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10 DC Comics With Over-The-Top Fan Service – CBR – Comic Book Resources





DC Comics has experimented with various forms of fan service to attract readers. Sometimes it worked as intended but fan service can backfire badly.
Fan service can mean a lot of different things. While scantily-clad depictions of popular characters can be considered fan service, grand-scale storylines that place more emphasis on spectacle rather than substance can also fall into this category, giving fans what they want at the expense of the story.
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Creators sometimes put the fans first and the narrative second, providing alluring visuals and exciting action sequences. As a concept, fan service is not always a bad thing. Some of DC Comics' greatest event books, such as Crisis on Infinite Earths, appealed directly to fans. However, when too much emphasis is placed on action, design, or edginess alone, the narrative suffers, and the fan service becomes too apparent and distracting.
The 12-part Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, is appropriately considered one of the best DC Comics event books of all time. The scale of the book was unprecedented, featuring hundreds, if not thousands, of classic DC characters, and versions of them from alternate worlds.
Crisis on Infinite Earths delivers on fan service, but its scale and spectacle can be quite daunting for new readers. Crisis relies heavily on DC's rich history, referencing past events and characters. Every page is filled to the corners with heroes and villains in climactic battles that distract from a story that actually contains a lot of heart.
Marvel and DC crossovers are quite rare in modern comics, but they were extremely popular and frequent in the 80s and 90s. One of the most popular comic book crossovers was The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, created by Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson, Terry Austin, Tom Orzechowski, and Glynis Wein.
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The giant-sized one-shot brought the popular DC and Marvel superhero teams together to battle Dark Phoenix and Darkseid. The crossover was a huge success for both companies. This was a case where fan service elevated the comic, forming unlikely alliances between characters who would otherwise never meet. It was over-the-top but it came together successfully.
Starfire was first introduced in DC Comics Presents #26 by Marv Wolfman, George Pérez, Dick Giordano, Adrienne Roy, and Ben Oda, and she would soon join Wolfman's New Teen Titans roster. Starfire has been a popular DC Comics character since the 80s, but her recent incarnation in Red Hood and the Outlaws from DC Comics' New 52 reboot angered fans.
Starfire was shown in her most provocative suit yet with barely anything covering her upper body. Her character was noticeably absent during the New 52, as were many other popular heroes. Her return in Outlaws was overshadowed by her new design that was criticized by fans for being overly sexualized and hurting of character.
A handful of Superman comic titles featured the explosive battle between Doomsday and Superman that climaxed in the legendary Superman #75 by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Glenn Whitmore, and John Costanza. Superman's death shocked both the fictional and real worlds.
Given that Superman returned only months later, the whole arc felt too much like a publicity stunt. The book sales skyrocketed and Superman became the world's biggest superhero again. The "Death of Superman" was exciting at the time, but the "Return of Superman" was an arc overstuffed with gimmicks and misdirections. Fans want drama but they also want stories to have consequences.
What fan wouldn't want to see their favorite heroes from DC and Marvel Comics team up and/or battle each other? Marvel vs. DC was a miniseries that brought the big two comic companies together in an explosive way.
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Issue #3, created by Ron Frenz, Dan Jurgens, Claudio Castellini, Joe Rubenstein, Paul Neary, Gregory Wright, and Bill Oakley, introduced amalgamated versions of the characters like Spider-Boy (Spider-Man and Superboy) and StrangeFate (Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate). The Amalgam characters were cool in concept and design, but if readers are looking for a complex story with rich narratives and character growth, they won't find it in Marvel vs. DC.
In 2021, DC announced the Robins six-part miniseries, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Baldemar Rivas, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Steve Wands. The series follows Batman's current and former partners: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne.
To promote the book, DC released a series of variant covers featuring four of the five Robins sweaty with glistening muscles. This book was approved thanks to a poll where fans voted for the miniseries they'd like to read. The concept of past and present Robins joining forces was cool, but these variant covers were simply eye candy that was not reflective of the long-requested team-up story inside.
Convergence was a massive DC Comics crossover event that occurred near the end of the New 52 era. The event acted as a sequel to the Earth 2: World's End and The New 52: Futures End story arcs. Large-scale comic book events can be really entertaining, but too much of a good thing can exhaust readers. Convergence felt tiring after following two dense storylines.
Readers saw the return of their favorite characters from DC's multiversal past, including heroes and villains from the Flashpoint, Zero Hour, and Pre-Crisis eras, but the story amounted to yet another cosmic villain looking to condense the multiverse.
In Superman/Batman's "The Supergirl from Krypton" arc, by Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald, and Richard Starkings, Kara Zor-El catches the attention of Darkseid. This story arc provided an updated version of Supergirl's origin. These issues were packed with spectacular fight scenes and appearances from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Darkseid, the Female Furies, and more.
Unfortunately, Supergirl was quickly mind-controlled by Darkseid to serve as his new apprentice. Sporting a new outfit reminiscent of Princess Leia's gold bikini from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Kara's turn to the dark side was brief and didn't add much to her origin considering she was "not herself" for much of the story. Both the costume change and the 'clash of heroes' represented the kind of fan service that can rub fans the wrong way.
Frank Miller crafted one of the best Batman stories of all time with Dark Knight Returns. The famous graphic novel presented a new view of Gotham City. Batman was older and living in a world that needed his cape and cowl more than ever. Forced out of retirement, Batman battled not just Joker but even Superman and the US government.
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The sequel, Dark Knight Strikes Again, and prequel, All-Star Batman and Robin, were not well-received. Miller's edginess was on full display in these follow-up graphic novels. Seeing this world's past and future was exciting and fans were thrilled to see Miller writing Batman again. However, while the characters were bloody, brutal, and inappropriate, almost none of this excess contributed to a fascinating narrative.
Comic book writers and artists should always be somewhat considerate of the fans' wants and desires when crafting stories. Creators can listen to feedback and make changes if they feel the criticism is warranted. However, fans shouldn't necessarily have direct control over a story.
In 1988, DC set up a voting system that prompted fans to call in, for a fee, and decide whether Jason Todd should live or die. The result was "A Death in the Family," by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy, and John Costanza, the ultimate in that era's fan service. Jason's death is infamous and DC has since refrained from giving its readers this kind of control over their stories.
NEXT: 10 DC Heroes Who Don't Make Their Own Costumes
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