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CSBG Archive

The 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History – Day 2

Okay, in case you didn’t see the introduction, the concept is that each day up to and including the 31st of July, I’ll be posting six of the most memorable moments from DC Comics’ 75-year history. On the 31st, you folks will get a chance to pick your Top 10 out of the 100 choices. I’ll tabulate the votes and I’ll debut the Top 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History starting on August 8th. In the meantime, feel free to post suggestions for moments you think should be featured either at our Twitter account (twitter.com/csbg), our Facebook page (facebook.com/comicsshouldbegood) or just e-mail me (bcronin@comicbookresources.com)!

Here’s the next six moments! And click here for the master list of all the moments posted so far!

NOTE: There will certainly be some spoilers for past comic books in these moments, plus there is some content that originally appeared in “Mature Readers Only” comics, so be forewarned!

5. A group of Legionnaires willingly risk their lives to revive the fallen Lightning Lad (Adventure Comics #312)

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Edmond Hamilton and John Forte deliver one of the most famous scenes in legion of Super-Heroes history, and the fact that the Legionnaire who died was a shapeshifting pet who was only making his second appearance in this issue really did not even feel like a cop-out in the context of this powerful tale.

6. Batman duels Ra’s Al Ghul in the desert…bare-chested (Batman #244)

(Click on the images to enlarge)

From the first major Ra’s Al Ghul saga, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams truly nail the whole “international man of action” vibe that they were going for with Batman in this storyline. This is a frequently homaged battle.

7. Aquaman’s son is murdered by Black Manta (Adventure Comics #452)

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There is a good case to be made that this 1977 story by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo was the one that started the whole trend of murdering off the loved ones of superheroes. In any event, a super villain murdering a superhero’s infant son? That’s a major turning point in DC history.

8. Superman expresses his frustrations at Mongul (Superman Annual #11)

From Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s brilliant “For the Man Who Has Everything,” Superman was just subjected to some heavy duty psychological torture at the hands of the villain Mongul (and on Superman’s BIRTHDAY, of all days!), and Superman is quite displeased with Mongul…

9. Hot shot District Attorney Harvey Dent gets a face full of acid (Detective Comics #66)

There’s not many SUPERHEROES who have as famous of an origin as the classic Batman villain, Two-Face. Here it is from 1942’s Detective Comics #66, by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos.

10. John Constantine outsmarts a trio of demons (Hellblazer #45)

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In what has become pretty much the most famous Hellblazer story of all time, Garth Ennis and Will Simpson have John Constantine cheat death itself, as a dying-of-cancer Constantine cons a trio of demons by selling his souls to all three of them separately. So if Constantine dies, the demons would have to wage a terrible war against each other, which does not serve either of their interests at this point. So they cure Constantine of cancer (note that he goes right back to smoking upon being cured) and he gives them the finger. This was loosely adapted into the Constantine film.


Interesting that the acid also dyed half of Harvey’s suit purple in that second to last panel…hmmmmm.

This is a kick-ass bunch of moments.

In the movie adaptation they have Keanu Reeves chewing on a nicotine gum when he is cured of the cancer. What a load of crap…

Ethan Shuster

July 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

I think that even today, with the death and violence, writers would think twice about killing off a child. Really surprising in a mainstream superhero comic in the ’70s. And didn’t this storyline essentially “create” the modern Aquaman? Turning him into the more somber, serious and edgy guy?

Ethan, you must not have read Justice League: Cry For Justice.

Piling on…so Aqualad tells Aquaman he’s done as a partner seconds after they find Arthur Jr. dead? That’s cold. Way to be there for him…

Agreed. Clearly he has his own issues there, but damn, Garth, there’s a time and a place.

And I guess I’ll be the guy to point out that Two-Face is actually Harvey Kent in the pages above, because they hadn’t yet changed his name to Dent.

Was Keanu Reeves as John Constantine as horrible as I imagined it to be?

Captain Flash

July 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

It was worse

The worst part of the Constantine movie is that from what I’ve heard it’s actually quite good. I have friends who are shocked that I’ve never seen it and tell me that it’s exactly my kind of movie. But I never saw it before I started reading Hellblazer so I know I’d spend the entire thing being annoyed by how terrible the adaptation is.

Aquaman – I’d heard of this moment, but never read it. It’s horrible. I don’t mean horribly done, but just a horrible moment. The image of him holding the tiny body of his young son just brings to mind how dreadful such a thing would really be. Although from the pages that are here I can’t tell what Black Manta actually did. Was Arthur Jr. still alive in the first page that we see above?

LSH – I’m a big fan so it’s great to see two LSH moments so far. The other obvious ones to include would be the Legion origin story (“Look out! Those men are going to kill Mr. Brande!”) and the image of Ferro Lad carrying that bomb into the heart of the Sun Eater. There are lots of others that I’d like to include but that I’m not necessarily expecting with the whole DCU to pick from.

The Superman moment was amazing.

Zor-El of Argo

July 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I think that was the first time Superman used his heat vision as a weapon against a person. In the past it was more of a utility power, for when something needed to be welded or melted or something. But seeing him burn Mongul across the chest made me stand up and say “Daaamn!”

Man, who doesn’t remember that one word “Burn.”?

Also, that Hellblazer storyline resolution was fantastic. I can’t believe I didn’t even see that coming.

Travis Pelkie

July 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I assume that Batman fighting shirtless is the “mature reader” comic? :)

It led to the great bit in Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man where he faces off against Ra’s with “SHIRTLESS FIGHTING!!!!”

I’m trying to think of iconic moments, and figuring which ones will make it. Hm. Glad I’ll have a list to pick from.

Was Arthur Jr. still alive in the first page that we see above?

Manta had trapped Arthur Jr. is a sphere filled with air (Arthur Jr. hadn’t yet developed the ability to breathe out of water). So he essentially died of suffocation. It’s not clear when the exact moment of death was; he may have already been dead when Aquaman broke the sphere, or he may have been in his dying throes after suffering irreversible brain damage.

In any case, it’s quite tragic.

(On a side note, this is also the issue where we learn that Black Manta is black. That probably isn’t a top 100 memorable DC moment, although it’s certainly one of Aquaman’s top 10 most memorable moments.)

Great choices.
There will certainly be a moment from Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I am hoping Barry Allen´s sacrifice make the final cut.

Andrew Collins

July 17, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Constantine is actually not a bad movie, but a shitty adaption from the source material, with Reeves’ Constantine completely unrecognizable in every way, shape, and form from his comic counterpart…


July 18, 2010 at 1:20 am

I wouldn’t agree that Arthur’s death “started the whole trend of murdering the loved ones of super-heroes,” given how it appeared more than four years after the Goblin killed Gwen Stacy.

OH, YEAH. Gwen Stacy. Still, I had never even heard of this (I’ve never read an issue of Aquaman, only know him from Justice League titles, although I’ve always liked the character), and this was just brutal.

I see that Black Manta’s had a pretty messed up history. Sexually abused as a child, said he wanted to establish African-American dominance under the sea (!),although apparently as a ruse, was actually half manta for a while, and in cartoons he’s been voiced by both the original Lurch, Ted Cassidy, and (the hilarious)Ted Knight, possibly the whitest white man in the history of white people.

What the hell, Black Manta?

Was Aqualad ever *not* annoying?

Has there ever been an occasion for anyone in the comics to point out that there are two semi-prominent heroes with the unlikely first name “Garth”? I don’t think Aquaman was in the original JLA/ JSA/ LSH crossover (and he was dead during the “Lightning Saga”), so maybe not.

WRT the Constantine movie – treat it as an original mock-horror that pulls in random elements from the Hellblazer comic,and it’s pretty entertaining (on no account approach it as an actual Hellblazer adaptation). Plus, you’ve got Tilda Swinton and Rachel Weisz to distract from Keanu’s ‘Paranoid Android’ rendition of John Constantine.

-The fact it was Proty and not Saturn Girl who sacrificed herself WAS a cop out, but the moment is still memorable for bringing back Lightning Lad.
-Batman and Ra’s duel counts, but for being their first, not the beefcake.
– Aquababy’s death counts for being unforgettably shocking. I always wondered why they did it… did DC decide Aquaman having kids made him “too old?”
-BURN! Hell yeah, that was awesome. ;)
-Two-Face’s origin is a classic too.
-Constantine? Are you kidding me? First, he’s Vertigo, not DC. Second, gaining the anger of not one but THREE Lords of Hell isn’t clever, it’s stupid, there’s things worse than death and he should know about them. And then he smokes again? Idiot.

Pretty varied stuff here. Shows how awesome DC can be!

The moment in For the Man Who Has Everthying is not “burn” it is “WHO DID THIS TO ME!!!!!!!”

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