Like all media, comic books aren't free of prejudice and discrimination. While there has been social progress in comic books, you can't ignore its history. Over the years there have been offensive comics and racist comic book characters that would make modern audiences cringe.
Even today, there are still comic book characters that are stereotypes, but many have since been edged away from their racist, homophobic, or politically incorrect roots. Take a look and wince at this list of politically incorrect heroes, bad comic stereotypes, and just plain offensive comic book characters.
While Luke Cage was retconned, redesigned, and rewritten to be a better, three-dimensional character, you can't ignore his roots. Cage was originally a jive-talking product of blaxploitation. Wearing a tiara, donning chains, and calling women "foxes," Luke Cage was certainly a product of the '70s that wouldn't fly in current times.
In 2003, Marvel decided to reboot an older cowboy character from the 1950s into a homosexual hero. While the intentions were good, the follow-through failed. The Rawhide Kid played up all the gay stereotype tropes in insulting everyone's fashion sense, speaking in hacky double entendres, and being an effeminate goof despite his heroic ideals and quick-draw shooting skills. The comic was even a part of Marvel's adults only MAX line despite not having any salty language or nudity. The Rawhide Kid was considered too raw for children simply because he was gay.
Debuting in Tales of Suspense #50, the Mandarin is essentially every Asian stereotype wrapped up into a single character. Skilled martial artist? Check. Trained Asian mystic? Check. Genius scientist? Check. Having a name that just focuses on his race? Double check.
The Mandarin was arguably Iron Man's most recognizable villain, which made him last longer than he probably should have. While his character evolved to be more than the sum of his stereotypes over the years, it's still hard to justify having any character named "The Mandarin" in today's modern landscape.
He-She Can't Even Get Basic Human Anatomy Right, Let Alone GenderPhoto: Lev Gleason Publications
Yep, that's a hermaphrodite supervillain, but not just in terms of genitalia. He-She was a villain of the Crimebuster in Lev Gleason's Boy Comics and used his/her... er, ability (?) to be a man and a woman to commit crimes. He-She would use the woman half of his/her body to lure in unsuspecting men with his/her feminine wiles. Afterward, He-She's male half would be used to kill and rob the victims.
So, aside from being an offensive characterization of actual hermaphrodites, gender fluid individuals, and transsexuals, He-She makes no logical sense to begin with. In order for any of He-She's schemes to work, He-She would have to make sure only one side of his/her body could be seen. Kind of awkward for a woman to strike up a conversation with a guy when she's looking and talking out of one side of her face. Thankfully for He-She, comic books take place in a 2-D environment.