We here at GeekyDomain.com love us some comic books, love comic culture, and love all of you comic fans.
Of course we do!
And we will be the first to admit that there are fans of any franchise who are perfectly wonderful people. We count ourselves as fans of most of the characters we’re about to mention below.
Of course we are!
So what we’re about to say is never to be taken as a blanket condemnation of an entire fanbase, nor of a character, nor of the artists who created that character.
But maybe there’s a few people out there who are toxic. And some of those toxic people tend to clump around a few select comic franchises. You’ve noticed what a difference there is in fanbases? A lot of other people have noticed. We’re singling out the comic characters who happen to attract fans that rub other fans the wrong way.
Deadpool fans set themselves apart from the rest of this list, because they’re not really notoriously bad characters compared to other fandoms, but do have one specific obnoxious aspect. That aspect is: There’s too damn many of you! Deadpool cosplayers swarm every con like locusts. While the good actors are funny to have around, most Deadpool cosplay seems to amount to “be a dick in public and get away with it!” We’ve seen plenty of security escorting a Deadpool cosplayer off the floor over the years to know it’s not that easy.
Besides that point, being a Deadpool fan is the definition of “basic.” If you are rabidly into Deadpool and nothing else, you are the “Karen” of comic fans. You might as well have the blond broom-bristle hairdo, the Ugg boots, the pumpkin spice latte, and a wrought-iron “Live Laugh Love” hanging up in your bathroom.
Like Deadpool, Harley Quinn is a constant presence at every convention, sometimes a little overwhelming but never reaching critical mass. The issues with being a major Harley Quinn fan are the obvious ones right out on the surface. She is the opposite of female empowerment. She’s a doormat for one of comics’ most notorious villains, the perpetual battered girlfriend in a ghetto romance. Since psychological issues became haute culture chic, she’s become the poster girl for people who think being unstable is cool.
When you’re a Harley Quinn fan, the rest of the world sees you as a walking cry for help, at the most charitable view. At the least charitable, it screams “daddy issues” and a high school pregnancy. Just as with Joker fans, if you idolize her, you’re missing the point. Your cocaine habit is not a fandom.
There’s no ambiguity with The Punisher, nothing complicate dot explain. The Punisher started right out from panel one to be the embodiment of toxic masculinity, and the character today is working as planned. The character is widely adopted by would-be fascists everywhere, including rogue law enforcement and modern neo-Nazi demonstrators. There’s a whole webcomic about this.
If the Punisher is your bag along with some suspiciously Aryan-looking logos and a few flags which are questionable displays in public, you don’t need us to tell you what other people think and don’t care anyway. You’re not a comics fan. You just use the skull logo as yet another way to look intimidating while you tailgate everybody in your huge black pickup with the bright headlights on.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sure, Sonic didn’t start out as a comic, but it picked that up along the way in moving from a video game to a full franchise. We’ve talked about Sonic before for a whole article here, mentioned him in passing as we did the post-mortem for the Sega Dreamcast there, and stumbled upon a fan with an edgy reputation (Chris-chan) while talking about niche YouTube gaming channels.
Well, it seems that there’s a lot more toxic Sonic fans where that came from, and we’re speechless. To Chris-Chan, add the legacies of PrincessElizabeth013, AkaiDalia/CobaltPie, YoshiWii1, and PaulandAmy. All of whom seem to be in the end of Sonic fandom that involves (1) DeviantArt, (2) furry aspects, (3) disturbing sexual fixations, and (4) pissing off other Sonic fans. Why does this happen with Sonic? Why does this happen with anything?
OK, first off, Casey Aonso is my new YouTube subscription for being a less depressing and funnier Lindsay Ellis. Second, the Joker fanbase is the one that everybody complains about, even the Batman fans. And they have a point! If you idolize the Joker, you don’t know anything about him.
The Joker isn’t even a true character – quick, find any similarity between the portrayals by Jared Leto, Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Hamill. There is no one Joker! Here’s how you play the Joker:
- put on make-up
- dress in layered, clashing, bright colors
- act just like yourself at a party when you’re trying to be funny
That’s it! The character has swapped backstories more times than Trump’s tax returns. Granted, in our classic comprehensive Batman essay, we pointed out that Batman had evolved from generation to generation – but he has dozens of points of consistency! The Joker is freshly invented by every writer who works with him. You want his official canon? The only official canon stamped by DC Comics itself is that the Joker has none, not even his name! Right about here is where some stooge always “corrects” me “but that’s what makes him so special, he belongs to the performer,” being completely ignorant of the fact that all characters are customized by their performers (that is why “acting” is considered an “art”) but the rest of them have the same NAME from one performance to another!
So. There. Now we have to specify which Joker when we cosplay Joker. Which actually comes down to not the Joker himself, but the fandom around that writer and that actor for that version of the Joker. Which opens a whole other can of graboids because many of those writers and actors come with their own baggage. As the most pathological pairing, I’d like to team up mad-monk Alan Moore and thanks-for-sharing Jared Leto. You don’t want to be a fly on the wall when those two meet, however, because it’s a toss-up which one would eat you.
What have we learned?
Is it possible to be a fan of all the above and still not be a toxic bag of sewage? Of course it is! Millions of fans, even the cosplayers and Deviant Artists, manage to be fans and not use it for an excuse to make a great big creep of yourself.
I wrote a whole manifesto about the difference between fandom and toxicity, back when Bill Maher ruffled comic fans. The fandom enjoys the work; the toxicity wants to own it. Fans enjoy a work as a part of their life; toxics pull the work around themselves to substitute for not having any personality of their own. At the end of the day, it’s that good ol’ line dividing fantasy from reality, and telling on which side of it you’re standing.