The Replacements1 of 12In rock, the Replacements are a seminal Minneapolis band that fused ramshackle drunkenness and post-punk power-pop for a legion of fondly remembered tunes.
In comic books, the Replacements are those heroes that step in and assume the mask, name, or tiara of another hero (or heroine) that's been sidelined by injury, personal problems, or the occasional fleeting case of the deaths – you know, “legacy” heroes.
In recent years, Marvel Comics has made a habit of embracing replacement heroes and legacy characters, with Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Wasp, Nova, Quasar, and possibly more on the way. Putting a new character (possibly someone who is not a white guy) in an established identity (in marketing, a 'brand') not only allows a publisher to shake up the status quo of an old standby, but also allows them to bring in new characters and new ideas without the difficulties associated with launching brand new superheroes and titles, which, in recent memory, typically have a hard time being embraced by fans.
So with due apologies to Kyle, Jean Paul, Bucky and a few others, click through and let's count down the greatest legacy heroes of all time!
JOHN WALKER - CAPTAIN AMERICA2 of 12Steve Rogers, you quitter!
On one of the occasions when Steve Rogers vacated the role of Captain America (becoming instead the black-and-red clad Captain), the U.S. government filled the costume with John Walker, who had once been Super-Patriot.
As Captain America, Walker's rage fed mental problems that pushed him closer to the edge. He even killed several opponents in combat.
Eventually, after a battle with the Red Skull, Walker persuaded Steve Rogers to become Captain America again. Walker's death was faked and he got a new identity (as Jack Daniels. Yes. Johnny Walker. Jack Daniels. We just report it, folks). After that, he began operating as the hero called U.S. Agent.
U.S. Agent is about to return to the Marvel Universe squaring off with another replacement Cap – Sam Wilson, the former Falcon and current wielder of Cap’s iconic shield.
ARTEMIS - WONDER WOMAN3 of 12We know that this replacement thing happens a lot, but did you know that this was the second time that Diana was replaced as Wonder Woman by a red-haired Amazon?
The original's name was Orana, and her story was in Wonder Woman #250 and #251 from 1978. Artemis came about because Hippolyta, after the Amazons had been trapped in a demon dimension, saw a future where Wonder Woman died. Hippolyta sought to arrange a replacement for Diana so that she might live.
Due to some subterfuge from Hippolyta, Artemis won the right to be the new Wonder Woman. As in the '70s story, Diana followed her replacement back to the states. After a series of battles (some real, some arranged by a public relations firm), Artemis fell in battle against the White Magician (himself a demon). Diana took over as Wonder Woman again, and Artemis did eventually return to life.
Speaking of Hippolyta. she's also served as a substitute Wonder Woman a few times, most notably after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, when she traveled to the past to become the Golden Age Wonder Woman, ensuring the protection of her Amazon sisters.
THE FOUR SUPERMEN4 of 12Superman is another guy that's taken a powder from time to time. Clearly, the most famous round of replacements came in 1992 after the big guy seemingly took the dirt nap versus Doomsday. Each of the four characters claimed to be Superman, though ultimately, none were.
You had Superboy (the clone), Eradicator (the Kryptonian artifact), Steel (the inspired), and the Cyborg Superman (villain in disguise!).
To the credit of all involved, the four replacements were made into viable characters, with Superboy and Steel getting their own books, and Eradicator and Cyborg living on as villains.
A new version of the Cyborg, this one built from Supergirl’s father, will appear in her "Rebirth" title, while the Eradicator is a major villain in "Rebirth"’s Superman. Steel will appear in Superwoman, while a new Superboy – Superman’s son – is front and center in the Superman titles and the upcoming Super Sons.
BEN REILLY - SPIDER-MAN5 of 12Yeah. Clone Saga. Hang on...
This whole thing started due to a confrontation that Spidey had with Professor Miles Warren, aka The Jackal (which played out across Amazing Spider-Man #141-151 in the mid-'70s). Warren was a cloning expert, and he created clones of both Spider-Man and the late love of his life, Gwen Stacy. Warren also loved Stacy, and blames Spider-Man for her death. Spider-Man eventually defeats the clone and the Jackal, and it's implied that the clone was incinerated. Spidey believes that he's the real Spidey because he feels true, deep love for MJ, which a clone of a younger Peter would not. Follow? Okay.
Flash-forward a couple of decades. The clone reappears, using the name Ben Reilly. An enormously complicated storyline ensues, crossing two years of time and literally dozens of issues. Reilly adventures as the Scarlet Spider, but becomes Spider-Man after he and Peter are duped into believing that Peter is the clone and Peter retires, with Ben stepping in as Spider-Man.
Eventually, the true enemy of the piece turns out to be Norman Osborn (the original Green Goblin) who had never died. Reilly is killed in the final battle, and turns to dust, confirming the fact that he is the clone.
This is a ridiculously compressed version of events, but we are talking about (by our count) approximately 764 comic books.
Today, the event is widely seen in fan circles as an event gone off the rails (although that's not to say it doesn't have its very devoted fans).
The upshot: Spider-Man was indeed officially replaced for some time, but when the clone dust cleared, Peter Parker was back in the suit.
And, over in the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales replaced Peter Parker after the latter’s death. He’s recently become a part of the mainstream Marvel Universe, operating alongside Peter.
DICK GRAYSON - BATMAN6 of 12A replacement so nice DC did it twice.
The first time went like this: The original Robin, Dick Grayson took on the more mature Nightwing persona in 1984. Long-viewed by most at Batman's eventual successor, Dick got his chance to fill the cowl in the 'Knightfall'/'KnightsEnd' follow-up, 'Prodigal.' In that story, which stretched from fall of 1994 and into 1995, Bruce Wayne passed the mantle to Dick, whom he had raised after the death of Dick's parents, while he did some soul-searching over his role. After a brief period, Bruce returned to the Batman role, and Dick went back to being Nightwing, though he wasn’t the only substitute Batman in this time period. The former Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, filled the role for a time, albeit less successfully.
As for the second time, Batman seemingly died during Final Crisis after taking out Darkseid. While the real explanation is pretty complicated, let's just say that he didn't. During his absence, Dick again donned the cowl as Batman, and Bruce's son Damien became Robin. Although Bruce eventually returned, both he and Dick kept using the Batman identity. In the "New 52," Dick reclaimed his Nightwing mantle, leaving Bruce the sole Batman once again – a status quo that is maintained into "Rebirth."
DR. OCTOPUS - SPIDER-MAN7 of 12When Spider-Man's arch-foe Dr. Octopus was diagnosed with a terminal condition, he set about enacting his ultimate revenge plot against Spider-Man. With little time left to live, he nefariously used his cybernetic tech to swap minds with the hero, taking Peter Parker's place as Spider-Man.
However, Peter didn't go down without a fight, and as Peter's mind in Doc Ock's body breathed its last, he used his connection to Dr. Octopus - now in Peter's body - to make Octavius feel the weight of responsibility of being Spider-Man.
Of course, great responsibility or not, Octavius's hubris was left intact, driving him to become a darker, more brutal, and, if you asked him, more "superior" Spider-Man.
It all crumbled when Octavius's arrogance led him to be tricked by Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, forcing Doc Ock to relinquish control of Peter's body back to the sliver of Peter Parker's consciousness that remained in order to save the day.
JOHN STEWART - GREEN LANTERN8 of 12Hal Jordan's done his fair share of quitting his Green Lantern job. On one occasion in the '80s, the Guardians replaced him with a most logical choice: Hal's back-up GL, John Stewart.
Stewart was well known to readers of the book, and had adventured with the Justice League on more than one occasion. Stewart was an architect by trade (ah-ha!), as well as a veteran Marine. Stewart has served with distinction over the years, including fighting in Crisis on Infinite Earths and joining Jordan when the GLC relocated to Earth. His first wife, Katma Tui, was a GL.
When the Corps was destroyed during Jordan's rampage, Stewart later became a Darkstar. With the Corps restored, Stewart returned, and has been active ever since.
And, lest we forget, he's the animated GL that today's kids know best.
JAMES RHODES - IRON MAN9 of 12Another Marine, though not an architect, James Rhodes met Tony Stark shortly after Stark created his Iron Man armor and escaped his captors. Becoming Tony's friend and pilot, Rhodes joined Stark and/or Iron Man on a number of adventures, including the defeat (at one point) of one Justin Hammer.
When Stark lost his company (due to the machinations of Obadiah Stane) and fell off the wagon, he ceded the Iron Man identity to Rhodes. Rhodey operated as Iron Man for quite some time (in fact, he is the Iron Man in the original Secret Wars, not Stark).
Unfortunately, the Iron Man armor, not made for him particularly, began to drive him crazy. Stark, now sober, put on a new suit and saved his friend. Rhodey later received a new suit from Stark and became War Machine.
Rhodey replaced Tony again briefly years later before returning to his War Machine identity. He recently died tragically in Civil War II, possibly
CAROL DANVERS - CAPTAIN MARVEL10 of 12Carol Danvers has been a superhero since the '70's, when a run in with a Kree device called the Psyche-Magnitron bestowed her with enhanced physicality, and energy manipulating powers.
She spent most of her career as Ms. Marvel, working alongside Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel until his death. Though she occasionally went by other names - including Binary and Warbird - usually when her powers underwent some kind of transformation, it's only within the last few years that Carol decided to truly live up to her potential and officially become the new Captain Marvel.
As Marvel's top female hero, she also leads one side of the conflict in the ongoing Civil War II, squaring off against Tony Stark.
Of course, this also paved the way for a new Ms. Marvel, with young Kamala Khan taking on that title, and while we considered her as part of this list, she's still got a ways to go before she ranks among the best legacy heroes.
WALLY WEST - THE FLASH11 of 12The first comic superhero sidekick to fulfill the promise of taking over for his mentor, Wally West became the Flash at the close of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Wally West originally became Kid Flash when he experienced an accident similar to that of his uncle-by-marriage, Barry Allen.
For many years, Wally adventured alongside his mentor and his own group of friends, the Teen Titans. After experiencing a disease that began to shorten his life each time he used his powers, Wally retired from heroics. During the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally put his costume back on to aid the heroes and search for his missing mentor. Wally discovered that Barry gave his life to save the surviving universes. During the final stages of the last confrontation with the Anti-Monitor, a blast of energy sent Wally's disease reeling into remission. In Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, Wally resolved to carry on in Barry's stead as the new Flash. Wally held the spot for many years, joining Justice League Europe, the later JLA, the re-formed Titans, and Grant Morrison’s iconic JLA.
In the "New 52," Wally disappeared, leaving the returned Barry Allen the sole Flash. Eventually, a new version of Wally was introduced, though he hasn’t taken hold the way the original Wally did.
Now, in "Rebirth," the original Wally has returned, kicking off the new DCU’s embrace of its legacy and history. He’s regained the Flash codename, and is operating alongside the Titans. As for the second Wally, he’s still around, joining the Teen Titans as the new Kid Flash.1 of 122 of 123 of 124 of 125 of 126 of 127 of 128 of 129 of 1210 of 1211 of 1212 of 12