The world of comic books is no stranger to reboots. What used to happen every few years feels like it’s on a yearly basis now, with series and publishing lines booting and rebooting more often than not in an attempt to widen appeal and make it easy for new readers to jump in. And we’ll be honest, a lot of times it works. The hype behind the “End of All Things” in 2015’s Secret Wars was exciting, hype-worthy and for the most part, completely paid off. Over on DC’s side, the New 52 and DC Universe Rebirth were two reboots that garnered critical praise and pickup, at least at their time of release.
But series reboots usually have a tougher time, and most of the time they’ll try and shake up a formula so much that we lose the whole reason for the reboot in the first place — to make it easier for new readers to jump on. There are successes, of course, like Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run, Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers and Scott Snyder’s Robo-Batman, but when it comes down to it — all of these reboots are just a little bit weird. Therefore, we’re counting down the 15 weirdest comic book reboots, both good and the bad.
Daredevil, from the creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, was nothing short of an incredible ride and a stellar looks at what it’s like to be Matt Murdock, both officially and as Daredevil. Waid and Samnee’s run had a lot riding against it that it made beautiful work of (like the fallout of AXIS), but in turn that made it awfully weird and crazy fun at times.
Samnee’s psychadelic style paired perfectly with Waid’s introduction of a handful of cosmic characters like Silver Surfer, and made longtime Daredevil villains like Bullseye that much more terrifying. Oh, and the whole thing took place in San Francisco, more than subtle change for the Man Without Fear. Wait, we’re forgetting something. Oh, and everyone knows that Murdock is Daredevil.
The first of many DC You attempts you’ll see on this list, Starfire attempted to give the super-powerful, incredibly layered character of Starfire a soft, corny and cartoonish story. It wasn’t terrible, but it felt like such a turnaround for a character we had spent decades with.
While not nearly as detrimental as her development in the New 52’s Red Hood & The Outlaws, this short-lived series made it seem like Kori was figuring out the world for the first time — again. You know, despite the fact that shadows of her past, like Dick Grayson, show up throughout the series and she seemingly remembers them. The cartoonish overcast, mixed with its Adobe Flash-like appearance, made this reboot an odd choice for the power of Starfire.
13. SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN
The pitch was simple: What if Spider-Man was a bad guy? But the logistics made the concept a whole mess of weird. Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man had Peter Parker seemingly killed and his body inhabited by none other than Doctor Octopus. While ham-fisted at first glance, the series actually explored Parker’s life fairly well, and while Doc Ock didn’t do anything irredeemable during his time as Spider-Man, it made Parker’s life that much more complicated when he returned.
The concept was weird, sure, but the series also took huge strides in tackling things like diversity and de-stigmatizing mental illness. When people look back on Slott’s Spider-Man run, hopefully they’ll remember the weird masterpiece of Superior Spider-Man, a shining light in the last 10 years of the web-slinger.
12. LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD
Spinning out of the aforementioned Young Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard had the God of Mischief taking on a lighter role in the Marvel Universe, that of a good guy. In a play on every S.H.I.E.L.D. missions we’ve ever read about, Loki is tasked by the All-Mother to retrieve artifacts from the realms in an attempt to prove himself worthy, and along the way Loki meets humans that humble him and adversaries that are both surprised and confused by his change of heart.
In the long run, the series was short-lived, but Loki’s appearance in books like Thor and Ms. Marvel made the newly-heroic Loki seem that much more real, and was a welcome call back to Gillen and McKelvie’s stellar Young Avengers run. Unfortunately, post-Secret Wars Loki returned to his old ways.
While the introduction of the original five X-Men to the present timeline a few years back was met with, let’s say, heavy resistance, it was a welcome shake-up that had a profound impact on the Marvel Universe. Though, nothing was quite as riveting and absolutely insane as the short-lived Cyclops solo book, which had the young Cyclops taking off into space with the older Cyclops’ father, in an attempt for the younger Scott to learn about his history, reconnect with family and escape the treachery of his adult counterpart’s mutant mission.
It was Cyclops in space with space pirates, and it was glorious. Though the series ended as part of The Black Vortex crossover, we enjoyed the time we had with Scott and his dad, and it was a wonderful callback to the Starjammers and X-Men stories of old.
Prez, released around the time of DC’s You initiative, revived an equally short-lived miniseries from 1973 as the story of Beth Ross, a teenage girl running for President in 2036, utilizing all the internet has to offer (see: Twitter), and battling against a tyrannical corporation that bares a striking resemblance to Wal-Mart. The trippy, Kirby-esque reboot was fun, frantic and incredibly poignant, and was a far cry from the original’s staunch political commentary.
Interestingly enough, the reboot keeps the original story in continuity — sort of. The original Prez, Preston Rickard, is Ross’ vice president, and the two navigate the treacherous political roads that plague the future. The story was also originally pitched by including the fact that you can order tacos by drone in the year 2036, something that doesn’t seem all that far out in 2017. Hmm.
What did you expect? Combine the twisted comedic genius of Matt Fraction with the poppy, classic art stylings of the Allreds and you’re going to get a wacky, psychadelic take on Marvel’s First Family. Well, sort of. FF, running alongside Fraction’s Fantastic Four, was about the Future Foundation and how they kept the gears turning after Reed, Sue and co. took off into space on an inter-dimensional family vacation.
The new FF team was made up of Ant-Man (Scott Lang), She-Hulk, Miss Thing and Medusa, and shook out about as wild as you could imagine. Inhuman politics, family drama and rogue teenagers were just a handful of plot points in this companion series, and we’ll be honest, when the original team returned home, we were sad to say goodbye to this new crew, Dragon Man and the kids of the Future Foundation.
8. SUPERIOR IRON MAN
Tom Taylor’s Superior Iron Man was another direct response to the events of AXIS, where a handful of heroes and villains had their alignments swapped, and Tony Stark went from being a snarky billionaire philanthropist to an evil snarky billionaire philanthropist with a thinly-veiled plot to take over the world. While this series (like plenty others on this list) was short-lived, it explored a lot of Tony’s morality and dark side, something we hadn’t really seen since Demon In A Bottle.
However, it was also totally wacky, and one major plot point involved Tony creating an app that gave people their greatest wish for free, and then took it away, requiring that they pay an insane amount of money to keep it going. It was a twisted and evil plot, something that only an evil Iron Man could concoct. Oh, and he cures Daredevil’s blindness using the app, and that’s just all kinds of messed up.
7. DOCTOR FATE
DC You’s Doctor Fate reboot should have been a lot better than it was. Pulling from Marvel’s wheelhouse of new, young heroes like Miles Morales, Kamala Khan and Sam Alexander, this new take on the hero was fresh and offered a unique perspective: that of an Egyptian-American medical student dealing with the forces of order and chaos and the apocalyptic scenarios plaguing Brooklyn.
It was totally trippy, and its visuals were often its saving grace, and while the series did last a fairly long time (18 issues), it failed to do anything truly meaningful with its time in publication. There was also an arc where Anubis, the series’ main antagonist, kills Doctor Fate and essentially drags him to hell. Again, a unique mission for a new character that seemed to take some welcome influence from Earth-2. It just didn’t quite live up to its potential.
6. VENOM: SPACE KNIGHT
OK, hear us out. Agent Venom was a fantastic reinvention of the classic Spider-Man villain, offering purpose and motive to a character long embattled with psychotic breakdowns and murderous tendencies. We even enjoyed the time Agent Venom spent with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but when Flash Thompson and his friendly neighborhood symbiote took off on a solo adventure in space to rescue pandas and also fight bounty hunter pandas, they lost us just a bit.
In a way, it felt like natural progression for the character, but with a total suit change and an uneven premise, Venom: Space Knight fell flat, ultimately leading Marvel to take the symbiote from Flash and give it back to Eddie Brock, the original Venom. It’s a shame, too, because the idea of a cosmic Venom could have been great. Well, at least we had our time with Flash.
The creation of Bizarro is a twisted and traumatic tale, and while fans may know him as the Superman villain made up of Kryptonian (and human) DNA, this DC You take on the character had him taking on a more humble and timid personality. This six-issue miniseries has Bizarro traveling the country with his new best friend Jimmy Olsen, all done up in a cartoonish, almost Three Stooges-esque way. It was funny, simple and had plenty of heart. It was incredibly weird.
With visuals that rivaled the classic Leisure Suit Larry series of video games, Bizarro threw out a lot of what his character was made of prior to this reboot. I mean, the last time we had seen him was in the dark Forever Evil event. Now, this Bizarro may be a different one from that event (as is the newest iteration of him in Red Hood & The Outlaws) but it still doesn’t change that this wacky, out there take on the character was a hail mary, and we can only hope it will be remembered as a cult success.
Probably one of the most insane and ridiculous reboots on this list is that of Lobo in 2014, when a new, slim “pretty boy” Lobo made his way to the DC Universe and beheaded everyone’s favorite Main Man, revealing that the Lobo we’d known for years was an impostor all along. No, really. This then led into a solo series giving us a bit of background into the character, who was essentially space royalty who killed a king for good reason and wandered space hunting bounties.
It was weird, mostly boring and removed everything grotesque and wonderful we loved about the one, true Lobo. The character reappeared for a brief mention in DC Universe Rebirth as a captive of Braniac when the Green Lantern Corps are facing him, and they decide to leave him on the shelf. It was tongue-in-cheek, sure, but the perfect sendoff to this odd attempt to rebrand a chain-smoking murderous bounty hunter.
3. SHADE: THE CHANGING GIRL
Shade: The Changing Girl might be one of the most celebrated reboots on this list, bringing back to life a Steve Ditko creation and Vertigo comic, Shade: The Changing Man. With a fresh coat of paint grounded in the DC Universe, this new Young Animal series is like an acid trip stamped into print, taking readers on a glorious psychedelic ride through drugs, love, mental illness and impermanence.
While the two series share main character names, planets of origin and more, they are wildly different in tone, and Rac Shade’s current exploits make her series one of the weirdest comics of the last 20 years, while also cementing it as the shining star of the Young Animal publishing line. She’s also got a killer fashion sense, something that spooks earthlings, but who cares about their opinions, right?
2. SUPERMAN RED/SUPERMAN BLUE
As one of the most volatile reboots on this list, the saga of Superman Red and Superman Blue is one filled with poor continuity control, a weird jumble of powers and what we’ll call unique storytelling. As part of Superman’s gained energy abilities in the late 1990s, he developed two suits in an attempt to control the different powers. This led to his ability to shut his powers off, which in turn led to a pretty glaring weakness.
Long story short, Cyborg Superman splits the two sides of Superman into two separate beings and they do some solo work, now unwilling to return to one form. They even fought over Lois, which added to the complexity of this kind of freaky story. The worst part? The costumes. Fortunately, Superman was eventually restored and returned to his previously non-controversial form.
1. U.S. AVENGERS/THE NEW AVENGERS
Though this reboot is on the more recent side, its premise and execution make it one of, if not the weirdest, reboots on this list. Al Ewing’s super-team in the New Avengers was basically just members of the Great Lakes Avengers, Young Avengers and Secret Avengers all rolled into one, with Hawkeye, Squirrel Girl, Hulkling and Wiccan rounding out the main cast, led by Sunspot, who of course just took full control of the previously-villainous Advanced Idea Mechanics.
The series was short-lived and eventually rolled into Ewing’s U.S. Avengers, an even weirder take on the team after Civil War II split them in two. This follow-up team has Squirrel Girl and Sunspot, but replaced the others with an upgraded Pod, a new Red Hulk with a timer and a new Iron Patriot, whose armor is enormous compared to the Norman Osborn armor we’ve seen before.
Can you think of any weirder reboots that should have been included on this list? Let us know which heroes (or villains) you’re thinking about in the comments!