Marvel has long been a fan of rebooting a character, as we see from what they're doing to Thor now. Unfortunately, Marvel's reboot formula has become a pathetic thing:
Take Character A, change gender and/or race, release as a brand-new character.
Unfortunately, the formula has been used to often the shock value is gone. When Jim Rhodes became Iron Man, it was cool because it really was a unique twist. Now, as soon as Marvel announces they are changing a character, you automatically know exactly what is going to happen.
But it wasn't always that way.
In 1974, Marvel decided to spice things up for Captain America. In issue 180, they had Cap become disillusioned by the government and decide to give up being Cap altogether. He soon decides to create a new hero identity and Nomad is born.
Initially, the costume was a little dumb and fortunately he quickly lost the cape. The concept was very cool for the time, and while I'm sure no one thought it was a permanent change, it was a refreshing twist to the character.
While Marvel thinks nothing of taking a character and screwing them all up for years now, back then they were more conservative about it. Steve Rogers only used the Nomad persona for a grand total of four issues. After that, the idea was scrapped and he was back to shield-slinging.
Years later, Jack Monroe re-enters Cap's life. Monroe was the replacement Bucky of the 1950's and was soon brought into the regular storyline by taking up the mantel of Nomad and partnering around with Cap for a number of issues.
Initially, Jack kept the same Nomad costume with a small tweak in the chest area. Eventually, Marvel tried to make him a little darker with all he'd been through, and changed the costume a little more.
It still wasn't that impressive.
Then someone had the bright idea of giving Nomad a real, honest reboot. Jack wore a variation of the "brown boot suit" in his four-issue limited series, but at the end of it there was no doubt this character was changed. He ended up murdering a drug dealer in cold blood, and taking the man's sunglasses (off his carcass) and using them as his new mask.
And suddenly Marvel had a successful reboot.
There was no change in gender or race here. Instead, they took an established character and honestly changed his entire storyline and motivation to make him interesting. He was given an ongoing series.
This was a true anti-hero who really lived up to his "Nomad" name. He went all across the U.S. (with a baby strapped to his back no less), righting wrongs as he saw fit and doing whatever needed to be done to fix the problem--even if it meant killing someone.
But don't get me wrong, this was no bargain-basement Punisher. Monroe did his best to stay low-profile, yet always found himself pulled into one situation or another. Sometimes he interacted with heroes like Gambit, Punisher, Daredevil, and of course, Captain America, but for the most part he was a super-soldier fighting everyday bad guys like drug dealers and the like.
That's not to say it didn't have a misstep or two. When it went off the rails, it did so hard, but always seemed to find the way back home.
The overall image of the character was so iconic, television ripped it off. Lorenzo Lamas starred in a cable series called "Renegade", and he looked exactly like Nomad, long leather jacket, sunglasses, long hair, and all. Watch the opening to that show and you'll instantly see what I'm talking about.
At the end of the series, Jack was placed in suspended animation and forgotten about. Hey, at least they didn't kill him off.
Until they did.
Monroe returned briefly as The Scourge, and then forgotten about again until Winter Soldier was introduced. For no other reason than to sell books, Marvel executed the character in Captain America #3 (2005) and then gave him one last story in issue 7 of the same series where they show him slowly descending into madness.
It was a pathetic end to a great character, and one I consider Marvel's last, truly successful reboot. Rather than take a character, change their gender/race, and then have them act the exact same way as the original, they actually did something different with the guy.
It wasn't the best series Marvel ever made, but it was good enough to deserve at least a collected edition or two.
So I issue this challenge to Marvel and Dc both: if you're just going to keep on having a character do the same thing after you do your "radical change", why not just skip it? Create a brand-new character or something! I realize Marvel cannot allow their flagship characters to disappear off the radar, and thus we'll always have someone in a Spider-Man, Captain America, or Batman costume...but why not truly try to change the character with your reboot?
Oh, and just in case you think Marvel allowed the Nomad character to escape their new formula for stupidity, look at what they did in 2009 for a "daring new reboot":