A legacy is a powerful thing. When a name, a mantle, is passed down from generation to generation, it brings with it prestige and respect. Some of comics’ most beloved characters hail from legacies: The Flash, Nova, Iron Man. All have passed their title onto the next generation at some point in time. While the passing of a legacy can be a powerful thing, it doesn’t exactly always work. In fact, there are plenty of legacy characters that are just, well, kind of crappy.
Sure, the list of legacy characters that have gone on to become fan favorites is long and varied. But let’s face facts: just because a popular character passes the torch to you, it’s definitely not a guarantee that fans are going to care about you. Whether it’s from being boring, or being too different from the previous character, or just being utterly forgettable, there are plenty of legacy characters that just didn’t stick. Thankfully, these failed legacy characters are good for at least one thing: Mockery! So join us as we take a look back at the one-offs, the also-rans, and the never-weres to bring you the definitive list of the 15 crappiest legacy characters ever!
15. JOHN WALKER (CAPTAIN AMERICA)
Captain America’s recent turn as a villainous HYDRA commander is shocking and hurtful, but it certainly isn’t the first time a Captain America has gone off the deep end. No, for the first example of a truly despicable Cap, you need look no further than John Walker. Taking over the Captain America mantle after the U.S. government forced Steve Rogers to vacate the position after Roger’s refused to cooperate with the government’s political agenda, Walker wasted no time in differentiating himself from the original Captain America.
A staunch conservative, Walker saw the position as less of a representation of American ideals and more of a way to beat the tar out of criminals on the government’s dime. Walker would later renounce the Captain America mantle and become the U.S.Agent, but Walker’s hair trigger temper and mental instability made him a crappy choice for the role of Captain America.
14. BEN REILY (SPIDER-MAN)
The ’90s was a messy time to be a comic book fan. Characters were getting rebooted, redesigned, or, as was the case with Spider-Man, cloned and then replaced. While Spidey has suffered many indignities over his decades-spanning career, few were as profoundly silly and poorly thought out as Ben Reilly.
During the debacle known as the Clone Saga, Peter discovered that he had long-lost clones running around, eventually leading to clone Ben Reilly taking over the Spider-Man mantle after Peter opted to retire from super heroics. Sure, it seems kinda silly to have Peter replaced by a guy who looks just like him, but Marvel was quick to remind readers how different Ben was. Why, Ben Reilly had blonde hair! And a new outfit! Totally different! Ben Reilly has a strong fan following, but his tenure as Spidey wasn’t the Web Slinger’s proudest moment.
13. THE JOKER’S DAUGHTER
The Joker’s Daughter is the human equivalent of that store “Spencer’s” you always see at the mall. The Joker’s Daughter is like a shirt that says “You laugh because I’m different, I laugh because you are all the same.” She is the human equivalent of a wallet chain. What we’re getting at here is that The Joker’s Daughter tries way too hard and is crazy lame.
A delusional schizophrenic that suffers from multiple personality disorder, “Duela Dent” (which has been found to be merely a pseudonym, with her real name unknown) presents herself as the daughter of the Joker, despite having no relation to the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker’s Daughter considers herself the torchbearer for the Joker’s twisted legacy, but she mostly just shows up to remind readers of how much she sucks.
12. ERIC MASTERSON (THOR/THUNDERSTRIKE)
Ah, the ’90s. “Out with the old and in with the terrible characters that will be totally forgotten about in like a year” practically could have been the slogan for the comic industry in the ’90s. That, of course, brings us to Eric Masterson and his utterly forgettable run as Thor.
Taking the mantle of Thor in Thor #432, Marvel clearly thought it had a big thing on its hands. After all, Masterson had everything the OG Thor was missing that the ’90s craved: A ponytail! A goatee! A leather vest! Fingerless gloves! But fans quickly soured to the new Thor, and the Odinson would go on to retake the Thor title. Masterson was given the new codename of Thunderstrike, but he was, much like his run as Thor’s replacement, quickly forgotten.
11. JEAN-PAUL VALLEY (BATMAN)
The beauty of Batman is that his character works in so many different interpretations. We’ve seen a Batman from the future, we’ve seen a caveman Batman, and we’ve even see a pirate Batman. As long as he fights crime from the shadows and is partial to brooding, fans will typically accept any Batman with open arms. You have to be extra crappy for fans to hate you as Batman… which brings us to Jean-Paul Valley.
During Knightfall, Bruce Wayne found himself unable to don the cowl after having his back broken by Bane. Part-time crime fighter and full-time boring guy Jean-Paul Valley was chosen as Bruce’s replacement, becoming the new Batman. But as this occurred during the ’90s, Valley couldn’t just slip into Bruce’s iconic duds. No, he had to roll out a ridiculous robo suit, replete with pouches-a-plenty. Valley’s run as the new Batman was (mercifully) short-lived, but he definitely didn’t do the Batman legacy any favors.
10. VICTOR ALVAREZ (POWER MAN)
From such humble beginnings, Luke Cage managed to claw his way from D-Grade hero status to being an Avengers member and bonafide TV star. Power Man has thoroughly cemented himself as a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. But Victor Alvarez, the third Power Man? Not so much.
Debuting during Marvel’s ill-fated Shadowland crossover, Victor Alvarez assumed the mantle of Power Man, despite having nothing to do with Luke Cage. As a special middle finger, when Alvarez eventually did cross paths with the OG Power Man, he was quite vocal in his dislike of Cage and his longtime ally Iron Fist. Alvarez would eventually bury the hatchet with Cage and gain the veteran superhero’s blessing to use the name, but he’s gone on to a distinguished career of… well, nothing really. Power Man pops up in the occasional cameo or bit part, but most fans would be hard pressed to even remember that this legacy hero exists.
9. FATE (DR. FATE)
When you hear the name Dr. Fate, many words may spring to mind: Stoic. Mysterious. Enigmatic. But probably not words like “extreme” and “badass face tattoo.” But that is exactly what readers got when the decision was made to replace Dr. Fate with a new legacy character called, simply, Fate.
Introduced in — you guessed it — the ’90s, Fate was everything Dr. Fate wasn’t. He was brutal, he was violent, and, above all else, he was super lame. Gone were the iconic gold helmet and fluttering cape; in their place were a silly, magically mummified arm and mystical daggers made out of the melted remnants of Dr. Fate’s helmet. Even in a decade as choked with terrible characters as the ’90s, Fate stood out, and fans quickly rejected him, leading to the legacy character receiving an unceremonious death off panel.
8. ROBBIE REYES (GHOST RIDER)
Sometimes, a character can have everything going for him: a cool outfit, a cool car, an interesting legacy to build from. A character can have all of this, and still be as dull as dish water. And that brings us to Robbie Reyes, the latest incarnation of the Ghost Rider.
Teenager Robbie Reyes certainly bucked the trend set by the likes of Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch, opting for a souped-up muscle car over the traditional motorcycle and replacing the old fashioned skull with a chrome plated skull mask. But his story of a smart kid trapped in a bad neighborhood, looking after his disabled brother and dealing with the local gang bangers, is nothing new. Since taking on the Ghost Rider mantle, Reyes has done little of consequence. He has plenty of potential, but right now, he’s boring, and boy is he crappy.
7. ERIC O’GRADY (ANT-MAN)
The Ant-Man legacy can generously be described as “rocky.” The mantle has been claimed by a wife beater and an actual thief, but it’s still Eric O’Grady that takes the cake for crappiest Ant-Man. After stumbling ass backwards into the Ant-Man suit, low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady opts to steal the suit and begin a new life as a super hero. Unfortunately, O’Grady’s definition of a superhero is pretty loose. He uses his shrinking powers to peep on women, he hides when battles prove too difficult, and he uses his superhero exploits to try and loot jewelry stores. Despite his generally crummy ways, O’Grady managed to hang around for quite a while, before being unceremoniously beaten to death and replaced with an evil Life Model Decoy. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
6. JULIA CARPENTER (SPIDER-WOMAN)
Despite the remarkably similar names, Spider-Woman has very little to do with Spider-Man. Sure, that opens up a whole conversation of, “Why even name her Spider-Woman if she is just a separate character?” But let’s focus here. Despite Jessica Drew having nothing to do with Peter Parker, fans took a shine to the character, primarily because she was totally different from Spidey. Marvel saw that, let out a mighty “Nope,” and gave the world Julia Carpenter.
When Julia assumed the Spider-Woman mantle in 1984, fans noted a remarkable similarity to the wall crawler. Carpenter wore a suit inspired by Spidey’s black duds, wielded a set of powers similar to Spidey, and generally just acted like Spidey, rendering her a D-Grade knock-off of a popular character, wearing another popular character’s name. Drew wouldn’t return to the persona she made famous until the mid-2000’s, but Carpenter’s run as Spider-Woman was uneventful and, well, crappy.
5. WALTER WEST (THE FLASH)
The moniker of The Flash holds a certain prestige. Since first appearing in 1940, the legacy has been passed from speedster to speedster. While every incarnation of The Flash brings something new to the table, one recipient of the Flash name can lay claim to something no other Flash can: Walter West totally sucks.
During the Dark Flash Saga, then Flash Wally West was missing and presumed dead. Coincidentally, an alternate universe version of Wally appeared, who quickly assumed the mantle of The Flash. This new Wally, going by the more adult Walter West, was nothing like the fun and carefree Wally; Walter was dark and dour, preferring brutal efficiency to quips. Problem was, it came to light that Walter was actually mentally unstable due to the loss of his wife, and he had intended to take over Wally’s life. After Walter’s defeat, Wally took back The Flash name, and fans promptly forgot about poor Walter.
4. NICK FURY JR.
A common gripe among comic book fans is that Marvel and DC have no problems messing with characters to fall in line with their cinematic universe. Origins will be changed, characters will be introduced, and personalities will be altered to better reflect how characters appear in the movies. One of the most blatant changes to match a cinematic change can be found in Nick Fury Jr.
When Samuel L. Jackson appeared as Nick Fury in Iron Man, it served as a fun little nod to the appearance of Ultimate Nick Fury. But realizing that new comic fans would come to Marvel comics expecting a Sam Jackson Nick Fury, Marvel sprung into action and created Nick Fury Jr. This hitherto never-before-seen son of Nick Fury just so happened to resembled the MCU Nick Fury, and through a series of wacky situations, took over his dad’s position and became the new defacto Nick Fury. Shoe horned, pandering, and totally unneeded, Nick Fury Jr. is the worst kind of legacy character.
3. ARTEMIS (WONDER WOMAN)
Sure, Wonder Woman is a strong warrior, but she knows the superhero game is all about fighting and compassion in equal measure. Problems don’t always require a brute force solution; sometimes, it pays to use your words. When Diana was forced to pass the Wonder Woman mantle to her longtime rival Artemis, the fiery Amazon threw this concept right out the window and opted for a “more punching, less talking” approach to the job.
During the 1995 storyline “The Challenge of Artemis,” Artemis became the new Wonder Woman after mystical tomfoolery caused Diana to lose a tournament for the title. During her short tenure as the new Wonder Woman, Artemis’ violent approach to peacekeeping won her no fans, with Batman even refusing to let Artemis sit in Diana’s Justice League chair. You have to be extra crappy as a super hero for Batman to go full blown Mean Girls on you.
2. TEEN TONY (IRON MAN)
There are poor decisions, and then there is Teen Tony Stark. Marvel made plenty of poor decisions in the ’90s (looking at you, Clone Saga), but Teen Tony serves as not only one of the worst legacy characters, but quite possibly one of the worst creations of the entire decade, possibly of all time.
After Tony Stark was revealed to be under the influence of the insidious Immortus, the Avengers decided to utilize a time machine to duck into the past and scoop up a non-evil teenage version of Tony to fight back against evil Tony. Through a series of convoluted situations, Teen Tony gets an Iron Man suit for himself, assuming his place in the Avengers. Problem is, readers didn’t care to see the millionaire playboy go through his awkward teen years, and Teen Tony was immediately unpopular. Teen Tony would give his life fighting Onslaught, only to be merged with adult Tony and promptly forgotten by everyone, which was really for the best.
1. PRETTY BOY LOBO
Lobo is a lot of things: dangerous, surly, a big fan of the second amendment. One thing he is most definitely not is “pretty” or “handsome” or “remotely easy on the eyes.” Lobo is big, ugly, and violent. The New 52 version of Lobo is none of these things, which is a crime, and not the fun ones OG Lobo liked to commit.
Debuting in Deathstroke #9, the new Lobo is a Czarian that prefers keeping his hair feathered over slinging insults and picking fights. Sure, this new “Hot Lobo” (or Hobo, if you prefer) was presented as a badass, take-no-prisoners mercenary, but fans that knew and loved the Lobo of old just weren’t having it. Pretty Boy Lobo was dropped like a bag of hammers, everyone’s favorite bastich was back in the saddle by DC Rebirth, and nothing of value was lost.
Who is your least favorite legacy character? Let us know in the comments!