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

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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.

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.

15 Batman and Joker share a laugh (Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland)

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While quite a few folks were put off by Joker shooting Barbara Gordon in the Killing Joke – the end of the book was possibly even MORE divisive! The two men standing in the rain laughing at a silly joke was intentionally provocative, but certainly memorable.

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

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The beginning of this fight is also quite memorable, where Batman first punches Superman, but the ending is the most memorable part of the fight.

13 Abin Sur finds a replacement (Showcase #22 by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella)

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Here is the iconic origin of Hal Jordan of Earth, the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814!

12 Bruce Wayne loses a window, gains an identity (Detective Comics #33 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff)

Batman’s origin is so awesome that it actually merits TWO moments – his parents getting shot and then later, the idea for naming himself after a bat. Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff deliver the tale.

11 The Waynes take a night stroll (Detective Comics #33 by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff)

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. It is fitting that these two moments came back to back (although oddly enough, this one beat the other one by over 40 votes).

10 Bane breaks Batman’s back (Batman #497 by Doug Moench and Jim Aparo)

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Doug Moench and Jim Aparo deliver what is effectively the climax of Knightfall in this tragic tale.

9 “One Punch!” (Justice League #5 by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon)

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For the first few issues of the Justice League relaunch, Guy Gardner had been giving Batman a hard time. In this famous scene, Gardner finally gets what’s coming to him.

8 Jason Todd is beaten nearly to death by the Joker (Batman #427 by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo)

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This is one depressing moment. Jason Todd is looking for his mother, but she sells him out and he is beaten nearly to death by the Joker. His mother is then betrayed by the Joker and left with the nearly dead Jason. He manages to awake and struggle to get them both to safety, but the bomb goes off before they can make their escape.

7 Green Arrow’s ward is a junkie?!!? (Green Lantern #85 by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams)

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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.

6 Ozymandias’ plan goes into effect (Watchmen #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

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Forget Watchmen, the “thirty-five minutes ago” line is one of the most famous lines from comics PERIOD.

Beautiful work by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

5. Death of Supergirl (Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway)

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Superman’s cousin received an extremely heroic, heartfelt send-off in this touching moment from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

4. Baby Superman speeds away from his dying home planet in a rocket ship (Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)

One of the most iconic visuals in comic book history, courtesy of Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

3. Barry Allen makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the Multiverse (Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Jerry Ordway)

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As dramatic as the death of Supergirl was, to kill off the superhero who more or less got the Silver Age started was even more dramatic. And to have him go out by RUNNING HIMSELF TO DEATH TO SAVE THE UNIVERSE!?!?! That’s awesome.

2. Superman dies (Superman Vol. 2 #75 by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding)

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Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding provide one of the most dramatic images of the 1990s in comics in one of the highest-selling comics of all-time (and certainly one that gained some of the largest mainstream attention ever).

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

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You don’t get much more shocking than the sight of the former heroine known as Batgirl getting shot in the gut by the Joker in front of her father, Commissioner Gordon. You don’t have to LIKE the scene to appreciate that it has become etched in the memories of fans everywhere.

Okay, that’s the list! I hope you had fun voting Congratulations to DC on a great 75 years filled with memorable moments! Here’s to another great 75 years!!

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67 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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Thank you for gathering all this together, Brian.

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