The end of the year is a time to look back and reflect on the changes and revelations that came in 2021. For DC Comics, many of these alterations to the status quo were met with strong feelings (to say the least) and heated debate, but were nonetheless engaging.

Whether it’s a change to a hero’s past, a dramatic shift in to their future, or a perplexing decision for the here and now, fans simply react strongly to change. The past year had a lot of moments worth generating debate, so it’s time to sit back and see what got fans the most heated. Here are the most controversial DC Comics stories of 2021.

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Turns Out, Batman’s A Pretty Selfish Lover.

In possibly the most hilarious controversy on the list, DC Comics found itself embroiled in a multimedia scandal concerning Batman and Catwoman. A Harley Quinn: The Animated Series writer and executive producer revealed that the series was forced to excise a scene for the upcoming third season, in which Batman performed oral sex on Catwoman, because “heroes don’t do that.” While the subject may have been a bit too much for the show, it didn’t stop sly references from invading the official tie-in comic.

Harley Quinn: The Animated Series – The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour #2 by Tee Franklin and Max Sarin showed Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy encounter Catwoman before heading out on a road trip. During their time together, the subject of Batman comes up and a glib joke from Harley provokes Selina into revealing the hero is “not a fan of cats.” The look on everyone’s face says it all. Franklin would get a lot of mileage out of Batman’s reluctance, showing Justice Leaguer Vixen in an intimate moment with her partner in issue four of the series proving that heroes can, in fact, “do that.”

The Green Lantern Corps Is Gone…Again.

Green Lantern #2 by Geoffrey Thorne, Dexter Soy and Marco Santucci saw the Power Core of Oa explode, destroying all life on the planet as well as eliminate a number of members from the Corps’ ranks. With no Central Power Battery and a handful of Corp members to keep the light alive, the remaining Green Lanterns have found themselves having to depend on alternate energies to keep on fighting. The destruction of Oa was just the start of this new chapter for the space-faring heroes.

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The new era of the Green Lanterns has seen a number of controversial changes to fan-favorite elements. Lantern Simon Baz was seemingly killed in the blast that destroyed the Corps. The beloved Emotional Spectrum that Geoff Johns centered his run on Green Lantern around has found itself diminished to the point of not existing. Sure, the freedom that comes with John Stewart now being able to draw from cosmic energies and Jo Mullein’s ring not requiring a Power Battery lets the characters tell new stories without the rules of the past, but older fans are finding these changes just a bit too removed from the lore that’s been around for years.

Black Adam Joined The Justice League.

In a year marked by change, Superman went to the extreme by insisting to his fellow heroes that Black Adam should be allowed to join their team. Justice League #60 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V, Xermanico and David Marquez has Superman argue the merits of Adam to a shocked Justice League who, understandably, have issues with the suggestion. Black Adam makes it in though, and in the span of only a few short issues becomes one of the team’s most valuable assets. Never content to be just a team member, it isn’t long before Black Adam declares himself the leader of the Justice League!

While it probably isn’t surprising that Adam would stake a claim in leadership in such a short amount of time, what is surprising is his ability to fit among their ranks. Black Adam took the role seriously, advocating for the League to assist in the liberation of Warworld. Superman vouching for people’s hero of Kahndaq may have been controversial, it can’t be said that Black Adam took the offer lightly.

Frank Miller Became a Canonical DC Hero.

Tom King and Jorge Fornés’ maxi-series, Rorschach, was the latest expansion of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic comic, Watchmen. The very idea of building on the self-contained story is already a controversial notion to some, but that didn’t stop King from crafting a tale based on Watchmen’s most notable character. While the new Rorschach is revealed to be a comic book artist named Wil Myerson, someone else wears the hero’s trademark black and white inkblot mask; that person being comic book legend, Frank Miller.

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It’s explained that Miller and Myerson attended seances held by Supergirl co-creator Otto Binder where they experimented in contacting the dead via feedback on tape. While the Myerson believed he heard a voice beckoning him to put on the mask of Rorschach first, it turns out that Miller heard the same voice and took to dressing as the Watchmen character as well. The series is extremely experimental, and putting the mask of Rorschach on an icon like Frank Miller has to be one of its more peculiar moments.

Nightwing Discovered His Long-Lost Family.

Dick Grayson may be the eldest sibling of the Bat-Family, but the Grayson family tree got a little bit bigger with the revelation he has a half sister. Revealed in Nightwing #81 by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, newly elected Bludhaven mayor Melinda Zucco shared that she is the daughter of John Grayson. Apparently, years before John married Nightwing’s mother, he assisted a runaway named Meili Lin that Tony Zucco had forced into marriage. She hid out at Haley’s Circus, sparking up a relationship with John and getting pregnant with Melinda.

The two’s love was not to be, though, as Zucco kidnapped Meili and hid her away in Bludhaven. If the revelation of a long-lost sibling wasn’t a big enough change, the murder of Dick Grayson’s parents is re-contextualized as revenge by Zucco for John’s interference. Grayson is only able to truly process this information when he realizes Melinda is working as an informant to bring down the mob. Nightwing’s relationship with his sister seems good for now, but only time will tell if the siblings will stay that way.

Superman Was Dying, So His Son, Jon Kent, Stepped In.

It’s been a hard year for Clark with his powers weakening after an alien encounter did some pretty nasty damage. Batman and the Atom discover his symptoms are “consistent with radiation poisoning” and his own son discovers via future recordings that Clark’s time on Earth may be coming to an end. To make the best use of his time, Clark decides to travel to Warworld to free the enslaved population. He makes sure that the Earth still has a Superman and leaves the mantle to his son, Jon.

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Expectations are high when shoes as large as Superman’s need to be filled. Self-doubt plagues Jon’s mind on whether he’ll actually be able to live up to the prolific example set by his father. Clark doesn’t seem worried, thinking that his son has unlimited potential to be the Superman today’s world needs. Jonathan may be insecure in his role, but he’s got plenty of opportunities in the upcoming year to show why he deserves to be Superman.

The drastic and shocking changes to the status quo set the stage for some pretty innovative stories in the past year. As 2022 rears its head, DC Comics almost certainly has already planted the seeds for even more controversial twists and turns for their books that should keep readers on their toes for another year.

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