As you may have noticed in my last list here, Marvel Comics sort of has the market cornered on bad guys who switch to the good guys’ team in comics. But when you flip things around, and superheroes turn into supervillains, things are considerably more equal.
It’s a good way to take a dull hero and make them more interesting, both in the short term and the long term, because when they turn good again — as they so often do, as few comics fans want to see their heroes go bad forever — they have to live with the guilt and consequences of their time as evildoers. That’s drama!
At any rate, as a counterpoint to last week’s article, here are 10 heroes who spent time on the bad guys’ side, from Marvel and DC. Someone of them are still villainous, but not all of them, and I’ll happily take odds on when they decide to turn face again.
10) Wonder Man
A quite recent case of a good guy gone bad, Wonder Man took on the Avengers in the first arc of the newest volume of the title. When Captain America asks old Wondy to join the team, he says he actually thinks the whole concept of the Avengers is a pretty bad idea — and it’s true, a bunch of superheroes on the team have died over the years. He assembles a team of D-list heroes to take on the Avengers and they do some damage, but Iron Man manages to capture him, and adds that hey, he’s maybe imaginary. Even so, he puts the seed of doubt in the public’s mind about whether the Avengers are really worth it.
9) Iron Man
Speaking of ol’ Shellhead, he’s actually made a couple of turns toward the dark side in his time. Though some might disagree, he certainly filled a sort of antagonist role in the Civil War event a few years back, but he really went bad back in the mid’-90s (and who wouldn’t?) when time-traveling villain Immortus took over his brain for a while and a teenage version of Tony Stark had to take over as Iron Man for a while (the ’90s were a weird time). Everything from the story got wiped away by the Heroes Reborn stuff in ’96. Side-note: Iron Lad, the Young Avenger who had Iron Man-like armor, would grow up to be Kang/Immortus! Small world.
8) Hal Jordan
He’s a good guy again now, but in the mid-’90s (hey, it was a tough time), Hal killed the entire Green Lantern Corps and destroyed Coast City. You’d think that’d be something that would stick to his permanent record, but when you can come back to life as easily as people do in comics, it must not be that big of a deal. It turned out he was possessed by the evil space demon Parallax when he did all that, but Hal himself spent quite a bit of time paying penance as The Spectre.
7) Jean Grey
Jean Grey started out as such a nice telepath, but you know how rebellious young adults can get. Getting possessed by destructive cosmic entities, snuffing out stars and wiping out entire solar systems. In the years since, Jean has died and come back to life more times than you can count, sometimes evil, sometimes not. It’s pretty much a coin toss.
6) Maxwell Lord
So hey, remember the guy who brought together the “Bwa-ha-ha” version of the Justice League after the first Crisis? He had his run-ins with villainous computers, but he turned out to be a pretty okay guy in the end? Well, later, he shot Blue Beetle in the head, then Wonder Woman broke his neck, and then the universe got rebooted. He was brought back to life in Brightest Day and has been a total dick ever since.
5) The Hulk
The weird thing about the Hulk’s turn toward evil is that it hasn’t happened yet. Technically, it never will have happened yet. But (at least in one possible future), it’s going to happen — about a hundred years from now, the earth will be destroyed in nuclear war (spoiler alert). Of course, the Hulk being the Hulk, he survives, but not without going a little megalomaniacal. Possessing Bruce Banner’s intelligence and the Hulk’s strength, the Hulk declares himself The Maestro, kills pretty much all the heroes (and keeps a sweet trophy room!) and becomes the ruler of the shell of the world while occasionally fighting his past self.
This one’s a bit of a cheat, since she was technically bad the whole time she appeared in Teen Titans, although the Titans (and the audience) didn’t realize it. But I think it was enough of a surprise (and she had developed enough of a relationship with the Teen Titans team) that it counts. Terra was introduced as a new member of the Titans, but after a couple years on the team, it was revealed that she had been feeding information to arch-villain Deathstroke the Terminator all along. After some convoluted stuff involving Deathstroke’s son, Terra ended up being her own end when she had a conniption fit and brought a whole facility down on her head. Later, the whole thing was retconned to say Terra had actually been driven insane by serum and/or chemicals. Comics, everybody!
For a while, the Green Goblin was a good guy, but it wasn’t an Osborn in the suit — it was Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich’s nephew, Phil, who had a short-lived series in 1995. Urich popped up again in Runaways,as a member of The Loners, a self-help team aiming to stop teens from becoming superheroes. He ends up turning on the team when a girl he’s into (Turbo) kisses another team member. Now, he’s working at the Daily Bugle, moonlighting as the new Hobgoblin (he found some of the original Hobgoblin’s old stuff, just like he did with the Green Goblin), and generally not being a nice guy.
2) Superboy Prime
Born on a planet where all the DC superheroes were comic book characters, Superboy Prime only gained superpowers when encountering an alternate-dimension Superman (and a comet). SP decided at first to use his powers for good, but, wouldn’t you know it, pretty much right after he got them the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened and his universe was wiped out, so he went to live in paradise with the Golden Age Superman, Lois Lane and the good version of Lex Luthor. After a while, he got bored of that, though, so he started punching the fabric of the universe and became a crazed killer who carved a Superman shield into his chest. You know, like you do.
1) Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver started out as bad guys (and if I hadn’t put SW in this list, she and her bro probably would have been in that last one). They’re Magneto’s kids, and they were in his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But it turned out they were just repaying a debt to their dad for saving their hide, anyway. They were good at heart, and both joined the Avengers. Unfortunately for the Witch, she would be in for some hard times. For instance, it turns out her two sons are actually parts of the devil’s soul, and, as a favor, her mentor makes her forget all about them. That didn’t stick, though, and soon enough she was destroying Avengers mansion, killing a bunch of her teammates and wiping out the majority of mutantkind. She’s edging her way back to hero-dom now, but she’s got a lot of ground to cover.