2012 in Review: The Great Comic Book Controversies

Members of the comics community, for those who don't now, really like to argue.

Part of it might be the serialized nature of many of comics' most beloved characters, which makes every person sure that they know the way a character is "supposed" to be and that the version they loved when they were young was the definitive take on so-and-so. That certainly contributes.

Perhaps part of it is that the comics community is so small and insular these days, that anytime some big argument springs up, fans and professionals alike know someone involved and feel like they're therefore invested in the outcome.

Whatever it is, many of the biggest stories of the year revolved around various debates, controversies and arguments--both small-scale and large--that went on in the comics industry in 2012. So we figured, like any other "best of 2012" list, it was worth taking a look back at some of the more surreally entertaining fights we found ourselves in this year.

Liefeld vs. Kirkman, Liefeld vs. Newsarama, Liefeld vs. DC, Liefeld vs. the D-List

It seemed that every time you turned around in 2012, veteran creator Rob Liefeld was getting into it with somebody on Twitter. And while this is absolutely true of any number of creators (Mark Waid, Gail Simone, Scott Lobdell and many others can be seen fighting on there pretty regularly), it seemed that this year, Liefeld's feuds took on a legendary quality. Fighting with Scott Snyder and others over his critiques of DC's editorial policy, announcing breakups with Robert Kirkman and DC Comics via Twitter, and then blasting Marvel for putting "D-list" talent on Deadpool within hours of a hot new creative team being named...it seemed as though he was just mowing people down as quick as they crossed his path. Even Prophet writer Brandon Graham got in on the fun, blasting Newsarama for their poor treatment of Liefeld during an interview.

But as many enemies as Rob made with his frankness, he made as many supporters. Not like...

Tony Harris vs. Women

With only about a month remaining in the year, artist Tony Harris took to Facebook to complain about what he perceived as a problem with "fake fangirls" online and at conventions--women who dressed in skimpy clothes and "teased" unsuspecting fanboys. The Internet blowback from the cosplay community and many others was swift and furious, with Gail Simone succeeding in getting "Cosplay Appreciation Day" to trend on Twitter the next day.

DC Deletes Stephanie Brown

DC Comics has deleted a number of popular characters from the continuity of the New 52, including former Batgirls Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain. Since they were part of a larger event (the New 52 relaunch), most people didn't think it was anything personal--until a trick-or-treater in the background of a group shot in a non-continuity, digital one-shot called Batman: Li'l Gotham was altered at the last minute (after the preview pages hit the Web and after some fans had already downloaded the original) to remove any trace of Stephanie Brown from the page, many fans thought that was...excessive.

James Gunn Wants to Have Sex With Your Favorite Superhero

Within a week or so of Tony Harris's ill-advised attack on cosplayers, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn found himself with a target on his back when feminist comics blog The Mary Sue uncovered an old blog post he'd made that discussed which superheroes he and his readers would most like to have sex with. The trouble? Well, he was pretty frank and often pretty crass when describing the characters, what he'd like to do with them, and what he perceived to be "wrong" with them, including some language that was perceived by critics to be misogynistic and gay-bashing in nature. The offending post was removed quickly, but remained available as an online cache and it was a few days before he issued a formal apology and the controversy went away.

Chris Roberson Leaves DC Over Before Watchmen

DC Comics's decision to release Before Watchmen was a pretty controversial one to begin with, with fans, media and creators chiming in--and not always staying civil. One guy pretty upset by the move was Chris Roberson, whose creator-owned title iZOMBIE had just been cancelled at the publisher's Vertigo imprint and who took to Twitter to say, in essence, that he would complete his contracted work and then never work for DC again, implying that the company was unethical. DC responded by releasing him from his remaining contract work and shortly thereafter, Roberson founded Monkeybrain Comics and hasn't looked back since.

Joe Kubert's Slanderous Before Watchmen Obituary

While fans generally understood the Before Watchmen critics and, it seemed, sided with them more than not, there was a particular instance where that turned out not to be true. When a comics news blogger used the death of legendary comics artist Joe Kubert as an opportunity to attack Kubert in his own obituary, saying in effect that his decades-long legacy had been irreparably tarnished by involvement in Before Watchmen: Nite Owl.

Gail Simone Fired, Re-Hired as Batgirl Writer

After weeks of rumors that she would leave Batgirl over creative differences with editorial, fan-favorite writer Gail Simone tweeted earlier this month that she had been fired, via e-mail, by the incoming editor of the title as part of a behind-the-scenes reshuffle. The fan outrage was palpable and it became THE comics story of the week, but it wasn't long before she returned to Twitter to announce that DC had undergone a change of heart and would bring her back to write the title again after a brief absence to allow the scheduled fill-in team to finish their arc.

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The Superior Spider-Man's Identity Revealed

Amazing Spider-Man #700 was an instant collector's item and will likely be the best-selling single issue of any Big Two title this year...but it's certainly not without its critics, and the apparent death of Peter Parker--who was then replaced as Spider-Man by his own murderer, posing as Peter--has alienated a lot of readers. Writer Dan Slott has received death threats from irate fans and editor Stephen Wacker seems to have taken up the job of defending the status quo because he's been spending a good deal of time on Twitter arguing with critics and bloggers whose opinions he doesn't like.