Many moons ago Hachette started a Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection which attempted to condense roughly 35 years of Marvel history into 60 volumes. When this began I wrote a piece theorising what titles would appear in the collection and was almost entirely wrong (but they did include Marvels so good for them). With this collection due to end in April Hachette are now starting the Marvels Mightiest Heroes Collection, with titles that focus more on the individual characters of the Marvel Universe. To coincide with this Hachette are currently running a poll on their website where you can vote for who you think is Marvel’s Mightiest Hero from a choice of 50 characters for a chance to win a subscription.
Now, the question of who’s mightiest is one that has been discussed from playgrounds to water coolers across the world. For some the answer is easy. A hardcore fan can turn around instantly and say: “Spider Man: because he’s brainy and has the proportional strength and speed of a Spider without the worry of being flushed down the plughole”. For me personally though crafting an answer is somewhat trickier. I’m an indecisive soul at the best of times. Ask me if I’d like a cup of tea and by the time I give you an answer the stars will have turned cold and my tea along with them. The answer depends on what books I’m reading at the time and what aspects of it’s characters I identify with most. Ask me one month and I’ll tell you Iron Man is the mightiest hero. After all he and I are both genius’s with a tendency to drink too much. Ask me another time and I’ll tell you it’s Squirrel Girl because we both like milkshakes. Given the chance I could write an essay the average length of an Alan Moore interview discussing who the mightiest Marvel hero is but ask me for a snap decision and I’d be pulled in a thousand different directions at once. Which is a bit like Madrox the Multiple Man from X-Factor, which I’ve been reading a lot of since the New Year started, so yeah I choose him.
Madrox is an interesting character with the ability to create duplicates of himself through kinetic impact. Until I started reading Peter David’s most recent volume of X-Factor a decade ago though he was also one with whom I had little experience. After 112 straight issues though the character has become a firm favourite and my pick for Marvel’s Mightiest Hero. Why though? What’s so special about Madrox, one time stooge of the Shadow King and winner of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Now while I may be that comic book fan who votes for the underdog in polls like this I’m not the sort of fan who can give you a blow by blow of the character’s history detailing how each event proves this character is the best there is at what he does (After all that’s somebody else’s trademark remember). No, all I know of Madrox is what I’ve read in the most recent iteration of X Factor and even if you asked me exactly what he’d done in this run to prove his might my Swiss Cheese of a memory would mean I’d forget something important and I’d probably change my mind anyway after seeing a random guest appearance (I’m starting to wonder if I should have chosen Wolverine, after all we’re both short and suffer chronic memory loss!) but indecision decided that I should choose Madrox.
Much as I like Madrox for his multiple choice mentality it’s actually his single minded determination with regards to what’s right that appeals to me the most. Throughout X-Factor Madrox stands up for what he believes in time and again whether it be disagreeing with Cyclops over the Superhero Registration Act or vowing to protect Tier, son of Wolfsbane, from the Lords of Hell. When we discuss who the mightiest hero is we all to often get caught up in the question of who’d win in a punch up but when has anyone ever been declared anyone’s hero because they broke another persons face? Yes Madrox might be a literal One Man Army but my favourite moment of his to date (other than the time he called Scott Summers “myopic”) is the scene where he uses his dupes to build a human pyramid to rescue an old man from the roof of a burning building. Sure strength in numbers is all well and good and he may not be averse to getting his hands dirty when he has to, but it’s Madrox’s determination to help people, no matter the odds, that makes him such a mighty character (well that and Peter David’s immaculate writing). Sure he’s not perfect but it’s his ability to admit his mistakes and try to make himself better across the ten years of David’s run only serve to make him a more identifiable character. What’s more Madrox can duplicate whatever he’s holding at the time he activates his power. While the reason behind this has never been explained it offers up an incredible possibility. Theoretically if you give the Multiple Man a sandwich he could duplicate himself and the sandwich thus solving world hunger!
Ok, so that’s all I’ve got to contribute to the question of who is Marvel’s Mightiest Hero. Really I’m just happy to have an excuse to talk about one of my favourite characters. If you’re reading this, and you haven’t already, then you should definitely check out Peter David’s run on X-Factor because it’s totally awesome and David is a superb writer backed up by some tremendous artists. You should also check out the Hachette part work too if only because the first issue is only £1.99. But yes, to alliterate, Madrox the Multiple Man is Marvel’s Mightiest Hero.
Now get out of here before I change my mind.