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Dark Age of Supernames
It got ridiculous. You'd get these lists with names that we'd never, ever use, and you could tell the other guy just went through a laundry list of stupid-ass names. That's where a thing like Blood Tears would come from.
Part of the Dark Age
of Super Heroes
involved making not only their appearance, morality, and demeanor Darker and Edgier
, but also their names. Heroes born during the nineties ditched the Something Person Naming Conventions
and took a page from Names to Run Away From Really Fast
, using names both scary and trite.
Most names became one word, usually gritty, edgy, and trendy. At times, two words were merged into a single name, usually including some combination of Dark, Blood, or a verb for killing. Because substandard literacy is kewl
, they are occasionally misspelled
in clever ways like Darkchylde, Stryker, or Blüdwulf — which, not coincidentally, also makes the names easier to trademark.
Characters surviving from this time period may have to struggle with sounding dated, but then again, surviving the nineties hopefully means they have more
to them than just boasts of Badassness.
See also Fad Super
. Contrast The Adjectival Superhero
open/close all folders
- The miniseries Bloodlines produced a whole slew of these: Ballistic, Cardinal Sin, Edge, Gunfire, Hook, Jamm, Krag, Loose Cannon, Mongrel (an African-American/Vietnamese superhero), Nightblade, Razorsharp, Terrorsmith... it goes on and on. There was also Hitman, who was exactly that, but his comic ran with it, in a Black Comedy sort of way. In Hitman's own series, there was Nightfist, a tough vigilante who shows no mercy and will hit you, with his fists, hard.
- That said, Nightfist was a crooked hero who beat up crooks for their money and wore a costume so people wouldn't ask questions.
- In the Hitman Annual, it was mentioned that all of the Bloodlines-created supers except Hitman had been killed in less than two years. (As the Flash put it, "There's more to this business than putting on a costume and going out to 'be super'.")
- The whole business was mocked in another Hitman issue.
McAllister: Well, anyway, the result was a completely new generation of superpowered human beings...
Monaghan: You mean like whatsizname? An' that other guy?
McAllister: That's them.
- Even Rob Liefeld felt DC was ripping off his title Youngblood with Bloodlines.
- Wild Dog was introduced in the late '80s, and might be uncharitably described as "The Punisher dressed for some hockey." He wore a hockey mask and jersey with a local school's mascot (a "wild dog," natch.) His look did, however, fit the book's central premise of a "realistic" vigilante hero who could buy all of his clothing and gear off the rack from sporting goods stores, hardware stores, etc.
- Even the Legion of Super-Heroes went through this phase. Traditionally a bastion of Something Person names, the '90s-era reboot turned Lightning Lad into "Live Wire", Triplicate Girl into "Triad", Colossal Boy into "Leviathan", Princess Projectra into "Sensor", and so forth. When the series was rebooted again in 2004, most of the new names went by the wayside, and the Something Person codenames returned to the fore.
- Many of the new super people created for Kingdom Come embody this trope: Nightstar (Starfire and Nightwing's daughter), 666, Bat-Knight, Black Mongul, NIL8, Swastika, Shiva the Destroyer and Cathedral... This is deliberate, since Kingdom Come is a deconstruction of the Dark Age.
- Minor Kingdon Come character Demon Damsel manages to be both this trope and Silver Age Of Supernames, as she's allegedly a rejected candidate for the Legion of Super-Heroes, which is why her name fits the "Lightning Lad"-"Saturn Girl" format.
- Nightwing celebrated his own ongoing series by moving to a town named Blüdhaven. It was described as being close to Gotham (the Bat-Family frequently guest-starred in each other's comics), but was also described unambiguously as more crime-ridden and corrupt than Gotham, although 50+ years of comics never saw Batman so much as chase a purse-snatcher there. Eventually the whole city got destroyed during the Infinite Crisis crossover event.
- The Grant Morrison Parody one-shot Doom Force did not have this with the Doom Force. The mock editorial, however listed many other Doom Force characters with such names as Lock And Load.
- Morrison did, however, deconstruct this trope in Aztek, The Ultimate Man with Bloodtype and Death-Doll. It turned out they used to be Mr. America and Liberty Lass: The crime-fighting husband and wife team that doesn't know each other's secret identities. Unluckily for them, they ran afoul of the Dark Age, as embodied by the strange qualities of the city of Vanity.
- Deathstroke the Terminator. A good example of a character managing to stay top-tier despite a name that seems hilariously over the top today. It's probably for the best the cartoon stuck with "Slade".
- Apparently, his name wasn't intended to be quite that bad: in his first battle with the Titans, he was called only Deathstroke to a certain point, and then called only Terminator as if he'd been called that all along. Apparently something went wrong at the editing stage. This was handwaved by saying his full handle was "Deathstroke the Terminator." You'd think they'd have dropped one name or the other by this point (especially with Crisis on Infinite Earths giving them the opportunity to say that in the new combined reality, he'd never been called anything but Deathstroke), but for whatever reason, the over-the-top name stuck.
- What's even weirder is that DC barely uses his Terminator in his full name for obvious reasons (despite the character debuting before the movie). But, for some reason, they use it just often enough so people never forget that it was his original name all along.
- A couple years before Marvel used the name, Milestone Comics also had a villain named Holocaust. He even had his own miniseries, My Name Is Holocaust, which indeed it was... until it wasn't. For reasons not entirely clear (In-Universe, Static surmises "Someone just got around to seeing Schindlers List"), Holocaust changed his name to "Pyre". (Perhaps, as with the Marvel example, the name was just too dark?) In 2010, however, Holocaust turned up again in Teen Titans, using his original name.
- Although a mild example, Arsenal counts. Notably, he started off as "Speedy" when he was a Kid Sidekick, then became "Arsenal", switched to "Red Arrow" when he joined the Justice League of America, and then switched back to "Arsenal" when he went Darker and Edgier.
- However, one of the reasons behind Roy's name change was that Arsenal represented that he used other weapons besides a bow, and later, he mastered a form of martial arts that allows him to use anything as a weapon. After the loss of his arm and the death of his daughter Lian in Justice League: Cry for Justice, his change back to Arsenal was followed by him completely dropping the bow (his badly designed prosthetic made it unable for him to use a bow like he used to) and switching to knives and some sort of staff on his back.
- In The Multiversity, the members of The Gentry have such colorful monikers as Dame Merciless, Hellmachine, Lord Broken, Demogorgunn and...Intellectron.
- The Maxx, whose series, was ironically, phenomenal. In his own book, the Maxx met The Pitt, an Image character who starred in a rather less distinguished (and shorter-lived) comic.
- Spawn, who practically epitomized this trope in the 90s.
- Youngblood: Deathshot, Riptide, Badrock, Combat, Psi-Fire, Psylence (sometimes Psilence), Bloodwulf, Diehard, Wylder. Rob Liefeld was one of the big popularizers of this trope, and probably helped everyone get sick of it too.
- Badrock was initially called a more mild name, "Bedrock", but a desire to distinguish the character from a certain Stone Age town resulted in Liefeld and his studio renaming him Badrock, thus invoking this trope.
- Of course, some members' names are fairly muted in comparison; Chapel, Shaft, Cougar, Troll, Vogue, and Brahman, for instance.
- Parodied in Wildguard with Crimson Phantom Vengeance, a Batman-style vigilante (eliminated in the first round of competition as "not what we're looking for") and Mr. Transmuto, whose fashion sense is stuck in the 90s, as well. Also Red Rover's enemy Heartwyrm. The name "Wildguard" itself kind of smacks of this trope, though.
- An interesting character came up in an old TV special, with Stan Lee suggesting a character name, then both Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane designing the character. The suggested name was "OverKill", with Stan joking at the end that they did a good job, but that the character now belonged to him. When he showed up as a villain in Spawn, his name was changed to the even more ridiculous OverTKill.
- Supporting The Savage Dragon character KillCat is a parody of this sort of thing - not that it stopped some writers from having him play the Nineties Anti-Hero completely straight, though.
- By the time the later 90s rolled around, even Image was conscious of this trend. That's probably why a bunch of criminals burst into uproarious laughter when the team Bloodpool told them their name.
- The assassin team Bloodstrike, although its roster was surprisingly light on dark names, with only Deadlock sporting one.
- Brigade was no slouch either, with names like Battlestone, Coldsnap and Lethal.
- Deadpool was originally an homage (or ripoff, depending on who you ask) of an '80s DC character with a Dark Age name, Deathstroke the Terminator (already mentioned, by the way), since you do the "Deathstroke" in the "Deadpool". Deadpool (or dead pool) is an actual word that technically fits the character, even if it does sound very 90's-ish.
- Venom (Who had his own Darker and Edgier series where he was an Anti-Hero) and his Ax-Crazy spawn Carnage. This tradition is also carried on by his spawn Toxin; fortunately he's actually a good guy.
- Night Thrasher (of New Warriors fame). Whose name came from his advanced weaponized skateboard, thank you very much.
- Spider-Man once lampshaded this. While fighting alongside Night Thrasher and The Punisher he responded to their insults to his name with "Oh please! Insults from someone who sounds like he has naughty nighttime dreams and another who sounds like he wants to spank people?!"
- X-Men 2099 had some of the best. Skullfire, Bloodhawk, Metalhead, Meanstreak, Junkpile, and Psyclone. Note that those are all members of the actual X-Mennote - Skullfire in particular is the leader! That said, Skullfire never really used his codename, just going by "Tim" 99% of the time. Apparently even he knew how 90s that codename it was.
- A notable exception in X-Men 2099 was Serpentina - Tina to her friends. Naturally, she dies in the third issue.
- Adam X the X-treme. Hellion, Warpath, Rage, Warstar, Kill Power, Onyxx, Thornn, Darkdevil, Warbird...
- A very early example (from 1974) Deathlok (also referred to as Deathlok the Demolisher).
- Also from the 70s - Raza Longknife, Killraven and Daimon Hellstrom (the Son of Satan).
- Probably as a reference to the Dark Age of Supernames is Speedball, who changed his name to Penance supposedly to become "deep" and to escape his comedy-character background, because of the Stamford incident. His cat Niels is renamed "P-cat the Penitent Puss". (He has since gone back to Speedball, and Niels now goes by the moniker "Hairball" in his adventures with the Pet Avengers.)
- The short-lived Marvel UK sub-universe had the Warheads, Motormouth, Killpower, Death's Head, Death Metal, Death Wreck (the last three versions of the same character), Hell's Angel (later Dark Angel, following a lawsuit by Hell's Angels) and Genetix. Oh, and a number of these appeared in a comic called Overkill.
- At least half the Transformers have names that sound like this. Ravage, Prowl, Deadend, Dirge, Snarl, Razorclaw, etc...
- It got worse later on in the franchise. And then Generation 2 happened, and they must have thought "We're running out of names, so let's take older names and make 'em cooler", so that gave stuff like Staxx (who is a semi-truck with smokestacks...) To be fair, this was G2, i.e., before the standard practice with new Transformers stuff was to simply set the series in an alternate universe and primarily re-use old names. Of course, even in G1, you had guys like Megastorm...
- The trade for Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers gives us a standout example, even though we never see him in person - Gorelock.
- However, most of those guys are villains. Prowl and Snarl are about the darkest good-guy names usually get. Names like Sinnertwin, Ruination, Onslaught, and Triggerhappy fall under Obviously Evil. However, Warpath is a good guy who earns his name. "They don't call me Warpath 'cause I'm gentle!" as he put it.
- X-Men villain Holocaust is notable for having too dark a name. When toy company ToyBiz made an action figure of him, they changed it to the less genocidal Dark Nemesis. This carried over to the comics with a name change to Nemesis. They later switched him back to Holocaust just in time for him to be snorted to death by an evil Superman expy.
- Darkhawk had an obvious dark age name that sounds rather generic now.
- Hyperkind, one of the comics in Marvel's "Razorline" imprint (a vanity imprint for Clive Barker), had three of its four heroes with this sort of name (and the last a borderline case): Armatta, Logix, Amokk, and Bliss. To be fair, there was a certain amount of Lampshade Hanging for two of the names, as Amokk was a comic geek, and selected his and Logix's names specifically because that's how they did it in comic books at the time.
- For that matter, the name "Razorline" itself qualifies.
- Cyberforce: Ripclaw, Cyblade, Heatwave, Stryker.
- The spinoff Codename: Strykeforce featured Stryker leading a team that included Bloodbow and Killrazor.
- The Darkness.
- Ravenshadow, Pyre, and Flagg of Rising Stars. (Flagg later changes to "Patriot", not because it's a better name but due to a real life request from American Flagg creator Howard Chaykin, which is lampshaded in the storyline itself.)
- Common Grounds featured perennial nice guy Captain Gallant's three sons, Bloodstain, Die-Cut, and Deathmarch.
- Penance - not the Marvel character who used to be Speedball, nor the young woman with diamond-sharp skin from the 90s X-kids team Gen-X.
- The Wild CATS in Warblade, Grifter, Maul, Zealot, etc.
- Also poked fun at in Wild CATS, when Ladytron asks someone "what's up with this kill-hell-death-blood name thing?" Naturally, the other guy makes fun of the name "Ladytron", and hijinx ensue.
- The Authority's Midnighter (despite him snarking about someone else in the opening quote) is actually a sort of hidden reference. The Midnighters were a 60s soul band- of the sort that would perform at The Apollo, which is his partner's name.
- Gen13: Grunge.
- Deathblow. His old teammates from Stormwatch include Hellstrike and Backlash; The original Stormwatch was surprisingly light on this in general — unless you count "single normal word" types like Fuji, Winter, and Synergy.
- Lampshaded in Stormwatch: Team Achilles with a character named "Ripslashbloodclawmaimblade" who smokes a cigar, appears to be made out of sharp stabbing instruments and spouts off the line "That's what I do best. And I'm the best there is at what needs to be done!"
- In addition to Hellstrike and Cannon, Stormwatch also had Battalion, who channeled his telekinesis through (what else?) guns to battle his evil father, Despot of WarGuard. Notably, though, he abandoned the guns and codename after a few years to become an administrator.
- Darkchylde. For what you could probably consider bonus points, her real name is Ariel Chylde. Even as a civilian, her name is super kewl!
- Parodied ruthlessly with the New Zealand comic Bloodface, and his team the "Bloodgroup", all of whom have Blood in their names, constantly scream and grimace, and are drawn like Rob Liefeld characters. The only female member of the team is called Wandering Menstrual.
- Parodied in Penthouse Comics' Captain Adventure, with the villainous Team Supreme. Comprising of Manpower, Red Rogue, Edge, Bloodskull, Death Killer, Blazing Fury, and Hotblood, they speak in meaningless pop culture references and end their every sentence with Tradesnark™. Leader Manpower is not impressed by Captain Adventure. I mean, he doesn't even have any facepaint or giant guns!
- Although the regular heroes in Astro City avoid this trope, it was invoked (usually briefly) for characters who appeared during the series' aptly-named "Dark Age", such as Stonecold, Broadsword, Hellhound, Pale Horseman, and Hollowpoint.
- Grimjack of First Comics.
Live Action TV
- Drifter, the main character of an early G4TV show called Portal that took place inside of MMOs.
- In Shadowboy, the Heroes who are stated as starting in the 90s have names that reflect this. Of particular note being Razordemon.
- So many Warhammer 40,000 names, for understandable reasons. Ragnar Blackmane, Night Haunter, Doomrider, Huron Blackheart, etc.
- Ragnar's case even more so, as he comes from a Viking-Age Norse type culture fond of sobriquets and the name itself is a double reference to both his black hair and beard, and the fact that he killed a black Fenrisian wolf as a Neophyte and wears it's pelt.
- In the Mutants & Masterminds setting "Freedom City", the "Iron Age" of the 1980s involved the criminalization of super-heroics in Freedom City. Enter FORCE Ops (Freelance Organization of Criminal Elimination Operatives), a bad-ass team of heroes fighting a no-holds-barred battle against crime AND the authoritarian government. Members include: Kismet, a mysterious mercenary; Network, an elite hacker turned into pure energy; and Nightrage, a super-heroic vampire.
- The Cyberpunk 2020 RPG included quotes from characters with names like Ripperjack and Morgan Blackhand. Appropriate to the Cyber Punk genre, though at times they come across more like parodies of self-consciously "edgy" tough guys, which may have been intentional.
- According to the Fiendish Codex II the Hellbred race follow this trope. When one comes Back from the Dead as one they keep their first name, but replace the last with something more infernal. Though, as an entire species of Atoners they're definitely good examples.
- Most of the villains (and more than few of the heroes) in the Dark Champions. Of course, the intent of this game was to simulate this genre of comics, so it's entirely fitting.
- Professional Wrestling (especially in the 1990s) is chock full of these spanning pretty much the entirety of its colorful history, with varying degrees of success, ranging from the surprisingly successful (and intentionally ironic) Chyna...to the execrable Shockmaster.
- If you want to see this trope in the extreme, look no further than the City of Heroes playerbase itself. The number of heroes with names like this has spawned much derision from the playerbase, especially from the role-players. Granted, most of the "creatively misspelled" names are simply a way to get a desired name that's long since been taken by another player, but it's a safe bet that there are enough people who were fans of the Dark Age of Comics and do this deliberately.
- Perhaps fortunately, there aren't many examples of this among NPC heroes and villains, with the only real examples being among the more minor "Rogues Gallery" rather than the Signature characters. Notable cases are Mangle, Hollow Point, Comatorium, and Blood Thorn.
- The above also applies to Champions Online (AKA The Other City of Heroes)
- The same goes for World of Warcraft, especially for rogues, especially on PvP servers. If you haven't seen it, you will never believe how many variations of names like "ShadowKiller" there are.
- Arc System Works' games really loves this trope: From BlazBlue we have Ragna the Bloodedge, Rachel Alucard, Iron Tager, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, Azrael and Bullet. From Guilty Gear, basically almost all the cast is this, albeit in this case this is justified since most of them are named after heavy metal bands or songs.
- Taken to the point of self parody with the anti-hero protagonist of Guilty Gear, Sol Badguy.
- DeathSpank is a parody of this trope.
- Darkdeath Evilman, from Zettai Hero Project.
- An animated version: The Ripping Friends (by John Kricfalusi) featured Crag, Rip, Slab, and Chunk. As with a lot of Kricfalusi's material, the viewer may be excused for not being 100% clear whether this was intended as a parody or a devoted, loving tribute.
- Cracked compiled a list of the 9 manliest names in the world. It includes Powers Boothe, Stirling Mortlock and Staff Sgt. Max Fightmaster.
- "Blood and Guts" Patton.
- The Norse were not averse to nicknames like this, "Eric Bloodaxe" and "Björn Ironside" being two famous examples. They also cheerfully inverted it at times.
- Some Real Life Superheroes have names like Razorhawk, Insignis, Ghost, Ha!, Oni, and Silver Dragon (making up a team called the Black Monday Society); there's also Dark Guardian, Mr. Xtreme, Phantom Zero, Crimson Fist, Geist, Shadow Hare, Mr Ravenblade, Lucid, Catastrophe, and Death's Head Moth.
- A lot of Black Metal stage names, Necrobutcher is a standout.