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Top 10 Dumbest Retcons in Comic Book History

VO: Adrian Sousa
Written by Mark Sammut Things are about to get complicated. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dumbest Retcons in Comic Book History. For this list, we’re looking at comic retcons that were either confusing, poorly handled, or completely unnecessary. We’re not necessarily saying the stories were bad, just that the retroactive continuity changes they tried to implement were poorly handled. Spoilers for the referenced storylines will be unavoidable. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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Things are about to get complicated. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dumbest Retcons in Comic Book History.

For this list, we’re looking at comic retcons that were either confusing, poorly handled, or completely unnecessary. We’re not necessarily saying the stories were bad, just that the retroactive continuity changes they tried to implement were poorly handled. Spoilers for the referenced storylines will be unavoidable.

#10: “Avengers: Timeslide” (1996)


At one point or another, everyone turns evil. Manipulated by Kang, Iron Man goes dark and commits some evil shenanigans. Desperate to reverse the tide, the Avengers jump to an alternate reality and bring over a teenage Tony Stark who helps take on the adult version. Spread over 25-issues, Timeslide was a messy storyline that retconned Iron Man's story and marked one of Marvel's worst periods. The Heroes Reborn Event erased teen Tony and allowed Marvel to put Timeslide in the rearview mirror.

#9: “Wolverine: Evolution” (2012)


Logan's backstory has always been loosely defined, but readers were in for a shock with this particular revelation. In 2007's Wolverine #53, the beloved anti-hero learned that feral mutants are actually a new breed of humans evolved from wolves, and first found out about Romulus, the first of their kind. Distinguished by their hair color, lupines fall into two warring tribes, which explains why Sabretooth and Wolverine are always at odds. Whether blonde or brunette, all lupine are under Romulus' manipulative thumb. Five years later, Marvel waived away this retcon by having Remus, Romulus’ twin sister, tell Logan it was all a lie.

#8: “Crisis On Infinite Earths” (1985-86)


While considered one of DC's most important story arcs, Crisis on Infinite Earths left Earth-2's version of Supergirl – otherwise known as Power Girl – in a tough spot. Due to Anti-Monitor erasing multiple universes, including Earth-2, Power Girl needed a new origin story to co-exist with Supergirl. Karen Starr went from Superman's cousin to a thousand-year-old descendant of an Atlantean sorcerer named Arion. After spending a couple of years as a mystical being, Infinite Crisis retconned the earlier story arc and reverted Power Girl to a Kryptonian survivor from another dimension.

#7: “Identity Crisis” (2004)
A hero's secret identity is beyond important and the Justice League take drastic measures to protect it. Besides a couple of minor changes, Identity Crisis retconned Doctor Light's entire personality. After Elongated Man's wife is found murdered, Green Arrow reveals that Sue Dibny was once raped by the goofy antagonist. To ensure this remained a one-time deal, Zatanna mind-wiped the villain and changed Doctor Light's personality into a harmless idiot. Apparently, this was not the first time that Justice League employed Zatanna for a little memory manipulation, as the sorceress came in handy whenever a hero's identity was revealed

#6: “Planet X” (2003-04)


Introduced in New X-Men, this mutant had a star for a brain and needed to constantly wear a mask. Thanks to an intervention by Cyclops, Xorn ends up joining the X-Men. Hopeful and naive, Xorn develops a close friendship with Professor Xavier, who was unable to read the mutant's mind due to his mask. During the Planet X storyline, Xorn strips off his mask to reveal the familiar face of Magneto, who explains that Xorn was nothing more than a disguise! But, in another twist, after Wolverine managed to cut his head clean off, it turned out that Xorn was actually not Magneto at all! While series writer Grant Morrison intended for Xorn to be Magneto, but his decision was very quickly overturned.

#5: “Sins Past” (2004-05)


Gwen Stacy's death at the hands of the Green Goblin is a pivotal moment in Spider-Man's lore, as the superhero's actions indirectly killed the college student. 30 years later, Marvel spat on Gwen's grave by establishing that Peter Parker's girlfriend had an affair with Norman Osborn that resulted in twins. As Gwen planned to raise the kids with the still-clueless Parker, the Green Goblin threw the character off a bridge. Sins Past not only retconned Green Goblin’s motivations behind Stacy’s death but negatively impacted Gwen’s public persona.

#4: “Heroes Reborn” (1996-97)


The mid-'90s coincides with a rocky patch for Marvel, so the publisher spiced things up with the Heroes Reborn crossover storyline. Set in the aftermath of an event that concluded with the deaths of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, Franklin Richards revived the heroes in a pocket universe without any memories of what transpired. Even though the heroes retained similarities to the originals, Marvel updated pretty much everyone to attract a younger audience, resulting in a controversial and overwhelming experience. Financially, Heroes Reborn was successful, but Marvel eventually returned to the main timeline.

#3: “The New 52” (2011)


In one moment known as Flashpoint, DC retconned 70 years of continuity and launched the New 52. Many beloved characters and story arcs received a do-over, with quite a few taking a turn for the worse. A couple of New 52 retcons include rewriting Barbara's heartbreaking ordeal in The Killing Joke, revamping the Green Arrow's origin story so Oliver Queen directly causes the deaths of multiple people, and the vital inclusion of Amazonian mass orgies. The Robin characters received the brunt of the New 52's retcons, with Tim Drake serving as Red Robin instead of Robin and Jason Todd gaining a drug addiction.

#2: “Infinite Crisis” (2005-06)


At the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths; Superboy-Prime, Earth-Three's Alexander Luthor Jr., and Earth-Two's Superman and Lois Lane are transferred into a unique separate dimension. Partially due to Alex Luthor's mind games, a frustrated Superboy-Prime punches through reality and retcons a great deal of DC's history. Infinite Crisis brought back the multiple universes lost during Crisis on Infinite Earths and revived characters like Jason Todd and Elasti-Girl. Even if the changes were generally okay, could DC really not come up with a better instigator than Superboy-Prime throwing a tantrum?

#1: “Spider-Man: Brand New Day” (2008)


Is nothing sacred anymore? In 1987, Peter Parker and Mary Jane tied the knot and remained married for the best part of two decades. Predicting that a young and single Spider-Man would increase the character's mass appeal, Marvel finally pulled the trigger in 2007's One More Day. With Aunt May knocking on heaven's door and Mephisto offering the only way out, Peter and Mary Jane's marriage is traded for the character's life. Largely panned by critics and fans, One More Day is not only considered an unnecessary retcon but one of Marvel's worst storylines.

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