With more than 240 main DC Comics characters and countless supporting ones created since 1939, there are bound to be some superhero and supervillain nicknames that sound severely inappropriate and make people feel somewhat uncomfortable. The further back one goes in the annals of DC lore, the more out of touch and politically incorrect certain characters’ names are in 2022.
While DC nicknames have gotten better over time, there are still a few head-scratching moderns worth calling out and castigating in good fun. Fair warning, some of the most out-of-touch DC nicknames are pretty hard to believe.
Insane Clown P*ssy – Harley Quinn
Too uncouth for the movies, the only thing that lessens the blow of Harley Quinn’s X-rated nickname is that she applies it to herself, reinforcing her flippant mind state and crude self-deprecating humor. The nickname derives from an iconic panel in the DC comic Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay #12in which Harley and the squad fight the supernatural on behalf of Amanda Waller.
While introducing her squad to her enemies, she mentions a slew of crass aliases like Goo Girl, Copy Claws, and The Opioid Crisis before referring to herself as “yours truly, Insane Clown P*ssy,” making a cheeky reference to the rap group Insane Clown Posse, which likely draws inspiration from the face-painted Joker.
The Gay Ghost – Keith Everett
To be clear, there’s nothing remotely inappropriate about being homosexual. If The Gay Ghost, alias Keith Everett, had actually been openly gay when he was introduced in 1942 then he likely would have been a civil rights icon and truly progressive comic book character. Alas, Gay Ghost is simply cheerful, with the comic referencing the word “queer” several times to make him the subject of inappropriate jokes for decades to follow. The character was even mentioned in Law & Order.
As such, Gay Ghost was renamed the Grim Ghost in the 1970s, likely due to the sophomoric jokes and public backlash the original name faced over time. Nowadays Gay Ghost is a nickname to be celebrated as an LGBTQ+ fan-favorite DC character, but in 1942 the name was too homophonic, rather than homophobic, to catch on.
The Maid Of Might – Supergirl
To refer to Supergirl as the Maid of Might smacks of a reductive and pretty dismissive noun for such a heroic figure in DC lore. To headline the nickname in an animated TV series is even more inappropriate.
Defined as a female domestic servant, a maid is hardly an apt description of the badass planet-saving Supergirl does in the comic books. First introduced in Action Comics #252 in 1959 when the term “maid” was less derogatory and more commonly acceptable in society. Nowadays, domestic workers and housecleaners tend to be the most acceptable terminology. But at least it’s better than Marvel’s Super Slave.
The Aroused Crusader – Green Lantern
Imagine all of the kids who had the curiosity to look up the word “aroused” when spotting the golden-age Green Lantern’s short-lived nickname for the first time as he “piles into a foe?” Not a great look for the DC brand. While the nickname was used just once in a humorous context, The Aroused Crusader is not a superhero many youngsters or adults will put their faith in to save the world. Perhaps at an adult-themed cosplay convention, but nowhere else.
Of course, true comic book fans are aware that Hal Jordan is known by his more appropriate alias, The Emerald Gladiator, which describes the character far more accurately and more nobly than a sex-crazed warrior from medieval times.
The Pencil Necked Geek – Plastic Man
Introduced in the 1941 Police Comics issue #1, Plastic Man aka Ed “Eel” O’Brien is a DC comic book superhero who has more nicknames than most. While The Indian Rubber Man is pretty offensive, nothing tops the doubly insolent Pencil Necked Geek. Inappropriate jabs at the man’s physical qualities and his personality would hardly fly today unless perhaps it was a self-aware Ryan Reynolds character.
Other Plastic Man nicknames include The Pliable Paladin and The Sultan of Stretch, both of which are far more complimentary and honorable than flat-out body shaming and ridiculing a so-called hero’s brainy demeanor.
Sleez – Unknown
Hailing from the sewers in the Armagetto of Apokolips (itself an offensive term), Sleez is one of the vilest and most repulsive DC characters ever created. His nickname isn’t all that flattering and alludes to his lecherously depraved ways as he catcalls women and urges them to striptease and dance nude for his own pleasure.
First appearing in Action Comics #592, Sleez’s lewd inappropriateness includes being given an euphemistic “mega-rod” from his pet, which he uses to force Big Barda to wear skimpy clothing, and perform a striptease before sexually assaulting her as he films the crime. The nickname is rather tame compared to Sleez’s inappropriate behavior.
Pieface – Thomas Kalmaku
At the time Green Lantern #2 was published in 1960, it’s possible that the racially insensitive slur “Pieface” wasn’t as well known as it is today. That does not excuse the cringe-worthy alias of Thomas Kalmaku, Hal Jordan’s friend on Ferris Aircraft who is given the nickname by Green Lantern.
While some may think the term refers to the Eskimo Pie deriving from Kalmaku’s Inuit background, “pieface” actually refers to “a person with a round face and blank expression,” or “a stupid person,” according to lexico.com. Obviously, this nickname would never fly today, and with good reason.
Codpiece – Unknown
The term “Codpiece” refers to a medieval pouch or loincloth that covers a man’s nether region. Naming a DC villain after such is pretty odd on its own, but equipping the Doom Patrol villain with a frighteningly phallic protrusion to atone for his penile insecurities is more than inappropriate. Funny, but uncalled for.
While his civilian name is unknown, Codpiece vows to make up for his inferiority complex relating to the size of his reproductive organ, using his new phallic weapon to rob banks.
The Privateer – Mark Shaw
More humorously inappropriately than downright offensive, Mark Shaw aka Manhunter is a meme-worthy DC comic book character who also goes by the nickname The Privateer. Such a term does not have a real definition, leading to sophomoric thoughts of a superhero diving headlong into another person’s privates.
Shaw derived the name after fighting with the Justice League, returning as the Privateer when the Grand Master is killed in battle. Working with the villain Star Tsar, Privateer is ultimately sent to jail on extortion charges.
NEXT: 10 DC Villains That Deserve Their Own TV Series
Hulk’s Son Beat Juggernaut in The Darkest Way Possible