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CSBG Archive

The 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History – Day 8

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: Each day of moments will almost certainly contain some spoilers for past comic books, plus each day might include content that originally appeared in “Mature Readers Only” comics, so be forewarned!

41. Green Arrow’s ward is a junkie?!!? (Green Lantern #85)

(click on images to enlarge)

Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams had this story worked out BEFORE the famous Spider-Man drugs issue, but DC was wary about putting it out against the Comics Code. Luckily, the Spidey story led to the Code changing and this issue was released, and it was a much stronger anti-drug storyline than the Spidey one.

42. The Waynes take a night stroll (Detective Comics #33)

The parent death that pretty much all parental deaths are measured against. Bill Finger actually only wrote the first two pages of Detective Comics #33 (Gardner Fox wrote the rest) just so he could deliver this origin story. Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff did the artwork.

(As an aside, I can’t find my Batman Chronicles, so if someone could scan a better copy of Detective Comics #33’s origin, I’d gladly use it – I ended up going with the one from Secret Origins #1)

43. Lex Luthor is a big, fat jerk (Superman Vol. 2 #9)

(click on images to enlarge)

While the Post-Crisis Lex Luthor has moved past this characterization in many ways, for a good many years this was a very popular take on Lex Luthor, and this back-up story where Lex Luthor offers a waitress one million dollars to spend a month with him really stood out to demonstrate the type of villain this Lex Luthor was.

44. David Knight has an inauspicious debut as Starman (Starman #0)

(click on images to enlarge)

This was a pretty darn striking opening to the acclaimed James Robinson and Tony Harris run on Starman. Rarely does the title character of a book die in the first three pages.

45. Wonder Woman does not see eye-to-eye on things with Maxwell Lord (Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #219)

(click on images to enlarge)

Maxwell Lord has returned to the living, and I don’t know if we’ll ever really see this moment referenced again, but it sure was referenced a LOT over the last six years, so I guess it is worth being up there for you to vote on! Greg Rucka and Rags Morales show Wonder Woman determining that the only way to stop Maxwell Lord for good is to end his life.

46. Terra reveals herself (The New Teen Titans #34)

(click on images to enlarge)

After a number of months of being slowly absorbed on to the team, Terra finally gains the full trust of the Titans by taking on one of their deadliest enemies, Deathstroke the Terminator, one on one! However, we soon learn that the battle was not as “real” as it seemed….

(Thanks to John Trumbull for reminding me I had the wrong issue number initially for this moment)

30 Comments

Maxwell Lord has returned to the living, and I don’t know if we’ll ever really see this moment referenced again

I believe the appropriate response to that statement is

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

(I’ll leave it up to the reader whether I think the statement is naive, or if I’m happy about the possibility of that panel never appearing in print again.)

Identity Crisis and Infinity Crisis are so offmark, so off-character, that they had to sort of un-do it in less than a decade. Crappy book that showed how bad DC could be if forced.

There were a lot of things wrong with Identity Crisis (the ending, in particular, which was much more poorly written than the Sue Dibny/Dr. Light retcon), and I’d be happy if that were relegated to the forgotten trash heap of comic-book history. But I’m (still) not convinced that if a warrior like Diana faced that choice — after (just barely) battling Superman to a standstill — while Max Lord was tied in her lasso, that she wouldn’t kill him again. Did she make the right choice? A good question, worth debating. (What DC needed to do in the aftermath was have Superman, Batman and others actually discuss it, rather than just freak out and hate on her immediately.) As others have pointed out, the really great arc that Rucka wrote involving Medusa delivered the same fate for the antagonist, and nobody complained about that.

indenity criisis showed the dc universe going dark started with wonder woman willing kill even though she did it to save innocent lives from a raging superman. still wrong. speedy as a junkie showed that even the dc characters including the young generations were not immune to the evil like drugs. as for the star man pick it shows that to james was willing if needed to even kill the lead character for his point. the superman issue proves how much of a nasty guy luthor is to even play god with some one . as for the titans pick not only was Terra true agenda a big omg for titans fans but also the fact that death stroke was sleeping with an not really legal girl. a liltte creepy factor there

That Lex Luthor story definitely stood out for me at the time.

Also from Byrne’s Superman, I’m hoping for Superman #2, where Luthor decides that his employee’s conclusion that Clark Kent is Superman is nonsense because Superman would never stoop to that.

I’d also like to see the Lois Lane “Hold it right there Buster!” or whatever it was first encounter with Superman from “Man of Steel.”

“as for the titans pick not only was Terra true agenda a big omg for titans fans but also the fact that death stroke was sleeping with an not really legal girl. a liltte creepy factor there”

I agree with Chad 100% — this was one of the creepiest elements of comics I used to collect.

“Identity Crisis and Infinity Crisis are so offmark, so off-character, that they had to sort of un-do it in less than a decade. Crappy book that showed how bad DC could be if forced.”

-Ricardo

First, it was called ” Infinite Crisis”. Second, Wonder Woman killing a character isn’t “Off Character”. She’s a warrior. If Lord had snakes for hair, no one would give a flying #$%@ that she killed him. Third, “Identity Crisis” is a great story. The reason they mind wiped Dr. Light and altered Batman’s mind is because they were pushed to their limit and made a mistake. Why? Because they are human. Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Zatanna, Atom & Hawkman are all HUMAN characters and human beings can make mistakes especially when they are very emotional.

GREEN LANTERN #85: I guess that GREEN LANTERN 85 is memorable; something that poorly written does tend to stick in the mind.

That Terra moment’s really well done. And I must admit that the Lex Luthor bit had crossed my mind.

Can’t believe we’re already two thirds through the list.

Moments I’m still hoping to see:

-Green Arrow and Atom take down Darkseid in Rock of Ages.

-Animal Man’s “I can see you!” moment. I guess that’s unlikely since we’ve had the Grant Morrison meeting, but for me that meeting was just a natural extension of the real mind-blowing moment many issues earlier when Buddy looks at the reader.

-a certain punch which is most definitely waiting in the wings

I only recently purchased “OMAC” and the “Sacrifice” crossover and read them in one. Pretty good stoory but I found Wonder Woman’s decision to be fine under the circumstances. He had the lasso on. She asked how she could stop him. He told her.
What really stood out about the moment was that the image above was the end of the issue. No “To be continued” or next issue teasers. It had you looking for another page in disbelief (keeping in mind that I knew the outcome). Not many comics can make you do that.

I completely agree, Michael Howey.

She’s a warrior by nature and the lasso never lies. IDC was an odd book wasn’t it? The ideas were odd and the execution was even worse.

I concur. DC made a lot of questionable choices, but Wonder Woman killing a “monster” (this one happened to be a human monster) is totally in-character for her. It wasn’t in-character for Lord to become such a monster in the first place, obviously.

41. O’Neil and Adams were one of those teams that brought out the absolute best in each other. Denny O’Neil writes such melodramatic dialog that it is well matched with the hyper dramatic style of Neal Adams. The “explanation” coming before the reveal was a smart move, since it mitigates your desire to poke holes in a very weak rationale.

42. Batman really does have the perfect origin. It is amazing that with all the little elaborations over the years, the essentials have never changed. Little Kal-El no longer comes from a race of supermen, little Diana no longer followed Steve Trevor to the outer world for love, but the Waynes still were walking little Bruce up the wrong street at night.

43. This little story may be the best work John Byrne did as a writer-artist. Jenny, the waitress, could easily have come off as unsympathetic. That would have ruined the effect of the twist ending. However, Byrne keeps you on her side as Luthor’s little trap slowly closes around her. Great stuff.

44. I love the panel lay-out. It exactly mirrors what you would expect from a classic heroic debut. You get the third of a page of the hero looking at his city. You get the close-ups of him taking flight. You get the big splash of him in the air. Then, the triptych of him in motion on the bottom third of the splash page. It is total cliche, except that the actual contents totally undermine the cliche. This is all time great work by Robinson and Harris.

45. Unlike Rene, I think that everyone here is acting pretty out-of-character. The “she is a warrior” part of Wonder Woman tends to get over-blown, because it is the most cliched hook. It is there, but so are a half dozen other things. More than anyone, Wonder Woman is looking to redeem her antagonists. It is tough to write, because it comes off as naive when contrasted with cheap cynicism of modern comics. Also, Superman should never, ever come off as powerless.

This is just a bad, lazy scene. However, like the Blue Beetle one earlier, it is certainly defining of its era.

46. The Titans franchise has been so bad for so long that it is easy to forget how amazing the Wolfman-Perez run really was. One aspect that is easy to ignore, is that Terra was plainly the youngest of that group of Teen Titans. Deathstroke was a man edging past middle-age. Yet, Wolfman & Perez heavily implied that they were a couple. That added a sad, creepy edge to the proceedings. It also added another layer to the betrayal that Changeling would have to deal with. That made it one of the high points of a action/soap opera hybrid that defined the young hero books of the ’80s.

@Dean –

I agree that Wonder Woman isn’t just a warrior. She is a teacher and messiah. And while she is definitely interested in preaching her ways even to her enemies, I never thought she shared your typical superhero’s notion that “everyone can potentially be redeemed.”

She has killed evil creatures early in George Perez’s run, and again in Greg Rucka’s run. So yeah, I can see Diana killing as a last resort without the sort of soul-despair of characters like Superman.

The point is, should Max Lord be seen as redeemable by Diana? Beats me. Max was so out-of-character there, that any discussion is tainted.

@ Rene:

I think that we are roughly in agreement.

From what I have read of (and about) the Marston-Peter orIginals, it seems as if Wonder Woman started off as more of a redeemer than the average superhero. She converted an early antagonist to an ally for example. In contrast, Superman was tossing gangsters a mile into the air for the sport of it during the same period. Flipping that equation seems like a betrayal of both characters.

That said, the Max Lord of INFINITE CRISIS was so wildly out-of-character that he was essentially a new invention with an old name.

John Trumbull

July 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Hate to say it, but you screwed one up here, Brian. The initial reveal that Terra was working for the Terminator happened at the end of New Teen Titans #34, not #42. This wasn’t even the first time it was implied that they were having a sexual relationship (That was #39, the issue where Robin & Kid Flash gave up their super-hero identities).

Yes, it was all a big mess.

The story would have made sense if they revealed Brainiac had been controlling or possessing Maxwell Lord. Max has a long history of being used by villains as a weapon, after all. And when Wonder Woman has Max in his lasso, he breaks out of Brainiac’s control, realizes he was made to kill his friend Ted Kord, and uses his powers to order Diana to kill him.

That would have preserved (enhanced?) the poignancy of the scene, while making a lot more sense.

“The reason they mind wiped Dr. Light and altered Batman’s mind is because they were pushed to their limit and made a mistake. Why? Because they are human. Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Zatanna, Atom & Hawkman are all HUMAN characters and human beings can make mistakes especially when they are very emotional.”

The one thing that really bugs me about Identity Crisis (more so than the destroying of several characters; one day Sue and Ralph will be retconned back into existence) is this plot point because it just strikes me as blatantly lifting from a far superior work and pretending that it’s original somehow and that no one would notice.

I’ll leave it at this: if you liked Identity Crisis and haven’t read it already, I’d suggest reading the much better original Squadron Supreme series by Mark Gruenwald that this particular plot point was lifted from.

The situation really had no other reasonable course of action left for Diana to follow. As Maxwell Lord himself said, it was the only way of avoiding other deaths. I don’t know why people get so worked up about that.

Nor do I think Lord was out of character either. Then again, I despite the Giffen JLI, and I never forgot the last panel of JL #1, which shows Maxwell Lord exactly like he was during Infinity Crisis.

‘Identity Crisis is so off the mark, so off-character, that they had to sort of un-do it in less than a decade. Crappy book that showed how bad DC could be if forced.’

‘There were a lot of things wrong with Identity Crisis (the ending, in particular, which was much more poorly written than the Sue Dibny/Dr. Light retcon), and I’d be happy if that were relegated to the forgotten trash heap of comic-book history.’

‘I’ll leave it at this: if you liked Identity Crisis and haven’t read it already, I’d suggest reading the much better original Squadron Supreme series by Mark Gruenwald that this particular plot point was lifted from.’
I see that certain posters don’t know how good Identity Crisis was.

Was it really Wonder Woman’s decision? Or did Max not just tell her how to stop him, but actually use his power to command her to kill him? Was that possibility ever addressed – and if not, isn’t it odd that all the writers have carefully avoided it?

Ethan Shuster

July 24, 2010 at 6:56 am

“Nor do I think Lord was out of character either. Then again, I despite the Giffen JLI, and I never forgot the last panel of JL #1, which shows Maxwell Lord exactly like he was during Infinity Crisis.”

Wasn’t it revealed back then that Max was being at least partially controlled by an alien computer when he first created the team? And years later, I seem to recall Max ended up in the robot body of Lord Havok and was sorta a villain. Also, he’s back being human now and I think that’s either a major point of continuity forgotten or a specific retcon. So, while I agree that this Maxwell Lord doesn’t seem to match his original incarnation, I think a number of other writers should be criticized for changing Max’s character years earlier.

When I click to enlarge the first picture of the titans one I get an enlarged view of a totally different picture. Is this supposed to be happening?

Oh wait. After it refreshed with my message the pic has been changed. so ignore my last comment. However speaking as someone who VERY rarely reads and DC comics, I like the Identity crisis stuff. It got me reading their titles (for a little while at least). Now I did not read every crossover issue but it seemed to me that it made the characters a bit more interesting to me as someone who looked at them as tired and kind of boring. Of course I can understand why regular readers would not like it if they were all written out of character

“I see that certain posters don’t know how good Identity Crisis was.”

To each their own. To me, it was a cheap attempt at altering the status quo through the magical plot device of “stuff happens, and it’ll all make sense in the end. Trust us”. Further, I have a problem with it as what it’s ultimate place is in the DCU. A stand alone to be forgotten? Can’t be because of what it altered (several characters dead, trust shattered, the re-vamping of the JLA as a bunch of guys who weren’t afraid to screw with the minds of not just Dr. Light, but several other villains and Batman as well). So it falls into the chronology of the DCU, and there was a JLA follow up story where Batman knows what the league did and what it did to him.

So of course, because Batman is the forgiving type and the type who will say “no harm, no foul” and not the kind at all who would want to dismantle any group that was going around mindwiping people, he’s front and center at the formation of the new league (along with Black Canary, Green Lantern, and so on who were part of the mindwiping). Sure. That makes sense.

There should’ve been larger consequences to the story, and there simply weren’t save to kill off a few characters for shock value, most of whom they have brought back, and to give a reason to end JLA and launch the re-boot. So what was the point?

Yes, Max was kind of a scumbag in the very first issues of JLI. But even if that early Max was as evil as he’d became in Infinity Crisis (and that is arguable, since Max was a manipulative bastard capable of setting a terrorist for death, but would he shoot a friend in the head even then?), there were years of character development, and at some point the Martian Manhunter rummaged around Max’s head and found him worthy of being the League’s manager.

Max would still do some pretty sleazy things from time to time. I remember a instance where he abused his mind control powers to keep the Huntress in the League. But masterminding a conspiracy to kill all meta-humans seems completely out of his league (no pun intended) in moral terms.

I usually like Geoff Johns, but he has an unfortunate fetish for getting characters that are grey (or have the potential for greyness) and make them absolute monsters with very flimsy excuses. Maxwell Lord and Superboy-Prime are prime (no pun intended again) examples.

That seems counter to their pretensions of “mature stories”, because characters that have potential as anti-heroes are turned into completely evil monsters. It’s very black-and-white, really.

@ Rene:

Geoff Johns has a lot of great qualities, but character work is not among them. Everyone that he writes is either a very good, or very bad. They always have perfect self-awareness and say exactly what is on their mind. That is a handy way of dealing with a book like GREEN LANTERN where those are the defining traits of most of the cast anyway. However, it is a real weakness when he is dealing with the more subtle corners of the DCU.

Well, I think Johns is a bit better at characterization when he is dealing with characters in the long-term, as opposed to “events.” Atom-Smasher and Black Adam are more convincingly grey in JSA than most other characters he writes. But “events” seem to bring on Johns’s fetishe for taking characters to extremes.

And Johns likes extremes. Sometimes that is cool. Other times, not so much. It’s interesting that in the Titans, he seemed to have a knack for making a lot of characters more “epic.” For instance, Red Star was now a huge Russian hero with a floating alien fortress that hunted down rogue metas in Russia. The Doom Patrol now ALL had ailments, like Mento being sorta crazy again, and Elasti-Girl having certain deformities due to her power. I think that was sorta cool.

But in this desire for extremes, sometimes he missteps. I don’t like his Lex Luthor, for instance. Johns writes Luthor too crazy. Eyes bulging with envy and hatred for Superman. Completely obsessed by the notion that if Superman hadn’t existed, he’d lead mankind to greatness. That has always been a trait of Lex Luthor, but Johns makes it into more than a trait, he makes it almost the totality of Lex.

-Speedy as an addict: I always felt that this came out of nowhere, and was done just to insert an anti-drug use message in the story. But, it IS pretty memorable.
-Batman’s origin: do I need to say it? Iconic! Next!
-Luthor- WTH? This is supposed to be remarkable? I never even heard of it before! If you want a better moment from the “Lex as Evil Tycoon” era, try the story where he STRANGLED TO DEATH a female reporter (during the Bloodlines crossover) and got away with it! (OK, she got better, but still!)
-Starman’s death: Ehh, only important for setting up his brother as a reluctant hero. And killed by a bullet? Lame.
-Diana kills Max: Well, finally we get to this. God, it’s even worse than I remember. Instead of trusting that Superman would figure out how to escape the illusions- or that the combined resources of DC’s heroes would find a solution- she just accepts the word OF A MAD VILLAIN. You can tell a lie if you believe it is true, you know. And is she going to kill EVERY mind controlling villain she runs into from now on? I don’t mind Diana killing if she has NO CHOICE, but here she clearly did, but took the easy way out for no reason other than DC wanting to put her in a plotline that went nowhere. Still, as much as this sucks, IT IS famous.
-Terra being revealed as a villain was shocking, but her being shown as Deathstroke’s LOVER was even worse. Gee, was THAT necessary? Not to mention it makes Deathstroke a pedophile, but everybody gives him a pass about it (even Beast Boy!) Sheesh! Still, another moment I’d like to forget, but can’t.

To me, it was a cheap attempt at altering the status quo through the magical plot device of “stuff happens, and it’ll all make sense in the end. Trust us”. Further, I have a problem with it as what it’s ultimate place is in the DCU. A stand alone to be forgotten? Can’t be because of what it altered (several characters dead, trust shattered, the re-vamping of the JLA as a bunch of guys who weren’t afraid to screw with the minds of not just Dr. Light, but several other villains and Batman as well). So it falls into the chronology of the DCU, and there was a JLA follow up story where Batman knows what the league did and what it did to him.

So of course, because Batman is the forgiving type and the type who will say “no harm, no foul” and not the kind at all who would want to dismantle any group that was going around mindwiping people, he’s front and center at the formation of the new league (along with Black Canary, Green Lantern, and so on who were part of the mindwiping). Sure. That makes sense.’

There should’ve been larger consequences to the story, and there simply weren’t save to kill off a few characters for shock value, most of whom they have brought back, and to give a reason to end JLA and launch the re-boot. So what was the point?’
I bolded the bits in your paragraph which didn’t make sense at all.

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