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It may be the comic company with the most devoted fandom, but DC is infamous for its negative periods.

  • Superman:
    • Pictured is Superman Blue. For those who missed this (or who have it nicely repressed): for a thankfully short time in the comics, Superman was given a major overhaul, and turned into a bright blue Energy Being — and later split off into another energy being, Superman Red — and comic covers said "he would be different forever." Massive protest resulted in an Author's Saving Throw and he was changed back.
      • The whole idea came from Superman (Vol. 1) #162, a one-shot Silver Age "imaginary" (read, non-canon) story published in 1963. In the story, Superman is accidentally split into two Supermen with a hundred times the intelligence of the original. The twin Supermen successfully enlarge Kandor, recreate Krypton, produce an "anti-evil" ray which cures not only comic book villains, but Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev as well, and finally, the existence of two of them means that one can marry Lana Lang and one Lois Lane, ending the love triangle. Why they thought it would be a good idea to not only re-visit this in the '90s, but also try to make such an idea a permanent change, is anyone's guess.
      • Some consider Superman Blue an improvement over Superman's hairstyle that he wore from 1993-1996.
      • Which of course came after his death and resurrection, which was based off another 1960s "imaginary" story, "Superman (Volume 1) #149: The Death of Superman". It's ironic that in the 'Dark Age' they were so crazy about recycling Silver Age whimsy.
      • Superman Blue was given a Take That! during the Brainiac 13 storyline. A copy of Superman Blue is created to delay B-13 and fails miserably. The narration text makes the dig clear:
      He's not Superman. The costume is different, and the powers are all wrong. He's not Superman. And he never will be.
      • In JLA/Avengers, even Thor blurts "Who the hell are you?!" when Supes Blue appears. When you consider that the Thor who says this is actually Eric Masterson (a.k.a. Thunderstrike; him being Thor was during the time he was subbing in for the real Odinsonnote ), that's saying something.
      • Some fans enjoyed the writing during the Superman Blue period, simply because they knew (even despite the "he would be changed forever" claims) it wouldn't be permanent, and that it was interesting to see Clark Kent go through How Do I Shot Web?. Unfortunately, it ended up basically being a Silver Age "weird transformation" story stretched out to last an entire year. It didn't help that most of the writers involved weren't especially creative with Superman's new powerset, or that it couldn't help but look like a downgrade when his original powers could pretty much already do everything he could do as an energy being.
      • If Dark Nights: Metal is any indication, DC themselves share this opinion; Blue reappears as a member of the Dark Multiverse - said multiverse is a collection of worse case scenarios that should not exist.
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    • Pretty much every single time Chuck Austen gets his claws on a mainstream comic, one of these results (go to the Marvel section for what he did to Uncanny X-Men). A particularly egregious one, though, was probably his run on Action Comics, where he seemed to really want Superman to be a violent asshole somewhat like the Golden Age Batman. And he was loudly adamant that Clark Kent should dump Lois Lane because she was a gold-digging, power-hungry whore who was only sleeping with him because he was Superman... even though Lois fell in love with and became engaged to Clark long before she ever found out he was Superman. This led to loads of Derailing Love Interests in favor of Lana Lang, who came off as a pathetic sociopathic stalker and made the elder Kents into jerkass Meddling Parents. Needless to say, the entire run was hustled into Canon Discontinuity faster than a speeding bullet when Austen got booted off the title.
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    • This article argues that Superman: Grounded was a thankfully short-lived Dork Age. It's generally considered to have been salvaged when Chris Roberson took over and shifted the story from Superman Walking the Earth and lecturing people to Superman walking the earth and saving lives.
    • Supergirl's Post-Crisis life was basically defined by her Dork Ages during two decades, due to DC Comics wanting to leave Superman as the true last son of Krypton... there's been several different versions of the character, with increasingly convoluted designs and backstories (let alone trying to fit in where Power Girl went), eventually leading to the reintroduction of the essentially Pre-Crisis "Superman's Cousin" version of the character.
    • The New 52 era had some bright points, such as Morrison and Pak's runs and Superman Unchained, but it was overall remembered mostly for the number of writers who interpreted "somewhat more hotheaded and passionate" as "Took a Level in Jerkass." Not helping this was the incredibly messy editorial causing writers and storylines to rotate out constantly, or the fact that his costume's redesign was near-universally seen as one of the worst (and even the writers seemed to agree, as he received something like five new costumes in under a decade).
      • That said, very few will defend Superman: Truth, which turned all of the negative aspects of the New 52 era Up to Eleven, made all the characters into unlikable jerks and was overall extremely messy and depressing. The whole storyline was so poorly received that it rendered the character tainted in fans' eyes, leading DC to kill the N52 version of the character off (though the storyline was well-written enough that even his detractors felt bad for him), then largely retcon the stories from the period into Broad Strokes less than a year later.
      • A Supergirl writer tried to make her Darker and Edgier, but just gave 75% of the readers a giant headache until writers such like Tony Bedard or Sterling Gates did an Author's Saving Throw and turned her into a troubled but still likeable hero like her Silver Age self. The other 25% of the readers got angry at this because they liked the darker and edgier Supergirl, but most fans pretend that the runs of Jeph Loeb, Joe Kelly... never happened.
      • Power Girl's infamous "alternative" costumes to her classic white uniform with the "keyhole". There have been various times when DC has tried to change Power Girl's outfit, including the questionable "diso" style outfits with lightning bolts running down the sides to the April O'Neil-style white jumpsuit with an oddly stylized "P" post New-52 which was so bad that fans were lining up outside of comic book stores to protest. Artwork quickly appeared showing Power Girl's reaction to the new outfit was the same as her fans, "No... just no...".
  • Batman:
    • When Batman's back was broken by Bane, Azrael replaced him, essentially becoming a Darker and Edgier version of Batman who ended up using lethal force. Very few people liked him, although arguably they weren't supposed to, a la John Walker as Captain America. Word Of God confirmed that AzBats was a giant Take That! to readers who were crying for The Punisher-As-Batman. It needs to be pointed out that AzBats, the Darker And Edgier Dark Knight(!!), was ultimately defeated by blinding light — a surprisingly subtle Take That! on the part of the writers, that. AzBats was immediately followed by an even more gritty, but awesome, version of Bruce Wayne (the Kelley Jones/Doug Moench run).
      • AzBats was introduced in issue #500, too. People will be remembering him for a while as a cautionary tale.
    • Batman suffered a massive Dork Age during most of The Silver Age of Comic Books. The campy '60s Batman TV show starring Adam West was actually an Adaptation Distillation of the stories published during this period, and was far superior to its source material because it didn't take itself seriously. This was the only period when Batman wasn't the "dark creature of the night" most know him as. His first appearances in The Golden Age of Comic Books had him as a gothic figure; he was brought back to this in The Bronze Age of Comic Books, became really dark in The Dark Age of Comic Books, and flip-flopped between "mellowed-out" and "hardly any better than Azrael" during The Modern Age of Comic Books.
    • Robin III (Tim Drake) and his girlfriend Stephanie Brown suffered this to some degree. Tim was the only Robin who didn't have both parents dead, and tended to be more well-adjusted with a complex personal life. Of course, this had to be fixed, so Tim's father and best friends were killed to make him Darker and Edgier, and so he lost his entire supporting cast. This led to a very boring and angsty run by Bill Willingham, and him becoming a huge wangster in all DC books. In addition, Tim's Badass Normal, fun and lighthearted girlfriend Stephanie Brown (the Spoiler) replaced him as Robin briefly, which looked like it could be interesting; however, it only lasted for three issues and she was then written to cause a gang war, be tortured in sexualized positions by Black Mask, get shot, blamed for everything and then die... all to make sure Tim got angst and Batman remained a loner. Tim promptly forgot Stephanie ever existed, but the fans didn't, and raised a big stink about her treatment.
    • Original Robin writer and creator of Stephanie, Chuck Dixon, started writing the title thanks to this and revealed Steph had never really died and was back and kicking ass as her usual lighthearted self. Tim was brought in a less self-destructive direction as well, admitting he'd been in a bad place, apologizing for his behavior, and reconciling with Steph. Dixon also brought back Tim's geeky best friend Ives, albeit with a bit more Wangst himself than he had originally.
    • And then Steph became Batgirl. There was, um, more rejoicing. Some Cassandra Cain fans weren't happy, but since the two had been depicted as best friends, most readers who were fans of one were also fans of the other. Then New 52 came, restoring Barbara Gordon to the role and leaving Steph and Cass Exiled from Continuity until they were brought back in Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal respectively.
    • Tim hasn't fared too well in the New 52, either, with most of his backstory and character traits being jettisoned in the reboot. To wit: He's a former athlete instead of a Playful Hacker, he doesn't have any of his usual supporting cast or family, he acts and sounds a lot dumber, his costume doesn't look remotely similar, he didn't discover Batman's identity (which Tim Drake fans will remember as the defining trait of his character; it'd be like doing a Batman reboot where his parents are still alive), and to cap it all off, Tim Drake apparently isn't even his real name. This last bit has led to particularly bitter fans calling him "the imposter," avidly hoping for the "real" Tim Drake to return at some point. Thankfully, as of DC Rebirth, Tim has had his original backstory reinstated.
    • Speaking of Cass, due to an editorial mandate, Cassandra Cain turned evil after her series was canceled. During this time, she became significantly more articulate (the character was supposed to be illiterate, dyslexic, and almost mute) and wangsty. Even worse, DC then went and handed her miniseries to the same writer who turned her evil. He not only failed to fix the problems he created, but added even more. When the character was reintroduced in the New 52, they basically rewrote her character history to avoid that.
    • Devin Grayson's tenure on Nightwing counts with her attempt to do a storyline obviously based on the classic Daredevil tale "Born Again", the problem being that the Daredevil story worked as DD was always a bit of a loner. Dick Grayson, on the other hand, is one of the more popular characters in the DCU and to ask that Batman, Robin, Oracle, the Titans and others could abandon him to the point of him being "adopted" by a mob family is way too much to believe.
  • Wonder Woman has gone up and down over the years:
    • In the 1970s, DC tried having Wonder Woman depowered and make her a feminist hero like Emma Peel of The Avengers. This move backfired completely, considering it angered real feminists like Gloria Steinem, who denounced it as a profoundly sexist move to remove the power of one of the greatest female superheroes.
    • A not insignificant amount of people consider everything published between William Moulton Marston's death and George Perez's run in Wonder Woman (1987), nearly 40 years, to be this. Due to the regressive nature of the Comics Code Authority, Wonder Woman had her fairly radical Golden Age mythos almost completely stripped from her, and her continuity being constantly in flux. It became obvious DC had little to no idea of how to work with her, leading to ideas being thrown at the wall and never sticking (for example, Steve Trevor was killed off multiple times). Tellingly, while Post-Crisis altered character continuity to varying degrees, Wonder Woman was the only one who gained a complete and utter reboot, one that proved successful enough that it has been the basis for the character ever since.
    • The set-up after Infinite Crisis. After the Amazons and Greek Pantheon got Put on a Bus, DC tried to do an ill-fated revival of the Mod Era, with Diana as a secret agent in a white jumpsuit, with a suddenly boorish Nemesis as her love interest. This would be bad enough, but, due to writer Alan Heinberg having other work, the run suffered huge Schedule Slip, to the point that replacement writer Jodi Piccoult had to be brought on before Heinberg's first arc was even finished. Problem there, though, is that not only did Picoult not have any knowledge or interest in the franchise or comics in general (leading to her writing Diana as a massive idiot), but her run was also a tie-in to Amazons Attack, considered one of the worst stories in the DC history period due to unnecessary gore, a massive Idiot Plot, the Amazons being turned into Straw Feminists and continuity so poor that very basic details changed between issues.
    • After Brian Azzarello's successful, albeit controversial, run in the New 52 era, Meredith Finch was chosen as his successor. Azzarello's run had the advantage of being clearly driven and self-contained. Finch's run on the other hand was meant to tie into the larger DCU and reintroduce characters that Azzarello's run ignored. The result was nothing short of a disaster. Narratives had no direction whatsoever, Diana came off as an ineffectual idiot, a new outfit was introduced that was mockingly described as "The Clown Suit", Wonder Girl Donna Troy was reintroduced with a new origin that was instantly reviled by fans and there were stupid, stupid plot decisions (including a Face–Heel Turn for Hera that essentially spat on all the Character Development she had recived in Azzarello's run). Add in downright Liefeldian artwork from Finch's husband David that objectified Diana and you have arguably the most hated run in Wonder Woman's entire history.
    • James Robinson's run, started during the Wonder Woman (Rebirth) era after Greg Rucka's acclaimed return to writing the character and Shea Fontana's brief run, has been reviled by many. Not only was he a largely unwanted addition (especially since, per his own admission, he was made writer as a favor), but his run was picking up a point from the N52 era, which Greg Rucka's second run was largely dedicated to erasing. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt, many soured quickly as it saw Diana and her supporting cast ended up Out of Focus in favor of her Marty Stu Long-Lost Relative Jason, who was quickly despised by fans for a being a Wangst filled fratboy who was given constant Character Shilling. Add in a downright ineffectual portrayal of Darkseid and glacial pacing (to the point that entire issues did nothing but recap background elements we were already told about]) and fans were basically counting the days until Robinson left the book. After issue #50, Steve Orlando (previously known for writing the Justice League of America book) took over as writer to more critical praise, followed by former Ms. Marvel (2014) writer G. Willow Wilson, whose run has also garnered mostly positive reviews.
  • The Flash: Pretty much everything from the aftermath of Infinite Crisis to DC Rebirth, a roughly ten-year span, falls into this for varying reasons.
    • Right after Infinite Crisis, Wally was lost to the Speed Force along with his family and this led to Bart becoming the Flash due to Plot-Relevant Age-Up. Due to the character losing his individuality and Fun Personified nature, even his own fans hated it. This series ended as a massive failure, to a point they had to kill Bart to forget it ever happened and everyone involved with Bart's character stated active dislike towards it. The creative team of the book said they had no intention writing for DCU ever again due to terrible experience.
    • Wally was brought back from the Speed Force after Bart's death, but this time the book, once again, faced criticism due to his twins turning out to be Base-Breaking Characters that some accused of being a Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Mark Waid left DC completely after an editorial clash and the book had to live on life support for a year with fill-in writers until Barry was brought back. Mark Waid says it's probably one of his works he was most severely disappointed about.
    • Barry's return was met this reaction from many, particularly those that loved Wally's character, but also non-Flash fans. With Barry's return brought about a sudden demotion of Wally into an extra at best (until being erased completely), while Barry's character was given several controversial rewrites, including giving him a Darker and Edgier backstory involving his mother's murder which many felt was unnecessary, to promoting him as the 'most important' of the Flash legacy that was felt as a disservice to the rest of the Flash family, who all in-turn were given a sharp Demoted to Extra status. General comic and DC fans dislike it for missing the point of the DCU and bringing back a character whose death was highly regarded, and whose resurrection was considered altogether unnecessary. Not helping is that Barry's return also brought back Eobard Thawne, which led to the removal of other villainous speedsters like Hunter Zolomon, Inertia, the Black Flash and Lady Savitar. That Thawne came back with retcons to his history and powers, as well as the retcon of him basically being responsible for everything bad that's happened to Barry,.
    • The Brian Buccellato/Francis Manapul run. While the Flash book was considered one of the better titles (at least in the reboot's earlier days), its changes to the Rogues (now metahumans, something that annoyed Geoff Johns enough that he personally undid it with Forever Evil), as well as the entire Flash family outside of Barry being erased completely has given it a negative reputation to all but those who the series was a gateway to. The run did bring in many new fans and inspired the basis of the 2014 TV series and has art that's pretty much universally acclaimed, but many older fans felt like it lost a lot of what made the Flash such a great franchise, from the expansive cast to the nature of the stories themselves.
    • The rock bottom The Flash reached was when Robert Venditti and Van Jensen took over. Neither of the writers had any Flash knowledge beforehand and unlike Manapul and Buccellato run, they were given the task of reintroducing important characters like Wally West and Eobard Thawne. They dropped the ball completely, with incredibly divisive changes to Wally West and an extremely inconsistent Professor Zoom, leading to arguably the worst run of The Flash. Unlike the previous examples, which all had their fans and defenders, this run is quite possibly universally hated by readers. Add on Brett Booth's divisive 90s Image inspired art right after Francis Manapul's acclaimed pencils, and the book had turned into a nightmare that never seemed to end. In the end, the series' sales reached bottom again and Geoff Johns had to do DC Rebirth to fix the damage this run had done to the character and his allies.
    • Before all of the above, there was The Trial of the Flash. A bit like the Clone Saga, this was a storyline that just wouldn't end, with Barry trying to get his wedding going, then being charged with murder, then time travel got into the mix... While meant to be long, it wasn't meant to be Barry's last story; partway through, the order came down from editorial that Barry would die in Crisis on Infinite Earths and to keep publishing the comics up to that point.
    • During The Silver Age of Comic Books, "helpful alien"-type characters were becoming popular with writers, with Superman battling Mr. Mxyzptlk and Batman putting up with Bat-Mite. So the decision was made to retcon the lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen his powers, revealing that the imp-like "heavenly help-mate" Mopee had been its true source. Cue massive backlash in the "letters to the editor" page. So hated was this development that it has never been mentioned since, at least in-continuity. However, once enough time passed, it became a curious bit of nostalgia, and has shown up several times in out-of-continuity works like Ambush Bug.
  • Green Lantern:
    • In the '90s, Guy Gardner had his own solo series. After losing two separate rings to a Parallax-influenced Hal Jordan, he rechristened himself "Warrior" and somehow became the last descendant of an alien race, which gave him the power to turn his arms into guns... for some reason. Writers ignore this era at their peril, though: despite the godawful concept (apparently submitted as a joke), and equally bad '90s art, Beau Smith's run on Warrior is responsible for much of Guy's development from Jerkass to Boisterous Bruiser who owned a bar that was popular with superheroes and readers alike.
    • Robert Venditti's run. While it was on the steep hill of continuing after Geoff Johns' legendary run, it rapidly became despised with its primary storyline that turned the Emotional Spectrum into a limited reservoir in a failed attempt to turn the franchise into a metaphor for environmentalism. Then, after that and several other stories failed to gain interest, Venditti jettisoned all the Lantern Corps (which had become one of the cores of the mythos) and had Hal as the sole Green Lantern, wielding an ancient artifact made by the Guardians. Come Rebirth, virtually all the major changes Venditti made were undone. However, his run continued and was still generally ill-regarded, and seemed to only be notable for all the disliked changes it made to the mythos, such as turning Soranik Natu into a mini-Sinestro or randomly deciding to burn a scar into Kyle Rayner. By the time Grant Morrison's The Green Lantern series began, it was generally welcomed by most fans.
  • Aquaman:
    • After Infinite Crisis, Aquaman got Put on a Bus and was replaced by a completely new Legacy Character named AJ Curry, while the original stuck around as a sea monster before being killed off. So disliked was the decision that it rendered the entire franchise largely unusable for several years, until Blackest Night finally saw the original get resurrected and the franchise getting a successful relaunch in the New 52.
    • Cullen Bunn's run on the New 52 title. The story is generic pulp fiction which Bunn himself even admits did not suit the character. At the same time, it also did its best to undo all the work the Johns and Parker runs did before it. Arthur is now hated by Atlanteans again despite the entirety of Johns' run focusing on his gaining acceptance. Mera is how hunting Arthur, destroying all the development their relationship went through in both previous runs, particularly Parker's. Literally none of the supporting cast return, not even Tula, who had been consistently used since being introduced. Arthur now has weird powers like teleportation thanks to Poseidon, who literally no Atlantean before this run made mention of, and who Arthur outright denied the existence of over in JLA. The reveal that Mera has an evil twin sister is laughed at for its incredible soap drama-esque nature. The mere cover of the first issue pissed fans off for very obviously trying to incorporate aspects of the movie design in with Arthur's classic look, the result being an incredibly ugly costume. The only redeeming factor of the entire thing was introducing the New 52 Garth (though this also ignores Johns' run which mentions him being a newborn), and even then, Bunn didn't do anything with him, and this was likely Executive Meddling since DC began pushing the original Teen Titans at this time (complete with their own miniseries), meaning anyone could've done it. The backlash to Bunn's run was so strong that Bunn wanted to leave the book before his first issue even shipped, and was convinced to at least finish his arc by his editor.
  • Justice League of America:
    • The 1980s "Justice League Detroit" incarnation. It got rid of almost all of the previous Justice Leaguers and replaced them with hip, angsty teenagers in an attempt to rip off DC's own Teen Titans. The run ended with the team being destroyed by one of the "real" Justice League's more powerful foes, with two of the three new characters being killed and the third largely not being seen again for about six years. Years later, when it became "safe" to talk about the period again, the team was sometimes cast as "lovable losers". For example, a flashback showed that during Crisis on Infinite Earths (an event that changed the DC Universe on a grand scale and destroyed entire planets of characters), one of the Detroit Leaguers was too busy admiring the chest of a superheroine to listen when the plot was being explained, and subsequently went through the entire event clueless.
    • While the early years of Justice League International are fondly remembered, the later years (Justice League Spectacular, Justice League Task Force, Extreme Justice, the Yazz, Total Justice — everything up until Grant Morrison and JLA) are considered either a series of Dork Ages, or forgotten entirely.
    • Also, everything after JLA. The Justice League of America series that followed it is considered a Dork Age. While general consensus is it kinda of started off strong and had some decent ideas, it eventually was hijacked by editors and became infamous as a big advertisement of everything else going on in the DCU, picking up and finishing story threads from other series; and the editors being able to dictate who could and could not be on the team. The Dork Age lasted until the New 52.
    • And continuing that, after the well received Geoff Johns run (noticing a pattern here?), Bryan Hitch's run in DC Rebirth is considered a colossal downgrade. Main complaints are that the decision to keep strictly limited to The Seven has lead the roster to feel stale, the nonsensical attempts to ship Barry Allen and Jessica Cruz (despite little interest in the pairing and Barry's own book resuming his relationship with Iris West), the general feeling of disconnection, with virtually nothing happening in the book being reflected in the rest of the DCU and that the run seemed to basically recycle one or two arcs repeatedly. It even got memetic, as whenever the run was brought up when it was still going, people would constantly ask when a new writer would get the title. While the short follow-up run by Christopher Priest was considered an improvement, few tears were shed when it was announced that the book would relaunched under the "New Justice" line. The new series, which featured the return of Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl to the team, is currently being written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and has been better received critically.
  • Teen Titans: It's tough to say which run after the Wolfman/Perez run which doesn't get this reaction from fans:
    • General agreement is that the first decline occurred after George Perez left. This sent a number of shockwaves throughout the book, including a huge increase in Wangst, Deathstroke being Easily Forgiven and the introduction of the much reviled Danny Chase. Then came the long, difficult to follow "Titans Hunt" arc and the book began self-destructing, with a ton of uninteresting and/or unlikable new characters being introduced, loads of 90s clichés, chaotic storytelling and art and tons of Shocking Swerves. After Cyborg got Put on a Bus to Hell, the book was left in shambles, with the team constantly changing and being interrupted by crossovers. By the end, many felt the ending to the run was Mercy Kill.
    • Dan Jurgens' relatively short-lived run, starring a de-aged Ray Palmer leading a bunch of teenagers empowered by aliens, was considered this during its original run. It's since been Vindicated by History, being considered a good run held back by the fans' difficulty with accepting a group of entirely new characters carrying the title of such a beloved team.
    • Everything in the Titans book after Devin Grayson left. While her replacement started off relatively strong, a bizarre case of Executive Meddling by editor Andrew Helfer (who wanted to push a team of random runaway orphans as the main characters) caused a huge amount of planned storylines to be tossed away, with the replacements making very little sense with the prior set-up. This, combined with an infamous story where Jesse Quick slept with her mother's fiancé, left the book in shambles by the time Helfer left, and it was left dragging its feet until it was canceled.
    • The 2003 series. Several Young Justice characters were derailed for the purpose of "graduating" them to the Titans, which mostly irritated fans of both comics. Though fans enjoyed the return of the book's original title and cast, the novelty wound up wearing off fairly quickly, with the first 25 or so issues by Geoff Johns being divisive at best. The book's quality went even further downhill with the One Year Later portion, after which Johns left the book. Not helping matters was how Infinite Crisis seemingly made the Titans "the heroes that it's okay to kill", further contributing to the team's fluctuating membership. The remainder of the series proved to be a slow decline, with characters being offed for no reason, being pointlessly Darker and Edgier (including an infamous story where a demonic Wonder Dog mauled Marvin and Wendy from the Superfriends leading to backlash from comics sites), characters acting like assholes for no reason, and the few usable plotlines being wasted. The series needed a reboot more than most...
    • Then the Teen Titans' New 52 reboot proceeded to take things From Bad to Worse. Written by the largely reviled Scott Lobdell, the series kicked off with a ridiculous, unfocused arc that tried to cross over with about six other books. Several characters had core personality traits ironed out, almost to In Name Only levels (see Tim Drake above), the costumes were ridiculous, many plotlines felt like an excuse for more fight scenes, the plotlines that actually tried were awful, convoluted and inconsistent, and the Titans themselves didn't feel like a team or even like friends. The resulting book didn't make it past thirty issues, and was promptly rebooted...
    • Into another Dork Age. This time, Will Pfeifer wrote largely forgettable stories trying incredibly hard to be "relevant", with the social media side of things amped up in embarrassing ways, characters being downright unlikeable, and an ungodly amount of focus on Creator's Pet Manchester Black, who basically existed to pull off stupid gambits while retaining none of what made him a good villain when he debuted in "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?". There were also tons of continuity issues with the previous run, which this run for some reason kept canon. Then Lobdell was brought back for some reason, meaning Pfeifer had to rush whatever he had planned and just ended up dumping most of it. Lobdell proceeded to screw the series once again, and it limped along with some fill-in writers (who wrapped up some lingering plot threats) while it waited for Tim Drake to die over in Detective Comics (Rebirth), while the rest of DC's comics had been relaunched under the well-received DC Rebirth banner, essentially leaving Teen Titans as this thing that just refused to die. The series finally came to an end once Tim apparently died. The legacy both series left was being the series that it was seemingly okay to make fun of in-universe, which the subsequent series, Teen Titans (Rebirth), did.
    • Not for Teen Titans, but just Titans: The Villains for Hire run, which featured the gratuitous murder of Ryan Choi and a character who set people on fire with her vagina, was widely considered the nadir of the franchise.
    • Similarly, Dan Abnett's Titans (Rebirth) run. The series started off strong, with a focus on the friendship between the characters and the return of Breakout Character Wally West. However, huge mishandling of Wally West and Donna Troy that seemed to fundamentally misunderstand parts of their characters, awful romance plots that went nowhere or were unwanted or poorly executed, Conflict Ball elements that existed for no reason (especially when the Justice League show up to basically be huge assholes for no reason a few times) and plots that felt straight out of the 90s all led to a title that nobody but the most diehard fans liked. The handling of Donna Troy is especially despised for, against all odds, reigniting her Continuity Snarl by being beholden to her despised New 52 incarnation, in a relaunch where writers seem to be encouraged to scrap what they dislike from that era. The only positively received aspects were Donna Troy's relationship with Roy Harper and the implication of a past history between Roy and Cheshire (because it leaves the door open for Lian Harper's return). In the end, the series was cancelled, and Abnett even apologised in-universe for his handling of Wally, although the follow-up Titans series will still be written by him.
    • Teen Titans (Rebirth) isn't considered much better in this regard. Like its sister book, it started strong, but quickly fell apart afterwards. The main problem ended up being the portrayal of Damian, who ended up being written as a huge jerk who treated his team like crap and yet was never really reprimanded for it. Even beyond that, the team, being largely whoever was available from the Wolfman/Perez run, felt extremely stale and unable to develop as a group, with attempts to develop a bond between them being composed of characters quite literally explaining their character and motivations to others and then just becoming friends out of nowhere and never developing beyond that. The stories were pretty much regurgitations of prior runs or incredibly basic concepts, and the book kept getting tied into crossovers that developed the stories of other books, leaving it utterly directionless. Sure enough, the run ended as a result of DC's Justice League: No Justice Crisis Crossover, with Promoted Fanboy Adam Glass becoming the new writer and everyone besides Damian and Wallace getting dumped.
  • The '80s version of the Doom Patrol was another attempt to profit off Teen Titans and X-Men-style angst. Probably the only reason people know it exists now is that the surreal and successful Grant Morrison run is known to have started with issue #19, so there must have been something in the previous 18 issues.
  • Black Canary's infamous late-80s "Jumpsuit and Headband" costume, complete with bizarre wing epaulets and pirate boots. A cover from a later run of the character in Action Comics Weekly even featured her back in the original costume, burning the jumpsuit and grinning wickedly. Another issue of Birds of Prey featured her horror at seeing scores of action figures of herself in this costume... and then emphasized the point by saying the reason the toy shop had so many was that they couldn't get rid of them. She promptly buys all of them so no one else will see how bad it looked.
    • Dinah entered a second Dork Age when she married Green Arrow, left the Birds of Prey and was reduced to a Faux Action Girl and Damsel in Distress of the Green Arrow books. Ironically, she was the leader of the Justice League at this time.
  • The year-long, weekly book Countdown was originally promoted as "the spine of the DCU", for its pivotal importance to the DC Universe. About halfway through, it was even renamed Countdown to Final Crisis, in order to promote the Crisis Crossover that would follow. However, Countdown became increasingly unpopular with fans thanks to its wide-sweeping character changes. One of the most glaring examples is the sweet, innocent Mary Marvel, who inexplicably finds herself abandoned by her usually caring family. She asks for power from constant adversary Black Adam, and he actually gives it to her, the power turning her usual white costume black. Then she decides to go evil, partnering with the villainous Eclipso. (Note that we've been told that it's not Adam's power that makes her go evil. Bad Powers, Bad People is averted, but at the price of logic or proper characterization.)
  • Then there is also the related mini-series, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!: Final Ark, where the senior editors order the furry heroes to be exiled from their world and horrifically trapped as regular animals on the primary Earth. Though this was later undone by Grant Morrison during Final Crisis, though the company didn't do anything with the Zoo Crew by the time of the reboot (it wouldn't be until Convergence that DC decided to bring them back). Currently, several new characters with more than a passing familiar look to members of the Zoo Crew have appeared as alien beings in the Threshold series.
  • The brief period at DC Comics where the Blackhawks became superheroes. The writer hung a lampshade on this in JLA: Year One; all of the Blackhawks put on their old, proper costumes with a general feeling of relief and an attitude of "What were we thinking?"
  • Firestorm, under the watch of John Ostrander in the late '80s, became Darker and Edgier, leading up to the big revelation... that the character was meant to be Earth's fire elemental. Oh, and the power plant sabotage that brought Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein together in the first place? Not an accident. In an attempt to make Firestorm's origin more deep or something (see also: the first of the JMS/Quesada Spider-Man offenses listed in the Marvel section), it was later explained that Martin Stein was always meant to be Firestorm/the fire elemental. Ronnie just got in the way (which was "rectified" in Firestorm (vol. 2) #100, when Stein replaces Ronnie and Mikhail "Pozhar" Arkadin in the Firestorm Matrix).
    • This was likely an attempt to tie Firestorm into the Swamp Thing mythos, with a similar revelation having happened to that character — rather than a brilliant scientist turned into a plant-monster by a Freak Lab Accident, he was actually a mystical plant elemental, who as a result of said Freak Lab Accident, ended up thinking he was said brilliant scientist. DC went on to incorporate a number of characters into similar roles (for example, in addition to Firestorm, Red Tornado was revealed to be a mystical air elemental, rather than a robot who could manipulate air via superscience). Sadly, what worked for a horror-based Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore led to mass-dorkageness in Lighter and Softer works written by anyone slightly less talented than Moore.
  • The Spectre had a storyline about Uncle Sam, starting with the basis that, as he was the Anthropomorphic Personification of America, he hadn't always been Uncle Sam, instead being the Minuteman, or Brother Jonathan, or split in two as Billy Yank and Johnny Reb, depending on the era. All very reasonable. Somehow, that led to him being reinvented as The Patriot, who wore a white bodysuit with red stripes on one shoulder and a blue patch with stars on the other, and a golden space helmet with an eagle on top. Eventually somebody realized that, by their own rules, he should keep being Uncle Sam until a new "Spirit of America" image took root naturally, and he reverted to his old look.
    • A good chunk of The Spetcre's Post-Crisis run can be considered this. It was during this period that the characters Good Is Not Nice characterization started getting more and more Flanderized to the point he would sentence the entire population of a country to death just because they were in a war. This eventually lead to Corrigan abandoning the Spectre, itself leading to the Day of Vengeance story-line where the now host-less and directionless Spectre got tricked into murdering every magic user in the DC universe, only stopping when the Presence itself intervened and forcefully bonded it to a new host. If it wasn't for the design and name, you would probably not recognize this as the same character as the Pre crisis Spectre, oh and he also started being the subject to the Worf Effect at every opportunity.
  • Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel Family underwent one around 2006. Essentially, most of the attention related to the actual heroes of the Marvel Family was reduced, while letting their villains like Black Adam, Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and Captain Nazi prosper. Shazam was killed off, Captain Marvel had to assume the mantle of Wizard (which effectively removed him from the DCU, trapping him in the Rock of Eternity), and every Marvel not named Black Adam was depowered. Then Freddy Freeman, the former Captain Marvel Junior, then undergoes a series of trials that involves him saying that he blames Captain Marvel for ruining his life, taking the name Shazam as a code name, and dedicating himself to fighting only mystical threats, because why would a person with the powers of the gods fight crime and save people from mundane threats?
    • Then, poor Mary Marvel gets turned evil, redeems herself, but then willingly chooses evil again. Then Captain Marvel gets de-powered, he gets turned evil along with Mary, the Wizard Shazam comes back and depowers EVERYBODY, turning them good again; however, he then claims that Billy had failed him, turns Black Adam to stone, and leaves in a huff. Meanwhile, Freddy Freeman hasn't done anything even remotely relevant in over a year, suffice to say, and fans of the characters are NOT happy with the situation.
    • Even before all that, Captain Marvel had some horribly dark post-Crisis origin stories that were eventually retconned. There was the very first in the '80s, which turned Dr. Sivana into Billy Batson's abusive uncle, and had Cap spouting Totally Radical speech. Then there was another in the early '90s, where Billy flips out and chokes Shazam upon first gaining the Marvel powers. Both stories were written to make Billy seem like a badass loner who grew up on the streets.
    • Ironically, while the last few years have been horrible for the Marvel Family characters in the comics, they've been doing very well in other media, with the classic Captain Marvel appearing in video games (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) and cartoons (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, DC Showcase - Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam, Young Justice).
    • The New 52 reboot did provide some hope, as it started from scratch and includes some well-received Canon Immigrants from the Flashpoint event. But fans are still wary of some Darker and Edgier elements that have come up—including a bratty and sardonic Billy Batson—so we'll see if the Dork Age is truly over yet.
      • In fact, the very issue of a Shazam Family Dork Age in the DCnU has become divisive of sorts. Especially with regard to Captain Marvel/Shazam's new origin story in Justice League #0, which got good reviews, featured some impressive artwork from Gary Franks, and seems to be leading into some sort of redemption arc thanks to Geoff Johns' solid writing. On the other hand, there's the new Billy Batson, who was originally always on the extremely idealistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism (making him even more of a Big Good than Superman himself), who is now a douchey teenager who cynically tells the wizard that no one is ever truly good, and who nearly kills a mugger with his newfound super strength and takes a cash reward for doing so. In any case, the new character is certainly interesting to say the least, but whoever he is, he sure doesn't feel like the Big Red Cheese anymore.
  • During the DCU's One Year Later event, someone on the editing staff decided that the Catwoman comic series needed to be Younger and Hipper — and the best way to do that, they decided, was to replace the main character entirely. Selina Kyle had a daughter with Sam Bradley Jr. (much to the upset of many Selina/Bruce shippers), and retired to motherhood before passing on the Catwoman mantle to sidekick Holly. The fans were not pleased, and it wasn't long before DC sent in Zatanna to magically retcon it all away — and it wasn't fully retconned until the New 52, where it was confirmed that Catwoman's daughter had been wiped from existence.
  • Green Arrow:
    • Want to annoy a fan of Green Arrow? Ask them what they think of Judd Winick's run. The opening story arc had Oliver Queen cheating on his girlfriend Black Canary with the niece of his good friend Black Lightning. Never mind that Winick's idea of Green Arrow being a player was based on his behavior BEFORE he met Black Canary and that he'd always been portrayed as overly possessive of her before. Or that it was never made clear in the previous writer's run that Ollie and Dinah were an official couple again. Or that Jefferson Pierce was an only child and, as such, couldn't have a niece. Or that the niece was killed partway through the storyline and Pierce was suggested to have used his powers to have lightning strike the Corrupt Corporate Executive responsible for her death when Pierce was best known for being so moral that he retired from heroism when he accidentally killed a civilian and concluded he shouldn't use his powers if he couldn't be sure he could use them safely.
    • And then Winick — who freely admitted not liking Black Canary — was forced to write about the two getting married when the two were given a team-up book. Dinah became a complete Damsel in Distress and Faux Action Girl at a time when she was the team leader of the Justice League in the main JLA title!
    • The New 52 series up until Jeff Lemire's run. Starting on an already sour note by using Smallville's Green Arrow design and turning Ollie Younger and Hipper, writer J. T. Krul began his run with an Anvilicious Take That! against video games and new media that felt especially off-base considering not only how long-debunked its views were, but also the well-known left-leaning nature of its protagonist. After Krul left, things fell to Ann Nocenti, who told unremarkable, confusing stories where it seemed like half the dialogue wasn't on the page. Jeff Lemire began his run by burning the previous stuff to the ground and nobody complained.
  • The 90s Metal Men series. Given that the Metal Men are basically the Silver Age given shape, that a 1990s comic featuring them would be this is to be expected. It did not disappoint. First, it retconned their origins so they were Doc Magnus's old friends in robot bodies rather than robots. It followed up by killing off Gold, The Leader, and putting Doc's mind in a robot body as well. Doc's new form was Veridium, a nonexistent mystery metal that gave him generic energy powers. There's a lot of core aspects to the Metal Men: their AI angle, the simple but strong personalities, the good character dynamic, Doc being the Non-Action Guy and Team Dad, and the scientific (on paper, at least) use of real metallurgical properties as the basis for the team's powers, and the miniseries threw them out right from the starting line, even before getting into the skeeviness of how Doc was now being set up with the fiancee of his dead brother. The series was shoved firmly into Canon Discontinuity by 52, which declared that it was all just a hallucination brought on by Doc's loneliness and going off his meds.
    • During the Silver Age itself, there was "The New Hunted Metal Men", in which circumstances cause the Metal Men to lose control of the powers, causing unintentional collateral damage and putting Doc Magnus into a coma, not to mention souring public opinion of them. After four issues of being on the run, the Metal Men were ultimately deemed too destructive for society and set for execution, but a sympathizer helps fake their deaths and allows them to continue saving the world under secret human identities (complete with Steven Ulysses Perhero aliases), while Doc Magnus himself becomes Brainwashed and Crazy (with said brainwashing being claimed to be irreversible). The comic was ultimately cancelled as a result, but the Dork Age was undone by The Brave and the Bold, which had the Metal Men abandon their human identities and their reputation get restored, and their comic was relaunched a few years later, with Doc Magnus returning to normal with help from the CIA. Craig Shutt describes the entire era in-depth here, and Commander Benson details why this direction didn't work here.
  • Suicide Squad's New 52 era is sometimes seen as this, particularly for adding Harley Quinn, an A-lister who is seemingly only there for Wolverine Publicity, but it's really divisive that way. New Suicide Squad on the other hand, has already gotten this rep. A book traditionally about a team of B-list villains (and Deadshot) wherein characters can die? Well, let's just compose the cast entirely of popular A-list villains Black Manta, Reverse-Flash and the aforementioned Harley Quinn, characters with so much Popularity Power, Plot Armor and importance to their respective heroes note  (or their own series in the case of Harley Quinn) that it's amazing they can even be injured!
  • DC YOU, the post-Convergence status quo, has not been looked favorably upon. The basic idea was to attempt to perform a "Batgirling" of certain characters in the vein of what happened to Barbara Gordon in Batgirl (2011). Suddenly, you got a Batman who rides Powered Armor and is a member of the GCPD (it's James Gordon - and even he thinks it's ridiculous), a Superman with an exposed identity, very few powers and a popularity level so low, you'd think he was Spider-Man and a Hal Jordan who is running around as a renegade with a Badass Longcoat and a goofy green energy gauntlet. While some titles proved to be popular, such as Superman: Lois and Clark, the line as a whole fell flat on its face, leading to the soft reboot of DC Rebirth.
  • Many consider Identity Crisis to be one, due to perceived Shocking Swerves and making things needlessly Darker and Edgier, though this isn't universal. What's interesting however, is how Identity Crisis ended up being more of a lynchpin that accidentally/indirectly caused a bunch of other smaller Dork Ages; Jack Drake being killed off (see Robin above), Dr. Light being retconned into a rapist (causing horrible Villain Decay, as he devolved into a one-note joke who ranted about rape), Firestorm and Captain Boomerang being killed and replaced with new characters, Jean Loring getting derailed into a murderer, Atom going over the Despair Event Horizon, and more. Ironically, some of the best stories came from the book as well, such as Ralph Dibney's storyline in 52.
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice, like Identity Crisis above, is frequently-but-not-exclusively considered to be one. Also like Identity Crisis, it was the catalyst for a Dork Age in the Arrow Family, and more specifically Roy Harper (Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal), who fell back into addiction and became Darker and Edgier to the point he was killing bums in an alley over the dead cat he had hallucinated was his dead daughter.
  • The infamously bad 1990s Bloodlines Crisis Crossover. The plot involves disgusting aliens invading Earth to murder human beings and drain their spinal fluids and somehow this gives the few survivors superpowers in the process. It was meant to profit off the Dark Age phenomenon by creating a new batch of heroes for the era, but just ended up being incredibly Narmy and forgettable. The new characters were either stupid-looking Nineties Anti Heroes or had their potential wasted. It was generally regarded as an embarrassment and mostly ignored afterwards, except for the occasional insulting remark and the vast majority of the Bloodlines characters getting casually slaughtered during Infinite Crisis. If there's one good thing that resulted from the event, though, it's that one of the aliens' victims was a certain Tommy Monaghan, who went on to star a successful comic series.
  • Many fans consider New 52 a huge dork age for DC due to attempting to be a Darker and Edgier Continuity Reboot of the DC Universe with some of the popular titles being almost to In Name Only levels (see Teen Titans and Tim Drake above), new origins for some of the superheroes (an example being Wonder Woman's being a demigoddess), Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy in several titles and others (see The Flash, Suicide Squad and Shazam above). The DC You imprint after Convergence tried to win back fans but it turned out to be a failure and then Dan DiDio admitted that "blank slate" of the New 52 was a mistake, since no one knew where to take any of the characters after the Continuity Reboot, which resulted in the Lighter and Softer DC Rebirth imprint replacing the New 52 as an apology to disappointed fans who were angry with it.
  • For Hawkman, the era a little after the beginning of the Hawkworld ongoing and Hawkman's return over in JSA. Namely for how amazingly convoluted things became, with the Fel Andar retcon that turned him into a supervillain, as well as just being the era of Continuity Snarl that pretty much everyone now ignores, yet still has come to define Hawkman in the public consciousness.

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