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Dork Age / Marvel

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Like its distinguished competition, Marvel has too gotten its fair share of negative periods.

  • 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.
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  • Cable wore a more standard superhero outfit for a time instead of his iconic look. It is not remembered fondly, except for players of Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, which was made during this very brief period and thus immortalized the costume.
  • Captain America: There's a time in the '90s when Cap 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.
    • Cap dropping his identity and adopting the name "Nomad" after becoming disillusioned with America just because of the actions of one person (an expy of Richard Nixon who was secretly the leader of a domestic terrorist group). Also his costume change was a sort of isolated mini-Dork Age within the plotline. However, much like Knightfall, this was intentional on the part of the writers.
    • Rick Remender's Captain America run. It began with a Kirby-esque sci-fi story that didn't quite resonate with many due to its length and how unpolitical it was, before veering heavily into Unfortunate Implications territory by retconning Steve's father into a stereotypical abusive Irish father, fridging Sharon Carter in an idiotic sacrifice, introducing Jet Black as a weird love interest for Sam Wilson who was chronologically a child but physically an adult woman and then aging both Steve and Sharon up (seemingly just to put them on a bus) and replacing them with Sam Wilson as Captain America. The only thing liked from this run is Sam becoming Captain America and Remender retconning Sam's pimp origin as a lie.
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    • Nick Spencer's Captain America ended up becoming this; besides having Captain America's partner Sam Wilson take over as Captain America, and then later share the title (which in itself was actually well-liked by many), the book launched a highly controversial storyline where Steve Rogers was given a Cosmic Retcon by a sentient cosmic cube under the Red Skull's manipulations to change his history, making him a HYDRA loyalist who had just been undercover this whole time. Though some liked the Evil Is Cool HYDRA-Cap, many others hated what they saw as incredibly tone deaf attempts to be political, and the storyline was derided by people on both sides of the political spectrum. The Crisis Crossover event that followed, Secret Empire, ended up being heavily criticized as a result and Marvel were quick to undo everything that happened during the event.
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    • Before all that, there's the Commie Smasher era, the attempt in The '50s to keep Cap relevant now Germany had been woken up from its 12-year nightmare and the Soviet Union was the new enemy, complete with a Communist Red Skull. All attempts to revive Captain America as Red Scare propaganda failed because Steve came off as being just as authoritarian as the Nazis he fought in World War II, and Stan Lee completely ignored the 50s stories when reintroducing Captain America in 1964, instead revealing him to have entered a state of suspended animation near the end of the war. The Commie Smasher stories were thus non-canon until 1972, at which point Steve Englehart retconned the Steve Rogers in these stories as having been a right-wing Captain America Loony Fan who was physically altered to resemble Rogers and renamed Steve Rogers for an effort to replace Cap that was abandoned due to the Korean Armistice Agreement, then went insane and started seeing communists everywhere as a result of taking a flawed Super Serum without Vita Rays.
  • Much of the 2006-2007 Civil War event 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 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 late '80s (towards the end of the Acts of Vengeance storyline) 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 quickly as possible and forget it happened.
    • The sequel story, Civil War II, managed to achieve the impossible and usher in an even worse Dork Age for the entire Marvel Universe, for reasons described in better detail below.
  • 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.
  • Scott Lobdell's run on Excalibur attempted to be closer to Uncanny X-Men, dropping the books's sense of humor and adventure by going for melodrama at the expense of likeable characterization, putting most of the team on a bus, and turning Captain Britain into an emotionless being that no one cares to remember.
  • Fantastic Four had its period in the '90s with Tom DeFalco's Fantastic Four. Several changes occurred during this time that the readers hated, such as Mister Fantastic getting killed off, the Human Torch's marriage to Alicia Masters getting retconned into having Alicia be a Skrull the whole time, the Thing getting his face mutilated by Wolverine, and the Invisible Woman switching to a Stripperific outfit.
  • Heroes Reborn was a partial continuity reboot in the mid-1990s where Marvel outsourced the Avengers and Fantastic Four to the studios of Image Comics co-founders: The Avengers and Captain America went to Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios, and Fantastic Four and Iron Man to Jim Lee's WildStorm Productions. At the climax of the Onslaught crossover, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were killed them off and then remade in a pocket dimension. This resulted in some bizarre changes to the characters, like Captain America (seemingly; later retconned to have been a lie) being brainwashed by S.H.I.E.L.D. to be used as a superweapon in various wars throughout the 20th century, the Hulk being accidentally created by Iron Man, Hawkeye becoming a faceless assassin, and Thor becoming a Dumb Muscle Berserker. Intended to run for twelve issues, Liefeld was pulled off halfway through and Avengers and Captain America were reassigned to WildStorm, with new writers Walt Simonson and James Robinson abandoning or de-emphasising a lot of the changes. Each series ultimately ran for 13 issues before being returned to the normal Marvel Universe with their original backstories more or less intact, and the whole thing swept under the rug. As a positive, this retconned out Evil Iron Man and Teen Tony from The Crossing and the mutant version of The Wasp.

    Some fans have theorized that Heroes Reborn was a Springtime for Hitler scheme, with Marvel trying to create an excuse to jettison the Dark Age entirely. Notably, the Avengers run right afterward swung heavily in the opposite direction tonally as a Reconstruction written by Kurt Busiek.
  • Incredible Hulk: Just about every 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 overpowered. 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.
    • Another thing about the Red Hulk that made him essentially a walking Dork Age for a time was how his advent ushered in a slew of new color-coded Hulks — you had the classic green Hulk, the Red Hulk, perennial Hulk sidekick Rick Jones was forcibly mutated into A-Bomb (Blue Hulk), Hulk's new son Skaar (Chartreuse Hulk), a new Red She-Hulk — it all got very Green Lantern for a little while there.
  • The Inhumans franchise has garnered a great deal of derision since it started to look clear that they were meant to replace the X-Men's role in the Marvel Universe as the Randomly Gifted misfits due to Marvel Entertainment not having the film rights to the X-Men. The events after Secret Wars (2015) did nothing to quell those fears. As an unsubtle metaphor for the X-Men/Inhuman rivalry, it was retconned that Terrigen Mists, the very thing that gives Inhumans their powers, actually sterilizes and kills mutants. This plot point was incredibly present in the X-Men books but almost ignored with the Inhumans comics, creating this image that they just didn't care about mutants, making them incredibly unlikable. This all culminated in two storylines: Death of X and Inhumans vs. X-Men, both of which were meant to address long-running plot threads and ended up making the Inhumans completely unsympathetic. The era basically killed any goodwill people had towards the Inhumans IP and burned any chance that the X-Men fans who gave the Inhumans a chance would remain. Sure enough, very few people bought their comics (they were being outsold by reprints of digital issues and individual 80s and 90s issues) and Marvel put the franchise on the shelf with the Death of the Inhumans miniseries. While the series released after Inhumans Vs X-Men are well-regarded, many long-time Inhumans fans blame this era (along with their failed TV show) for essentially killing the franchise. Sure enough, when the film rights returned to Marvel with Disney's buyout of 20th Century Fox in 2019, and the X-Men were immediately promoted to A-list again, making potshots at the Inhumans franchise wasn't an uncommon thing to do.
    • The Inhumans Dork Age also had the side effect of a lot of new heroes being given the origin of "is an Inhuman", in a clear attempt to displace "is a mutant" as the Marvel Universe's standard Randomly Gifted Meta Origin. Unfortunately, that Meta Origin (is a descendant of superpowered individuals created by aliens long ago then walked into a weird cloud and turned into a cocoon) didn't really work as a simple one-size-fits all backstory, aside from the fact that a lot of promising characters (most notably Ms. Marvel) were now leashed to a franchise that was flagging even then and is now dead. An entire generation of heroes had their entire origin story become The Artifact.
  • Iron Man has Dan Slott's run. It was clearly intended to be a big project given Slott's high profile coming off of Spider-Man and the character's continued surge in popularity thanks to the MCU and the hype built up around Tony Stark's return after years of inactivity. However, the focus on A.I. proved to be not very interesting and the plot thread of Tony's biological mother returning was unpopular due to how Unintentionally Unsympathetic she came off. It also retconned that the Tony we've followed since his recent return is an A.I., which many readers did not like, which was inevitably revealed to be a fakeout in the Iron Man 2020 event. Said event proved to be mediocre at best, with Arno Stark losing all semblance of likeability to make him a Villain Protagonist that could pass the Conflict Ball around with Tony as he tried to enslave A.I. to fight off a vague cosmic threat... that was eventually revealed to all be in his head anyway, and Tony knew this. Rhodey's PTSD is also said to be an error in how his body was restored, leading to a lot of Unfortunate Implications. All the run amounted to was the Reset Button being pounded so hard at the end that it probably broke. The subsequent, better received run by Christopher Cantwell ended up directly tackling Tony's identity issues as a result of Slott's run.
  • 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.
  • New Warriors: Speedball, a Fun Personified character who, after helping to cause 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 for many the moment he returned. Even some comic writers thought this was silly, such as Dan Slott, who parodied Speedball's turn for the serious in a story about Squirrel Girl, while pointing out all the problems with the premise at the same time. Penance would later got back to Speedball in later stories, but the deadly serious Penance persona still lurks underneath.
  • The Punisher
    • In the Marvel Knights launch title 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 in his "Welcome Back, Frank" storyline and has only been spoken of in derision since.
    • 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.
    • John Ostrander's oft-forgotten run had Frank become the head of a Mafia family before things turned into an X-Men story that happened to star the Punisher, with Frank being roped into helping X-Cutioner and S.H.I.E.L.D. rescue an activist from the latest incarnation of the Mutant Liberation Front (here a false flag group backed by Humanity's Last Stand). The final issue had Frank incur amnesia, leading to the aforementioned Purgatory.
  • Scarlet Spider managed to become something of a cult-favourite sub-franchise starring characters that nobody could've been expected to care about at the offset, with Ben Reilly being a "back to basics" approach to Peter Parker in his early years and the murderous Kaine Parker becoming a good Anti-Hero Substitute with a lovable supporting cast. Which makes the series written by Peter David launched in the aftermath of Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy that much easier to loathe. Thanks to Dan Slott's writing in that story, Ben Reilly was changed from a likeable, optimistic version of Peter Parker into a Villain Protagonist whose actions could've been understood right up to the point where he tried to kill Peter and usurp his place as Spider-Man (Ben even stopped dyeing his hair its trademark bleach-blond to better resemble Peter). In trying to recover from that, David's the run dips into weird otherworldly aspects with plots revolving around Death and the much-loathed Mephisto and reduces Kaine to a tortured Limbo state between the fratricidal Jerkass he was during Clone Saga and the reluctant anti-hero he'd grown into since Ben's death. The series introduced random plots that went nowhere, like the character of Misty Beck (Mysterio's daughter, who turned out to be a robot), and by its last issue was just artlessly wrapping up everything as quickly as possible at breakneck pace, before a resounding Downer Ending that was quickly resolved in a single speech bubble in Spider-Geddon. Nothing about it has been mentioned since, with both Ben and Kaine returning to their characterisation prior to Dead No More in their subsequent appearances.
  • The Shanna the She-Devil comics by Frank Cho are widely despised by fans 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...".
  • Spider-Man:
    • Until The '90s, Spider-Man never had a bad decade, with great iconic storylines continuing from The '60s to The '80s, albeit with a brief lull in the period between Conway and Roger Stern's run (that most would still agree is pretty consistent in overall execution). But the decade after that was a hard time for Marvel on the whole, and was especially hard on Spider-Man. Venom was initially a runaway success and hit, but he quickly became a Spotlight-Stealing Squad and Carnage was seen as a Generic Doomsday Villain. This culminated in Maximum Carnage, a comic that was successful commercially but critically disliked and pilloried by fans for its mix of violence and silliness, with the Wolverine Publicity of Venom wearing out its welcome.
    • The Clone Saga is the story that marked the start of the rot in Spider-Man's 616 Continuity, with its endless retcons, changes, and increasingly convoluted storyline annoying most of the fanbase and setting a pattern that would recur and continue to recur decades later filled with Dashed Plot Line, Aborted Arc and damaging retcons that ruined the emotional impact of the few good stories (such as Aunt May's death in Issue #400 which many still consider a great story even if a retcon totally ruined the meaning of that story) as well as Gerry Conway's original Clone Saga which is a great story that was completely misread by the team behind the second one, and is tarnished by association as a result. The period after the Clone Saga is also not remembered well, with stories like the fridging of MJ, who by that point had become the emotional center of the entire mythos, and then her revival and "separation" which also coincided with Peter becoming a real sad-sack after merely being a Sad Clown. Followed by a highly unpopular Continuity Reboot by John Byrne (Chapter One). There were bright spots even in this time, such as the Alternate Continuity Spider-Girl and Ultimate Spider-Man (which came out in 2000). Norman Osborn's return from the dead was initially polarizing, but fans have grown to accept that it was a good decision to restore Spider-Man's greatest enemy even if some question the direction his later stories went and the manner in which it was done.
    • Things changed in The Oughties, with JMS' Spider-Man ending and reversing the old run of progressively darker and bleaker stories by making Peter a little happier. In addition to this, his run put in a few good issues (including the acclaimed issue with Peter revealing his secret to Aunt May which inspired the finale of Spider-Man: Homecoming) as well as repairing Peter's marriage to MJ, in addition to introducing the Spider-Totem Myth Arc. The Spider-Man Trilogy brought in new readers. For a while it seemed that Spider-Man was out of his Dork Age.
    • Of course, it didn't last. The Sins Past storyline ruined much of the goodwill of JMS' run, as did The Other. This, coupled with poor Pete being caught up in the general Marvel dorkiness of Civil War. Then there was One More Day, which polarized the fanbase even more than the Clone Saga did (to the point that the Clone Saga itself is no longer seen as the albatross around Spidey's neck). Sam Raimi's movie trilogy likewise fell into Sequelitis followed later by the polarizing Andrew Garfield films. Ultimate Spider-Man still remained popular despite its association with the increasingly reviled Ultimate Marvel line. During this time, great stories were still being written, such as Mark Millar's opening 12 issue arc on Marvel Knights and one-shots like Tom Beland's Web of Romance and Matt Fraction's To Have and to Hold, as well as Paul Jenkins' entertaining run on The Spectacular Spider-Man. JMS' closing arc in Back to Black was also well received, but all of them were overshadowed by OMD; by general consensus, the all-time worst Spider-Man story and one of the worst ever in comics.
    • Brand New Day was cursed with the poisoned chalice of following on from OMD and it's generally agreed that the early period after that was a mess until Dan Slott's "Big Time". You had a team of multiple writers who had more or less prepared and worked on the story since before OMD was effected working without fan feedback, shilling characters like Carlie Cooper despite being generic in conception and obvious as a Replacement Scrappy. Different writers from multiple teams trying hard to pitch that this is a return to the light-hearted college era despite following on from the most demoralizing Spider-Man story of all time. The continuity problems of how every issue in Spider-Man still happened without the marriage and how Harry somehow still survived wasn't addressed, and, when it was addressed, you had One Moment in Time, which even those who like the idea of a single Peter note is as badly written if not worse than OMD and didn't even address the actual continuity issues that JMS noted, amounting to precisely what it kept pretending it was not: Spider-Man's own Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Gauntlet, a storyline that updated and reimagined Spider-Man's rogues gallery as Darker and Edgier, has its admirers as well as detractors, with some finding Shed, a story which claims the Lizard was Evil All Along and ends with him eating his own son, nasty and unpleasant. People, however, did like Harry Osborn's resurrection even if it undid a classic story ("Best of Enemies").
    • Much like JMS, Dan Slott's Spider-Man started out with promise, with Spider-Island being well-liked, but things changed with Superior Spider-Man which was polarizing, and also saw other changes made to the character's social circle and background (such as becoming a rich inventor-businessman) that continues to be unpopular among some readers, while also reviving the Kudzu Plot of the Clone Saga. About the only generally well-liked parts of Spider-Man in this era are the Alternate Continuity Spider-Totems Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales, the most prominent survivor from the end of the Ultimate Marvel run.
    • Superior Spider-Man was better-received than some of the others, but there was still a sense that Dan Slott was hyping a Creator's Pet and wasn't able to sell his intended message properly, in particular his complete inability to make the "Superior" Spider-Man's execution of a villain come across as heroic (especially how the character was praised in-universe for it, which did not really line up with previous expectations of how a Hero with Bad Publicity Jumping Off the Slippery Slope would look). This left a lot of fans counting the days until Spidey went back to the status quo.
  • 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.
  • Like Cable above, Wolverine has an infamous aesthetic period in his history: after being captured by the villain Genesis and undergoing a failed attempt to re-bond adamantium to his skeleton, Logan regressed into a more feral, animalistic state... and seemingly lost his nose in the process.
  • At one point, Marvel launched a dramatic retool of the flagging X-Force, turning it into X-Statix. The resulting comic was a critical success, as a fairly contemporary book that offered a fresh take on mutant culture while satirizing celebrity culture. Unfortunately, it also caused Marvel to assume that what had worked once would work again, and they attempted to do similarly "contemporary" retools of several other books in their lineup... none of which worked out very well. The New Warriors were retooled into reality TV stars; this proved so unpopular (especially by writer Mark Millar) that the retooled book was cancelled after only six issues, and Millar had the team killed off in its entirety in Civil War. But at least they managed to maintain some of their usual cast and premise. The same couldn't be said for Thunderbolts, which ditched the entire original team and went from a comic about a group of former villains seeking redemption to a comic about an underground fight club (also cancelled after six issues).
  • X-Men
    • 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. Even disregarding this infamous and often-cited story, Austen's run was full of dud storylines ranging from the pointless (Exodus returns as the leader of a new Brotherhood, but he and everyone else in it are idiots) to the tasteless (Angel and Husk enter into a May–December Romance that involves aerial sex while Husk's mortified mother watches) to the just plain bizarre (Havok being set up on "psychic dates" by a 10-year old Creepy Child while comatose so that he will fall in love with said Creepy Child's mother). It's impossible to read the run and not wonder just what Austen was smoking to think any of this stuff was a good idea. About the closest thing to positive the run had was the attempt at giving the Juggernaut a redemption arc, with him joining the X-Men, although it wasn't examined well enough to justify his perceived Badass Decay (a later story would explain that he was less powerful due to Cyttorak, the entity that bestows the power of the Juggernaut, being displeased with Cain's attempts at doing good).
    • Matt Fraction's run on Uncanny is also pretty largely disliked by anyone who isn't a big fan of him, and is a large reason why he gained such a Broken Base among readers. The story involved the X-Men moving to 'Utopia', an island base off the coast of San Francisco, the writing style tried too hard to be nonchalant about everything and terrible Greg Land art. Combined with the book doing very little but just pad time until Second Coming, the era is not remembered fondly. Kieron Gillen's subsequent run is seen as a massive improvement.
    • There is a overwhelming consensus that the X-Men comics were in a Dork Age starting from The New '10s and ending somewhere along the midpoint of the decade. The short version is that the cinematic rights of the X-Men franchise (along with the Fantastic Four) were with 20th Century Fox as opposed to Disney/Marvel Studios. During this period there was as significant slowdown in X-Men related merchandise being made, the X-Men stopped appearing regularly in promotions for Marvel, and more relevantly, their standing in the Marvel Universe plummeted comics-wise, culminating in the derided M-Pox storyline (see below) and finally ending when Disney bought the entertainment assets of 20th Century Fox with included the X-Men and Fantastic Four film rights.
    • The M-Pox storyline (where the Inhumans' Terrigen Mists become lethal for mutants), which many believed was intended to outright erase the X-Men line because of the film rights issues Marvel were having with the propertynote . Even ignoring this, the premise of the arc was a rehash of both the Legacy Virus saga and the previous Decimation, the latter of which in itself was seen as this by many, and had only ended two years ago. Making matters worse, the attempt at a Grey-and-Gray Morality situation between the X-Men and Inhumans regarding the Terrigen Mists utterly failed because the two sides were incomparable; the mists weren't needed for Inhumans to live, but to just activate their powers, making it apparent that the Inhumans valued being special more than mutant lives.
    • Uncanny X-Men (2018) was this as a whole. The first half of the series, "X-Men Disassembled", was criticized for its poor characterization, contrived plots and a Conflict Ball being passed around like a football game — then immediately leading into a crossover (which, ironically, was somewhat better received as it actually did something more original than 'old X-Men member goes rogue, again' and notably wasn't resolved with punching). This was followed up by Matthew Rosenberg's run, which was initially hyped due to the fact that it would reunite Cyclops and Wolverine, both Back from the Dead. However, the Darker and Edgier tone, the ever-rising body count and the odd characterization essentially ruined everything and made everyone count down the minutes until Jonathan Hickman's X-Men.
  • Howard Mackie's Mutant X (not the TV show). And his run on X-Factor leading up to it.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Marvel (2014) entered a brief dork age during Civil War II. Kamala goes through a Trauma Conga Line when Carol Danvers convinces her to join her in utilizing the Inhuman Ulysses in stopping crimes before they started. The storyline ends with poor Kamala not only suffering a Broken Pedestal moment with Carol, but also losing the friendship of her best friend Bruno, her home life near destroyed, and her witnessing the death of Bruce Banner at Hawkeye's hands. Sales for the title plummeted during the event. The title only seemed to finally recover by the "Teenage Wasteland" story arc, which had Kamala pull a 10-Minute Retirement, return after she's reassured she's needed, and her and Carol reconnect.
  • Brian Michael Bendis's four-year run on Guardians of the Galaxy is poorly regarded by longtime fans of Marvel's cosmic setting, and is considered to be symptomatic of Marvel's push for greater corporate synergy in the 2010s. This fourth volume of the book represented a significant overhaul — the comic's unique aesthetic was dropped in favour of a sleek "Avengers in space" feel, the characters were made to be more like their cinematic counterparts, and the team was shoehorned into Earth-based crossovers such as Civil War II and Secret Empire. Bendis is known for his tendency to disregard established continuity, though another possible factor, which Bendis himself implied in his farewell letter in the final issue, is that he demanded the title so that he'd benefit from the wave of interest in the Guardians following their MCU debut. At one point, Bendis defended his creative decisions by saying he wanted to show his respect for the beloved Abnett and Lanning era by not trying to imitate it, but this still didn't quite justify the extent of the changes he made with regards to things like character, setting and tone. The tie-in to Original Sin is considered to be the ultimate low point of Bendis's run due to its direct contradiction of large swathes of the ending of The Thanos Imperative and having inconsistently spelled character names among other issues. note  While Gerry Duggan's subsequent tenure on the book was seen as an improvement, the title was eventually redeemed in the eyes of the fans thanks to the efforts of Donny Cates.
  • Following Secret Wars (2015), Marvel as a whole got hit with this hard due to several creative decisions that seemed right out of the 90s, not helped by a series of behind-the-scenes controversies. Primarily this set in after Civil War II, which many people hated for what it did to War Machine, Hulk (both killed off), Captain Marvel, Iron Man (grabbed the Conflict Ball and Idiot Ball so hard the latter ended up in a coma), She-Hulk (retooled into being more like her cousin), and Hawkeye (broke his Thou Shall Not Kill characterisation); after this, Marvel went through a phase where their books were just going through the motions and doing very little outside of setting up Secret Empire, an event that very few wanted (outside of the resolution of the Hydra Cap plot, that is). When this failed, Marvel tried to improve but sales continued to plummet, until they launched Marvel: A Fresh Start, which despite initial hostility, proceeded to be a massive line-wide Author's Saving Throw for many, and essentially ended most, if not all of Marvel's creative issues at the time.


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