Sure, Batman has The Wrath, but he also has Blackwing, Azrael, Darknight and a legion of good pseudo-Batmans, too! Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Non-Villainous Doppelgängers!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Flash Thompson as Venom, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN NON-VILLAINOUS DOPPELGÄNGERS!
10) EBON SAMURAI
The original comic book incarnation of Big Hero 6 included on-again/off-again X-Man Sunfire and always-on villain The Silver Samurai. When they returned in the pages of Alpha Flight, those X-characters were replaced with doppelgängers in Sunpyre (whose story became a mess of retcon-tradictions) and police officer Kioshi Keishicho, who was murdered by the Silver Samurai and resurrected by the lord of the Japanese afterlife for revenge. Seeking out his killer, he found the now samurai-less Big Hero 6 and joined their ranks. Whether he succeeded in his quest for vengeance has never been revealed.
9) THE SCARLET SPIDER
After Peter Parker was cloned by the villainous Jackal, one of him was seemingly killed. In fact, that Peter awoke after being thrown down a smokestack and went on the run, taking the alias Ben Reilly in his travels. The accounts vary as to whether Ben or Peter is the actual, original Parker, but years later, Ben returned to New York and costumed life as the Scarlet Spider, and eventually took over the role of Spider-Man for a time before melting away in a manner that makes no sense in or out of universe. (For the purposes of today’s collection, the return of Ben as The Jackal years later after being cloned again is considered a separate entity. Them’s the clone rules, I didn’t make ‘em up.)
8) IRON LAD
On Earth-TRN691, the boy who would be Kang was first Nathaniel Richards, who tried to stave off his future villainy as the armored hero Iron Lad. Nate was dragged away by Blink to join her reality-hopping Exiles team. After adventuring to save the multiverses, Nate was forced to embrace his inevitable Kangery in order to save his teammates, returning to the future and his big purple helmet to maintain the integrity of the universes. For a time, though, he served as an important counterpart to his wacky time-traveling, nefarious adult self.
A one-two hero punch as members of the paradigm, he and his twin brother Charybdis were as shocked as anyone when the powerful Plutonian went murderously mad. Scylla stayed calmer than Cary, but was killed in action, leading Charybdis to suddenly have double the power. Changing his name to The Survivor, Cary faced down the Plutonian and was nearly as unstable in his own actions, leaving Scylla as the non-villainous (or at least non-power-mad) half of his zygote.
6) LADY HEL
The universe of CHOAS! Comics had a lot of varied characters, all drawn together by proximity to, pursuit of or opposition to Lady Death, the embodiment of the afterlife. When the company went bankrupt, Lady Death went to Crossgen Comics. This meant that the rebooted Chaos! Universe lacked the metaphorical center, until Lady Hel arrived. The Norse incarnation of Death Itself, she works to assemble enough power to overthrow Hell (with TWO l’s) and reign supreme, making her a direct analogue of Lady Death. (As cosmic entities, their status as hero or villain is kind of nebulous, but she’s at least no more evil than her pneumatic albino forerunner.)
5) MARVEL BOY
On Earth-691, the home reality of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, Vance Astrovik changed his name to Astro and went on a suspended animation voyage to another star. A thousand years in the future, he became an armored hero with telekinetic powers, even traveling back into the past to end up on Earth-616, the mainstream Marvel Universe. Future-Vance met his younger counterpart, whose own telekinetic powers were triggered by accident, leading him to start a career as Marvel Boy, a founding member of the New Warriors. Ironically, though the Guardians and New Warriors are getting their own TV and movie versions, both Vance Astrovik’s seem to be in Marvel limbo.
4) RAGGED ROBIN
Anyone who reads Grant Morrison stories knows that they’re often metatextual and flat-out bizarre, befitting the man himself. A member of The Invisibles sent back in time to help King Mob save reality, Ragged Robin bears many similarities to Morrison’s earlier character, Crazy jane of the Doom Patrol. When directly asked about the parallels, Morrison indicated that he couldn’t answer “for copyright reasons” but ruminated about what Kay “Crazy Jane” Challis got up to after she disappeared from the pages of the DP’s book.
I’m gonna call that one confirmation that, at least in the writer’s mind, she is meant to a parallel/other self/time-traveling version of Crazy Jane. (Nobody tell DC!)
3) ‘IRON’ MUNRO
When the Crisis On Infinite Earths erased Earth-2’s Batman, Wonder Woman and others from existence, the… energies, for lack of a better word, that created/empowered them were still extant, leading to the creation of other, similar characters. In place of Superman, the refigured continuity featured Arn Munro, a young man from Colorado whose physical prowess was secretly superhuman. Using his nickname of ‘Iron’, Arn assisted, then joined the All-Star Squadron, eventually discovering that his father is Hugo Danner, the lead character of ‘Gladiator’, a book that inspired the real-world creation of Superman.
2) SCARLET FALCON
In an alternate world resembling the 18th century Caribbean sea, Captain Samuel Wilson battles against those who would traffic in slaves, fighting for good against the likes of the evil Captain Gyrich, alongside alternate versions of heroes like Misty Knight and The Thing. His costume may be the best Falcon suit in all the various realities, my friends and with the assistance of The Exiles, he triumphed against those who would sell human beings as chattel.
From 1978 to 1982, Bill Bixby starred in ‘The Incredible Hulk’, the story of scientist David Banner, whose alter-ego caused trouble but also fought evil as they hitchhiked around the world. In 1988, David returned for a series of TV movies, each guest-starring characters from the greater Marvel Universe. Thor and Daredevil got their first live-action adaptations through that series, but a proposed crossover for an alternate take on She-Hulk never materialized. For a time, there was also talk of Brigitte Nielsen solo television series for which promotional images were created. Sadly, the show was never made, leaving us with only the shiny metallic ghosts of what might have been.
Man, she’s sparkly, huh?
Thanks to Faithful Spoilerite Bruce Greenwood (@el_zoof) for this week’s topic. Feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, especially since there’s a new alternate reality born every single minute… Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!