You don’t have to be a seasoned comic book fan to know that Batman deplores the use of firearms when going toe-to-toe with the criminal element, and that one of Superman’s greatest abilities is supersonic flight. Of course, that’s assuming we’re talking about the modern age of comics. Back in those cockamamie days of the industry’s Golden Age, Gotham’s caped crusader was once a trigger-happy, crony-killing gunslinger, while the last son of Krypton was merely able to... well... jump really, really far. Not very heroic, to say the least—and that's just the tip of the iceberg! Here are five other superheroes who were vastly different when they were first created!
1) Wolverine’s Claws Were a Part of His Gloves
Wolverine clawed his way into the hearts of comic book fans—figuratively speaking, because literally would be gruesomely horrific—way back in 1974 when he first made his debut in The Incredible Hulk #180. For the next two years, readers and characters within the Marvel Universe assumed that Wolverine’s trademark claws were a lethal extension of his gloves. That is until 1976’s X-Men #98 when he at last revealed to his fellow mutants that the claws were in fact a part of his anatomy. Visualizing blades shooting out between one’s knuckles was no doubt cringe-worthy at the time, but it’s safe to say we’ve gotten over the initial shock since then.
2) The Hulk Used to Be Gray
From She-Hulk to the Red Hulk, we’ve seen so many variations of Marvel’s resident gamma-irradiated powerhouse that it’s enough to make even Stan Lee’s head spin, but ask anybody who their favorite is and your inquiry will almost always be met with the good ol’ green Hulk. Still, not many people know that when he first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1, the emerald engine of destruction was once a somber gray. Why the sudden switch? Series colorist Stan Goldberg noticed that the particular shade of gray used was not consistent throughout the comic, sometimes even appearing to be green. Lee, in his infinite wisdom, opted to go the more chromatic route, with the Hulk donning a green skin tone come the second issue.
3) Jason Todd Had Red Hair and a Sunnier Attitude
Jason Todd has the dubious honor of not only being the successor to the first Robin, Dick Grayson, but also meeting his untimely demise at the hands of the Joker in Batman's groundbreaking “Death in the Family” story arc. Known for his impulsive nature and violent streak, casual fans of Bats and company may be surprised to know that prior to the continuity changes of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Todd was a red-haired youth with a disposition more akin to his predecessor. He idolized Grayson so much that he even dyed his red locks black, which, in retrospect, is ten kinds of creepy. Is it really any wonder why fans back in 1983 hated him so much?
4) Captain America Had a Triangular Shield
During the raging days of World War II, one couldn’t peruse a newsstand without seeing a comic featuring a star-spangled super hero sitting on the racks. Captain America counted himself among the legions of these patriotic heroes. It was rival publisher MLJ’s character, The Shield, who would be the catalyst behind Timely Comics’ (Marvel’s erstwhile moniker) move to scrap Cap’s initial triangular shield. MLJ claimed that the shield infringed on the design of their hero’s costume, leaving Cap’s creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, hard-pressed to come up with an alternative. The two finally settled on the iconic circular shield that has become an enduring pop culture icon.
5) Aquaman Was Actually Faithful to His Stereotype
Nothing sends a comic book geek up the wall faster than non-nerdy folk having the sheer audacity to declare that Aquaman was the lamest super hero of all time. Nowadays, thanks to DC Comics scribe Geoff Johns, Aquaman is the super hero he was always meant to be and should have been, but during the Golden and Silver Ages of Comics, he more than lived up to the general public’s derision. Back then, Aquaman did in fact speak with oceanic wildlife in a complex language incomprehensible to humans. Additionally, he couldn’t stand to be out of water for more than an hour or he’d wind up deader than a McDonald’s fish fillet sandwich. To Aquaman's credit, though, at least he didn't run around in an embarrasing fish scale speedo like another certain aquatic hero *cough* Namor *cough*
Who is your favorite long standing comic book superhero?