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Dork Age / Comic Books

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Note: The DCU and Marvel have their own pages.

  • Spawn had a dork age after he killed his former boss Malebolgia. He teamed up with demons Ab and Zab, a Catchphrase Spouting Duo, and fought vampires and British cannibals. Fortunately, it ended after he returned to Hell and lost his status as king.
  • Zé Carioca, a Brazilian comic series based on the character Jose Carioca (from the Disney film Saludos Amigos) suffered from a Dork Age when they just took Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse stories that hadn't been released in Brazil and replaced the main characters with Jose. It didn't work very well.
    • They did something similar in Europe after the American material was running out, with the European artists taking American stories and switching the characters around.
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  • Parodied in an issue of Planetary, where a superhero who went through a Darker and Edgier Dork Age during The Dark Age of Comic Books blames the resident John Constantine Captain Ersatz for it. The caped character in that issue is an obvious expy of Alan Moore's famous Cerebus Retcon to the Miracleman/Marvelman franchise. (Perhaps not coincidentally, he also happens to look like Tom Strong, another Moore character, though the similarities end there.) The masked, caped man is rather clearly an example of The Cape whose origin turns out to be far seedier than originally presented — precisely what Moore did to Miracleman in the 1980s.
  • Deconstructed by JLA/Avengers. The heroes have had their two earths and timelines fused, and the entire cosmos keeps warping as a result. When they finally meet the Grandmaster, a cosmic being who was nearly killed by the other organizer of the event that led to the universes fusing, Krona, he tells them to stop Krona, which would separate the worlds and put the timelines back to normal. The heroes ask him, basically, "What kind of worlds are we going back to?" The Grandmaster, with the last of his power, shows them the events of their lives. The Dork Ages end up sticking out more than anything else; about half the examples on the DC and Marvel pages are seen. The most notable becomes Hal Jordan — at the time of the comic's writing, he had gone crazy, killed off all the other Lanterns, tried to destroy and remake the universe, died, and become the host for The Spectre. And yet, when they debate, he decides to restore the old time because they are not gods to reshape reality as they see fit. Even more amazing when you consider that this is a reversal of what he himself tried to do in Zero Hour! during his Parallax phase.
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  • For many fans, the Aliens comic books were mostly this. While some were appropriately themed, the majority ignored the Lovecraftian elements of the source material in favour of macho muscles-and-guns action influenced by the second film entry in the series. The second film itself doesn't qualify as an example because it was a subversion of the high expectations placed on the combat unit involved, neatly allowing for heavy action elements without subverting the horror. Obviously, the writers of the comic books weren't mindful of this distinction and neutered both the horrifying monster and the interesting, medium-tech, hypercapitalistic space exploration setting. This may not count as Dork Age as it hasn't ended yet. While many fans of the films consider the comics horrendous, comic writers themselves are completely happy to continue the trends if the 2009 and 2010 entries into the series (of both Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator) are any indication. Being a cross-media franchise, however, makes the dorkageness difficult to measure, as some examples in some media may avert the trope and others may play it straight.
  • It depends on who you talk to, but the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog are either still in or have left their Dork Age. It's easy to see when their Dork Age began — post-issue 50, when Dr. Robotnik was killed off, the comic entered a prolonged case of Post-Script Season and Knuckles the Echidna got his own spin-off comic. As Knuckles had his own spectacular and amazing adventures, Sonic's plodded on even after Robotnik (well, an alternate universe version of him) was reinstated and became Dr. Eggman (something quite a few fans felt was somewhat cheap as the comic had made the effort to very defintely kill Robotnik off for real). It got worse when the Knuckles comic got canned and his stories were turned into back stories, showcasing the amazing levels of Creator's Pet head writer Ken Penders was showing for Knuckles and his brethren while Sonic... stayed at home, went to school, dealt with aliens with a Freudian Excuse for hating everybody. (The infamous "Titan Tails" issue came out during this time, which should say a lot.) It got to the point where Penders and co-head writer Karl Bollers were at each other's throats, leaving them both to bail and forcing new head writer Ian Flynn to fix all of their problems. Most fans felt that Flynn, with his overhauls to the comic's mythology to bring it more in line with the games, writing out some of the more contentious characters and plot elements, and pulling a Make Room for the New Plot on Penders and Bollers' by that point rather bloated and tangled storylines, effectively ended the Dork Age, though a Vocal Minority would continue to insist that it wasn't the case. If you want to know a good point as to where the Dork Age began, look at the covers: if it just SCREAMS Animesque, then it's a Dork Age cover.
    • Flynn doesn't get a complete reprieve, though — the Iron Dominion story arc was criticized for lasting way too long (especially because it was prolonged through liberal handling of the Idiot Ball by both the heroes and the villains), even by people willing to overlook some of the story flaws.
    • What may have ended the Dork Age debate for now is the fact that the Ken Penders Lawsuit has forced a Continuity Reboot for the entire series, though only time will tell if this is truly the end of the Dork Age, an extension of it, or even a new Dork Age entirely. The effects of the lawsuit and the divisive reboot resulted in Sega ending their partnership with Archie in 2017 and jumped ship to IDW Publishing to the point that it's been confirmed the IDW run will be a complete reboot not connected to the original or reboot continuities of the Archie run than a continuation of the Archie run.
  • The comic version of W.I.T.C.H. has either entered its Dork Age or, at the very least, turning into a very boring comic. After entering it's seventh story arc, the New Power arc, and gaining new powers, the girls were retooled from "super-powered guardians of the universe" to "super powered teachers" who are set to train other magic users around their town. It also doesn't help that a lot of the stories have devolved into uninteresting slice-of-life stories that rarely have the girls in action, and whenever they do, it's against the same evil queen type of villain.
  • The '90s was this for 2000 AD. With crap like Chronos Carnival, Zippy Couriers and Medevac 318, the comic went through a down period until the debut of strips like Nikolai Dante and Sinister Dexter.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch from the early 90s to late 2000s. The first noticeable thing was Sabrina temporarily being changed from being a witch amongst humans to a witch living amongst supernatural creatures. They also changed her hair from having white bobbed hair to it being long and blond. Next were the changes made due to the popularity of the TV series: Sabrina got a last name, her aunts look more normal, and Salem got a complete overhaul (he could talk, his fur changed from red to black, and he Was Once a Man). Not soon after that the comic was given an ugly, "manga" redesign that turned off fans, even though the storyline is arguably one of the best the comic has had and they returned Sabrina to having short hair. After its cancellation Sabrina has only appeared in Archie Comics cameos within the last few years. With Afterlife with Archie and the 2014 reboot it seems the Dork Age has completely passed
  • Though not as severe as most examples, IDW Publishing's G1 Transformers continuity suffered through a rather lengthy and divisive Dork Age:
    • It started with the out-of-nowhere, publisher favored event All Hail Megatron, which completely derailed previous head-writer Simon Furman's epic Myth Arc and caused a mass of Continuity Snarl and Plot Holes in it's attempt to make the IDW continuity more like the original series.
    • After AHM caused massive rifts in the fandom and wasn't very well received, IDW did a Retool and put popular G.I. Joe writer Mike Costa on as new head writer. Unfortunately Costa had zero prior experience with Transformers (and didn't like the series much anyways) and ended up creating a hideously decompressed, human-centric storyline that shattered the already divided fanbase with just plain weird or idiotic plot developments. It also had Spike Witwicky and Bumblebee become Creator's Pets. Costa's run grew its beard later on but the damage was done. And in the midst of all this emerged the infamous ''Heart of Darkness" miniseries, generally considered the worst entry in the IDW continuity.
    • The series finally escaped its Dork Age with another Retool, with James Roberts and John Barber being put in charge of the series and doing some major cleaning up to retcon, rework, or explain the tangled mass of Kudzu Plot created by the last two runs.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) entered one during the Reflections Story Arc which, while its quality is divisive, suffered severe backlash over the Mirror Universe conflict it seemed to promise completely failing to happen. Fans jaded by it have given most subsequent issues mixed to negative reception. This happened during the Season 4 finale of the show, which fully won back the fandom after a relatively weak Season 3, when the comics debuted and established itself, making their current quality stand out more. The show has also done increasing amounts of World Building and other development that has lead to increasing continuity discrepancies and risks invalidating the popular things to come out of the comics. That, plus the show now having the higher standard in writing, has lead to the comics being viewed as So OK, It's Average at best and diminishing their Expanded Universe appeal.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender fell into this with the Dark Horse Comics continuation. While the TV show equivalent averted this (though it came close with the first two seasons of Sequel Series Avatar: The Legend of Korra before it managed to improve by its later two seasons), the same cannot be said with the comic book continuation, which is written by Gene Yang than the creators themselves or head writer Aaron Ehasz. Three of the five graphic novel trilogies were not well received by fans as The Promise had Zuko asking Aang to kill him if he ends up like his father in part 1, followed by his breakup with Mai along with a ship tease between him and Suki. Also, it has Zuko groveling before his father for advice. To fans, it was watching an abuse victim go back to their abuser. in part 2, The Search had the letter in the end of part 1 revealing that Zuko's father Ozai may not be his real father, followed by Azula running away defeated in the end of part 3 in addition to the Fan-Disliked Explanation of how Ursa disappeared. In addition, it offered a very half-assed answer as to Azula's mental health problems and many felt it didn't depict Azula's inner pains accurately. Finally, there's Smoke and Shadow which has Azula running away in defeat again and Mai becoming a complete jerk and being depicted as someone that fans are supposed to sympathise but actually isn't, especially how she treats Zuko to the point that it served as a Character Derailment moment and caused her to fall into being a very despised character after being one of the Base Breaking Characters in the series and how Out of Character she was in the comics than in the series in addition to her relationship with Zuko has fallen under Shipping Bed Death (same with Aang and Katara) to the point that some fans now want Zuko to end up with Suki (aside from the popular Fan-Preferred Couple Zutara), which has pissed off Sukka fans since their romance averted the Strangled by the Red String trope that affected both pairings. Finally, there's that book's take on Azula which changes her to seem more sane...while setting out to prove that Zuko is no different from she is and that she'll see him resort to extreme violence to prove he's no better. Sound famililar? Thankfully, The Rift and North and South fare better with fans in addition to the The Legend of Korra comics Turf Wars and Ruins of the Empire. In October 2017, Yang officially departed to focus on New Super-Man, and The Nameless City creator Faith Erin Hicks took over with several fans hoping that Hicks would improve on the comics' quality (helped by the fact that she's a longtime fan of the show), which it did as Imbalance was considered to be a huge improvement by fans.
    • General consensus is that he got the idea of changing from the past to the future and examination of what should stay and what should go right (The Rift, North and South); but he floundered VERY HARD on the Fire Nation characters; in particular Azula and especially Mai. While Azula can be somewhat forgiven on the grounds of the character naturally being very hard to write (both the character and the subject of mental illness), Mai's change in characterization came so far out of left field that many were wondering if that was the same Mai from the animated series.
  • Image Comics is an odd case where their Dork Age is widely considered to be when they first started. When they were formed in 1992, Image was riding high on the seven big-name creators who left Marvel to form the company and capitalized on The Dark Age of Comic Books, which led to them edging out DC for a brief period from the second spot, something no other company has done since. However, they became well-known for being overly gritty, showing up way late, looking hideous, and starring knock-off superheroes in paper-thin plots while having some attempt at a Shared Universe. After the The Great Comics Crash of 1996 (which started in part with their ill-conceived crossover with Valiant, Deathmate) and the end of the Dark Age, Image largely cleaned up their act. Not only did they hire editors to ensure their work came out on time, but they've since branched out by switching their focus from trying to beat the Big Two at the superhero genre to instead becoming the ultimate haven for original ideas to flourish. While some titles from the '90s continue and have a following, such as Spawn, Savage Dragon, Witchblade, and the various Wild Storm titles (now own by DC), others like Youngblood and Shadowhawk mostly do not.
  • Valiant Comics entered one following their purchase by video game developer Acclaim, who wanted to use the properties as a source for video game adaptations, setting the comics on a slow, but steady path of decline. First there was a reboot in 1995, Birthquake, during which many titles were cancelled (including Valiant mainstays such as Rai and Harbinger) and the remaining characters were reimagined to make them easier to adapt into videogames. Things did not improve when Acclaim launched another reboot as part of a plan to cancel out some expensive creator contracts signed before Birthquake, turning the company into Acclaim Comics and overhauling the characters yet again almost beyond recognition. There were some comics during this period that are fondly remembered, such as Quantum and Woody, but the comics died in 2004 after Acclaim filed for bankruptcy. Luckily, the properties were bought by entrepreneurs the following year, eventually leading to Valiant being brought back with its universe similar to how it had been when the company was founded.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) suffered a Dork Age with its "Beyond the Grid" storyline. Coming off of the massively popular Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid storyline, it was already faced with a Tough Act to Follow fight on its hands. The fans were already wary of the writer, Marguerite Bennett, as they felt she didn't have the chops to follow Kyle Higgins. The story, following the adventures of the survivors of the Shattered Grid storyline as they were somehow cut away from the rest of the universe and trapped in a portion of the galaxy where the Morphin' Grid was somehow non-existent ended up being a bore due to dragging on for nine issues and not focusing on the actual Mighty Morphin' team that, when news of the next storyline, Necessary Evil, was revealed, fans were relieved as it revealed that we'd be going back to the original team and meeting the White Ranger.


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