Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jamie Madrox: Then and Now

With Chris down for the count and Randy out of the country, I'm stepping in to provide some new material for loyal readers (and to plug Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge).

We all have those lame characters that just click for us, even if everyone else thinks they suck. I liked Jamie Madrox, even before Peter David took over X-Factor back in the early 90's. David's portrayal quickly rocketed him to the top of my favorite characters list, prompting me to track down his first appearance in Giant Size Fantastic Four #4 from February of 1975, making him approximately three months younger than me.

Considering today we'll get a third issue of David's new run on X-Factor, I decided to revisit the original vision of Madrox and contrast it to the star of the current series.

First off, before you assume some no-name hacks are responsible for the following, let's place blame give credit where it belongs, on the shoulders of Chris Claremont, Len Wein, and John Buscema.

The story begins with Thing--dressed like it's the 1920's--hopping the subway to see Joe Namath and the Jets. The train has to stop though because someone is blocking the tracks. Thing decides to take matters into his own hands, walking across the roof of the train to find Madrox standing on the rails, surrounded by a glowing aura.

Jamie is excited to see someone else who is "different." Thing, unfortunately, is in no mood to play ambassador and when Madrox doesn't get off the track, Ben Grimm decides to settle things with his fists.

Thing weighs about 500 pounds, can lift more than 80 tons, and is covered in a rock-like hide, yet his first punch bounces off Madrox. A second punch causes Madrox to multiply and the two lay Thing out in one punch.Thing tries to fight the Multiple Man, but every hit just adds new opponents. The Madroxes toss around the man who's held his own against the Hulk on many occassions as though he were a malnourished second grader fighting a yeti.

Six hours later, he wakes up in the Baxter Building, conveniently, just as Jamie Madrox is approaching. For some reason, Madrox has been walking from Queens into Manhattan, attracted to the Baxter Building "as a moth is drawn to a flame." As he walks, every electrical anything behind him goes dead.So far, he's beaten the Thing within an inch of his life and killed every electrical appliance in New York City. He also inexplicably makes it to the roof of the Baxter Building... somehow, where he meets Johnny Storm and needs all of one punch to take the Torch out of the fight.The punch so discombobulates Human Torch that he loses his flame and plummets from the roof toward certain death if not for the quick thinking and long reach of Mr. Fantastic.

Seeing as his two teammates have had their asses handed to them, Reed decides to go for the trifecta, using his stretchy powers to bind Madrox. To his credit, Mr. Fantastic doesn't get taken out with one punch and he does last longer than either Thing or Torch, but the end result is still the same.For the record, Madrox smacks around Medusa (who was the replacement to Sue at the time) later as well. In the midst of the fight, Professor X shows up in a helicopter and tells us some of Jamie's biographical information. Madrox politely waits in the wings for the exposition to finish before unleashing his rage and a horrific smackdown upon the guys who made Galactus turn around and leave.

When Jamie was born, his powers were immediately apparent when the doctor slapped him on the butt and he turned into two babies. Jamie's dad, one of the nation's top scientists, abandonned his work on projects like solving world hunger to move to the middle of Kansas, far from anyone else, and raise his son in isolation. This was, we learn later, at the suggestion of Professor X. He invented for Jamie a suit that dampened the impacts that caused him to multiply.

When Jamie was fifteen, a tornado killed both his parents. He continued to live alone for six more years until electrical appliances started blowing up around him for no reason. At that point, he decided to walk from Kansas to New York, during which time no one noticed him until he stepped on the subway tracks in Queens.

Xavier figures out the suit is malfunctioning because no one has maintained it since Jamie's dad died. Raising several more questions than it answered.Where to begin? If some of the circuits are blown, removing them won't fix the problem. They'd need to be replaced. If the bulb in a lamp blows out, you don't light up the room just by unscrewing it. Second, Jamie's suit is designed to prevent his multiplying, disconnecting it won't prevent him duplicating again. Third, his suit, again, dampens impacts and prevents duplication. It doesn't give him superstrength nor invulnerability to fire. When the malfunction first occurs, it causes him great pain as the suit soaks up all the power of a TV and a blender. Shouldn't all the electricity of at least two boroughs have killed him? The explanation is given that somehow the power is fueling him, making him super strong and--I guess--giving him some kind of force field.

It's a stupid explanation.

Anyway, the team that regularly faces off with Dr. Doom every other Tuesday and consistantly kicks his ass steels its courage and hopes against hope it can hold its own against another onslaught from Madrox. Reed Richards wrestles the original and fixes his suit while the rest of the FF pray their deaths with be quick and with honor. Fortunately, they have Professor X's power to elongate his head on their side. I forgot until I read this a second time that not everyone knew Professor X was a mutant at this time, so his pulling out the telepathy was a big deal.

The Professor thanks the Fantastic Four for their help and takes the unconscious Jamie Madrox for deprogramming.

Today, Madrox is a private detective who uses his duplicates to gather information for him, making it hard to believe he once was just one telepathic "Sleep, Jamie. Sleep." suggestion away from stomping a mudhole in the Beyonder.

2 Comments:

Anonymous The Thing That Walks Like A Man said...

If the multiple entries thing was intentional, it was brilliant.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

It happened accidentally, but was intentionally not fixed. So is that half brilliant?

10:06 AM  

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