THE HOTTEST HOT BUTTONS

<p>One thing that's pretty clear about comic fans: They're sometimes an easily outraged bunch. Just look at the number of blogs and message boards and Facebook posts about comics — and particularly negative or outraged posts — and it becomes clear just how fired up some comic fans can get. <p>Obviously, you can only paint an interest group with only so broad a brush, but there are certain things that seem to upset a <i>lot</i> of fans. <p>We still see some online fans begging DC to erase its New 52 reboot, even three years later — a feeling that's been reignited by <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/22120-what-is-blood-moon-new-dc-event-looms-near.html>recent buzz about an upcoming DC "Crisis"</a>. Fans and bloggers moan about each and every Marvel relaunch (which, to be fair, are now frequent). Heck, even the warmly received announcement this week that <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/22109-blue-beetle-booster-are-back-the-pre-new-52-blue-beetle-booster-gold-are-back.html">Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are coming back from <i>before</i> the New 52 reboot had some complaining about the "mess" it'll make of continuity</a>. <p>So with all that in mind Newsarama is counting down its Top 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Comic Fans Riled Up.

RETCONS

<p>Retcons are common in comic books. But when retcons are used to explain away stories that were <i>previously</i> in continuity, comic fans have a tough time accepting it. And when we say tough time, we mean there will probably be blood. <p>Fans might be willing to reluctantly accept Nick Fury's new history (thanks to <i>Original Sin Annual</i>), and Tim Drake's new moniker (adding "Red" to the "Robin" in hindsight), but some changes seem to have fans screaming Hulk Smash. Whether it's the fact that Xorn wasn't <i>really</i> Magneto (but was actually Xorn's brother pretending to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn), or the rebirth of Jason Todd (because Superboy-Prime punched a crack into a wall), or even the elimination of Spider-Man's marriage because of a deal made with a demon.

EVENT AFTER EVENT

<p>Fans might get excited when publishers announce major events, but in today's publishing atmosphere, bloggers and online commenters have been throwing around the term "event fatigue" to describe the feeling that stories don't resolve… they just lead to another event. <p>Whether it's the recent string of events at Marvel — from "Age of Ultron" to "Infinity" to "Original Sin" to "Axis," or the tendency for "family" books to crossover with each other (all-too-often), or DC's "World Wars" spawning the struggle in multiple titles, from <i>Earth 2</i>, to the weekly <i>Futures End</i>, to yet another weekly coming in October, <i>Earth 2: World's End</i>, which all lead into <i>Blood Moon</i> (or whatever it's going to be called in April 2015). <p>Then again, the major superhero comic publishers are starting to do these things so often, they're feeling less and less like events. (Wait… is that a good thing?)

CHANGING A CHARACTER FOR THE FILM

Hollywood has to tread lightly with this one, because it's a very fine line. There are, apparently, plenty of small changes to comic book characters that are OK to make for the movie adaptations. Jarvis the butler as a computer? OK. Joker's smile made by scars instead of chemicals? Alright. <p>But other changes are seen by some as comic book blasphemy. <p>Yet the plethora of superhero films that are hitting the big screens have tempered the outrage a bit, as fans get used to the changes. After the heated online fan discussion about Perry White in <i>Man of Steel</i> being played by black actor Laurence Fishburne, fans were a little more accepting when Marvel announced that black actor Michael B. Jordan was cast as the Human Torch in its (<a href="http://www.newsarama.com/22179-fox-delays-fantastic-four-greenlights-deadpool-for-2016.html">now delayed</a>) new film version of <i>Fantastic Four</i>. <p>But a lot of fans didn't give the <i>Iron Man</i> franchise the same flexibility, reacting negatively when the third movie's "twist" changed Marvel's villain, The Mandarin, into a bumbling idiot. Fans are still upset that Ben Affleck played the red-headed and blind <i>Daredevil</i> (whose onscreen origin included, to fans' dismay, a criminal's death). And don't even get us started on the huge changes made to Catwoman when Halle Berry took the title role.

COMICS THAT PREACH

<p>No, we're not talking about the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon comic. <p>It's the comic books that take an "issue" and explore it from a character's point of view. <p>Some of the most respected writers in fiction wrap their plots around thinly veiled stands on socio-political views. <p>But in comics, it has to be thickly veiled. <p>In fact, hidden would work better for some. <p>Fan outrage over preachy comics probably reached its height in 2008, when the U.S. presidential election had comics like <i>DC Universe: Decisions</i> exploring superhero politics, and characters like Savage Dragon taking sides. <p>While the 2012 election didn't see as many political comics, the past year has seen creators tentatively tying into the "Occupy" movement, to mixed results. <p>As Geoff Johns <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/7335-exclusive-geoff-johns-talks-aquaman-ongoing-series.html>once told Newsarama</a> when we asked about the potential for environmental issues in his <i>Aquaman</i> run: "Aquaman cares about that, and it's central to who he is. But you have to be careful not to be preachy."

UNEXPLAINED CHANGES

<p>Yeah, that's a broad title, considering a lot of changes in comics go unexplained. But in the case of loyal comic fans, who know all the details of their favorite characters' pasts, not knowing or understanding those changes is akin to torture. <p>And it's exactly where DC finds itself since its reboot, as the publisher has slowly been revealing drastic changes in the history of several iconic characters and timelines that don't seem to add up... but it hasn't yet explained how all those changes happened. Even the #0 issues that DC released in September 2012 didn't address all the questions. Walk into any comic shop, and you'll surely hear someone ask, "How could Batman have three Robins and a 10-year-old son fathered by a villain's daughter when he's only been a superhero for a little over five years?" <p>That type of unexplained continuity change is enough to make some comic fans' heads explode.

RELAUNCH… AGAIN

<p>It's becoming the trend in stories about superheroes, whether it's the constant releases of new #1 issues from Marvel, or DC's still-controversial reboot — and the more-than-slightly annoying fact that this month's future-based comics are only "possible futures" (and will probably prove mostly meaningless to ongoing stories). <p>Heck, even the movie industry is going at it — in less than 10 years, we've seen multiple versions of Spider-Man, the Hulk and Punisher, with a new Batman coming soon. <p>When something isn't working — or the story seems to be finished — or someone sneezed too hard or something — companies and/or writers just start over, either discarding or ignoring the last creative team's work. <p>That's all well and good in some storytelling media, but in ongoing comics? That are supposed to be, you know, ongoing? Let's just say, fans are getting a little heated over it.

'WOMEN IN REFRIGERATORS'

For the last few years, a hot topic on the angry comic book blogosphere has been women in comics. And that includes female characters, who have had a tough go of it over the years. <p>In 1999, now-famed comic book writer Gail Simone and a handful of friends <a href=http://lby3.com/wir/>started a website called Women in Refrigerators</a> that bemoaned the all-too-frequent use of female characters as disposable plot devices. By disposable, we mean women were being killed in comics. A lot. Like, chopped up and shoved into refrigerators. <p>And according to the website, it appeared the women were being killed and suffering other indignities (see left) solely for the sake of challenging male comic heroes. <p>It didn't take long for the phrase "women in refrigerators" to catch on. And the idea became ingrained in the minds of comic fans. <p>Earth 2 writer Tom Taylor <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19662-unfridging-lois-just-one-of-the-surprises-tom-taylor-plans-for-dc-s-earth-2.html>used the term last year</a> when he told Newsarama he was "unfringing" Lois Lane — in other words, bringing her back to life from an allegedly meaningless death. Woe to the writer who kills a woman (or even creates any character solely to kill them for motivation of the "hero") on a comic page flippantly. Watch out writers — the "Women in Refrigerators" phrase will get whipped out quicker than her blood can run onto the floor. And scandal will follow.

PERCEIVED 'DIVERSITY FOR THE SAKE OF DIVERSITY'

<p>We're treading lightly here, because wow.... the reaction to the new Wally West, from the familiar redheaded Flash to a teenaged person of color has been rather heated. It follows a couple other memorable changes: DC's announcement in 2012 that a Green Lantern would go from being a straight character to a gay (which spurred a huge reaction in the mainstream press, and Marvel's addition of a half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man in 2011 to heated fan reaction. <p>It's an ongoing issue that <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/6857-2011-s-hot-buttons-p-4-superhero-diversity.html>Newsarama explored in detail in 2011, when a lot of feathers were being ruffled</a>. At the center of the controversy is not whether there should be characters of color, but instead whether they're characters of color for the "sake of diversity." <p>Apparently, that matters to a sect of comic fans. <p>And we're not the only ones treading lightly. Even Dan DiDio, co-publisher at DC, was careful to temper his language when asked about diversity a few years ago... <p>"What we've always said is that we don't want to push this in," he said," so that it feels natural and the fans come on board if it's part of the overarching story not a 'program.'"

DEUS EX MACHINA

<p>Sure, this literary device can tick off readers of just about any fictional story, but in comics, even something that resembles a complete surprise will get many fans worked up as they label it a "deus ex machina." <p>Never mind that comics have a long tradition of using the device. For years, Batman's utility belt, or Reed Richards' handy devices would act as clever little surprise saviors. And magical characters like Doctor Strange and Phantom Stranger were always around for a quick, last-minute save. <p>But maybe that's the problem. Because comic fans have been reading so many stories over the years that anything surprising can be upsetting to the point of outrage. <p>As <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/8091-bill-willingham-p2-dramatic-twist-turns-coming-in-fables.html>writer Bill Willingham once explained to Newsarama readers</a>, "one of the operative elements of deus ex machina, which is looked upon in writing as a cheat to readers, is that it comes out of nowhere."

SEXISM IN COMICS

<p>Let's face it: The comics community, particularly the <i>online</i> comics community, has become a lot more female over the last couple decades. But for some reason, it's taking publishers awhile to change the type of imagery it slaps on the covers — and sometimes the interiors — of its comics. <p>When Starfire was introduced to the New 52 with barely any clothing — and dialogue that implied she was sexually promiscuous (and seemingly, a little mentally vacuous) — readers of both genders expressed concern, and the company's relaunch itself had <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/8436-update-the-q-pros-are-american-comic-books-sexist.html>fans and creators alike</a> wondering why more women didn't work in comics. <p>But recent allegations about sexism on comic book covers — like <i>Teen Titans</i> and the recent <i>Spider-Woman</i> — have practically led to wars between creators, bloggers and commenters who disagree about what constitutes a sexist image. Whatever the outcome of the current topic, the issue isn't going away anytime soon, and many female comic readers (and there are a <i>lot</i> of us) are hoping someday the discussion will be archaic because comics will end the objectification of women that was previously all too common.

10 Easy Ways to Piss Off a Comic Book Reader

Date: 22 September 2014 Time: 07:00 PM ET