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X-Men Reminds Fans of The Clone Problem Everyone Forgets

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The X-Men just reminded fans of a ridiculous problem associated with the cloning process, one that recently came with violent consequences.

Warning! This article contains spoilers for Hellions #11

In the epic finale of a mind-bending storyline featuring the X-Men’s most popular heroes, the mutant team reminds fans of the clone problem everyone forgets. Marvel has seldom shied away from a good cloning story, from Spider-Man’s punk-rock-attired doppelganger Ben Reilly, to the story behind Cable’s entire existence. The X-Men even have a master cloner on their team, Mr. Sinister, who recently had his hands in some illegal cloning after he abandoned the vocation upon joining with the mutants of the world on Krakoa. But a villain arguably more sinister than even Mr. Sinister himself forced the mad scientist’s back to work after running into problems with cloning that X-fans have seen in the past. 

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In Hellions #11, by Zeb Wells with art by Stephen Segovia and David Curiel, the X-Men offshoot team is trapped in an illusion created by Mastermind and orchestrated by Arcade. The team found itself in this situation after trying to rescue its leader, Mr. Sinister, who Arcade is using to create for him an army of clones. In the end, the Hellions escape their psychological captor, defeat Arcade, and free Mr. Sinister, a painful and terrifying series of events for the mutant heroes due to the fact that Sinister’s predecessor in the cloning task had run into a familiar problem.  

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In an email sent to Arcade by one of his subordinates before Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister) was forced to pick up the reins, the scientist tasked with creating the X-Men villain’s army of clones voices his concerns with the project. R.J. Briggs, the scientist formerly behind Arcade’s cloning, wrote to his boss saying that he was concerned with his and his team’s morale after witnessing the violent murder of their team leader at the hands of Arcade and his robotic teddybears all because the clones he and his team produced came out as babies. Briggs told Arcade in the email that all manufactured clones begin their life-cycles as babies and that the threat of horrifying deaths won’t get him the adult clones he wants. Upon reading the email, Arcade has Briggs killed and kidnaps Mr. Sinister to take his place. 

Clones beginning their lives as babies is an odd though well-established rule within Marvel mythos stretching all the way back to the earlier pages of X-Men comics. In one of the more ridiculous mutant storylines known as X-Babies, which debuted in Uncanny X-Men Annual #12, the villainous multi-dimensional television producer Mojo cloned the X-Men for higher ratings. What Mojo didn’t count on was the same thing that so greatly upset Arcade, the fact that they all came out as babies. 

While the act of cloning or even resurrecting previously existing clones, like the original Cable or Madelyne Pryor, is forbidden by order of the Quiet Council of Krakoa, Mr. Sinister is a proven expert. It was Sinister’s expertise in genetics and his contributions in that field to the mutant rebirth program that got him an invitation to the Quiet Council to begin with. Though his skills keep him from being directly affected, Sinister’s cloning capabilities don’t lessen the impact of a classic and well-established problem with clones throughout X-Men books, a problem everyone, most recently Arcade, forgets. 

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