Evil Twins


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From The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 © 1992 Marvel Comics. ART BY GEORGE PÉREZ.

Evil Twins

(pop culture)
“Iam but a shadowy reflection of you,” observed artifact plunderer Rene Belloq to his nemesis, archaeologist-turned-adventurer Indiana Jones, in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Like the Belloq/Jones “reflection,” numerous supervillains and superheroes possess similar methods but choose antonymous paths. The Joker and Batman share a yin/yang relationship, each employing violence and dark theatrics to achieve his goals. Venom and Spider-Man, the Reverse- Flash and the Flash, Dr. Doom and Mr. Fantastic, Circe and Wonder Woman, and Sinestro and Green Lantern are among the compatible characters that might have been, or in some cases were, friends or colleagues before a decision to bask in evil's light led one party astray. An evil twin, however, is the hero's exact ethical opposite. He is often the hero's look-alike, albeit with cosmetic or wardrobe differences. He may hail from another world or parallel dimension, or be a clone of the hero gone bad. Through the evil twin, the hero's principles are challenged, and the reader (or the viewer) and the hero are reminded of the codependence of good and evil. No twins are more codependent than writer Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the inspiration for Batman's foe Two-Face, whose morality choices are left to the flip of a coin. DC Comics' Eclipso, who debuted in 1963, was originally dubbed “Hero and Villain in One Man,” although that dichotomy was more a gimmick than a psychological study. Dr. Bruce Banner has at times been separated from his personal “Mr. Hyde,” the Incredible Hulk, but fate cruelly reunites them. The Maestro, the brainchild of writer Peter David and artist George Pérez, exists—or will exist—as the Hulk's evil twin. First seen in the miniseries The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect (1992), the Maestro lived in an alternate timeline approximately 100 years in Banner's future. A bearded, aged amalgamation of the Hulk's various personalities, the despotic Maestro, abetted by his watchful Gravity Police and their robotic Dogs O'War, turned his future Earth into a dystopia, and the present-day Hulk was forced to face the nightmare he might one day become. “Mirror, Mirror,” screenwriter Jerome Bixby's classic 1967 episode of television's original Star Trek (1966–1968), featured several Starship Enterprise crewmembers encountering their malicious alternate-reality analogues, including a goateeadorned Mr. Spock. This episode immortalized facial hair as the defining fashion statement of the evil twin, parodied, among other sources, through goateed doppelgängers of animated characters Cartman (from South Park, 1997–present) and the robot Bender (Futurama, 1999–2003). As with Star Trek's “mirror universe,” the parallel world is a fertile source for evil twins. Justice League of America (JLA) #29 (1964) introduced the Crime Syndicate of America, hailing from an alternate Earth: Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring, corrupt variations of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern. Conversely, that world's Lex Luthor was a superhero, not the criminal scientist known in “our” reality. A different parallel world's Luthor was a hero, along with Clayface, in “Superman and Batman—Outlaws!” in World's Finest Comics #148 (1965). Not to be taken quite as seriously were the 1979 World's Greatest Super Friends TV episode “Universe of Evil,” in which the cartoon version of the Justice League fought its devilish duplicates (including an eye-patched Aquaman, mustached Batman and Robin, and pitchforktailed monkey Gleek), and the Power Posse, evil twins of the bargain-basement JLAers, the Super Buddies, in DC's JLA Classified #9 (2005). Disney's feathered crime fighter Darkwing Duck tussled with Negaduck, his alternate-Earth duplicate, in the animated series Darkwing Duck (1991–1995). The Teen Titans, He-Man, Prime, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are among the characters that have met their sinister counterparts, as has Underdog (from the 1964–1973 cartoon), whose evil twin was Overcat. Marvel Comics' Adam Warlock encountered his evil twin in the form of his futureself the Magus, and the X-Men's foe Onslaught is the manifestation of the dark side of Charles (Professor X) Xavier's personality. Superman has battled no shortage of crackedmirror replicas of himself, including the Frankenstein- esque Bizarro; the Negative Superman, a negative- energy equivalent (World's Finest Comics #126, 1962); and the Sand-Superman, a sandforged duplicate appearing in an early 1970s storyline. A similar theme has been a war between the Man of Steel and his alter ego, often the result of kryptonite mutations, depicted in such tales as “The Feud Between Superman and Clark Kent” in Action Comics #293 (1962) and the live-action movie Superman III (1983). Variations of the evil-twins concept exist. Supervillains have sometimes assumed a superhero's identity through impersonation or mind swapping, a lauded instance being Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's poignant “This Man … This Monster!” from Fantastic Four vol. 1 #51 (1966), featuring an unnamed adversary whose jealousy of Reed (Mr. Fantastic) Richards' intellect led him to scientifically transform himself into an “exact replica” of the rock-encrusted hero the Thing. A time-honored tradition in superhero comic books is the hero fighting himself, with covers featuring astonishing images of Spider-Man versus Spider-Man, or Plastic Man versus Plastic Man, sometimes accompanied by “How can this be possible?!”–type blurbs. Usually, these peculiarities are explained away by an imposter, be it friend, foe, robot replicant, or alien, whose reason for masquerading as the hero is revealed by the turn of the last story page.