Unfortunate Implications/Comic Books

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search


"We don't see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink, and blue characters."
Ian Sattler on diversity in DC Comics.

Important Note: Just because a work has Unfortunate Implications does not mean the author was thinking of it that way. In fact, that's the point of it being unfortunate. So, please, no Justifying Edits about "what the authors really meant." The way an author handles a trope is an important factor here; handling a trope in a clumsy manner can certainly create unintentional impressions for readers. Likewise, if a work intends the offensive message (for example, a piece of Nazi propaganda about Jews), it wouldn't count. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period, see Values Dissonance.


  • It seems like there's not an element of Freedom Ring's death that wasn't an unfortunate implication. Less than a month after Marvel cites him as a positive example of a gay male character in Marvel Comics, he's killed off in a graphic and somewhat suggestive manner. And then his powers end up in the hands of his decidedly straight friend and sidekick (who turned out to be a Skrull too).
  • Speaking of gay male heroes at Marvel, Northstar (the first gay hero to come out of the closet at Marvel) was killed by Wolverine in Wolverine # 25 with an attack he probably could've dodged. A bit bad, but people die in comics. Then, one month later, Northstar is killed off in two alternate universe comics, both released in the same week. At least he came back, and this kind of thing happens every now and then with straight characters as well, though usually not in two universes at the same time.
  • In the Young Avengers/Runaways crossover, the gay Hulkling, lesbian Karolina, and trans Xavin were captured and tortured, and the reason given for why they specifically were selected was that it would create less trouble because they're all aliens. No explanation is given as to why Wiccan, Hulkling's mutant boyfriend is knocked out along with the rest and taken along. No reason given as to why he was vivisected as well, though, especially since the reason the aliens were taken was because they had no legal standing in the United States.
    • At least the writers had the sense to have Hulkling's boyfriend change his super-hero name from "Asgardian". Say it out loud if you don't get the unfortunate implications of that name for a gay dude. The other team members even commented on this when everyone was picking new names. ("What name should I use?" "One that people won't laugh at when they find out about you and Teddy").
    • There's also the fact that Xavin spends the entire crossover as a male even though her girlfriend is gay and is only comfortable with her a female
  • There was an extremely obscure DC Comics superhero born from the Bloodlines Crisis Crossover of Black/Vietnamese descent named... Mongrel. Yeah. He died in Infinite Crisis.
  • Archie Comics is full of this, Depending on the Writer. One story involved Betty and Veronica going on a camping trip with Archie, who became increasingly irritated by their presence. They eventually realized the problem -- they were managing to put up their own tents, etc. without his help, which was making him angry. They immediately began acting helpless and stupid, asking for help with every little thing, which gained Archie's affections once more. Wow. Then there is the Aversion runs, like the one where Ron convinces Betty to play tennis to her best ability instead of pandering to Archie. Betty trounces Arch and Ron then does exactly what she called Betty on. In the end, Arch chooses Betty as his tennis partner for a tournament because he "needs a partner who is better than [him]." Like it was said, it depends on the writer.
  • Longtime Transformers comic writer Simon Furman has been very outspoken in the past about his dislike of female Transformers, since robots shouldn't have genders. This is unfortunate enough in the exclusion of female characters and the implication that 'male' is the default. Then Spotlight: Arcee came around, featuring our first female Transformer, who...is actually the result of a twisted experiment in introducing gender to Transformers. Yes, Arcee is an asskicker, but only because being forcibly turned female made her Ax Crazy. Yeah...
  • Until recently, the X-Men character Siryn was portrayed as an outlandish stereotype of Irish women. From her rude and flirtatious demeanor, to her red hair and severe alcohol dependency, the character was little more than an outdated ethnic caricature. However, recent incarnations of the character have abandoned her more offensive aspects and she is now portrayed as a much more well rounded character.
    • In his debut, her dad Banshee was drawn with a rather Gonkish face that resembled nothing so much as the apish 19th century caricatures of Irish people.
    • Another pseudo-offender is Dust, an Afghan girl who can change her body into sand... not terrible, given her positive portrayal, but still eyebrow raising...
      • Dust looked to be approaching this in Young X-Men, with a plot line and Bad Future setting her up to become a villain - which would have been unfortunate indeed, given the number of positive Muslim characters in Marvel can be counted on one hand. This was averted, though - Young X-Men was canceled after 12 issues, and the events rarely mentioned again.
    • Thunderbird divides people into two groups: "Warriors" and "squaws". He also essentially commits suicide, though it's supposed to look heroic.
  • Lampshaded in Maus. Vladek Spiegelman is incredibly miserly, and his son wonders what people will make of a person who is advancing that particular stereotype about Jews.
  • Usagi Yojimbo -- Probably the reason the foreigners including Jesus will remain They Who Must Not Be Seen for a long time. Either the only difference between them and the Japanese Funny Animals (which includes Gen the rhino, Lord Mifune the tiger, and Katsuichi-sensei the lion) is Wig, Dress, Accent or they're a different family of animal (reptilian missionaries would have a literal Crystal Dragon Jesus!). At least Space Usagi has the options of robots and aliens. It may simply a side effect of it being set in an Expy of the Sengoku period--a historically-accurate one, aside from the fact that everybody's a Funny Animal. That means that foreigners would be improbable outside of ports, and probably either Korean or Chinese because Europeans didn't visit Japan until the very end of the Sengoku period.
  • In the Batman series, all the members of the Batfamily to have ever been tempted by evil or too violent or depicted as incompetent are those whose parents were criminals. It's the case for Jason Todd (too violent, murderer), Stephanie Brown (incompetent), Huntress (tendency to disregard the one rule), Cass Cain (murderer, though it was retconned as More Than Mind Control), and Damian (murderer, has tried to kill members of the Batfamily).
    • However, several of the recent additions to the Batman franchise do break from this unfortunate trend. Batwing (an orphaned ex-child soldier from Congo) and Nightrunner (a French Muslim from an impoverished Paris neighborhood) are both portrayed as heroes despite their harsh backgrounds.
      • Can it be pointed out the implication that orphans and poor people are necessarily criminals or children of criminals?
    • Need it be mentioned that Cassandra, after her Face Heel Turn, bore an eerie resemblance to the stereotypical Dragon Lady?
      • It's even worse considering that Cassandra Cain as originally conceived was actually a thorough de(or re)construction of the stereotypically silent foreigner who exists to support the priviledged central character and, pre-derailment, consistently averted many of the tropes associated with that role.
  • Whether intentional or not, Marvel seems to be on a crusade to show that marriage is something young people should avoid at all costs, lest things end in tears (or a funeral). Apparently, dating keeps you young, vibrant, and hip. Marriage instantly ages you 15 years and makes the characters unable to connect with the readership.
    • Justice and Firestar had been a couple for over a decade, and engaged for at least half of that. They split up in an one-shot Valentine's Day special because Angelica -- who was the one who proposed -- decided she'd rather be a normal college student than the wife of a super-hero (she's one herself, so chalk up another Unfortunate Implication). A decision that was, as far as any regular reader of New Warriors or The Avengers was concerned was 100% out of the blue for the (formerly) mature and level-headed Firestar.
    • Cyclops and Phoenix were the first couple of Mutantdom. Scott loved Jean enough to leave his current wife and son to be with her (although Jean did call him out on it). When Phoenix died (this time just for the sake of killing her off), within six issues of that death, Scott was making out with Emma Frost -- Jean's rival -- literally on top of Jean's grave. Horrible imagery, even if it weren't the grave of Scott's wife. Aparently Jean pushes them together because that one relationship is the difference between the world being destroyed or not
    • Scott's younger brother Alex, more or less dumps his fiancee (for two decades plus) Lorna (AKA Polaris) at the altar for the new writer's newly introduced pet character, based on his wife.. Lorna reasonably responds to this by trying to kill the entire wedding party. The fact that the entire relationship was caused by the telepathic desires of said pet character's mutant son to have a father does not help, considering this (unintentionally or not) implies that a little kid not only forced the pair together, but added to Lorna's already present insanity to get her out of the way. And yet the author expects everyone to agree that this is sweet, adorable, and romantic, and Lorna's clearly a horrible monster for legitimately losing her shit over it.
      • More than that, the reason that Lorna was mentally unstable was from witnessing the massacre of Genosha. Yes, witnessing the massacre of thousands of people. Damn that bitch with PTSD, why couldn't she accept being abandoned and humiliated on her wedding day?
    • Hawkeye and Mockingbird. Namely, their divorce after she allowed the man who kidnapped, drugged, and (by implication) raped her fall to his death and said that it was suicide. Hawkeye, who'd been told about this by the ghost of the dead man (who conveniently left out the drugging and raping part) wouldn't even let her explain herself and went off on her in a rage over how Avengers weren't supposed to kill for any reason, and he couldn't trust her anymore. He eventually did hear the whole story and realize he'd been a dick, though.
    • One of the things that got people's ire up about the One More Day saga in Spider-Man was the suggestion that Spider-Man's marriage to Mary-Jane 'aged' him, and made it difficult for readers to relate with him, with Joe Quesada's defense of this viewpoint being to suggest that people who supported the marriage would also "want to see Spider-Man die". Whilst the controversy about that story-line has been bashed out in great depth elsewhere, Quesada's suggestion (inadvertent or otherwise) that "marriage = death" has not gone unnoticed. This is not the only Unfortunate Implication surrounding said storyline either, but as has been noted, many have been thrashed out in-depth elsewhere.
      • His excuse for having Spidey make a Deal with the Devil rather than tackling the more conventional, real issue of divorce was that Spider-Man getting a divorce was a bad example for the kids. As opposed to Spider-Man dealing with Satan.
        • Then there's the Unfortunate Implications of the fact that this also aborted his unborn daughter, which carries one of two implications: 1) Abortions are the work of the Devil, or 2) A single woman can't have a child without a man around.
        • There's also the unfortunate implications regarding the resolution of the story. We are told that Mephisto is doing this because part of their souls will always be tortured by this loss. However, he wipes their minds of the knowledge that they are married. And he seemingly does nothing to prevent them getting back together as a couple, which they seem to be doing as of this posting. Plus, their lives seem to be pretty good and there is no negative consequence that they are consciously aware of. So, basically, the message ends up being "You can make a Deal with the Devil, and skip out on dealing with life's harsh realities, and everything will work out fine and you'll suffer no negative consequences."
      • Sequel storyline One Moment In Time, where we see just how the marriage got called off in this alternate timeline, is reopening old wounds. MJ says that she doesn't want to have children with Peter, because Spider-Man would be a crappy dad in spite of himself. A fair point. But then she says, "If [kids] are no longer part of the equation, then marriage is just a piece of paper."
    • Wasp was killed off, because Quesada and Bendis say that Hank Pym is "more interesting" without her.
  • When Warren Ellis took over Marvel's once-popular Generation X title, he decided to shake things up and alter the status quo in an effort to bring in new readers. And how exactly did he shake things up? By killing Synch, the team's sole African American member in order to provide angst for the rest of the Gen X kids.
    • Mondo, the team's Samoan member, ultimately ended up betraying the group and trying to kill them. It wouldn't be so bad if you couldn't literally count the number of Polynesian superheroes on one hand. He also embodied several common stereotypes about Samoans, such as being overweight and lazy.
  • The now-infamous Avengers issue # 200, in which Carol Danvers suddenly becomes pregnant and gives birth at impossible rate of speed, only to learn that her baby is in fact his own father, having used "subtle boosts" from mind control machines to impregnate her in another dimension, an encounter which she has no memory of. And the Avengers are just peachy with this, even allowing her to go back to the other dimension with him despite it being clear the mind control is in effect again. The fact that this entire story was presented as a happy ending for Carol when it was published only made it a thousand times worse.
    • Later writers seemed to recognize this: When Carol next met the Avengers, Carol treated them to an epic What the Hell, Hero? rant.
    • Unfortunately, it got a much less tasteful handling some years later, that can basically be summed up as "Hey, Carol, tell my babydaddy and anyone else in earshot all about that horribly traumatic thing that happened to you in order to justify my neurotic fear that my baby might be a monster. Haha, man, wasn't that the weirdest time?" While being in labor isn't the best of times to care about appropriateness, holy crap.
    • Moviebob does a two-part series on this topic alone.
  • Carl Barks claimed he didn't see any of the Unfortunate Implications regarding Scrooge's relationship with Goldie in Back to the Klondike until the censors pointed them out, at which point he wondered what he was thinking. (A-hem...) Not that readers (including Don Rosa) disapproved once the whole story was restored... is that more unfortunate?
  • And then there's the newspapers. More specifically, there's BC. All the male (hominid) characters have names - Curls, Peter, BC, Wiley, Clumsy Carp, Grog. The women? They're known as "the cute chick" and "the fat broad". No names are ever given for the women.
    • And don't forget about the infamous "Islam" comic, or the one involving a menorah turning into a Christian cross while the final words of Jesus were displayed above it. Does the fact that the "menorah" is depicted inaccurately (seven arms instead of nine) make it more or less offensive? You decide!
      • It's not inaccurate. Menorahs do have seven arms, the nine-armed variant seen on Hanukkah are called hanukkiya. Hart got it right, albeit probably by accident. And that doesn't change that it's offensive.
      • Especially appalling is that the latter comic, when it provoked a seemingly obvious reaction, was claimed to be an attempt to honor both religions. Since Hart had previously said that ""Jews and Muslims who don't accept Jesus will burn in Hell", nobody bought it.
        • Then there's the logic of Christianity being in a comic named "Before Christ".
  • One of the biggest examples was Luke Cage. He became almost a black supremacist. At the start of Civil War, Cage opted to remain home and bother no one, as he felt that all people have a right to do so. Throughout the Civil War, Cage fought alongside Captain America (comics), as he believed that he had to fight for the rights of his child and the country as a whole. Despite this, during Storm and Black Panther's wedding, he suddenly wanted to just up and leave for Wakanda. To make things worse, he wanted to take all of the black heroes, and only the black heroes (his wife, too), and start a "Black Avengers" team. Not only is that racist (bordering elitist), but it is as good as saying that the whole mess is just white people's fault, and that only white people should deal with it. Combined with the fact that when black protesters started to riot outside the White House (for no other reason than Black Panther left early), and a sentinel driven by Jim Rhodes was downed and the protesters saw who he was, and they called him a traitor and sell-out because he was black, the overall impression from the comic was that the Registration Act was anti-blacks, and that any black people who supported it were traitors to their own race. Also, when one of his colleagues asked Rhodey his opinion on Panther, Rhodey called him a racist for no reason. The comic was so focused on race that it drew unfortunate implications against white and black people: that whites are the cause of America's problems and black people cannot associate with them and that all black people care about is people of their own race. This coming from a man who married a white woman and named their daughter after his white best friend.
    • Reginald Hudlin, who may have been responsible for the above, also wrote a story where Black Panther visited New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and saved the local black community from white supremacist vampires that were sucking them dry (subtle). And then there's the time Black Panther visited a world of alien shapeshifters... all the evil warlike ones had shapeshifted to look like white 1920s gangsters, and all the good peaceloving ones had shapeshifted to look like black Civil Rights leaders...and the evil ones were in control and made the good ones fight in a gladiator arena, basically as slaves (even more subtle). And then there's the time Hudlin retold the history of the world, retconning Panther's homeland of Wakanda into a black utopia that was thousands of years more advanced than anywhere else even back in the Stone Age, remaining ahead of the curve ever since, and eventually, in a flashforward to the future, taking over the world and ushering in a Golden Age, shortly after America elects Luke Cage president.
    • Regarding Hudlin and Black Panther, there's the way he shoved Storm and Black Panther into marriage. One thing necessary for that was to leave Storm's long time love interest Forge to the sidelines. Forge also happens to be a Cheyenne. So it is all right to trample on another historically oppressed minority for the betterment of blacks?
      • What makes it even more unfortunate is that Storm is not only arguably the most famous black superhero, she's also tended toward interracial relationships (notably marrying Wolverine in an alternate future), without any appreciable drama assigned to it -- in fact, before Hudlin's storyline, you'd be hard-pressed to find a hero with more stable relationships. By shoehorning her into marriage with Black Panther, Hudlin makes the implication that her previous longterm relationships were meaningless before the importance of marrying a black man she hardly knows. Rather than try to play this down, Hudlin has several characters comment upon the certainty of their eventual children's genetic superiority.
        • Hmmmm...people of a certain race being guaranteed "Genetically superior children"? That sounds strangely familliar....
    • There's also the suggestion that Wakanda has discovered a cure for cancer... and yet actively refuses to share it with the rest of the world, because the rest of the world apparently doesn't deserve it.
    • Early depictions of Rage may also fall into this. Here's a black man called Rage (Black Rage, get it?) and he's not even a man, he's a boy in a man's body. The early appearances in the Avengers, Rage attacked the Avengers for not having any black Avengers at the time, so he gets a position in the team because he complained.
      • It was pretty clear that Rage's initial persona (from his name to his gear) was tinged with immaturity. And Captain America granted him a slot in the Avengers because didn't want to completely blow him off the way he'd done Vance Astrovik/Justice. Also, at the time Cap did not know Rage's true age, and as soon as the Avengers found out they sent him to the New Warriors.
  • Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) comments on this in one of his collections. One story had various personal items mysteriously disappearing from people's cubicles. Eventually it turns out that the Security Guard and the Janitor are the culprits. However, this happens in a Sunday strip, and Adams does not do the coloring personally, it's added by an editor at his syndicate. As you might expect from its inclusion here, both of them are depicted with decidedly non-Caucasian skin tones. Adams says that somehow they pick the exact worst times to add diversity to the cast...
    • Deliberately toyed with by Adams after he got some backlash over the character of Tina, who is offended by everything. Readers complained of her being so "brittle" because she was a woman, even though she was only female because he wanted to add some more gender diversity to the cast. In response he created the joke character "Antina", who was a deliberate reversal of every female stereotype imaginable. This time Adams was accused of mocking lesbians.
    • Many of the early Dilbert cartoons take potshots at Straw Feminists and depict Dilbert as a Dogged Nice Guy who refuses to take no for an answer from women who will not date him. More recent strips, however, don't seem to have this problem.
    • On the assumption that having no recurring minority characters would itself be a problem, Adams decided to add Asok to the cast. Since Adams makes pretty much all his characters extremely flawed, he was hesitant about handling an ethnic minority for fear of being accused of racism. So he made Asok a hyper-competent, naive intern whose main flaw was being unaware of the cynical workings of his company, a flaw that would implicitly go away with time. He still got complaints for that one.
  • There's a Christian comic books series known as Power Mark which features a Multinational Team of Kid Heroes led by a Singaporean (Filipino in the version marketed to the Philippines, naturally) veteran (the titular Power Mark) tasked with making Virtual Reality simulations of Biblical stories for purposes of global evangelization. Okay, maybe not for everyone, but not that bad. However, said Multinational Team is composed mostly of National Stereotypes, but are portrayed rather well... except for the Russian who turns out to be an anti-social, semi-sociopathic traitor. The Jewish character has also converted to Christianity. Then there's the fact that the global government is the International Christian Coalition, with its own armed forces sporting stylized cross insignias. The Dragon for most of the series is a long-lost relative of the main character in a robotic suit who had a bad Faith Heel Turn and became obsessed with killing said main character. This antagonist is known as Fang Shaw, and sports stereotypically Chinese aesthetics for the aforementioned suit. The evil organization's Big Bad (who naturally suffers from A God Am I) is primarily concerned with increasing his forces through induced Faith Heel Turns by Hitler-like speech-making to groups of Hollywood Atheists. Most minor enemies throughout the series are also Hollywood Atheists. Lastly, the Big Bad's right hand woman is stereotypically German.
  • DC's current policy of "retiring" Legacy characters (Green Arrow, The Atom, Firestorm, etc) in order to reinstate their Silver Age counterparts wouldn't be so bad, if so many of the Legacy characters weren't minorities. Nostalgia Filter in that case went really out of control. Their bid to return to the nostalgic roots of the Silver Age has resulted in a lot of minority characters either being killed off, Put on a Bus, or Demoted to Extra. Several of their Team titles, such as Justice League of America, The Legion of Super Heroes, and now even the Teen Titans, have gotten rid of nearly, and in the latter all, of their minority heroes.
    • The Atom – It would be bad enough when they brought back Ray Palmer and reduced Asian Ryan Choi to his sidekick. But then they reduced Ryan to sidekick status, canceled his series, and left him with around three appearances in around two years. Then, for the first time since before Blackest Night (Cry For Justice, where he had a grand total of a page and a half of screen time), Ryan shows up in an issue; does this mean we get to see the next generation of the Atom, hopefully without whiny rants about how terrible he feels that his ex-wife was a psycho? Nope. We get to see him impaled on Deathstroke's sword, after wiping the floor with every single villain Slade hired. It's downright painful, and that's without the otherwise mentioned inverted Affirmative Action Legacy hanging over the whole thing like the sword of freakin' Damocles.
      • What makes this even worse is that Choi's series neither avoided nor centered on his Chinese heritage -- he revisits home, and has to deal with both cultural and political ramifications, but it's largely a contained arc. Choi was the rare character in comics who neither ignored his racial identity nor had it be emblematic of his entire culture, and he got waxed for more screentime from Ray Palmer, a character who's still not written as consistently nor very often in the first place.
    • Batgirl had a complicated bit of foreshadowing involving Cassandra Cain, who was the active Batgirl at the time, and Barbara Gordon, who had been Batgirl but had retired the persona after being shot and paralyzed from the waist down. It was looking like Barbara Gordon was going to regain the ability to walk and reclaim the Batgirl mantle from Cassandra Cain, who is Asian-American, but they never had Barbara regain her mobility and just had Cassandra abruptly abandon the role after Batman's death in Final Crisis. Cassandra was then replaced by none other than Stephanie Brown, who is a blond haired, blue-eyed Aryan stereotype who already had her own superhero identity. With this latest adjustment Batgirl, Supergirl, and Wondergirl are all blonde haired and blue-eyed teenagers. To put this in perspective, before this, even though the girls were all white, Batgirl was a redhead and Wondergirl had dark hair. The modern incarnation of the trio is practically a parody. Perhaps Peter David should try pitching his Blonde Justice book again.
    • It can by sexist too – female Hawk, Holly Granger, has been killed in the same event, that also brought back Hank Hall, original Hawk, though the Hawks and Doves example is a bit complicated. The female Dove, Dawn Granger, was created to replace the first, male Dove who was killed in a Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. Also Holly's origin made almost no sense, given that Dawn had never had a sister (or half sister) before, and the beings which empowered Hawk and Dove had died linking themselves to Hank and Dawn, with the clear statement that there could be no more power transfers.
      • What makes this even more unfortunate? While given free will in the matter, the powers that created Hawk & Dove as an experiment explicitly did so to see if they would procreate. The first and third duos are not only same sex, implying the gods Fail Biology Forever, they're also brothers and sisters, respectively, for added Squick.
      • There is another unfortunate implication about Hawk and Dove. Before her death, Holly was talking to Dawn about Hank Hall. Dawn was defending Hank, saying that she knew him as a person more than anyone else. Holly was attacking Hank, pointing out that Hank was not very sympathetic, because he became a villain named Monarch (who caused a lot of death and destruction before getting killed off). Then the chain of events happen in which Hank kills Holly, Hank ends up resurrected, and Holly stays dead. Oh, and Hank seems to be Easily Forgiven for everything he had done before his death, and no one seems to notice, care, or comment on him or his deeds. Someone ought to contact the comic book writers and discuss this with them.
    • The news of the DC Comics 2011 reboot had already opened a huge can of Ruined FOREVER from the fans, but the news that Barbara Gordon -- her paralysis either apparently cured or retconned out of existence -- would once again be Batgirl rather than Oracle added a healthy dose of this trope on top of the reaction as well.
      • Many writers and artists bemoaned Barbara's recovery, so one wonders who exactly chose to cure her. On the brighter stide of things, most of the above is also retconned. Ryan Choi is back as the Atom, the black and white Firestorms share a title, and a good number of their new titles are centered around minorities. Kendra Saunders, the half-Latina Hawkgirl, was also revived. They are also adding a new paraplegic hero, but instead of a wheelchair she rides a horse. Because that's awesome.
  • In the famous "Judas Contract" storyline of Teen Titans, teenage sociopath Terra is killed by her backfiring powers, with an Author Tract about how she was evil for no reason and got what she deserved. The problem is that previous comics had in fact established a troubled childhood as the reason behind how Terra became the way she is, and the whole narration basically comes across as "Mentally troubled, unstable people are all EVIL and don't deserve help or understanding." It's little wonder a lot of people these days prefer how the animated TV show handled this story....
    • Similarly, Cyborg's had a few brushes with these over the course of his development. Initially, he was highly intelligent but preferred athletics. He later formed a franchise branch of the Titans as their leader, and their first issue ended with a Curb Stomp Battle killing almost all of them, even though multiple members of the team were veteran heroes themselves. The author himself, Judd Winick, said this was to invoke the "worst" aspects of the Titans before he reunited the classic lineup.
    • Insane Equals Violent raises its head again in Titans when the gentle long-time Titan Jericho goes insane due to evil personalities picked up from his possession powers and sets out to kill his closest friends and sister, along with killing some civilians on the way. Despite confirmation from both Nightwing and The Justice League that Jericho is suffering from an ‘unique’ Multiple Personality Disorder and the real Jericho is somewhere still inside he is mostly portrayed as monster and is literally deemed unable to be saved from his condition at the end of the storyline. Basically, the team that’s filled with members who’ve gone bad due to demonic possession, mind control, and/or brainwashing and committed some pretty heinous acts themselves has the one suffering a psychotic breakdown deemed too corrupted to be saved.
      • There’s also that Jericho was one of DC’s few physically disabled heroes, Camp Straight (His creators considered making him gay, but decided not to as they would be playing the "artistic and sensitive man = gay" stereotype) and not to mention being the son of an assassin that adds to the unfortunate part.
    • The first Terra was supposed to be a psychopath or sociopath. Then Terra was brought back sometime afterwards, and demonstrated horror, regret and remorse. There was considerable confusion over whether she was a clone of the first Terra, or actually the same one. She is supposed to be the same one, but that had to be kept a secret. This either sends the message that Terra, a psychopath/sociopath, can become good (That is not true, because they are incapable of doing so) or sends the message that Terra is not really a psychopath/sociopath (only acting like it) and that she made horrible choices and is mentally ill. There are some Unfortunate Implications here. Fortunately, her past was not whitewashed, and Slade Wilson and Beastboy found it very awkward to be anywhere near here. The comic book writers had to have known the Unfortunate Implications they were bringing up with the character. In fact, they did the smart thing in the end by having her die as a hero fighting against Black Adam in the World War III storyline. So now there is a third Terra named Atlee, who thankfully is not the equivalent of the original Terra. The comic book writers should do that more often - kill off characters that have too many Unfortunate Implications and replace them with characters that have the same name, but a different look and attitude.
    • The comic book writers themselves seem to have a difficult time reconciling Terra's personality across the stories. Slade Wilson had told Beastboy that he had nothing to do with Terra being evil. However, years later Slade Wilson tells Terra's brother Geo-Force that he put Terra on drugs, like he did with Cassandra Cain. He then states that he overdid it with Terra, and by then her mind was irreversably damaged, making her a psychopath/sociopath. It seems that the writers are trying to give Terra a Multiple Choice Past. Was she always bad to begin with, and drugs made her worse? Was she actually good, and drugs made her bad? Were drugs even used on her to begin with? Are the writers addressing Unfortunate Implications, or are they actually creating more of them?
    • While the goal of creating more ethnic diversity is admirable, the three new minority Titans created for the 2011 DC Relaunch all have appearances that effectively hide their skin (and thus ethnicity), while the existing Titans all wear costumes that clearly indicate that they are white.
  • Alpha Flight member Puck was originally intended to be an ordinary Badass Normal with dwarfism by creator John Bryne. He based the character off a friend of his, and was trying to being inclusive. A later writer revealed Puck had originally been a very tall man, but his height had been reduced due to having a demon inside his body - which incidentally made him immortal. The story in which this introduced also sees the demon escaping and Puck reverting to an overjoyed 7-foot octogenarian, at least until the end of the story. In other words, being a midget is caused by demonic possession.
    • The Unfortunate Implications get worse with how all the characters treat this outcome, feeling sorry for Puck for being "cursed" to be an immortal midget. Apparently being short is so awful, not even eternal youth can make up for it. There's a reason no one mentioned that story again.
  • Not even Jack Kirby was immune: The two New Gods characters "The Black Racer" and "Vykin the Black" are both, err, black. Then again as they were the first Black Superheros in DC Comics, and both total bad-asses to boot, we're in serious Fair for Its Day potential.
  • The Phantom is a hero who has maintained the illusion of immortality for 4 centuries by passing his mantle on to his son, generation to generation. Thus far, all Walker children have been Caucasian as was the original Phantom. The Unfortunate Implication being that perhaps male Walkers are pressured to only wed Caucasian women, or risk the "legend" of The Phantom's immortality.
    • Various stories about Phantom history have established that past Phantoms have taken Spanish, Italian, Mongolian, and Indian wives, along with the Englishwomen and Americans. There is however, and despite their relative availability, no record of any Phantom having married an African woman.
    • The premise of Dynamite's The Last Phantom is a Walker that abandons the mantle of the Phantom - but not the people under his protection. He runs a charitable foundation to help the people of Bengali. He is the first Walker shown to have married a black woman, and their son is dark-skinned. Both wife and son are brutally murdered by mercenaries...
  • Marvel villain The Mandrill was born to white parents, but resembled a black baby. That alone is kind of weird, especially since it leads him down the path to villainy. But then his mutant nature shifts him into looking like a monkey. Yes, the natural progression was from white person to black person to monkey. This was probably completely unintentional, but it's still rather bizarre - especially given that his actual power, mesmerizing women, isn't remotely simian.
    • His sometimes-lover Necra is nearly as bad - a white child born to black parents, her mutant powers make her an emotional vampire. White girls is crazy, man.
    • His superpower is mesmerizing women into wanting him. There's really no way to put this delicately: he's a white man who looks like a black man who looks like a monkey with the power of rape. How did he get green-lit???
  • DC superheroine Vixen is a black woman whose powers are channeling animal spirits to gain their abilities. A black person whose power is being like an animal. Yeesh.
    • More than one Author's Saving Throw attempted, however. Vixen's a thoroughly Americanized African native, and has been frequently portrayed as a powerhouse in her own right, being one of the few people to solo an Amazo android. Her appearance in Animal Man showed that it's not that she's like animalistic so much as she's more familiar with her powers than is Buddy. A later appearance went a step further, and implied Animal Man himself derived his powers from an African god, too. YMMV as to whether these attempts worked, and her brief tenure as leader of the Justice League was intentionally rendered as inept to make the next writer's team look better -- the first time a black character led the League.
    • An episode of Justice League Unlimited poked fun at this idea, making it clear that while Vixen has animal-based powers, it doesn't make her some beast-woman.

Vigilante: (As they stumble stranded through the jungle) Hey Vix, isn't this supposed to be your terriority? Use some of your animal tricks to give us the leg up.
Vixen: What makes you think I know anything about the jungle? I live in a loft in Chelsea.

  • The Justice League have had a couple over the years. For one, the Superfriends needed new members created for the show so they weren't all white, and even renamed one character from the comics (Black Vulcan was Black Lightning there). The most recent reboot of the Justice League series had Black Canary as leader because it was her turn, but Executive Meddling and frequent rotations of creative teams meant members came and went regularly, making her appear to be inept by implication. After she quits, someone suggests John Stewart take over due to his extensive military and police experience, and he declines, saying he's a better follower and that Black Canary should lead. Though Stewart's comments were an unsubtle Take That from the writer to the new team coming in to replace him, intended to show that he liked Canary as leader, it's still a black man talking about how his lot in life is to serve, and he wants to follow orders from the blonde-haired[1], blue-eyed woman.
  • Invoked as a potential worry with the Infidel in Astro City, and eventually disregarded as unimportant. The Infidel is a bit of a Lex Luthor Expy to the Samaritan's Superman, and his race was chosen for a more marked visual contrast to his nemesis. Given the cast includes several heroic black heroes, most notably Spider-Man Expy Jack-in-the-Box, the creative team eventually felt it'd have Unfortunate Implications of its own not to have a prominent black villain, too. Infidel's ethnic identity is only important in his origin and his name; afterwards, he's clearly uncaring of race in general.
    • Invoked in-story when an editor of comics decides to make real supers the focus, and uses supervillains since they can't sue. He picks one hideously mutated character to play off as a neo-Nazi, only to find the supervillain breaks out of jail specifically to hunt him down for this portrayal -- not that anyone can tell anymore, but he wasn't white even before his accident, and the bad writing has caused Unfortunate Implications for him among friends and family.
  • The Spirit featured a sidekick named Ebony White. In the original comics, his appearance was so absurdly stylized that he resembled some sort of mutated monkey, rather than a black child. In a case of Values Dissonance and Society Marches On, however, the NAACP lauded this character, as he was ethical and moral, in contrast to most black characters in comics of the time.
  • Directly invoked with an issue of the most recent Manhunter series, as befits a comic that tries to redeem a previous series' Unfortunate Implications. Director Bones is a government operative that has transparent, poisonous soft tissues in his bodies, making him appear as a living skeleton. On rare occasions, he puts on makeup so as to be visible, and his ethnicity shows up: he's black (his former hero identity was Mister Bones, and somehow it escaped notice that naming a black man with invisible skin this was bad). Nothing much is made of it until much later, when Manhunter tries to get him to intervene in a border dispute by saying he's forgotten what color his skin would be. It's a bad move on Manhunter's part, and infuriates Bones that she, a white woman, would even pretend to understand what saying that to him really meant, and he puts her in her place.
  • The Sandman graphic novel A Game of You has a transsexual woman who is generally treated quite sympathetically. However, the woman-associated Moon rejects her for not be a "real" woman, and she becomes the only heroic character in the volume who ends up dying senselessly (and staying dead). Of course, it is implied that she Died Happily Ever After. It does allow the reader a chance to see Wanda's soul after death, and it turns out her true self really is female.
    • Neil Gaiman has later explained that he intended the target of the jab to be the ancient witch and goddess, not the transsexual woman. The point was that these ancient beings with little contact with modern value systems would have pretty narrow and conservative views, in this case "real women have to menstruate". Death, who is timeless, doesn't care about such things.
  • One of the few, if not the only person diagnosed with autism in DC Comics is Black Manta. His story role? A baby-murdering Complete Monster. He also turns out to be a Malcolm Xerox, at least in his first appearances (this part has since been toned down).
  • Even compared to The Authority, which handed out vicious Take Thats like candy on Halloween, Nextwave manages to have this trope on occassion. Take the time Monica flashed back to her time in the Avengers, and they're looking at something offscreen with horrified expressions.

Monica: It's the Gamma-Activated Bull Men From Beyond The Nineteenth Perimeter-- --and they're naked.
Captain America: Cover your eyes, go back to the Avengers Mansion, and make me my dinner.

    • Out-of-Character Moment aside, one could argue that it's a parody, except it's clearly not a parody of Captain America. It's not a parody of the writing or characterization trends of a distinct era. If it's not the character, and it's not the comic itself, then what's it--oh. And this wasn't a one-off; look up "Surrender? SURRENDER?! You think this letter on my forehead stands for France?" on the relevant Take That sub page.
      • Actually, that scene is probably a meta comment on how the character of Monica Rambeau/Captain Marvel was handled in The Avengers in the 1980s. Writer Roger Stern had fleshed her out as a strong female hero, who eventually became the leader of The Avengers. However, Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald wanted to bring back Captain America as the leader of the team, and this was to be done by showing Monica to be an inferior leader compared to Cap. Stern thought doing that to one of the few black female superheroes Marvel had at the time would have Unfortunate Implications, so he refused to write the story and was replaced by another writer. The replacement writer did the story Gruenwald wanted: Monica was Brought Down to Normal, retired the from The Avengers, and Cap became their leader again. You can read more about it here.
    • Fortunately, Captain America (comics) did realize that he was being an idiot and later said that he did not know why he said that.
  • Tyroc from "The Legion of Super Heroes". Apparently someone back in the 70's pointed it out to DC Comics that just about EVERY member of this HUGE group of heroes was WHITE. So DC tried to change that, and introduced a character named Tyroc. Apparently as a means to explain this long-standing absence of black people in the Legion comics, and possibly due to meddling from the editor of said comic (who apparently had some issues), Tyroc's people (and apparently every black person in existence) were on a hidden island on Earth that's cut off from everyone else. So yeah... this didn't really work out.
    • In an active case of Writer Revolt, artist Mike Grell deliberately designed Tyroc to look as ridiculous as possible due to an origin he called "a segregationist's dream".
  • In one issue of Green Lantern, it looked like Kyle Rayner may have died and passed on his ring, and thus the powers and title, to his gay friend and assistant. The next issue opened with Kyle walking down the street giving a narration of how he'd done an Ass Pull to stick himself in the ring and send it back to Earth, and it was about this time that said gay friend was dropped from the title. While it's possible DC editorial simply balked at killing off a main title character (and without the appropriate Crisis Crossover and massive press events to lead up to it), it wound up looking like the idea of having a gay legacy character in one of their popular, iconic hero titles (as opposed to just a side character or one the general public didn't know about) made them panic so hard it required a hasty Retcon.
  • Let's stop by Camelot 3000 for a while, shall we? It's difficult to say what's more unfortunate:
    • The fact that the Mooks of the piece, and utterly expendable, are large bald men whose skin colour tends towards the black end of the scale. (To be fair, Sir Gawain was reincarnated as a black man ... who's not really that interested in serving King Arthur at any stage.)
    • The fact that Merlin, and by implication all magic on Earth, derives all its power from Satan. T.S. Eliot's corpse just hit 3,000 rpm.
    • Or how about the fact that King Arthur tried to drown his infant son. While one of his buddies raped an innocent woman. Yep, our hero ladies and gentlemen! The cannibalistic alien monsters are actually less dick-ish than the supposed "Good guys" in this series. And this isn't even a "Watchmen" style deconstruction of heroes...we're genuinely meant to find these assholes sympathetic.
    • It gets worse. Sir Tristam, the aforementioned rapist, finds himself reincarnated into a woman's body, and plays out what amounts to a transexual's struggle to accept the female body he's in. Full points to the progressive character ... but unfortunately, the comic heavily implied that his situation was a punishment for this sin in his previous life. Yes, folks, you read that right: transexuals are all the subject of karmic retribution by God.
  • Shado, a character, and the Dragon Lady, from Green Arrow, really goes into the territory of Unfortunate Implications. First take a look at this. She shot him in the chest with an arrow. Then she had sex with him while he was being given medication for his wound and delirious with fever. She raped him, and she got away with this scot-free. This falls into Double Standard Rape (Female on Male), and worse, several characters in universe treat the rape like Ollie consensually cheated on his longtime girlfriend and eventual wife Black Canary with Shado. Oh, and Shado reveals to him years later that she had a son named Robert from the rape. She loves her son very much and does not want Ollie to have anything to do with Robert. Robert is a Child by Rape. He is perfectly normal and not a monster or anything. He does not seem to know the circumstances of his birth. How do you suppose he would react if he found out about that? Dear God, what kind of comic book writer comes up with a story like that?
  • The Canadian government is protrayed in a very negative light in the X-Men stories. It is responsible for a secret government project called Weapon X. This project takes willing and unwilling beings and turns them into living weapons. The most famous of these guinea pigs was Wolverine, a Canadian citizen who was kidnapped by these people. This gives the image of the Canadian government being a bunch of conscienceless monsters that would stoop to the low of kidnapping and experimenting on its own citizens. Additionally, in reality, the Canadian military is underfunded enough to still be using helicopters from the 1960s, making it unlikely that they would have the spare cash for secret human-rights-violating supersoldier experiments.
    • Some comics have implied or outright stated that Weapon-X was a joint project between the Canadian and American governments. Others instead run with the idea that it was never actually sanctioned or funded by any government, and is actually part of an Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Marvel has this storyline titled Decimation. This is the story that reveals that millions of mutants have been depowered, and that at least 198 mutants still retain their powers. Here comes the fun part: Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada said that the purpose of the event was to reduce the number of mutants because he felt that the number of mutants had gotten out of hand after 40 years of publishing. His claim was that point of the X-Men story is to have mutants as a minority, and that you cannot have a minority if there are millions, implying that as long as there are enough of a group, they can be automatically free of hate and discrimination.
    • Keep in mind this was also around the time that Grant Morrison's New X-Men run finally started portraying mutants as an organized minority culture, with their own neighborhoods, music, and fashion, resulting in titles like District X. So Quesada's statement also carries the implication that once a minority group settles down and establishes an identity, it's no longer "different."
  • In the novel Alien vs. Predator :Prey, secondary protagonist Jame Roth is in a lesbian marriage with fellow rancher Cathie. Their relationship is stable, affectionate without being gratuitous and often rather sweet and both girls survive all the way to the end. In the comic version, all mention of them being in a relationship is erased and both of them are shunted off into minor characters. It's a minor thing, but it's very weird, as this troper was impressed at how mature the novel's treatment of the relationship was (it's brought up early on and treated exactly the same as a heterosexual marriage) and seeing it erased was rather irritating.
    • Actually, the novel was written well after the graphic novel/comic, so this is more a case of added depth in adaptation.
  • The most "ugly" characters in the DCU tend to be villains, while in the Marvel universe characters like The Thing and Nightcrawler can be heroes.
  • In the 1980s, there was a crossover between The Avengers and their L.A. counterpart, the West Coast Avengers, where a villain makes members of those teams have one-on-one fights against each other. At the time both teams had more than one token female member, but in the fights every one of the female heroes loses to a male hero — even when the female hero is much more powerful, such as when She Hulk faces Hawkeye. Writer Steve Englehart does try to justify the resolution of each fight (for example, Hawkeye wins because of his superior tactical mind) but the implications are still unfortunate.
  • The New 52 version of Justice League International has Vixen (The most prominent black female DC has) put into a coma so that DC could put Batwing on the team in her place. As Batwing is established as an old friend of Vixen's who joins the team in part to avenge her, this could be seen as a case of fridging.
  • DC attempted to introduce a new female enemy for Superman named "The Masochist," complete with a leather collar and a T-shirt with the words "Hurt Me!" scrawled across it. This caused Internet Backdraft from a number of female comic blogs over the perceived domestic violence implications this had, resulting in DC rechristening the character "Anguish" and removing all of the S&M imagery from her person.
  • Before the NuDC reboot, it was revealed in Justice League: Generation Lost that Ice's previous backstory (she was the daughter of a family of tribal "Ice People" in Norway) was a post-traumatic hallucination to cover up her true origins. Instead, she came from a Scandinavian off-shoot of the Roma... but her entire clan, save for her saintly parents, was made up of con men and thieves, with her crooked grandfather wanting to use her powers for criminal means. So, DC gets a new Romani hero, and she comes from a line of crooks. Whoop de shit. Thankfully this seems to be gone as of the reboot, making it one positive change to come out of the reboot.
  • While the character himself has been the subject of good sales and a lot of positive press, it must be pointed out that the replacement of the Ultimate Spider-Man with a half hispanic, half black kid who's related to a criminal and didn't have the best living arangements leads to making Miles Morales, who otherwise isn't a bad character by himself, a bit of a stereotype.
  1. Black Canary actually isn't a natural blond, but most forget this