Fan service can mean many different things. While scantily clad depictions of popular characters can be considered fan service, large-scale storylines that emphasize spectacle rather than content can also fall into this category, giving fans what they want at the expense of the story.
Creators sometimes put the fans first and the story second, making for enticing visuals and exciting action sequences. As a concept, fan service isn’t always a bad thing. Some of DC Comics’ biggest event books, such as: Crisis on Infinite Earths, spoke directly to fans. However, when too much emphasis is placed on action, design or sharpness alone, the story suffers and the fan service becomes too obvious and distracting.
10 Crisis On Infinite Earths Is A Dense Series
The 12-piece Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, is rightly regarded as one of the best DC Comics event books of all time. The scope of the book was unprecedented, with hundreds if not thousands of classic DC characters and versions of them from alternate worlds.
Crisis on Infinite Earths delivers fan service, but the scale and spectacle can be quite daunting for new readers. Crisis draws heavily on DC’s rich history and references past events and characters. Each page is filled to the brim with heroes and villains in climactic battles that distract from a story that actually holds a lot of heart.
9 The new Teen Titans and X-Men vs. Dark Phoenix and Darkseid
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 Titanscreated by Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson, Terry Austin, Tom Orzechowski and Glynis Wein.
The massive one-shot brought together the popular DC and Marvel superhero teams to fight against Dark Phoenix and Darkseid. The crossover was a great success for both companies. This was a case where fan service elevated the comic and formed unlikely alliances between characters who would otherwise never meet. It was over-the-top, but it came together with success.
8 Starfire’s shallow presence in the new 52
Starfire was first introduced in DC Comics presents #26 by Marv Wolfman, George Pérez, Dick Giordano, Adrienne Roy and Ben Oda, and she was soon to join Wolfman’s New Teen Titans roster. Starfire has been a popular DC Comics character since the 1980s, but her recent incarnation in Red Hood and the Outlaws of DC Comics’ New 52 reboot infuriated 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 character-harming.
7 Superman’s Death & Return felt like a publicity stunt
A handful of Superman comic titles featured the explosive battle between Doomsday and Superman that culminated in the legendary Superman #75 by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Glenn Whitmore and John Costanza. Superman’s death shocked both the fictional and the real world.
Since Superman returned just months later, the whole arc felt too much like a publicity stunt. Book sales skyrocketed and Superman once again became the greatest superhero in the world. The “Death of Superman” was exciting at the time, but the “Return of Superman” was an arc full of gimmicks and deception. Fans want drama, but they also want stories to have consequences.
6 Popular Characters Merged In Marvel Vs. DC
What fan wouldn’t want their favorite DC and Marvel Comics heroes to team up and/or fight each other? Marvel vs DC was a miniseries that explosively brought the two major comic book companies together.
Issue #3, created by Ron Frenz, Dan Jurgens, Claudio Castellini, Joe Rubenstein, Paul Neary, Gregory Wright, and Bill Oakley, introduced merged versions of the characters such as Spider-Boy (Spider-Man and Superboy) and StrangeFate (Doctor Strange and Doctor Lot). The Amalgam characters were cool in concept and design, but if readers are looking for a complex story with rich storytelling and character growth, they won’t find it in Marvel vs DC.
5 The Robins are having a sweaty training session
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 sweating with shimmering muscles. This book was approved thanks to a poll in which fans voted for the miniseries they want to read. The concept of Robins past and present joining forces was cool, but these variant covers were just eye candy that didn’t reflect the long-requested team-up story inside.
4 Convergence was a lot of flash with too little substance
Convergence was a huge DC Comics crossover event that took place towards the end of the New 52 era. The event acted as a follow-up to the Earth 2: The end of the world and The New 52: Futures End storylines. Large-scale comic book events can be very entertaining, but too much of a good thing can wear out readers. Convergence felt tiring after following two dense storylines.
Readers saw the return of their favorite characters from DC’s multi-faceted past, including heroes and villains from the flash point, Zero hourand for-Crisis eras, but the story boiled down to yet another cosmic villain seeking to condense the multiverse.
3 Supergirl joins Darkseid and fights Superman
In Superman/Batman‘The Supergirl from Krypton’ arc, by Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald and Richard Starkings, Kara Zor-El catches Darkseid’s attention. This storyline offered an updated version of Supergirl’s origin. These releases were packed with spectacular fight scenes and appearances from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Darkseid, the Female Furies and more.
Unfortunately, Supergirl was quickly brought under control by Darkseid to serve as his new apprentice. With a new outfit reminiscent of Princess Leia’s golden bikini from Star Wars: Return of the JediKara’s turn on the dark side was short and didn’t add much to her heritage, as 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 mislead fans.
2 Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman and Dark Knight Strikes Were Too Extreme Again
Frank Miller created one of the best Batman stories of all time with Dark Knight returns. The famous graphic novel gave a new perspective on Gotham City. Batman was older and lived in a world that needed his cape and hood more than ever. Forced out of retirement, Batman fought not only Joker, but even Superman and the US government.
The sequel, Dark Knight strikes againand prequel, All-Star Batman and Robin, were not well received. Miller’s acumen was fully expressed in these subsequent graphic novels. It was exciting to see the past and future of this world and fans were excited to see Miller writing Batman again. While the characters were gory, brutal and inappropriate, almost none of this excess contributed to a fascinating story.
1 Fans of Jason Todd voted for his death
Comic writers and artists should always take the wishes and desires of the fans into account when creating stories. Creators can listen to feedback and make changes if they feel the criticism is justified. However, fans don’t necessarily have to have direct control over a story.
In 1988, DC set up a voting system that prompted fans to call 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 quintessential fan service of the time. Jason’s death is infamous and DC has since refrained from giving its readers this kind of control over their stories.
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