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  • A lot of long-running heroes from both Marvel and DC Comics suffer this. The Golden Age in particular has cringe-worthy racist and sexist moments, taken Up to Eleven in the Silver Age.
    • Many modern collections of Golden Age stories have taken steps to try and remove content that would be deemed offensive. For instance, many of the Wonder Woman collections remove the painfully racist caricatures of black people, replacing them with more natural-looking black characters.
  • J. Michael Straczynski's Marvel Comics maxiseries The Twelve contains an in-story example. Golden Age hero Dynamic Man sees a woman who's been mugged being chased by a black man. Upon grabbing the man he finds out that this is the victim's husband. He instantly loses interest in helping either one.
    • The whole series examines the dissonance between Golden Age heroes and the modern world they've found themselves in; while all of them suffer to a degree, Dynamic Man is a particularly ironic example given how he constantly stresses that he's "the Man of Tomorrow".
  • An in-story example occurs in Infinite Crisis, when 70's superhero Black Lightning meets modern black superhero Mr. Terrific. Terrific remarks that a black person actually calling himself "Black Lightning" is ridiculous, while in real life this was a huge trend in 70's comic books.
  • Tintin in the Congo has often been criticized as having racist and colonialist views, as well as several scenes of unnecessary violence against animals. Herge said that he was portraying the naive views of the time. When the album was redrawn in 1946, Herge removed several references to the fact that the Congo was at that time a Belgian colony. This failed to mollify critics. Because of its controversial subject matter, the album was previously only published as a facsimile black and white edition in English. However, a color English edition was finally published in September 2005, by Egmont Publishing, with a foreword explaining the historical context (a similar move had been employed for the 1983 translation of The Blue Lotus) and a collectors'-edition banner in red covering the main image over the front cover.
    • It's probably worth noting that after this fiasco, Herge did an about face after realizing just how badly racist it came out. The Blue Lotus actually had a section where Tintin discusses various racist stereotypes about Chinese people to Chang, who laughs and says "people in your country must be crazy!" Later on, Herge actually developed a close friendship with a Chinese man who was the model for the character Chang, and when he dropped out of contact, he wrote arguably the most beautiful and touching comic, Tintin in Tibet, just to express how much he missed him. That's an about face turn if I ever saw one.
    • When the album was to be published in Scandinavia, the publishers objected to a scene on page 56 of the colour album, where Tintin blows up a rhinoceros with a stick of dynamite. They asked the page to be redrawn, and Herge complied. Instead of blowing the animal to pieces, the rhino accidentally fires the gun of the sleeping Tintin, gets scared, and runs away. This page was also used in the English- and German-language translations.
  • In the introduction to Fagin the Jew (his own confrontation with the anti-Semitism in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist), Will Eisner recollects how he created Ebony as a one-dimensional comic relief black sidekick for The Spirit because it was common practice at the time. After serving alongside other Americans of different heritage in World War II, Eisner was more enlightened and gave Ebony more depth and gravitas.
  • Not quite a comic book, but near enough: This 1815 cartoon is meant to be a funny, comic portrayal of how to deal with your wife. By strapping her into bed so that you can do whatever you want with her, using gags and thumbscrews, if necessary.
  • Ultimate Captain America is another in-story example. In order to maintain his World War II origin story for stories in the 1970s and beyond, the original Cap was said to have been frozen in an iceberg and thawed out years later. The Ultimate version goes into depth about the kind of culture shock that would happen if a man, frozen in the 1940s, actually woke up in the 2000s.
    • Unfortunately, Ultimate Cap actually doesn't feature enough values dissonance. At one point, when talking about possibly surrendering, he asks insultingly if any one thinks that the A on his forehead stands for France. Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys is a modern stereotype and during WWII, Cap actually fought beside dozens of French resistance fighters who regularly gave their lives to complete a mission or save Cap.
      • The Actual Captain America proved this point only a few issues later, during Civil War, when he makes a rather more intelligent and eloquent speech about the bravery of the men and women he fought besides in occupied France.
        • In Ultimate Avengers, Cap was in custody of some French soldiers, who just happened to be mentioning how brave the French Resistance was. About a page later, Cap's free and kicking ass... whilst the soldiers are cringing, giving up without a fight. That's Mark Millar for you.[1]
    • Cap also got hit with that particular stick in Nextwave.

 Nextwave Cap: Close your eyes, go back to Avengers Mansion, and make my dinner.

    • The entire early run of Cap's stories from WWII fit this category, most especially the ones featuring villainous "Japs."
    • Similarly, in the '50s there was a run where Captain America and Bucky came back and fully embraced the idea of the Red Scare. This was later retconned to be a replacement Captain America and Bucky who went a bit paranoid after getting a bad batch of the Super-Soldier Serum.
    • Ultimately, the differences between original Captain America and "Ultimate" Captain America are a values dissonance between the comics industry of the 1940's and the modern day. At the time, the industry was all about big patriotism and sticking by your country in times of trouble because hey, it's your country. Nowadays, comics have gone more the route of sticking it to the man. Thus original Cap attempted to symbolize everything best about America, while the new one seems intended to symbolize everything that's worst.
  • In the case of the Argentinian comic strip Mafalda, there are several examples.
  • Early X-Men comics have some inevitable casual sexism that can be jarring to the modern reader, all the males (including Xavier) spend much of their time making crude remarks about Jean Grey and in one early issue the maid is ill so it falls to Jean to make everyone dinner (nobody questions this, least of all Jean).
    • Similar to the treatment of Sue Storm throughout most of the early Fantastic Four stories. Even tales that tried to demonstrate her value to the team - like "A Visit to the Fantastic Four" in FF #11 - come out painfully sexist now. (As for the old running gag with Namor... let's not even go there...)
    • One early issue showed the team training in the Danger Room, with the male members fighting a robot while Jean - who went into combat alongside the men all the time - practiced using her telekinesis to sew.
  • The climax of an early Constantine story dealing with a serial killer who targets the hero involves the hero getting a gun. Given that the killer is a Knife Nut, the confrontation is a bit uneven. For a British audience, the pistol was presumably an unexpected and shocking twist. For any nation where pistols are perfectly legal and commonplace, this is both an Anticlimax and a bit of a What an Idiot! moment for Constantine who did not think to use a gun on many previous occasions.
  • Jack Chick either stubbornly ignores these or simply doesn't realize them in many of his tracts which contain outdated values (one example is in The Little Bride, when the Christian Suzy insists that Mohammud was not a man of God because he married teenage girls and had slaves).
  • In the Gargoyles "Bad Guys" series, it's revealed that Dingo was raised by his stepfather, who showed visible shock when the teenaged Dingo came home with a mohawk. You'd think someone who'd kill his wife, lie to her son about it and raise said son to a life of crime would be more understanding.
  • DC Comics trend of returning characters from the Legacy Character inheritors to the versions the writers grew up with has had the unintended consequence of removing/killing off dozens of minority characters from the DCU. Because back when they were reading, all the major heroes were white.
    • An odd version of this occurs with the Flash (Barry Allen). Barry was previously treated as something of an optimist and a good natured fellow, with cheerful science lessons for the readers. In the decades since his death, this almost became Flanderization, with Barry being treated something close to a saint whose only flaw was spending too much time on heroics, showing up late on dates with his wife. The problem with his return? Barry was intended to be a nerd hero, so his day job was a police scientist. In the 1950s, nobody thought much of it. In 2010, CSI, profiling, and forensics investigations are the subject of nightly television drama, so Barry's happy attitude was jarring on a character who'd retroactively seen more death than the Joker.
      • Although there is such a thing as Gallows Humor; it's common for people in jobs like Barry's to develop strong (albeit often somewhat dark) senses of humor as a psychological defense mechanism to counteract the grime and misery they're confronted with on a day-by-day basis in their careers. This tends to not make it into said dramas because angst is generally more dramatic and makes those involved seem less insensitive.
  • The typical climax to many strips in British comics like The Beano in the '70s would involve a child doing something naughty and being given, as some stories put it, 'six of the best' - in other words, being bent across Dad's knee and whacked on the bum with a large slipper. It can be pretty surprising to a younger reader (ie. a reader not old enough to remember the time when smacking wasn't controversial) to realise that not only was that considered a moralistic plot element, you were supposed to laugh. Of course, recent (for example, 1990s-present) comics don't do that.
  • Dave Gibbons recalls encountering this trope when writing Powerman for a Nigerian audience in the 70s. In particular, he had difficulty with the idea that a fat stomach indicated success and power rather than gluttony and Greed.
  • In the Mortadelo Y Filemon comics by Ibañez, most non-white characters are drawn and speak as typical wartime caricatures, complete with accents, which raises more than a few eyebrows in the present day. That said, Ibañez's black characters tended to be universally more competent or at least less suicidally stupid than the white protagonists, so maybe it was just him catering to the drawing style expected at the time (Ibañez was, after all, publishing his comics during a fascist dicatorship and spent a lot of his time Getting Crap Past The Censors).
  • In Mexico, long-running comic Memín Pingüín features a blackface as the main character. And over there it is not seen as offensive at all.[2] However, in 2008, when the Mexican Postal Service announced they would publish a series of postal stamps with the image of Memín, many American civil rights groups noticed the character, and criticized both the stamps, the comics, and the Mexican society as a whole as being obscenely racist, to the point it caused a minor international incident between Mexico and the United States, while the Mexican postal service was more or less left wondering why they were making so much of a fuss since these stamps weren't really intended to them. Whether it was deliberately done by the postal service or not, the stamps were sold out within days, reignited interest in the comic, and the stamps were also found on auction sites being sold at many times its face value. And for the record, the comic actually called out on the U.S. segregation issues in the 1960's, and spoke very harshly against racism.
  • Shortly after Supergirl's introduction, there's a Superman story in which (for typically contrived Silver Age reasons) he has to pretend to be engaged. So, he spends a good part of the story making kissy-face with the mysterious new superheroine Mighty Maid. At the end of the story it's revealed she's Supergirl in disguise, and thus Supes has been making out with his 15-year-old first cousin. (A later story makes it clear that this is not Kryptonian-Earth values dissonance; first cousins couldn't marry on Krypton.)
    • Fact Note: in most US states first cousins can legally marry, doesn't lessen the Squick though.
  • Superdickery is something of a sub-trope of this, as the "humor" of the time comes off as manipulative and abusive today.
  • One arc in Runaways has the kids travelling back 100 years to 1907. New character Klara Prast is depicted in a number of ways that are very different to the modern kids, notably her reaction to the lesbian relationship between Karolina and "Negress" Xavin (actually a shapeshifting alien, which is a whole different set of things). Not to mention Klara's rather squicky relationship with her middle-aged husband. Klara, for reference, is twelve.
    • Fortunately, Klara herself was somewhat displeased by the latter, and eventually got over the former a bit, after spending some time with Molly and her modern-day worldview.
  • The dissonance in Comics is mocked in the videogame Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley. When he travels into the Silver Age, he is immediately paired with a ching chongey Chinese stereotype and put up against a feminist villain. Even Captain Smiley's sidekick Star, who is a complete Jerkass throughout the game, is offended.
    • The game also points out the hypocrisy in the Comics Code forbidding swearing, but allowing offensive stereotypes.
  • Wilhelm Busch's 19th century stories feature corporal punishment for kids (by caning). There are also some antisemitic bits in (lesser known) stories. Though it should be pointed out: A real antisemite wouldn't have had three such bits in his work, but three hundred.
  • Green Lantern Hal Jordan premiered in the late 1950s with a female boss/love interest who ran a military-industrialist complex air base, and an Inuit sidekick who not only knew his secret identity, but kept Jordan's power source safe and even stood in for him when Jordan was off-world. These concepts were quite progressive at the time, but to modern readers get easily overshadowed by his boss turning to supervillainy to try to force Green Lantern into marriage and his sidekick gleefully accepting a blatantly racist nickname.


  1. He licks goats, after all.
  2. Mexico doesn't have much racial discrimination nowadays, since most of the discrimination there is more based in socioeconomic factors. Though, there has been times when Black Mexicans have been stopped at the streets by policemen due to them misidentifying them with illegal Cuban inmigrants, but that's a story for another day...
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