The next chapter in the lives of Marvel's toughest group of teens began this week with AVENGERS UNDERCOVER #1. Set in the fallout of last year's AVENGERS ARENA, the survivors of that series now seek either revenge or redemption as they go head to head with the Masters of Evil. To make matters even more tense, the young heroes will have to take down Baron Zemo's new super villain team from within, and they'll have to flirt with their dark sides to do so!
The stars of AVENGERS UNDERCOVER aren't the first ones to switch sides with ulterior motives. No, they follow in a long line of infiltrators, imposters, and saboteurs that have made life as a super hero a lot harder. Here are five super villains that impersonated super heroes.
After making the jump from the Age of Apocalypse reality to the main Marvel Universe, the twisted mirror image of Hank McCoy made it his mission to learn all of the X-Men's secrets from within. First, he kidnapped and imprisoned the good Beast, then he gave himself a minor makeover and ingratiated himself to his new teammates. The mastermind jumped ship back to the bad guys when an Onslaught-shaped opportunity arose, leaving the real Beast for dead in his dark cell. The good guys didn't stumble upon the real McCoy until X-FACTOR #125.
In order to severely annoy Norman Osborn and undermine his dark reign, Loki posed as the Scarlet Witch and turned the Mighty Avengers into his pawns. The evil plot kicked off in MIGHTY AVENGERS #21 and fans did not find out Scarlet Witch's true identity until a few issues later. The Scarlet Switheroo fell apart in MIGHTY AVENGERS #29 when Clint Barton planted a big ol' kiss on Loki's disguised form. To quote Clint, "the lips don't lie."
The colorfully dressed and overtly heroic Thunderbolts hit the scene at the exact right time. This team did everything they could to fill the void created by the Avengers and Fantastic Four getting trapped in another dimension. But when they first appeared in INCREDIBLE HULK #449, the world at large had no idea that the Thunderbolts were actually the Masters of Evil in disguise! While readers found out the team's dirty secret in THUNDERBOLTS #1, it took the rest of the Marvel Universe a while to catch on.
Readers were kept completely in the dark for one of the longest cons in Marvel history. NEW AVENGERS #42 exposed the Spider-Woman that readers had followed for four years – ever since NEW AVENGERS #1 – as a shape-shifting Skrull. Not just any Skrull, too, but the Skrull queen named Veranke. The invading alien race chose Jessica Drew because of her ties to HYDRA, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Avengers, knowing that she could cause the most damage in anticipation of the Skrulls hostile takeover of Earth.
If you found Veranke's lengthy Spider-Woman con impressive, just wait until you learn about Lyja. While the Fantastic Four were off-world taking part in SECRET WARS, the Skrulls replaced longtime FF associate – and the Thing's primary love interst – Alicia Masters with a Skrull agent named Lyja. When the FF returned in FANTASTIC FOUR #265, the new Alicia fooled them immediately. She also fooled readers, who didn't learn of Lyja's infiltration until seven years later in FANTASTIC FOUR #357. To make matters even more complicated, the Human Torch had already married the imposter. No wonder Johnny Storm can't grow up. The one time he settled down, he ended up marrying an alien invader!
For Marvel's latest long con, check out AVENGERS UNDERCOVER #1!