In kayfabe, the secret vernacular of professional wrestling, a “face turn” is the moment where a villainous character suddenly joins the side of the angels, becoming one of the proverbial good guys. It’s quite common in the comics as well. Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Face Turns!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus Bret “The Hitman” Hart at Wrestlemania XIII, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN FACE TURNS!
Thanks to the lies of his adoptive father, Joji Yuki grew up as a pawn of the Destron Empire, also known as the much cooler sobriquet of Deathtron. Things started to unravel when he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to death by acid pool. Joji escaped with only the loss of his arm, after which he was cybernetically turned into a match for Kamen Rider V3. Though he initially fought alongside the hero to prove his innocence, he eventually came to realize that Daddy Deathtron was a villain, but he still tried to reconcile with him. Riderman eventually died to save the people of Japan from his father’s own evil schemes, with V3 posthumously honoring him as the official Kamen Rider #4.
As is so often the case, his death didn’t stick, and he has since become one of the most honored of the Legendary Riders.
A young Romany from Serbia, Pietro Maximoff, and his twin sister were raised in the shadow of the mystical Mount Wundagore. Initially believed to be a mutant, Quicksilver’s powers have since been explained as the work of the High Evolutionary, whose genetic manipulation was good enough to fool even Charles Xavier’s expertise. His life has been tied up with his former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants boss, Magneto, who was for years believed to be Pietro’s biological father, with Quicksilver initially working for, then opposing his mutant “dad.” As an Avenger, Maximoff proved his heroic bona fides, but his mental illnesses have led him to multiple periods of paranoia, psychosis, and monstrous behavior. When last seen, Pietro had struck up an unlikely kinship with fellow speedster/overly attached twin/emotional rollercoaster, Northstar.
8) DOCTOR MEGGIDO
A mystical enemy of Tangaroa and his allies in The Freedom Machine, real name unknown, Doctor Meggido draws his mystical energies from The Dragon’s Egg, an artifact of great power. When former hero Daedalus began a plot to destroy his old allies in the Machine, he freed Meggido, but even a mad sorcerer knows when the tide has turned. Doctor Meggido (whose name comes from an ancient Iron Age city-state in what is now Israel) teamed with his heroic foes in the hopes of saving a status quo that would allow him to continue his nefarious ways in a world he still recognized.
It was a short-lived turn, to be sure, especially when his own power was threatened, but it still counts, and a man with such snappy fashion sense must be respected for his rare good decisions.
Once a grotesque mutant pipsqueak, the boy known as Caliban even by his father (which tells you all you need to know about papa) fled into the sewers of New York City to live with the Morlocks. After falling in love with Kitty Pryde, he was captured by Apocalypse and transformed into one of his Four Horsemen, the incarnation of Death. Combining his new 7-foot-tall body with his initial power of sensing/tracking other mutants, Caliban eventually came to his senses and joined X-Factor, eventually giving his life to save teammate Warpath.
I mean, he got better, but still… Heroic sacrifice, right?
6) DIAMOND LIL
Once a member of Omega Flight, the training group for Canadia’s official super-team, Alpha Flight, Lillian Crawley proved to be dense in every sense of the word. Aside from her reputedly diamond-hard skin and hair, she was stupid enough to be manipulated by Delphine Courtney into fighting as one of her villainous pawns. It was Lil’s affection for Madison “Box” Jeffries that brought her back to the side of the angels, eventually joining the Alpha Flight team permanently to be with him. They married, but their tumultuous relationship ended with Lil dead at the hands of Selene, with Box burying her at sea, perfectly preserved in a crystal sarcophagus.
That’s a plot hook if I ever heard one.
5) SHANG-CHI, MASTER OF KUNG-FU
Raised in isolation in his father’s Honan, China retreat, Zheng Shang-Chi never realized that his dad, Zheng Zhu, was the legendary monster called Fu Manchu. When he was finally made aware of papa’s perfidy, Shang left his organization and joined up with MI-6 to oppose him. For many years, he fought against his father, periodically retiring when the ol’ pater familias was temporarily dead. He has recently taken over The Five Weapons Society, one of his father’s old secret societies, as well as becoming a major motion picture star, putting his villainous past as an agent of evil.
After the death of the Hero Alliance at the hands of one of their villains, Peter van der Hook created a silvery costume and took to the streets as a hero. His partner immediately turned on him, but Argent was able to become an ally, then a member of a new Hero Alliance. Unfortunately, he tried to keep his past actions as the minor-league villain called Atom-Smasher secret, which nearly ended his heroic career in its infancy. Peter chose to reveal his past to the public, which helped to turn public opinion in his favor, helping him to stay on the straight-and-narrow.
3) THE LIVING LIGHTNING
The son of a member of the Legion of Living Lightning, a secret society that once menaced The Hulk, Miguel Santos was traumatized by his father’s death, seeking the Legion of Living Lightning’s secrets, and accidentally turning himself into an electrokinetic. Now able to turn into his namesake, The Living Lightning fought the West Coast Avengers (and nearly defeated them!) under the control of the evil Doctor Demonicus. Once he was free of the villain’s command, though, he became a member of the Avengers (the first full-time Latinx member, if memory serves) for a time. For the last 25 years or so, he’s bounced around in cameo appearances, but not so long ago, he changed his name to just “Lightning” and was a key member of the team that overcame the machinations of The Grandmaster, a battle that almost ended The Avengers.
2) SISTAH SPOOKY
Tormented by the popular girls in her high school, Theresa (last name unrevealed) sold her soul to a demon for supernatural power. Once established as a magical superhero, Sistah Spooky joined the Superhomies, where she unwittingly became the mean girl herself, endlessly tormenting fellow hero Empowered. She slowly came to realize this truth and the fact that her teammates were just as bad as the villains they wanted to thwart, finally realizing that she ruined her own life. Theresa gave up her costume and the prestige that came with it (losing her arm in battle didn’t help) but discovered that she had more in common with Empowered than she ever thought.
It’s kind of ironic that she had to quit being a super to become a good guy.
Another victim of the jerkassery of the High Evolutionary, Jessica Drew’s father Johnathan was actually one of the High Evolutionary’s colleagues. Exposure to the radiation of Wundagore nearly killed Jessica, until her father and the Evolutionary somehow altered her body to use the DNA of a spider. After years in stasis, Jessica was freed, but immediately fell in with Hydra. Manipulated into believing she was actually a spider transformed into a human, she became the villain Arachne, battling S.H.I.E.L.D. and having an honestly incoherent series of adventures. The truth eventually came out, with Jessica becoming the superhero Spider-Woman.
The most surprising part of all of it, though? She’s not a natural brunette!
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten Face Turns, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest a topic of your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my 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 listing every hero who used to be some sort of villain would knock a year off my life and fill up Major Spoilers’ entire server. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!