DC has not been one of the "Big Two" comic book companies for more than half a century simply because it has the longest-running title in history or some of the most recognizable and important fictional characters in the world, but because the publisher has produced some of the most entertaining, critically acclaimed, and groundbreaking stories of all time. But even with DC's pick of the best writers and artists in the industry, the pressures of producing dozens of comic books a month in competition with the books of Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and a dozen other publishers have sometimes led to hasty decisions, ill-conceived ideas, and hacked-out work, resulting in some of the worst DC storylines ever.
We understand the hard work and dedication that goes into producing comic books, but the story arcs on this list are so bad that they do a disservice not only to the iconic characters they are about, but also to the dedicated fans who shelled out their hard-earned money to buy them. Some of the creators who developed these stories are titans of the industry - writers and artists who helped the medium transcend previously conceived notions of what comic books can be. But even titans fall, and when they do, the crash is both horrible and spectacular to behold. Here are the worst, most hated DC comic arcs of all time.
Comic book fans are pretty vocal about their disappointment with a series, story arc, or the characterizations of their favorite heroes, but they usually reserve their vitriol for the aisles of comic book shops or spread it anonymously online. Rarely has a title been so bad that a fan actually packed up the books they purchased and shipped them back to DC in protest, as at least one fan did with Amazons Attack! by Will Pfeifer and Pete Woods.
Launched as a six-issue limited series in April 2007, with seven tie-in issues across four other titles including Wonder Woman, Amazons Attack! finds the full fury of the all-female warrior society descending upon Washington, DC, in retaliation for Wonder Woman's illegal detention and torture by the Department of Metahuman Affairs. Accompanied by chimeras, hydras, cyclopes, "Stygian Killer Wasps," and other mystical creatures, the Amazons take out centuries of frustration with "Man's World" by mercilessly slaughtering any males they come across, including unarmed men and children. After decapitating the head of the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, the Amazons then attempt to assassinate the president of the United States, first on land, and then in the air, aboard Air Force One.
The series was supposed to define Wonder Woman and her purpose, both as an Amazon and as a superhero in Man's World, but she barely impacts the events of the story, relying on Supergirl, Nemesis, Batman - with a last-minute magic spell courtesy of Zatanna - and others to save the day, appearing in fewer than 30 pages of the entire 160-page story. Meanwhile, her entire race of Amazons are painted as morally bankrupt, bloodthirsty drones in service to uncaring "gods." Reviews of the series eviscerated the storyline, with one reviewer summing it up as an "unnecessary, unwanted, sexist, and kinda racist story that leads us all wonder, what the hell DC was thinking!"Awful storyline?
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."Awful storyline?
3. J.T. Krul Turns Red Arrow Into A Misogynistic Psycho In 'Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal'
The demise of his daughter during the destruction of Star City by Prometheus in Justice League: Cry for Justice, coupled with the loss of his right arm, sends Roy Harper down the violent, delusional, and self-destructive path that leads to his abandonment of the Red Arrow persona he spent years cultivating. As chronicled in Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal (2010), Roy's inability to perform - both as a hero and as a lover - or to exact revenge upon Prometheus himself, along with hallucinations brought on by his unstable mental condition and a tragic return to substance use, turn him into the violent vigilante Arsenal.
The "Rise" in the title gives the impression of ascendance; however, there's nothing but "descent" in the four-issue miniseries written by J.T. Krul. The already tragic life of Roy Harper becomes even sadder and more twisted as the series progresses: Roy crudely rates his romantic partners in his mind while in the midst of battle; attempts, unsuccessfully, to have hate sex with the grieving mother of his daughter; and beats a street gang with the body of a deceased cat that he believes possesses his daughter's spirit. The series has been politely called "not very good," with others decrying it as "bad and riddled with inaccuracies and general weirdness," but most declaring it "the worst comic of all time."Awful storyline?
4. Frank Miller's Heroes Are Violent And Disturbed In 'All-Star Batman & Robin'
What do you get when you bring together Frank Miller, the writer who helped comic books mature in the 1980s with his revolutionary takes on Daredevil and Batman, and Jim Lee, the superstar artist who helped turn X-Men into the hottest property in the world in the early '90s, on a new title about the early adventures of Batman and Robin? An absolute mess, apparently.
All-Star Batman & Robin was much hyped and eagerly anticipated by just about everyone when it debuted on July 13, 2005. The first issue sold more copies than any other title from any publisher that year. Lee's artwork was spectacular, and it was still a novelty seeing it applied to DC characters after building his career on Marvel and Image characters. But Miller's characterizations were way off the mark, even considering that All-Star is set within the alternate version of the DC Universe that leads to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Miller paints Batman as crude, ruthless, and sadistic, and not as a result of years spent fighting crime in the blood-soaked alleys of Gotham, but since he was a child and still had parents. He swears, doesn't shave, probably doesn't bathe, has impulsive sex on the ground in a filthy alley, and he basically kidnaps Dick Grayson and tortures him into becoming Robin. Miller's Batman leaves his "ward" alone in a cold, wet cave and tells him to eat the rats scurrying about if he gets hungry. He's not looking to protect Dick so much as tear him down through mental and physical abuse and remake him into a proto-Batman.
One notorious exchange between Batman and Dick has come to signify the series itself: "What are you, dense?... Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman!"
And it's not just Batman that is off: Superman is an "idiot" who throws tantrums, Wonder Woman is a man-hating zealot, Green Lantern is a buffoon, and Black Canary is a bloodthirsty psychopath.
To put it mildly, the series was not well received by critics, with many calling it "the worst Batman comic" or "the worst comic ever" made. Ten issues were published sporadically between 2005 and 2008, with issue #10 recalled and reprinted because one of Miller's many four-letter words slipped past the censors. Then, the series simply... stopped, without any resolution of the story. It was later announced that the series would continue on to its originally intended conclusion under the new title Dark Knight: Boy Wonder. The series, slated for release in 2011, was never published.Awful storyline?