Dork Age: Marvel

  • Speedball, a Fun Personified character who, after causingnote  a disaster that killed 600 people and going slightly nuts, renamed himself "Penance" and donned an iron-maiden-like costume that somehow activated his powers via pain and injury. Fans knew this "secret identity" the moment it came out, which, when coupled with the totally cheesy new outfit and the change of a cheerful character, put Bleedball firmly in the Dork Age the moment he returned. This was acknowledged, unsurprisingly, in a Squirrel Girl appearance where she points out all the flaws in this. Superheroes indirectly causing the deaths of people isn't a new occurrence, and, as revealed in another book, he himself wasn't even actually responsible for it. Penance responded to this by banging his head against a wall and snarling "You don't get it! I'm deep now!" Both Squirrel Girl and the fans had the same reaction. Speedball eventually came out of his Emo Teen phase. In his own miniseries, he tracked down the supervillain truly responsible for the disaster and locked him in his spiky suit so that he feels the pain of all the deaths he caused. That, and he's going through therapy with Doc Samson over in Thunderbolts. However, in Avengers Academy he is revealed to still be cutting himself with Penance's helmet. He claims it is because that is the only way for him to use his more powerful, Penance-based powers. It is left up to the reader to decide if that is true or not.
    • The recent Nova series seems to have completely and utterly dumped all of this in favor of the completely goofy Speedball we all know and love.
  • The Punisher
    • In The Punisher: Purgatory, Frank was turned from a mafia-hunting anti-hero into a supernatural force of vengeance on a path to redemption to be able to rejoin his family in heaven. This was undone with a Handwave by later writer Garth Ennis, and was thankfully never mentioned again.
      • A subtle nod to the Heavenly Enforcer period appeared in a recent Thunderbolts issue, after Deadpool acquires an angel feather while in Mephisto's hell it heals Punisher from fatal injuries he'd received while he was still on Earth. Deadpool asks how someone so non-Heavenly as Punisher could possibly have anyone in Heaven interested in him (to paraphrase) only for Punisher to blow him off with a "don't want to talk about it".
    • Likewise Franken-Castle will be remembered fondly as a brief period of lunacy in Frank's life. There's no way the powers that be intended for a magic/SCIENCE half-robot Frankenstein's Monster Punisher to be a new cutting edge status quo. Even in the Heroic Age.
      • These days Franken-Castle exists only as an AU Punisher from a Monster Mash universe. He is part of the Avengers there (which also include monster forms of other heroes who had them in the mainstream 'verse in the past, like werewolf Captain America - see below - and vampire Wolverine). They only appeared briefly to tangle with the regular New Avengers and were offed unceremoniously.
  • The "Clone Saga" in the Spider-Man titles was so maligned that fans nearly went into apoplexy when a version was announced for Ultimate Spider-Man. Basically, they tried to replace Peter Parker with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute because they thought that a married superhero couldn't sell and fans went livid with rage every time they tried to kill off his wife (you'd think this would clue them in that they might be wrong, but noooooo). But at the last second, they chickened out because Peter Parker had become too synonymous with Spider-Man to turn him into a Legacy Character franchise and the whole thing became a muddled mess. The fact that they kept on drawing out the story to try to sell more crossovers and tie-ins didn't help, either.
  • Every Incredible Hulk issue with the Red Hulk. First, it leads off from the well-written and epic (albeit misleading in its title) World War Hulk, where the green giant finally received some Character Development, in the arc prior leading it all the more meaningful what happens and its ultimate climax. And out of nowhere, this asshole of an Evil Counterpart comes, trounces every one of the Marvel heavyweights, including the Hulk and even when a hyped rematch is given, he is downed by a single punch. Made worse by writer Jeph Loeb's constant teasing on the true identity of Red Hulk, which many fans can assure you that they've stopped caring past Hulk #3, and the fact he's written to be everything the Hulk isn't. Apparently, Loeb seems to think this equates to using the Hulk's infinite potential for power, write it in that crimson counterfeit, and use it for him randomly appearing to beat up everyone and laugh about it. It has recently gotten better however. First, Greg Pak is back writing Incredible Hulk, so fans can now go there. Also, since the Code Red arc, Red Hulk has become less of a Villain Sue. Mainly because Code Red and then Fall of the Hulks (co-written with Pak) actually had a plot and we learned more about Rulk (he was finally identified as Thunderbolt Ross - someone who had been explicitly ruled out earlier in the story). It also helps he's no longer fighting people at random. Getting a decent writer has also helped a lot.
  • In the 1970s, Marvel rebooted literally the entire universe to turn Doctor Strange into a more conventional superhero with a spandex outfit, secret identity, crossovers, and energy-blasting powers. The change was very unpopular and soon dropped, though the character makes occasional rueful references to it.
    • Early in the story, he was wearing a stupid mask for like ten issues or so (#177). This was a setup for an impostor Doctor Strange, but the entire storyline was kinda odd, because it was never firmly established what would possess him to wear this in the first place. Also, there's apparently a whole bunch of odd looks for Doctor Strange.
    • In the mid '90s, he was changed into a young, long-haired business executive who didn't have any of his previous supporting cast with him.
  • In the 1990s Avengers: The Crossing, it was revealed that Iron Man had been brainwashed into secretly working for Kang the Conqueror, years earlier. The Avengers defeated him with the help of his teenaged self, who remained in the present to become the new Iron Man. The "Teen Tony" story was undone by Heroes Reborn, and the years of brainwashing was retconned into months in Avengers Forever. However, he has since entered a new Dork Age, along with most other characters directly involved in Civil War, becoming a Jerkass Villain with Good Publicity that the writers insist should be treated as a hero. However, the multitude of different titles involved, as well as numerous cases of a Writer on Board depicted Stark and the pro-Registration side as incredibly negative. Plus, Stark did genuinely feel pretty bad about all the stuff he did during the war.
    • Much of Civil War resulted in Dork Ages for other characters too, mainly because the idea of a Super Registration Act has always been derided by all Marvel superheroes, and therefore the segregation of characters into their opposing positions was pretty much at random, since none of them had ever shown pro-reg sympathies before. This caused many changes for many of the pro-reg heroes throughout the event. For example, Reed Richards was inexplicably shoehorned into the pro-reg side despite the fact that when an SHRA back in the early '90s was debated, he single-handedly torpedoed it with an issue-long Character Filibuster explaining (and demonstrating) to Congress just how stupid, dangerous, and ineffective their idea was, and had not so much as wavered from his opposing position since.
      • There was an issue of Fantastic Four that explained that Reed Richards had just worked out a reliable way to scientifically predict likely future events based on historical trends, and discovered that without something along the lines of a Super Registration Act the most likely future would be a horrible one for the entire world. It was an obvious patch job on the character and his actions, but it was accepted, since fans just wanted to move past it as fast as possible and forget it happened.
    • Another questionable recruit for the pro-reg side was Bishop. You'd think a mutant from an alternate-future where mutants were kept in concentration camps thanks to a mandatory government registration program would be against the SHRA. Indeed, you'd probably expect him to be one of the loudest voices of dissent as he's living proof that "this is a bad idea."
    • Not to mention the fact it made Peter Parker into an idiot who didn't learn the first time why his secret identity is important, and proceeded to lead into a separate Dork Age for Peter, mentioned above- One More Day.
  • Xorn. Initially Magneto, after masquerading as Xorn for so long, was doped up on Kick and went totally Ax-Crazy and pretty much destroyed New York, herding humans into crematoria. Despite Grant Morrison eventually revealing that Kick was essentially Sublime (a sentient bacteria that Morrison had established a Bigger Bad for mutants, the only beings Sublime would never be able to completely control) and manipulated Magneto, some argue that he, a Well-Intentioned Extremist, would still never go that bad given that he, y'know, survived the Holocaust, so three different creators had three different "remedies" for this continuity glitch.
    • Chris Claremont had it revealed Magneto had been in Genosha since his death and was quick to scold the impostor. All very well and good, but the identity of said impostor was revealed to be...
    • ACTUALLY Xorn, who was quite mad and believed he was Magneto. According to the convenient introduction of his good twin brother also named Xorn. Thank you, Chuck Austen.
    • And Brian Michael Bendis further muddied the water, by trying to have it BOTH ways: implying Magneto was Xorn and Wanda brought him back to life in House of M, then having Xorn show back up in "The Collective", where he kills Alpha Flight and then tries to outright take over Magneto's body, having become a creature of pure energy.
    • Finally, Kieron Gillen fixed the problem by acknowledging that the person who caused all the destruction was actually somebody else (not mentioned) but also having Magneto state that he prefers people to think it was him as a reminder of how dangerous he actually can be if pushed too far. In this way, both Morrison's and Claremont's version of the story are honored and Austen's (and Bendis') mess can be forgotten.
  • Ultimatum, The Ultimates 3 and New Ultimates were already considered as a Dork Age, to the point some people have tried to tie them into the same "Loebverse". How do you treat a well-respected Alternate Continuity that caused one of the biggest shake-ups to the comic industry in the last decade, and has produced three well-written and top-selling series (Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four)? Simple. Hire the ill-regarded Jeph Loeb, have him assume writing duties for your big event series, and kill off two-thirds of the superheroes in said universe as a ploy to increase readership. Out-of-character moments, gratuitous violence, strange plot twists and a total lack of respect for the Ultimate superheroes were just the start of the problems with this series. Ultimatum was so poorly received that, over the course of its run, over 25,000 people stopped buying it. Marvel acknowledged this by resetting the entire franchise, canceling the three aforementioned series and hoping no one would notice that they shot themselves in the foot.
    • What Loeb did to Hawkeye is nothing short of a travesty. Fortunately appointing Jonathan Hickman as writer of The Ultimates and Ultimate Hawkeye seems to have drawn a line under all this.
  • The majority of Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men, which fell into Canon Discontinuity almost immediately after the author left the series, especially in regards to the changes he made to Nightcrawler's personality and background. First he's involved in a plot by religious fanatics to make the demon-looking mutant the friggin' Pope, then the poor teleporter finds out that his real father is actually a demonic mutant named Azazel, and at the end of the story Nightcrawler gains a few half-brothers who are promptly never seen again.
  • There's a time in the '90s when Captain America suffered seizures because the Super Soldier formula in his body was breaking down. He became so paralyzed that he could barely even talk, relying on armor just to move. He ended up being cured by the Red Skull, of all people. People tried to forget about it.
    • Before that, there was a storyline where Cap gets turned into a werewolf for reasons unknown. And even before that, there was the time where he fought an evil group of female supervillains who wanted to sterilize the Earth's female population just to eliminate men from the planet. The villain deemed Cap worthy of surviving, so she started a sex-change procedure on him.
    • Then came Liefeld!Cap. And oh, how harmless and endearing those stories seemed.
    • Cap dropping his identity and adopting the name "Nomad" after becoming disillusioned with America just because of the actions of one person (a Nixon expy). Also costume change was a sort of isolated mini-Dork Age within the plotline.
  • Howard Mackie's Mutant X (not the TV show). And arguably his run on X-Factor leading up to it.
  • The Mighty Thor had the Thunderstrike period (Thor bonded to a single dad who ended up being given the powers of Thor and impersonated Thor before adopting the Thunderstrike name) and the first half of the Dan Jurgens Thor run, which had Thor bonded to a dead paramedic Loki killed. Ironically, Thunderstrike (when he was spun-off into his own book) was more popular than Thor himself in terms of sales. So Marvel made the brain dead decision to kill Thunderstrike off and cancel his book, under the belief that it would fix Thor's bad sales. Which it didn't.
    • Toss in Warren Ellis's run; Thor loses all of his powers and is living with Enchantress as a couple. So bad it was that other writers outright ignored Ellis's depowering in the pages of Avengers and Incredible Hulk.
  • The Shanna the She-Devil comics by Frank Cho are widely despised by fans of of the original character. Cho tried to cover himself by saying that his Shanna was a completely original character after savaging the original character concept and promising "no stupid animal rights or environmental message" as well as "...action, suspense, humor, violence, nudity, and a whole lot of jiggling...".
  • There was a period where the Avengers were all wearing matching leather bomber jackets. It gave the team a unified look, but when you've got the Black Knight wearing the jacket over chain mail, or Sersi wearing it over her green one-piece-bathing-suit outfit, it looks really weird.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, in the eyes of most fans, is currently stuck in one. Many have lambasted the book for blatant Critical Research Failure on the part of writer Brian Michael Bendis, as well as largely missing the point of what made the book appealing to begin with by shifting the book's focus from "scrappy unknown underdogs going up against impossible odds" to "Avengers IN SPACE." Even James Gunn seems to agree; the recent film, in terms of costume design, tone, and casting, draws far more heavily from all the comics except the Bendis run. The most that fans seem to agree on is that at least you have Sara Pichelli's art... She then left and was replaced by Ed McGuinness, who is deemed a poor fit for the series. There are also a few other problems:
    • Trying to expand the roster of the Guardians (which itself was limited to the movie team to begin with) not with Got G or cosmic characters but with big name characters like Iron Man, Angela, Captain Marvel or Venom. The big issue here isn't that he decided to put those characters in the team but the fact that they more times than not end up hijacking the plot and the poor Guardians usually end up becoming the guest stars. It doesn't help the fact that these team rotations occur in between arcs (which means more or less every six issues) so there's very little time to develop any kind of realistic bond between the new members and the old Guardians.
    • Bendis refusal to create big cosmic stories and instead trying to focus on small stories about how they are always protecting earth (despite earth having a ton of heroes already) from intergalactic attacks. Of course, they always play second fiddle to another big group and their participation is anecdotic at best.
    • The constant reuse of Peter's father J'son and the Spartax empire to the point of stagnation. In three years he has been the only enemy The Guardians have faced and so far only 2 arcs exist where he is not the enemy or participates in an important role. This got to extremely ridiculous levels when the first cosmic event since Bendis took over, "The Black Vortex", was slated to finally have a new villain for the Guardians to fight, yet two months before the event even started, it was hijacked by J'son in another book and now he is slated to be the main villain.
    • Rocket became a psychopath in a failed attempt to emulate his movie persona. This sometimes clash with his supposedly hero status as people wonders why isn't he being treated as a common criminal if he goes killing all the time like it was normal. Also Bendis introduced the "Not a Raccoon" idea, an idea that has since trascended beyond the comic and is now, sadly, part of Rocket's personality in every media. Keep in mind, he's previously referred to himself as Rocket Raccoon so it makes no sense.
    • Changing Drax the Destroyer from his popular Deadpan Snarker personality from the previous volume back to his 90's "Space Hulk" personality, turning a surprisingly funny and interesting character into Dumb Muscle.
  • Heroes Reborn was a really bad attempt by Marvel to make their characters into really 90's superheroes by killing them off and having them be remade in a pocket dimension. They farmed out the work to other popular writers at the time, including Rob Liefeld, resulting in some bizarre changes to the characters, like Captain America being brainwashed by SHIELD to be used as a superweapon in various wars and turning into a Jerkass Designated Hero, the Hulk being accidentally created by Iron Man, Hawkeye becoming The Faceless assassin, and Thor becoming a Dumb Muscle Berserker. Liefeld's changes were mercifully fixed by virtue of him abandoning his Avenger's story due to money issues and being replaced Walt Simonson after issue #7, resulting in five actually good issues which removed a lot of the more stupid elements. After a year they were returned to the normal Marvel Universe with their original backstories more or less intact, with the whole thing swept under the rug. The only positive was it retconned out Evil Iron Man, Teen Tony, and the mutant version of The Wasp, making it the sole thing from being worse than The Crossing.
    • Some fans have even theorized that it was a Springtime for Hitler scheme, with Marvel trying to completely jettison the Dark Age by showing the entire fanbase just how utterly incompetent the so-called superstar writers truly were. The Avengers run right afterward was a heavy Reconstruction by Kurt Busiek, which quickly wound up being considered one of the best runs of the franchise's history.