DC Comics have helped define the comic book industry and superhero genre since they took readers by storm with Superman and Batman in the Golden Age. Since then, the world of DC has played on and explored a series of tropes, even inventing some of their own along the way. Few of these are unique to DC, but some of them have been played out by the company and could do with some improvement and reinvention.

For some of these tropes, DC actually already has the answer right under their noses, and could benefit a great deal from making good use of their current creations. For others, the company only needs to make a few small changes to formulas that already work to ensure they make the best use of these tropes. The company has some of the best characters and creators in comics, so saving overused tropes should be easy.

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10 Ascending To Godhood And Instantly Changing Back

DC has played out the idea of heroes gaining godlike powers only to pull them away at the last minute with great frequency in the last ten years. John Stewart, Wonder Woman and Batman himself have all been given the powers of New Gods, like Metron, to act as an easy win in major stories.

However, DC seems reluctant to let their heroes keep these powers for any meaningful duration of time, meaning readers don’t really get to see an exploration of how they handle their new abilities. Trying out these powers for several story arcs could make for a good change of pace and actually let writers explain why some of these heroes are better off without godlike abilities.

9 Villains Becoming Antiheroes

The idea of DC’s latest and greatest heroes and antiheroes just being slightly reformed villains. The problem with this trope is that, in the process, some of Earth’s greatest heroes have lost their greatest rivalries, such as Shazam no longer having his evil equal in Black Adam.

DC already has the answer to this problem, they just underuse it. In the Suicide Squad, DC has a way to cast villains in a more heroic light while maintaining their selfish nature, since they only perform these deeds to prevent Waller blowing off their heads. Switching things up in the Suicide Squad and having some uneasy alliance stories between heroes and the team would scratch the antihero itch.

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8 Too Many Deaths And Resurrections

It’s hard to blame Marvel and DC for playing into death and resurrection arcs. After all, “Death of” and “Rebirth” stories were among the highest selling comics of the 1990s and 2000s, thanks to Superman, Green Lantern and more. However, the trope of killing these heroes has become predictable.

DC could save this trope by building up some obscure heroes to prominence in their stories with the goal of giving them a true death story. Rather than falling back on its heavy hitters for cheap death and return stories, bringing about some permanence and stakes while elevating obscure heroes would be a great thing.

7 Superheroes Turning Evil (Usually Superman)

DC has had a longstanding fixation with taking its best and brightest heroes and turning them evil. Whether it was the tyrannical King Superman in the Silver Age or Green Lantern overcome by Parallax, it’s one of the company’s most common tropes – especially with Superman.

Some of the most extreme forms of this trope include Injustice Superman and the controversial Batman Who Laughs, a merger of Batman and Joker. The trope should be kept out of main continuity, or else only be used with an explanation of mind control. Stories that have genuine heroes become mass murderers just don’t work, and always require some retconning down the line.

6 Multiversal Heroes

DC has told many recent stories of alternate Earth heroes on Prime Earth. The arrival of these heroes can make it feel like the stakes are lowered, with alternate worlds working as quick fixes for continuity issues. This was even how DC restored the pre-Flashpoint Superman in Rebirth.

DC actually already has a way to fix this trope in place: the Justice League Incarnate. Created by Grant Morrison, the JLI travel between multiverses in the Ultima Thule, a vessel used by the Monitors. However, the team are seldom explored, leaving characters like Naomi feeling out of place.

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5 Huge Superhero Families

Many fans have voiced frustration at how supposedly “solo” comic books are now almost all team books. While the idea of family and supporting casts is a fixture of comics, when a solo book has more heroes in it than the Justice League, something has gone wrong.

The trope of too many heroes wedged into one solo book could be fixed by giving more of those heroes their own neighborhoods or even cities. Just as Nightwing aged out of being Batman’s sidekick and now protects Blüdhaven, other heroes could walk their own beat independent of their old boss. New books set in under-explored cities, even having sidekicks team up with random heroes, would be a fix.

4 Lecturing Characters (And Readers)

One of the genuine struggles comics have had, especially in the modern age, is figuring out how to convey commentary without alienating readers. Sometimes, DC’s attempt to have a superhero take a side in a pressing real world issue can come across as out of place, especially when these aren’t actually shown to be an issue within the DCU. Playing into real-world politics needs a delicate hand that writers don’t always have.

The fix for this is a combination of more subtle, subtextual messaging, ensuring the message fits the character and ensuring the message doesn’t play to extremes. When a comic conveys a moral message or social commentary, it’s best done through discourse, rather than a monologue with only one opinion represented. Ensuring the message fits the messenger is also key to making this work.

3 Downplaying A Major Hero To Elevate A New One

One of the things DC has struggled with in recent years is the creation of new superheroes and establishing them as original, independent characters. Part of the reason this hasn’t worked is so many new heroes follow the same tired formula of being compared to Batman or Superman, quickly outsmarting or overpowering them.

An example of this problem was the aging up of Jon Kent into his own Man of Tomorrow. One of his first stories was effectively one big critique of Clark Kent, stating that the old Superman had only ever fought symptoms of the problem and Jon would be the one to solve the causes. It wasn’t intentional, but it came across as ignoring all the accomplishments of Clark to play up Jon. Arcs like these should be more focused on a hero carving out their own unique spin on a character, rather than bringing down the old one.

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2 Batman’s Parents

One of the most irritating things for the most dedicated fans of Batman and his titles is the ridiculous repetition of his origin, both in film and comics. Any time the hero has a nightmare, flashback, hallucination or otherwise, it’s almost always tied back to the night his parents died. Many heroes are orphans, but Batman fixates on it enough to take note.

Fans understand Batman’s traumatic history and the impact it plays on the man he is today, however the hero needs to live more in the present. The existence of Flashpoint Batman or other multiversal ideas could allow Batman some catharsis and closure, to move on from his grief while still maintaining that part of his lore.

1 Sudden Deconstruction

Deconstruction is a classic trope of fiction, and has been a prominent part of the comic book industry since the 1970s. The trope comes in many forms, but most often is used to expose a dark side of a hero fans weren’t previously aware of. The idea is usually an attempt at a fall from grace, with the idea being to build the hero back up after.

The revelation of deep and dark secrets that casts heroes in a different light may sound intriguing, but it’s hard for many heroes to shake it off. This can be saved by looking to stories like Watchmen, which used the trope on new, original characters who were designed to be deconstructed, rather than maligning classic heroes. Writers hope to add depth, but wind up making heroes less likable.

 DC Comics has played on some tropes for its most popular heroes since the Golden Age, but some are played out and need saving.  Read More