Amazing alternate costumes for superheroes are always entertaining, but what about alternate superhero characters? The topic of “legacy characters,” or replacement superheroes, has led to many heated debates in the world of comic book fandom. Publishers have attempted to add diversity and “fresh ideas” to their comic book universes by replacing their most popular heroes with younger and more diverse vigilantes. The results have been, at best, mixed.
Fan outrage is high anytime a popular character goes away - even the times when Marvel changes a character for no apparent reason aren't met with as much resistance. Nothing is worse than seeing your favorite superhero feign death for awhile so that a precocious teenager can take up their mantle to spout internet slang and share crossovers with Spider-Man.
Now, this may be considered sacrilege in some corners of the fandom, but some legacy heroes turn out pretty cool. In fact, there's a rare handful of second generation superheroes who are actually better than the originals. It's not easy to replace a legendary hero, but as the following characters can attest to, it is doable. Check out the list below and vote up the coolest second generation heroes who you believe are an improvement from the original.
The original Batwoman was an almost insultingly derivative character. Inserted into Batman lore in the ‘50s to abate the ridiculous “controversy” that Batman and Robin were gay, Kathy Kane was Bruce Wayne’s love interest and carried a utility purse with weaponized lipstick. The character was thankfully phased out in the ‘60s and the name remained dormant until 2006, when a new version of Batwoman appeared.
This Batwoman was named Kate Kane, but was unrelated to Kathy Kane from the '50s. Kate Kane is a socialite with a military background, who identifies as a lesbian. This broke new ground for DC Comics and Kane's career was inspired, but not facilitated, by Batman’s. This Batwoman proved to be much more of a peer to the Dark Knight than the previous one, and she has stuck around ever since.
Shazam-types aside, the original Captain Marvel was an alien Kree warrior named Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell was a classic character, so much so that his death the basis of the first Marvel original graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel. Along the way, Mar-Vell was involved in the empowering Carol Danvers, a human who gained his powers and took on the name Ms. Marvel.
However, Danvers never really established herself as an A-list character until she took on the legacy of Captain Marvel several decades after the original’s death. As a captain, Carol was free to emphasize her military background and leadership abilities. She quickly rose through the ranks of influence in the Marvel universe, to the point where she is now considered a peer of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
Batman is quite possibly the most famous superhero ever created. Bruce Wayne has held the mantle for most of the character’s near century-long existence, so to claim anyone is a better Batman than Wayne is quite a statement. Nevertheless, when the original Dark Knight appeared dead in the wake of Final Crisis, former Robin Dick Grayson stepped into his boots.
Grayson had a lot going for him, with his status as a non-billionaire making him a bit more relatable to about 99% of comic book readers. Dick was also far more likable than Bruce Wayne ever was, especially since he could admit something that Wayne never could: being Batman is an awful lot of fun.
Ted Kord is definitely the Blue Beetle that most fans are familiar with, and he’s been around long enough to have his own legacy character, Jaime Reyes. You may be surprised to know that the original Blue Beetle was actually Dan Garrett. He was the property of Charlton Comics, a competitor of DC’s. Garrett would pass on his mantle to Ted Kord within the pages of Charlton Comics, before Kord jumped into the DC universe when DC absorbed the smaller company.
Since then, Kord has gone on to be a popular hero, beloved for his bromine with Booster Gold and his provision of comic relief on several Justice League rosters. His career simply eclipses that of Garrett’s in almost every conceivable way. Interestingly enough, DC eventually okayed the use of the Chartlon characters as the basis for Watchmen, and the two Blue Beetles inspired the two Night Owls in Alan Moore’s iconic tale.