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Top 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History: #25-16

We provided a series of memorable DC moments for you to vote for, we also gave you the chance to nominate other moments (which you then also voted on to get them on to the “ballot”) and then you came out in droves to vote for them all! I think it was our biggest turnout yet (as it turns out, more people will vote if they just have to click buttons to vote). So now, we begin the countdown of the Top 75 most memorable moments in the 75-year history of DC Comics!!! Do note that spoilers will almost certainly be present in these moments, and some of them could have come from comics that were intended for mature audiences only. So be forewarned!

Here is a link to #75-66. Here is a link to #65-56. Here is a link to #55-46. Here is a link to 45-36! Here is a link to #35-26

And now, here is #25-16!


25 Superman races the Flash (Superman #199 by Jim Shooter, Curt Swan and George Klein)

One thing Jim Shooter was really good at in his early days at DC Comics was coming up with ideas that fans were really interested in seeing (sometimes they would come from his editor, Mort Weisinger, who was also quite known for doing ideas that the readers were interested in) and having Superman race Flash is right up there with “who is stronger, Hulk or Thor?” as things fans like to wonder about, and finally DC obliged them!

24 Joker gets in one last joke (Batman: The Dark Knight #3 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson)

In this dark tale of Batman in the future, Batman has captured the Joker, but the Joker decides to get one last piece of revenge by framing Batman for his murder. Frank Miller and Klaus Janson capture the darkness of this madness beautifully.

23 Wonder Woman does not see eye-to-eye on things with Maxwell Lord (Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #219 by Greg Rucka, Rags Morales and so many inkers I honestly do not know who inked these pages)

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Maxwell Lord turning out to be a bad guy was a major turning point in the DC Universe. And he currently is a major part of the DC Universe once again upon his return during Brightest Day and his role in Justice League Generation Lost. A highlight of Lord in this new prominent role in the DC Universe is this storyline where he takes control of Sueprman’s mind, forcing Wonder Woman to make a difficult decision…

22 The Red Hood takes off the hood (Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland)

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Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, particularly Bolland, deliver one of the most iconic Joker panels ever in this page from the Killing Joke when the hapless loser who is dressed as the Red Hood finds himself become something else entirely…

21 Dr. Manhattan silences Rorschach (Watchmen #12 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

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Ozymandias’ plan to unite the world through a faked alien invasion has apparently succeeded. Rorschach, however, cannot bear to go along with the charade and insists on the truth coming out. Dr. Manhattan has become convinced that Ozymandias’ plan is a sound one, so he goes to stop Rorschach. The only way to stop him, though, is to kill him.

20 Hal first recites his oath (Showcase #22 by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella)

The above oath was actually used by the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott (among many different oaths he used over the years), but that fact is mostly lost to history, while everyone remembers Hal Jordan using it as his oath as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He busted it out in the very first comic book he appeared in.

19 Superman returns (Kingdom Come #1 by Mark Waid and Alex Ross)

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At the end of the first issue of Kingdom Come, after a long time in self-imposed exile, Superman is lured back to the mainstream world to help curb an infestation of “modern” superheroes. Little does he know that his return is going to set the world down a path that might lead to the annihilation of everyone! So his return has two meanings – as an imposing return of a figure in the present but also as a dark omen about the future.

Story continues below

18 Barry Allen has a little accident (Showcase #4 by Robert Kanigher, Julie Schwartz, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert)

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In the introduction of Barry Allen, we get one of the most famous origins of the Silver Age. So famous that John Broome later just re-used it for Kid Flash’s origin!

17 Earth-2 is discovered! (Flash #123 by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella)

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John Broome was the normal Flash writer at the time, but for this important issue, Gardner Fox, creator of the Justice Society, came on to write the introduction of the concept of TWO Earths. This worked in the fact that DC had had previous incarnations of the Flash, Green Lantern, etc. This is the first meeting of heroes from both worlds.

16 Blue Beetle is defiant in the face of death (Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1 by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winick, Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning)

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Countdown to Infinite Crisis was written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick. It was drawn by a number of artists, with Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning being the ones who drew this final confrontation between Blue Beetle and Maxwell Lord, where Beetle discovers Lord’s plans before anyone else, including Batman. Sadly, Beetle pays for his discover with his life, but at least he went down heroically.

Here is the link to #15-6!


People that voted for Infinite Crisis-related stuff need to find a new website more suited to their tastes.

Philip: You mean like a website devoted to comics?

Or perhaps one devoted to comics for people who haven’t followed them for 50 years. I’ve only got around 20 years of reading in, and some of the ‘classic’ stuff doesn’t seem that memorable to my eyes.

was wondering how the classic flash supes race would rate on this list. also nice to see the death of the joker from dark knight returns. wonder woman killing max lord that was one big mistake dc made with her.even though her reasons was to protect the dc universe from a crazy superman.

Diana killing Lord wasn’t a mistake. She’s a Warrior and he had it coming. The people who complain about that and Infinite Crisis are the same type of people who, years ago, complained about the First Crisis ruining the DCU. Or that Frank Miller ruined Batman with Dark Knight.

Watchmen, Wonder Woman, Infinite Crisis. Essentially the same two pages three different times.

Mutt: awesome observation.

Ahh, yes, the moment where Ted Kord finally just gives up. I still see nothing heroic in giving up when the villain offers you another chance to try and take him down. Max offers Ted a chance to take him down from the inside, and Ted responds with “No, I’m sure I’d screw that up, too.” Truly, the very personification of heroism

Wow, these are some of the first modern comics I’ve looked at (I’ve just gotten back into comics after a 25 year hiatus), and if these pages are any indication, I haven’t missed much. Do people really prefer this kind of storytelling over the older, more “comic” style? These are like bad Hollywood movie storyboards! Do they still make comics for kids? Oh well, back to my classic comics and those innocent days of my youth…

Colonel Deklin Iceland

August 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I just absolutely cannot stand what happened to Maxwell Lord. I was one of his biggest fans (he has three others!). They just crapped over all of his character as they did with the JLI legacy. Once they revealed Lord as evil it turned out he made the JLI as ineffective as possible. Rendering most of Blue Beetle’s career pointless. So in the face of this what does Blue Beetle do? Gives up and curses Lord out.

Man, lots of people getting killed off today. Where’s the love, ya’ll?

sure, ted could have possibly had another opportunity, but he probably knew better because max can, after all, control minds. i thought his death was great; he kept his integrity. and this is coming from someone who LOVES ted and wishes he was still around :(

What you didn’t see for the #23 moment is that on the very next page, Wonder Woman stuffs Maxwell Lord into a refrigerator…

Ted could have pretended to agree to work with Maxwell Lord, and maybe he could have put a crimp in Max’s plans (assuming Max was actually stupid enough to give the guy he caught in the process of trying to take him down unsupervised access to anything important, and didn’t use his mind control powers on him, or tell him to kill someone or give up useful information on his allies to prove his loyalty, or just say something like “Wow, in the end you even let your own values down” and blow him away anyway).

By the same token, Batman could have agreed to be Ra’s al G’hul’s heir instead of fighting him bare-chested in the desert. And Rorschach could have said “I love this plan! Send me back to New York right now Dr. M, so I can get started NOT telling anyone about Ozymandias’s deception!” And Luke Skywalker could have said “Hey dad, if I help you kill the Emperor and rule the galaxy at your side, could we maybe ease up a little on some of that oppression our Empire’s doing?”

Just because that Batman story and Watchmen and the Empire Strikes Back are all classics and Infinite Crisis was, by and large, crap, doesn’t mean that telling the bad guy to go screw himself wasn’t a morally defensible option for Ted.

Yeah, it’s not like Ted knew someone who infiltrated an ultra-powerful invasion and took a ton of heat upon himself in order to be a hero in the end. Oh wait, that’s exactly what his BEST FRIEND Booster Gold did during Millenium.

Two of the moments today essentially involved the memorable death of a Charlton character.

So… many… plants… (seriously – it’s obviously the same guy whining over and over again that comics were best during some magical time in his life and it was all progress until then and has been downhill ever since and nothing will ever change that and he’ll huff and puff and hold his breath until he turns blue and are you still listening to him? No? Time for another user ID then! ad infinitum).

Things are always better back in the day. Comics, pro wrestling, movies, the economy, music, etc. You can’t go to a single YouTube video from the 1990s on back without the standard “BRING BACK THE 90s/80s/70s! EVERYTHING WAS BETTER WHEN I WAS YOUNGER!” post.

Geeez people complain about Comic Book Death but thats what half this list is…though that Joker death was amazing, no point in ever killing him in the “regular” DCU as this cant ever be topped.

You people do realize that Batman killed Joker in DKR, and Joker didn’t frame him, right? And that Bruce was too far gone mentally to accept what he did, so he imagined Joker killing himself, as a kind of paranoid delusion. Look at it again. The moment where Batman “decides” not to finish the job, the Joker’s speech font and bubbles all begin to be in the style only used for Batman in the entire rest of the mini. It’s subtle, but it’s not so subtle this should be listed as The Joker frames Batman for his death. Batman clearly killed him.

I wouldn’t say the First Crisis ruined the DCU. It just screwed it up massively.

“You people do realize that Batman killed Joker in DKR, and Joker didn’t frame him, right?”

I’m not sure I agree with this, but it’s an interesting take I haven’t heard before.

I also agree with the person above who said that Wonder Woman is very defensible in her actions. There are simply times when “doing the right thing” isn’t an option. You have to do the least bad thing presented to you. It’s only natural that superheroes be used to make this case. You can lament that they’re supposed to be pure but in a comic book like this but you’re harkening back to a simple ideology that the modern reader can see right through.

That’s not to say Infinite Crisis, or this, were the greatest stories ever. I’m simply justifying this one character’s decision under the circumstances. Superman having to kill the Phantom Zone criminals in Byrne’s last issue had a profound impact on me as a child and actually helped develop my moral understanding of the world. The Dark Knight might do the same for others.

Infinite Crisis was bad…..but at least it wasn’t as horrible as Final Crisis

@Brian Fowler – you’re wrong. nice try though

where’s the Preacher moment?? The slow reveal when the guys in the space shuttle realize what the guy has written in the desert. Classic moment

@Brian Read DKR many times. Never occurred to me. Never hear anyone posit it before either. Have to go back and check that for myself.

I think this list would look drastically different has readers all submitted their top ten rather than just voting on CSBG’s selections.


You are wrong……Infinite Crisis AND Final Crisis were both terrible.

#16 is my #1… i know people will hate me, but it was a ridiculous and lol-worthy moment, and all of my friends and i used to use it in our school presentations… it’s got a nostalgic value for me.

Hey guys, remember, the survey is for MOST memorable. Not GREATEST Moments.

Some of the most memorable moments in history are not great at all. Some are tragic, some are disastrous. So whether you think Beetle’s death was good or bad, I think that it resonates makes it memorable. Positive OR Negative.

I do think there are too many WATCHMEN scenes and Wonder Woman killing Max Lord aren’t all that memorable. I mean, Wonder Woman’s act didn’t have any real consequences. Her character was doubted for a while but not realistically enough, nor long enough. Maxwell Lord was killed to early for it to be a defining moment in ending Infinite Crisis. And Max was brought back too soon. Seems like it can almost be neglected as inconsequential. At best, it can be tied up to other Infinite Crisis moments like Max being revealed as a villain and Beetle’s death. BUt not a moment on its own.

Also, at this point, DC had shown too many deaths for Max’s to have the strong emotional reaction it should have. There was just too many deaths and it came at a point when we’d been desensitized. Beetle’s death resonated because he was a major character with a strong following, and Max, who had been one of his best friends pulled the trigger. The rest, DC overdid it with the killings and after they were blasting Freedom Fighters, Titans and 3rd string villains left and right, it had gotten mundane.

Watchmen is one of my all time faves but I think we’re putting too many moments from it in this list. Diminishes its impact.

Just my .02, I could be waaaay off.

The difference between Blue Beetle and the Batman and Luke Skywalker references Zzz was listing is that Luke and Batman fought back other ways, while Ted didn’t take any other option. You’ll notice that Luke Skywalker and Batman are still around, while Ted Kord is dead. Beetle had only one possible option to even try and save other people, and he wimped out. At least some of the deaths from that point on were on Ted’s head.

And Rorschach was never supposed to be anything but crazy in his damaged attempts, so the comparison actually makes Ted look even more wrong.

Ted gave up. Rather than do what he could to try and save lives, he just threw his away. Nothing heroic about that. And this is coming from someone who barely cares about Ted and whether or not he’s still around.

But I suppose you’re right, Countdown to Infinite Crisis was a very memorable moment in DC comics history: It’s where they decided to dispense with respectful portrayals of its characters. I mean, writing 80 pages of people telling Ted Kord that he sucked and finishing it up with him dying after accomplishing not a damn thing, it was the first time I saw DC take a crap on one of its own characters before.

I think this list would look drastically different has readers all submitted their top ten rather than just voting on CSBG’s selections.

Totally agreed.

The list would be a jumbled mess. Personally I thought the list was pretty good. Sure Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis were rough, but they accomplished their goals of drastically bringing something different to the DCU.

Anyways, Love the Flash/Supes races, and the Joker moments are classic. Strange to see Max Lord on the list twice since most people don’t think of him as a “top” DCU villain.

I still find it odd to this day that in the Watchmen movie they slightly changed #21 to include Night Owl. I still don’t understand the change myself. Maybe they felt for the movie it would be more impactful?

I’m a big fan of 25 mostly because of the result of Flash Secret Origins where Superman and Barry Allen race again. It was a fantastic moment that brought up memories such as this one.

You know what? The whole “REAL superheroes don’t kill” idea goes out the window once you have people with WMD-potential who are actually willing to use it. Superman doesn’t give up an inch of the moral high ground by killing Mxyzptlk or the Phantom Zone criminals because there’s a damned good chance that neither he (nor anyone else) will be able to stop these serious dangers from rising again. Combine that with the fact that he was literally the last force for law and order in the Pocket Universe, and it’s just too obvious.

And Wonder Woman? Are you kidding me? An Amazon warrior who’s got her magic “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” rope tied around the guy who’s mind-controlling Superman to kill Lois or Batman? (And remember, these aren’t idle speculations on Max’s part–those are his next targets. He. Can’t. Lie.) Just as Superman gets a “Be a Judge, Jury, and Executioner For FREE” card by being the last good person alive in the whole UNIVERSE, Wonder Woman gets a pass b/c of the lasso. This isn’t a Silver Age book where a quick shot of Super-Hypnosis or something is going to fix it (and that gets into IC/Dr. Light territory anyway).

The only way to save the world from Superman is to kill the murderous psychopath holding the leash. Done.

All of this, BTW, is why it doesn’t make any sense to try to make death and violence more prominent or “realistic” in mainstream superhero comics. Watchmen, Marvelman, Squadron Supreme… all of those showed what would happen if “real-world” ideas were combined with superheroic powers. And they’re all good for what they are. But the DCU and the MU proper are both based on a “primary colors” kind of morality and they disintegrate when these kinds of issues happen.

If you want to see what happens when CM2 doesn’t use his word to change back to normal kid, read Marvelman. If you want a villain who doesn’t fall for the “give a speech to give the hero time to save the day,” read Watchmen. I mean, come on. If you want a story where every other panel isn’t someone getting decapitated/raped/burned to death/graphically murdered on panel, what story can you read these days?

It’s not just a “comics used to be better” argument, because in many ways, they weren’t. But they certainly used to be lighter enough, kid-friendly enough that you could let a ten-year-old read them without supervision. But the violence in Infinite Crisis alone would be enough to garner it a deserved R-rating. WTH?

No wonder my weekly comics budget has shrunk to a more-than-ample $5.

The list would be a jumbled mess.

Also totally agreed. ;)

Eric, well said man… I may disagree with a part or two there…but that was an eloquent argument Sir….

Well, if you disagree, you obviously didn’t read carefully enough. ;-)

Brian, may you please tell me why you keep referring to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (which my collected edition says the serial format was also called) as Batman: The Dark Knight?

Not a big deal, it’s just bugging me.

The series was called Batman: The Dark Knight.

When collected, it became known as Dark Knight Returns.

But the series was Dark Knight (with each issue having a different tagline, #1 was The Dark Knight Returns, #2 was The Dark Knight Triumphant, #3 was Hunt the Dark Knight and #4 was The Dark Knight Falls).

@Johnny Five–

Sure, but only because Final Crisis was awesome.

But, I recognize that’s an argument that I’m never going to win…

I know Infinite Crisis begat a lot of messes. But I will say that the run-up to it was about as well-orchestrated as I’ve ever seen a shared universe be. The official Countdown minis– Villains United (which was awesome), Day of Vengeance (which was not), the OMAC Project, and the Rann-Thanagar War– and the unofficial moving-pieces-into-place with JSA Classified: Power Girl, JLA: Crisis of Conscience, the Return of Donna Troy, and the “Sacrifice” Wonder Woman/ Superman/ Max Lord issues– were well-coordinated by Johns & Morrison, and created an exciting sense of unity and real plot movement.

I didn’t like the characterization that followed Diana killing Max. (Superman had once entrusted kryptonite to Batman with the tacit instruction to kill *him* if he ever got mind-controlled and became a threat; how is that OK but killing Max in these circumstances not?) And for that matter, I certainly didn’t like the characterectomy that was performed on Max. But, as storytelling, the OMAC/ Brother Eye/ Checkmate/ Max plotline was pretty impressive stuff at the time, and along with Villains United and the Power Girl mini made be (unjustifiably) excited and optimistic about Infinite Crisis.

Mr. Levy: Well-said, sir. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

My problem with the justifications for these heroes killing is mostly that they don’t make much sense. I would’ve understood if Superman used the kryptonite while the Kryptonians still had their powers (and thus were world-destroying menaces) but not after they were *permanently* depowered. Sure, they BOASTED that they would *somehow* regain their powers, and *somehow* find Superman’s Earth and destroy it too, but are heroes going to kill every villain based on what they MIGHT do? May as well kill them all! Similarly, if Diana had still been fighting Superman and had no choice but to kill Max to save herself (and the world) I would not have minded, BUT HE WAS ALREADY DEFEATED. Again, he CLAIMED there was no other way to free Superman than by killing him, but just because HE believed it to be true doesn’t mean it was (and the lasso would not get the real truth then.) And again, are heroes going to keep killing based on what their foes MIGHT do? This is especially annoying because, regardless of Diana having been raised as an Amazon, she had been a hero FOR AT LEAST A DECADE in the outside world by that time and had seen by herself that *anything* is possible (and knew that the rest of the World would not agree with her actions). Or wouldn’t she have killed EVERY mind-controlling villain she ever met then?

Let’s face it, both these events were just set ups to “Oh my God X hero killed someone!” exploitative storylines; at least at the end of his Superman admitted that killing the Kryptonians was a mistake; Diana’s never got anywhere. Seriously, they can’t keep using her as a Xena stand-in forever; she’s one of DC’s Trinity, and (while I don’t mind if she kills IF SHE HAS NO OTHER CHOICE) it makes her look *very* bad in contrast to DC’s other major heroes. She needs a good story where she finally admits that what she did was *wrong*, swears never to do it again, and stops acting “my morality is superior to yours.”

Lastly, I also agree that Beetle’s death was not heroic in the sense that Max *obviously* was just toying with him; he wanted to see Ted beg for his life (because after all the trouble he went to set up his operation why was he going to risk it by admitting in a goody-two-shoes like Ted?) but Ted realized it and just told him to go F*ck himself. At least there he was defiant.

This post makes excessive use of the second-person “you.” It’s not meant as a personal thing against any individual. I just get sick of writing like I’m writing a term paper sometimes. And… it got REALLY long. The whole original post is at my link. I didn’t want to derail this thread any more than I already have.

1. There’s always a cure for Gold Kryptonite. Three absolutely confirmed perpetrators of genocide (is there a word bigger than “genocide”? Seriously.) swore they would do whatever it took to get their powers back, making each and every one of them exponentially more powerful than Superman was at that time. Superman believes himself to be one of four living beings in the solar system and sentences them to death. He might regret the decision later, but that’s not something I’ve ever held against him even for a second.

2. “Heroes” can kill. They just can. Captain America undoubtedly mowed down rows and rows of Nazis, but no one challenges his right to be a “hero.” Diana was not raised with a “thou shalt not kill” ethic. She’s Themyskrian (or is that with a “c” in the DCU?), for goodness’ sake. What, so we can show on-panel decapitations by someone in a Superman costume but we can’t have any diversity in our “heroes”‘ belief systems or ethical systems? I call BS.

3. He wasn’t “defeated.” When a guy can command Superman to do ANYTHING at a whim the INSTANT he gets loose, he’s only ever “deterred” or “delayed.” Max Lord (in that story, and that’s all that matters at DC as “continuity” there means “whatever was on the page before”) was a master manipulator who had fooled everyone (including Bats, Supes, and WW) for YEARS. Magic Lasso of Truth + Safety trumps almost everything.

4. I don’t think WW looks bad at all next to Superman or Batman. Honestly? Knowing that she doesn’t have some weird moral code against killing someone like Max Lord or the Joker makes me want her on my side ten times more than either of the other guys.

5. And #4 illustrates the key problem of explicit or excessive violence in super-hero comics: You can’t have Silver Age, G-Rated Morality in your heroes and R-Rated (or NC-17, at this rate) violence from your villains and have anyone believe it for even two seconds.

I have to admit, I was rather new to comics in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, so I had no real idea who Max Lord was. But I had been reading Wonder Woman, and in the previous year she had killed Medusa in televised on-on-one combat in a New York sports arena. No one batted an eye. No one complained ‘”She should have found another way! She’s a hero!”

When Diana killed Max, as far as I could tell from that story, he was another ruthless villain, one who had once masqueraded as a hero. He killed Blue Beetle, his former team mate, and was conspiring to kill many more. I wasn’t that shocked by what Diana did, though I was surprised by the blunt, mechanical way it was portrayed. (Did they really need to show his head twisted around? How about just a little “SNAP” sound effect, like the good old days?)

I don’t think Diana goes around thinking her morality is “superior” to everyone else’s, but she does think her point of view is equally valid (see her book tour during Rucka’s run). Wonder Woman was acquitted in Manhunter after the full details of the situation came to light, so I think we, and the people of the DC universe, can stop treating her like a murderer. I don’t think she needs to apologize for anything, and – hey! Max is alive again! Its all good, right?

I think the Joker’s death should have been higher, but that’s me.

I recall reading something online around the time of the WW killing Max Lord thing (Callahan, maybe?) listing a whole bunch of other killings that Diana’s done post-Crisis. It was quite a bit. So to be shocked that she kills a guy that’s mind controlling Superman? Jeez.

And to the Blue Beetle haters. Are my eyes going, or is he not cuffed here? Bloodied and beaten? Offered a sucker’s bet by a telepath who will know when he’s plotting against him? I think telling Max to, basically, eat it, is about the “best” thing he could do. (Also, iirc, EVERYONE else in the DCU that Beetle talked to didn’t want to do shit about what he was investigating, so even if he got free, no one was on his side. Did Ted leave some evidence around or something so that someone could pick up his trail? I forget. But yeah, best way out was to go out telling Max off.)

Somehow, even though Eric’s last post appears before mine, I got the email after I posted. I just wanted to say that I agree with basically everything you’ve said in that post, and that #5 especially nails the problems of the modern age of comics.

The problem is how do you regain that “G rated morality” without making everything else seem banal (well, moreso, anyway?) That is, is there a way to recapture that sensawunda without making everything so sanitized it has NO bite at all?

Hm, something like Moore/Nowlan’s Jack B. Quick from Tomorrow Stories? but within a superhero context? Just spitballing.

Travis, he left nothing behind. As far as he knew, if he died there was nothing to stop Maxwell Lord from killing every superhero out there, many of which were Ted’s good friends. The least he could do was TRY to save their lives. But, no, he’d rather die.

See, the difference is that I see a hero as being someone who tries everything he can to save people. You see a hero as somebody who gives up once it gets hard.

I like some of the moments chosen but I always associate “memorable” with stories that I’ve enjoyed, and that leaves Infinite Crisis out of the picture, for sure. “Shock Value” is not the same as “memorable” in my mind.
I hope that the scene from Flash vol.2 100, where Wally returns from the Speed Force makes it into the listing.

Travis: The real problem is continuity, and I don’t have a good fix for it. Ultimately, DC and Marvel are both serving up “coherent” universes. Well, that requires continuity. At the same time, there should be a place for alternate continuities. Look at Zorro, for instance. There’s the old Disney show, which introduced me to the character. Then there’s the excellent first Antonio Banderas movie, which is basically Nightwing-Zorro, or Zorro Beyond. Okay. Now there’s the also excellent Dynamite Zorro series. All built around the same mythology, but all different continuities.

In the end, I think comics themselves have to change. For 80% of the stuff out there, gone are the days of a character expecting a title run of anything more than 12 issues in a row. And you know what? Good riddance. Do it like book publishing, since everything’s written for trades these days, anyhow. (I often wonder how much better Ms. Marvel would have been if Brian Reed had been given 18 issues with no outside interference. I *really* liked the idea of the title, but it never, ever paid off for me.)

So, if it were me, and we’re talking DC, this is how I’d do it. I’d turn Batman, Superman, and JLA (maybe Wonder Woman?) into 70’s-style “Family” omnibuses (STRICTLY PG) featuring a monthly, continuous 20-page lead and, say, three 14-page back-ups that would run 3 to 6 issues each. Put these back on the newsstands at $7 each, the price of a paperback book and a higher-margin item than comics were when they got largely pulled from the newsstand. Action, Detective, and all of the supporting books in this mainstream, PG-13 rated “extended” continuity would continue to be sold mainly in the DM and through trades, which would of course also be available in bookstores and newsstands. But except for Action and Detective, which have the history that means they pretty much can’t be canceled, I’d make everything else a limited series. Most things are these days, anyway. Crossovers would be “branded” like Final Crisis and would not touch the limited series directly OR the main books (except as a back-up story). I’d keep the line small, tight, and family friendly without going quite so far as “Marvel Adventures.” (That’s not a rip on MA, just a point of reference.)

Then, for the DM, I’d go crazy. More “limited series” aimed at trades, and with varying continuities. Dick as Batman is the most interesting thing they’ve done with Batman in twenty years (and they’ve done it twice). Go with that. Give Morrison his Bat-God series, or Bat-Inc, or whatever. Have some satellite books with that until they run out of steam. Elseworlds, whatever, go. John Byrne’s Generations series would have a home here, if I had anything to say about it. The death of Kara in that book still breaks my heart, and it was an alternate universe. As one writer once said (some minor guy who probably never did anything big), “This is an imaginary story. Aren’t they all?”

Not every book needs a “line” of books to support it. Look at Spider-Girl, which despite its lack of wide readership had SOLID base numbers for YEARS. I’d never have taken that away from DeFalco while it was still a steady seller. (I would have never let him do 100 issues of second-person narration, but that’s just me…)

Because once you reboot the main line, you redefine jeopardy. And when you allow for multiple ongoing continuities, you have different levels of jeopardy and sensawunda in each continuity, and that’s okay. But DC and Marvel are both generally monotonous to me these days, and their slavish adherence to satisfying one or two small groups of fanboys has chased this fanboy to greener pastures.

Zach: I think you’re being a bit harsh, there. How do you outsmart someone who’s reading your thoughts? I agree with Travis on this one.

Eric: Maxwell Lord can not read minds. He can control people, but he can’t read their minds.

How do you defeat someone’s plan as a corpse? Barring a friendly necromancer, you can’t. Given a choice between complete failure and a plan with a possibility of success, it is not heroic to choose complete failure. It just isn’t.

Fair enough. So instead, you’d argue that Beetle should start hanging around with a guy who could turn him into a pro-Lord, pro-OMAC zombie at any moment? This is like the original Whedon version of the Buffy movie, where Merrick commits suicide when Lothos promises to turn him and have Merrick kill his own slayer. When the other side wants you as a soldier or for food and they have the absolute power to get you that way, suicidal defiance is a heroic option.

In other words, when you’ve got xenomorphs closing in on both sides of the vent you’re trapped in, the best thing you can do is pull the pin.

Eric above made a point that I’ve always been very interested in and never seen given its due. The Amazons are ancient Greeks. Their moral worldview is pre-Kantian, pre-Christian, pre-monotheistic, even pre-Socratic. It’s Homeric Even if Homeric morality looks somewhat different for warrior women than for warrior men, it’s still a wildly alien morality to the modern west– concerned with honor, excellence, skill, accomplishment, and strength, not with duties and rules. Pacifism would be almost impossible to express in Amazon moral language; and “thou shalt not kill” might be intelligible but would sound absurd as an ethical demand or moral rule.

Diana should seem morally very strange to us, and we to her.

Well congratulations people. You’ve once again lionized the worst moment in Wonder Woman’s history. She’s a hero. She has always been a hero. People like to say “But she’s a warrior!!”. Well, yea but so is Batman. So are lots of heroes who don’t take lives. But set that part aside. She had the lasso around him. He was in her control. Sure he can threaten to just keep going once he’s free but that’s a hat shecop-out Rucka and DiDio (cuz don’t think he didn’t have his hands all over this) came up with to justify a murder. I can’t stand it when people don’t call it what it is. Murder.

There’s no reason that Diana couldn’t have taken Max back to Jonn and they could’ve put him in some suspended animation or something. Wonder Woman did not have to become a murderer. This was for shock and sales alone. DiDio has this strange belief that no jokes should take place in superhero comics and that death should come every single freakin’ issue.

Now, I don’t know if JMS is gonna fix this with his new storyline but I’ll have to find out after the fact. Identity Crisis saw me cut back significantly on my DC purchases. Wonder Woman becoming a murderer was the last straw. I haven’t bought a new mainline DC comic since. So while all the little jr. high blood thirsty fanboys might love it, it cost DC a loyal reader.

I’m not ashamed to say that two of the the four deaths (Rorschach and Ted Kord) get to me whenever I reread the comics

Zach, while I am sympathetic to your point of view that Ted could have done something more, I still think Ted wouldn’t have gotten anywhere had he tried a double cross. As you say, Max CAN read minds, so how can Ted escape that?

But I think the problem is as much bad DC plotlines.

On that point, maybe WW could have taken Max to Zatanna and she could have mind wiped him. Maybe that would have worked ;)

A mindwipe can at least be undone. And Wonder Woman could atone for it later. Though the whole reason for the mindwipe and the murder, let’s be honest, is that weird strange belief at DC right now that says every superhero should be dark. I don’t think it’s all coming from WB but you can see where they’re going with the movie franchises and I suspect pressuring DC to do the same. I personally think it’s DiDio’s doing more than anyone. It’s hard to deny after the last, 5 or 6 years that the belief is there though.

But while a mindwipe is a problem and not good storytelling, neither was turning anyone into a murderer. Someone mentioned that Amazon morality is different and probably is correct except Diana, at this point, has lived in the outside world and been affected by the no-kill policies of Batman and Superman enough that I don’t think that argument holds up as much as one might like it to. I hope JMS will do something to redeem her but who knows…an apology and admittance of the mistake would be nice but DC probably won’t ever do that. Gail was pretty happy with the murderer version so I suspect it’s wide spread there.

I do sympathize with your point of view, Michael, really. I don’t like the dark tone to EVERYTHING that has happened in superhero comics in the last decade plus. However, as I believe I said, there was something online that pointed out that WW had killed several different people at that point, so pointing to Max’s death is not seeing the whole picture (was it Burgas who posted the WW killings? Chad? Who?!)

But it’s ok now, right, since Max never existed :) I have the first 2 issues of JL Generation Lost but finances have prevented me from getting more. But if Max never existed, WW never killed him. It’s all OK now!

Michael, I see your point also and I would side with it if it was a Mary Marvel….

However, when you examine how Wonder Woman was written up to that point, her snapping Max Kord’s neck to free Superman from his control AND potentially save untold lives has merit. After all, it was the old philosophy to sacrifice one for the majority whether it be a life, or a village….

I know to modern sensibilities it does not seem heroic, but to me, Diana and Ted were both totally heroic in these moments….


We’re talking about fictional characters and magic objects that create a pseudo-reality with laws and rules unlike our own. I know you know this, but it’s important for my argument that I point it out, because logic starts to get pretty weird once fictional characters, magic objects, and potentials of mass destruction are mixed in together.

Wonder Woman did not murder Max Lord because her actions were justifiable homicide. That’s my argument. Why do I argue this?

At the time of the killing:
1. Max is currently the head of Checkmate, the most powerful spy organization in the world.
2. Max has access to extremely advanced technology, including the effectively all-knowing Brother Eye, who, as I recall, was capable of producing scores of OMACs, each one powerful enough to give someone like Wonder Woman trouble.
3. Max has access to detailed information on virtually all the world’s super-humans and has been building that info-db for years with the express purpose of destroying super-humans.
4. Max is perfectly aware of the power limitations of every telepath on the planet, and many of them off-the-planet.
5. Max is well informed about the tech capabilities of even such races as the Guardians and the New Gods.
6. Max has total, irrevocable control over Superman, which means that Max could effectively destroy the planet at a whim the instant the lasso is taken off of him.

How do I know all of this? Some of it is just conjecture, based on what the head of Checkmate at the time must have known. Some of it is stuff that Max said himself. Some of it is based on Batman’s connection to Brother Eye. Some of it is based on what I have tried to forget about OMACs popping up in every book and being almost impossible to defeat until the Law of Conservation of Ninjitsu kicked in. Some of it is just thinking of things that a master manipulator who has stayed hidden from modern Batman for this long with the express goal of killing beings like Superman and Wonder Woman would have to think of.

And some of it is because of the Magic Lasso. If some dude on the street truly believed he could kill Superman with his bare hands and said so under the influence of the lasso, would I recommend him for instant execution? No. I have little reason to believe he is sane enough to have the power he claims to have.

But if Max Lord, head of Checkmate, master manipulator and schemer, mind-controller, expert on every super-human on the planet (several off-), and owner of contingency plans to defeat every single one of said super-humans, says under the influence of the Magic Lasso of Truth that the only way ANYONE in his scope of knowledge can stop him from doing with Superman what he JUST did is to kill him…

That’s expert testimony right there. And not only is it enough for me and several folks on this page to strongly disagree with your assessment of “murder,” it was enough for the governmental bodies in the story to acquit Diana of murder.

Now, everything I just said is “in-story.” That’s where my justification for this fictional act comes from.

“Out-of-story,” I’ll agree with you that it’s kind of a dumb set-up. I’ll agree with you that DiDio loves death and shock WAY too much. But I’ll argue that this discussion becomes very moot very fast when we realize we’re debating a debate with “rules” that are based on fiction. Even as a thought-experiment, it’s not very interesting when one realizes (as you point out) that the writers of the story specifically tailored a situation where it wouldn’t be murder. The reality in which this act takes place was actually bent to make the act justifiable. Wonder Woman doesn’t face a dilemma, because she has no absolute rule (and I’d argue should have no absolute rule) against killing. Batman would face a dilemma. For WW, there’s only one choice in this situation.

Max thought the situation out so well (writer’s fiat) and was so well informed (reader-objection exclusion based on a finite fictional universe) that even under the influence of the Lasso of Truth (magic object), he could say that the only solution was to kill him and have it be the truth because of the Lasso. Three absolutes that cannot exist in our reality brought together to produce a moment of no choice for a major character.

I’m not “lionizing” Wonder Woman for this moment. I’m just (in some discussions!) taking the rules of the game at face-value. In other discussions, I don’t take the rules at face-value, but then it becomes a discussion of the rules and their effect on the story, not the story itself. The problem is that the rules are so badly broken and distorted at this point that they don’t make sense, and that’s the fault of DC Editorial for letting them get there. Marvel’s right there.* As readers, we should be less annoyed with the things that have happened in the broken story than we should be with the fact that the story is broken at all.


*You think Wonder Woman has it bad? My favorite super hero altered reality, discarded the most important relationship in his life, and unwrote his daughter’s very existence (I think she’s still out there with Mongrain) to save the life of his 214-year-old aunt who has been ready to die 80 other times and could have a stroke in the next five minutes. And how did he do this despicable, disgustingly-Oedipal, selfish thing? He made a deal with the Devil. You want to talk screwed up characters? Screwed up rules? Oh, boy. And this has been going on for YEARS now.

Hanging out with Superman and Batman doesn’t mean you agree with them philosophically.

@Keil Give me any other explanation why Joker suddenly has Batman’s word ballon style and font? It’s because it’s Bruce’s imagination. There is just no other way to read that and have it make sense. Bruce killed him, broke his code, and couldn’t deal with it, so he had a delusion to avoid responsibility. It’s what the whole book is about, Bruce breaking down, losing his grip on his sanity… And than, at the end, triumphantly reclaiming it, beating the hell out of Superman, and setting out to fix the world in a new way. DKSR, of course, pretty much completely undoes that, but, what can you do?

Well, I subscribe to the doctrine of discontinuity in this case, and simply choose to believe that DK2 is burning in the same hell of non-existence as Batman & Robin starring George Clooney. What sequel? :-D

Brian, FWIW, I won’t take your version as gospel quite yet, but I find yours to be a perfectly plausible reading. I’m going to have to re-read the whole darned thing with that idea in mind, now. I just looked through my 1st Print of Book Three (yes, I’m still happy to have gotten it for Christmas when I was 12 or so), and the fact that Batman is clearly building up to killing the Joker is clearer than it has ever been. What I noticed this time that I’d never noticed before is the emphasis on Thomas Wayne, his father, dying over and over again, as though crime has now murdered even the authority that kept Batman in check before now. Sheesh. What a great work. And the old prestige books still smell the same as they did twenty-four years ago, too!

Yeah, I kind of like Brian Fowler’s take on Dark Knight, but I’m not sold on it yet myself until I reread it. It’s been awhile (and DKR is one of those books that I SHOULD own, but somehow don’t).

Why I think there’s resistance to your reading, Brian, is that it hasn’t come up before, at least not in anything that I’ve read about DKR. It seems to be valid, but it would be interesting to hear from Miller on it.

And I like DK2. It’s certainly flawed, but it’s kinda fun, too.

I like Eric’s posts too. Have you been on CSBG very much?

I can’t remember now where I first heard the “Bruce killed Joker” thing, but it hit me like a thunderclap, and I, too, had to go and re-read it. But it fits so very much better than Joker commits suicide.

Travis, thanks for the kind words. No, I don’t often post here. I’m largely out of comics these days (compared to ten years ago when I was blowing $50/week on the things). It’s not just Marvel and DC; they just don’t excite me the way they used to. I still buy $15/week, but it’s a much more eclectic mix than it was back in my “glory days” of following whole crossovers.

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