The only thing better than superheroes are superhero teams. When written and drawn right, a superhero team could maximize each individual hero’s traits and inspire memorable interactions. DC Comics understood this perfectly, and they created some of the most iconic and legendary team in comic book history.
However, not all DC teams are could match even a fraction of the Justice League or the Suicide Squad’s quality. Some superhero teams were so mediocre and questionable that they caused concern and even controversy among readers. Most of these teams were just products of their time, but a select few continue to live in infamy.
Some sensitive and controversial topics will be discussed.
10 The Legion Of Super-Pets Were Irrationally Hated
The Silver Age is best known for introducing the superhero genre’s silliest ideas. The Legion of Super-Pets were typical of this era, but even they were too much by the Silver Age’s campy standards. The Legion of Super-Pets united various superheroes’ pet sidekicks. They debuted in 1962 but were exiled from canon in 1986.
The only thing controversial about the Legion of Super-Pets was their disproportionate backlash and notoriety. Krypto and his team were mocked and reviled so much that DC effectively buried them. Fans also treated them like a punchline for the longest time. It wasn’t until DC Rebirth that the Super-Pets were seen again.
9 Section 8 Was An Edgy Joke That Overstayed Its Welcome
Section 8 debuted during Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman, so it’s unsurprising that they’re a team of juvenile caricatures. Section 8’s powers either didn’t make sense, or were just there for shock value. For example, Sixpack was powered by alcoholism, and Bueno Excellente’s “ability” was sexual assault.
Although Section 8 had some well-written and darkly humorous adventures, there wasn’t much to them beyond mocking superhero teams and being deliberately offensive. Like Ennis’ other characters, Section 8 sparked controversy. Fans loved Section 8’s edginess, while detractors felt that their novelty quickly wore off.
8 Extreme Justice Replaced Justice League International To Chase ’90s Trends
Today, Extreme Justice is best remembered as a ridiculously edgy laughingstock. Something many readers tend to forget is that Extreme Justice sparked controversy among DC fans in the ’90s because they effectively replaced the Justice League International’s better written and received storylines.
It was obvious that DC only made Extreme Justice to capitalize on the decade’s stylistic fads. Amazing-Man, Blue Bettle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, and Maxima became shallow hypermasculine caricatures because that’s what was considered “cool” back then. Extreme Justice only lasted two years, while the JLI lasted nine.
7 The D.E.O. Orphans Tried To Steal The Titans’ Spotlight
In the early 2000s, the Teen Titans grew up and dropped “Teen” from their name. Fans loved this change, but the Titans’ later years dropped in quality when writer Jay Faerber took over. From Titans issues 26 to 50, Faerber pushed the older Titans to the background in favor of younger, hipper, and incredibly hated D.E.O. Orphans.
The D.E.O. Orphans were inoffensive, but they were controversial for what they represented. Rumors persist that Faerber wasn’t totally at fault. Titans’ editor, Andrew Helfer, supposedly ordered Faerber to have the D.E.O. Orphans replace the Titans. The backlash was so bad the D.E.O. Orphans were basically erased from canon.
6 Batman & Spawn’s First Team-Up Was Mean-Spirited & One-Sided
Batman and Spawn were two of the most popular superheroes of the ’90s, but their first crossover left a lot to be desired. Their team-up in Spawn/Batman (by Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane) was really more of a Batman power fantasy. Batman spent the entire crossover scolding Spawn and besting him at literally everything.
Batman fans hated how needlessly edgy he was, while Spawn fans were offended that their favorite demonic anti-hero became Batman’s punching bag. Batman and Spawn got the respectful crossover they deserved later on, but their first encounter is still regarded as one of their all-time worst comics.
5 All-Star Batman & Robin Was The Edgiest Dynamic Duo In History
One of the biggest faults of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder was how it gravely misunderstood the Dynamic Duo. Batman was so dark and violent that he seemed like a self-parody, and Robin was basically his hostage. Together, they exacted bloody vengeance on whoever got in the way.
At best, readers were too busy laughing at Batman and Robin’s ridiculously aggressive and vitriolic tandem. At worst, fans of Batman and Robin’s adventures and fatherly bond hated their All-Star incarnations. Batman and Robin’s All-Star selves were so controversial that DC declared them non-canon and ignores them even today.
4 The New Guardians Were A Well-Intentioned But Misguided Attempt At Representation
One of Millennium’s (by Steve Englehart, Joe Staton, and Ian Gibson) biggest impacts was the introduction of The New Guardians. The team was praised for being comprised of the kinds BIPOC heroes who were rarely if ever seen in comics. Unfortunately, The New Guardians’ adventures aged poorly even during their debut in 1988.
The New Guardians’ personalities and powers were based on stereotypes. They also fought villains who were clearly editorial cartoons for contemporary issues like HIV/AIDS and cocaine. Despite their good intentions, The New Guardians were mocked and criticized by readers for their corny adventures and poorly handled messaging.
3 Justice League Detroit Was Filled With Questionable Stereotypes
In the ’80s, DC shook up the Justice League’s roster by adding new heroes who would be mentored by underrated veterans like Martian Manhunter. This led to the Justice League’s “Detroit Era.” The now-Detroit-based League was initially celebrated for its BIPOC representation, thanks to the rookies Gypsy, Vibe, and Vixen.
However, these heroes were clearly made by well-meaning if out-of-touch creators. Gypsy, Vibe, and Vixen’s stereotypical behavior and costumes were called into question and lambasted. They were redeemed by future creators, but there’s a good reason why their time with the League in Detroit is mostly ignored.
2 The Golden Age Justice Society Of America Was Openly Sexist
Since the Golden Age took place between the ’30s and ’40s, it goes without saying that its superheroes espoused and embodied long-outdated social norms. The Justice Society of America’s earliest incarnation was no exception. In one of their first appearances, they recruited Wonder Woman to be their secretary.
What makes this particularly baffling and controversial was that, at the time, Wonder Woman was already her own solo hero. If this was questionable in 1942, it’s downright offensive and blatantly sexist today. The JSA and Wonder Woman occasionally work together, but they (and DC) wisely moved past their sexist beginnings.
1 THEM! Was A Trio Of Offensive Lesbian Caricatures
The ’60s were very heteronormative and homophobic. These conservative norms informed the creation of THEM! The text of THEM’s! debut issue never explicitly identified their sexual orientation, but their looks, mannerisms, and speech patterns were clearly based on negative stereotypes of lesbians and hippies.
Top Hat, Moose Momma, and Pinto only existed to be humiliated and defeated by a conservative Diana Prince (a depowered Wonder Woman). THEM! barely caused a stir in 1969, but they’re incredibly offensive by today’s standards. Thanks to improved social norms and the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, DC effectively erased THEM!
NEXT: 10 Worst Written Female Characters In DC Comics