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CSBG Archive

The 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History #75-1

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50. Animal Man meets his maker (Animal Man #25 by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog and Mark Farmer)

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Speaking of “game-changing,” in the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison’s critically acclaimed Animal Man run, the star of the book, Animal Man (Buddy Baker) comes face to face with…Grant Morrison!?!?

49. Dick Grayson loses one relationship, gain a new, unhealthy one (Detective Comics #38 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson)

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Just a few months after his brilliant origin for Batman, Bill Finger delivered a similarly great origin (and by “similarly great,” I, of course, mean “the same basic origin”) for Batman’s new sidekick, Dick Grayson – Robin, the Boy Wonder! In case Bruce Wayne happens to be reading, I am sorry if I offended you by making fun of how you turned a young boy who had just experienced a great deal of trauma into a tool to aid you in your war on crime. It’s all in good fun, Bruce!

48. It ends with a wink (Action Comics #583 by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger and an uncredited Murphy Anderson)

Throughout Whatever Happened the Man of Tomorrow, the story has been told via Lois Lane recounting the events of the past to a reporter doing a story on the last days of Superman. Her husband Jordan has been home for most of it. Jordan does not seem to be a big fan of Superman. The story ends with Jordan (and Alan Moore and the rest of the creative team) letting us in on who he REALLY is…

47. Wonder Woman wins the contest to go to Man’s World! (All-Star Comics #8 by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter)

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In her first comic book appearance, we get to see one of the most iconic origins of the Golden Age, as “The Contest” has been used numerous times since this first time.

46. Darkseid revealed as the “big bad” of the Great Darkness Saga (Legion of Super-Heroes #293 by Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt)

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After a number of issues teasing who the mastermind was behind the Great Darkness Saga, after diabolically turning the entire populace of Daxam into a world of mind-controlled Supermen, the big bad guy is finally revealed – and it is Darkseid!!!!

45 Hal Jordan becomes Parallax (Green Lantern Vol. 3 #50 by Ron Marz, Darryl Banks and Romeo Tanghal)

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Hal Jordan is convinced that he can use the power of the Green Lantern battery to fix the destruction of Coast City. And if he has to kill a few people along the way, it does not really matter, since he’ll just fix THEM later, too. Here, after killing his good friend Killowog and snapping Sinestro’s neck, we see Hal reach the final stage where he destroys the giant central power battery of the Green Lantern Corps and becomes something new…Parallax!

44 Green Lantern learns a difficult lesson (Green Lantern Vol. 2 #76 by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams)

In Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ first issue of Green Lantern (where Green Lantern began teaming up with Green Arrow), Hal Jordan is shown how out of touch he is with the plight of typical Americans at the beginning of the 1970s – this helps spur Jordan to travel across the country with Green Arrow re-discovering America.

43 Darkseid and Batman trade blows (Final Crisis #6 by Grant Morrison and JG Jones)

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Batman begins the downfall of Darkseid by shooting him with the same bullet Darkseid used to kill Orion earlier in Final Crisis, but Darkseid gets off one last blast of his Omega Beams, so Batman’s success is short-lived, as seen in this dramatic sequence by Grant Morrison and JG Jones. Of all the moments, this one seemed to benefit the most from the expanded voting population, as it was the second-to-last vote-getter of the 18 audience nominations, yet it finished ahead of almost all the other the audience nominations.

42 Aquaman’s son is murdered by Black Manta (Adventure Comics #452 by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo)

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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 DC Comics down a path of having the loved ones of superheroes be killed off. In any event, a super villain murdering a superhero’s infant son? That’s a major turning point in DC history.

41 Superman expresses his frustrations at Mongul (Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

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. Some commenters have suggested that this might very well be the first time Superman ever used his heat vision to hurt an opponent. Can anyone confirm or debunk that?

40 Superman meets the cousin he didn’t know he had – Supergirl! (Action Comics #252 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino)

Otto Binder and Al Plastino give the world a brand-new superhero, and one of the most popular female superheroes ever! Doesn’t Plastino do a fantastic job on her facial expressions?

39 Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing (Tales of the Teen Titans #44 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo)

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No offense to Jericho, but man, it is too bad Dick has to share his big moment with someone else. Anyhow, in this penultimate chapter of the Judas Contract, we see the debut of the new costumed identity for Dick Grayson. This was pretty much the first time a character THIS big got a new identity (other than characters taking up new names for a storyline, like Cap becoming Nomad for a few issues).

38 Gordon and Batman’s alliance begins (Batman #407 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli)

As awesome as Batman Year One was, only this last scene was actually more or less transcribed from the page to the screen in the film Batman Begins. It’s a beautifully memorable ending by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.

37 The Justice Society of America has their first meeting (All-Star Comics #3 by Gardner Fox and Everett Hibbard)

Gardner Fox and Everett Hibbard deliver the first meeting of the Justice Society of America. The early meetings were just framing sequences to cover up the fact that All-Star Comics basically remained the same anthology it was before. To wit, in the first issue, the meeting just sets up Johnny Thunder asking each member of the team to tell a story, and they do so, with each story naturally being the story that would have appeared in the issue had they not all been on a team. Still, the first meeting of a superhero team was a BIG deal!

36 Coast City is destroyed (Superman Vol. 2 #80 by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding)

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Reign of the Supermen took a major U-turn in this issue by revealing that the Cyborg Superman is actually a VILLAIN working with the alien despot, Mongul! He demonstrates this in dramatic fashion when he and Mongul destroy Hal Jordan’s home of Coast City!

35 Superman holds “Batman’s” corpse (Final Crisis #6 by Grant Morrison, Doug Mahnke and, I believe, Christian Alamy, but it might also have been self-inked)

This image of Superman holding “Batman’s” corpse was so powerful they based the entire Final Crisis hardcover design on it!

34 Sue Dibny is killed (Identity Crisis #1 by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales and Michael Bair)

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The first issue extremely popular Identity Crisis mini-series was capped off by the dramatic death of the wife of longtime Justice League member, the Elongated Man. Not only was his wife murdered, but Ralph was about to learn that his, Sue, was pregnant! This dramatic moment kicked off what was to be a series filled with tragic twists!

33 Rorschach enjoys prison life (Watchmen #6 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

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The sixth issue of Watchmen spotlights Rorschach’s prison psychiatrist who thinks that he has won the lottery, of sorts, by being assigned such a high profile case, but as time goes by, Rorschach has more of an effect on him than he ever expected. One of the most dramatic parts of the issue also contains one of the most famous lines of the book – “I’m not trapped in here with you, you’re trapped in her with me.”

32 Terra reveals herself (Tales of the Teen Titans #34 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Romeo Tanghal)

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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, in one on one battle! However, we soon learn that the battle was not as real as it seemed, setting up the series of stories that would ultimately climax in the legendary Judas Contract storyline.

31 Batman duels Ra’s Al Ghul in the desert…bare-chested (Batman #244 by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano)

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This really nails the whole “international man of action” vibe that Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams were going for with their take on Batman in this storyline. Dick Giordano does a great job on inks.

This fight has been homaged frequently.

30 Our introduction to Watchmen (Watchmen #1 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

Our introduction to Watchmen comes from Rorschach’s somewhat chilling narration as we open the book and see right off the bat that the world of the Watchmen is not a very pleasant place…

29 Hot shot District Attorney Harvey Kent gets a face full of acid (Detective Comics #66 by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos)

There’s not many SUPERHEROES who have as famous of an origin as the classic Batman villain, Two-Face. This is so dramatic that it was literally used again for the second Two-Face!!

28 Superman reveals his secret identity to Lois Lane (Action Comics #662 by Roger Stern and Bob McLeod)

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More than fifty years in the making, the first time Superman revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane (in a “real” story) sure was a doozy! Very well handled by Stern and McLeod (especially as it followed a not quite so memorable engagement).

27 The Justice League and the Justice Society meet for the first time! (Justice League of America Volume 1 #21 by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs)

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Gardner Fox helped create both the Justice Society of America and then, roughly twenty years later, the Justice LEAGUE of America. And in this classic issue, the two teams meet for the very first time!

26 Frank Miller adds a little extra to Batman’s origin (Batman: The Dark Knight #1 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson)

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This moment from the first issue of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s Batman: The Dark Knight series features Batman being compelled to return to the streets while he watches the news and hears of horrors that remind him of the fateful night that his parents were killed. Miller added the striking visual of Martha Wayne’s pearls being broken during the ruckus that led to the death of Bruce’s parents, and that visual has become a key element of pretty much all future re-tellings of the origin, a rarity for origin re-tellings (to have that much of a permanent effect on the origin).

Go to the next page for #25-1!

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66 Comments

Might want to put a “Read More” cut in there, Brian.

Enough with this list already.

Might want to put a “Read More” cut in there, Brian.

Thanks, Bill!

5) 25 Superman races the Flash (Superman #199 by Jim Shooter, Curt Swan and George Klein)

4) 14 Batman takes down Superman (Batman: The Dark Knight #4 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson)

3) 44 Green Lantern learns a difficult lesson (Green Lantern Vol. 2 #76 by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams)

2) 1. Joker shoots Barbara Gordon (Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland)

1) 30 Our introduction to Watchmen (Watchmen #1 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

Poor ted….

Here’s how it breaks down by decade (according to cover date):

1930s – 3
1940s – 5
1950s – 4
1960s – 4
1970s – 6
1980s – 32
1990s – 13
2000s – 8

Overall, a brilliant list that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m surprised at how many ended up being from the 80′s and 90′s, considering what maligned decades they were. The top 10 (no, 15) had my heart racing!

I don’t think they’re maligned decades through and through. In fact the mid-80s to the early 90s was a golden time for DC. You had Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Giffen and DeMatties’ Justice League, Wagner and Grant’s Detective Comics, Byrne’s Superman, Wolfman and Perez’s Wonder Woman, Gaiman’s Sandman, Grell’s Green Arrow, O’Neil’s Question, etc.

The 90s has a bad rep because of all of the publishing gimmicks and a profusion of art in the McFarlane/Liefeld mold, but there were still some great series from DC at the time, such as Morrison’s JLA, Waid’s Flash, Robinson’s Starman, etc.

Wow, DC fans are a sadistic lot. 6 of the top 10 feature death and maiming!

Which explains Geoff Johns I suppose.

A joke of a list. Barbara Gordon being shot is more iconic than the origin of Batman? Which does make the list twice, so maybe that makes up for it.

No more voting for our readers please.

Nice to see Alan Moore has been voted the greatest DC writer of the lat 75 years, closely followed by Frank Miller and Grant Morrison….hmmm.. I sense a trend there.

Nice list.

It does sadden me a bit that the few placements involving women dealt with the “Women in Refrigerators” Syndrome or violent acts against them that leave a bad taste in the mouths of many. Heck, an example of this topped the entire list.

[...] CSBG has completed their series on the Top 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History. [...]

Thank you for compiling all this, it was an epic read. I really love these characters, but lately I find myself unable to enjoy the stories being put out. This list highlights all the stuff DC has done right over the years. I really hope someone over at DC takes a look at this and remembers what great stories are made of, and then applies it to the stories now.

Thanks for putting this together. I think it makes sense that he 80′s and 90′s had the most events, because you figure most of the people who read/like comics and go on sites like this are between 18 and 40. I would love to see the perspective of some 50 and 60 year olds and their favorite moments from the 60′s. But still, this is a fantastic undertaking and I hope to see more.

Y’know, I haven’t read the re-colourized Killing Joke, it’s pretty realistic as opposed to the crazy candy coloured take of the original. Both good, though. But the recoloured one looks real pro. I don’t remember Joker’s origin scene being that washed out in the first version.

I see Brian Cronin still left the “updated” Killing Joke pages but still refuses to show the collection version-page of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow… which he originally had up but took down with no link because one sole poster asked for it. The rest of us read it in the collection Cronin, way to be pigheaded.

Greivous Omission

August 23, 2010 at 8:02 am

Considering how vital Earth-Prime and Superboy-Prime have been to the DCU, how could the list not include FLASH #179, “THE FLASH; FACT OR FICTION?” in which Flash met Juilius Schwartz and the concept of earth=prime was first introduced?

Annoyed-

Once again, your post makes no sense. The collected version of the moment that Brian had originally posted was from not even two years ago, so to say the people voting remember that version over the original comic that has been sought in back issue bins for almost 25 years is ridiculous. And by your own admission, you hadn’t even seen the version in the hardcover, so how can you assume everyone else had?

The updated version of The Killing Joke changed the coloring, but didn’t alter any of the work by the book’s artist, Brian Bolland. The updated Man of Tomorrow completely altered and butchered the first page by Swan and Perez, which is why Brian is showing the original.

And besides which, new printings of the Whatever Happened hardcover have even corrected their mistake and gone back to the way the book originally appeared, i.e. the same image Brian has posted. So the version you’re calling for didn’t exist in the original issue and no longer exists in trade. Thus, it makes no sense to be shown on this list.

Grievous Omission-

The moment you’re espousing is no doubt important, but nobody mentioned it when Brian asked for people to comment with moments they’d like to see as voting options. So if nobody remembered it, it is, by definition, not memorable. That doesn’t mean it’s not well-done or important, just not extremely memorable.

Where is the Top 75 Memorable Marvel Moments?

Where is the Top 75 Memorable Marvel Moments?

Perhaps when they celebrate their 75th Anniversary.

I hate to be rude, but I can’t take any list seriously that lists Superman #75 anywhere in the ranking, let alone in the second highest spot. That comic did more damage to comics readership than Spider-Man #1, X-men #1 and Youngblood #1 combined: they all had big hype, big sales, a terrible story and (as in the latter case) terrible art.

No non-comics reader that picked up Superman #75 picked up another comic book again. Not one.

After looking at Ryan’s breakdown by decade, I wonder what the list would look like if the 1980s and 1990s were limited to 6 each, like the average of the other decades? Or what if the list had required an equal number from each decade:
1930s – 3 (need 6 more nominations)
1940s – 5 (need 5 more)
1950s – 4 (need 5 more)
1960s – 4 (need 5 more)
1970s – 6 (need 3 more)
1980s – 32 (eliminate 23)
1990s – 13 (eliminate 4)
2000s – 8 (need 1 more)
Thanks!

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[...] CBR and “Comics Should Be Good” presents the seventy-five most memorable moments in DC comics. Be warned, though, like Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” award, this [...]

@Mike P – You’re wrong that was the issue that got me into comics…

“No non-comics reader that picked up Superman #75 picked up another comic book again. Not one.”

No universal statement is completely true.

Not one.

Theno

[...] read with great interest Brian Cronin’s list of 75 Most Memorable Moments In DC Comics History, in part because I wondered how close I could come with my own list without totally ripping his [...]

I’d like the years next the titles of the books these moments are from in this and all other similar lists.

needs more Wonder Woman – her new costume redesign should surely have been added

Any chance of a breakdown of how many votes each entry got and how many people voted?

[...] DC Comics fez 75 anos e para celebrar, o pessoal do CBR listou os 75 maiores momentos dos 75 anos da editora. É claro que o povo do MdM não podia deixar a lista passar e gravou um podcast com a [...]

You would have to be good at speed reading to get thru all of these comics. I would prefer to go slow and enjoy all the pictures.

whoa…no mention of JLA first formation or Superboy inducted into the Legion of the Super Heroes…surely those are memorable that were left out. sigh.

[...] Los 75 momentos más memorables en la historia de DC Comics [...]

Very surprised that Superman’s origin is not first. He is the one who started it all and is still one the best ideas they have ever had

I hated Guy Gardner so seeing Batman effortlessly punch his lights out is soooo satisfying…

How can u not include the death of Gwen Stacy!!! That put an end to the comic Silver Age when heroes would always save the girl in the end.

You did see the word DC in the title, right?

@MIKE P

You couldn’t be more off on Superman #75. I picked that comic up as my first comic and i didn’t stop buying superman or batman comics for 4 years. I was there every week and superman #75 was exactly the reason.

hal jordan didnt become paralax that was a retcon to give the character a morally clean slate after the whole “becoming an insane super villian” thing

wow, good stuff! thanks for that

Oh my f*cking god,the old universe…..

*tries to hold back tears*

I’m glad Romeo Tanghal’s works in GL and Teen Titans are highly appreciated, Robot!

:rubs temples:

How is simply the cover to Action #1 not the most memorable moment?

Wonder Woman #219 is such a cool comic! i love it. i know many people had a big problem with it but it made so much sense to me. Diana is a Warrior and although she had that hole mission of peace thing for a long time(which i like a lot) it just made sense to me that she would be the one out of the big three to have the intestinal fortitude to do what she did. Not because she is a killer but because she is strong enough to deal with the consequences.

There’s a disproportionate amount of Batman moments on this list.

I’m a sucker for these kinds of lists. It’s interesting to look at the consensus on what is the most memorable:

Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight (Returns), and stories that can be found in The Batman Chronicles Vol. 1 (the establishing Golden Age stories) all get 4 entries each.

Batman: The Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Infinite Crisis (including the Countdown one-shot and the Wonder Woman/OMAC Project lead-in crossover), Neal Adams’ run on Batman all got 3 each.

I’m kind of surprised that The Sandman only got 2. Final Crisis and All Star Superman are the most recent. Nothing from the New 52.

a overall good list. though surprised that both the story where green lantern gets called out over not doing more for african americans . and green arrow learning speedy is a junky did not make it higher like in the top ten or so. plus was going to be surprised if the joker shooting barbara did not make the cut. and cool to find the moment where constitine screws three demons to cure him proving that john really is a unique character who will screw any one or thing. and amazed dc has produced 75 years of moments

Since this column was originally posted in August of 2010 — or, as I like to think of it, just before DC went over the cliff — there wouldn’t be anything from the nu52.

First thing that popped in my head was the death of the Flash in COIE so glad i was right!

I do not recognize #73 and #54. As far as I’m concerned, there has only been one Superman. As a child, he was Superboy. He went to the 30th century and has adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Doctor Light is a small-time thief and crook.

The list seems so incomplete. In its 75 year history I believe there are more milestones worth mentioning in their publishing career. The list seemed very heavy on the comics , I’m assuming, the blogger loved. For example there were some milestones involving Legion of Superheroes (intro of group, superbly joining, etc). Wonder Woman milestones (losing her powers, lasso, Gloria Steinam being impetus of regaining powers), since you included artwork into list wit Neal Adams, definitely the Superman carrying dead Supergirl in Crisis which is an iteration of an earlier cover. These are just a few examples.

Aside from a few gems, it looks like most voters simply find the violent, horrific side of comics to be the most memorable. Which is a shame, really, because there have actually been really great moments in DC’s 75-year history.

No dead Jason in Batman’s arms post-bomb? Gotta be one of the single most iconic images – would swap out the Joker beating him for that. Sad there’s no Catwoman here either.

“Aside from a few gems, it looks like most voters simply find the violent, horrific side of comics to be the most memorable. ”

Well, look, that sort of grimdark rapekill is DC’s bread and butter. Anyone who wants something better from comicbooks that star children’s characters stopped reading DC’s foul dreck years and years ago.

“Superboy Prime gets mad” (Infinite Crisis #4) as one of the Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History?

Are you kidding me?

History will show that the contribution of Geoff Johns to the overall history of DC Comics will be just a little footnote.

I’ve always found the killing joke a little overrated. But it’s still a good list, I’d add

Superman tackling an Angel (even if it was in the weird electric blue suit)

Wally West beating Professor Zoom in The Return of Barry Allen

Deathstroke killing Jericho in Titans Hunt

Deathstroke and Beast Boy meeting in the diner

Ra’s Al Ghul calls Tim Drake “Detective” (that one is a personal fav)

14 of them from Alan More. 6 of them from Frank Miller. WOW.

Notice how NONE of these involve moments in the New 52? Not even the change to the New 52? Hmm…

Poor choice for #1. #1 is a top 20 story for sure but not #1. Death of Superman, deaths of more significant characters (Flash, Supergirl) should all be higher.

I think the list also is a reflection of comics today. The Big Two had so much talent back in the day. Now the talent is dispersed all over. Better stories and products seem to be coming from other companies and the Big Two rely on reputation, classic characters and not so much the actual stories and so on that come out today. You look at the formulaic crap Marvel throws at us (Bendis and so on) and DC as well. They play off of many great things introduced in the 80′s. You don’t see to much ground breaking/iconic stuff today. Sad but true.

I really miss pre-52 DC. :(

Michael Rudikoff

October 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm

“fred
October 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Wonder Woman #219 is such a cool comic! i love it. i know many people had a big problem with it but it made so much sense to me. Diana is a Warrior and although she had that hole mission of peace thing for a long time(which i like a lot) it just made sense to me that she would be the one out of the big three to have the intestinal fortitude to do what she did. Not because she is a killer but because she is strong enough to deal with the consequences.”

Enough with the Warrior garbage. It’s a sexist word, so stop using it. That comic book was memorable to you because it was VIOLENT. You using that as an excuse to pardon shock value over good storytelling.
That’s not worth memorable because it was trash. If you think snapping people necks is what makes superheroines memorable then you know nothing about Superheroines You just want to exploit Diana as a means to a petty end. You have no respect for Diana.

Gilbert Deltres

October 23, 2013 at 6:11 am

Surprised the moment Batman swipes the Green Lantern’s ring right off his finger is not listed…

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