12 Times Comic Book Villains Became The Heroes And Things Got Weird

It is not uncommon for superheroes to turn bad from time to time. Whether a universe gets flipped or there’s some kind of mind control at play, it happens. Heck, Superman has been the biggest threat to Metropolis on more than one occasion. We all know what it looks like. But, what about when supervillains decide to turn over a new leaf? That’s when things start to get weird.

In the grand history of comic books, it’s happened more times than you probably remember, and all those weird forces that could make Batman suddenly turn on the Justice League also work in the other direction. This leads to strange team-ups we might never have imagined and even stranger conflicts, like the Justice Society trying to figure out what to do with Black Adam. So, check out the strangest comic book storylines where the villains become the heroes.

1. Remember When Doc Ock Stole Peter Parker’s Body Then Became Spider-Man?

In Dan Slott’s celebrated Amazing Spider-Man run, Dr. Otto Octavius transferred his mind into the healthy body of his rival, Peter Parker, and switched Peter’s mind into his own dying body. While Peter’s mind was in the terminally ill shell of Doc Ock, Otto realized that not only did he have Spider-Man’s body, but his memories as well.

All of the pain, love, and despair of Peter’s past flooded into Otto’s mind. Overwhelmed by Parker’s strength and selflessness, Otto decided to not only take over the mantle of Spider-Man, but become The Superior Spider-Man.

The “superior” Spider-Man was less chatty and more ruthless, but he adequately filled the void Peter left behind. Over time, Peter’s consciousness would return to his body and Octavius was ousted from his mind, returning things to normal.

2. Doctor Doom Had A Change Of Heart, Then Became The New Iron Man

In the Infamous Iron Man series, Tony Stark is incapacitated. His absence paves the way for an unlikely self-appointed replacement: Victor von Doom. A calculating tyrant and merciless despot, Doom had a change of heart after the events of the Secret Wars crossover event.

Basically, he found that being a god wasn’t as satisfying as he thought. Humbled and restored to mortal status, Doom embarked on a new path, trying to fill the scientific adventurer void that Tony Stark left behind. 

3. Venom Gave Up The Life Of Crime … For A Little While

The villainous Venom made a pact with Spider-Man to leave one another alone, under the condition that Venom no longer commits crimes. Well, if you are a superpowered symbiote and can’t commit crimes, what’s the next best thing? Fighting crime!

In Venom: Lethal Protector, Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote travel from New York to San Francisco, taking out purse-snatchers and fighting evil along the way. This shocking turn would be temporary, but the Venom symbiote would find itself fighting for good once again years later when it merged with Flash Thompson, serving as both a Secret Avenger and a Guardian of the Galaxy.

4. Lex Luthor Was Totally In The Justice League And Totally Had Everything Under Control

At the end of the DC event Forever Evil, public opinion of Lex Luthor was at an all-time high after he helped to take out the dimension-invading Crime Syndicate. Taking advantage of this public approval, Luthor tried to convince the Justice League to recruit him. Because it’s comic books, it worked! However, it should be noted that Luthor’s enrollment into the Justice League was mostly to keep an eye on him, and to prevent him from committing any potential criminal activity.

Despite clashing with Superman and other members of the League, Luthor pulled his weight as a hero and served mankind, albeit without the noblest intentions. He even took over Superman’s role as Metropolis’s protector, weathering the general mistrust of the superhero community.

5. Black Adam Tried To Redeem Himself By Becoming A Member Of The Justice Society

During Geoff Johns’ run on the Justice Society of America, one of their most powerful foes, Black Adam, requested to join the team. Despite his longtime rivalry with JSA member Captain Marvel, the group accepts Black Adam’s attempt at redemption. However, Black Adam’s militant view of justice and his rule over the nation of Kahndaq caused him and the JSA to ultimately part ways.

6. Emma Frost Basically Became The New Jean Grey, And Somehow, It Seems To Work

After a genocidal Sentinel attacked her mutant school in Genosha, Emma Frost left villainy behind to join forces with Charles Xavier and his X-Men. While still not fully trusted by her peers, Frost was able to help the team take down Xavier’s evil sister Cassandra Nova in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. After Jean Grey died (again), Frost became the team’s go-to psychic. While she is no angel, Frost has proven to a valued member of the X-Men for over a decade.

7. Magneto Had To Take Over For Professor X

After nearly killing Kitty Pryde in a fight against the X-Men, Magneto had a cathartic moment of self-awareness. Despite years of claiming to protect the future of young mutants like Pryde, he discovered that he was becoming the very thing he hated. Magneto reformed, offering to answer for his crimes.

This being comics, however, Charles Xavier was attacked soon after and nearly died. Xavier requested that Magneto take up his mantle to lead both the X-Men and a batch of New Mutants. Humbly and reluctantly, Magneto accepted. Ultimately, this would be the first in a number of turns from enemy to friend of the X-Men (and back again) that Magneto went through.

8. The AXIS Event Ended Up Leaving Sabretooth As An Unlikely Good Guy

After Marvel’s AXIS event inverted the personalities of both heroes and villains, Sabretooth was one of the few that didn’t have his personality changed back to normal. A longtime enemy of the X-Men and longer-time enemy of Wolverine, Sabretooth hoped to wash away the sins of his past armed with his new, more compassionate personality. This led to the X-Men eventually inviting Sabretooth to join their ranks.

9. Catwoman Went From Anti-Hero To Straight-Up Hero, But It Wasn’t Entirely Her Choice

Known best as a villain/sometimes lover of Batman, Catwoman took time away from her thievery to become the hero of Gotham’s East End borough. She sacrificed a lot in order to do good in the area, but she questioned if her motives were her own.

It was revealed to her later that her mind was altered by Zatanna and the Justice League as seen in the Identity Crisis event. She is still considered a hero to some, as she was a member of the Justice League of America in DC’s New 52.

10. S.H.I.E.L.D. Saved Taskmaster’s Life, So He Became A Double Agent

Assassin-for-hire and longtime villain Taskmaster reformed completely with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. In Bagalia, Taskmaster was imprisoned and about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder until he was rescued by the Secret Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D.

The organization offered him a job as a double-agent, working for S.H.I.E.L.D. against the evil A.I.M. by infiltrating the group. While he usually aligns himself with whoever is paying the most, the skull-faced mercenary appears to have made a permanent transition. 

11. Juggernaut Joined The X-Men To Destroy Them, But He Had A Change Of Heart

In X-Men titles during the early-2000s, Juggernaut claimed to have reformed and joined the group with the intention of destroying it from within. However, something happened: he actually did reform!

After being betrayed by his old friend, Black Tom, Juggernaut stayed on with the X-Men and befriended a young mutant named Sammy Paré. Sammy helped Juggernaut repent and remain on the side of good until he was killed by Black Tom. Enraged, Juggernaut avenged Sammy’s death, but didn’t go back. Ultimately, Juggernaut felt his redemption was impossible.

12. Captain Cold Can Also Get All Warm And Fuzzy On Occasion

Leonard Snart never claimed to be a saint, but he has reformed a handful of times as Captain Cold. He and his Rogues sometimes protect Central City from outside threats when the Flash is out of commission, but you can say it’s more of a “turf war” mentality rather than actual altruism. 

Yet during DC’s Blackest Night, he led a team of Rogues to fight off the Black Lanterns and save the Flash by freezing the undead corpse of Zoom. Later, he helped prevent the Crime Syndicate from taking over Earth. This granted him a spot on the Justice League alongside his benefactor, Lex Luthor.