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11/8 – Curious Cat Asks…

The reveal of the big bad in this week’s Annihilation Conquest was a bit lacking in luster. What do you think was the BEST villain reveal in a comic? Ozymandias? The Thunderbolts? Green Goblin?

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57 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

November 8, 2007 at 4:33 am

Ozymandias. No doubt.

Frederick Foswell’s reveal as The Big Man.

Just kidding. That was stupid. I’d probably also have to go with Ozymandias, just because of HOW he reveals himself to us, the reader (i.e. poisoning and freezing all his staff).

That Alfred was the Outsider. It surprised me when I was younger. :)

Dr. Doom at the class reunion banquet table. Not the most surprising, but the most stylish.

Or, Niles Caulder in Morrison’s Doom Patrol?

Coming from someone who just started reading Watchmen (yea I know, I’m a couple decades late on this one), THANKS!

Thunderbolts is a tempting one, but Swamp Thing has a great one too.

“Oh, God…what do you want me to say?”
“Why my dear, just say…’uncle’…”

The Masters of Evil as the Thunderbolts, was my favorite big reveal. Just never saw it coming.

I think the Annihilation Conquest reveal would’ve worked better if another book wasn’t running late.

What´s the big reveal of AC?

Thunderbolts. I never saw it coming, even though I suspected Meteorite might be Moonstone (based on a line in their first appearance in Incredible Hulk).

I don’t remember being _that_ surprised by the Watchmen reveal. Maybe I was too busy going “whoa” over everything else.

I’m sorry but Mr. Mxyzptlk in “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” beats them all. I did not see that coming, and certainly not in the direction Alan Moore went with it.

Again, we get an interesting point: when is it okay to reveal spoilers? Is 20 years too soon?

I’d say Ozymandias is up there, even though that book works as one of the very few “fair play” mysteries I’ve read in comics – all the clues are there, so it’s not too surprising if you go back and look for them. So I’d probably have to go with Niles Caulder in Doom Patrol, as there’s really only one big clue, and it doesn’t give too much away.

I’m going to go with Thunderbolts, but probably because it is one of the only ones that wasn’t spoilt for me.

I’d have to say that it would be the first issue of Thunderbolts as it was the one that came out of left field for me. I was already aware of Ozymandias in Watchmen prior to reading it.

Aww, I thought the Conquest reveal was fun. Especially since I never expected it and it adds a totally fresh dynamic in one of those weird but neat mismatched sort of ways (Like X-Men vs Dormammu or Ka-Zar vs Thanos) which you can only get in big fun shared universes.

It was out from left field too. I was expecting it to be some combination of the Magus and the Magus myself.

Best villain reveal in a comic? Thunderbolts, hands down.

Best villain reveal EVER? Dick Cheney.

T-bolts would have had more effect / shock value if it’d have happened a few issues later. Get the readers on the “heroes” side and somewhat emotionally invested in them, THEN do the reveal. Much more of an impact that way.

As an addendum, I get the feeling that whatever reveal we get in the Skrull invasion will be better. The only knock against it going in is that we’re all looking for it and trying to guess who else will be fake.

The problem with reveals is that you either need to do them early (like Thunderbolts) or leave enough hints so that the readers go “ooooooohhhhh” rather than “what the…?”. And that is a very fine line to walk.

If Thunderbolts was left off for a few more issues then it would run the risk of not working at all

The Golden Age had a very good one!

other than the ones already mentioned I liked Xorn’s reveal in New X-Men, again all the clues are there if you read the stories a second time and its a killer payoff

the less said about everything after Morrisons run the better though I’d say….

One of my favorites is the revelation of “Number One” in the “Secret Empire” story from CAPTAIN AMERICA — you never see his face, but it’s clearly implied that it’s Richard Nixon. And then he takes his own life. In the Oval Office.

Oh, and (MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE RUNAWAYS COLLECTIONS) when Alex was revealed as the mole at the end of the first volume of RUNAWAYS. Good piece of misleading by Brian K. Vaughan by making him the POV character with whom you enter the book, go through the first story arc, the guy with no powers…and he’s been playing everyone else all along.

A really good villain reveal has that great “oh, shit” quality to it — the sense that there is no way whatsoever that the heroes will win. But it’s a trick, as it requires that 1) the writing has established this world very carefully, and 2) the audience has enough understanding of the world and the continuity to really appreciate the reveal. Done incorrectly, and the reactions can range from “Who?” to “Come ON!” to “Didn’t STAR WARS do that?”

Xorn and Caulder are my two favorites. (Especially Caulder, given with everything else that happened that issue with the Candlemaker running around — the ultimate example of “shit hits the fan”!) But after thinking back for a minute, I must acknowledge being very stunned (and then thrilled by that stunning) when, as a youth, I discovered that Terra was a psychopathic bitch sleeping with Deathstroke. Wow!

I’m enough of a Watchmen geek that normally, when comparing super-hero comics, if you say “What was the best (whatever)?” I’ll just knee-jerk and say Watchmen.

But I didn’t really think the reveal of Ozymandias was all that spectacular – Rorschach and the Nite-Owl already suspected him, the clues were there, etc. Great storytelling, but not necessarily the most dramatic reveal.

Part of what made the reveal at the end of Thunderbolts #1 so effective is that we weren’t looking for it – there was no unsolved crime waiting waiting for a suspect, there really weren’t any obvious clues (at least not obvious to me). So seeing that reveal was like being punched unexpectedly – far more impact than if you see it coming.

i’m going to go with Devil Dinosaur at the end of Nextwave, because it was just so logical.

Darkseid at the McDonald’s counter, in Ambush Bug.

I am going to agree that the Runaways’ traitor, the Thunderbolts, and Xorn were all pretty perfect. In Runaways and New X-Men, I liked how all of the clues were there and it was still shocking. And with the Tunderbolts, like Skrullektra, it was so shocking and it opened up a lot of storytelling possibilities. Skrullektra particularly was a slow build to holy s@%t the more you thought about it.
On the flips side, Jean Loring stands as one of the worst villain reveals. The end of the previous issue ended with it looking like the Atom, so you knew there would be a twist, so a month ahead of time it was pretty clear that it would be Loring, even though it made no sense.

You know, Devil Dinosaur did make me say “off course!” between my giggles, because it just fit so perfectly with the tone of the book.

Runaways traitor reveal made me drop the book, and I’ve met others who have said the same, so it may be the best in terms of unpredictability, but I don’t know if it was great overall for the book.

Batman revealed undercover as the prosectuor in the trail of Catwoman, Riddler, Luthor (!) and Joker in “And to think…**I** Killed (Batman)”, in Batman #294.

OK, OK, there were better ones, already mentioned. But this one was still a damn fine story. And the cover to part 1 (Batman 291) is one of my fave covers ever.
http://members.aol.com/killermoth/cbm291.gif

Omniman from Invincible.

Thunderbolts was the first one that came to mind. I really did not see that one coming. Totally blindsided me.

I agree with the Runaways reveal. That solidified the book as awesome for me. It was a moment of shock and then, “Oh. Duh. of course.”
____

GEORGEBLANKS DON’T READ THIS:
Honestly, reading Watchmen, it was such a slow build to Ozymandias that by the time he is once and for all revealed, there was no anticipation because you already new it was him. Actually, with Watchmen, it felt like Moore was studiously avoiding anything that would resemble excitement. I think he just didn’t want his work devolving into something that could be construed as entertaining, settling instead for interesting.

Now if we call the space octopus thing the villain, I’ll admit to surprise.
______

DEATH NOTE SPOILER LITE:
I also think that if you count L as the antagonist in Death Note, then his reveal that he is not in fact the guy Light just killed is pretty rad.

Actually, Death note was pretty much a textbook for suspenseful reveals.

1. The Thunderbolts reveal. I honestly didn’t see that coming at all.
2. Omniman in Invincible. I think it worked so well because it seemed up until that point to be based on “What if Superman had a son?” I didn’t think it was anything too special (although I found it well written) in terms of ideas and that one just flipped it for me.
3. Ozymandias. Probably would have had more impact if I read Watchmen when I was older than I did. I was 12 when it was thrust in my hands by my cousin. I liked it then, but couldn’t appreciate it for what it was.

I think both Xorn and Alex Wilder were good reveals, but I’m still kind of mad that they both seemed to destroy some pretty good characters.

Terra and Secret Empire Cap are good ones.

I liked Frederick Foswell as the Big Man. There was a Big Man/Crime Master sequel of sorts in Marvel Team-Up a few years later, and that had a cool reveal, too.

Darkseid’s had a couple good ones…

By the way,

the key to the Terra story in the Judas Contract is that she never redeems herself. It goes from a story that you’ve seen a thousand times before, whether it be Wonder Man’s first appearance(which probably comes to my mind first since Marvel Saga 16 was my first comic) or what not, and then they twist it, hard, by having Terra die bad.

Yes, anything from the 90′s sucks, but at the time, I thought that Xavier being Onslaught thing was pretty shocking

Niles Caulder. Awesome, because Morrison retconned it to be a perfect fit with the canonical history of the character.

Omniman, for the reasons given by Rob at #33.

Xorn/Magneto. Come on. That last page? Pure awesome. And all the clues had been piling up for months, and nobody got it. One of Morrison’s finest moments.

Doug M.

Yes, anything from the 90’s sucks…

Can we please retire this tired cliché?

Yes, the ’90s were full of crappy comics — so is every single decade in the history of the medium. But the ’90s were also the decade of Bone, Starman, Firearm, Preacher, Grant Morrison’s JLA run, Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch run, Aztek, Hate, Castle Waiting, Sin City, Mark Millar’s Swamp Thing run, Transmetropolitan, Mark Waid and Mike Mieringo’s Flash run, Alan Moore’s Supreme, Dylan Horrocks’ Hicksville, and I could go on and on …

The Xorn reveal was great, but I liked Xorn, and felt betrayed when he turned out to be Magneto. Of course, that was the effect Morrison was going for, but I still felt a good character was lost.

All the best ones have been mentioned, but I’ll put these in the mix:

First, Darkseid as the villian behind The Great Darkness Saga in the Legion–this was a big suprise for readers of the original comics, spoiled for readers of the Trade by putting him on the cover.

In the same run, the reveal that the Shrinking Violet who’d finally fallen for Colossal Boy was a shapeshifting Durlan (a villian’s dupe rather than a villian herself) was a cools uprise. So cool that Marvel swiped it a few years later, to make the Alicia whio fell in love with the Torch a shapeshifting Skrull.

To jump media for a moment, none of the reveals mentioned have hit me as much as the revelation of who really killed Miles Archer in “The Maltese Falcon.” As Bogart put it, “you’re good–your very good.”

As much as I hate the character, I always liked Gambits reveal to have been behind the Morlocks thing.

but I still felt a good character was lost.

Of course, the Xorn character wasn’t really lost, because he lived on in Magneto’s psyche, driving him crazy and confronting him with his actions.

Xorn really shocked me, too. Like one of those moments where you shout “Whoa!” in public and everybody looks at you.

By the by, speaking of the Thunderbolts reveal, does anyone else remember the house ad they had for the Thunderbolts before it came out?

It was a multiple choice quiz as to who the Thunderbolts were, and since one of the choices was “The Masters of Evil,” I thought that totally gave that away before the book’s release, as I remember doing the “math,” and only Mach-5/Beetle being a “who could THAT be?” – as Atlas/Goliath, Songbird/Screaming Mimi, Meteorite/Moonstone, Citizen V/Zemo and Techno/Fixer all seemed quite possible/probable.

That annoyed me.

There were ALREADY some guesses of Masters of Evil back at USEnet, but that house ad totally ruined it, I thought.

I’m in the Thunderbolts camp as well. Hell, I remember Wizard interviewing Busiek (back when Wizard was the only outlet for comic news more or less); him being so honest in his telling of each character without revealing any of their villianous ways.

And yes, Caulder’s reveal was so not expecting that, it made sense.

Favorite of all-time would be the Great Darkness Darkseid reveal. I had actually figured that one out with the second chapter.

Favorite recent revelation would be the Annihilation Conquest reveal from yesterday. For me it redeems the character from the eye-rolling storyline he has been involved in for the last few months (where due to the artist’s influence he has breasts).

OK, just dug up who the actual reveal is we’re all talking about in A:Q, and dang. That’s actually pretty cool. (Although it would have been cooler if Xemnu had been the Big Bad. Because Xemnu rocks.)

A lot of the really good reveals (Thunderbolts, Terra) were spoiled ’cause I read them as back issues knowing the story, but not the case with the Xorn issue, which gets my #1 vote! (Although Alex Wilder was great as well).

Ozymandias was great, but had a different sort of impact, as it sort of dawned gradually over the issue, so it lacked the sudden “holy s@#t” of the last few pages of the Xorn comic.

Niles was real good, but I was not as emotionally invested in the characters, so the impact was diminished. Similarly, the Losers revealed a traitor but it was so early in the series it didn’t have as much resonance.

In the interest of stuff that hasn’t been mentioned yet: cop revealed to be Loki in Sandman: The Kindly Ones, and a special shout-out to Karma as obese crimelord in Sienciewicz’s last New Mutants issue (which I thought was well done ’cause she had been MIA long enough so you never saw it coming.

Liked the “I killed Batman” trial story too, by the way.

It’s probably not my favourite, but in addition to the ones already talked about it’s worth mentioning the recent reveal of the Anti-Monitor at the start of the Sinestro Corps War. That works as Geoff Johns does such a good job of building up the threat throughout the book, with Sinestro, his corps, the Cyborg Superman, Superboy/man-Prime and Parallax all slowly entering the fray, and then you reach that final spread with everyone together, and Sinestro and Parallax bowing before the biggest bad of them all. It’s a real ‘how on earth do the heroes beat *this*?’ moment.

In addition to others mentioned…
The Yellow Bastard from Sin City: That Yellow Bastard.

WATCHMEN SPOILERS
(Never thought I’d write that in 2007, but hey…)

I think Ozymandias’ reveal isn’t about the fact that he’s behind it, but it’s about the confrontation afterward:
“Dan, I’m not a republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I’d explain my masterstroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome?
I did it thirty-five minutes ago.”

THAT is what got me. The fact that he nonchalantly distracts Nite-Owl and Rorschach (which they probably assume is the slow, reminiscing “alright, you got me” approach of someone whose plans have been completely confounded) while his plan is executed makes up for the aspect that he’s the prime suspect by issue 10 (if not far sooner).

I also agree that the Runaways reveal is pretty crazy, and did set the “trust no one” tone of the series. I do enjoy how Vaughan kept up the “anything can happen/anyone can die” feeling for so long, which is a trait that I also admire in Heinberg’s Young Avengers (although it is amplified over there).

…and I know I’m in the minority of people that actually liked Identity Crisis, but I think it served a very crucial role in bringing the modern DCU into existence. I also felt that the revelation that (I suppose this might be spoilers for someone?) Jean Loring was behind it all made sense, and that Brad Meltzer did lay it out in such a way that it is very obvious in hindsight but a complete blindside at the time. It also becomes more important when you consider the actual scene where the revelation takes place, with Ray and Jean in the bedroom, is a scene that has been used frequently as a ‘safe haven’ of sorts for the reader up to that point in the series. The Ray/Jean reconciliation was the only positive thing going without any ominous overtones, and then Meltzer uses that to magnify the feeling of raw horror and shock in Ray’s (and the reader’s) life.

I’d say the Annihilation reveal didn’t work very well mainly because that’s never been that interesting a bad guy.

My personal favorite reveal would have to be Runaways, for being impressive in a very Watchman style way and fitting splendidly with the ramped up sense of paranoia Vaughn had built. Astounding misdirection.

Oh, and I have to give kudos to Gaiman’s American Gods. The name of Mr. World’s other identity was fiendish for how close the book came to telling you right out.

Norman Osborn revealed to be the mastermind behind the Clone Saga. Shut up. I was 10.

Doctor Octopus = Master Planner. *Perfect.*

Hey! How about a spoiler warning on that!

Heh, heh…

The identity of the brain of Brainiape in The Savage Dragon.

“They saved his brain!!!”

-Ahem-

Yes I like the big Golden Age reveal most of all. And if I weren’t drawing a blank, I bet I could come up with more than a couple reveals. But as it is, my other two favorite reveals are:

1- The Martians at the end of Morrison’s first JLA arc.

2- And depending on you point of view, this may or may not be a villain reveal; but prior to the Zero-Hour Legion reboot… The real truth behind Proty’s death and Lightning Lad’s resurrection was revealed in an Annual.

I also felt that the revelation that (I suppose this might be spoilers for someone?) Jean Loring was behind it all made sense, and that Brad Meltzer did lay it out in such a way that it is very obvious in hindsight but a complete blindside at the time.

Well, not really and I’ll tell you why in two words:

Suicide Squad

At the begining of his Identity Crisis story, Meltzer explores his villains different relationships and connections. He even ties Boomerang with the Calculator and Deadshot, etc. He wants to pretend he’s building his story based on past continuity (you know, with those references to the Secret Society of Super Villains(SSoSV) and Suicide Squad stories); but the fact of the matter is that he wasn’t too thorough. If he had read Suicide Squad, he would have known that the Federal Goverment/Task Force X had access to the Atom’s technology and even had an operative (who wasn’t Ray Palmer) running around with the Suicide Squad.

I believe the guy was killed, which brought in a couple of appearances by the JLA, but the technology remained “out there”.

And as for Jean Loring being behind it all… well, that also didn’t make any sense. After all, she was the one that broke up with him and she was the one that wouldn’t take him back (as chronicled in “Sword of the Atom”, “Power of the Atom” and Jurgen’s run on “Teen Titans”.

So maybe it would’ve been a good reveal if “Identity Crisis” had been a story “all unto itself”. But it wasn’t. And it was Meltzer who made it “continuity heavy”, not the fans.

By the way,

Does Kaiser Soze count as a big Villain reveal???

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