a wall, deep underground with one arm fixed behind him in a shackle.
Upon breaking out, he began to walk in a fixed line, destroying all that he came into contact with. This caused the Justice League to intervene and he easily defeated Maxima, Booster Gold, Fire, and many others with ease. When Superman was alerted, he found Booster Gold hurtling through the air after a blow by the beast, he exclaimed that “Doomsday was there” and the name stuck. After a battle that seemed to go on forever, Doomsday and Superman were both killed, although both returned (because, comics).
It was alter explained that Doomsday was an ultimate weapon created on prehistoric Krypton. Each time the creature died, its remains were cloned and it was sent to its death once more. This sped up its natural evolution, but also planted in it a deep hatred of Kryptonians.
5. Kaine Parker
Kaine should have been a throwaway character of the ‘90s, forgotten after the story that created him came to a close, yet he became a compelling fan-favourite. The first clone of Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Kaine was imperfect and was ravaged by a degeneration disease which addled his mind and body. He stalked the second clone, Ben Reilly for years and relished the endless game of cat-and-mouse.
He eventually came into contact with the original Peter Parker during the events of the notorious Clone Saga. After the apparent death of Ben, Kaine became an uneasy ally of Peter’s and even “died” during the Grimm Hunt to save Peter. He was revived by The Queen and the Jackal as part of the Spider-Island event and transformed into a giant spider-beast. At the end of the story he was not only restored to human form, but he was also cured of the degeneration for the first time.
Leaving New York to begin a new life, he robbed tens of thousands of dollars from some criminals and would up in Houston, where despite his efforts, he became the hero known as the Scarlet Spider. (The first Scarlet Spider being Ben Reilly himself)
In the aftermath of the epic Death of Superman, several characters came to the fore to replace the Man of Steel, Cyborg Superman, Steel, and of course, Superboy.
Created by Cadmus as a replacement for Superman, Superboy would take the name Kon El after Superman’s resurrection. Despite being rebellious and hungry for attention, he joined the hero team Young Justice as a founder member and became as heroic as his mentor, Superman. He went to live with Superman’s parents for a time and posed as Clark’s cousin, Connor, becoming a member of the family.
When Young Justice became a new version of Teen Titans, Connor discovered that he wasn’t a pure clone of Superman, but had the DNA of Lex Luthor as well, hence his powers not being the same as Superman’s. After a brief time of being unsure of his own identity, he stepped up and sacrificed his life to defeat an evil version of Superboy from another timeline.
One of the oldest clones in comics, Bizarro has been around since 1956. Unlike most clones, Bizarro wasn’t created in a lab, but by a “duplicating ray” that created an imperfect copy of Superman. This clone was like Superman, but also his opposite. He has heat breath instead of Superman’s arctic breath, and is far less intelligent and sophisticated. Bizarro eventually used the machine that created him to create a backwards version of Earth, known as Bizarro world.
Unlike many characters in DC which have multiple origin stories, Bizarro’s “Duplicating Ray” has remained the standard. The only change made is that in some continuities, Lex Luthor is responsible for the creation of the device.
Often, Bizarro is used as comedic fodder due to his low intelligence and is sometimes seen as well-meaning. Other times, he’s been seen to be a malevolent being, with power levels similar to those of Superman’s.
2. Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider
Ben Reilly is easily the most infamous clone in all comic book history, Ben Reilly a.k.a The Scarlet Spider is the first healthy clone of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and was created by the insane genetics professor, Miles Warren a.k.a The Jackal.
While the clone appeared to die, with his remains dropped into a smokestack, he was revealed to have survived and left Peter to his life and took the name Ben (after Uncle Ben) and took to drifting across America. He resurfaced after learning of Aunt May’s illness, and allied with Peter as the heroic Scarlet Spider. For a time, he believed he was the original Peter, due to the machinations of Norman Osborn, and took over as Spider-Man while Peter retired to take care of his family.
Eventually, Peter was revealed to be the original and the “brothers” fought a climactic battle against Osborn. Ben was killed by Osborn, seemingly forever, but has recently returned as the mastermind of The Clone Conspiracy.
Created by Craig Kyle for the short-lived, but much-loved television show X-Men: Evolution, X-23 was soon folded into the regular Marvel universe.
Created by the same scientists who had a hand in turning Logan into the Adamantium-enhanced Wolverine, X-23 was the 23rd attempt to clone Logan. Like Logan, Laura (as she came to be known) has hyper-senses, a healing factor, and adamantium claws. She is an even greater assassin than Logan himself having received greater psychological conditioning. Forced to kill her mother, she eventually found a safe haven at the Xavier Institute and trained alongside the younger X-Men team known as the New X-Men and she formed a particularly close bond with the telekinetic Mutant known as Hellion.
After the death of Wolverine, Laura chose to honour him by donning a uniform similar to his classic costume and took the name Wolverine for herself. Given Laura is making waves in the new Logan movie, expect her to be at the heart of X-Adventures for many years to come.