slyjinks: (Default)
[personal profile] slyjinks
One of the things I've come to love about the DC comics universe is its generational aspect. That is, the way hero names and legacies get picked up and carried on from one generation to the next, a fact that doesn't always require the death of the previous name holder (see: multiple active Flashes, Wildcats, etc), although it usually calls for the incapactiation of a previous nameholder, temporary or permanent. After awhile, though, you can't help but notice the way DC seems to use this method to slowly introduce more ethnic and gender diversity in what is largely a white male hero population. Pretty clever, that! I'm not here to defend or condemn the practice, but just to look at as many examples of it as I can dig up. Some people can't stand replacements - me, I tend to have my favorites in each group, and sometimes they're the new guys, and sometimes they're the old guys. Often, I like one better than the others but still like them all enough that I'd want to see everyone active, even if I realize that's not always likely.

I'm going to be using a list of JSA members and JLA members, and probably at least look over the Titans members, mostly because in the DCU, just about everyone ends up in the JLA, the JSA, or some team with 'Titans' in the name at some time or the other, and bring up a list of characters who were replaced with "more diverse" versions. In some cases, the replacements were, themselves, replaced, but still, I'll include them. This isn't really an exhaustive list or study... just me poking around Wikipedia for awhile, and giving my thoughts on some of the characters.

The fact that I'm putting this up on MLK day is complete and utter coincidence.

Green Lantern

Ooooooh boy. The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, found some random green thing from space that he turned into a ring. He is not part of the intergalactic cop patrol that all later Green Lanterns are members of. That concept got introduced with Hal Jordan. However, because of that concept, there have been a whole crapload of Green Lanterns over the years, and nearly all of them are still active (active again?) now, although the vast majority of the Earth-based ones are still white males. However, the vast majority of all Green Lanterns are, like, alien-looking aliens, so those may count, and even if they didn't there's always good old John Stewart. A black former marine, he was the Green Lantern chosen to represent the name in the Justice League cartoon, and like most other Green Lanterns, he's still alive and well (at least, as far as my most up to date knowledge goes - I haven't read the latest issue of Final Crisis, so WHO KNOWS!?!). I'm not really sure I have a favorite Green Lantern, but I definitely have a least favorite: Guy Gardner. I'm pretty indifferent to Kyle, and am just on the positive side of indifferent for the rest of them. I'm sorry! I just never got into the Lanterns!

I do think they have some pretty awesome movie potential, though.

Lanterns, as you might imagine, tend to get called by their real names a lot. Too damn many of them to keep things straight, otherwise.


The original Spectre was white male cop, Jim Corrigan, who took up the mantle when he was murdered. Next, the job was passed to white male ex-Green Lantern (Green Lanterns are sort of like galactic cops, right?) Hal Jordan as Jordan hunted for a way to atone for going crazy and murdering a bunch of folks. I didn't follow the specific details, but apparently that got worked out, because for awhile the Spectre was hostless, which made him vulnerable to Eclipso crazy-logic about magic being the root of all evil. After the Spectre went crazy and ran around killing a bunch of folks and destroying a bunch of magic, it was decided he really needed a host to provide some sort of common sense and reason to the force, so Crispus Allen, a black Gotham cop who had just been murdered by Jim Corrigan (different Jim Corrigan than before) was chosen. The Spectre is the Spirit of God's Vengeance. Crispus Allen was an athiest. This just goes to show that in the DCU, when God calls you into service, he don't give a damn whether you believe in him or not.

It also seems to indicate that God thinks cops make good choices for Vengeance spirits, for some reason.

Crispus Allen is by far my favorite Spectre, but he is also the one I'm most familiar with. I'll note, though, that I was also a huge fan of the Gotham Central comic book, and pre-Spectre Crispus was a pretty prominant character in that. Hal, I like better as a Green Lantern. I never really read enough Corrigan Spectre to get a good grip on his personality.

Doctor Fate

Merge-to-form heroes are a mess, let me tell you. So, okay. Doctor Fate. During various times in the career of the various, various Doctor Fates, there would be husband-and-wife couples that had to merge into a singular, male being known as Doctor Fate. So, do these count? Or does it only count when the powered form itself is female? I'm not sure!

Anyway, Doctor Fate I was Kent Nelson, who, when he put on his helmet, would be possessed by the Lord of Order, Nabu, and become Doctor Fate. Nelson didn't like getting possessed, so eventually he found a way around it by merging with his wife. Does that count as Fate II? Who the heck knows. The definite next Doctor Fate was another merging husband and wife pair, Eric and Linda Strauss. Eventually Eric got killed and Linda was Doctor Fate by herself, which is really the main reason Doctor Fate even managed to get on the list (gender replacement). Also, Kent and his wife, Inza, got brought back later, and for awhile Inza was the only one who could become Doctor Fate. All the other Doctor Fates, of which there were many, were white males. Well, except Black Alice and, possibly the most hilarious Doctor Fate of all, Detective Chimp. Not all of them have died to be replaced, but there is only one Doctor Fate currently, and he's Kent Nelson's white male grandson or some such.

I have no favorite Doctor Fate. Except maybe Detective Chimp, because monkeys make everything better.

The Atom

The original Atom was just a little guy named Al Pratt with no superpowers (one of these days, I'm going to cover the replacement of non-powered heroes with powered versions). The one most people are familiar with is Ray Palmer, who could shrink down to sub-atomic levels. Both Pratt and Palmer were white males. My favorite Atom is actually the new one, Ryan Choi. As a Chinese dude, he makes the list. I followed pretty much the entire run of his book, delighting in its unashamed absurdity, but alas, the series was not to last. That, and it took a down turn towards the sucky in the end. Ah, well. Ray Palmer is still alive, but seems perfectly content to let Ryan keep the name and the superheroing.

Jakeem Thunder

Not a direct name passdown, as the original J. Thunder was Johnny Thunder (white male). Johnny Thunder's 'powers' came through the control of a powerful genie named "Thunderbolt". When he got old, he started losing control of the genie, and stuck it in a pen. The Flash, not realizing what the pen was/could do, gave it to Jakeem Johnny Williams (black male), Jakeem gained control of Thunderbolt, went by J. J. Thunder for awhile, and then switched to Jakeem Thunder. He is, I believe, actually the same J. Thunder you see in Kingdom Come, but since this one was taken in by the JSA pretty early, it seems unlikely that he'll develop into the sort of dangerous youth-hero element that caused such problems in that graphic novel.

Jakeem is my favorite J. Thunder by default. I've never even read any books with Johnny Thunder (and yes, I am aware that he has since somehow been merged with Thunderbolt. I mean, none with Johnny Thunder as Johnny Thunder).

Doctor Mid-Nite

The original Doctor Mid-Nite was a white male. The current Doctor Mid-Nite is a white male. So why does this legacy even make the list? Because the current Doctor Mid-Night is Doctor Mid-Night III. Doctor Mid-Nite II, Beth Chapal, was a double-diversity replacement, being both female and black. She was also, sadly, fridged, brutally murdered by Eclipso.

I really can't compare the Mid-Nites, as the only one familiar with is Pieter Cross. On the one hand, boo for fridging a double-diversity replacement! On the other hand: he's a blind superhero surgeon with an owl sidekick. I mean, how cool is that?


Stargirl is a white male-to-female diversity replacement, but she's actually the replacement for two different characters. She's the legacy replacement Starman #-whatever-they-had-gotten-up-to-before-she-got-the-staff, and she's the legacy replacement for the original Star-Spangled Kid (another white male). She originally went by Star-Spangled Kid, or just Star, but switched to Stargirl when she got the staff so she could honor both Starman and Star-Spangled Kid. She's really the only one of the entire group I have any familiarity with. There is also another currently active Starman, who was originally from the League of Superheroes (the 31st century superhero team), but I have no idea if he was supposed to have been named for the orignal Starman or not. Since he's white and male, though, he doesn't count for my list.

Mister Terrific

The original Mister Terrific was killed by Jay Garrick-Flash while Jay was possessed by a supervillain name Spirit King. Yikes! Some time after his death, the Spectre (I think this was Corrigan Spectre, but I'm not sure. Not Crispus Spectre, at any rate) talked the suicidal (and black) Michael Holt into taking up the name. Michael Holt is the only Mister Terrific I'm familiar with, and I do rather like him. I also think he's a snappier dresser than the original guy.


The original Wildcat, Ted Grant, is white male. The newest one, Tom Bronson, also is. Well, he might have some mixed heritage - who can tell? He runs around as a werepanther all the time! However, the newest one is also Wildcat IV, so we've got two others to worry about. Wildcat II was female Latino Yolanda Montez. She was messily fridged by Eclipso. DC! Cut that shit out! Latino male Hector Ramirez was Wildcat III. He was messily fridged by Killer Croc. Anyway, the two dead ones are the reason Wildcat is on the list.

I actually like the original Wildcat the best, but I'm still kind of irked with the way Montez was offed.


Robin squeaks onto this list by having a single gender-diversity replacement: Stephanie Brown, or Robin IV. She's actually not dead, but she's not Robin anymore, either.

You know, I don't really care much about Robins one way or another.

Not Red Tornado

Red Tornado is really kind of a reverse diversity replacement, since the original Red Tornado was a kind of rolly-polly female names Ma Hunkel, while the current one is an android male that at least looks like a white male when he's not in costume. However, as a friend said, he's an android who's sexing up a human chick and has an adopted daughter, so that has to count for something.

Ma Hunkel is still around and helps out around the JSA headquarters. It is said she wields a mean frying pan. She has a second legacy-holder in the form of her grandaughter (or is that great-grandaughter?) Cyclone, but that's not really a diversity replacement.

Jesse Quick?

Jesse Quick is the daughter of Johnny Quick, white male speedster, so she might count as a gender replacement. Except that she usually goes by Liberty Belle (her mother's superhero codename) instead. Replacing white female with white female doesn't count!


Not only was the original Judomaster male, it looked like he may have been white, which is kind of funny. Either way, the current female Judomaster is certainly a gender diversity replacement, and may be a double diversity replacement. I'm pretty indifferent to her, and haven't read anything with any other Judomaster.

The Lightning Mess

There are at least two sets of sibling characters known as Thunder and Lightning in the DCU. The first set were male Vietnamese twins, and the second set are black sisters. If the second set followed the first, they'd count as a gender-replacement (the original pair were already minority members), but I don't think there's any connection between the two. In fact, the sisters don't even actually work together - one is in the JSA, and one is in the Outsiders.

To complicate matters, the sisters are the daughters of Black Lightning. This is a partial name carryover. Does she count as a female diversity add-on? Of course, Black Lightning himself is still active, and is a member of the JLA.

Their family is very well represented in the DC supehero community.


Daughter of Zatara! So yes, she counts as gender-diversity replacement. She may be one of the oldest examples on the list, too - old enough that people tend to forget she's is one.

She's also the only one in that family I'm particularly familiar with.


Besides the obvious racial change (new, black Jason Firestorm vs. older Ronnie Firestorm), Firestorm may qualify as a gender replacement. It's the whole merging hero mess again. The original Ronnie Raymond always merged with physics professor Martin Stein to form Firestorm. Jason Rusch can merge with Martin Stein (when he's around and not kidnapped or missing or whatever like he usually is), but more usually merges with his girlfriend Gehenna (who is, I don't lie, six. It's a really screwy situation). He also sometimes merges with the female Firehawk.

Jason is by far my favorite Firestorm. He is also hawt, pun-not-intended. Fortunately, DC made sure to make his book suck before they cancelled it, so it wasn't as frustrating when the news hit.

Blue Beetle

Hispanic Jaime Reyes is the third Blue Beetle, replacing white male Ted Kord. Unlike Kord, Jaime can actually use the Blue Beetle scarab, too. Kord himself is not the original Blue Beetle, but since he replaces Dan Garret, another white male, we won't worry too much about that.

I'll be honest, I... don't actually know anything about Reyes. But then, most of what I know about Kord came from Countdown to Infinite Crisis and through the Booster Gold series. This is enough to make Kord my favorite, though I have to admit, Jaime seems pretty well-liked, too.

Doctor Light

Doctor Light is not only a double-diversity replacement (replacing white male with Japanese female), she's a hero while her namesake is a villain. Really, there's... not a huge amount of connection between the two, beyond name and costume design. I never really liked her, she was kind of a bitch. I will allow that comic books probably need bitchy, headstrong females, but that doesn't mean I have to like every one of them. Anyway, for awhile it looks like she had been fridged, but now it's starting to look as her powers have been returning. Since part of the issue with Women in Refridgerators syndrom is that males recover, females don't, if her powers do return she really can't be said to have ever been fully fridged at all.

Hawk and Dove

I don't know much about these guys, beyond knowing that the older ones were dudes and the later ones were chicks, so here they are.


Well, okay. The old Batwoman was a white female and the new Batwoman is a white female. However, the new one is also a lesbian, so there you go! Diversity! She's also banging the new Question. And speaking of the new Question...


Renee Montoya. Latino, female, lesbian, and the former partner to Crispus Allen. This makes her our triple-crown winner of diversity replacements! This also means that, if Wildcat and Mid-Nite are anything to judge by, she is in extreme mortal danger of being fridged! Me, I hope not! Don't get me wrong, I liked the old Question, but I really do like Montoya a lot more. If they bring the old guy back from cancer or whatnot, I hope this can be another 'multiple use of the same name' situations. After all, there's always more than one question to be asked.

Okay. I missed lots. I know I did, mostly because I got tired of making the list. Anyone else have any to add on?

Date: 2009-01-20 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You've got most of the ones I can think off. Only others I can think off are from the current run of Teen Titans: Bombshell, Miss Martian, Ravager and Speedy (Mia), gender replacements of Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, Deathstroke and Speedy (Roy) repectively.

And is robotic white guy versus fleshy white guy sufficient to count as diversity? 'Cause then we can could include the third Hourman (the nanotech dude from DC One Million).

Date: 2009-01-20 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Are they all replacements, though? That's the tricky part about the gender switch issue, really. I didn't set out to cover female counterparts (otherwise, Supergirl and Batgirl would be on the list) - I tried to stick as much to clear replacements as I could.

That said, Speedy certainly does count. I'm a bit iffy about some of the others, though. Especially Miss Martian.

Date: 2009-01-20 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, also, I really did deeply consider the third Hourman (or was he actually the second one?), but I talked it over with a friend, and she felt that androids that look like white guys shouldn't count. That's why Red Tornado is only up there as a reverse-case and not as a flesh-to-robotic case.

Date: 2009-01-20 04:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The so-called 'legacy heroes' is one of the things I've thought of as part of DC's different flavor, in relation to Marvel. Of course, Marvel sort of did this by making lots of the Ultimate characters either no-longer-white or gay. Good read. :)

Date: 2009-01-20 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Marvel does the legacy thing from time to time, but yeah, it really is far more a DC thing, over all, and, as you said, part of the distinctive flavor between the two realities.

Date: 2009-01-21 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Marvel's definitely been doing it more lately. Since about the mid-90's I think the distinctive flavor's been blurred a bit. Young Avengers made my head spin! Maybe it's because the old hands were retiring and people drifting between companies is a lot more frequent than it used to be. Of course I don't count preserving copyrights (Captain Marvel III, etc.) as legacy heroes, which sortens the list a lot! ;)

Date: 2009-01-20 05:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very interesting reading. I wonder, does Steel almost count for Superman? Probably not, but still...

Date: 2009-01-20 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know what? I had intended to include Steel on the list as at least an honorable mention, and I forgot! He was a replacement when he was first introduced, after all, and the fact that he still wears the big "S" when he wears a suit at all anymore shows pretty clearly that he still follows the Superman legacy. It may not count fully, but it's a case of "Close enough for an honorable mention."

Thanks for reminding me!

February 2012

1213141516 1718

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:29 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios