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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 140

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 take a look at the great Batman moment from Grant Morrison’s first JLA storyline.


To set the scene for JLA #4 (written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Howard Porter), a group of aliens known as the Hyperclan have shown up on Earth, seemingly to help the planet (while at the same time, people with fire-derived powers have mysteriously gotten sick).

But really, they’re bad guys, so the newly formed Justice League of America try to take them down, but they’re having problems, which is magnified when the Martian Manhunter seemingly turns on his teammates.

In any event, the entire team has been captured, including Superman (who is being held prisoner and being tortured with kryptonite). The only one who was not captured was Batman, who seemingly was killed in a plane crash (but we know he survived).

Now the Hyperclan go off to deal with “just one man.”

“The” moment is a tough call.

Is it the “I know your secret” bit?

Or is it “You’re martians, aren’t you?”

Or is it the fire/”ready when you are”?

Hmmm…I’m going with “ready when you are”

But I can be convinced otherwise!!

The one thing that needs no convincing is how cool this moment is – I can’t believe it took me this long to feature it!



May 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I’d say ‘I know your secret’, because it showed how tough he was – we didn’t know how, but he’d taken one down already, and now was gloating about it – and made the aliens lose confidence for the first time.
Once that happened the rest of the butt-kicking was inevitable.

The moment for me is the look on Superman’s face in the “He’s only a MAN!” panel.

Yeah, Diggity, that’s a hell of a moment, as well.

These six pages have, like, four really cool comic book moments.

I gotta go with Diggety on this one. You can tell what Superman’s thinking: “Batman’s free? Oh you are so screwed!”

When I was a younger, back before high school, this comic amazed me. It was the first time outside of the super friends that the Justice League actually meant more than cannon fodder for something superman couldn’t handle. (IE, Doomsday). I remember how rare comics were in my town, and backissues only came from a lot of luck when i went up state.

This story arc constantly impressed me and kept me hanging in there with the title longer than I was used to. Up until this point I just bought whatever and didn’t pay it much mind.

Then years later, because of this book and it’s an incredible moments, I finally started noticing writers and artists by name. I had picked up the first issue of Morrison’s New X-men and instantly recognized the writing style. I had to dig out my old copies of JLA to see if I was right.

This book is probably the one I would point to if someone asked me what kept me reading comics from early youth and into my teens.

The other thing about it that I love is how much more impressive it is when you understand Morrison’s mindset a bit better. Having read much of the same books and studied many of the same subjects that inspired books like The Invisibles, JLA is a strangely informative read into his interests. I never would have been able to point out the significance of the Worlogog outside of a comic book object until reading Terence Mckenna’s True Hallucinations and seeing the object described almost exactly right there in the book!

And in Rock of Ages especially it seems Morrison’s alien abduction scenarios have an influence. When Kyle is being abducted by Metron, it’s almost chilling seeing the comparison between how it’s portrayed and the DMT experience that has so heavily influenced a lot of Morrison’s work, including Final Crisis.

Even the title of FC is used in True Hallucinations near the end of the book when Mckenna is describing a mushroom related experience he had, and the title of the final issue (New Heaven, New Earth i believe) is actually word for word as well.

This book was smart and edgy in ways I never appreciated as a younger boy, but being over a decade older now it speaks on even greater levels. This is why I loved comics so much. The really amazing ones worked on so many levels, if you didn’t know about the subtext it would still impress you… and years later, a bit more informed, it would absolutely stun you.

Great comic to pick from.

The scene with Flash waiting for Kyle to arrive in the desert was another good one, and his race with Zum was awe inspiring. “Flash fact”, indeed.

What’s the name of the tpb for this storyline? JLA: ?

New World Order I believe. It contains the first 4 issues. Can also be found in the newer TPB’s they put out containing larger issue counts, i’d recommend those first. Search JLA and morrison on Amazon, should find it.

I remember picking up these issues and thinking “The JLA is back at last.” I hadn’t enjoyed the book since Giffen and DeMatteis left. Superman’s smile is another in a long line of definite “moments” during the initial arc.

“Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho!”

NIce reference Crash-Man.

Batman is truly a badass but he never had to take out supervillains barefoot!

This entire story is basically one long moment of cool – including Wolverine being BBQ’d.

Great little “okay, the X-Men have had their time in the sun, but now the JLA is back” moment with that.

The cool moment here is indeed Superman smiling; he knows that Batman’s going to kick these guys around the room, and what’s more, in spite of himself he’s going to take great joy in watching it happen.

The smile is definitely the moment, as great as everything else is, that’s the point when Superman realises victory is inevitable.

Right, the hardcover is back on my wishlist. So much for trying to trim it back.

Thanks Brian!

i would go with all three choices but mostly the arc proved why batman is not someone to mess with for one does not need superpowers and batman’s mind is his biggest weapon. not to mention loved the hyperclan freaking out over the fire.

Great moment, but this is also what probably kicked off the overused “Batman is prepared for EVERYTHING” phenomenon of the 90s. I remember my friends and I joking that if Galactus showed up in Gotham, Batman would have a bat-ultimate nullifier handy.

Great moment.

As for the “Batman is prepared for everything” phenomenon, that is one reason I am really interested to see how Morrison writes a non-Bruce Wayne Batman. Without the idea that Batman is almost supernaturally equipped to deal with any contingency to fall back on, we’ll hopefully get to see an exploration of other aspects of the Batman concept.

The smile from Superman is not just the moment here, it may be the greatest JLA moment period. In one panel, it shows the reader just how over-whelming their tactical superiority is.

I also really enjoyed the Flash’s follow-up line to this moment, but won’t ruin it in case it is going to be it’s own seperate moment. I’ve had some problems with Morrison’s writing style over the years, bu I always enjoyed his portrayal of Batman in JLA.

I always wondered where he got the gasoline from and why the Martians couldn’t smell it.

Uh…they can smell it. They very clearly point out the smell. They just don’t quite recognize it at first, presumably because as a Martian you make it a habit not to be around really really combustible substances.

I love this moment, so great. I wish we could get this Morrison who writes great superhero stories back rather than the one who writes endless metanarrative.

The smile from Superman is not just the moment here, it may be the greatest JLA moment period. In one panel, it shows the reader just how over-whelming their tactical superiority is.

It doesn’t really show “their” tactical superiority since Superman and the others had nothing to do with it. It shows Batman’s resilience and ingenuity maybe, but not some great group tactical moment. This is not a diss to the scene at all, it’s great, but no need to read more into it than what’s there.

Yep, that smile is the moment. Not only would I echo many of the sentiments already mentioned, but it also sums up Superman’s deep respect for Batman and his ability magnificently.

I’ve always liked the moment a little earlier on where the disguised white Martians are going on about how Batman is just a man in a mask and Superman says something like, “He’s the most dangerous man alive,” which, as you can see, they completely ignore.

I agree that the “Batman is always prepared for everything” trope has gotten a little out of hand–particularly when it’s been used as a jumping-off point for entire multi-title crossovers where his contingency plans have gone horribly wrong (“The OMAC Project,” “War Games”). However, it does make perfect sense for him to have devised countermeasures to use against super-powered adversaries when you consider the world he lives in. All that time he spent training, he had to have researched the Justice Society and their contemporaries, so he certainly would have researched their enemies. Add to that the fact that he was living in Gotham City, which was the original Green Lantern’s base of operations. He had to know that once he began his mission it was inevitable that he was going to come up against people with powers and abilities he didn’t have. Figuring counterattacks to be used against super-powered combatants would have been a necessary survival tactic.

My favorite moment from this story is still “Alarm bells are ringing all over the world. He can *hear* them.”

Yeah, I love this moment. I’m (apparently) one of the few people left who love Morrison’s always prepared “Bat God” take on Batman, and this is the moment when I fell in love with that take on the character.

For me, I think the single moment is “I know your secret.” Really gets to the heart of Batman’s schtick: he’s as much about fear and intimidation as he is the actual fighting. He WANTS them to know he knows, he wants them to be scared and uneasy as a result.

This is maybe my favoritest moment in comics ever. Blew my mind when I first read it! May have been the first Grant Morrison comic I encountered.

I also like the follow-up bits, like Superman’s “he’s the most dangerous man alive,” and GL’s “Only four of ‘em, Batman? You’re slowing down.”

They should really just film this storyarc and call it the JLA movie.

This is my favorite Batman is a bad ass moment outside of a Batcomic. Knowing that weakness makes it possible.

This is the storyarc that brought me back to comics.

Nice choice.

The martian’s mistake reminds me of a role playing game I was in. The plot was that an undead creature was extracting revenge on the judge and jury who had sentenced it to death. We had figured out who it was and who his next target was. But, not what it was.

But, we had made a huge tactical error. We holed up in a small wooden shack. The judge gave us Notice rolls and some of us smelled kerosene. We then debated what sort of undead smells like kerosene.

Turns out, an undead setting the building on fire smells like kerosene.

“What is that smell?” indeed.


I’ve always liked the moment a little earlier on where the disguised white Martians are going on about how Batman is just a man in a mask and Superman says something like, “He’s the most dangerous man alive,” which, as you can see, they completely ignore.

I think that’s actually AFTER this, when the other White Martians don’t report back.

My vote is for Superman’s smile as the moment. Superman may be the only superhero whom Batman cannot intimidate, but his respect for the Bat is clearly without match.


See, I always liked Howard Porter. Even this early on there’s some real thought goin’ into the design of those pages.

I second MarkAndrew’s comment about Howard Porter — the art’s a little raw compared to his recent stuff, but man if he doesn’t draw the book the way it should be drawn. He nails the mood and characters perfectly.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Mike Loughlin

May 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

“I know your secret.” i remember practically getting up and cheering for that panel. Superman’s smile is great, too, but A-Mortal just hanging there and the bald woman panicking were awesome.

Beats the hell out of sitting at a table talking about who should be on the team.

It’s true, actually, that this would make a great JLA flick. They’d have to give us an intro to Martian Manhunter in that movie anyway – just reiterate that as far as he knows, he’s the only Martian left. Wouldn’t have to do it like the JL show, they could make him a long-standing, founding member of a preexisting group. Do we really need a cartoon-style origin for the team? Nope.

Another moment that’s less a moment itself as it is a great sequence of moments.

A lot of people are discussing the martian reveal here as a fun element to the story. Right off the back Morrison sets it up as we get the first mention of a character with fire based powers losing their super powers.

As the plot goes on we see this pay off more and more. I think it’s awesome that from the very first page, we were getting hints to the story’s direction.

The coolest part wasn’t featured here. It’s when Superman tells the Hyperclan that Batman is the most dangerous man in the world.

johnny the boy

May 26, 2009 at 10:39 am

i concurr w/ the “superman smile is the moment” camp.

This is the kind of Batman I love. It shows why he can contend with the superpowered members of the league. Some people doubt it. Superman knows that if anyone can get them out of that situation it’s Batman.
I like that he’s always prepared; sorry I’m a Batman fan. Never underestimate him.

As I told a friend of mine–THAT is my defining Batman moment. Any other portayal fails for me, which is why I did not care much for the Brubaker-Rucka years,though I like both writers elsewhere.

John Hennings

June 1, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Y’all are missing the best part of the best moment. If memory serves as well as I’d like, when Supes makes the “He’s the most dangerous man on Earth” comment, he’s sick, fevered, bound, and in pain, and he’s LAUGHING — giggling, really — at these poor Martian suckers. Good old Supes, the nicest bouncer in the bar, wracked with misery, still can’t control his mirth at the hurt, terror, and humiliation his nastiest pal is going to put his captors through. You get the impression that he might’ve considered feeling bad for them if they hadn’t hurt any innocents yet — or any of his friends. Respect for Batman, indeed.

I don’t see it, John. Superman wasn’t laughing at thier upcoming pain, more that knowing smile that says “you’re not the first to underestimate him and you won’t be the last!”

John Hennings

June 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Bob, I agree that’s part of it. Superman, at that point, knew the Martians would lose and the Justice League would win because they had underestimated Bats. But I still think he’s laughing like a movie audience that sees the bad guys’ beat down about to commence. It’s the satisfaction of seeing justice done.

If only an artist better than Porter drew this. Those are some ugly panels.

This is why villains need to shoot first, and talk later. Stupid Martians deserved to lose lol

For me, the moment is a draw, either Superman smiling, or “I know your secret”.

I know this is old, but I just discovered this feature and want to add my two cents. This moment is AWESOME, but I also love the beginning of the next issue- when Superman figures things out, too. “He can hear them.”

I love that Morrision was perfectly comfortable with Superman being very cunning himself. It doesn’t have to be all Batman.

I agree, Colby. It shows the high (if unoriginal) concept of Morrison’s all-star JLA. At any moment, any one of them can make a game-changing big play, and they may all do it at the same time. Today is Batman’s turn to shine, but eventually Aquaman takes down the monster alien, Wonder Woman beats the rebel angel, and Green Lantern stops the sun from going nova. This team was made for moments like these, where the audience cheers and the bad guys go all incontinent.

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