In the 1940s, every superhero had a sidekick that followed him around.  By the 1960s, it seemed everyone had a utility belt, and by the end of the Bronze Age, every bad guy worth his salt had an arch-nemesis whose evil was a perfect counterpart for their heroism.  The really good heroes, like Superman and Spider-Man, got more than one, balancing different aspects of their character, while Batman had at least five at last count.  If you listen to the Major Spoilers Podcast, you’ve likely heard me complain about the “Dark Mirror” trope, as it not only leads to overexposure of the likes of Venom, The Joker and Magneto, it makes stories WITHOUT them seem somehow insignificant.  After all, if Batman isn’t fighting his most terrible foe, how bad can things really be?  Still, there are a number of such characters whom I really enjoy, not the least of which being Darkwing Duck’s nemesis, the eeeeevil Negaduck, proving that even the most hackneyed bit of storytelling can be awesome with enough Jim Cummings, and leading us to today’s Earth-3 query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) has to admit that my distaste is probably due to misuse/overuse of the trope in the 1990s, asking: Who is the best example of the evil twin or dark mirror archetype in fiction?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. Alisha
    April 4, 2015 at 12:48 pm — Reply

    While I wouldn’t call him one of the “best”, I really like Albedo from Ben 10. Rather than being a complete “Dark Mirror” duplicate from an alternate reality or setting out specifically to be a match of the character, he was originally an alien who wanted the Omnitrix and created a working but inferior copy of his own. Since Ben’s DNA was the default template for the Omnitrix, Albedo would revert to Ben’s form afterward since it drew from the same source. After some craziness, he was stuck in a twisted version of Ben’s form (white hair instead of brown, red color scheme instead of green, etc.) and forced to stay that way (and picked up some of Ben’s habits and stuff, like his addiction to chili fries).

    I just found him interesting since it was a different twist on the idea from what I’ve seen many times before.

    I’m also fond of the Justice Lords. Rather than being “evil”, most of them honestly believed they were doing what they did for the greater good even though it went against what they were trying to achieve.

    • April 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm — Reply

      I almost put down the Justice Lords myself, but I wasn’t sure how evil or dark mirror inverse they were…. they were always portrayed as being just one traumatic step away from the Justice League themselves.
      When they brought in the Justice Lords Beyond recently it had to have been the most excited I’ve gotten for ANY crossover.

  2. April 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm — Reply

    I have great love for the CONCEPT of the Jokester, from Earth-3. I’ve never read or seen any version of him yet whose story I’ve particularly loved, but the idea of one man in a dark world ruled by ultra powerful gods who perpetuate evil and a system of corruption – the idea of that man refusing to give into despair and bouncing around his world with a constant smile on his face, believing completely in laughter – the laughter of a good man in the face of overwhelming darkness is something I would LOVE to see explored further in an Earth-3 story one day, although the mess that was Forever Evil has probably ruined chances of that for a good long while now.
    As far as EVIL counterparts go.. Nero. Kyle Rayner’s nemesis, the mad, artistic owner of the Yellow Ring, showing Kyle the dark side of a powerful imagination.

  3. TheWolverine
    April 4, 2015 at 1:04 pm — Reply

    For me the best will always be the bearded alternate version of Spock. He wasn’t so much evil as his world was just dark. And he would still listen to logic & reason. I would have liked to have seen another visit to his reality to see how things played out.

    • Alisha
      April 4, 2015 at 2:27 pm — Reply

      They did return to the Mirror Universe in DS9, and events of the original episode had enough impact to be mentioned.
      From Memory Alpha (The Star Trek canon wiki):
      “Shortly thereafter, Spock rose to become leader of the Terran Empire, proposing a series of reforms designed to make the Empire more secure and less dictatorial in nature. These included a significant disarmament program. Unfortunately, once these reforms were complete, the Empire was unable to defend itself against the equally aggressive and powerful forces surrounding it. The Klingon-Cardassian Alliance overran the Empire, conquering Earth and leaving Terrans and Vulcans enslaved, and freeing several worlds that still remained under Terran occupation, including Bajor. (DS9: “Crossover”)”

      If you don’t mind non-canon, the Mirror Universe Spock (as well as Mirror versions of a few more recent characters) made an appearance in the post-“Generations” Kirk novels that were co-written by Shatner. There were some interesting differences in how different Mirror Spock was from Spock from the main timeline as they had developed quite differently in many ways over the years (and also Mirror Kirk made it to the 24th century, but via very different means than normal Kirk).

      • TheWolverine
        April 4, 2015 at 3:24 pm — Reply

        Wow. How could I have forgotten that? Those were some of my favorite episodes too.

        I guess I better find something stronger than chewing gum to patch up those holes. (^_^)

        • Alisha
          April 5, 2015 at 9:56 am — Reply

          Don’t feel bad, with all the Trek that is out there, it can be a bit hard to remember every detail. I keep forgetting things (both big and little) even if they are part of an episode or storyline I really like. For instance, I’ve often forgotten that Tribbles are no longer extinct even though DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations” is one of my all-time favorite episodes of any TV series.

    • April 4, 2015 at 4:06 pm — Reply

      Aha! I had forgotten bearded Spock, thats a good one.

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