February 21, 2024

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #312: Doppelganger

A twisted version of Spider-Man just won't stay dead.

The evil clone or alternate version of a superhero is nothing new.  Superman has Bizarro.  Wolverine has Sabertooth.  And so forth.

That said, Spider-Man seems to have more than his fair share of these things.  There’s Venom and Carnage for starters, two characters who, thanks to alien symbiotes, have powers and abilities that are somewhat similar to Spidey’s own.  But then there’s Doppleganger. He’s…a lot more direct.

Doppelganger is the product of a summer mega-crossover who, unlike the other similar beings created for that story, never quite went away.  The story was Jim Starlin’s follow-up to The Infinity Gauntlet, namely The Infinity War.  Adam Warlock’s evil side, given flesh as the Magus, has found a way to make lifeless, evil copies of other beings, notably Earth’s superheroes.  These copies are (with the exception of another Thanos) not exactly identical, taking on a more demonic appearance than the hero they’re copying.  The new beings were said to not be alive, but when they appeared, their sole goal was the subdue the original hero and then absorb them and take their place.  The only way to stop one seemed to be to kill them, but they weren’t really alive anyway.

As it is, the initial attack had four heroes attacked by their doubles:  Reed Richards, Iron Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Man.  Reed and Tony fell to their doubles, Logan dispatched his, and Spidey…well, the main series showed the result but not how it got there as that was saved for a side issue of one of Spidey’s books.

Now, Doppelganger, as he was eventually called, was not an exact double for Spider-Man, and he was arguably the most horrifying of the doubles.  Doppleganger possessed six arms, each of his eight limbs had three digits, the Spider-Man costume was essentially his skin, with the eyes seen as a pair of large compound eyes, and a mouth full of sharp teeth at the lower jaw.  Oh, and he could spin webs that apparently were liked barbed wire.

That said, as I recall, Doppleganger’s first death was better in theory than execution.  Spidey was out there doing his thing as was his longtime enemy the Hobgoblin, but the Hobgoblin had his own double, the religious fanatic demon the Demogoblin.

Yes, a demon that was a religious fanatic.  Comics are weird.

So, two characters, already enemies, out there with a confrontation coming from their own twisted doubles.  The end result comic was rather run-of-the-mill with Doppelganger speared on a fence post, something that normally caused these evil clone things to just disappear, only for the Magus to instantly make a new one.

Death #1

However, the Demogoblin took a liking to Doppelganger and took him away, using his own magical abilities to keep Doppelganger around.  The two would eventually join forces with Carnage and Shriek in the summer-long super-Spider crossover Maximum Carnage where Spidey gathered up the, like, six superheroes that were still in the city that summer along with Venom and a few other antiheroes to take on a rampaging Carnage and a warped family of Carnage’s own.  Doppelganger would end up taking a liking to Carnage’s girlfriend Shriek.

That fondness ended when Carnage eventually stabbed Doppelganger and tossed him off a building.  That would be death #2.  That said, it seems that Doppelganger keeps coming back, maybe gaining some rudimentary intelligence, and invariably finding his way back to Carnage or Shriek.  And since Shriek doesn’t seem to come out much without Carnage…yeah.

Point is, he didn’t literally fade away like everyone else’s demonic doubles, so here he is, whether you want him around or not.