Cringe exists in almost every art form. Comic books are no exception.
Through the years, DC and Marvel have had terrible moments by writers which were either inappropriate or just straight up tone-deaf.
Put these down to lack of awareness or bad editorial decisions, but these moments haven’t aged well and are massively cringe.
Here are 10 cringe-worthy moments from mainstream comic books.
1. Punisher Turns Black
Blackface is an extremely racist trope that was in use in various mediums due to a lack of awareness and sensitivity.
Unfortunately, comic books have made use of this in tone-deaf efforts to address race issues and appeal to wider audiences.
Mike Baron wrote this poorly contrived comic where the Punisher’s “melanin content and hair texture” are altered by the efforts of his arch-rival Jigsaw.
Punisher then teams up with Luke Cage. The skin graft apparently “faded away” by the end of this unfortunate story. Very convenient.
2. Sins Past
Sins Past and Sins Remembered are among the worst Spider-Man comics ever made.
The Sins Past story completely rewrote the circumstances of the death of one Gwen Stacy.
According to the storyline: The Green Goblin was out to kill her because Gwen was having an affair behind Peter’s back with none other than Norman Osborn. She ended up giving birth to twins before her demise. Her twins were reared by Osborn who brainwashed them into thinking Peter was the cause of their mother’s death.
Yikes, Norman! Peter ended up fighting them through the course of this poorly written story.
2. Green Lantern and His Underage Lover
Arisia Rrab made her debut as a plucky young teenager in Tales of The Green Lantern Corps #1.
Hal Jordan even referred to her as a little sister.
Arisia had a bit of a schoolgirl crush on Hal and Hal even told her off at one point stating that he was twice her age.
Arisia used her ring…. To increase her age and make her seem more age-appropriate for Hal. Thankfully this uncomfortable romance came to a tame and abrupt end.
4. The Whole of ULTIMATUM
*Trigger Warnings for Gore*
The Ultimate Marvel universe started off wonderfully, heralded by the Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimates titles.
However, Ultimatum brought all of that crashing down. Everything that could go wrong with this comic, did.
Many of the Ultimate universe’s heroes were killed off for no reason other than shock value. The worst of them all?
The Blob ate the Wasp, delivered a disgusting punchline, and got eaten by her ex-husband Giant-Man.
Needless to say, this did not go down too well and the whole event was a flop. Talk about bad taste. No pun intended.
5. Ultimate Twincest
This is a moment that is all too recognizable for Game of Thrones fans.
The Ultimate Marvel versions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were involved in a twincestuous relationship.
When Steve Rogers confronted them, he was told off and called an anachronism when he opposed it. No one in the team really took much notice and brushed it aside.
This entire incident left a really bad taste in readers’ mouths. Mother of God, Marvel!
6. Captain Marvel and Power Girl’s “Pregnancies”
Ah yes, two massively cringe, inappropriate moments in DC and Marvel’s history. Power Girl and Captain Marvel’s pregnancies. Wait till the end before facepalming yourselves.
Captain Marvel gave birth to her own assaulter who was trapped in limbo, a son of Immortus called Marcus. Power Girl on the other hand gave birth to a warrior who slew a demon according to an ancient prophecy.
She was made pregnant due to the machinations of her grandfather that would ensure a child would be born to fight the monster.
Both “births” did not have a father involved. Both stories vanished into obscurity where they should remain. Commence facepalms.
7. The Whole of All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder
The 1980s belonged to one of the greatest comic book writers of all time- Frank Miller.
The 2000s for him, however, were hit or miss.
All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, was a massive miss. Despite some jaw-dropping art by Jim Lee, the story was a convoluted, steaming hot mess.
An abusive, wantonly violent Batman takes on a new crime-fighting partner in this retelling of the classic origin story. Dick Grayson is forced to survive on rats and scraps as he grows into the role of the ward and sidekick.
Black Canary and Batman engage in relations mere moments after beating up some thugs, just an example of how out of character some of the players are. Truly harrowing stuff.
8. Terra and Deathstroke
The Judas Contract is one of the finest Teen Titans stories ever written.
It does however feature one of the most uncomfortable moments in comic book history- the relationship between the 15-year-old Terra and the much, much older Deathstroke.
This has gone down in the annals of comic book infamy and Terra, unfortunately, met a sad, sad end at the end of that storyline. Truly uncomfortable.
9. THAT Batgirl Cover
Ah yes, DC tried to cash in on trauma with THAT unfortunate Batgirl cover.
Rafael Albuquerque tried to pay homage to The Killing Joke and the Joker’s 75th anniversary which showed him painting a bloody grin on Barbara Gordon’s face, the same woman whose life he nearly shattered in the Killing Joke.
Really good job DC, way to destroy years of feminist efforts, DC. At the artist’s request, The cover was pulled, but the damage had already been done. What a sad turn of events.
10. Spiderman: Reign
Bear with us before you eventually throw up. Spider-Man: Reign was a miniseries that was published between 2006 and 2007.
The series saw Spider-Man on Earth- 70237, now aged and alone, having given up the mantle of Spider-Man. And why did that happen?
Peter Parker had stood by his wife Mary Jane as she vainly but bravely battled cancer. Following her death, Peter gave up his identity and retired.
Peter discovered that the cancer was caused by…. Radioactive semen. We’ll stop here and allow you to work out how that happened and spare you the embarrassing details.