Flanderization/Comic Books

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  • The Dark Age of Comic Books is basically one huge flanderization of The Bronze Age of Comic Books, especially the "dark" contents.
  • Most mainstays of the Giffen-era Justice League International suffered heavy Flanderization; that was sort of the whole point of the books.
    • A notable aversion occurs with, of all people, Guy Gardner. Giffen and DeMattis were concerned with how much Flanderization had already occurred with the character, who initially was more intelligent than Hal Jordan, but by the time of joining the JLI was mostly famous as a Jerkass with severe brain damage. A punch from Batman sends Guy into an alternate, hyper-sensitive persona, eventually revealed to be a total con, as Guy enjoyed screwing with his teammates. His girlfriend, Ice, sees through it.
    • The Justice League in general occasionally suffers this problem. The heroes in their own books have multi-faceted personalities, while Justice League in the hands of sloppy writers reduces them to their most stereotypical natures, such as Batman being completely unfeeling and methodical, or Superman's "boy scout" persona.
      • This is in part because each character was originally The Hero in their own titles. They weren't developed with a group dynamic in mind so some of their key character development has also come from them playing off of each other in the team books.
  • In a strange case of graphical Flanderization, Kingdok from Bone gets more monstrous each issue (compare his first appearance in The Great Cow Race [dead link] with his look in The Eyes of the Storm).
  • The Ultimates are a interesting case of Flanderization. In their initial run, Mark Millar tended to take the most famous aspects of each Avenger (Cap being of the 40's, Tony's hedonism, Pym slapping Janet, Jan being slapped by Pym, Hulk's rage, etc) and amplified them all several times over (Cap was painfully old-fashioned in speech and social views, Tony was always drinking and/or flirting with some blonde, Pym was a textbook wife-beater, Jan was a textbook battered wife, and Hulk was a murdering cannibal). This went into overdrive when Jeph Loeb took over the third volume. Tony was always in a drunken stupor and Cap spontaneously picked fights over Wanda's choice of attire. It was a Flanderization of a Flanderization.
    • Justified in many cases as being the result of stripping away Character Development that hadn't happened yet because these were new versions of the characters. Captain America (comics), for example, was freshly thawed out from The Forties and so could be expected to be more politically incorrect than the mainstream Cap who has had more than a decade to get used to modern life.
      • The problem with this idea was that this version of Steve Rogers was apparently from a version of the 1940's that was itself Flanderized into being far more violent, racist, and callous than it actually was. Kind, forward-thinking, and tolerant people did exist before generation X came along, shockingly enough.
  • Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four started off as a somewhat-conceited daredevil hero of the team. Since the eighties, he's become increasingly more stupid and narcissistic, to the point where he now appears to be a ditzy, Ambiguously Gay metrosexual completely in love with himself.
    • Also, Reed Richards was originally a tad eccentric and rather emotionally stunted, but was Flanderized in the late 1990s/2000s into a borderline savant who doesn't understand human social behavior. This pretty much is part and parcel of Reed's slow derailment from a many-layered, infamously trope-defying character into a generic scientific supergenius strawman.
  • Northstar of Marvel's Alpha Flight (later the X-Men) started off as an arrogant former athlete with an interest in politics and a devotion to his mentally ill sister. While John Byrne wasn't allowed to write Northstar as explicitly gay, he managed to work in a few hints. When Marvel finally got the bright idea to "out" Northstar... well, suddenly, it seemed like all that mature characterization vanished, and suddenly he was gay. Gay, gay, gay. So gay. Did he tell you how gay he is? Even worse, he went back to being a self-absorbed douche despite maturing over the course of Alpha Flight.
  • Bruce Wayne was originally depicted as merely Comfortably Well-Off. Now, he's one of the two richest men in The DCU. Of course, that's hardly the only example of Bat-Flanderization:
    • Poison Ivy went from a gimmicky plant-themed villain to having full-blown control over wildlife and an unkillable immune system after getting in touch with "The Green". In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, many feel this actually made her character more interesting, as being actually part-plant made her ecoterrorism and connection to plants much more understandable.
    • Killer Croc was originally a somewhat intelligent gangster with a medical condition (a very severe medical condition), whose misanthropy was the result of being tormented by everyone (family included) for his freakish appearance. This was eventually downplayed, with Croc becoming more bestial and less intelligent as time went on (this was typically explained that his condition was worsening, further separating him from humanity). By the time of Hush, Croc could probably pass for a bulkier version of Marvel Comic's Lizard (explained away by Hush infecting him with a virus that further increased his mutation).
    • Batman himself has become increasingly ultra-competent and infallible in the past few decades.
      • Averted towards the late 90s through mid-2000s, as his paranoia frequently worked against his allies, most infamously with the Omacs.
      • He's also portrayed as the "brooding loner" of the Justice League. This is despite the fact that the "Bat-family" has more members than Superman's friends and allies, two of the five Robins have led the Teen Titans, one of those two also led Young Justice, the other is considered the most trustworthy man in the hero community, and Oracle acts as the Mission Control is a close friend of a lot of superheroes as well, and he managed to be something of a father to Cassandra Cain.
      • One could argue the flanderization of Batman was necessary to keep him interesting in the context of the Justice League. He's one of the few characters without a true super power, so the question of why they keep him around (aside from maybe his money) needs answering. Having him be the greatest strategist in existence gives him a purpose and even a reason for being one of the guys in charge.
  • Wolverine is a case study. During the '80s considerable Character Development evolved the character from a one-note Jerkass prone to Unstoppable Rage to a wise, intelligent, multitalented, and skilled warrior/mentor (with just enough issues to avoid Canon Sue status). Then he got popular and the Lowest Common Denominator of Captain Fuzzity McStabStab won out with all the guest-shots even as they ramped his Healing Factor to Up to Eleven, making him pretty much the definition of a Canon Sue. And he's still the most popular character of the whole franchise. Because being Badass is the only thing he seems to need.
    • The "Enemy of the State" and "Wolverine: Origin" (Along with the following "Wolverine: Origins" book) stories elevated Wolverine's character to new heights, making him much more interesting again.
    • And again with Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing, where he acts as the partial mentor to a younger hero, acts occasionally snarky, and is definitely not the most powerful member of the team. We also see the bad side of his healing ability; after falling out of the sky, the younger hero mentioned earlier comes upon him just sitting around, waiting for his skin to grow back.
  • During Joe Kelly's run, Deadpool was a talkative loon full of bad jokes and other wackiness. However he was also portrayed as a total psychotic with a loose, at best, grasp of sanity. All the wackiness was a cover to hide his immense mental problems and self-loathing and just the slightest nudge could send him over the edge in a violent, unsettling rage. Most subsequent writers pretty much ignore the latter part and play him up as little more than a goofy comedy character. That being said, the character's popularity has, if anything, skyrocketed since his flanderization and his flanderized version has since become his more iconic and well-recognized version.
  • The Hulk's raw power has been exaggerated to the point that he might as well just be a Super Saiyan.
  • Hey, has Dr. Light told you how much he likes rape lately? "It's like it's his power now." It finally got to the point where other villains refused to work with him and the Spectre turned him into a candle and lit him on fire -- as he was about to do some nasty things to hookers dressed as the Teen Titans.
  • Magica DeSpell's obsession with Scrooge McDuck's Number One Dime. Though her introduction does have her focused on attempting to steal it, other Carl Barks stories usually had Magica simply wanting to become rich, and would often have her working on schemes completely unrelated to the dime. Nowadays, she's completely psychotic about that coin, and you rarely, if ever, see a Magica story without it as her prime goal anymore.
    • The dime itself also went through a sort of Flanderization. In the original story with Magica the dime had no initial magic powers. Magica just needed it as a spell component. Later writers seem to have missed this point and decided that the dime was somehow the source of Scrooge's wealth. In some stories, Scrooge can lose the dime over simple theft and suddenly his entire empire is crumbling. Don Rosa mocks this in the Grand Finale of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, where the Flanderization extends to rumors in-universe. Scrooge finds the idea that he owes his entire fortune to a lucky charm (which he had for twenty years before he even started to make his fortune!) incredibly insulting. That said, Rosa's take on the characters has also that Magica's spell would indeed work should she get her hands on the coin, and that losing the dime would indeed cause Scrooge to lose such spirit that he'd be no match for his enemies.
  • Squirrel Girl begun as an Ascended Fangirl in training, but nowadays her single most defining trait is her victories over Marvel's who's-who of the most powerful super villains. Without the Memetic Mutation that pushes her as being incredibly awesome, she'd be a Boring Invincible Hero.
  • Booster Gold started as a well-meaning hero whose love of money often got him in over his head. Over the course of the '80s and '90s, writers forgot about the "well-meaning" part and turned him into a money-grubbing jerk. Thankfully, over the course of Infinite Crisis and 52 in the mid-'00s, DC built Booster back up, and now he's a genuine hero again--though the lure of fame and fortune still occasionally tempt him.
    • Even better, he now intentionally acts like that, so no-one no-one except Batman & Superman realises that he's grown into a competant hero in his own right, whilst he roams the timestream protecting history from enemies who — if they ever saw past his foolish reputation and realized he was the one foiling their schemes — would not only kill him but do it in such a way that Booster Gold never existed. So now instead of promoting himself, Booster must do everything in his power to make people think he's an inept idiot, in order to carry out his mission to defend time itself.
      • Even before 52, some writers had started pointing out that there was more to Booster Gold than met the eye. At one point one of the other heroes muses that, being from the future, Booster must have been aware that Doomsday was a monster that was fully capable of killing Superman. And he still stepped up and took the first actual punch Doomsday aimed at a hero on his personal forcefield, to protect another member of the League. Both this acknowledgment and the moment itself hint that some people never completely forgot that Booster was kind of badass.
  • Alan Moore's Top Ten has Shock Headed Peter who comes off at first as simply a prejudiced working class cop who actually has some character depth to a 2-D Straw Robo-Racist when a Robot character gets introduced to Precinct 10.
    • Most of Alan Moore's character writing boils down to this trope. He takes a single character trait of the character he's writing fanfiction of/making a Captain Ersatz of and blows it up until it equals the level of a psychosis. A few examples would be turning the Question's objectivism into complete sociopathy as Rorschach, the Invisible Man's amorality into complete For the Evulz dog-kicking, James Bond's Values Dissonance into, well, For the Evulz dog-kicking, and so on.
  • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic: Sonic's attitude has been cranked Up to Eleven, to the point where he's making wisecracks during a battle with Enerjak, a being with seemingly limitless energy (though this may have been more for Comic Relief than anything, it was a tad excessive). To be fair, though, it seems to have slightly boosted his Badass-ness--at the cost of emotion (again, though, to be fair, he never really showed much emotion anyway).
    • The part about emotion is slowly being subverted as of #200; ever since Sonic's apparently driven Robotnik totally, droolingly insane, he seems to actually regret having broken down the guy so completely.
    • An aversion may come from the early comics, which had a much zanier and cartoony format thus exaggerated a lot of the characters' traits compared to their SatAm counterparts, e.g. Sonic existed as a Bugs Bunny with a Totally Radical mannerisms akin to his AoStH counterpart, Sally's somewhat neurotic and no-nonsense attitude was exaggerated into a spoiled, mean-tempered prude and Robotnik was converted into even bigger a bumbling Card-Carrying Villain than his 'Eggman' incarnations. This was reversed as the comic's writing tone became more serious and akin to the show, though some genuine cases of flanderization do pop up on occasion.
      • The whole emotion thing was Sega's doing: They weren't too thrilled when Sonic broke down into tears during an early episode of the Saturday Morning cartoon and demanded that Sonic never show any emotion beyond his usual badass self. Granted, some people were able to get away with it at times, but for the most part, Sonic was 100% attitude.
  • Considering how often Cyclops and Havok end up fighting one another, they sometimes get Flanderized into being locked in an eternal Cain and Abel, being unable to abide one another at the best of times and one of them being a super-villain (usually Havok) at worst. This portrayal appears in the Ultimate, Legends, and Misfits universes, where (unlike their 616 counterparts) they don't need the influence of any psychic brainwashing to bait them into fighting.
  • Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man) has suffered from this perhaps more than any other Marvel character. During a single incident in which he was suffering a nervous breakdown, Hank struck his wife, Janet Van Dyne (The Wasp). Dozens of writers over the years have gone back to this time and again, with at least three different stories having been told about the two of them coming to terms with what happened. As of this writing Janet is dead in Marvel's main continuity and Hank's remorse is so Flanderized and extreme that he's calling himself the Wasp.
    • It's worth noting that both both Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic have hit their significant others in moments of extreme stress. While fans didn't much like either incident, neither character is regarded primarily as a "wife-beater" the way Pym is.
      • Reed's case is entirely justifiable self-defense; his wife was under supervillain mind control and trying to kill him at the time.
    • And of course almost every female romantically tied to a superhero — whether she herself is super-powered or not — has struck her significant other, and none of those incidents have ever been exaggerated as a trait of the character. But that's a different problem entirely.
  • Cat Grant in Superman was introduced as sort of a Good Bad Girl Broken Bird. Someone who had a bit of an immoral past that she was trying to move beyond, and was looking for a good man like Clark Kent to be her anchor. Nowadays she's portrayed as an Loveable Sex Maniac at best and just Really Gets Around at worst.
    • It's been mentioned that this is a facade Cat is using because of the pain of losing her son so many years ago.
  • X-Men villain Mojo was introduced in a miniseries as a psychotic Eldritch Abomination obsessed whose very presence actually caused living things to wither and die and who casually committed Mind Rape. He also commissioned genetically-engineered slaves to act in movies to entertain him. Even Doctor Strange feared what would happen if he stayed on Earth for long. As soon as he was brought into the main X-Men comics, the mystical powers and murderous demeanor were downplayed and the media obsession was turned Up to Eleven, so Mojo immediately became a comedic villain used to spoof the entertainment industry.
    • He's still pretty damn horrible, though, and his comedic personality makes it worse when he does something like torturing Nocturne For the Evulz, or cheerfully sending someone to have their spine freaking removed.
  • When the Little Lulu comics first introduced Wilbur Van Snobbe, he was accurately depicted as a Jerkass Spoiled Brat who would go out of his way to try to best either Lulu or Tubby, with no success. However, when the anime version was created, the creators took away his snobbish characteristics and turned him into a well-mannered rich boy who served as The Smart Guy to Lulu and the others. Then, when The Little Lulu Show was created, his snobbish personality was fortunately returned intact, just like in the original comics.