10 Best Superhero Replacement Characters
So, the big news lately, if you haven’t been paying attention, Thor and Captain America will be losing their powers. During this time, a new female character will find herself worthy of the Mjolnir, and Sam Wilson aka Falcon will be taking up the mantle of Captain America. The reaction is exactly what you would think: most geek sites think the sky is falling. The fact of the matter is, though, this is hardly the first time some premiere heroes tagged in a replacement.
Some of these replacements are fairly new and may contain SPOILERS on how their arcs ended.
10. Beta Ray Bill as Thor
When the alien race, The Korbinites, had to escape their planet, they created a robotic guardian they named Alpha Ray. When the mindless automaton proved faulty, they decided to cybernetically enhance one of their citizens. After passing a number of tests and challenges, Korbinite Bill became Beta Ray Bill. The Korbinite fleet would eventually near the Milky Way, and Thor was chosen to investigate. Initially perceived as a threat, Bill engaged Thor in battle and eventually proved worthy to use Mjolnir granting him Thor’s abilities and a similar suit. His time as “Thor” was short (as short as could be), but Odin granted him a similar weapon, The Stormbreaker.
9. Renee Montoya as The Question
Vic Sage is definitely one of the coolest characters DC has ever created. Well……the best character that DC ever bought and developed for their own use. I was very sad to see him die, but before he went, knowing he was about to go, he helped train depressed former Gotham cop, Renee Montoya. Montoya was always a cool character, making her debut in the Batman animated series, but she finally found a future in the bigger DC universe by taking up The Question’s cause. It might not have been the best thing for The Question, but it was certainly the best thing for Montoya.
8. Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan certainly seems like she is voiced by the usual fan reaction. Before she is empowered by the Inhumans’ terrigen mists, she talks about how she wishes Captain Marvel would return to her Ms. Marvel identity, black swimsuit costume and all. The mists gave her stretching and morphing abilities and immediately transformed into that version of Carol Danvers, only to ultimately craft her own look to take up the mantle of Ms. Marvel. She is still a relatively new character, but she has made a big splash. As a female Muslim Arab- American comic book character, she is pretty much a hat trick in terms of the kind of characters that don’t often get a lot of panel time.
7. Otto Octavius as Spider-Man
I never had much faith in this idea. Otto Octavius, rendered weak, elderly, and infirm, switched his mind with that of Spider-Man’s leaving Spidey stuck inside Otto’s body when it finally died. With all of Peter Parker’s memories and experiences flashing before his eyes, Otto finds the hero within himself. He is now motivated by the same mantra as Peter: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Coupled with his brilliant intellect, he sets out to be an even better Spider-Man than Peter was ever capable. In a lot of organic ways, he surpassed Peter, but Otto’s ego and temper would eventually show itself. It was a fun time while it lasted, and it was definitely all worth it to see Otto’s spirit, in the end, admit that Peter is the superior hero.
6. Dick Grayson as Batman
Bruce Wayne “died” at the end of Final Crisis and found himself unstuck in time jumping decades, sometimes longer, to get back to the present. Meanwhile, his first sidekick, Dick Grayson, took up the mantle. I am a big fan of Dick Grayson. As Nightwing, Dick was able to show how he matured from his days as Robin, but he also showed how he will never really be Batman. By becoming Robin, Dick saved himself from years of depression and tortured that helped shape Bruce. When he finally did become the Caped Crusader, he did it with a smile and with an emphasis on style and speed than brute force and form. If Dick had to take over permanently as Batman in the same way as some past replacements had, I certainly would not complain. It was an interesting dynamic to see someone enjoy being Batman.
5. Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern
It must have been hard for Hal Jordan fans to withstand him being turned evil and destroying everything that had to do with the Green Lanterns, except for his own ring and Ganthet. Ganthet would eventually save the ring and give it to struggling artist, Kyle Rayner, saying “You’ll have to do.” Not exactly a ringing endoresment, but it fits right in with the idea of ordinary people being thrust in to extraordinary circumstances. To me, the idea of a protagonist who has to change into a hero rather than one who simply embrace their inherent heroism is far more interesting, but maybe by just a hair. Either way, Kyle really carved out his own special place in the DC universe, one that is not mutually exclusive with Hal’s.
4. Dinah Laurel Lance as Black Canary
I could have picked from a few former JSA-ers who were replaced by new characters. Jay Garrick was replaced by Barry Allen, and Alan Scott was replaced by Hal Jordan. But while characters like Flash and Green Lantern have tenuous relationships between the Golden and Silver Age, the Black Canary has a much more personal legacy. The current Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance, is the daughter of Dinah Lance (née Drake), the original Black Canary. The Silver Agers have also pulled away as the more popular versions often considered the originals by newer fans. This Canary daughter has since started up the Birds of Prey, led the Justice League of America, and been one of the premiere female characters in the DC universe.
3. Tim Drake as Robin
Dick Grayson is probably my favorite Bat-character but as Nightwing, a Robin who became his own man. He is not the best Robin (if that makes sense). The best Robin is Tim Drake, the third Robin. He has the best elements of both Batman and Nightwing. He is analytical and motivated like Batman, but he has a sense of humor and a physicality much more like Nightwing. He was a fan of The Flying Graysons as a kid, and when he saw Dick Grayson perform one of his trademark moves as Robin, he connected all the dots an figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman. I even remember at time when Grayson had made such an impact as Nightwing and paved his own way that some fans (and even some writers) thought Drake would be Batman instead of Grayson.
2. Bucky Barnes as Captain America
For a long time, Bucky was Marvel’s poster child for “no sidekicks” seeing as he died during Captain America’s first go around in WWII. Little did people know that Bucky’s frosty bady minus one arm was recovered by the Soviets in turned into an assassin known as Winter Soldier. It was a character arc that defied reason, thanks to the writing talent of Ed Brubaker. He essentially spearheaded one of the most successful resurrections in comic book history during a time when the revolving door of death was becoming a big joke. He was also the one to put him on a path of redemption as the acting Captain America, even though that costume makes him look like Captain Puerto Rico.
1. Wally West as Flash.
Wally West was easily the most successful sidekick graduation ever. For a number of generations, there really was no such hing as Barry Allen. Allen was just this guy everyone talked about in the Flash comics, who was once really important. I should know I was part of that generation. The irony, which I think a lot of Barry Allen fans fail to see (or maybe refuse too), is that Barry Allen’s shadow made the Flash franchise all the better. Wally was torn between living up to his old mentor (a Silver Ager nice guy who stood up for what he believed in, like a meeker Steve Rogers) while also trying to be his own man,which was usually a good-humored class clown type. I love that type. Whenever working with a team or morally challenged, they always prove to have the biggest heart, never to be underestimated.