A toxic fan to end all toxic fans

Toxic fans are incredibly aggressive and destructive to the different fandoms they belong to. Enter Superboy-Prime.


Death Metal: Secret Origins

Superboy-Prime fighting The Darkest Knight, one of the most powerful beings in all the multiverse. Superboy-Prime won.

Caden Melnick, Staff Writer

When a form of media gets popular, there are always fans who feel the need to speak out against it. They claim they do so to improve the franchise, to help create solutions to the problems they see. This can be a good thing in moderation, to make it better as a whole, but there is a difference between trying to improve something and just criticizing it to no end. 

And toxic fans have gone far enough in countless places and in countless fandoms (think K-Pop, Youtuber Dream, and Rick & Morty). Toxic fans, generally, can be defined as fans who act out with no real purpose other than to complain about or attack the decisions of a franchise or creator.

Franchises have attempted to use a character to highlight the issues with toxic behaviors (think Fight Club as a criticism of toxic masculinity, or Watchmen of toxic media). However, oftentimes creators miss the mark and instead of their pieces serving to call out toxicity, the product seems to support it.  They make the targeted audience think that the character is ‘awesome’ when in reality, the character was meant to be a criticism. 

In the DC Multiverse, there exists a character who represents toxic fandom: Superboy-Prime. Coming from a world where superheroes are only a thing of fiction, Superboy-Prime is whiny, annoying, and extremely unlikable.

One of the great quotes of Superboy-Prime (Countdown)

Superboy-Prime is so effective because he is not a character to idolize. He highlights the power that toxic fans hold because he is a toxic fan. He is one of the most powerful beings in the Multiverse, but his characterization ensures that toxic fans see that it is not desirable to be that guy. 

Superboy-Prime was a hardcore DC fan. And when he discovered he had the powers of his favorite hero, Superman, he was overjoyed.

This origin is honestly a perfect place to start to show how toxic fans begin; at first, they are just normal fans who love their favorite franchise, but that morphs into something unhealthy.  

Following some reality-altering shenanigans, Superboy-Prime was trapped outside of reality in a cell for years, forced to watch as the DC universe progressed. He watched from the sidelines and grew increasingly angry.

This is a metaphor for the creation of many toxic fans: as a franchise progresses and makes decisions, it is only natural that some audience members don’t agree with all of them. But what cements this as a portrayal of toxic fans in particular is how Superboy-Prime reacts: he punches reality itself (this is as confusing as it sounds but it happened in Infinite Crisis).

Superboy-Prime punches, and breaks reality itself. (Infinite Crisis Secret Files)

Reality itself made up the walls of his proverbial cell, so he punches them with the intention to escape. He punches reality without any concern for what the consequences may be. His only goal is to escape so he can step in and ‘fix’ it.

This highlights the issue with many toxic fans: they seek change without any regard for anything else. They attack and attack but when confronted with a solution, they do not stop because it is not exactly what they wanted. They are uncompromising, crusading with a delusion that they are the only ones who are right. They will never be satisfied with changes that may occur.

Anyway, following his escape, Superboy searched the multiverse for a perfect world to live in, but if any world didn’t meet his criteria, he would destroy it.

Superboy-Prime destroys Earth-15 (Countdown)

This colors another essential aspect of toxic fandom: the sheer power toxic fans can possess. Aficionados have the means to derail an entire franchise from words alone. Words can lead to followers and followers can lead to groups and groups can lead to mobs and mobs can result in destruction. This is not to mention if they gain a position of power within the production team, it can lead to them destroying parts of the world they love, all in the name of being a fan.

Without a doubt, Superboy-Prime represents something more than a normal character would. He represents a threat to what we enjoy. He’s a warning for what we, as fans, could become if we go too far. He represents the idea that we may become the problem, the very thing that we swore to destroy.