Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Number 2178: Captain Marvel Jr's “Multiplicity”
This 1943 Captain Marvel Jr tale reminds me of the 1996 comedy, Multiplicity, starring Michael Keaton, where multiple clones were made of the lead character. The Cap Jr story doesn’t use the word “clone,” but that word was in use in those days. It was taken from Greek in 1903 by plant physiologist Herbert J. Webber to “refer to the technique of of propagating new plants using cuttings, bulbs or buds.” (From NPR.org, and bless the Internet for providing the information.)
In the comic book story the cloning is done with a “cell divider,” a devilish contraption used by Nazi spies. As in the much later Multiplicity, it is mostly magic, since cloning doesn’t work like that. But in the comic book it is used to solve another problem for Cap Jr — that of being identified publicly as newsboy Freddie Freeman. It is like those Superman stories where Superman sends in a robot to fool the people who have figured out his secret identity. The result is the same for Cap Jr. Like Superman, there is chicanery, and Freddie protects his secret.
From Captain Marvel Jr #8 (1943). Artwork by Al Carreno.