Comic Villains Who Went Good
A while back I wrote about the various superheroes who turned evil. But today we are looking at the flip side to that. Sometimes an evildoer learns the error of their ways and seeks to make amends. This can often lead to compelling stories of redemption for the readers to dig into. So here are the top supervillains who went good.
Harley Quinn: The poster child of the reformed villain, Harley Quinn lost a prominent career in mental health after being seduced by the madness of the Joker. First appearing in the classic Batman: the Animated Series, Harley was the Joker’s girlfriend so infatuated with her “puddin’” that she put up with his abuses. As she became more popular than anyone would have thought, Quinn began to pop up in the comics. With the long term storytelling which the medium lends itself to, readers got to watch her character evolve over several years. She became more independent and learned to stand up for herself. Eventually Harley’s creator Paul Dini utilized her during his critically praised Detective Comics run where she helps Batman on a case. Seeing how much she has changed Bruce Wayne pulls the necessary strings to get her paroled. She has evolved into the DC Universe’s most popular antihero prominently serving stints with the Suicide Squad. She recently became romantically involved with fellow reformed villain Posion Ivy finally giving Harley a healthy and positive relationship.
Deadpool: He may now be one the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe responsible for scores of annoying cosplayers at every convention, but the Merc with a Mouth did not start that way. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool was a take on the Teen Titans villain Deathstroke. He was introduced as an assassin who was targeting Cable and the New Mutants. However, when writer Joe Kelly and artist Ed McGuiness got their hands on the character they began to change him up. Wade Wilson steadily evolved into his role as the zany fourth-wall breaker we all know him to be. Using Deadpool to parody the overly-serious and heavily –armed antiheroes who flooded the market, the character began to develop a cult following. He and former enemy Cable were thrown together in a fan-favorite comic run before breaking out on his own. Hollywood took notice of the character’s popularity and Deadpool became the star of two hit feature films, which fully brought him into the superhero mainstream.
Magneto: This is one that has gone back and forth for as ultimately the Master of Magnetism lives by a set of principles which at times put him on the side of good. While they were once friends, a rift formed between Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier as to how they as mutants should relate to humanity. While Xavier created the X-Men to build bridges, Magneto leads a hard-lined stance believing if given the chance humans will launch a genocide on mutants. But faced with the powerful threat of the Beyonder, Magneto finds himself an ally to the X-Men. This would last a while before he would become disillusioned with how humans treated his kind and return to his evil ways. Since then he has been an off-and-on compatriot to Marvel’s Merry Mutants, most notably serving as a confidant to Cyclops. Ultimately Magneto will do whatever he feels will protect his mutant brethren regardless if it is right or wrong.
Clayface: When DC Comics launched it’s Rebirth, one of the things they wanted to do was make Detective Comics different from the main Batman title. They accomplished this by making it a team book as the Dark Knight assembled allies like: Batwoman, Red Robin, Spoiler, and……Clayface? Batman confronted the villain at a theater showing the movies he was in before he became a clay covered monster. He convinced his former enemy to use his abilities to help him and the other heroes of Gotham protect the city. The creative team of James Tynion IV and Eddie Barrows used this opportunity to explore one of Batman’s most sympathetic foes and give him a great redemption arc.
Rogue: Many often forget that the daughter of Mystique had a past before she joined the Merry Mutants, and that past often involved her joining in her mother’s schemes with the Brotherhood of Mutants. Along with the likes of; Avalnache, Pyro, the Blob and Toad, she was a frequent thorn opponent to the X-Men as well as the Avengers. Easily the worst crime she perpetrated was putting Ms. Marvel in a coma while stealing her powers, something which would affect Carol Danvers for years. It would be the psychci backlash she got from this which led to the power-absorbing mutant turning to Professor X for help. Being welcomed by Xavier drover her face-turn as Rogue joined the faction she once called in enemies as a fan favorite in the X-Men.
Emma Frost: A member of the nefarious Hellfire Club, Emma Frost served as the team’s White Queen. They were an elite group of villains who made their presence known to the X-Men during the classic Dark Phoenix Saga. Even as a villain Emma Frost displayed an aptitude for teaching the next generation of mutants. This would cause the X-Men to see value in her when they rescued her during the genocide of the mutant nation of Genosha. She was put to use mentoring the psychic students at Xavier’s school, but her wicked ways would not easily fade away. She began making overtures towards team leader Cyclops, even engaging in a telepathic affair driving a wedge between he and Jean Grey. Upon Jean’s death in the finale of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s historic run on New X-Men, Emma and Cyclops grew closer romantically. She would stand loyally beside during the coming tribulations which forced him into a greater leadership role for the mutant community as a whole. Even going so far as to create a psychic projection of him to lead the X-Men after his death during the Inhumans vs X-Men mini series.
Black Widow: This one may come as a shock to many non-comic readers, but the master spy was not always on the side of the angels. Given that she was a femme-fatale Russian spy created during the Cold War this really should not be too much of a surprise. Trained to be the perfect spy she became a menace to the superhero community. Her greatest crime was easily recruiting Bucky into becoming the brainwashed Winter Soldier. Though as she learned the truth about what her Soviet overlords had done to her she began to rebel before eventually joining the Avengers she once fought. Captain America in particular saw value in her skills as she joined the group of other reformed villains like; Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch on the team. Ever since she has been one of the most enigmatic but capable superheroes in the Marvel Universe.