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The Artifact / Comic Books

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  • Archie Comics:
    • Jughead's beanie. Back in the forties it was quite common for kids to take old fedora hats and cut them into these crowns, and a boy Jughead's age wearing one basically meant he was a bit immature. Nowadays it's a one-of-a-kind trademark. Even the more modern Archie Comics (2015) reboot keeps it, though at least it showed that Jughead wore a fedora before his family went from Riches to Rags.
    • This was played straight for the longest time with Archie's 1916 Ford Model T jalopy, but finally averted in issue #238 of Life with Archie: The Married Life when his jalopy is permanently destroyed and replaced with the more modern Ford Mustang (that's still a piece of crap).
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    • Pop Tate's Choklit Shoppe, a soda shop, has been lampshaded as a hopeless anachronism for decades. There have been attempts to update it such as remodeling it as a independent fast food joint in the 1970s/80s and a internet cafe in the 1990s.
  • Superman:
    • In his earliest incarnation, Superman held a job at The Daily Planet so he would be the first to hear about misdeeds he could set right. As the character developed Super Senses, the need for him to learn about such things from the Planet was obviated; however, the job is such a central part of the mythos that it has continued into every Continuity Reboot and adaptation to date. In 1971 story Kryptonite Nevermore, writer Denny O'Neil actually did do away with the job at the Planet, with Clark taking the more modern job as a news anchor on a national station, but it was eventually changed back Post-Crisis to tie in with the Superman movies, which featured Clark at the Planet with his classic supporting cast. It's been justified as Clark having been interested in journalism even before he became Superman, or journalism being a career where he can succeed in a purely intellectual field where his powers give him no real advantage over ordinary people, and where he's justified in running off as soon as reports of some sort of emergency start coming in.
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    • In The Silver Age of Comic Books Superman had a lot of spin-off characters like Supergirl and Krypto the Superdog, and odd powers like Super-ventriloquism. Throughout the Bronze Age Superman's derivative characters, weird powers, and even aspects of the lore such like the Phantom Zone, Bizarro World and the different colors of Kryptonite became perceived as severely outdated, which led to their removal when Superman was rebooted in 1986. Nonetheless, DC spent the whole Dark Age trying and failing to replace them adequately, and after one decade and half they were again regarded as fresh and valuable additions, so they were reintroduced.
    • Superman's superhero attire was inspired in The '30s by the then-current suit of a circus strongman. The leotards, the trunks over them... even the cape, which the strongman would wear but remove right before performing his feats. With circuses fading increasingly into the past, the reference is not so clear.
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    • Similarly, Supergirl wears a skirt because the costumes of female heroes like Mary Marvel were inspired by female ice-skaters early on. As this influence began fading, skirt-wearing heroines became increasingly uncommon, but Supergirl goes on wearing one because it's become her iconic look.
    • In the Bronze Age, Brainiac's skull-shaped starship was modeled after Brainiac's head in his Skele-Bot phase. While Brainiac would go back to his older green-skinned appearance, the design of his ship stuck.
    • Jonathan Carroll, Lois Lane's boyfriend in the New 52 rarely had any bearing on the Superman stories and was only there to show that Lois already had a boyfriend, to the point he dissappeared for entire story arcs. By the end of the New 52, it was clear the writers had no idea what to do with him, so they eventually wrote him off altogether.
  • X-Men
    • Magneto is required to be a survivor of the Holocaust, even if that makes him really old as time passes (The movies even tried to lessen it by adding period pieces). The comics get around this by having him occasionally undergo regeneration processes that keep his body vaguely upper-middle-aged. As for Xavier being a veteran of the Korean War, we just don't talk about that.
    • Happens to almost any major X-Men depending on the current writer. You can find runs where almost any character pretty much exists solely because the writer feels like they can't drop them, but gives them no actual relevance to the plot.
    • Mr. Sinister was originally intended by Chris Claremont to be the creation and villainous persona of a powerful psychic who was actually an eleven-year-old boy. As a result, he was given a rather silly name, vaguely defined powers with no clear limits, incredibly nebulous motives that frequently came across as For the Evulz, and an incredibly Obviously Evil design. He was meant to be a child's idea of what a supervillain would be like. However, as the concept ended up getting away from Claremont, Sinister ended up as a serious villain who just looks like that and chose that name for no particular reason.
    • Jubilee was one of the depowered mutants after the 2005 House of M event, but still stuck around as a superhero, initially as the tech-based hero Wondra, and then in the 2010 story Curse of the Mutants she became a vampire. While this did make her unique, the fact was that she really only became a vampire because Marvel wanted to appeal to fans of Twilight, which was en vogue at the time. It didn't take long for Twilight to fall out of public consciousness, yet Jubilee remained a vampire for years afterwards, making it seem rather odd when she would show up in other books, such as in Wolverine or various X-related books, when she herself quite obviously stood out from the other mutants with her mystical-based powers, and seemed like a bit of a relic of yesterday's news. Eventually, Marvel caught on to this. In 2018, Quentin Quire both cured her of her vampirism and restored her mutant status at long last.
  • The most oddball example has to be Super Duck. He started out as a superhero, as his name suggests, but after three issues, he became a lederhosen-wearing average duck sharing misadventures with his nephew Fauntleroy and girlfirend Uwanna, all while still going by the name "Super Duck". A short-lived revival in The '90s restored him back to "the Cockeyed Wonder" he was originally intended to be. But when he returned again in 'A Night at the Comic Book Shop', he reverted back to the lederhosen-wearing average duck depiction.
  • Spirou and Fantasio:
    • Spirou wears the costume (or at least nowadays the hat) of a hotel groom / elevator operator. The costume is painfully out of date, but so integral to the character, even when he's wearing more modern attire, pieces of it keep showing up (usually the hat).
    • Spoofed in Le Petit Spirou, where he wears it as a young boy. So do his mom and dad. It's a family tradition.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This started to happen with the Freedom Fighters in Archie's Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series. In fact, for a time, they'd been dropped almost entirely while the comic focused on Sonic and Tails during their World Tour arc. Other characters seemed to fade from prominence and exit the story entirely, but the Freedom Fighters seemed to cling on because they were there from the beginning. However, with Ian Flynn taking over as writer, a lot of the artifact characters are getting repurposed, given expanded roles and more nuance.
    • Another artifact was the series' focus on the rebel war between the Freedom Fighters and Dr. Robotnik. Though Robotnik was defeated in issue #50, 25 issues later, the series hit its inevitable Snap Back with the good doctor's return. Over a hundred issues later? Robotnik's empire is in ruins after a series of numerous defeats. By then, he isn't even the master of it anymore, having gone insane and deposed by his nephew Snively and his new gal-pal, the Iron Queen.
    • As a result of being a long-running title, many of its elements, characters and settings in are remnants of the American Sonic media and lore from back when the comic originated. For instance, being originally based on Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), the comic was said to take place on Mobius, just like the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then. And some elements and names come from the early American continuity from the games. These days the 's games follow the original Japanese continuity worldwide, which resulted in some of these elements being scrapped. Archie has generally tried to keep up with the games (ie: renaming Floating Island to Angel Island, making the characters closer the their game incarnations, etc.), but as they can't move the whole cast to another planet, the comics were (until a Cosmic Retcon did away with it) the only adaptation that still used Mobius. Similarly, many characters that are still featured in the title (the aforementioned Freedom Fighters being the most notable and prominent ones) come from the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then and, as the comic became closer to the games, they felt increasingly out of place.
    • Sonic's romance with Sally (and several other female characters) is an artifact from prior to Sonic being established as a Celibate Hero in the games. In the games, Sonic avoids romance and his relationships with girls are limited to only occasional Ship Tease. However, by the time this was revealed the comics had already given him a girlfriend as well as a few other love interests. Sonic stayed flirtatious until the Cosmic Retcon, which reversed his relationship with Sally to strictly platonic.
    • For most of the run, the characters ages matched the ages given in SatAM and other western media. They couldn't be changed without a retcon, so they stayed that way until the Cosmic Retcon. Thus, Tails was ten-going-on-eleven instead of his standard age of eight. This created trouble with Charmy. The American manual for Knuckles Chaotix listed him as a teenager so the comics made him a teen with a girlfriend. Sonic Heroes finally gave Charmy an official age in Japan: six. To combine the two, Charmy in the comics received a brain injury that made him act like a little kid.
    • Julie Su is Knuckles' main Love Interest and girlfriend. This caused some issues when the games introduced Rouge as a character that Knuckles routinely has Ship Tease with.
    • The comic's portrayal of echidnas, including the reveal that Knuckles is not the last echidna, predates Sonic Adventure's introduction of Knuckles' tribe.
  • A lot of things in the Wonder Woman mythos probably count as this at one point or another:
    • Steve Trevor was, notionally, Diana's love interest, but from the 50s onward nobody could really get much of a read on him; he was killed off at least twice in the Silver and Bronze ages, and revived both times largely because writers assumed he must have some kind of role in the comics. The 1987 reboot aged him and did away with him as Diana's love interest, marrying him to another character; subsequent debate about the character has revolved around whether or not his old position should be restored, but quite a few fans see no reason to. Completely averted as of the New 52 and DC Rebirth, however, where Trevor has been upgraded to being the DCU's version of Nick Fury.
    • The '87 reboot itself had its decision to set Wonder Woman's debut in the "current" day, rather than some time in the past. It made sense then; it was meant to be a lengthy ongoing and reinvention that interacted with the other books in the lineup. As time went on, though, it became more troublesome—Wonder Woman is, after all, supposed to be one of the more iconic characters in the DCU, but it's a fair bit harder to sell her as that when she debuted after most of the Teen Titans (hell, by the time she showed up, Batman was on his second Robin), and you couldn't really sell her as a newcomer, either, because the '87 run only became more distant with time. It also ended up creating further problems down the line, because it made Donna Troy's existence impossible, necessitating multiple waves of retcons. Doing away with the idea and just declaring she showed up at around the same time as Superman and Batman was one of the few changes of Infinite Crisis that didn't create much controversy.
    • Wonder Woman's invisible jet. Contrary to the visual depiction, it does make Wonder Woman invisible as well, but in the modern era, where Wonder Woman can fly on her own like Supermannote , it can seem kind of pointless. Occasionally justified - e.g., for sneaking up on, and landing on a possessed Power Girl in The Book Of Destiny, or for carrying passengers. (Black Canary once remarked that being carried across an ocean by a flying hero could be really annoying, because your underwear rides up and you can't adjust....)
    • Her armored corset's iconic stars-and-stripes motif made a lot more sense in the Golden Age comics, when she was persuaded to enter "Man's World" for the first time by an Army officer, she was an Army nurse in her civilian identity, and every other issue involved her fighting the Nazis. note  Now that Greek Mythology has become such a central part of the series' lore (with her powers now said to be gifts from the Gods of Olympus) and more time has passed from her World War II incarnation, her decision to wear the American flag on her costume seemed a bit baffling, but her costume's design was far too well-known to change. Some writers gave a halfhearted explanation that she saw herself as an ambassador to the US, and wears their colors as a somewhat odd act of patriotism, though others don't even give her that. At least the eagle was Zeus's symbol, so that motif still fit. However, her original costume was fazed out throughout the second half of the 2010s in favor of a more Greek-inspired one that was originally designed by Michael Wilkinson for the film franchise with the stars-and-stripes downplayed heavily and a dark red, blue, and gold color palette rather than flag colors.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Reed Richards has the ability to stretch his limbs. However, as time goes on he used this power for actual combat less and less. Why? Because he's The Smart Guy of the Marvel universe, and that's dominated his characterization. If he shows up outside of the book, expect little use of the stretching, and inside the book only occasionally. Often he'll just be randomly stretched for no important reason, just for the purpose of them acknowledging that's his power or else he uses it to grab an item on a counter far away or something. Pretty much never for combat. Some more recent comics, such as 4, bring his elastic body back into the foreground by showing how useful such a power is when in the hands of the smartest man on the planet. His secondary powers from his plastine skin (such as not needing to sweat, or enhanced heat resistance) come up often too.
    • In the same vein, there's his wife Sue Richards' codename, "Invisible Woman", which seems somewhat ridiculous now that she uses her forcefield powers far more often than she uses her powers of invisibility. Her powers of invisibility are derived from her force fields, of course, but the writers have long since figured out that forcefields (which can also be used as force beams, and as Hard Light constructs) are far more useful in a fight than becoming invisible. This is at least partly due to Character Development: in the early days of the comic, Sue was much less of an Action Girl, and preferred to avoid the Four's battles.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes has a group called the Legion of Super-Villains. This sort of Silver Age name would never be used nowadays (since nobody thinks of themselves as villains), but is so closely associated with the group that it can't be changed in the comic. (The cartoon used Light Speed Vanguard.)
  • In a similar vein, Magneto seldom uses the name Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but occasionally it's justified - if you see mutants as evil, we'll give you evil mutants.
  • The same could be said for The Avengers' nemesis team, the Masters of Evil, though they're at least generally less sympathetic.
  • Orient Men was originally basically a superhero parody, who battled crooks and giant apes and ghosts. Then the comic switched to more eclectic humor and plotline, and though Orient Men still wore his superhero cape and flew around, his "superhero" status became more and more ignored.
  • In the superhero genre, the Secret Identity trope often exists as an artifact, used whether or not it makes sense for the individual hero in question. Many early superheroes had secret identities pretty much because Superman had one, and if he did it, that must be a trope worth copying. Notably, many adaptations and "new" incarnations of superhero characters either dispense with the Secret Identity altogether or use it, but have it known to a large number of friends and family:
    • Reading Wonder Woman's early Golden Age stories, one gets the distinct impression the standard "secret identity protection" tropes are used mostly due to the "Superman does it" school of Executive Meddling. The tropes are there, but usually dealt with in a perfunctory manner, and you can practically sense that writer William Moulton Marston is bored with them and eager to move on to the fun stuff. Notably, apart from sheer physical strength, Diana Prince is almost indistinguishable from Wonder Woman—extremely smart and capable, and recognized as a top counter-intelligence agent in her own right. Most recent incarnations of Wonder Woman have dispensed with Diana Prince altogether.
    • In Silver Age Iron Man stories, it often seems like keeping his identity a secret causes Tony Stark more problems than it solves. At the very least, it seems like letting his fanatically loyal employees Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts in on the secret would be a good idea. The movies dispensed with any notion of a secret identity by the end of the first one.
    • Many modern writers have found Thor's "Dr. Donald Blake" secret identity to be dispensable (the only supporting cast member Blake had was Jane Foster, and she was considered a lot less interesting than the Asgardians; indeed, even Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had her Put on a Bus eventually), and it's only used in the 2011 movie as a brief Continuity Nod. The only use Blake has had in years is a weird, separate persona to Thor in JMS' run, and even there he was more of a plot device than anything else.
    • The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle is an example of a more modern approach to the secret identity. In his 2006-2009 series, he technically had a secret identity, but his close friends and immediate family were all in on the secret. Curiously, the 2011 New 52 relaunch took a more "classical" approach to the secret identity, as the Blue Beetle armor physically prevents Jaime from revealing his secret identity to others.
    • Captain America. Why would the government devote significant money and resources to create an elite special forces symbol of America in the largest war in its history, only to hide him out as a buck private? Not only would this risk getting him killed in combat taking some stupid bridge, but it also forced him to make up some lame excuse every time he needed to slip away for a real mission. As with Thor and Iron Man, the 2011 movie dispensed with the secret identity altogether.
      • Another serious artifact to deal with Cap is Bucky. While Robin can be explained as Batman's apprentice at best and part of Batman's eccentricities at worst, Captain America is an agent for the US military, which makes Bucky a Child Soldier operating with their knowledge. Today in the comics, Bucky is largely treated as a remarkably young looking agent who started with Cap at 15 years old (really young, but not unprecedented at that time), and was a 19-year-old (and thus of an entirely legal age) by 1945 and existed to basically perform black ops duties that Cap couldn't — this also made him a highly skilled soldier and thus it made sense why he, well, survived fighting alongside Cap for as long as he did. The film, Captain America: The First Avenger, avoids the issue entirely by making Bucky Steve Rogers' contemporary in age who just looks like a kid compared to Steve after his Project Rebirth enhancements.
    • They are even beginning to apply this to Batman, of all people. With Batman (as of mid-2011) franchising out his name, a public awareness that maybe he's more than one guy, and the fact that Wayne has publicly admitted to funding Batman, the response when someone says, "Bruce Wayne is Batman," tends to be, "So?" As many of his enemies (including Ra's al-Ghul, Bane, the Black Glove, Riddler, and possibly Joker) know his identity, and all of his close friends and family tend to be badass in their own right, his secret ID is getting pointless.
      • This was especially ludicrous at the character's start, when he had no supporting cast but Alfred, who would have been well-protected in Stately Wayne Manor even when Batman was away.
      • There's also the fact that Bruce is probably one of very few fantastically wealthy people in a certain age range that saw his parents murdered before his eyes as a child. He'd be at the top of any short list of Batman candidates.
      • This is probably why 90s and 00s Batman writers tended to refer to Batman as the "real" identity and Wayne as the mask, since that era's Batman tended to only use Wayne publicly as part of a greater plan. After the success of The Dark Knight Trilogy, the push has gone closer to Wayne being the real person.
    • This actually gets lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man. Over the course of the 100+ issues, every member of his Rogue Gallery, and damn near every supporting character learned that Peter was Spider-Man. After his death, Flash Thompson, who is sitting alone in a classroom, questions if he was the only person who didn't know.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man is fundamentally a street-level superhero like Daredevil and originally his adventures had a realism because The '60s to The '90s was The Big Rotten Apple era of New York City (where real events like the 1977 blackout occurred in the page), a time of high crime statistics where the idea of multiple street-level superheroes in a single city had a little verisimilitude. Since the era of Giuliani and gentrification however, street crime level has dropped down while highly restrictive gun laws have been put into effect. Now of course the presence and activity of supervillains does not depend on that for explanations, but fundamentally the reduction of crime should mean that Spider-Man's status as a street-level hero being so important as to make demands on his personal and professional life need more justification than "it's New York".
    • The issue of gentrification and high costs in New York, and the challenge to the print media by online and the rise of cellphones and the internet, has also meant that Peter's old job as a photographer for a newspaper and being the guy who "takes pictures of Spider-Man" and making a sufficient living off of that (despite being paid low by JJJ) and still living in New York, makes it harder to accept. It was already dated in The Oughties, when Sam Raimi's adoption of the same came off to more than a few observers as Anachronism Stew (and Raimi made it work by artificially mixing different aspects of New York history in his film). In the Ultimate Spider-Man series, Peter becomes a web designer (albeit initially entering the Daily Bugle with the photographs) and part of the plot had the Daily Bugle transition from a print to an online magazine. The Dan Slott's Spider-Man run had Jameson become the Mayor of New York which essentially updated their dynamic.
    • Aunt May's original purpose was to be an unwitting obstruction in Peter's life for drama's sake: She was very frail so illness could strike at any moment, she didn't have much money so Peter had to get a job to support the family and her constant worrying about Peter didn't mean sneaking out to be Spider-Man was tricky but kept Peter from telling her his secret (out of fear she'd die of shock). When Peter finally moved out of the house and was on his own he was free from her smothering while May herself was able to sell her house and move in with her friend, meaning she had a nest egg to live off of and had someone to take care of her. Later writers redefined her as a character. For example, J. Michael Straczynski had her learn Peter's identity and provide him with much-needed advice and moral support throughout his run.
    • Gwen Stacy being Stuffed into the Fridge is treated by comics fans and other creators as a bold gutsy move to really drive home personal stakes and shake up the status quo by getting rid of a prominent supporting character and Love Interest. The reality is that Gwen Stacy was killed off in an iconic story, The Night Gwen Stacy Died, because the writer and many of its fans saw her as a bland Love Interest, a wet blanket girlfriend, and as such someone who was disposable and fair-game (the original plan to kill off Aunt May was vetoed), who liked Peter but hated Spider-Man and who the writer Gerry Conway thought would be more interesting as The Lost Lenore than if she was alive, while the more developed and interesting Mary Jane Watson was established as Peter's real love. The problem starts when other versions, such as Ultimate Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man Series decide to adapt the same story and situation, but depart from the original context (i.e. she was a bland character whose dynamic was more informed than visible on page) and make Gwen into a fleshed out and interesting supporting character, too valuable and attracting too much investment from the audience for her to be disposed off in a low-stakes storynote . In the Ultimate comics, they killed her off gratuitously and then brought her back again much later as a clone-but-not-clone-as-good-as-the-real-thing, while the decision to kill off the highly popular and beloved version played by Emma Stone was seen as a stupid move, since it removed by far the most beloved and liked character in the film (and plans for the aborted third film reveal they were going to bring her back as Spider-Gwen anyway).
    • Almost all versions of Venom tend to give the character a white spider emblem on his chest, even though it's been decades since the Venom symbiote got expelled from Peter Parker's body and chose Eddie Brock (and later Mac Gargan and Flash Thompson) as its host instead. In its initial appearance, the symbiote had the chest emblem because it bonded with Peter shortly after his costume was severely damaged, and it took on the appearance of his Spider-Man threads because it (mostly) responded to Peter's mental commands at the time. Nowadays, the design thematically fits with the idea of Venom being a Shadow Archetype/Evil Counterpart of Spider-Man, but he had no real in-universe reason to look like that until the 2018 retcon that it actually represented the symbiotic dragons used by the eldritch god Knull that created the symbiotes, only resembling a spider coincidentally.
  • Poison Ivy falls into this from two angles. When she was introduced, she was a fairly classical Femme Fatale archetype with a mild plant theme and a fondness for poison. The idea of Batman falling for her wiles made some sense when he'd spent the last decade desperately trying to prove his heterosexuality and getting into Ship Tease situations with Batwoman, so she slotted in pretty easily. She got a Retool by Neil Gaiman in the 80s, adding explicit superpowers and plant-based abilities to her repertoire, meant at the time to utilize the lore of the popular Swamp Thing and make her a bit more interesting (especially in an era where Batman villains with strange supernatural powers were quite common). But in the years to follow, Batman villains overwhelmingly shifted in the direction of being more low-key and "realistic", and Batman himself developed into an increasingly stoic and sexless sort outside of maybe Catwoman. This led to Ivy feeling very out-of-place, with her overt supernatural powers that are miles away from any kind of realistic science and focus on trying to seduce and manipulate a guy defined in part by absurd mental fortitude and no interest in romance (aside from the datedness of a femme fatale in general). It's likely for this reason that you're much more likely to find her with Harley Quinn than with Batman in a modern comic.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón were originally a pair of detectives, with Filemón being the self-important boss and Mortadelo being the incompetent subordinate who would mess things up in every strip. Two decades later, they moved to an agency working as regular employees with the same responsibilities. Despite this, Mortadelo keeps calling Filemón "Boss", because it had already become his second name.
  • Image Comics started off with a Cliché Storm of '90s Anti-Hero comics such as Spawn, Witchblade, and Youngblood. Around the turn of the century, Image decided to diversify its output, and largely phased out such stories in favor of independent comics like The Walking Dead, with the comparatively light Invincible being one of their few major superhero efforts. Nonetheless, many of the books created by founders who haven't left still stick around, despite being completely out of place on Image's current lineup; Savage Dragon is even still written and drawn by Erik Larsen. Image mostly keeps these books out of the public eye, only drawing attention to them for special issues like anniversaries.
  • A few G1-based Transformers comics series set in modern times still keep the classic alt modes of the Transformers. Iconic characters like Soundwave (other than maybe in a hipster's hand, where would you see a tape deck boombox anymore) and Optimus Prime (it's incredibly rare to see a 1980 Arcliner tractor trailer still on the road) particularly stand out.
    • For some Transformers series, having alternate modes (cars, jets, etc) as a means of disguise is treated as an artifact. In Transformers Energon transforming into alt mode is used almost exclusively for driving (yes, driving) through outer space. The IDW comics have varied, depending on if the stories were set on Earth or set in space. More recent comics set in space even lampshade the pointlessness of alt modes- some of the main characters go through the entire series wihout ever transforming on-panel, and more only do so once or twice. Of course, alt modes will always remain, for obvious reasons.
    • It's especially strange in the 2010s Robots in Disguise series. As it's a sequel to Prime, the world has long known who and what the Transformers are and treating their existence as this big secret makes no sense.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Donald Duck's uncle Scrooge McDuck usually wears a top hat and spats that were considered a very elegant and high class accessory until about WW2. Even by the time Scrooge McDuck was created in 1947, they were already on their way out. Usually worn only by the very rich on gala occasions, spats and top hat signaled McDuck's wealth and position in society (as well as his advanced age). Now neither accessory is used by practically anybody however dandy-ish, and they've been out of fashion for so long that younger readers might not get the original meaning. And yet the hat and spats are such an iconic part of Scrooge McDuck's image. (Of course, a Born in the Wrong Century look isn't out-of-character for Scrooge either.)
    • His pince-nez glasses may be also included in this trope.
    • Don Rosa eventually provided a Hand Wave in The Life And Times Of Scrooge Mcduck, where Scrooge initially buys a fairly spiffy and modern(ish) suit after cementing his status as a millionaire, only to get pelted by tomatoes on returning to his native Scotland. Realizing there's not much point to trying to look rich, he gets the "classic" suit at a local bric-and-brac.
    • And while we're on the subject, how about that money bin? Back in the 40s and 50s, the U.S. dollar was still attached to the gold standard. This meant that physically holding on to vast amounts of gold and paper currency made at least some sense. But in the early 70s, the U.S. dropped the gold standard and also, nowadays, with the widespread use of fiat money, electronic money and credit, hoarding all that humongous tangible wealth in one vault practically makes no financial sense.
  • Iron Man's enemies can seem rather dated, specifically his Arch-Enemy the Mandarin as well as Crimson Dynamo, Unicorn, and Titanium Man, as his stories were originally heavily influenced by the Cold War when they were written. Since it ended, his foes have been more along the lines of the kind an industrial billionaire like Tony Stark would have, such as Iron Monger, Justin Hammer, Sunset Bain, Ghost, Whiplash, Blizzard and more. However, these old villains still stuck around, forcing Marvel to try to write them to fit current times even though they made little sense. Notably, Iron Man 3 completely reimagined the Mandarin as a front for the movie's real Big Bad Aldrich Killian. However, this was... controversial, to say the least.
  • For decades Swamp Thing's quest to become human again was this. It was a Series Goal that couldn't be resolved without ending the series, so Swamp Thing always spent at least part of his time trying and failing to find a cure simply because that was part of his gimmick. Part of the reason Alan Moore's run is so acclaimed is that he saw how much of a useless load the "search for a cure" idea had become and retconned it away with a vengeance by having Swamp Thing discover that he was never actually Alec Holland to begin with, finally ending its Artifact status.
  • Nightwing is one of the few characters in fiction who is still allowed to be called "Dick" unironically. It was a perfectly normal shortening for "Richard" in the 1940s but with time the meaning has evolved. In modern times you're more likely to hear a Richard be called "Rick/Ricky", "Rich/Richie", or just "Richard" than "Dick". Even Nightwing has had a few jokes poked at his name, such as Beast Boy (whose name "Garfield" is treated like an Embarrassing First Name due to a certain cat) finding it weird in the Young Justice cartoon.
  • Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy fame originally appeared in much older comics where he had, among other weapons and superpowers, a very special weapon called the Elemental Gun that could shoot one of the four elements from it. After the character was reintroduced in the Annihilation event and later the new Guardians of the Galaxy series, all the powers and weapons disappeared in order to turn Quill into a really experienced but otherwise normal human. However, for the next volume of the franchise, the decision was made to bring back the Elemental Gun and even have its lore expanded with more details about its origin and properties (and introducing two new elemental guns later). However, most writers missed the memo on this and continued having Quill using the guns as regular laser guns instead of his classic elemental function (The famous live action movie giving Quill a pair of regular space laser guns didn't help matters at all). Nowadays, the Elemental Guns are still there and Quill still has them. Despite them being used as regular laser guns most of the time, every now and then a writer makes a reference to how the weapons are actually able to shoot more useful and dangerous elements than regular lasers.
  • Though he's still quite popular, this has increasingly come to apply to Tim Drake. He was introduced in the wake of Jason Todd's death as a Reconstruction of the Robin concept, and immediately became easily the second most important character in the franchise, filling the role of the baseline Robin perfectly. He had a large supporting cast, a book to himself, and starred as the leader of Young Justice, all with the wide impression that he was the first pick to be the future Batman.

    However, during Grant Morrison's run, Damian Wayne was introduced to fill the Robin role and put a new spin on the idea (booting Tim out in the process), while Dick Grayson (who had been largely off to the side as a character more associated with the Teen Titans, before becoming a solo hero) had since been given a massive amount of Character Development since becoming Nightwing and was moved to the forefront of the family in the wake of Bruce Wayne's death as the new Batman. In addition, "Under the Hood" brought back Jason Todd, while The New 52 controversially returned Barbara Gordon to the role of Batgirl. This meant that pretty much all his potential roles were filled by someone else — he couldn't be Robin anymore, despite being designed as the baseline Robin, Dick Grayson better filled the role of a former Robin turned Lighter and Softer solo hero and Bruce's Batman successor (even in-universe, once he was knocked back to being Nightwing, everyone considers him the one to be Batman when Bruce can't), Jason Todd filled the role of a former Robin who went bad, and Barbara Gordon filled the role of a self-made Badass Bookworm who fought of her own initiative. An attempt was made to paint him as one of Batman's "equals" in terms of partnerships, but even then this role is more frequently given to Dick Grayson, and even later, somewhat to Duke Thomas.

    Even his supporting cast was largely culled after Identity Crisis, removing most of his few remaining unique points (having a non-adopted family and a genuine longstanding romance) and turning him from the iconic Robin to the generic Robin in a now-much-larger cast. Consequently, though he remains a central member of the Bat-family, more than a few readers have pointed to him as having no clear purpose anymore — indeed, post-New 52, nearly all his appearances were in Teen Titans books, and in the wake of DC Rebirth, he was Put on a Bus. There have been attempts to fix this somewhat, such as having him as part of Detective Comics (Rebirth) as a member of the Gotham Knights, and having Stephanie return with the relationship restored at long last. Still, this is only a marginal improvement as he's nonetheless lost much of his purpose. When it comes to stories that have all the Robins in them, he's mostly just relegated to being The Generic Guy or The Smart Guy, but even the latter is difficult since all the Robins are supposed to be The Smart Guy in terms of the DCU, so there's not much that can be done there.
  • Speaking of Robin, he's the only Sidekick left in the DCU. While the concept was popular back then, the idea has become less-so over time as a negative stigma of the title grew from both readers and subsequently in-universe. Many other sidekicks such as Speedy and Wonder Girl have become independent heroes or team members (often with a new accompanying name). Even the identity's Distaff Counterpart Batgirl has operated independently for a very long time, and the title is no longer a "sidekick" to Batman. It's also admittedly out of character for someone like Batman, known as The Dark Knight, who explicitly works alone in many cases, to take in a teenager, dress them up in a bright red costume, and have them fight crime alongside him. But Robin is such a core part of the Batman mythos that it's impossible to imagine Batman without him. There have been attempts to justify it, by having him balance out Batman's inner darkness or by having Batman take in a troubled child, but it still looks rather out-of-place in the overall mythos of both Batman and the large scale DCU.
  • The Didio era infamously did this to a lot of Legacy Characters active in DC, especially those introduced in the 90s: reintroducing their old mentors and handing the mantle back up, introducing a new character and having the mantle passed down to them, or both. This left characters like Connor Kent, Cassandra Cain, Wally West, Kyle Rayner, and, as mentioned above, Tim Drake, without any clear purpose: still popular and beloved, but unable to fill the big-ticket starring roles they were designed to carry. A lot of them putter around B-tier books trying to get a new identity to stick.
  • The idea that superheroes never kill their enemies is a carryover from The Comics Code. During this time in The Silver Age of Comic Books, it was mandated that the heroes couldn't kill their enemies because they were supposed to be writing for children. Before this, superheroes were actually killing people left and right. As the years passed, where the code waned in effect before eventually being dropped entirely, there was no restriction against heroes killing. However, the idea that heroes don't kill was so ingrained in the public consciousness that it formed the idea of what a superhero is, and thus it remained long after. Also, it's a convenient way of making sure a hero's Rogues Gallery actually stays around. The full implications of this have been explored many, many times.
  • Sonic the Comic had Mobius as an artifact in the final arc, based off of Sonic Adventure. Adventure takes place on Earth alongside humans, however the comic explicitly took place on an alien planet called "Mobius" where humans weren't native. As a result, Adventure is very loosely adapted in Sonic the Comic and many elements were Adapted Out.
  • Black Canary's famous costume with the fishnets is an artifact from her original role. The first Black Canary started out as a Femme Fatale-esque thief in a detective comic. When she became a less villainous character and became a superhero, the costume stuck. While there have been attempts to change it, the fishnet costume is the most popular and is always eventually brought back in some form.
  • The Flash
    • Barry Allen's costume ring. At the time, it was a cool and convenient way for Barry to store his costume out of sight. However, his successor, Wally West, eventually just started to manifest a costume using the Speed Force. In-universe, Barry himself eventually learned this trick from Wally off-screen, but still uses the ring, which Wally laments. In the New 52, Barry's suit is segmented armour, which might explain things... but that's Depending on the Artist (many artists draw it without it being metal) and the armour itself is no more durable than any other superhero costume — in fact, it's shredded more often than any other Flash's suit.
    • The Flashes having secret identities. Originally, it was because it was standard superhero stuff at the time. However, after Barry Allen's (Flash II) death, Wally West (Flash III) operated as the Flash alongside Jay Garrick (Flash I), and neither had a secret identity. This was the case for almost all of Wally's career as the Flash, until an attack on his wife Linda by Hunter Zolomon (Reverse-Flash II) caused him to accidentally request that Hal Jordan (then the Spectre) to erase knowledge of the Flashes' identities from the world, and when he discovers this, Wally decides to keep his and Barry's identities secret... except Hunter retained this knowledge. As did the previous Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne, who killed Iris West, Barry's wife. And every other Flash villain who would go after the Flashes' loved ones either regained this knowledge (Abra Kadabra) or already knows (Hot Pursuit, Future Flash, Grodd, Negative Flash), while the Rogues actively don't go after the Flashes' loves ones, even when they did know. So the few people they need to keep their identities from already know, and those who don't anymore never used this knowledge anyway.
  • Batman is required to be considered a loner and a dark brooding and shadowy figure in the DC world who some aren't even sure if he actually exists, because that's a core part of his character. Except, he's very much not a loner when you look at it. Not only does he have his butler and Secret Keeper Alfred, but he also has the Robins, the Batfamily, the extended Batfamily, his supporting cast that aren't officially part of the Batfamily (such as The Commissioner Gordon), and let's not forget the fact that he's been not just a member of the Justice League, but he's also been a part of the Justice League International and in DC Rebirth, he was made the leader of the new Justice League of America while he was still a member of the actual League, because it served as a way to gather a bunch of mismatched characters together under Batman's leadership. Oh, and finally he's basically supplanted Superman as the Big Good in the community — when Batman calls for you, in almost every case you'll have the lesser-heroes all rallying behind him (Granted, that's an example of Popularity Power seeping into the narrative there). And all of this goes back to 2011 at the latest. You could probably make a whole comic book world out of just everyone who's been involved with Batman at this point. His whole "loner" schtick is still written like it's actually true, even though it's beginning to look like an Informed Attribute.
    • You could call it an Informed Attribute a lot earlier than that, considering the existence and near-omnipresence of Robin past Batman's first eleven months of existence. The idea of Batman as a loner is comparatively Newer Than They Think, likely originating from the mid-80s.
  • The Young Avengers
    • Tommy Shepard / Speed is an interesting case of an individual character actually becoming the artifact to a whole team. During the original Heinburg/Cheung run, Speed had some importance as a member of the team that was recruited from a high-tech security facility to rescue Teddy / Hulkling. Other than that, he was noted to have a strong resemblance to member Wiccan, who would later turn out to in fact be his twin brother in The Children's Crusade. Much of his appeal came from being the Token Evil Teammate, as while technically a "hero" he often acted like a sociopath. However, once the original run ended, Speed was given practically nothing to do. He'd show up alongside the other Young Avengers, say little, contribute to fight scenes without doing much, but narrative-wise he had very little reason to be there other than to round out the team. Even in The Children's Crusade, it was largely about Wiccan, while the revelation that they were indeed twins played more into Wiccan's story than his own. Ever since the second Volume to this day, he stopped being a main character of the team. However, he's still considered part of the team by every writer who used the Young Avengers. There will always be a passing mention about how he couldn't make it to a team's reunion for various reasons or he will simply be there with the team but have no scenes or dialogue. He's easily the least developed and focused on of the original Young Avengers, something that quite a few fans took issue with.
    • Also, the name Young Avengers became a case of this ever since Kieron Gillen worked on it. The original name wasn't just to denote that they were young superheroes, but actually a take after the original Avengers with costumes, codenames and themes inspired by them note . When Gillen worked on them however, more than half the team were removed and replaced with America Chavez, Noh-Varr, Kid Loki, and Prodigy — none of them inspired by any members of the Avengersnote . Not a complete Artifact Title, but still lost much of its meaning nonetheless.
  • The DC Comics Crisis Crossover event Infinite Crisis has one from a development and story perspective. Originally, of the many characters who died in the event, the biggest name would've been certified A-lister Nightwing. To set up Nightwing's death, the city of Bludhaven that he adopted was destroyed, with the reason being that if they were going to kill Nightwing, they were also going to kill his home. Except, he was beloved to the point that the writers threatened to leave the company if the editors went through with it. Ultimately they won out, and it was Superboy who died in his place. However, by then it was too late as far as Bludhaven was concerned, and in the actual event it still gets destroyed despite contributing nothing to the story (other than more destruction, of course). In fact, this created problems later on, as it forced the writers to move Nightwing to New York City (which didn't take) and yet they couldn't bring Bludhaven back because they needed Infinite Crisis to have lasting effects. Overall, it's unlikely this would've happened at all had these real life events not transpired.
  • In-universe, this happened to the Comedian in Watchmen. In his early career, his gimmick was that he was a wisecracking daredevil who wore a canary-yellow clown suit. Some years later, he revamped himself as a Captain Patriotic government agent, and the only remaining vestige of his old costume and theme became a small smiley-face pin in a sea of black leather and body armor. He still calls himself the Comedian, though - according to him, it's because his philosophy changed to be less about telling jokes and more that life is a joke and he's the only one who finds it funny.
  • During the mid-'10s, Marvel Comics had been pushing heavily for The Inhumans as the Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the mutants of the X-Men brand as the Randomly Gifted outcasts of the Marvel Universe, under the order of Ike Perlmutter to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe their own equivalent down the line, as Marvel did not possess the film rights to the X-Men at the time. This was seen as a massive Dork Age for Marvel, as the Inhumans were shoehorned whenever possible and the comics took every chance they could in downplaying the presence of the mutants. This culminated in universally-reviled stories like Death of X and Inhumans vs. X-Men, and not to mention the ResurrXion relaunch where they were shoehorned into sharing space as if the two were equals. All of this changed in 2019, when parent company Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in a historic $71.3 billion buyout, thus the film rights to the X-Men were returned to Marvel, and the X-Men were immediately treated as an A-list property complete with their very own relaunch. During this time, the Inhumans only got one miniseries called Death of the Inhumans, which ended with many of the new Inhumans Killed Off for Real and the classic Inhumans being Put on a Bus. However, Dork Age as it was, this era introduced a number of Inhumans that are still around, such as Kid Kaiju, Moon Girl, Inferno, Lash, Synapse, Daisy Johnson (retconned into being an Inhuman), Blizzard (likewise), Toro (again), and biggest of all, Breakout Character Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) who has become the most successful new hero in the '10s. Their origins are heavily tied to the Inhumans, and it's unlikely to be changed for that reason, and it looks rather awkward now that the Inhumans aren't being pushed in the slightest. They're a weird deal not being mutants, mutates, or any other origin, but rather a now-forgotten relic of time many fans prefer to forget, and yet there's no way it could possibly be retconned becaused it's hard-written into their origin stories (at least, not without some major and widespread finagling). Had these characters been introduced in any other time, they likely would've been mutants, if not something else.
  • Shazam's archenemy Black Adam inexplicably pointed ears were probably meant to give him a demonic appearance, but then it became silly (and made him look like the Sub-Mariner's long-lost twin). Post-Flashpoint, it's been dropped, and he now has normal human ears.
  • Diabolik: In Clerville, death sentences are executed via guillotine the early issues, when the story was supposed to be set in France). Every time Diabolik is arrested, the police needs only to file the paperwork to try and behead him, as when he was sentenced to death, and not even an abolitionist lawyer appealing on his behalf could change it. Actually beheading him, on the other hand, is quite complicated...
  • The Punisher's status as a veteran of The Vietnam War fell into this over time—made sense in 1974, two years after the US started pulling out, not so much decades after, when Frank would have to be in his 60s or 70s at the bare minimum. Modern comics tend to either try to retcon it out, or merely refer to a nonspecific "war" he was involved in, but it never really sticks because so much of Frank's characterization is wrapped up in his history with Vietnam specifically. Punisher MAX is one of the more significant exceptions, as it goes so far as to actually portray Frank as an Old Soldier who's heavily greying and wrinkled. The Netflix series changed his background to the war in Afghanistan to be more contemporary.
  • In IDW's 2005 Transformers books, it was initially intended that Arcee was the only female Cybertronian, and was the result of a forcible Mad Scientist's experiment that drove her violently insane. Fan reception to the idea was roundly negative, not only for its offensive connotations and not making much sense, but also because it seemingly made it impossible for female characters besides Arcee to exist (and if they would, they'd have to share Arcee's crappy origin and psychosis). Future writers decided to declare that female Cybertronians besides Arcee did indeed exist, with a variety of origins—some of whom were simply created as female due to their colonies progressing in a different fashion, others modified themselves in a manner approximating human transgenderism. But Arcee kept her origin to the end, albeit with a few retcons to make it somewhat more palatable, and while her violent attitude was downplayed through Character Development, it still made her stick out quite a bit compared to Arcee's standard take.


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