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Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

  • Batman: The Widening Gyre on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#1) Batman: The Widening Gyre

    Whether you love his sense of humor and irreverent movies or you hate them, there's no question that Kevin Smith is a true comic book fan. References to comic books and comic book characters are ladled over everything he does, from his movies, to his SModcasts, to the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. Smith has even owned multiple comic book shops for decades, including Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, which serves as the setting for many of his productions. But being a movie writer and lover of comic books isn't enough to guarantee a successful series, and Batman: The Widening Gyre (2009-2010) is an excellent case in point.

    The story, written by Smith and illustrated by longtime friend Walt Flanagan, finds Batman embroiled in a conflict between Poison Ivy and Etrigan the Demon. Distracted by the reappearance of old flame Silver St. Cloud and the arrival of a violent new "hero" named Baphomet in Gotham, Batman blunders through just about every mission he embarks upon, requiring aid at every turn. His judgment apparently clouded by St. Cloud, the "world's greatest detective" drops his guard and reveals his identity to the clearly unstable Baphomet, who reveals himself to be the villain Onomatopoeia and promptly slits the throat of Batman's paramour.

    Thankfully, only the first six issues of the intended 12-issue series were ever published. Not only is Smith's Batman a clumsy fool who overestimates his abilities and soils himself when things go wrong, but he so disbelieves that he is worthy of love that he drags St. Cloud out of the car by her hair and roughs her up to make sure she is not a robot. Sex and controlled substance references unnecessarily pervade The Widening Gyre, with Poison Ivy incapacitating Batman with synthesized weed and St. Cloud referring to Batman as "Deedee" because their first night of intimacy went into double-digit orgasms. The series has been called "the worst Batman comics," and DC has been bashed for Smith's hiring and called "so insecure that they beg for the table scraps of other media."

  • Batman Gets The 'Extreme' '90s Treatment In 'Knightquest' on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#13) Batman Gets The 'Extreme' '90s Treatment In 'Knightquest'

    The wildly popular Knightfall storyline that kicked off in Batman (Vol. 1) #492 (May 1993) would grow to become one of the biggest and most elaborate event storylines in the Dark Knight's publishing history up until that point. The three-act story - Knightfall, Knightquest, and KnightsEnd - was told over 38 issues of seven different titles and completely altered the status quo in Gotham City, with lasting ramifications for Batman and DC continuity for years to follow. Elements of the story, including Bane and "the breaking of the Bat" have even seeped into wider popular culture, including celebrated filmmaker Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Saga of films.

    The series is only marred by its terrible second act: Knightquest. After Batman is worn down and crippled by Bane in Knightfall, Bruce Wayne decides in Knightquest to appoint a replacement to protect Gotham City. Rather than choose Dick Grayson, his longtime ward and the original Robin who has become the badass adult hero Nightwing, Bruce chooses... Jean-Paul Valley, who had only debuted as the flame-wielding holy warrior Azrael a year prior.

    Valley decides Bruce's Batman has been too warm and fuzzy and outfits his Bat-suit with armor, razor-sharp Batarangs, lasers, and a flamethrower, among other weapons. The increasingly unstable new Batman dispenses "justice" with extreme prejudice, often injuring, crippling, or, in the case of the serial slayer Abattoir, ending them, while simultaneously tarnishing Batman's reputation and straining his relationship with law enforcement. Meanwhile, Bruce falls in love with his metahuman physiotherapist Shondra Kinsolving and attempts to rescue her from her adoptive brother Benjamin Asplin, AKA Asp. In the end, Asp is slain and Bruce's back is healed, but poor Shondra ends up with the mind of a child and has to be institutionalized.

    Knightquest and Valley's "extreme" Batman were so disliked by fans that DC basically attempted to ignore it by omission. The publisher waited 18 years to collect the first part, "The Search," and another five before collecting the second part, "The Crusade," while the rest of the series had been available as reprints or in trade paperback collections for years.

  • 'The Dark Knight Strikes Again' Is A 'Ridiculous' Sequel With 'Weird' Art on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#3) 'The Dark Knight Strikes Again' Is A 'Ridiculous' Sequel With 'Weird' Art

    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns took the comic book world by storm when it debuted in February 1986. The first issue sold over a million copies and the four-issue series is now widely considered one of the most important and influential comic books of all time. Frank Miller's tale of an aging Batman coming out of retirement to stop the rising tide of violence in Gotham City perpetrated by Two-Face, the Joker, and a violent gang called the Mutants has been called a "masterpiece of storytelling," and in 2005 made Time's list of the 10 best English-language graphic novels of all time.

    So when Miller returned to tell another tale of a seething, aged Batman in the dark, twisted future world he created, anticipation was high - as were expectations that Miller's sequel, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, or DK2 (2001-2002), could live up to the original. 

    DK2 contained more heroes and a continuation of the sort of political satire found in the original, with Batman training his former enemies to rebel against Lex Luthor's corrupt government. But absent was anything even remotely revolutionary about his take on Batman or superheroes, in general. The story - which doesn't even really begin until the second of the three issues - is incoherent or just plain "ridiculous" at times. Worst of all, Miller's artwork is clunky, simplistic, and just plain "weird" throughout. Anatomy appears irrelevant and the features of some characters are so distorted they are almost unrecognizable from panel to panel. Splash and double-page splash pages, usually reserved for epic-scale, poster-worthy scenes are used more to meet page requirements than anything else, as they are simplistic and, like the series itself, fail to make any sort of "splash" at all.

  • The Man of Steel Gets Weird Powers And Two Terrible Costumes In 'Superman Red/Superman Blue' on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#10) The Man of Steel Gets Weird Powers And Two Terrible Costumes In 'Superman Red/Superman Blue'

    After years of declining sales, DC decided to wake up comic book fans - and wider popular culture - to the importance of Superman by offing him in the much-publicized "The Death of Superman" storyline that ran from December 1992 to October 1993. The gimmick worked and Superman #75 (January 1993), in which the Last Son of Krypton succumbs to his injuries after finally defeating Doomsday, raked in $30 million in its first day of sales. After a three-month hiatus, the Superman books returned with four Superman pretenders to the throne - Eradicator, Superboy, Steel, and Cyborg Superman - and fans ate them up, making them the best-selling comics of 1993.

    Of course, the real Superman was never really "dead" and eventually returned, albeit with a mullet and a red-and-blue suit of a darker tint. After a few years, Superman settled back into his old role as the stodgy "Big Blue Boy Scout" of comics and sales began to flag again. Rather than making more compelling stories for their flagship character, DC decided to continue the gimmick of messing with Superman's classic formula and took away his iconic costume, his powers, and even his skin tone in "Superman...Reborn!" in Superman #123 (May 1997). The "reborn" Superman had blue skin and painful electricity-based powers that required a blue-and-white "containment suit" that apparently didn't need to cover his face or the top of his head.

    A year later, DC doubled down on the terrible new Superman by borrowing an idea from a weird 1960s story in Superman Red/Superman Blue #1 (February 1998). Though initially of the same mind, the two Supermen eventually grow independent of one another, with Superman Blue being cooler and more intellectual (because he's, you know, blue), and Superman Red being more hot-tempered and impulsive (because he's red, obviously). Neither of them appealed to Lois Lane, or to fans, and Superman's "electric boogaloo" phase has been a running joke ever since. Time has apparently given DC some perspective, because even the publisher pokes fun at the storyline now. In Superman #154 (March 2000), Brainiac slays a copy of Superman Blue and muses, "He's not Superman... and never will be," while in Dark Knights: Metal #4 (February 2018) Superman Blue is explained away as one of Clark Kent's "nightmares."

  • 'Countdown' Is An Expensive Year-Long Story That Doesn't Matter  on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#14) 'Countdown' Is An Expensive Year-Long Story That Doesn't Matter 

    For 51 straight weeks - beginning with issue #51 and counting backwards down to issue #1 - Countdown (renamed Countdown to Final Crisis as the series neared its conclusion) trotted out just about every DC character of note to tell a rambling, overlapping story that ended up being completely inconsequential to DC continuity as a whole. Following on the heels of another weekly series, 52, but keeping the story within the context of the greater DC timeline instead of a "lost" year, Countdown was designed to restructure the world of the New Gods and set up Darkseid as the ultimate villain in anticipation of his (next) attempt to rewrite reality in the Final Crisis miniseries that immediately followed its conclusion in DC Universe #0 (June 2008).

    The series revolves around Darkseid's plot to control the multiverse in a cosmic game of chess in which he uses heroes and villains from various Earths as pawns. To clear his path to victory, Darkseid attempts to pit the Monitors tasked with safeguarding the multiverse against Monarch and the Crime Society. Unbeknownst to all, however, Darkseid's opponent is the rogue Monitor Solomon, who wishes to control the multiverse himself. Various interconnecting plot lines reveal that New Gods are being slain, Superboy-Prime is back - now as Superman-Prime - and looking for a "perfect" Earth, and a virus is running rampant across parallel Earths, turning people into OMACs for assimilation by Brother Eye.

    There are some fun scenes and interesting iterations of characters, but too many scenes are repeated in multiple issues without added context and the art varies wildly from issue to issue. Countless characters perish throughout the series - including Darkseid himself - but in the end, any victories were hollow and any deaths meaningless as DC promptly resurrected Darkseid and launched into its next "event," Final Crisis.

  • Before Watchmen on Random Most Hated DC Comic Arcs

    (#11) Before Watchmen

    Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons changed comic books forever with their now-classic 12-issue miniseries Watchmen (1986-1987). The series, set in an alternate universe, presents a world changed by the presence of superheroes - the US won the Vietnam War and Nixon never resigned - and focuses on the investigation of the slaying of a retired superhero and a conspiracy with global implications. Moore and Gibbons deconstructed bright and shiny superheroes and built them back up as flawed characters with serious neuroses, pathologies, and deviant sexual appetites in a world filled with scandal and political intrigue. The series thrilled, shocked, and inspired a whole new generation of comic book fans and creators. It became the only graphic novel to make Time's 100 Best Novels list and has been hailed as "the greatest comic book ever written."

    Had DC left well enough alone, Watchmen would have remained a title spoken of with reverence by fans and respect by the greater pop culture community. Instead, executives who saw Watchmen as an under-utilized intellectual property and creatives who dared think they could somehow add to or improve upon an already perfect story disgorged eight limited series and a one-shot (a total of 37 issues) that did nothing but water down the title's legacy. Despite top-notch talent like J. Michael Straczynski, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, and original Watchmen contributor Len Wein, the set of series - released in 2012 when fans had already seen decades of gritty deconstructions - lacks originality and makes no effort to integrate history, culture, philosophy, or psychology into its narratives the way that Moore and Gibbons did in the original. As the LA Times puts it, there's nothing transformational about Before Watchmen - it's just "a bunch of stories about a bunch of superheroes."

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About This Tool

DC Comics created great and popular characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, who worked hard to fight for justice and defend the innocent. On the other hand, some little-known and embarrassing DC comic arcs characters have also sparked discussion. Over time, it is easy to tell who is popular, acceptable, and who is ignored. 

A large number of DC movies were released to show their most popular characters and stories, and the distributors are doing everything they can to make sure that fans forget some annoying DC comic arcs. The random tool lists 14 of the most hated DC comic arcs for fans. 

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