Replacement heroes: Legacies carried on by sidekicks, substitutes

Legacies carried on by sidekicks, substitutes

When the Flash races back to the CW next month, the title character will presumably still be MIA after last season’s finale.

The trailer released over the summer at San Diego Comic Con still shows sidekick Kid Flash (aka Wally West) in his yellow costume rather than stepping into Barry Allen’s predominantly red threads. In the comics, Wally was one of many heroes to take up the mantle of a veteran hero, though the replacements tend to have only a temporary gig.

Wally was the comic book Flash for more than 20 (real-world) years, before Barry came back. He returned on the heels of Hal Jordan, the most famous Green Lantern, though actually the second to bear that title at DC Comics. And Jordan was driven out of the role in part because of a villain who tried to replace Superman after his temporary demise.

The “Death of Superman” in 1992 drew mainstream media attention in a time when comic books usually did not. Everyone figured he was coming back sooner rather than later, but DC introduced four Supermen who claimed to be the real deal or at least tried to pick up his legacy.

One was Superboy, the teenage clone revealed years later to also share DNA with Lex Luthor. Then there was Steel, weapons designer John Henry Irons, who built a super-powered suit of armor and was theorized by a psychic to be inhabited by the original Superman’s soul. Both of those characters grew into large roles in the DC Universe after the “Reign of the Supermen.”

Two other contenders were a visor-wearing fellow who blasted energy from his hands rather than heat rays from his eyes and a cyborg who looked like the Man of Steel might if he’d been mechanically fixed up after his fatal battle with Doomsday.

The guy in the visor turned out to be the Eradicator, a leftover Kryptonian weapon who has been both an ally and enemy of Superman. The cyborg was a villain who now goes by the name Cyborg Superman (you may recognize him from season 2 of “Supergirl”) and orchestrated the destruction of Hal Jordan’s home, Coast City.

After that, Hal lost it and turned on the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, killing a number of them as he attempted to use their power to bring the city back. While hastily drafted artist Kyle Rayner served as Green Lantern for a decade, Parallax/Hal went through a redemptive phase, briefly serving as another DC hero, the Spectre. All the while, a vocal group of fans demanded Hal’s return, which eventually happened in “Green Lantern: Rebirth.”

After perishing in an airplane bombing, Green Arrow was replaced by the son he barely knew, Connor Hawke (a version of whom appeared in season 1 of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”). He kept the role even after his father returned in a story I might have been more critical of had I not been such a fan of the original emerald archer.

Wonder Woman has been replaced for varying periods of time by her mother, her sidekick/sister Donna Troy and an Amazonian archer named Artemis.

Marvel has traded in a number of its heaviest hitters for newer models in recent years.

The Falcon has stepped into the role of Captain America — like Bucky, aka the Winter Soldier before him. Now that the whole “Hail Hydra” hubbub with original Cap Steve Rogers has been settled, he’s about to take back the shield, but don’t be surprised if one of the movie counterparts, played by Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky), takes it if and when Chris Evans signs off after the next two Avengers movies.

Cap’s fellow Avengers Iron Man and Thor have both been succeeded by female versions. Tony Stark’s heir apparent after the “Civil War II” event is 15-year-old Chicago genius Riri Williams, aka Ironheart. The identity of the new, distaff Thor was revealed a couple years ago, but it was a fun ride to get there, so I won’t spoil it for you.

Meanwhile, Wolverine has stayed dead far longer than I expected and been replaced by both his younger, female clone, X-23, and his alternate future self.

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