Real Name: Carlos Zarago

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: Tyrant

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: His military

Enemies: Pedro Lopez

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "Excellency" (as called by his people)

Base of Operations: His palace in an unidentified country (see comments)

First Appearance: Strange Tales I#100/2 (September, 1962)

Powers/Abilities: Zarago had a stocky build and probably had greater than average strength; he was a cruel dictator who ruled over his nation with an iron-fist.  He typically wore a military dress-uniform accessorized with a handgun, a large knife, and (occasionally) a hand-grenade; he frequently smoked a cheroot cigar in a holder.

   Although having no paranormal abilities, Zarago was exposed to a duplicating machine which produced a total of thirteen duplicates of him.

Height: 6'2" (by approximation)
Weight: 220 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

History: (Strange Tales I#100/2 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Carlos Zarago is largely unrevealed, but at some point he fought for the forces of communism and established a brutal regime in his country, with himself as the dictator. Although his oppressed subjects outwardly seemed obedient and loyal, the despot sensed they actually hated him and were plotting his overthrow.

(Strange Tales I#100/2) - Zarago was riding past the cheering citizenry in his staff car when one of the onlookers tossed a grenade at the motorcade, but he narrowly avoided the assassination attempt; realizing his luck might some day run out, Zarago knew he had to find a way to protect himself from further potential assassins. A few days later at a public function, Zarago overheard two men talking about a local inventor named Pedro Lopez, who they claimed had created a device that could duplicate anything -- Lopez had even supposedly used it to reproduce living things. Upon hearing this, Zarago was struck with the idea of having a double of himself created -- it could be used to mingle with the crowds and be exposed to danger, while he could remain safe and secure.

   The following day, Zarago had Pedro Lopez brought to his office, and he ordered Lopez to create a duplicate of him or else be executed. Reluctantly, Lopez agreed and had his equipment transported to a chamber in Zarago's palace. Lopez activated the device, and an exact copy of Carlos Zarago materialized, then Zarago escorted his duplicate back to his office -- unbeknownst to Zarago, Lopez remained behind and activated the duplication process several more times.

   When the dictator and his doppelganger reached his office, Zarago informed the duplicate about the purpose he would serve -- he would substitute for Zarago at all public functions where assassins were liable to lurk. But the duplicate objected, for he had all the traits of Zarago, including his desire to stay alive, so he refused to expose himself to danger -- during their conversation, Zarago further learned that the duplicate was too perfect, for he had the same memories, the same ambitions, and the same lust for power as Zarago. Not wanting any competition to threaten his rule, Zarago pulled out his handgun and shot the duplicate, then he went back to the chamber to destroy the duplicating machine and kill Lopez, so no further duplicates of him could ever be created to challenge him. But as he entered the chamber, Zarago saw to his shock a dozen facsimiles of himself, all arguing amongst themselves over which was the real Zarago!

   Meanwhile, Lopez had directed the palace guards to the chamber, and the stunned soldiers could only wonder which of the thirteen men in the chamber was truly their leader. Amidst the panic and confusion, and with no dictator to stop them, the army arose against the dictatorship of Zarago; in a lightning-swift revolution, Zarago's regime crumbled. A new democratic government was formed, while Carlos Zarago and his twelve counterparts were put aboard a jet plane and exiled from the land -- Zarago's former subjects would never know which one of the thirteen identical men was the real Zarago, but that mattered not to them, for they were glad just to be rid of the tyrant.

   Shortly afterward, Pedro Lopez pushed down the plunger of a detonator and blew up his duplicating machine -- it had served its purpose well, but it had to be destroyed. Lopez thought over how his scheme to overthrow Zarago had been dangerous, but it worked just as he had planned, for there was no place in the world for dictators such as Zarago.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Jack Kirby (artist)

The final fate of Carlos Zarago and his dozen duplicates is unrevealed.

The name of Zarago's country wasn't mentioned, but considering that the landscape included palm trees, it was probably located in Central or South America. The symbol for Zarago's regime was a red "XX" on a black background.

Considering the era this story was first published, Carlos Zarago was probably patterned after real-life Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (...and Pedro Lopez looked a little like Colonel Harland Sanders).

No explanation was given for exactly how Lopez's duplicator functioned -- how, in effect, it was able to create something from nothing, so I guess it probably worked on the same pseudo-scientific principles as other duplicator machines seen in the Marvel Universe over the years (see Clarifications for details).

Or maybe Lopez's duplicator was actually a form of "time-machine," and the "duplicates" were really temporal counterparts of persons and/or objects pulled from a potential future and/or parallel timeline (similarly to the powers of Flashback and Timeshadow).

This issue of Strange Tales was published in the same month as Fantastic Four I#6, Incredible Hulk I#3, and Journey into Mystery I#84, so it's possible that this story took place in the early days of the modern Marvel Universe.

This 6-page story -- "The Imitation Man" -- was reprinted in Journey into Mystery II#13 (October, 1974).

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

Carlos Zarago has no known connections to:

Pedro Lopez has no known connections to:

Pedro Lopez

An elderly genius inventor, he created a machine which could produce duplicates of anything, even living creatures.

   When dictator Carlos Zarago heard talk of Lopez's invention, he wanted to use it to create a double of himself as a decoy for assassination attempts; although Lopez had used the duplicator on cats and dogs, he was opposed to use it on a human ("Only the Power that rules Heaven and Earth has the right to copy human life!"). 

   Under threat of execution, Lopez relented and agreed to create a duplicate of Zarago... but he also created a dozen more -- Lopez's sole purpose for building his duplicating machine seemed to be for an elaborate scheme to cause confusion in Zarago's military and instigate a revolution against his tyrannical rule.  Lopez later blew up his device after it served its purpose.

--Strange Tales I#100/2

Duplicating machine

The invention of Pedro Lopez, it had the power to produce perfect duplicates of objects and living things.  It was a system composed of three discrete interconnected stages:
   Stage one was a sensor array ("electro-probe") that analyzed the structure of the object to be reproduced.
   Stage two was a computer that would compile and record the data from the sensors.
   Stage three was the actual machinery that somehow reproduced the duplicates (see comments).

   The limitations of the duplicating machine are unknown, but it reproduced a total of thirteen duplicates of Carlos Zarago.

   The duplicating machine was eventually blown up by Lopez.

--Strange Tales I#100/2

Zarago's duplicates

All produced by Pedro Lopez's duplicating machine, they numbered a total of thirteen. They were perfect physical replicas of dictator Carlos Zarago, and even had his memories and personality traits; but they also had their own sense of autonomy, and each thought of himself as the true Zarago.

The first duplicate was shot by Zarago when he refused to take the tyrant's place as an assassination decoy.

A dozen duplicates were later produced by Lopez to cause confusion in the ranks of Zarago's military.

The twelve duplicates and Zarago were exiled following a revolution which ended Zarago's dictatorship.

--Strange Tales I#100/2

images: (without ads)
Strange Tales I#100/2
, p1, pan1 (Main Image, Carlos Zarago)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p2, pan6 (Headshot, Carlos Zarago)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p2, pan1 (Zarago (standing in staff car) waving to adoring crowd)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p5, pan4 (Zarago shooting his first duplicate)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p3, pan3 (Pedro Lopez)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p3, pan8 (Lopez activating duplicating machine)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p3, pan4 (three stages of duplicating machine in chamber of Zarago's palace)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p4, pan4 (first duplicate of Zarago materializes from third stage of duplicating machine)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p5, pan2 (the real Zarago (left) argues with his first duplicate)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p5, pan7 (Zarago (left) sees his many duplicates)
Strange Tales I#100/2, p6, pan3 (confused soldiers trying to find the real Zarago amongst his many duplicates)

Strange Tales I#100/2 (September, 1962) - unidentified writer, Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)

Last updated: 01/19/17

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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