So you’ve been replaced by an alien
Aliens in superhero comics seem to come in one of two flavors: useful or genocidal. Superman and Captain Marvel are typical of the first category (although on a bad day they are known to go wild with their friends). The aliens on this list represent the latter. They are made even more dangerous by the fact that they can modify their appearance to look like other people – even our heroes – so that even those close to them cannot tell the difference. Being replaced even for a short time can have a devastating effect on public confidence in a hero or on a super-team’s ability to work together against real threats.
It’s no surprise that superhero comics want to exploit shapeshifters in this way. After all, they already rely heavily on identity and alter egos themes, so what better enemy for our valiant advocates than someone who takes the concept of secrecy to a frightening extreme? Specifically, what do you do when even your closest friends might be someone else? Let’s take a look… and then maybe take a look at the person next to you. They may not be who they say they are!
Poor, poor swordsman. After battling the Avengers on multiple occasions, he’s turned a new leaf with the help of his mysterious girlfriend, Mantis… sacrificing his life for his.
But fear not! An alien tree has a crush on Mantis, and as an engagement gift, owns the swordsman’s corpse so they can make sweet human babies together. It’s music to Mantis ears, and she accepts his proposal. Who Said Romance Is Dead?
Let them hang around
It’s a peaceful day in Wonder Woman # 106 when the young Wonder Girl (i.e. Diana as a teenager, not Diana’s sidekick, Donna) begins to act strangely. The Amazons quickly understand why: it’s not Wonder Girl! It’s an alien “chameleon girl” named Rrara who decided to swap places with Wonder Girl for funsies.
The fun ends when Rrara brings Wonder Girl back, only to realize that she herself cannot return home due to a cosmic dust storm that has enveloped her home world. Understandably, the Amazons promise to find her way home, but she never appeared in the comics again. Did Wondy manage to keep her promise, or is Rrara still hanging around Themyscira, stranded millions of miles from her home?
Storm in a Huff
In one of their first adventures, the Avengers encountered a villain called Space Phantom, but it took a while for them to figure it out. The Space Phantom had the power to morph into anyone while sending the original being into limbo. When he started imitating The Avengers, chaos ensued.
The Space Phantom shenanigans have torn apart the pre-existing rifts between newbie Avengers. In particular, the Hulk felt like no one liked or trusted him (because they didn’t) and abruptly left the team. It took him decades to reach it.
Fight them all
The Manhunters are a bunch of fun aliens. They don’t even like superheroes! They especially have it for the Guardians of the Universe. So when the Guardians were about to be reformed during the “Millennium” event, the Man Hunters hatched a plan to stop it.
Being high-tech robots, the Manhunters found it easy to create Android duplicates of many people on Earth, including superheroes like Rocket Red from the Justice League. Fortunately, the heroes of Earth had more than enough power between them to strike down the Manhunters where they live (i.e. their home planet) and get all of their friends back.
The Skrulls, a sneaky race of shapeshifting aliens, have plagued Marvel heroes since the ’60s. But that was in 2008 Secret invasion this allowed them to call the company’s entire attention to their evil deeds: a contingent of Skrulls managed to slowly infiltrate the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in preparation for a full invasion.
Unable to trust even their closest friends and allies, heroes of all stripes struggled to determine which of their friends were real – or if they were Secret Skrulls themselves. Even after these issues have been addressed, the damage caused by this scenario, when compounded by Civil war years ago, would haunt the characters for years to come. And why not? Is there anything more horribly viscerally horrible than discovering that the people you trust in your life are not who you think they are, either literally or figuratively?
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