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.
Now, one of those legacy heroes is getting his due, with Miles Morales set to star in an upcoming animated Spider-Man feature film from Sony.
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!
SAM WILSON - CAPTAIN AMERICA2 of 12Sam Wilson is hardly the first person to take up Steve Rogers' shield when Rogers could no longer serve as Captain America, but he might be the best replacement Cap of all time.
Trained by Rogers himself, the former Falcon is also the only substitute Cap to continue wielding the shield after Rogers returned to the role, making him one of two currently active Captains America.
Sam's been a sidekick, an Avenger, and a hero in his own right, and he's done it all without the physical enhancements that many other substitute Caps have had, proving he's got the grit and gumption to do Steve's legacy proud - especially while Steve remains a secret agent of Hydra.
MILES MORALES - SPIDER-MAN3 of 12Now that Miles Morales is part of the mainstream Marvel Universe, he's one of two Spider-Men currently operating - but before that, in the Ultimate Universe, he was the one and only, having taken the mantle after Peter Parker's death.
Miles is young, but so was Peter when he became Spider-Man. And though his parents are alive, Miles also has some familial relationships that have taught him how to be a hero, such as his villainous uncle, the Prowler.
Miles also has some things Peter never had, such as electric venom blasts, and a kind of invisibility. But most importantly of all, Miles carries on Peter's tradition of youthful superheroics as a founding member of the new Champions, a team designed to define superheroics for a new generation.
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, a.k.a. 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.
Reilly recently returned as part of The Clone Conspiracy, where he operates as the new Jackal. He'll be reclaiming the Scarlet Spider mantle in a new ongoing series later this year.
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.
Now Ock is back as a villain, but there's no question he still thinks he could do the job of a hero better than Spider-Man.
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. Stewart is also reportedly one of two GL's who will headline WB's Green Lantern Corps movie.
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. With Tony Stark in a coma following the event, a new hero, Ironheart, has continued the tradition of armored substitute heroes that James Rhodes started.
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 lead one side of the conflict in the recently concludedCivil 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. As a former Avenger and founding member of the new Champions team, Kamala is an important legacy hero in her own right.
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.
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