With 163 years of combined history between the two heavyweights of the graphic novel world, it only makes sense that along the way, each of them would lose their damn minds a time or two. Whether such instances were the result of poor business decisions, the firing of a popular writer or artist, or simply messing with the mythos via retcon after retcon after freaking retcon, the end result was typically an incensed fanbase and a dip in sales. Here are 8 times Marvel and DC Comics lost their damn minds.
8. DC Comics starts firing people left and right
Let’s look at some of the names DC has fired in recent years. Writer Nick Spencer, writer/artist George Perez, Chris Robertson, Gayle Simone, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. Obviously people get fired every day but the primary cause of these firings weren’t due to negligence or poor sales or anything to that effect. Instead, these departures were the results of editorial meddling, behind the scenes politics and more.
In Perez’s case in particular, we’re talking about an iconic artist and writer, making the decision that much more unforgivable. But, regardless of the causes, in recent years DC has either driven away or kicked numerous talents to the curb with little explanation.
7. Wonder Woman Begins working in fast food
This one is more silly than anything but it still applies given the presented reasoning. Following the War of the Gods, Wonder Woman -who was killed and then revived- was believed to still be dead. Not only by the Justice League itself, but even the JL super computer. What’s worse? Apparently she couldn’t even get paid -side note, the Justice League gets paid?- by their automated system. But rather than simply knocking on the door or, I don’t know, shooting Supes or Bats a quick call, she instead came to the realization that “Hera help me, I gotta go chase that dollar if I’m gonna pay the rent!” That was totally a spot-on Wonder Woman impression just now…
All right, whatever. This sounds like a quirky storyline to balance out the tone following a very dramatic story arc. I can roll with that. So just what jobs is an Amazonian woman with god-like powers qualified for? Apparently not much.
In a bizarre development, Wonder Woman is forced to take on a minimum wage job at…sigh. Taco Whiz. Damn you 90s DC economy!
6. Marvel sends in the clones -dear God the CLONES!
What’s one way to piss off your fan base? Well, constantly toying with their emotions and retconning/rewriting your story without any real sense of direction would be one damn good way, and that’s pretty much what Marvel did. Whether it was killing off beloved characters, only to have them return as clones, or suddenly revealing out of nowhere that -for example- the REAL Mary Jane was actually still missing, possibly even dead, and that the Mary Jane WE’VE been following for some time is actually just a clone, fans rightfully had a bone to pick over the clone saga. Even Spidey himself wasn’t safe from shenanigans as writers toyed with the idea that PETER PARKER was in fact the clone of the REAL Spider-Man, Ben Reilly. When an understandable backlash ensued, writers backpedaled to put that thing down, flip it and reverse it so that Reilly was, in fact, the clone and donned the name The Scarlet Spider. No harm done, right? Sheesh, this saga couldn’t have undone more continuity or pissed off fans more if it had tried.
5. (Marvel) Orson Scott Card turns Ultimate Iron Man into a smurf
This is an interesting entry simply because it had ALL the hype. Like, literally all of it. Yes, the author, Orson Scott Card was a best-selling author, but his personal crusade against same-sex marriage has, for many, damaged his legacy. Such PR issues ultimately cost him his later employment with DC Comics on a Superman series he was meant to helm.
In 2005 with Marvel comics, however, he was given the reigns to one of Marvel’s biggest properties, the Ultimate Iron Man. With the hype train out of control, the pressure was on Card to deliver. And deliver… he did not.
Many of the decisions Card made were mind-boggling. It had already been established within the ultimate universe that Tony Stark was a billionaire alcoholic with an inoperable brain tumor who was trying to do as much good as he could with the time he had left. Card, for some reason, ignored all of that. Hell, he didn’t just ignore it, he took it in an ultra-weird direction. To Card, Stark was a genius because his entire body was made up of brain tissue… okay? As if that wasn’t strange enough, this all-brain-tissue-body gave Stark a Deadpool-esque healing factor that allowed him to regrow lost limbs and even survive gunshots to the head. And then there’s the first “Iron Man suit.”
A special protective coating that could be washed off, Stark donned blue paint (more or less) that protected him from high impact blows and lacerations. So basically a full grown smurf. All right then…
4. (DC) Superman and Big Barda are forced to make a porno (almost)
So, I considered putting this at number 1 but since it didn’t actually happen in the end, I placed it here instead. So here’s the scoop:
In Action Comics #592, Big Barda was abducted by Sleaze, a grotesque filth monger from Apocalypse. Using his mind control, Sleaze effectively turned Big Barda into his slave. Okay, interesting start I guess. Then what? Well, a short time later, Sleaze then manages to capture Superman via the same means. So what does this lowly smut-peddler do with his newfound herculean slaves? Why, make them star in a porno of course!
After Sleaze reports back to his boss, Darkseid, the big bossman decides to head to the house of Mr. Miracle, AKA Big Barda’s husband. Why? To tell him all about the porno and make him watch it. In the end, Mr. Miracle does manage to intervene before the two can bump uglies and even gets to kill Sleaze in a giant explosion! But, all the same, it’s shocking this was a legitimate storyline in the first place for DC Comcis.
3. (DC) Supergirl’s horse falls in love with her and routinely tries to seduce her
So, I’ve mentioned this entry on a previous list but I still feel it bares mentioning as one of the more effed up incidents in DC history. In the 1960s, it became a very chic thing for all superheroes to have their own super animal! Because, why not?
Superman had Krypto, Batman eventually had Ace the Bat-Hound; Hell, we even had the Legion of Super-Pets.
Truth be told, the above-mentioned super animal wasn’t even Supergirl’s only super pet. But he is the most disturbing and noteworthy! Allow me to explain.
Debuting in Adventure Comics #293, “Comet” the Super-Horse became a fairly regular staple of Supergirl’s… adventures. Hm. Anyway, Comet’s real name was Byron and he was actually once a centaur from ancient Greece. Longing to be human, Byron helped a witch who then gave him a potion to make his dream come true. The problem? She done goofed and the potion instead turned him into a wholly, and apparently, immortal horse. You following? No? Great.
Eventually, Byron would cross paths with a young Supergirl and his horse-pants would go crazy. Hm. That’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today… Anyway, things only get weirder from there as Byron would then use his telepathy to make Supergirl daydream for days on end about getting a horse, which she eventually does. Oh, and whenever a comet passes over the Earth, he can apparently turn back into a human. I guess that’s where the name comes from. Well that’s cool. What’s he do with this newfound albeit temporary humanity? …Try to seduce Supergirl… Ohhh noooooo.
2. (Marvel) One…More…Day
Holy crap One More Day… Spider-Man has certainly had it rough over the years and when it comes to unpopular retcons, and this one is right up there with the worst.
Simply because the new head hancho at Marvel, Joe Quesada didn’t like the relationship dynamic between Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Yep. Apparently he felt the character being married “aged” Spider-Man, leading to him insisting the relationship be retconned entirely. That’s a bold move, Cotton. What’s more, it was done in just about the stupidest way imaginable.
Aunt May is the eternal force in Peter Parker’s life, but in a post-Civil-War world, with the world knowing Spider-Man’s identity, she, as well as Mary Jane and others, find themselves vulnerable targets for the web-head’s enemies. So after Aunt May is shot and clinging to life, Spider-Man and Mary Jane find themselves confronted by Mephisto, Marvel’s devil himself. And what deal did the devil offer our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Aunt May’s life in exchange for his and MJ’s marriage. Nevermind the fact that Aunt May is approximately 8,842 years old, or that Peter and Mary Jane had been married for several years at this point in the comics. The decision to take the deal simply didn’t feel like one in keeping with Spider-Man’s character, and the fact that it was the result of the petty preference of one executive makes it all the more irritable.
1. Marvel makes Captain America a sleeper agent for Hydra
Remember that time Captain A-fucking-MERICA was actually a Hydra sleeper agent? I know, I know. I did Nazi that one coming… I’ll show myself out.
Look, there’s not even a debate here. Since this issue came out about two years ago, everyone and their damn grandmother have voiced their displeasure with it. To take a character who is synonymous with the Red, White, and Blue and slap a swastika over him was nothing more than a cheap attempt at shocking fans into buying more issues. Instead, it merely repulsed readers.
The only good thing about this entry is that the backlash was SO swift and vicious that Marvel was forced to quickly step back in and retcon the whole thing back to normal via the cosmic cubes. So at least there’s that.
What are some other examples of Marvel and DC losing their minds? Tell us below in the comments and don’t forget to check back for more great content!