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5 Super Superhero Scabs

The stand ins for comic book superheroes get their due

By Chad Derdowski     August 10, 2009

5 Super Superhero Scabs
© Bob Trate

Everybody needs a vacation once in a while, even superheroes. Unfortunately, whenever a member of the costumed crime-fighting elite takes a day off, it’s usually due to death, mental instability or being cast into another dimension. When those situations occur, someone else steps up to the plate and fills in. Today, we take a look at some of the more notable superhero scabs by evaluating their performances.


Superhero Comic Replacements

James “Rhodey” Rhodes/Iron Man

What happened: Jim Rhodes was a Marine Corps pilot who first encountered Tony Stark in Vietnam and later became his personal pilot and aviation engineer after the war ended. The men became close friends over the years and when Tony started hitting the bottle, Rhodes helped him pull through. When Tony relapsed and ended upon the streets, Rhodey ended up in the red and gold armor--and thank God! Drinking and driving is bad enough, but flying around shitfaced in a suit of high-tech armor equipped with repulsor rays, a uni-beam and an electromagnetic pulse generator is a disaster waiting to happen.

Results: Rhodey wore the suit until Tony could pull himself back together, but during that time, he ended up growing increasingly paranoid, as the armor was not specifically calibrated for his use. Tony had to wear a clunky old suit of armor to take Rhodey down and it was Iron Man vs. Iron Man with ol’ drunky coming out on top. 

Evaluation: Promoted! Despite a couple of setbacks that weren’t really his fault (like going crazy), Jim Rhodes performed quite well and was rewarded with his own shiny new War Machine armor.


Superhero Comic Replacements

Jean-Paul Valley/Batman

What happened: After the success of the Death of Superman, DC decided that Batman needed a ridiculous gimmicky storyline that saw him replaced by someone with lots of shoulder pads and belts strapped around his thighs. The result was Knightfall, which saw Bruce Wayne sitting at home with a broken back while a brainwashed religious nut assumed the role of Batman.

Results: Valley grew increasingly violent and ended up tarnishing Batman’s good name and ruining his reputation with the Gotham City police force. Good triumphed, as it always does, and Bruce Wayne ended up back in the batsuit, but fans were left with a terrible taste in their mouths that took years to wash out.

Evaluation: Demoted back to C-list status, Jean-Paul Valley resumed his Azrael guise and carried his own series for 100 issues before being killed.



Superhero Comic Replacements

Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern

What happened: It could be argued that John Stewart and Guy Gardener were both replacements for Hal Jordan, but in reality they were more like back-ups. When Hal Jordan, possessed by the demonic parasite known as Parallax, went nuts, killed a whole bunch of Green Lanterns and destroyed the Central Power Battery effectively destroying the Green Lantern Corps, it was time to find a replacement. Ganthet, the last surviving Guardian, managed to pass the lone existing Green Lantern ring along to a random guy he ran into outside of a nightclub. Thankfully, Kyle Rayner proved to be up to the task of being the sole Green Lantern in the universe as well as using his artistic background to be one of the more interesting Lanterns. It wasn’t all giant hammers and catchers’ mitts for this GL; in true fanboy style, he also created giant anime robots!

Results: During his tenure, Rayner joined the Justice League and earned the respect of the top guns of the DCU, including Batman and the Flash. He re-ignited the Central Power Battery, restoring all that Hal Jordan had destroyed and for a time operated as Ion, the torchbearer of the Green Lantern Corps and manifestation of the green willpower.

Evaluation: Promoted to member of Green Lantern Honor Guard.



Superhero Comic Replacements

Ben Reilly/Spider-Man

What happened: Way back in the swingin’ ‘70s, Peter Parker’s biology professor, mad with grief over the death of student Gwen Stacy, cloned both Gwen and Spider-Man, whom he held responsible. The two Spider-Men battled with neither one knowing for sure which was the clone and which was the real deal.  Spidey defeated the clone but never bothered reading the results of the DNA test. He knew he was the real Peter Parker based on his feelings for Mary Jane, which the clone couldn’t possibly have. It was all forgotten until Marvel, in their first attempt to de-age Spider-Man, decided to bring the clone back and reveal that he was, in fact, the real Spider-Man!

Results: It was tampered with by editorial and dragged out far longer than it should have been but in the end, fans were treated to a brand new Spider-Man with blond hair and a new costume, unencumbered by marriage and years of baggage. And they loved it! Well… not exactly. It wasn’t long before Peter Parker came back from retirement to be revealed as the one, true Spider-Man and Ben Reilly gave his life to save him. Or something like that. We do our best to forget the whole thing ever happened.

Evaluation: Pink-slipped into the great beyond, but with a Clone Saga revival on the way. Could Ben Reilly’s return from the grave be far behind?



Superhero Comic Replacements

James “Bucky” Barnes/Captain America

What happened: It seems like there’s been a million guys who have carried the flag while Steve Rogers has been frozen in ice, had a crisis of conscience or been killed in action, but for the sake of remaining relevant, we’re going to focus on the current Captain America, James Buchanan Barnes. He started out as Cap’s partner in WWII, got his arm blown off in the same explosion that sent Cap into suspended animation and ended up as a brainwashed assassin for the Soviet Union. He got a bionic arm, spent the 1950’s through the mid-2000s in and out of suspended animation and ended up having his memories restored only to see his mentor killed in the aftermath of Civil War. 

Results: With no one else up to the job, Bucky accepted the shield and a brand spankin’ new Captain America costume and continues to uphold the tradition and wave the flag.

Evaluation: He defeated the Red Skull, saved the original Human Torch and fought off the Skrull invasion, but we can’t give the guy a promotion. Can you really get any higher than Captain America? That’s like being president of the company and the official mascot!


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Boombatty 8/10/2009 9:07:38 AM

Who drew that middle pick of the Scarlett Spider? Daaaamn that is poor.  It looks like an elementary school kids pick.

NDorado 8/10/2009 9:21:55 AM

Great list.  Dick Grayson also deserves honorable mention for filling in for Batman.

lucbellefeuille@yahoo.com_home 8/10/2009 9:23:48 AM

"Who drew that middle pick of the Scarlett Spider? Daaaamn that is poor. It looks like an elementary school kids pick."

LOL! I was thinking it was Leifeld but he doesn't have enough pouches and no big guns. 

themovielord 8/10/2009 10:04:57 AM

It looks as if someone was drawing him in the new animated series style....

littlemikey979 8/10/2009 10:16:34 AM

Scarlett Spider looks like a cutout from a cartoon or something. This is a great list and yeah, kikstad, DG should be on this list. Too bad none of the Thor replacements made it on the list. I just wish Marvel would give Bucky more page time as Cap in the book. Seems like there is more Falcon and Sharon in the books then there is of anyone else.

Hobbs 8/10/2009 10:25:23 AM

I haven't been reading comics in a while but I figured they would have had Steve Rodgers risen from the dead by now.  How long will that play out?  Until the movie probably. 

My fav replacement was when Walker took over for Rodgers.  He was so freaking crazy/insane he was actually KILLING the bad guys.  He flipped after they killed his parents if I'm remembering correctly.  It was such a shock at the time the way he reacted.  A fun read I still remember it.  Though I still remember the climax to Rodgers getting his shield back from Walker was a let down.  332-350 I think that whole story line took place.

countzenith 8/10/2009 1:07:00 PM

You forgot about the Flash( Barry Allen/Wally West/Bart Allen).  Who is the current Flash right now?  I stopped buying single issues a few years ago and haven't kept up with the trades.

CaptAmerica04 8/10/2009 9:54:23 PM

Hobbs, you are correct.  John Walker went apeshit crazy and started by literally tearing some members of the Watchdogs terrorist group apart.  The Red Skull worked to drive him even crazier.  Walker continued on a murder spree for a while, until Steve Rogers in the guise of "The Captain" finally beat his ass and took back the mantle from the Commission on Superhero Affairs (I think that was the name of the government group that originally dethroned Rogers).

And now, the guy who started as The SuperPatriot and then became Captain America for a while, is serving on Omega Flight last I read.  Yes, the Canadian superteam.  Huh?  I think that was worth mention as a hell of an outcome for  a scab superhero.

Other honorable mentions are certainly Wally West (who is where now?  I'm not sure, but I'd love for someone to tell me), Dick Grayson (we all know that Didio is going to bring Bruce Wayne back in a year and Grayson will be sent back to the minor league farm team in Bludhaven), and let's not forget Connor Hawke replaced Oliver Queen as Green Arrow for a while. 

Also, though not an A-list hero, Bill Foster did replace Hank Pym as Giant Man for a while... at least until Reed Richards's Thor-clone blasted a hole through Foster's chest big enough to drive a truck through.



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