What is the Secret of Multiple Man’s Powers?
What are the dark secrets of Multiple Man’s powers? Writer Peter David, who has been in charge of Jamie Madrox’s recent revival, has hinted for years that he has some hidden revelation left to play. Though I was unable to find the actual quotes, he’s hinted at this revelation in multiple interviews across the Interwebs. David has told us that Madrox is something more than just a mutant. That his powers have some special origin. Even the character himself knows that something is up. But all we’ve gotten are hints and teases.
What could it be? How will it change the character? Is everything I know and love about Multiple Man going to come to an end!?
Sorry, that was a little overdramatic. To compensate, here’s Multiple Man as a kitty cat.
Anyway, I don’t have any theories about what this secret could be. I just wanted to do an article examining what’s been hinted at so far. I know some Multiple Man fans have found and read my blog, so I want to do more articles and entries about my favorite comic book character! Maybe some others out there can help me think it through. Maybe we can get a discussion going on what people think it might be. PAD has said he’ll get around to the story eventually. But a little pre-discussion never hurt anyone!
Who is he and what can he do:
Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, has the mutant ability to create duplicates of himself. Walking, talking, living, breathing duplicates who are capable of their own independent lives and thought. Typically, especially back in the day, most people just wrote Multiple Man as a one-man army, or a one-man technical crew. In his first appearance, he’d gone a little loopy and fought the Fantastic Four. But ever since then, he’s been a definite good guy. Even when he was in X-Corps, it was for a good cause. So Madrox has always been a good guy mutant, though he was never a member of the X-Men. Just a fringe sort of character.
In movies and some cartoon shows, he’s been used as a villain. And again, he’s just a villain who can become a one-man gang.
Peter David changed everything with the MadroX miniseries in 2004. He had an idea that – since Madrox absorbs memories and such from his duplicates when he reabsorbs them back into his body – what if he were to send out several duplicates into the world to learn new skills and then absorb them at a later date? He’d gain a lot of knowledge with little work. So Madrox sent out duplicates who became monks, magician apprentices, detectives, priests and more. When their time came, they returned to the original Madrox and he absorbed them, combining all of their new knowledge into one person.
David has used this idea to give Madrox something of a splintered, indecisive mind. If he could do anything, live and experience all sorts of lives simultaneously, why bother doing anything at all? Plus whenever he creates a duplicate, they tend to be some specific part of his personality, which had never happened before. He’d create a dupe and he’d get an angry dupe or a bitter dupe or a happy-go-lucky dupe or a dupe focused on cooking the perfect stew. It’s created a wonderful conflict for the comic book series. And he’s able to create multiple dupes when he needs them without having to worry about too much craziness.
What’s the secret of his powers:
Jamie Madrox is a mutant, which means he was born with his powers. He comes from the X-Men franchise: superheroes who are a different race from human beings. Mutants are born with their powers, and then a lot of them just happen to become superheroes or super-villains. That’s how Madrox has always been and I hope he’ll always be.
But Peter David has insinuated that Madrox is something more than just a mutant. Chief among the issues at stake is the fact that Madrox can also seem to duplicate objects. His dupes don’t come out naked, they’re wearing his clothes. And he can duplicate other physical objects as well. What’s up with that? And unlike most mutants whose powers develop at puberty, Madrox has been creating duplicates since he was born and the doctor spanked him on the butt. David explained this at one point, stating that the puberty thing was part of evolution. If a baby was born weird back in the old days, the parents would probably kill it. So to spare mutants, they started developing their powers later in life.
But Madrox is one of several mutants who had their powers from birth. Other examples are Nightcrawler, Marrow, Leech and other Morlocks.
Along with the interviews, here are three panels from the entire run of X-Factor that seem to indicate the secret origin. The first is from issue #17. I mentioned how Madrox sent some duplicates out into the world to learn different things. Well the dupe who studied to become a detective became such a good detective that he learned the secrets of Multiple Man’s powers.
The detective duplicate doesn’t want the real Madrox to find out the truth. So he gets himself killed by shooting a corrupt police captain, resulting in him getting shot and killed by the corrupt captain’s men. So Madrox never gets to reabsorb the dupe and his knowledge.
The next panel comes from issue #204. (The series jumped from #50 to #200 as part of a marketing stunt, so don’t get weirded out about the numbering.) Basically, some bad guys are planning to take down Madrox and X-Factor and they’re running a simulation. The bad guys are surprised that Madrox is able to pick up one of their own weapons and then duplicate that rifle along with himself.
The third panel comes from the most recent issue, #224.1. Madrox is explaining his powers to a family.
So there you have it. Peter David has definitely been hinting at something more with Multiple Man’s powers. But what could it be? I don’t think it’ll be something as obvious as revealing that the Madrox we’ve been following all along has actually been a duplicate of some higher Madrox. But I have no other theories. There’s another duplicator in the series, Clay, who has the same powers, and he’s hinted at something larger. Could both Multiple Man and Clay be some kind of descendants of a Grand Multiplier? I just don’t know.
Why I don’t like the idea:
Madrox rose to prominence as my favorite character in part because he’s just a regular mutant. The X-Men franchise is full of hundreds of mutants. Most of them join a team, like the X-Men or the Brotherhood or the Marauders or whoever. Most of them are pigeonholed into some specific superhero or super-villain role. But in everything, Madrox has only ever been just a guy. Yes, he’s on X-Factor and yes, he’s been one of the good guys. But he’s purposefully turned down membership in the X-Men. He’s not just another member of the X-Men. He’s more of a regular Joe. And I love that about him. He’s not special. He’s not super unique. He’s just another mutant trying to live his life.
So to make him unique, give him some special secret origin to his powers, would just ruin that idea.
It’s like the original idea of having Wolverine be the first homo sapien who has simply survived this long. Or to make him an actual wolverine who was hyper-evolved into human form. Both are cool comic book origins, and both were actually considered at one point, but Wolverine is better as just a regular, normal mutant who then accomplished everything Wolverine has accomplished.
There’s something special with being mediocre.