The Comics 8 Ball: Top 8 Comic Book Babyface Turns
Posted by Anthony Kennedy on 09.01.2014
From Emma Frost joining the X-Men and Hakweye going hero to the Punisher going from assassin to vigilante, Catwoman breaking good and more, 411’s Anthony Kennedy counts down the top 8 comic book babyface turns!
Welcome back to the Comics 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! Per usual, I'm Anthony Kennedy and I'll be your guide in our intellectual trip through comicdom. As always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top 8 selections related to comics. One thing to please understand, these are meant to be my personal takes and not the definitive list on the subject. Although I do consider myself somewhat an expert, feel free to disagree and I'll freely admit you're wrong. (No hard feelings tho?) With that in mind, let's get to this week's topic!
Top 8 Babyface Turns in Comics
This week I'm going to flip the script from last week's column and spotlight the "when bad guys go good." Much like wrestling, the comic book writers create a character who gets so cool and over that their hands are forced to make them good guy to sell some more comic books….err I mean tell more compelling and well received comic stories. With that, I present Top 8 Babyface Turns in Comics!
Just Missing The Cut
Dr. Octopus as Spider-Man
#8 Punisher Spider-Man, Daredevil and Punisher books
Frank Castle may have started off as an assassin for hire, but the cool emblem and badassness of his will to get the job (even though he failed with Spider-Man) made it inevitability that he would become a fan favorite and go on a long run as the anti-hero who had no qualms about merc'ing baddies to achieve his ends. Did It Work?: Yes! Even through several reboots of the character, he remains one of the most enduring name "heroes" in the 616. Comparable Wrestling Turn: The Road Warriors. Their awesome display of running through opponents while selling nothing is a perfect analogy of the bad guys who need to be faces.
#7 Catwoman Batman Books
Ever since Frank Miller's Batman: Year One I've always viewed Selina Kyle more of a tweener than the full fledged cat thief villain she was portrayed in the pre-Crisis DC era. Writers have played up her relationship with Batman Did It Work?: Sorta. I think Catwoman is a character that what ever the story calls for her to be, she can fit it, as opposed to her being a strict face or heel. Comparable Wrestling Turn: Randy Savage 1987 face turn. It was the love of a significant other than brought the ‘Macho Man' into the light, similar to Catwoman's flirtatious relationship with Batman.
#6 Namor Avengers & Fantastic Four books
His history is kind of muddled as he began as a babyface fighting amongst the Invaders, but one the Marvel entered into the Silver Age, he became an antagonist of the Fantastic Four with his lust for Sue Richards. For most readers, his turn and eventual membership with the Avengers (and fights with Hercules) are more memorable. Did It Work?: Sorta. He has been in some good stories fighting as an Avenger and recently as an X-Men, but I liked his character much better as tweener/heel antagonizing the Fantastic Four as he tried to restore the greatness of his underwater kingdom. Comparable Wrestling Turn: Sgt. Slaughter. He was a hard-ass military heel who went on to greater success and longevity being a badass patriot fighting for his country against foreign heels.
#5 Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch The Avengers
I have them as one since their histories are so linked with one another. Much like their wrestling counterpart (see below) they were heels of circumstances and (in my belief) reluctance as part of Magneto's original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. While Pietro tried to live up to the agenda being set by (eventual) daddy Magnus, Wanda clearly didn't seem 'bout that life' and was able to bring Quicksilver to the light side where their best stories awaited. Did It Work?: For Scarlet Witch? Absolutely. She fit right in with the Avengers while her twin brother still had those heel tendencies that would go on to produce heel and face turns over the next two decades a la Lex Luger. Comparable Wrestling Turn: Sting. Background muscle for Eddie Gilbert found his true stride as the fiery babyface and eventual wrestling legend.
#4 Thunderbolts Thunderbolts
As they tried to exploit the vacuum created by the disappearance of the Avengers and FF, Baron Zemo's new incarnation of the Masters of Evil began masquerading as heroes, scheming to work themselves into a position of trust and power. Funny thing happened as they began to enjoy adulation of the fans and slowly became full-fledged babyfaces. Did It Work?: Yes! It remains as one of the biggest swerves ever for a new book that Vince Russo wishes he could pull off. Comparable Wrestling Turn: "Your Olympic Hero" Kurt Angle. The last time the bad guy started playing good guy until he really became one the top faces of the company with Austin "treacherous" heel turn.
#3 Hawkeye The Avengers
The misunderstood villain went from a gimmicky bad guy to one of comic's greatest heroes by accepting Captain America's invitation and joining the Avengers. When most people point to criminals having a successful run as a babyface, Clint Barton is always at the top of that list. His continual need to prove himself as an equal, or superior, to the other Avengers members endears him as one of the greatest, if not the greatest Avengers of all.
Did It Work? Absolutely. Hawkeye brought much needed edge to Earth's Mightiest Heroes and conflict that kept the The Avengers interesting. Comparable Wrestling Turn: Dusty Rhodes. As part of the Texas Outlaws with Dick Murdoch, Stardust was having some good success. Becoming the American Dream catapulted him amongst the all the time great wrestling heroes.
#2 Emma Frost New X-Men
Bare with me now. Emma Frost was a decent, also-ran villain for the X-Men to go up against every once in while and help some teen boys cope with puberty. However, there was never anything THAT compelling about the character. Until she made her turn. While we got a decent slow burn with her torment of Iceman, fight with the Phalanx and decent run in Generation X, I have to give the devil his due, that when Grant Morrison got his hands on her that's when the White Queen became a top tier character and all-around member of his X-Men roster.
While she did good deeds, it was great to have a character around the X-Mansion that stirred the pot. Interfering in Cyclops and Jean's marriage, while being a great, "misunderstood" foil to Wolverine, Storm and Kitty Pryde. Her babyface turn took a one dimensional, objectified character and made her one of the most readable women in X-Men history, which is amazing in a universe that consists of Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde!
Did It Work?: Yes. When bad girls try to play nice it's always an enjoyable read. Comparable Wrestling Turn: The Ringmaster. He was always going to be a nice hand that could have great matches and probably get involved in some good angles here and there, but once the new persona hit and the face turn, Steve Austin became one of the best acts ever.
#1 Rogue X-Men books
Nobody saw this coming at all, but we should have. In her very first debut, Rogue was a badass, almost singlehandedly taking down the Avengers. She left an impact that few bad guys ever accomplish. Vince McMahon wishes he could get a monster heel over as good as Claremont did with Rogue. Ultimately, Claremont got his way and was able to truly craft a great character as the now tortured Rogue joined Marvel's merry mutants. Since then she has been one of X-Men's fans favorite character and, on occasion, most powerful. Considering her roots and small time as baddie, Rogue deserves this spot for over 30+ years of great stories.
Did It Work? YES~! YES~! YES~! Comparable Wrestling Turn: Hulk Hogan. His initial size and first mainstream impression made him a constant foe of Andre the Giant. When someone saw that he would make great babyface, the Hulkamania ran wild across three generations.
Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Have a great week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! I still real to me damnit!