Rogue Roulette – Multiple Man
By Jon Durmin
Ahoy, amazing aficionados of adventure! It’s time for yet another inspiring installment of Rogue Roulette. If you are reading this edition without a friend over your shoulder fear not! There’s no way you’ll find yourself feeling mono-social as we measure and magnify the menace menagerie of the many-mannered Mr. Madrox, the Multiple Man!
Even though Jamie Madrox made his debut as the Multiple Man in 1975’s Giant Size Fantastic Four #4 and as a supporting character for the X-Men through the 1980s (also, he was a member of the Fallen Angels. You all remember them, right?), he’s most well know by dedicated fans of both Peter David penned X-Factor series. The first team (the second X-Factor team overall) featured Madrox as the class-clown of a team of mutant superheroes (with Havok, Polaris, Strong Guy, Quicksilver and Wolfsbane) employed by the US government. In David’s second go at X-Factor (the third or fourth X-Factor team), launched in 2005, Multiple Man was front and center as the leader, founder and financier of private investigation firm, X-Factor investigations. Whenever Jamie’s body experiences sufficient blunt force impact (say from stamping his foot, taking a punch or even snapping his fingers) he is able to channel the kinetic energy of that contact into the creation of an almost exact duplicate of himself. I say almost exact because while the “dupes” share Jamie’s appearance, clothing, knowledge, memories and anything he may have been holding at the time of duplication (including weapons as has been demonstrated on multiple occasions), they each have their own distinct personality. Sometimes the differences in the dupes character are minor, other times they are quite drastic (for example one duplicate joined S.H.I.E.L.D. while another joined Hydra before Captain America: the Winter Soldier made it seem cool). Jamie was last seen heading off into the happy sunset with his beloved bride Layla Miller (she knows stuff).
For as long as he’s been around and as much as he’s gotten around thanks to his dupes Jamie has managed to not really accumulate anything like his own rogue’s gallery. I mean, yeah there are the menaces he’s faced time and again alongside the X-Men and with roughly half the versions of X-Factor, but Jamie just doesn’t seem to have any nemeses to call his own. Maybe Damian Tryp counts . . . do we have any pictures of him? We figure it’s because he’s such a nice fella’! Too bad for him we just wouldn’t be doing our jobs here at RR if we left him infinite-footloose-and-fancy-free-of-foes. Get ready Mr. Madrox, because we’re about to give your enemies list an extreme makeover!
In Multiple Man we’re met with a character who can transform from one individual into many. What better foil than an enemy who can transform from many individuals into one? Five times bigger. Five times stronger. Five times faster. Five times smarter. Five times more dangerous than they are alone, the five Tao-Yu brothers (Sun, Chang, Ho, Lin and Han) combine their forms into the Collective Man. At times they have even been shown able to sap the strength of all the people of China for a brief period of time. While they have served the Chinese Government and opposed them in the past, evincing an inconsistent moral character in both roles, these five Chinese brothers most recently attempted to dominate the Triad syndicates in San Francisco. This most recent appearance underscores their criminal leanings. Who better to topple their nefarious plans than an allegedly retired Jamie Madrox and his lovely bride Layla Miller (the newly wed Nick and Nora Charles of the 616-superhero-set)? Just imagine the Tao-Yu brothers setting themselves on Jamie as the Collective Man to overwhelm him only for him to try and overwhelm a combined them with many a copy of him. What a mind-bending brouhaha that would be!
If many men who become one battling one man who becomes many isn’t enough for you (who’s got the equation to figure that out?) we’ll just have to find an extra enemy for dear Jamie. How about a foe that can match Madrox skill for skill? After all, sending his dupes out between X-Factor series allowed Jamie to become quite adept in a great variety of fields and vocations when the duplicates were reabsorbed. This trick has given Jamie quite the shortcut to being a genuine polymath. There may be no better foe for Mr. Madrox than a ne’er do-wel who has their own shortcut for such a diversity of talents, and nobody in the Marvel U fits that description better than the Taskmaster. Oh, I know he’s made a turn as an undercover face recently, but he’s most well known as being a mercenary and trainer for henchmen to be hired by every criminal mastermind and would-be-conqueror (without their own military) to every set foot on Earth-616. Maybe he wouldn’t face Jamie for himself, but he sure might do so for the right price. Maybe even for the Collective Man’s right price. Say, now there’s a story coming together . . .
‘Nuff said, True Believers!