During the '00s, DC Comics produced incredible stories for fans to consume. It became a time that several comic book creators such as Geoff Johns and Gail Simone became household names. These creators along with their respective creative teams helped launch a “rebirth” in several DC Comics franchises. Several franchises that saw exponential growth in their fan bases included veteran characters as Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. But solo heroes were not the only ones that experienced growth, veteran teams such as the Justice Society and Teen Titans also saw their books at the top of Diamond’s Top 100 Comics.
“Tower of Babel,” “The Insiders,” “The OMAC Project,” "Villains United," and “The Sinestro Corps War" showcased the strength of DC's storytelling abilities. Also, those stories lead to blockbuster company crossovers such as "Infinite Crisis", "52", and "Blackest Night" helped cement the company's legacy in the 21st century. But not every DC Comics storyline was a success. In fact, some of the stories that fans enjoyed during the past decade do not hold up to the same storytelling standard that comic book aficionados have today. CBR dug into the DC Comics vault and found 15 stories that were considered outstanding in the 2000s, but do not hold up in 2017.
Following the success of DC’s first weekly maxi-series, 52, the DC Comics editorial team assigned a group of writers and artists to countdown to a major event which turned out to be "Final Crisis". Starting with issue 51, Countdown focused on the adventures of several popular heroes and villains and how their actions lead to the Grant Morrison-penned event.
Characters such as Mary Marvel, Pied Piper and Trickster benefited from the series as it improved their profiles amongst the fan base. But, at times, Countdown felt like it dragged on and had several story elements that were not necessary to the main narrative. Also, what polarized Countdown was the uneven quality of both writing and art duties. While 52 remains well loved and had elements of this massive story that is still a part of the DC Universe, Countdown was swept under the rug.
Darkseid “killed” Batman at the end of Final Crisis’ sixth issue. With Bruce Wayne “deceased,” the primary concern amongst the Robins was who was going to inherit the cowl. As a new Black Mask corned Gotham City’s criminal underworld, Jason Todd became a deadly Batman branding his harsh form of justice on criminals and members of the Caped Crusaders’ family.
This lead to an intense battle between Jason Todd and Dick Grayson. While Todd eventually retreated and reclaimed the title of Red Hood, Nightwing became Batman once again. Battle for the Cowl was a very short mini-series let many fans down for several reasons. First, the mini-series did show the heroes confront Black Mask and his new army. Secondly, Battle for the Cowl also marked a demotion for Tim Drake, which drew the ire of countless Batman fans.
One story that spun out of Countdown to Final Crisis was the six-part mini-series: Amazons Attack! At the end of Infinite Crisis, the Amazons disappeared from the realm leaving Wonder Woman to represent Themyscira all by herself. However, when the US Government captured Diana, Circe manipulated the Amazons (including a resurrected Queen Hippolyta) into invading Washington, D.C.
Near the end of the mini-series, Wonder Woman ends Circe’s hold on her sisters, but Athena punishes Wonder Woman’s mother and the Amazons by taking away their powers. While the once-promising mini-series grabbed our attention in the 2000s, readers may see numerous flaws. Outside forces could manipulate the headstrong Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons. Secondly, the reveal of Granny Goodness masquerading as Athena offended several longtime fans. Thirdly, the story dragged titles such as Catwoman, Supergirl and Teen Titans into this messy tale causing fans to abandon ship.
The two-part Flash/Wonder Woman crossover was one of the numerous tie-ins to Villains United. In this story, Diana’s longtime adversary Cheetah (Barbara Minerva) tried to recruit Flash’s deadliest foe, Zoom (Hunter Zolomon), into the Secret Society of Super Villains. The vicious cat-themed villain wanted the wicked speedster to teach her how to increase her speed. “Truth or Dare” showcased some incredible moments such as Cheetah facing off against Wally West and Zoom tackling the blind Amazon Princess.
However, this two-parter featured the shocking murder of former Golden Age Cheetah: Ms. Priscilla Rich, which was glossed over as the Amazon Princess did not spend enough time remembering her fallen adversary. “Truth or Dare” also missed the opportunity of Wally and Diana discussing their personal lives, because outside of JLA, they hardly spent time together and it would have been interesting to have them reflect about overcoming tragedy.
During the summer of 2001, the DC Universe faced a threat that even dwarfed the Anti-Monitor. Imperiex Prime was a destroyer of galaxies and set his sight on the DC Universe. In addition to this massive threat, Brainiac-13 also decided to rear his ugly head and chose to align with Imperiex Prime. For the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s greatest heroes, and villains teamed up to save all of creation from being wiped away in a new big bang.
While Our Worlds at War featured all-star creative teams, there were some questionable storytelling elements. In Adventures of Superman #596, Luthor’s twin Lex Towers suffered from a 9-11 like attack and the issue was published one day after the World Trade Center fell. Another creepy element was Imperiex’s attack on Smallville. These two fictional attacks hit too close to home for most readers.
Throughout the first part of the 2000s, the JLA was DC’s top superhero team. With impeccable team line-ups and rotating powerhouse creative teams, JLA delivered memorable storylines. From September 2002 to February 2003, the JLA went on its wildest (and longest) adventure yet. The team traveled throughout time in search of Aquaman, who went MIA during the "Our Worlds at War" crossover.
There were several things wrong with “The Obsidian Age.” First of all, the story arc dragged out way too long. Secondly, the story’s antagonist, Gamemnae, was not as threatening or memorable like Prometheus, Queen of Fables, or Starro. Thirdly, we saw fan-favorite members such as Aquaman, Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) and Martian Manhunter depart, and questionable heroes such as Faith and Manitou Raven join the team.
Under Gail Simone’s guidance, Birds of Prey became one of DC’s fan-favorite popular team books of the mid-2000s. Readers flocked to the comic to see Oracle, Black Canary and the Huntress’ adventures unfolded by a rotating team of excellent artists. “Between Dark & Dawn” showcased the Birds of Prey going up against a foe that was totally out of their element: Brainiac!
He brainwashed Barbara Gordon and temporarily freed her from her paralysis. Under the android’s control, Oracle nearly defeated Black Canary and the Huntress until Dinah had to remind the former Batgirl who she was. “Between Dark & Dawn’s” major flaw is that Barbara defeated Brainiac, who is one of Superman’s deadliest adversaries, with ease. Another turn-off was that Barbara was temporarily able to use her body and it drove the wrong message to people who have paralysis and hope to walk again.
The Dark Knight’s alter-ego found himself on the wrong side of the law in the year-long 2002 storyline: “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” and “Bruce Wayne: Fugitive.” An unknown assassin framed Gotham's favorite son for the death of former love interest Vesper Fairchild. While the Caped Crusader and his bodyguard, Sasha Bordeaux, rotted in prison, it was up to the Batman Family to clear their mentor’s name.
This storyline is on this list for several reasons. First, the Batman Family has the unquestionable trust of their mentor. This storyline saw several vital allies such as Nightwing and Oracle question if the Dark Knight committed murder. Secondly, David Cain was revealed to be the assassin who was ordered under then-President Lex Luthor to frame Wayne. Finally, the story ran for 39 issues, which burnt a hole on reader’s wallets.
Fans have begged for a follow-up to the classic Elseworlds tale, Kingdom Come, for years. Future DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Kingdom Come co-author Alex Ross brought several elements of the Kingdom Come universe to the Justice Society of America in an epic tale that took places throughout 14 individual issues, an annual, and three stand-alone specials.
The “sequel” was a grandiose story that satisfied some fans and brought Earth-22 Superman into the DCU and reunited Power Girl with her friends on Earth-Two. But, “Thy Kingdom Come” also divided the team and introduced the omnipotent Gog as a one-note villain and a new and brattier Earth-Two version of Power Girl. Also, fans had to shell out nearly $60 to purchase all 18 issues!
It is unethical for doctors to lie to patients, but in the DC Universe…it is never a good idea to lie to The Joker! In Joker’s Last Laugh, a doctor faked diagnosed the Clown Prince of Crime with a terminal brain tumor. To make sure that he left a legacy, The Joker decided to transform almost every primary DC villain in a psychotic “Jokerized” villain of themselves.
These villains caused so much chaos around the DC Universe that even the Batman Family were about to break their solemn vow of no killing. The event had so much potential as it crossed over into almost every title. But what put Joker’s Last Laugh on this list was that the mini-series published an issue every week with no rest and it did not give fans enough time to absorb the story.
Batman: Gotham Underground was a nine-issue mini-series that tied into both Salvation Run and Countdown/Countdown to Final Crisis. This storyline focused on how many of DC’s deadliest crime bosses and organizations including Great White Shark, Intergang and Tobias Whale trying to become the next Black Mask. Fans also learned that Penguin felt threatened by these mob bosses and went to great lengths to protect his empire by aligning with Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad.
In return for immunity, Penguin betrayed his fellow criminals by handing them over to Waller, who sent them to the prison planet. Also, fans got to see the return of Spoiler and were introduced to a new Vigilante. Batman: Gotham Underground had incredible artwork, but at the same time there were no long-term repercussions that the Batman books felt from this story.
"Salvation Run" is DC’s version of Survivor and Civil War. From November 2007 to June 2008, Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad captured and transported some of DC’s greatest villains to a peaceful planet. Little did they know that Amanda Waller played right into Desaad’s hands as the planet was revealed to be the training grounds for the New Gods of Apokolips.
Making matters worse, The Joker and Lex Luthor divided the villains into two groups as they warred to be the villains’ main leader. While the story was strong, the shoddy artwork devalued the mini-series. Also, Salvation Run also damaged Catwoman’s character in readers’ eyes as she betrayed her Outsiders teammate, Martian Manhunter, as she ratted him out to the villains. This decision led to Martian Manhunter’s shocking death in the primary issue of Final Crisis.
Before Infinite Crisis shook up the DC Universe, the Man of Steel faced a very dangerous adversary throughout the mid-2000s. His name was Ruin! The villain’s mission was to “ruin” Superman’s life. Throughout the last issues of Adventures of Superman, Ruin targeted his Superman’s loved ones including Lana Lang, nearly killed Mister Mxyptlk, and even framed Clark’s childhood friend (and former Vice President of the United States), Pete Ross, as being the villain.
At the end of “Ruin Revealed,” the villain’s true identity was longtime Superman Ally, Professor Emil Hamilton. Both Superman and longtime fans were caught off guard with this surprising development and were annoyed with the title’s creative team about destroying a strong supporting cast member. Professor Hamilton’s character assassination remains one of the dark moments in Superman’s lengthy history.
Rann and Thanagar have had a vicious rivalry that at times almost lead to war between these two planets. Infinite Crisis tie-in Rann/Thanagar War showcased the massive battle that not even Adam Strange, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl could handle alone. The whole story started when several Thangarians transported Rann to the Thangarian star system. Despite the trio’s best efforts, the two planets go to war with each other/ The massive war also dragged other heroes such as Captain Comet, two Green Lanterns, the Omega Men, and Shayera Thal into this battle.
Eventually, readers eventually learned that the entire war was created at the behest of Earth-3’s Alexander Luthor, who ordered Superboy Prime to move the planets in Infinite Crisis to bring back the DC Multiverse. The story was too slow, and it was hard to keep track of all the minor characters that starred in this tale.
During the final weeks of 2006-07’s weekly series, 52, fans learned that Black Adam single-handedly caused World War III. The evil ruler of Kahndaq wanted revenge on the Four Horsemen who killed his family and wiped out his country. The enraged Black Adam nearly slaughtered the entire nation of Bialya and destroyed countless cities around the world before the DC heroes could stop him. “World War III” was filled with numerous annoyances.
Two creative teams were tasked to create this story which led to uneven artwork and storytelling gaps. Instead of focusing on the main story of Black Adam versus Martian Manhunter and the rest of the world, the writers spent several panels plugging about the actions that Donna Troy, Harvey Dent, the Justice Society of America and Supergirl took to bring about their “One Year Later” fates.
What DC Comics stories from the 2000s disappointed you? Leave your comments below!