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Top Five Best Name Changes

Often, superheroes will change their name for whatever reason (usually because someone else is using their other name). Almost always, the new names are yoooge drop-offs in quality from their original names.

Sometimes, though, the new names are upgrades – here are the five best as Top Five Month continues (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far)!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTION

I like Oracle, but I dunno if it is even better of a name than Batgirl.

5. Giant-Man

If there is a hero named Goliath who can grow to the size of a goliath, and a black guy takes over the identity, probably not a good idea to just name him Black Goliath.

Luckily, Marvel realized how weird it was quickly enough, and changed his name to Black Giant-Man. Okay, not that, just Giant-Man.

It was a good change (later on, Bill Foster became just plain’ ol Goliath, like he should have initially).

4. Arsenal

Honestly, while I get that Arsenal is a bit too kewl of a name to fit in with the JLA, I think I like it better than Red Arrow. Arsenal has a little more style to it, and certainly is more unique.

Both of them, however, are huge improvements on Speedy.

3. Major Victory

This was a major improvement on just going by Vance Astro.

What a clever idea by Jim Valentino. He did some good stuff on Guardians of the Galaxy.

2. Invisible Woman

It is amazing, in retrospect, how long it was before her name was finally changed.

Good on John Byrne for finally doing it!

People have accepted the new name like it was meant to be, which is nice (Marvel Woman would never had worked).

1. Shadowcat

Ariel and Sprite actually aren’t awful names, and to be honest, just her actual name, Kitty Pryde, is probably the best of the bunch, but for a character who took a long time coming up with a steady codename, Shadowcat was a great final choice.

That’s the list!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

93 Comments

Can you do worst ones as well Brian ? Bet you Monica Rambeau would be in there ….

I think you forgot the best one- Robin to Nightwing!

I actually like Oracle over Major Victory. Though Major Victory was a clever name, it was a little TOO clever, you know?

“Phoenix” was much better than “Marvel Girl”. Too bad they ended up just calling her “Jean Grey.” Why? Because it sounds like “Jane Grey?” (There was even an alternate reality X-Men story with Jean as an English Queen!)

‘Sensor Girl’ is better than ‘Queen Projectra’. ‘Robin’ is better than ‘Spoiler’. ‘Trapster’ is better than ‘Paste Pot Pete’.

On the other hand, ‘Atom-Smasher’ is not as good as ‘Nuklon’, and ‘Frog-Man’ is not as good as ‘the Leap Frog’. ‘NRG’ is nowhere near as good as ‘Wildfire’.

Aw c’mon. Paste Pot Pete is my very favorite vilain name!

I rather wish that Roy would go back to using Arsenal. That was a perfectly good name, and yes, it was definitely a vast improvement over Speedy. On the other hand, a redhead should NEVER wear purple.

I guess Giant-Black-Man would’ve been a bit less than ideal, too …

Ray Cornwall’s got a point. Robin to Nightwing is quite significant, and definitely warrants Top 3. As much as I love Major Victory, I would take him (and Giant-Man) off the list and make Oracle an official Top 5.

Erm… what was Invisible Woman called before she was called Invisible Woman – other than Sue Storm?

I’d personally take Speedy to Arsenal off the list and add Robin to Nightwing instead. Arsenal is a terrible name, just awful. The only things going for it are that it’s a slightly better (and much less derivative) name than “Red Arrow” and about a million times better than a grown man who’s a recovering addict going by “Speedy”.

Yeah, Shadowcat was a good change. Gotta also agree on Nightwing and Sensor Girl as well. As for Arsenal, it fits depending on what weapons Roy is using…I don’t mind Red Arrow as long as he’s basically just using a bow and arrow…

And I think there was a ’40s hero who fought alongside Cap named Major Victory that Valentino had Astrovik pay tribute to.

Wow, what a trainwreck of a sentence i just typed.

I never liked Shadowcat, Ariel or Sprite. But it´s weird when everyone has a codename and one character is “Kitty”, just like “Jean”.

Arsenal was a so generic name for Roy, i hated it.

I’m with the Robin / Nightwing brigade.

I also think Arsenal is a rather boring name and a legacy of renaming characters with boring, bland names that aspire to be cool to a ’90s audience (I think the worst was calling Air Wave “Maser”. That’s just wrong.) I was actually thrilled when Roy became Red Arrow instead. It had more originality than a name that I am sure had been used by half a dozen villains by the time Roy Harper used it.

DanCJ, Sue originally went by “Invisible Girl”, even long after she was clearly an adult.

Robin -> Nightwing is better than Arsenal and Major Victory. (But then, I didn’t care much for the “Major Victory” thing.)

But at least you didn’t include Speedball to Penance…

What about Bucky to Battlestar? I’m not sure if it’s top 5, but it might warrant an honourable mention.

Along the same lines as Arsenal – Aqualad to Tempest. And I still think Changeling is a thousand times better than Beast Boy.

When the Legion dropped their Lad/Lass codenames for alittle while, most of the changes weren’t that great, but IMO Triad just ounds so much better than Triplicate Girl.

The “multiple people with the same hero identity” always creates this problem.

I mean how many people can you codename “Green Lantern” before it becomes a bit ridiculous!

Eventually, most writers just treated it as a job title, as it should be, but I’ve noticed even still one or two who don’t quite GET that.

SanctumSanctorumComix

July 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

DanCJ,

She was THE INVISIBLE GIRL.

Also… looking at that drawing of “Major Victory”, with his headband and kneepads… a more appropriate name would have been “PRIVATE DANCER”.

;-)

~P~
PTOR

Wow, that Arsenal costume is hideous.

If you ever do 5 worst name changes, Ms. Marve/Binary to Warbird has to be up there. I remember a lot of fans would even avoid using it and just call her Carol or even Ms. Marvel during that period. Horrible, horrible name.

Bucky to Winter Soldier deserves mentioning imo, and I agree that Nightwing was a pretty essential oversight. Oracle deserves a spot in the top 5, the name change signaled a whole new aspect and more mature aproach to the character that has made her one of the most interesting people in Batman’s supporting cast.

Wow, that Arsenal costume is hideous.

Yeah, it almost has enough poutches but where is the ginormous gun?

Or how about Skymax to Skrullian Skymaster?

When was Vance Astro in the Force of July?

I hated half of these changes. Shadowcat was all wrong for Kitty’s personality, unlike Sprite (which was admittedly a little too reminiscent of a popular soda pop). I don’t remember her being Ariel, but it’s a better name.

Arsenal was wayyyyy too faux-badass. Sure, better than Speedy, just like Tempest was better than Aqualad, but still a horrible name. (Unlike Troia, which managed to be even worse than Wonder Girl.)

Major Victory’s pretty bad too, but a lot of it is the costume. Didn’t he need the old drab suit to stay alive?

Shadowcat is an AWFUL name. Is it so hard to come up with a name that implies you can, y’know, phase through things? I can’t believe anyone liked that one. Spoiler is even worse. And don’t get me started on the rest of the “tells me nothing at all” names like Bishop. But I don’t mind them so much on kid sidekicks like Bucky and Robin that mainly supplement the big guy; you can get a name of your own once you hit your superhero bar/bat mitzvah and declare your individuality.

Aside from that, Phoenix was probably the best name change. Winter Soldier was also very good.

I always preferred Yellowjacket’s name and costume to any of Hank Pym’s other aliases

Shadowcat is an AWFUL name. Is it so hard to come up with a name that implies you can, y’know, phase through things? I can’t believe anyone liked that one.

Agreed 100% – Kitty Pryde has NEVER had a good codename.

“DanCJ, Sue originally went by “Invisible Girl”, even long after she was clearly an adult.”

Ah – I should have spotted that difference. Thanks!

And I still think Changeling is a thousand times better than Beast Boy.

Except that Beast Boy describes the character’s personality 1000 times better than Changeling. Beast Boy implies a sense of humor while Changeling doesn’t.

Booster Gold probably deserves a mention here: he was originally planning to call himself the much more generic Goldstar, but got preempted by Ronald Reagan and his own mouth.

And I still think Changeling is a thousand times better than Beast Boy.

Oh absolutely. I still don’t understand why they went back to Beast Boy. Copyright/trademark problems? The nostalgia agenda?

Except that Beast Boy describes the character’s personality 1000 times better than Changeling. Beast Boy implies a sense of humor while Changeling doesn’t.

Except Gar Logan isn’t exactly a boy anymore.

They went back to Beast Boy at around the time the Teen Titans cartoon was on, was very successful, and was calling its version of Gar Logan ‘Beast Boy’. Which made sense there, as its Beast Boy was clearly around twelve years old. As something a guy clearly over 20 would begin calling himself again…

Except Gar Logan isn’t exactly a boy anymore.

So? Written correctly, Gar’s the sort of person who wouldn’t be worried about whether or not people think he’s mature, which is the only reason for changing the name.

Next you’ll be saying that Say-Hey Kid is a horrible nickname for Willie Mays.

(There are people who legitimately would worry about being seen as mature/being respected; Sue Storm, for example had perfectly in character reasons to change her name. But Gar doesn’t really have reason to worry about that.)

Another big vote for Nightwing here.

And I’m with those who think “Shadowcat” is not very good. I’d drop it from the list altogether and replace it in the #1 spot with Nightwing.

Others to consider:
* The other Vance Astrovik’s change from Marvel Boy to Justice
* Green Flame and Icemaiden to Fire and Ice (although I always liked Beatriz’s original superhero name Green Fury
* Hawkgirl to Hawkwoman (notable because I think that this actually preceded Invisible Girl’s change to Invisible Woman)
* Brainwave, Jr. to Brainwave
* Bucky to Battlestar (not that Battlestar is that good of a name, but at least it beats Bucky as a nickname for an adult)

Jean Gray -> Phoenix?

Lightning Lass -> Light Lass ->Back again?

And, of course, The Cockroach -> Captain Cockroach -> Moon Roach -> Wolveroach -> Secret Sacred Wars Roach -> Normalroach -> Swoon

If you hate Arsenal, you sorta have to hate Changeling as well. It’s a cool-sounding name that describes what the character does.

Personally, I think Arsenal’s just fine as a name, aside from the fact that Brits will chuckle at it a bit. But for a character that’s skilled with all kinds of weapons, what the heck else are you going to call him? Especially when there’s already a “Weapon Master” out there.

(Although judging by that horrific original costume, they were apparently planning on calling him “Hawkeye”.)

“If you hate Arsenal, you sorta have to hate Changeling as well. It’s a cool-sounding name that describes what the character does.”

By the logic if you like the name Wolverine, you have to like the names Razorback, Armadillo and Kangaroo.

They’re animal gimmicks, nothing wrong there. The designs, on the other hand…. :)

All I’m saying is that Beast Boy -> Changeling happened because the original name was perceived as a handicap and supposedly didn’t fit the character any more. Arsenal was the same way, and there’s no real difference in the quality or applicability of the two names. Yet Arsenal is ridiculed while Changeling is not, and there’s no rhyme or reason to that.

The Mad Monkey

July 22, 2008 at 9:56 am

They can’t call Gar, “Beast Man”…that’s already taken (thanks, He-Man).
I agree that “Beast Boy” does have a certain levity to it and I don’t mind it.
“Changeling” is a good name for him too…but, if anyone remembers their X-Men history, there’s already a character of the same name with a really weird headpiece.
Don’t want them Marvel Zombie fanboys/girls getting all mixed up and crying foul…

I’d think more of an issue with the Changeling name is that a bunch of the stories told about the character when he used that moniker were really, really terrible. Especially the period where he could only turn into demons and monsters because of his tremendous inner wangst.

Personally Changeling is too much of a tongue twister for me to pronounce right. That’s one of the reasons I presonally never liked it; there are a few others like how it reminds me of dingaling, etc.

“I hated half of these changes. Shadowcat was all wrong for Kitty’s personality, unlike Sprite (which was admittedly a little too reminiscent of a popular soda pop). I don’t remember her being Ariel, but it’s a better name.”

Ariel was used briefly when she went from the Black and yellow X-Uniform into her own costume with the make up mask….but she was usually refered to as Kitty.

As for Shadowcat being wrong for her personality….she took the name after to being trained by a demon ninja and nearly killing Wolverine…it fits her just fine.

I’ll throw another vote against “Red Arrow” and another “Where’s Nightwing?”

Was Gar Logan known as Changeling from the beginning of his Titans appearances?

Gar should have taken a cue from Roy and gone for something like Beastmaster. Ooo, or Beastcake.

I agree about Giant-Man. I remember the issue of Two-In-One where he took that name. Ben Grimm says something like “it’s obvious you’re black”.

Gar was known as Changeling from the beginning of his <i.New Teen Titans days anyway, Mark.

He was still Beast Boy when he was part of Titans West, way before Raven, Cyborg and Starfire came along.

Oh shoot…I always forget about Titans West. Thanks.

Beastcake…wow. That was awesome.

My Top 5 not on the top 5:

Marvel Girl to Phoenix
Speedball to Penance
Kid Nova back to Nova
Ant Man to Yellowjacket
Screaming Mimi to Songbird

Everyone forgets about Titans West. It’s like an extra team super-power.

Don’t listen Brian, Shadowcat is awesome. Also, I like Red Arrow better than Speedy and Arsenal.

Polaris should get an honorable mention. Poor Lorna didn’t get a codename until the 70s. Lame.

Also, Bobbi Morse > Mockingbird is a cool change.

Arsenal’s OK, but he should have a foe called Hotspur, the Hammers, or a collection of all the best villains in the world being funded by a mysterious Russian robber baron.

Oracle and Nightwing both oughtta be on the list. I agree completely about Invisible Woman (and I wish DC had applied the same logic when they recreated Hawkgirl).

Technically, Marvel Girl didn’t become Phoenix. She was in a cocoon at the bottom of the ocean while the other Phoenix was going around with her memories and personality (love those retcons). She didn’t become Phoenix until well after she’d been just going by her own name.

Since Kitty’s used the codename even less than most of the X-Men, what’s the point of having one. When was the last time she was even referred to as Shadowcat in a comic?

How Nightwing failed to make the list is beyond me.

“Oracle” is absolutely my favorite. Evocative in an interesting way.

“Changeling” is my least favorite. If poor Gar wants to go that route, he might as well call himself “The Weenie-tastic stupid little mincy fairy.” Which is more evocative and bad-ass than “Changeling” will ever be.

“Invisible Woman” is a good call. So’s “Giant Man.” I especially like how the Thing took Bill Foster aside and said “Dude. About your name….”

I liked Superman to Nightwing more than Robin to Nightwing, honestly.

Sigh. Yeah, Carl, at the time it was Jean’s much-improved new name — but yes, it was later retconned into something that made much less sense so they’d have Jean back to kick around some more.

In the spirit of the people who did make Brian’s list, I’d like to suggest J.J’izzle, the Martian Manhizzle.

Dani Moonstar going from Psyche to Mirage was a good one.

Wasn’t Machine Man originally “Mister Machine?”

The best name change, however, goes to Adam Warlock. He was originally called “Him.”

Funny you should mention that, Mark. “The Weenie-tastic Stupid Little Mincy Fairy” was on Gar’s short list, but he eventually decided it would take too long to shout out in the middle of battle — or, you know, during barnyard sex.

Yet Arsenal is ridiculed while Changeling is not, and there’s no rhyme or reason to that.

One is a pretty nifty original name (for 1980), the other is generic, obvious and surely used by half-a-dozen one shot villains before it was used by Roy.

I have no problem with Changeling as a name, but I have to say, it had previously been the name of an early, otherwise forgettable X-Men villain that actually wound up being the first X-Man to die, while disguised as Professor X.

Personally, I think there’s a distinction between changing your codename and changing your entire superhero identity. When you get a new costume and a new codename (like Nightwing or Sensor Girl), that’s a new ID as far as I’m concerned. In my mind, most of these are changes of ID, not just simple codename switches.

Sue Storm switching to Invisible Woman is a codename change. So is Monica Rambeau calling herself Photon. In my opinion, Roy Harper becoming Arsenal is a switch of superhero ID, since it also involved a new costume and a change in his M.O.

Worst codename switch ever? Captain Marvel Jr. calling himself “CM3″.

I believe Emma Frost referred to Kitty as “The Non-Threatening Shadowcat” in an issue of Astonishing X-Men.

“CM3″ was pretty stupid, but Freddy was always begging for a new identity. Being unable to say your own name without losing your powers is really not terribly helpful.

I’m glad you left Nightwing off the list. “Nightwing” is a stupid, nonsensical name.

I can’t believe you overlooked one of the biggest Weapon X to Wolverine!

I agree that it’s awkward to have a name you can’t say, but you can’t deny that “Captain Marvel Jr.” sums up the character beautifully. “CM3″ doesn’t really tell you anything.

That was my problem with most of the name changes the Legion of Super Heroes got in the 90s. Perfectly clear but slightly cheesy names like “Colossal Boy” and “Element Lad” were replaced by $3 words like “Leviathan” and “Alchemist”. It was like a thesaurus threw up on them. With the old names, you has a basic idea of what most of them did, which helped make the cast of thousands in that book more accessible.

One is a pretty nifty original name (for 1980), the other is generic, obvious and surely used by half-a-dozen one shot villains before it was used by Roy.

Changeling isn’t all that original (it’s principal meaning is a longtime folklore reference which is fairly demeaning to Gar and which is clearly one of the ideas behind the name.)

Wolverine was Wolverine when he first appeared and has continued to be Wolverine. The “Weapon X” thing is just something in his back story.

Re: Lynxara – Changeling went back to Beast Boy in the Beast Boy mini-series co-written by Geoff Johns from 2000. The plot was he went back to Los Angeles where he was mistakenly recognized as Beast Boy and over the course of the series decided to drop Changeling and reuse the old name. Wasn’t a bad series either. It re-introduced Flamebird, introduced Gemini (later of the Fearsome Five), and had some nice artwork by Justiniano. I missed it when it first came out but it was later included with a Teen Titans trade paperback.

Re: Arsenal – Not the greatest name, but better than Speedy for an adult and father, and more unique than Red Arrow.

Have a good day.
John Cage

In the worst name changes category, I’d have to nominate Son of Satan turning into Hellstorm. But admittedly, the costumes he’s had since that change have been much, much, much worse than the name.

ya have to think about the temptation it would be for the others to shorten Arsenal down and just call him ‘Arse’ all day…tho I suppose he got enough razzing from the women over being called Speedy…Red Arrow in comparison doesn’t quite sound like a bad choice…although the more I htink about it, it could have its own connotations…hmmmm…

Sue Storm was Invisible Girl before she was Invisible Woman….

and I dont understand the Speedball / Pennance thing…ok i get the motivation, but not the costume…he went from spandex to that bondage look…you know everytime he shows up somewhere in that someone makes a reference to the gimp…lol..

I guess I’m in the minority here, because I see Robin to Nightwing as much more of a lateral move than an upgrade.

Changeling went back to Beast Boy in the Beast Boy mini-series co-written by Geoff Johns

That about sums it up right there.

Cap -> Nomad -> Cap -> The Captain -> Cap…?

Yeah, I think Robin is a fine name. Even if you think Nightwing is a good name, it’s not a huge upgrade over Robin, and certainly not like the names on this list.

It is more akin to Batgirl/Oracle, only Robin is a cooler name than Batgirl and Nightwing is not as a cool of a name as Oracle, hence Batgirl/Oracle getting the honorable mention.

Also, Bobbi Morse > Mockingbird is a cool change.

Ha! I actually considered her for a sec, until I realized that she actually went from Huntress to Mockingbird, which is at BEST a lateral move.

@John Cage:

I had no idea that was the case. That’s very interesting, it makes me wonder if the cartoon would’ve been saddled with Beast Boy even if it had been more Wolfman/Perez-like in tone.

(And, yeah, typical Geoff Johns…)

Both Tigra and Catwoman were upgrades from “the Cat.”

Meltdown is better than Boomer which is better than Boom-Boom, but they all kind of suck.

Who has had the most different superhero names? (Not counting the Dial-H-for-Hero crowd.) To the best of my knowledge, Ayla Ranzz has the record, having gone by:

Lightning Lass
Light Lass
Gossamer
Pulse
Spark

(and, for short times, ‘Lightning Lad’ and ‘Live Wire’.)

Anyone with more than that?

I’m with the anti-”Shadowcat” crew on this one. Part of the problem is it seemed to come so late. After “Ariel” and “Sprite” had failed to catch on, a lot of us at the time had just become used to “Kitty” and by the time “Shadowcat” came along, it was like one of those friends who wants to start using a different form of their name after it’s way too late. You know, like someone who you’ve called “Jim” all through high school and college suddenly says “I want everyone to call me ‘James’ from now on” and all you can say is “whatever, Jim.”
(Besides the plain cheesiness of the name “Shadowcat”).
There’s also the fact that the name was introduced in such a crappy miniseries. Someone earlier cited “she took the name after to being trained by a demon ninja and nearly killing Wolverine” as a point in the name’s favour, but I’d say it’s the opposite, as he just reminded me of the dumbest parts of that mini, and the whole thing merely ups the “tuff/kewl” cheesiness factor.

Amen, Jack. Ninja Kitty was just recockulous.

I want to second Screaming Mimi to Songbird, unless you’re saving her for a “5 best total character makeovers” list.

I always thought Shadowcat was a great name. I’m sure some people legitimately don’t like it, but I’d bet a lot of the people who complain about it are just used to hearing Kitty referred to by a different name and find it jarring, but she was Shadowcat when I started reading, and can’t think of her any other way (just like, to me, Monica Rambeau will never be anything other than “Captain Marvel”).

I’ll freely admit, though, the main reason I cling to “Shadowcat” is that it bothers me that female X-Men are always losing their code names. Jean Grey, Cecilia Reyes, Rachel Summers/Grey, Emma Frost, Lorna Dane, and Kitty Pride have all either given up or never had code names (Polaris still uses her code name sometimes, but I’m pretty sure that they frequently just called her “Lorna Dane” on the “previously in…” page at the beginning of the book as recently as the “Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire” storyline). I know it’s just because the creators went out of their way to give the women cool-sounding real names and like them better than their code names, while the male X-Men’s real names tend to be afterthoughts, and if anything it shows that the writers think of the female characters as actual people (to whom they frequently become much too attached) while the male characters are just action figures to play with, but darn it – I LIKE code names!

One’s I hated..

Green Lantern to Sentinel
Eros to Starfox
Weapon Alpha to Vindicator to Guardian

Oh and Wonder Girl to Troia

And among the more complicated name-change sequences started when Luke cage changed from Hero For Hero to Power Man, which then caused the previous Power Man to give up the name and to become the Smuggler, then the latest in a long line of Goliaths, and now calls apparently calls himself Atlas, according to wiki.

I always thought Power Man was an incredibly weak name to bother having a fight over in the first place.

I always like Shadowcat as well.

“As for Shadowcat being wrong for her personality….she took the name after to being trained by a demon ninja and nearly killing Wolverine…it fits her just fine.”

Plus, being harshly dumped by Colossus…I saw it as her trying out a more adult, grown-up name and identity. I also liked her original Shadowcat costume…but I’m probably in the minority on that too lol

I only checked in to make sure Wildfire was represented here. Gold star to Matthew E.!

Red Arrow – nice way for DC to do a legacy hero, while acknowledging that it’s a different person in the costume. To me, it means Roy is all growed up. I’ve always wonder what the civilians in the DC Universe think about all of the different heroes running around with the same name.

While I agree that Kitty has never had a decent name, I have no problem with people going by first names in group situations. If Logan calls her Kitty in Genosha, is that really jeopardizing anyone’s secret identity?

re Invisible Girl (pre -Woman) – at least she kept her maiden name (so to speak) for professional purposes. Otherwise she’d've been “Mrs. Fantastic.” And people call her Sue Storm at least as much as they do Sue Richards let alone Storm-Richards.

Robin > Nightwing was a terrible change. There’s just way too much baggage to the name and it’s only increased with each Crisis, it’s also a little too cute that it’s a tribute to the other #1 superhero in the DCU (or it was, before the Crisis, but we alreayd covered that confusing bit).

I’m late to the party, but I think that Arsenel should be removed and replaced with Marvel Boy -> Justice.

The reason is that I think that all five of the Teen Titans should be disqualified from the list, because otherwise it would rightfully be “Top Five Best Teen Titans Name Changes.”

Theno

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