DC is famous for having some of the most ridiculous retcons in the history of comics.
From bringing characters back to life, changing their physical attributes for unnecessary
reasons, developing irrelevant character motivations, or just flat out rebooting their universe
because the continuity is messy as hell, there’s a lot of times in the comic giant’s history
that have been tainted by strange and unsettling retcons.
So today, we’re taking a look at some of the most controversial with our list of the
top 10 scariest DC retcons.
These are retcons that are jarring, absurd, and downright scary, in the sense that DC
would be willing to make such a bold move (or moves) to beloved or iconic narratives.
Many of these retcons seem convenient, despite causing more of a headache for readers attempting
to follow along.
So with that in mind, let’s get to it!
10 Joe Chill Who?
One character that’s critical to the Batman mythos but is constantly subjected to changes
is Joe Chill – the petty criminal who killed Bruce’s parents in that alley way when he
was a boy.
For starters, Joe Chill being the one responsible was briefly retconned in the 90’s with Zero
Hour, but the truth was left hanging for years concerning whether or not Chill was really
the one behind the Wayne’s deaths.
Then, in 2006’s Infinite Crisis issue 6, he was confirmed to be their killer once again.
But here’s where it gets annoying, frustrating, and a little scary (if messing with continuity
or the thought of doing so is something that’s frightful to you).
The way in which Batman discovers that Joe is his parents killer has changed time and
It seems as if every several years we get a new take on Bruce’s origin story, and
him confronting Joe, or him rediscovering Joe was the one who pulled the trigger, and
him hunting him down and having some big moral dilemma about the whole darn thing.
There have been multiple variations pertaining to Joe Chill’s fate, various suspects, various
story lines in which DC characters have believed to find new evidence and hunted down the real
The very first of these was back in Detective Comics issue 33 in 1939.
In 1948, in Batman issue 47, he was revealed to be Joe Chill.
But then, the story changed again in 1956, another time in 1968, again in 1969, in 1972,
1976, 1982 as the Joker’s hit man that would later pan out to be shown in the 1989 Batman
movie, again in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1998 (in which Selena Kyle witnesses their
murders), 1999 in which the Wayne Boards is really behind it, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 (in
which he commits suicide thanks to batman’s persuasion), 2012 in which Penguin was suspected
to be behind the hit, 2015 in which Batman encounters him through the powers he develops
from the Mobius chair, and so many more in adapations we didn’t even cover.
Why is this scary?
Because this literally threatens to change Batman’s mythos every single damn time his
origin story is redone.
Please stop giving us new reasons and new scenarios in which we see Batman have to relive
his previous trauma and choose whether or not to kill the man who killed his parents.
9 Jason Todd’s Hair Back when Jason Todd was first introduced
into the comics in 1983, it was as Dick Grayson’s replacement, with the former Robin now heading
the Teen Titans team.
While it was great that the New Teen Titans title was selling, DC felt that Batman may
suffer from him and introduced a brand new Robin that debuted in Batman issue 357.
His first few appearances he was distinguished from Dick by having strawberry red hair, which
was later changed because the character lacked popularity, so DC strove to make him more
While that’s technically a retcon in itself, perhaps what’s even better is the fact that
this change in hair colour is something Todd would later on address after he was brought
back from the dead (more on that later).
Todd would admit that when he was Robin, Batman made him dye his hair to look more like Dick
While he never gives a full reason for Bruce making him do this, it’s implied its some
sort of marketing ploy, but really, it just feels like Batman fetishized Grayson if we’re
8 Martha Kent has a miscarriage after finding Clark
Moving away from the dark knight and onto the man of steel, we’ve got another take
on retconned origin stories!
In 1986, John Byrne re-wrote Superman’s origin story in the limited series The Man
In this limited series, the Kents take Clark in as per usual, but Byrne added an extra
Prior to finding little Kal-El, Martha had a miscarriage.
The Kents decided to exploit that miscarriage and pretend that Clark was their own.
So why is this bothersome?
It’s the fact that the miscarriages became the motivation for why they adopted Clark
rather than, you know, out of the goodness of their hearts like in the initial origin
It felt like an extra factor that was really unnecessary; an attempt to make the Kents
more broody and justified in their need to help a baby they literally found in the middle
7 Three Jokers Recently, DC came out with their Black Label
imprint – comics aimed at more mature readers that are meant to exist outside of the main
Three Jokers is a three issue mini series released under the black label imprint, except
it was revealed by Geoff Johns that the three jokers is part of the main continuity.
That imprint was inspired by a really ridiculous plot point that pretty much just disappeared
entirely from the main continuity.
So, once upon a time, in 2016, right at the end of the new 52 before rebirth started up,
Batman found himself in the Mobius Chair – a plot device that basically gave him all the
knowledge in the world.
Batman learns when he’s sat in this chair that there’s actually three Jokers out there
instead of one.
Then, that revelation was dropped pretty much as soon as it was revealed, and hasn’t been
touched again since the mention of this black label three joker’s series.
6 Damian Wayne Back in 1987, DC released Batman Son of the
Demon, in which he and Ras Al Ghul team up, and Bruce briefly considers becoming his heir.
During that time, Bruce has an affair with Ra’s daughter Talia ah Ghul, who ends up
getting pregnant, but then claims to have had a miscarriage.
At the end of the story, it’s revealed that she didn’t have the miscarriage, and later
on Grant Morrison would introduce Damian Wayne, their son – the product of Talia having
drugged Bruce and slept with him in order to get pregnant as part of what she termed
as a “depraved eugenics experiment.”
So essentially, she raped Batman, and Damian went from being the potential product of a
heart wrenching love affair to one that Batman had no choice in.
Since, Damian’s origins have been toyed with, including a retcon that suggested he
was created thanks to cloning.
5 Hal Jordan Parallax Once upon a time, during the horrible Reign
of the Supermen story arc that was the sequel to the even worse Death of Superman story
arc, Hal Jordan lost his sh*t after his home of Coast City was destroyed by Mongul and
This occurred in Green Lantern issue 46, and would become known as the Emerald Twilight
A few issues later, completely distressed by Coast city being obliterated, he decides
to use his power ring to try to recreate it – a big no no for Green Lanterns.
The Guardians of the Universe summon him for breaking the rule of using his ring for personal
gain, which pisses Hal off, and he steals energy from the main power battery on the
Guardian’s planet in order to finish recreating Coast City.
The Green Lantern Corps have no choice but to stop him, but Hal ends up killing most
of them, stealing each of their rings, leaving many for dead.
It’s then revealed in issue 50 that he’s actually Parallax.
Hal then sacrifices himself in the Final Night story arc, but then, ten years later, Green
Lantern gets a reboot and EVERYTHING IS RETCONNED.
Hal was just possessed – something that Batman would never really let him live down.
4 Barbara Gordon can walk – again Back in 2011, DC introduced the new 52 – the
DC universe was essentially reset, with some bits of continuity remaining in tact, funny
One of those bits of continuity that remained was Barabara Gordon’s history with being
paralyzed ; something that occurred in The Killing Joke and saw the character trapped
in a wheelchair, retired from her days as Batgirl, only to reclaim her heroic identity
by becoming Oracle.
Barbara became an inspiration for physically handicapped readers everywhere.
And she was still a total bad ass, despite the seriously trauma and continuous obstacles
that her character continued to face and overcome.
But then, the new 52 changed that.
While the history was intact, so were Barbara’s legs.
Despite having Gail Simone pen the Batgirl series, fans were outraged with the new Batgirl
volume for taking Barbara out of her chair and putting her back into the Batgirl costume.
Apparently she had received some really helpful and experimental physiotherapy that allowed
her to walk again.
Many felt that this was harmful to a positive kind of representation that Barbara stood
for in the comics previously as oracle.
The one good thing that the series did explore was the fact that Barbara was still very haunted
by her past and her struggles with her paralysis – it wasn’t something that she was cured
of and never addressed again, thankfully.
3 A Man of Many Races The Flash mantle has had a history of annoying
retcons over the years.
One of the worst by far though is Wally West ceasing to exist, but then two Wally Wests
existing thanks to retcon messy fun times.
So, at the start of the new 52, and the DC universe reboot that came with it, Wally West
Or at least the one we knew didn’t exist – another new Wally West was kicking around,
and he was the biracial son of Rudy West.
But then that black Wally West was retconned when DC Rebirth came around, yet ANOTHER reboot
of the DC universe, in which the original Wally West was brought back, and this Wally
West, known as Wallace West, was the cousin of the original Wally West and the son of
the New 52 Reverse Flash, Daniel West.
Don’t worry, DC explained the same name thing as a product of the two Wally’s being
named after their great grandfather.
2 Watchmen Watchmen has long been considered one of the
most important graphic novels in the history of the medium.
When it came out, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were praised by critics for transforming a
medium that was often considered to be ‘low art’ into something that was complex, thought
provoking and subverted what we believed comics could do.
It was a game changer, and it inspired many writers and artists that followed it.
Watchmen has long been considered a sacred text that doesn’t get touched, until DC
decided they could milk it for more money.
As you can guess, Alan Moore was not fond of that.
It first started with Before Watchmen – a group of limited series comics that acted
as prequels leading up to the events of the main Watchmen graphic novel.
Some of them were great – Darwin Cooke, prior to passing away, did a fantastic job
with the Minute Men series, expanding on the characters that Alan Moore had so finely crafted
without making them into something that felt out of line.
Others weren’t as well done.
But their sales resulted in an unfortunate domino effect – DC brought the Watchmen
into the prime DC universe, making Doctor Manhattan a villain of sorts in the Doomsday
Clock limited series, which acted as a direct sequel to Watchmen and tied in stories from
the New 52 and Rebirth.
It’s still ongoing now.
And apparently, by its conclusion, the DC universe will be forever changed.
Kind of sounds like one massive retcon in the works again, doesn’t it?
It doesn’t seem uncharacteristic of DC.
But really, the reason why it lands on our list is the fact that it not only because
it takes something that’s so darn good and threatens to ruin it – it’s because Doctor
Manhattan has been turned into a plot device to explain all of the retconning of the New
52 – Doctor Manhattan is said to be the one responsible for rebooting the universe
and creating the new 52 universe.
Essentially it’s a retcon that was put in place to explain another massive retcon.
It also made Ozymandias regret what he had done in Watchmen.
And that just ain’t right.
You can’t dilute a character like that.
1 Jason Todd is brought back And finally, we have the silliest, most wretched
retcon of them all – Jason Todd was brought back from the dead.
And super boy prime punched him back to life.
Alright, let’s really break down Jason’s history here.
For starters, in 1988, when Batman’s comic sales were suffering thanks to the low popularity
of the new Robin Jason Todd, Dennis O’Neil of DC suggested that allowing the audience
to have an interactive experience and vote on a plot point in the comics would not only
be a great way to attract audiences, but also to solve their Robin problem.
In a four part story arc called A Death in the Family, readers had the option to choose
to call in and vote on whether or not Jason Todd would survive from an encounter with
Fans voted that he be killed off – it was a really close call with a 72 cote margin,
and evidence came out afterwards that hundreds of votes for Jason’s death came in from
a single person who had programmed a computer to dial the voting number every 90 seconds
for eight hours.
Jason was brutally beaten to death by the Joker, and for a long time, Jason was considered
one of the only characters in comic books to never be resurrected – one of the only
ones to truly stay dead, along with Bucky Barnes and Uncle Ben.
Yeah, look how that’s panned out, eh?
Anywho, Jason was brought back to life – at first, the idea of him being resurrected was
teased as part of the 2003 Hush story line, but later, in 2005, Judd Winnick brought him
back into the fray with the Under the Hood story arc, with Todd having a vendetta with
Alright, there we have it friends!
There’s a whole lot of retcons we haven’t discussed on this list, like the convergence
retcon that was basically a retcon of the Crisis on Infinite Earths retcon – so be
sure to give us a shout in those comments below if you’d like us to do a part 2!
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We also have a list on marvel retcons, so be sure to check that out as well!
In the meantime, thanks for watching!
Catch you all in the next one.