When Superman first appeared on the scene all the way back in 1938 for Detective Comics (formally, Action Comics #1), we’re not sure anyone imagined that some 80 years later, they’d still be one of the top 3 comic book publishers in the world. But holy sprightly octogenarians Batman, have they had a crazy history making it this far. We’ve looked back at the company’s roster and history since its first ideas and found 34 amazing DC Comics facts we believe all superhero dorks should know…
1. Comic Sans was Inspired by DC
No one likes Comic Sans, the infamous typeface that anywhere outside a comic book looks quite childish. Designed to look like classic comic text, you’ll be shocked to learn that the typeface was chiefly inspired by the lettering penned for Alan Moore’s famous Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.
2. There are Three Jokers
It was the mind-blow of recent years – in Justice League #50, Batman learned one of the Joker’s most deepest secrets. As he sat upon the Mobius Chair, which can answer any question, Batman asked it “what is the identity of the Joker?” The answer, to the surprise of everyone, was that there were in fact three incarnations of the Joker. The most common theory among fans has been that these three represent the Joker during the Golden (Jack Nicolson), Silver (Caesar Romero) and Bronze (Heath Ledger) ages of comic book history.
Speaking of which, who’s been your favorite actor to play DC’s best villain? Have a look at our definitive ranking of actors who have played the Joker and have your say!
3. Superman’s Had Weird Powers
It goes without saying, the Silver Age was weird. With it came some of Superman’s most ludicrous talents. You had the strange but not extreme-like super-weaving that allowed him to make dresses really fast, the mind-control just by concentrating hard, and knowing who was calling on a rotary telephone. Our pick has to be the time when he could summon a tiny version of himself from his hand. Way to go
4. Some Call it Detective Comics Comics
When it first appeared in 1939, DC was known as “Detective Comics” and that name still holds up to this day. This would be shortened to DC for brevity, but “DC Comics” was devised to clarify you weren’t talking about the district of Columbia. That made things awkward however, as that extended the acronym to the tongue-twister of “Detective Comics Comics.”
5. Henry Cavill’s Mustache Was CGI’d for Justice League
When Joss Whedon took over the production of Justice League following Zack Snyder’s unceremonious departure, he had to re-film sections of the movie. For reasons mysterious however, Paramount forbade Henry Cavill from shaving his mustache. It was part of his image for their Mission Impossible sequel but was a false stubble really that hard to make? Justice League producers had to CGI Henry’s face and magically make his mustache disappear. Funny times.
6. Superman Couldn’t Always Fly
The original version of the Man of Steel couldn’t fly. Yep, what a shocker! Instead, he could only “leap over tall buildings in a single bound.” It wasn’t until the 1940’s, when the animators of the Superman cartoon requested for him to have flying abilities.
7. The First Idea for Superman was Very Different
It seems so obvious today that the first ever superhero was basically Hercules in blue tights. One of the early draft ideas for Superman however, was of a short, bald, mad scientist type who called himself “The Super Man.” Maybe this is why Lex Luthor has such a negative opinion on super-people?
If that’s not shocking enough, check out this Batman fact we managed to dig up – the Dark Knight’s original look featured a blonde ‘do and a red suit!
8. How Clark Kent’s Glasses Disguise Superman’s Identity
Ever wondered how nobody connects Superman with Clark Kent, simply because of a pair of glasses? Well, believe it or not, these are more than just ‘glasses’. They’re made of Kryptonian Plexiglas from his crashed ship, and they have the power to conceal Clark’s identity through a kind of hypnosis. But along with glasses, Superman also disguises himself by slouching, Christopher Reeve displayed it best when he transformed behind Lois’ back in 1978’s Superman by standing upright.
Clark Kent also raises the pitch of his voice, changes his eye color (with the glasses) and messes up his hair when disguising himself. According to Flash, he also wears suits two sizes two large.
9. The Controversy around Harley Quinn’s New Look.
When it comes to outfits, Harley has two main modes – her quartered jester onesie is her most famous, which was her debut look in the 1992 Batman Animated Series. Her other style with pigtails, high boots and tube-top, was somewhat less popular. Adam Glass, DC writer and Suicide Squad co-creator actually received death threats when the new look was leaked.
10. Crippling Regrets for Batgirl
The crippling of Barbara Gordon was one of the more infamous moments of the Bat-saga. When Alan Moore came up with the idea, he asked DC head, Len Wein if they were okay with it. Wein reportedly told him “sure, go ahead”, as if they had no regard for her. Moore later recounted in a 2006 interview how he wondered if DC should have reined him in a bit over that.
11. Robin’s Fate was decided by the Fans
In 1988, DC held a tele-vote by asking readers to vote whether Jason Todd should live or die. Todd’s abrasive, bratty and headstrong attitude made him so unpopular to the point where fans voted “yes” and so his fate was sealed by a hair’s margin (5,343 – yes, to 5,271 – no). Turns out, The Joker beating him to a pulp with a crowbar and being left in an exploding warehouse was all down to the fans’ decision.
12. Black Bomber – the Most Offensive DC Hero Ever
Picture this – a racist man gets exposed to Agent Orange style gas while in Vietnam. Under stress, he turns into a black superhero dressed like a Harlem Globetrotter and neither identity remembers the other. That was DC’s first idea after Marvel had record success with Black Panther and Luke Cage. It’s a relief perhaps that DC instead went with Black Lightning.
13. The Bat-Cow
It’s not just humans who have been part of Batman’s retinue. Ace the Bat-Hound was a regular from 1955, and later you had Mogo the Bat-Ape. But how about a Bat-Cow? Yep. In 2006 – long after the Silver Age where this stuff was pretty normal – Batman and Robin rescued a cow from a slaughterhouse that they adopted as an official member of the bat-family.
14. Aquaman Can’t Control Dolphins
Although episodes of SuperFriends have shown him getting around by water-skiing with dolphins, Flash does clear up in the comics that his ability to control sea life doesn’t work as well with them as it does with simple fish. According to this Reddit user, Aquaman can’t directly control dolphins because their brains are too well-developed, instead he can sort of “influence them and hope they follow his orders”.
15. The Revival of Vibe
One of the more short-lived of DC’s roster until recently was Vibe, a superhero who could create shockwaves and strong vibrations. When he first came about however, he did this by breakdancing. He wasn’t great as his main gimmick was super-breakdancing, so DC killed him off when Darkseid attacked Earth. DC would later revive him in New 52 and the Flash TV series, minus the dancing.
16. The Fight for Captain Marvel
Here’s some cool DC trivia for you superhero nerds! The reason DC’s Captain Marvel is also known as “Shazam” is due to a legal dispute. When Marvel caught word that the company was planning to revive an old hero called “Captain Marvel”, they swooped in with a copyright for their own “Captain Marvel” before DC could get all the paperwork in order. That’s when Detective Comics decided to change its hero’s name to “Shazam”.
17. Wonder Woman had a Different Name & Was Meant to Date Green Lantern
In the 1940’s, everyone’s favorite Amazonian was initially named “Suprema, the Wonder Woman” but editor, Sheldon Mayer later decided to drop that name when he thought it was too similar to “Superman”. If that’s not shocking enough, hear this – Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern were supposed to be a couple until a fan wrote in to suggest the same pairing. DC didn’t proceed with the love story in order to avoid any legal battles. Doh.
18. The Flash’s Feats of Speed
What’s the most impressive display of speed for the Flash? How about saving an apartment’s residents from a fire, teaching himself how to build an apartment and constructing an identical building in a few minutes? We have a distinct feeling he couldn’t have gotten planning permission for that, though.
19. SuperFriends and Aquaman
We all know the joke that Aquaman is pretty much useless outside the water since his strength gets sapped and no fish can help on land. This joke is entirely down to his depiction in the SuperFriends TV show where for some reason, he was shown as being completely useless away from the sea.
20. The Short Life of the Dogwelder
When you look back at DC’s more obscure roster, you start to wonder if the head office had spells of demanding new heroes. Indeed they did, and the Dogwelder was when such spells lacked a bit of oxygen. If you couldn’t guess by the name, this hero’s superpower was welding dead dogs to people’s faces. We can see why DC decided to scrap this idea…
21. Superman and Flash Once Raced Each Other
It’s one of the classic debates of DC mythology – “Who’s faster? Superman or Flash?”. Both characters have demonstrated that they can run/fly fast enough to go back in time, but whenever they do race, the competition always ends in a tie no matter how many times they try.
22. The Rings of Life and Death
The Power Rings occupy the ‘emotional spectrum’ – red, orange, yellow, green, blue violet and indigo for anger, greed, fear, willpower, hope and compassion. Two others exist beyond these; white, the power of life, and black, the power of death. The latter was most prominent in Blackest Night, when the Green Lantern villain, William Hand started raising people from the dead with a black ring.
23. The Amazons Once Invaded DC
The king (or queen) of diplomatic mishaps, perhaps. When Wonder Woman was detained illegally by the department of Metahuman Affairs, Hippolyta’s plan to solve the issue was to invade Washington D.C. and kill every single person in sight. Sure, it was a Circe manipulation plot but that’s a bit over the top! In fact, the series was slammed due to its violent and gruesome nature – I mean, it’s not everyday DC fans read about Amazons killing innocent children in Washington…
24. The Joker was Almost Cancelled
True trivia that might break a few hearts – when the Joker was introduced in 1940, he was only supposed to be a one-note event, disappearing after a couple of incidents. Fans were so intrigued by his character and they liked how brutal and unpredictable he was that a decision was made to make him a regular for the Batman franchise.
25. Alan Moore met John Constantine
At least, so he claims. Comics writer, Alan Moore mentioned in a 1993 interview that he saw a man who he was sure looked exactly like John Constantine in a London pub.
“All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trench coat, a short cut—he looked—no, he didn’t even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar.”
It may have been London’s favorite chain-smoking magician, or it may have been Sting. It’s easy to confuse the two.
26. Superman Fought Muhammad Ali
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a Bee. Look out Man of Steel, I’m Muhammed Ali!” At least, that’s what he could have said as he knocked the Man of Steel during an epic boxing match. That’s right! Superman vs. Muhammad Ali was a celebrity comics comic book published by DC Comics in 1978. Taking place in a boxing ring in outer space, the match saw Superman defeated but he wasn’t worried – it was all a plot to protect the Earth from aliens.
27. There was a DC and Marvel Crossover
If you ever dreamed about a DC and Marvel crossover, believe it or not, it’s happened before and it’s probably something that will only happen once in a generation. In 1965, Marvel and DC teamed up for an epic crossover battle, in a collection of awesome comic issues. The series saw Thor vs Captain Marvel, Superman vs Hulk, Batman vs Captain America and many more throughout its eleven one-on-one battles. Who won? Sorry DC folks, Marvel stole the crown.
28. Why Black Manta Hates Aquaman
Sometimes the hero doesn’t always get to save the day. Had Aquaman succeeded in rescuing Black Manta from pirates, perhaps the ray-themed super-villain would have taken up more honest work? According to Bounding into Comics, Manta resents Aquaman for “not saving him and leaving him to a life of horrible servitude, violence, and abuse.”
29. DC’s Old Obsession with Apes
DC went bananas for apes during the 1950’s. 1958’s Bat-Ape was likely included due to the popularity of Detective Chimp, who came in sleuthing in 1952. A year after Bat-Ape, DC went ape-crazy with Flash nemesis, Gorilla Grodd and his tribe of super-intelligent great apes.
30. The Flash Gave Powers to Himself
Also known as “the time Barry Allen ran so fast he went back in time” – during the Crisis on Infinite Earths story arc, Barry manages to turn himself into pure energy by running super fast, breaking all limitations and striking his past self with the bolt that awakens his body to the Speed Force. Talk about forging your own destiny, Barry.
31. Wonder Woman was inspired by a Ménage a Trois
Here’s a rather controversial DC fact! When she was created in 1941, Diana’s romantic interests involved both men and women. Kind of understandable when what defines you is fighting with love and you’re from an island populated entirely by women. William Moulton Marston, her creator, was particularly inspired by the polyamorous situation he lived within. This was in 1940 by the way, when homosexuality was illegal.
32. Dex-Starr the Death Cat
Few cats live up to the sheer malice of rage-kitty, Dex-Starr. Yes, you read that right, DC has its very own cat! When a Red Power Ring crossed paths with a cat about to drown in the East River, the newly-empowered Red Lantern kitty proceeded to brutally murder the two thugs that threw him off the Brooklyn Bridge. He won’t stop until his owner’s killer is dead and gone and no one is getting in his way.
33. Lex Luthor Doesn’t Believe Clark Kent is Superman
It seems like those who believe they are the smartest in the DC universe are doomed to be blind to the more obvious secrets. In this case, Lex Luthor outright finds it preposterous that the mild-mannered reporter, Clark Kent could be his arch-nemesis. His hate-on for Metahumans makes it hard for him to believe one could get away with living an ordinary life.
34. Marvel and DC have a Friendly Rivalry
While geeks wage war over which company is the superior publisher, both sides are actually quite amiable to each other. DC has tried to sell to Marvel when it is in a slump, they’ve made several crossover arcs together and there are no hard feelings when one copies the other like with Thanos and Darkseid. As a matter of fact, Marvel creator, Stan Lee once worked for DC! In 2001, he released a series called Just Imagine, which featured Lee’s own take on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more!
Well, those were some rather amazing facts about DC, but with over 80 years behind them, there are all kinds of wacky and iconic stories. Are there any fun things about DC that you know and think we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments.