Epic Cringe: 5 DC Comics Moments That Didn’t Age Well

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Dec. 4, 2019

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If your past doesn’t have any embarrassing moments you’re either not telling the truth or someone who hasn’t lived very long. We all have those cringy haircuts in our high school yearbooks, or those old statuses that pop up on Facebook “on this day” that make us wonder just what we were thinking. Don’t feel too embarrassed, though, because everyone's been the victim of questionable choices, including the heroes of the DC Universe. In the spirit of facing our embarrassing past, here are 5 moments we promise never to speak of again.








Detective Comics #371 is a very, er, different Batgirl story. Barbara Gordon uses a secret weapon to defeat a pair of unruly crooks – her “pair of gams.” While Batman and Robin are tangling with the criminals, Batgirl excuses herself to fix a run in her tights. All of a sudden the thugs' hormones take over, and they pause their fistfight with the Dynamic Duo to whistle at Batgirl’s legs. This allows Batman and Robin to make quick work of them. But don’t worry, folks -- Batgirl actually did this on purpose knowing how it would affect the criminals, although that doesn’t make the moment any less cringeworthy. Dialogue like “What a spot for feminine frailty” probably wouldn’t fly in 2019 either. At least Batgirl took down the crooks, albeit in a creative way.








The Brave and the Bold #54 is a special issue because it’s the birth of the Teen Titans. And while the story is an important DC milestone, it also contains some very dated teenage lingo. Not only is the language embarrassing, but it’s also a plot point. Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad were summoned to a town called Hatton Corners where a group of teenagers were missing. The adults assumed the teens had run away and showed the future Teen Titans their note. Robin immediately knew the note had been faked because the “hip language” was all wrong. He then proceeded to explain teenage slang (“terrific wind”) to Kid Flash and Aqualad, even though they’re both teenagers as well. After all, Robin could tell when a teenager was trying to mimic how teenagers really talk... By the way, this story was written by Bob Haney, who was 38 at the time. If it wasn’t for Haney penning this tale, we would never have had DC Universe's Titans live-action series. Thankfully, the showrunners decided to keep “jive language” out of it.





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Speaking of Teen Titans concepts that aged horribly, meet the Mad Mod! The villain debuted in 1967’s Teen Titans #7 and it’s almost as if the editorial team wanted to make sure he’d become dated as soon as possible. Phrases like “ginchy” and “gear” were thrown around, and his outfit was a good example of the late 1960s Fleet Street fashions that would be out of style in mere months. See the dialogue in the above image? He spoke like that all the time! Even his name is dated. Ask most kids what a “Mod” is -- they’ll think you’re talking about message boards. His entire characterization hasn’t aged well, but that’s what happens when you create a villain entirely out of trends. That being said, the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon used the Mad Mod to great effect, and they decided to embrace how outdated he was instead of trying to modernize him. But it’s worth looking at his original Silver Age appearances for some unintentional amusement.





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Do you remember the first thing you ever said to your soulmate? For Batman it was “quiet or papa spank.” Yes, i’s hard to believe those four words kicked off his long and stormy love affair with Catwoman, but the proof is right there in 1940’s Batman #1. (Robin isn’t pictured, but he was probably raising an eyebrow off panel.) Despite the era, this was still a weird thing to say, and there’s no way it would fly today. It seems Gotham City had spanking fever in the Golden Age, because even Alfred threatened to spank Catwoman in 1944’s Batman #22. Thankfully, Gotham got this trend out of its system at some point in the last 80 years.







In All-Star Comics #13, the Justice Society was so impressed with Wonder Woman the team decided to induct her into the group – as a secretary. They do realize she’s a strong Amazonian warrior who can bend steel, right? The above panels are a bit funny if you read sarcasm into Wonder Woman’s remarks. “What an honor,” she says to Hawkman. As if it couldn’t get anymore condescending, the team sings to her. Before anyone starts tweeting #cancelhawkman or #justicefordiana, this isn’t entirely the Society’s fault. Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston wasn’t happy about her inclusion in the title, and asked editorial to limit her role. Because at the time, Moulton was writing Diana’s adventures in Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics, and Comic Cavalcade, leaving little time for him to focus on a fourth title. As a result, Wonder Woman became a secretary. But let’s be real, she could outfight all of her teammates.



What are some of your favorite embarrassing moments from the DC vault? Let us know in our Community!