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Critical Research Failures in comic books.


Unintentional Examples

  • Marville:
    • It begins a descent into utter madness note  starting in the third issue that includes, among many, MANY other offenses, the protagonists scooping up some water with microbes in it to use as a "biological clock" for their time machine, under the logic that they'll know to stop when the microbes evolve into a dinosaur. It just gets worse from there.
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    • It also contains the popular misconception that shows up a few times below that humans are the only creatures who kill members of their own species. Nearly all species do it, however humans are (so far) the only species that feel good or bad about it.
  • Superman once multiplied 10x20x16 and got 32,000. (It's 3,200, by the way.) That wasn't just math, it was Super Mathematics.
  • The original authors of W.I.T.C.H. intended to set the series somewhere in America. This is obvious to an Italian, but they didn't bother to check on what an American city actually looks like, resulting in Americans and non-Europeans in general to wonder in which European country Heatherfield is. Averted by the cartoon version: in spite of being made in France, the staff of the animated series did do the research, and Heatherfield is recognizable as an American town.
  • Chuck Austen's X-Men story "Holy War" — Where the hell to begin?!?
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    • The plot hinges on exploding Communion hosts dissolving people, making everyone think that The Rapture had come, while simultaneously unmasking Nightcrawler, who would be made Pope, somehow, in his usual demonic-looking form, thereby destroying Catholicism. Yeah. There are a few, slight flaws in Austen's plot...
      • Catholicism doesn't teach belief in the Rapture. This is a relatively recent idea begun by American Evangelicals in the 1890s. This isn't Catholic doctrine.
      • Nightcrawler has about as good a chance being elected Pope as any other non-Cardinal, which is to say zero chance. While in theory any baptized Catholic male with no impediments to being ordained can be elected Pope, in practice, only a member of the College of Cardinals has a realistic shot. And it would require a vacancy at the Holy See, which as of the 2003 publication of the story arc, still solely meant the death of the incumbent Pope.note 
      • Nightcrawler's ordination as a priest is likewise unrealistic. Catholic seminaries are full-time college courses not leaving much time for adventuring and super-hero antics. The ordination is also not something that would be done in secret (as apparently the case here) instead celebrated as a major milestone in the priest's life — there's very little way that any of the X-Men, especially close friends like Wolverine, should have been blindsided that he'd been ordained.
      • And since the "Church of Humanity" is at least de facto schismatic at its highest levels (and certainly with a leadership that would be highly irregular for any sort of religious order), it's an open question if whatever ordination Nightcrawler underwent is even legitimate or valid
      • Austen has no idea how communion wafers are even made or distributed… it would be impossible for enough to be doctored (and since any adulteration of a communion host — by Church law it can only be wheat flour and water and nothing else — is a sacrilege and would invalidate the Mass, that meant that the priests in on the plot certainly didn't give a rip about the Real Presence) to cause the kind of mass disintegrations across the world that they wanted. That's because there is no central Vatican factory that supplies them as it seems Chuck is implying here. They are just supplied by normal bakeries and then blessed by priests, at which point Catholic doctrine says they are miraculously transformed into the body of Christ.
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    • Even basic information about the characters was wrong. Nightcrawler's narration states that Wolverine has 100 inch claws. Wolvie's claws are 12 inches. 100 inches is 8 feet and 4 inches, while Wolvie himself is only 5'3".note 
  • In the debut of the New Mutants, we are introduced to Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot. He is Brazilian, living in Brazil, where Portuguese is the common language. Everyone was speaking Spanish.
  • The Daughters of the Amazon featured early in Y: The Last Man cut off their left breast and use bows to emulate mythological Amazons. Cutting off the left breast does nothing to make drawing a bow easier for right-handed archers, as the characters should have realized immediately on trying it. This is exacerbated by the fact that "Amazons cutting their breasts to use a bow" isn't an actual part of the myths, and it's merely speculation made because of faulty translation, which actual research into Amazon myths would have shown.
    • The nature of the plague itself is also a problem. In the comic, every male on earth dies during a brief phone call. While the nature of the plague itself is left deliberately vague, the fact that it killed globally, quickly, and evenly means it can't possibly be a disease, since a disease presents symptoms regardless of number or rate of infection. Even if women were immune carriers, it would be impossible for the first male infected to drop dead the same moment as the last one.
  • This page from Tseu Hi, La Dame Dragon shows the "Palace Museum" tablet on the Forbidden City, even though the comic took place in the Qing dynasty, long before the Forbidden City became a museum.
  • IDW's The Transformers (IDW) special Continuum is meant to be a comprehensive explanation of the characters and timeline. However, it's littered with numerous errors of events, names and backgrounds. Given one of the authors just happens to have been the editor of the book, it becomes even worse as a resource.
  • In Preacher, Amy, who is unlucky with love, meets a man who seems perfect for her, only to discover he has been chemically castrated (after being confused with a serial child molester) and therefore can't be with her. The comic acts as if chemical castration is some type of permanent destruction of the genitals, when in reality, it's simply taking medicine that turns off a person's sex drive and can be easily reversed by going off the medication.
  • In the climax of the Tintin comic "Prisoners of the Sun", Tintin frees himself and his friends from the Incans by taking advantage of a convenient eclipse, making it seem like he's the one "banishing" the sun and "returning" it. The Incans were avid astronomers and not only knew very well what eclipses were, but kept track of when they would happen.
  • In Paul Cornell's Wisdom mini-series, there is a reference to Austin Powers' mom in Austin Powers in Goldmember denigrating the Welsh, though the movie has Austin Powers' father denigrating the Dutch.
  • In a Street Fighter comic, Ryu easily defeats Balrog, claiming that the boxer is less effective because he only utilizes half his body. In reality, a boxer can very much hold his own against a martial artist, especially a straightforward slugger versus someone jumping around doing spin-kicks. One could argue that Balrog is personally undisciplined and runs on brute strength and rage more than skill, and thus would lose to someone like Ryu, but claiming that boxing is objectively inferior to full-body martial arts is an absolute research failure.
  • For a short while after she was introduced, Storm's ability to fire lightning bolts from her hands was explained as her body generating a powerful positive electrical charge. As electricity is caused by the movement of negatively charged electrons, having a strong positive charge would have actually given her the mutant power to attract lightning.
  • In a Quicksilver miniseries, the mutant speedster goes on the run with his half-Inhuman daughter Luna, but her mother and Quicksilver's ex-wife Crystal is forbidden from going after them by Black Bolt and Medusa. Crystal coldly tells them they'd be more understanding of her plight if they had children of their own. The writer didn't seem aware that Black Bolt and Medusa have a son. His name is Ahura. There was an entire graphic novel about Medusa's pregnancy and her decision to defy the Inhuman Council to give birth after they ordered her to have an abortion because they deemed it too risky to allow Black Bolt to sire children due to his own destructive power. Crystal should know; she was there by her sister's side the entire time.
  • Although Themo Lobos, the author of the chilean comic Mampato, used to investigate a lot for his scripts, he occasionally made serious mistakes, as in two different stories where he says that the Druids worshiped Nordic gods like Odin and Thor, even taking care of organizing a Viking funeral.
    • He also mentions Stonehenge as a place where the Druids made human sacrifices, although as the comic was written in the 1970s, this is rather a case of History Marches On.
  • In Marvel Team-Up #5 (2019), written by Clint McElroy, upon hearing about the Great Smoky Mountains, a confused Shuri tells Captain Marvel that she wasn't aware that North America had active volcanoes, and Carol tells her that there aren't any and she doesn't know why the mountains are called that. There might not be active volcanoes in the eastern United States, but the Pacific coast is called the Ring of Fire for a reason. There are almost 200 active volcanoes in the continental United States and Canada alone, never mind Central America and the Caribbean.

In-Universe and Invoked Examples

  • Ambush Bug once made a huge error In-Universe. Seeing a young blonde woman in a familiar costume flying by, Ambush Bug immediately realized that some malevolent magic or Red Kryptonite had turned his "pal" Superman into a girl, and that Superman desperately needed the Bug's help. Somehow, Ambush Bug was completely ignorant of the existence of Supergirl, who was naturally mystified by the encounter. (Supergirl, In-Universe, was publicly known and quite famous in her own right at the time.)note 
  • Jack Of Fables often notes the hero's lack of understanding of history or science. He boasts of himself before a battle as being like Napoleon at Waterloo or the defenders of the Alamo "and like them, I will be victorious."
  • Team Fortress 2 comics:
    • In Ring of Fired #1, when the Demoman and his sentient sword the Eyelander are watching the show Ghost D.A., the title ghost character disappears with a "doodily-doodily-doot" noise. The Eyelander, which is possessed by a ghost, points out that it never does that and questions whether the writers are actually ghosts. It has more to complain about when the TV ghost puns "the defense rests... in peace."
      Eyelander: Ugh. "The defense rests"? He's the @$%ing prosecution! Ghost D.A.! "District Attorney!" It's in the title of the @$%ing show!
    • Turns out the entire town of Teufort suffers from a major case of this in Unhappy Returns. The Mayor is apparently completely oblivious to what he can and can't do in his position, apparently thinking he's allowed to force someone to become a fake-Italian, and hang people without a trial. No one else in the town sees a problem with this. This is due to them having drunk lead-contaminated water for over a generation.


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