In case you haven’t heard, Daredevil is a bad guy now. In Shadowland, Marvel’s street level bonerfest, DD has become an evil ninja lord and is squeezing the crime out of New York City. While this is making for some seriously solid comics, turning a good guy bad isn’t a new idea. Not even close, actually. And Daredevil fans aren’t particularly worried, because everybody knows it definitely isn’t meant to be permanent.
Kind of like professional wrestling — actually, exactly like in professional wrestling — good guys take “heel turns” all the time. They turn evil, hopefully for a semi-reasonable cause, wreak a little havok, and then turn good again, usually just before doing something unforgivable evil (or occasionally just after). But whenever a good guy switches sides, its usually meant to bump sales or cause a publicity stir. The nerds may fly into a rage, but the publishers rake in the cash for it. To celebrate the kick assery of Shadowland, here are some other heroes who took a walk on the evil side but made their way back to the side of the angels.
The Cajun mutant known as Gambit is pretty much a walking ’90s clich?. The trenchcoat, the teased hair, the pink costume color scheme… but whether you love him or hate him, Gambit has proven to possess staying power over the last 20 years. From his shaky origins with Mr. Sinister, Gambit has always been a threat to change sides, but when he has pulled betrayals, he went big. Perhaps his biggest is when he willingly became one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen. As Death, Gambit retained a large portion of his true personality, meaning he wasn’t brainwashed. He intentionally became a bad guy. He eventually went back to being original recipe Gambit, but has been straddling the line between hero and villain ever since.
Being Magneto’s kid comes with a whole heaping helping of suck. You would have anti-human ideals jammed down your throat your whole life, and then be expected to strap on some tights and try to take over the world. This was true for Pietro Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver. Marvel’s answer to The Flash, Quicksilver was a founding member of his father’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants along with his sister Scarlet Witch. However, they both reformed and ended up as Avengers. Unfortunately, Quicksilver’s creepy love for his sister warped his priorities. Quicksilver eventually triggered the House of M nightmare, which resulted in 98% of mutants losing their powers. After betraying both his father and the Inhumans and dying because of it, he learned his lesson and nowadays keeps himself in line. He is currently a teacher at Avengers Academy.
6) Batgirl / Cassandra Cain
Believe it or not, Batgirl II has fans, and boy were they pissed off when she turned bad. Originally a mute yet deadly daughter of a crazed assassin, Cassandra Cain was taken in by Batman and given the mantle of Batgirl. When all the DC books jumped ahead one year after Infinite Crisis, Cassandra framed Tim Drake, the current Robin, for murder and was revealed to be the new leader of the League of Assassins. Soon after she joined Deathstroke’s Titans East team and tried to kill pretty much everyone. Once she broke free of all the “manipulation” and finding out Batman was “dead,” she lost heart and gave the Batgirl role to laughably incapable Stephanie Brown. Although she is slowly getting back to normal, her instant heel turn goes down as one of the biggest WTF issues in DC history.
Even though he is a founding member of the X-Men, few heroes have been dumped on like Angel has. An impossibly good looking and rich playboy as well as a super hero, Angel seemingly had it made. After forming X-Factor with his fellow founding X-Men, his life quickly went down the shitter. After losing his wings, Apocalypse offered him a deal – become his herald and get his powers back. Turning his skin blue and taking the name Archangel, he now had badass metal razor wings and a death mission for the X-Men. Eventually coming to his senses after he thought he killed Iceman, Angel went back to the X-folks. At the moment, he is killing piles of dudes with the new black ops X-Force.
4) Sue Storm
Bottom line, the Invisible Woman can fuck you up. She proved this during her brief stint as Malice. When her second child was stillborn, Sue fell into depression. Easy pickins’ for Psycho-Man, he manipulated her into becoming an evil villainess. Taking the name Malice, Sue attacked everyone in sight with power levels way higher than what she was previously thought capable of. Due to her husband’s quick thinking, she broke free of the control and did something so horrible to Psycho-Man it wasn’t even shown on panel. After the ordeal, she took the name Invisible Woman, keeping her new heightened powers.
3) Jean Grey
Poor, poor Jean Grey. She’s good, she’s evil, she’s alive, she’s dead, she’s alive again, blah blah blah. Her status seems to change with every issue. Out of all her turns, her first one is the most memorable. After absorbing the cosmic entity called the Phoenix, Jean was literally crazy with power and became the villainous Dark Phoenix. After eating a star and killing billions, the X-Men battled Jean hoping to end her reign of terror. In the end, she “killed” herself to prevent further death and destruction. She eventually returned and died a bunch more times, to the point where most people don’t even care anymore. But the Dark Phoenix Saga remains one of Marvel’s most epic stories.
While Captain America was leading the charge on the battlefields of WWII, his 17-year-old partner Bucky Barnes was in the background slashing a Nazi’s throat. A deadly combatant, his smart alicky demeanor and loyalty to Cap made him the quintessential sidekick of the Marvel Universe. After being blown to pieces over the Atlantic, Cap was frozen while Bucky disappeared completely. Years later, it was revealed that Bucky was found by the Russkies and made into a brainwashed assassin. As the Winter Soldier, he ended up as a pawn for the Red Skull. After throwing fists with Captain America, Cap used the Cosmic Cube to make Bucky “remember” who he really was. With all his brainwashing undone, Bucky took up the Cap mantle after Steve Rogers died. Now, as the new Captain America, Bucky fights to redeem his past and make Steve proud.
1) Green Lantern / Hal Jordan
Hal Jordan was perhaps one of the most beloved characters in DC Comics. Dashing, trust worthy and fearless, he was the model superhero. In 1994, DC flushed all that down the toilet. After his city was destroyed by Mongul, Jordan started to change. When confronted by the Guardians about his behavior, he responded by killing them all and becoming the evil Parallax. After failing to rewrite history in during Zero Hour, Jordan eventually wised up and sacrificed himself to re-ignite the Sun. After a stint as the host for the Spectre, Jordan regained the Green Lantern name in Geoff Johns’ fantastic Green Lantern: Rebirth series, which explained away Jordan’s drastic personality change. Even though he is back to normal now, his transformation caused a schism in DC fandom like no other. People were PISSED that Hal Jordan could be treated this way, and so easily replaced by pretty boy borefest Kyle Raynor. To this day, nerds will practically punch you in the face if you mention an evil Hal Jordan.