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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 17

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at another great Alan Moore moment – this time from a classic Superman Annual.


Superman Annual #11 is about the celebration of Superman’s birthday, it’s titled “For the Man who has Everything,” and it features artwork by Dave Gibbons to go along with Moore’s writing.

The conceit is that Mongul has trapped Superman within Superman’s own mind courtesy of the dreaded “Black Mercy” plant which attaches to people and trap them within their happiest fantasy.

In Superman’s case, it is a life on an unexploded Krypton. Of course, Superman being Superman, he is fighting off the effects of the plant by making this perfect fantasy a bit of a sad state, as he is an ineffectual bureaucrat on Krypton.

Eventually, visiting friends Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin (in perhaps the best comic Jason Todd ever appeared in) save Superman, and, well, let’s just say Superman is none too pleased with the torture Mongul just put him through.

Observe today’s cool comic book moment, which really boils down to one word – “burn”-

(Click to enlarge)


Apropos sound effect. That scene is, indeed, the shizit.

I think my favorite part of this story is actually following Robin’s struggle to keep up.

i loved that story including when batman gets a taste of the mercy and superman asks batman or wonder woman to make some coffee while he cleans up

I’ve always thought “Clean thoughts, chum” (Batman’s comment to Jason, who was eyeing WW) was one of the highlights of the issue.

I’m a big Moore fan, but I honestly liked the DCAU version better. Editing the story so it fit into a half-hour episode improved it.

They did a Justice League episode adapting that story, didn’t they? But I’m fairly certain Mongul has nothing to do with it.

Mongul was in the animated adaptation of the comic. I remember thinking that the best part of his first episode “War World” was at least they’d set him up to adapt “For the Man…”, since otherwise it was pretty dull (although Eric Roberts was curiously good as Mongul in both episodes).

Have a good day.
John Cage

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

January 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Great story. My favorite parts are the “Who would it be polite to murder first?” line and the brief glimpse of Batman’s fantasy.

Eric Roberts as the voice of Mongul in the animated version was super-evil. His line-reading of “Happy birthday, Kryptonian, I give you oblivion” was just soooooo sinister.

Awesome moment. Superman has never been more badass.

I keep forgetting to pull out the book and re-read it, but the animated adaptation has a part where the plant hooks into Batman, and in his fantasy, before Joe Chill can shoot his father grabs the gun and administers a severe beating while little Bruce watches with glee. Was that in the comic? Cause I really don’t remember it. Either way, it’s pretty funny.

Great comic, though personally my favorite moment was “I’m afraid you’re not real…”

I read this story as a total comics n00b and didn’t really like it very much. Then again, I had just read Watchmen and expected nothing short of celestial magic from Moore (though some people might say this meets that description). I think I’ll give it another shot.

That story is amazing all around. Alan Moore discusses the writing process involved with the story in the Alan Moore on Writing Comics (I think that’s the title) book that Avatar put out several years ago. The Superman fantasy is actually pretty interesting in that his Kryptonian life doesn’t really turn out better than his Earth life. In fact, on Earth he has a kick ass Fortress, he’s friends with Batman and Wonder Woman, and he has amazing powers. On Krypton, his dad’s an embarassment and there’s rioting in the streets.

I’d always taken the lack of perfection in Superman’s fantasy to be an effect of his subconscious fighting the effects of the plant.

There are for me three top moments in this story – all of which have been mentioned alread – “Clean thoughts chum”, “I’m afraid you’re not real” and “Burn”.

For the Man Who has Everything still tops this story for me though.

Very cool story. Reading it, you can’t help but think that this is what would have really happened if Krypton never exploded and Kal-El grew up there. It’s a little depressing to see the results.

Editing the story so it fit into a half-hour episode improved it.

I disagree – cutting Robin didn’t help (or hurt), the TV format hurt the effect of Mongul’s fantasy, and Kal’s Kryptonian fantasy…the TV version was just…too shiny.

One good thing to come up in the adaptation, though, was the addition of elements of his real life to his Krypton fantasy – his wife being a pretty obvious amalgam of Lois and Lana and his being a farmer, specifically. I’ve always hated when the comics downplay the effect the Kents and the other aspects of his life on Earth have affected him. Even if he left Krypton late enough to remember it…even if he developed his powers in childhood…he was still raised as a Kansas farmboy, who fell in love with multiple human women, befriended many humans… Krypton is his homeworld, but Earth is his home, and it’s silly to think his experiences here wouldn’t shape who he is, and what he considers a ‘good’ life.

I was always tickled by Mongol’s fantasy when he has the flower attach to him: simply killing everyone. Read the story without the red-tint to let you know what’s fantasy, and it’s a story about Mongol successfully killing everyone.

Yes, this is easily one of the best Superman stories ever done.
It was even translated well into the JL cartoon.
The “burn” in the cartoon just wasn’t as emotionally powerful as it was in the comic.
As you can see in the page above, Superman is just over-flowing with rage and wants nothing more than to hurt Mongul…but, still, he keeps his voice calm and collected. And, you can still feel the anger in that single word.
In the cartoon, the word is yelled and it really kind of takes away from the mood of the whole scene.

I thought Batman’s fantasy in the DCAU version of the story showed little Brucie started to get scared of his father as the beatdown of Joe Chill just goes on and on. A bit more complex part of Batman’s soul, I thought, a fear of giving in to the violence he fights against.

To be honest, the imperfection of Kal-El’s fantasy always jars me in this story, because I just don’t think we’re given an in-story explanation of it or even theory for it. Doesn’t just seem like him fighting off the Mercy, because things start off pretty badly . Seems a little like the Mercy just sets up a counterfactual “what if?” based on the victim’s wishes, but then the story plays out according to what really would have happened– but that’s weird and doesn’t fit with anyone’s explanation of the flower.

But: hell yeah. “Burn,” “clean thoughts,””polite,” Mongul’s fantasy, “you’re not real”– it’s filled with fantastic moments, once we accept that for some reason Krypton is screwed up.

Moore, here and in WEHTTMOT, was the first writer I ever read to really show that heat vision was a scary power. Until then it had always been either the obverse of super-breath (just a way to turn the temperature up) or a pair of space-opera-looking laser beams bouncing around off force fields or space ships.

great issue full of great moments

“burn” is great

I’ll paraphrase a couple others as I don’t have the book with me
“almost intelligent” is the best Jason Todd moment

“mm. why don’t we do that more often” “I don’t know. Too obvious perhaps?” totally sums up the Why Not of Superman and Wonder Woman

Definitely my favourite Moore DCU story. Morrison’s recent ‘Last Rites’ two-parter reminded me of it a lot. Actually, most of Morrison’s recent stuff is heavily influenced by Moore, isn’t it?

YAY! I know you’d include it.

YAY! I knew you’d include it.

As soon as I saw “Moore moment” and “Superman annual,” my first thought was “Burn.”

And, yeah, the reading of the line in the JLU episode was completely wrong.

Must be a candidate for best panel featuring heat vision of all time, no?

The part of Batman’s fantasy in this story where his dad takes the gun away from the mugger “with no trouble at all” brings tears to my eyes every time I read or even think about it. Like now. Sniff.

Kal-El’s wife is the soap opera actress he met when he time traveled back to Krypton. Is there a hint of Lois/Lana? Could be…

I agree with you guys that the way the “Burn” line was said on JLU didn’t capture the way it is in the book. I always felt Superman said it calmly, like the Mad Monkey states, but still full of rage or anger. Like he’s saying it through clenched teeth.

Supergirl repeats the classic “Burn” scene (done to Lex Luthor) in an issue of Superman/Batman.

I also believe in giving credit where credit is due because various issues and articles of Wizard is where I first heard about these cool moments.

Some of them, at least. I still love this feature, though!

The most noteable improvement JLU made over this issue is the gifts Bats and WW gave to Supes. It never seemed right that Batman gave Superman a flower.

“Whom would it be polite to kill first,” deserves it’s own awsome moment write-up.

Great moment, but if have to choose between “Burn” moments, I still choose the one from Preacher (hope that appears in this great list). I choose Alan Moore over Garth Ennis any time, but in this particular case, I have to say that the Preacher “Burn” moment tops this one, specially due to the buildup.

Why choose? I’ll take both, with a dash of Prometheus, please. I sure hope JLA:CFJ doesn’t suck.

this made this into a cartoon. it was COOL!!!

Another great moment that immediately precedes this one in the comic is when Superman first comes out of the Black Mercy. Batman looks at him, and Supes has the single most ticked-off face I’ve ever seen him drawn with. He then asks Batman with vast anger: “Who — did this — to me!?

While Moore may have been one of the first to show how scary heat vision can be, I think J. Michael Straczynski topped him in the origin issue of “Super Power” (set in an alternate version of the Marvel Comics’s “Squadron Supreme” universe, peopled by obvious analogues of DC superheroes and villains). The alien boy named Mark Milton who will grow up to become Hyperion, the Superman-analogue, is being raised by government agents pretending to be his parents years after having been found by a kindly farm couple. They buy him a puppy, and it snaps at him, so the kid (about four or five years old) unwittingly unleashes his heat vision for the first time, vaporizing the poor puppy.

Later, we see just how shook up the government agent “parents” are over this. “He can kill us at any time with a look! With just a look!!

I loved the ‘burn’ line, but I really loved pretty much all of Monguls dialogue over everything else.

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