Marvel recently announced that Black Panther would replace Daredevil as "The Man Without Fear." This switcheroo isn't the first time a superhero or superteam's had an identity crisis. Here's five of these strange occasions.
On G4's Attack of the Show yesterday, Blair Butler revealed that the Daredevil series' new star is T'Challa, the former king of Wakanda. Daredevil's taken a paranoid, murderous turn in the recent Shadowland miniseries, and his fate after this event is up in the air. Marvel teased us with a number of candidates before announcing that Black Panther would be the new defender of Hell's Kitchen. Author David Liss and illustrator Francesco Francavilla will helm Black Panther: The Man Without Fear 513 this December.
This isn't the first time a superhero's taken over Daredevil's gig — Iron Fist donned his Satanic pajamas during Civil War. Also, such switch-em-ups are not limited to Matt Murdock. Most marquee heroes have lent their mantles to other heroes or appropriated others' identities wholesale. For example, Hank Pym changes his codename (Yellowjacket, Giant Man, Wasp, etc.) every gibbous moon. Dick Grayson's held three separate mantles: he was the first Robin, the third Nightwing, and the most recent Batman. Spider-Man had an entire team of super-poseurs inherit a bunch of his secondhand aliases. See: the entire run of Dark Avengers, where villains like Venom pretended to be heroes like Spider-Man. The list goes on and on.
That being said, there have been some marvelously bizarre times when comic characters have passed the torch. Here are five of the oddest.
1.) Hulk becomes War, Horseman of Apocalypse (Incredible Hulk 456)
For two issues, survival-of-the-fittest-obsessed evil mutant Apocalypse converted the jolly green giant into War, an armored swordsman imbued with the technology of the Celestials. Hulk's tenure as War was short-lived, but he got to manhandle both the Absorbing Man and the Juggernaut like they were sparring dummies.
2.) X-Force battles X-Force (X-Force 117)
In the early 2000s, X-Force, the X-title about edgy mutants who took a proactive stance against super-crime, was drastically rejiggered — under the new aegis of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, the comic was now a satire starring a 100% different group of self-centered, media-whoring mutants who used their powers for fun and profit. In the second issue of Milligan and Allred's run, the original X-Force rushed the new X-Force's press conference and accused the tyro team for besmirching the old X-Force's good name. The two teams were a metaphor for fan reaction to the new X-Force. Imagine if you were watching Knight Rider, and KITT was replaced with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 10 minutes into the episode. Some of you would love it, some of you would hate it.
3.) The first Red Tornado was a hardworking mother in longjohns with a cooking pot helmet
Most modern comic readers know the Red Tornado as a cyclone-blasting android who moonlights with the Justice League. The original Red Tornado debuted during the Golden Age of comics in 1939. The first Red Tornado was Ma Hunkel, a rough-and-tumble mother who dressed as a superhero upon hearing her son wax poetic about the Green Lantern. In modern continuity, Ma works as the Justice Society's housekeeper.
4.) The all-new, all-profitable Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four 347)
In the early 90s, when the Fantastic Four were off thwarting some cosmic chicanery, a Skrull impersonating The Invisible Women told four of Marvel's most popular characters that they had to battle the Mole Man. Faux-Sue Storm had ulterior motives, and so did Marvel — what collector could resist Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and "gangster Hulk" Mr. Fixit on one team? The New Fantastic Four disbanded after three issues, but they remained a fixture of What If tales. In Chuck Dixon's What If 78, this quartet stick together after the original Four kicks it in space. They disband after Dr. Doom bails them out of a particularly nasty barney. We do get to see Ol' Strontium Sans-culottes incinerate Abomination and Lady Deathstrike, which is pretty damn funny.
5.) Aunt May and Dazzler become Heralds of Galactus
Speaking of What If tales, it's somewhat unfair to include the next two examples, but they're too rich to dismiss. In 1984's Marvel Team-Up 137, Aunt May shields Franklin Richards from Galactus' blast, becomes "The Golden Oldie," and sates the space-god with every Twinkee™ on Earth. The weird thing is, it's never specified if this non-canonical or not.
Dazzler's stint as a Herald was definitely speculative. In What If 33 (1982), Dazzler ousts Terrax as Galactus' main moll. The purple hornhead gradually falls for her disco diva wiles; he manumits her when she gets homesick. Hilariously enough, centuries have passed on Earth and everyone is dead. Ali Blair has no choice but to shimmy back to Galactus and again act as his one-gal Dazz Band. Uatu, you're such a card.
Top photo from What If 34.