By notoriousbcb 14 Comments
Over the years, the big two have introduced near-omnipotent characters that have tended to be flat or have had very limited useful life. Conceptually, the ability to duplicate multiple powers of multiple heroes simultaneously is great in principle, but it never delivers on its promise. DC introduced us to Duplicate Boy, a 30 Century teen from the planet Lallor who could duplicate any power at will. As he and his compatriots are manipulated into battling the Legion of Super-Heroes, he develops a crush on Shrinking Violet. DC’s limited panels depicting his abilities include the following:
Duplicate Boy effortlessly duplicates Shrinking Violet’s size manipulation powers will simultaneously copying Superboy’s heat vision to scare away a forest creature. Seriously, this is the best you’ve got? I know he lacks both experience and imagination, but you expect more from a character with this ability. He should have been able to duplicate Chemical King’s ability to alter chemical reactions to negate the efficacy of the serum Mon-El drank to cure his vulnerability to lead while simultaneously using White Witch’s magic to deal with Superboy while continuing to copy the rest of Mon-El’s abilities to defend himself against counters from the rest of the Legion. I know, too much, too fast, hence his appearance in a scant 28 issues.
Marvel is guilty of the same. In X-Factor Annual #1, we are introduced to Dr. Wolfgang Heinrich a.k.a. Doppelganger, who can take on the appearance and powers of any mutant. He parries Iceman’s every offensive, only to succumb to a collapsing floor that could not bear the weight of the iceberg he created. Again, is this as good as it gets? Iceman cites experience with his power as the key to victory. Personally, I think it’s just another cop out.
Marvel hasn’t stopped with Doppelganger, lest we fail to consider Mimic. He has permanently copied the abilities of the First Five. Now we have a character with the strength and agility of Beast that can control cold, fire optic blasts at will, fly at great speeds, and utilize telekinetic and telepathic abilities at will and the best he can do is become a bit player in Dark X-Men? Copying these powers is actually understating his ability – he can control Cyclops’ optic blasts and exhibits greater control over other powers he has copied as well. Marvel has also opted not to opine on his limitations (i.e. duration of power use, numbers of powers at once). Given these circumstances, he should hold a prominent place in the Marvel Universe (be it good or evil). If Mimic has greater control over his copied powers, why doesn’t he copy the Scarlet Witch’s abilities and use the phrase “ No More Mutants” to depower individuals?
Power-mimicry has one ally – Rogue. I believe she succeeds where the others have failed or have been poorly utilized since her character has been flawed historically. From her introduction, she has been depicted as incapable of human contact as she cannot control her powers – evidenced by the permanent absorption of Ms. Marvel’s abilities. She bears not only the burden of this lack of control; she also absorbs the memories and personality attributes of those she touches – at times resulting in an mentally unstable character that makes for compelling reading.
Should characters like Duplicate Boy and Mimic be better utilized?