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31 Days of Comics – The Most Beautiful Scene in Any Comic

Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!

We continue with Day 10, which is The Most Beautiful Scene in Any Comic (geez, Seth, not exactly making it easy here, are ya?).

Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!

Man, how tough of a category is THIS?

Obviously, I don’t think I can safely name actually THE most beautiful scene in ANY comic, but I know a scene that I (and I am sure many of you) often think about when thinking about beautiful scenes and it is from We3 #3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly…

To set up the scene, in this issue the government has deployed We4, a gigantic cyber-assassin made out of a Mastiff, on We3 (an earlier iteration of the cyber-assassin program, made up of 1, a dog, 2, a cat and 3, a rabbit), who they have cornered in an industrial park. We4 has already killed 3.

The government also brought along the animals’ trainer, Doctor Roseanne. The government is forcing her to work with them, as she is some heaping big trouble for letting the animals go in issue #1 as the now-sentient beings that she had trained for many months were going to be killed off (or “decommissioned”) to make way for We4. So now Doctor Roseanne lures in 1, who is all distraught after the death of 3 earlier in the issue…

The plaintive “No ‘Dee-Comm-ish’ We3″ always gets it for me. But also, just the general idea that Roseanne realizes that she had ruined these animal’s lives – given them sentience only to put them through essentially torture, and she ultimately decides to not only give 1 his “true” identity (“Bandit”) but also to sacrifice her life for this poor, noble creature, who wants nothing more than to be a “gud dog.”

Beautiful work from Morrison and Quitely.

40 Comments

Haha, yeah. It’s really a stupid, impossible category to fill. The 31 Days of Movies list from which i adapted my 31 Days of Comics list was filled with superlative choices. The Best Movie Ever. The Best Romance. The Movie That Makes You Cry THE MOST. I pretty much tempered all of those to the more open ended, A Great Romance or A Comic That Makes You Cry. For reasons that are probably diabolical, I kept the superlative nature of this one.

Probably mostly because it’s a crazy question. My own answer would probably change all over the place depending on the day.
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I’m only a moderate fan of We3 (I like it quite a bit but I don’t love it). Still, the scene you place here is one of a handful of great ones from that book and always gives me, as the kiddies say, the feels. Solid choice.

Some runners up off the top of my head would be:

• Skurge holding the bridge at Gjallerbru.

• Jameson’s eulogistic change of heart in Ultimate Spider-Man‘s resolution to the stupid “Ultimatum” stuff when he remembers Spider-Man under water.

• The death of Robert Paige in Duncan the Wonder Dog (page 1 and page 2)

• In Three Shadows when the mom goes outside and sees the three horsemen and we get the panel with the bucket.

• That moment in Lost at Sea when whatsherface is jumping on the bed. Joie de vivre.
_________

So here’s what I chose the day I chose something. I might not choose it again today. But then again I might.

Yotsuba&!, volume 10. There’s this moment that five years ago would have meant nothing to me. Yotsuba’s lied to her father. He knows this totally in the way that parents do. Also because kids suck at telling believable lies. In any case, he knows. And because he’s a dad of a little girl he completely loves, he gives her another shot. An opportunity to back out. And she interrupts this chance to rectify the breach in their relationship by crafting an even more fanciful and ridiculous lie. The entire scene is played through the eyes. There’s dialogue, sure, but the wonder of the scene is in the looks. We know the hearts, the souls, of each of these characters wholly by way of Azuma Kiyohiko’s storytelling through their eyes.

Here’s the scene. It’s manga and I haven’t flipped it so it reads right-to-left instead of in the normal Western fashion:

The Lying Bug, page 1
The Lying Bug, page 2
The Lying Bug, page 3
The Lying Bug, page 4

Again, five years ago, I would have laughed at the scene (as it is pretty comical), but having my own daughter who is nearbout Yotsuba’s age has given these pages an incisive sort of life I could never have imagined. Really, five years ago, all of Yotsuba&! seemed funny and ludicrous, the adventures of a young girl who could never truly exist. Now though, the series might as well be straight-up non-fiction. This is my daughter’s story had only she lived in Japan with a single father and been a bit more outgoing than she is.

There may be more visually outstanding moments, more heartrendingly beautiful moments, more aesthetically pleasing moments—but for me, in this time, my beautiful moment is this beautiful moment, because though it may illustrate something negative, it does so with a sacred kind of veracity.

This is a tough category indeed!

I’m not going to spoil the scene, but it’s the final scene of “Zot!” #33. There’s a page that you think is the last page, facing the letters page, and then there’s the actual last page. That’s the scene I mean.

The final scene is done so well, both in terms of how real it felt to me as a reader and how Scott McCloud uses the physical form of the comic to let the scene play out.

The second choice, which I can describe without spoiling anything, is from the same issue: Zot talking to Terry about her big secret (she’s struggling with her sexuality) and showing her it’s not a big deal. Her reactions are so true. Great work from Scott McCloud.

As a young gay man, that issue was so important – my first moment of “I’m not alone in this”. The issue is moving and beautiful.

Mr. Cronin, that is a really moving moment from a comic that’s full of them. “We3″ is a tough read for me because it’s so well done. It’s a great choice – and an unusual one showing how varied the interpretations of this category can be.

How annoying, when I saw the comic I immediately thought of another Morrison/Quitely comic, what a biter I am.

Oh well, for what it’s worth, the scene I thought of was the last scene Superman and Lois shared in All Star Superman. “That’s more than you ever needed”, “until the end of time” etc. Both a distillation of and a climax to their entire relationship and history.

I would go with Barry Allen’s sacrifice in Crisis of Infinite Earths #8. There’s also the alternate version within Secret Origins Annual #2, where the Flash travels back in time as he’s running, and becomes the lightning bolt that strikes and gives him superspeed. I think I’ll stick with Crisis on Infinite Earths’ version.

Miracleman #15! No just kidding…

The first thing that pops to mind is the finale of Sandman: Season of Mists, where Morpheus returns Nada back to Earth and stands over her (or is it him?) to declare his love one more time. I just remember finding it very moving.

The second that comes to mind is the end of Uncanny X-Men #297, where Professor X’s legs finally give out , but Jubilee is there to help him.

No doubt more will come to mind, but Neil Gaiman and Scott Lobdell make for a good enough grab-bag for now.

My vote goes for the scene in New Teen Titans (first series) # 38 “Who is Donna Troy” when Dick Grayson gives Donna the doll he has found and she has a flood of memories. Really, that book has a couple of candidates, but that scene gets me every time.

There’s an issue of Zot! In the B&W era told from Jenny’s mother’s POV.
Last page she lights a leaf on fire over the kitchen sink.
Even as a kid it hit me, after such a well told story.

“Embrace the Dawn”. Swamp Thing #27, IIRC.

In the last volume of Maison Ikkoku when Godai finally proposes to Kyoko and she makes him promise her to do one thing if they get married, not to die before her, it is a moment that you are waiting for through out that series.

Captain Haddock

January 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

In graphic novels, I’ve gotta go with the last page of Maus, where Art’s parents are reunited, and his dad calls him “Richieu” after his deceased brother, talking to him like he’s a child…really that book is full of moments like this, but that last page is just the perfect end to one of the greatest works ever published.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Blankets, and 2 scenes stood out for me. My experiences with religion were different, yet I think I now share Craig Thompson’s viewpoints on them, and for me there are 2 scenes that stand out. One for me is when he is about to lie in bed with his girlfriend, all of a sudden we get a splash page of her looking angelic and the character quotes scripture…that really hit close to home, and to me is just a wonderful image of the contrast between what is ostensibly an act of sin yet an act of love and beauty…I can’t describe it, it just worked.
FInally, 2 superhero moments: All Star Superman, the dying superman, our pop-culture Jesus, he has to save the world…but first he has to save a girl from ending her life.
And the final issue of Journey Into Mystery with kid Loki, when Loki meets his brother, and just hugs him because (spoilers) he knows this is the last time he ever will because the evil in his life is returning, but Thor refuses to give up on his brother. And Loki cries and holds his big brother, the one the best person he’s ever known, the one who loves him no matter what.

For me, two moments in my history of reading comics really stand out as the scenes that truly affect me. They’re not beautiful in the conventional sense (they’re actually both sad), but in terms of how deep the character work is and how much I utterly believe the emotions in the scene, these are the two that really just get me every time.

The first is from Sandman #69, when Death says to Dream that he could have just left, and abdicated his realm like Destruction. Dream says that he couldn’t have done that, and then there’s a panel break of silence as Death just thinks about that for a moment. Then she looks back at him mournfully, like she really understands her brother for the first time, and she says “No. You couldn’t have, could you?” I feel like that scene more than any other sums up the series. Gaiman once said the series is about making the decision of whether to change or die, and this is the moment when you realize that Dream couldn’t change. He made his decision.

And the second scene that chokes me up is from the final issue of Y: The Last Man, the flashback to the death of Ampersand. It’s a scene that shouldn’t have been played for a laugh, and yet Vaughan knows that sometimes a joke can be the saddest thing of all. When Yorick looks down at his dying monkey and says, with tears in his eyes, “you have been one piece of shit pet,” it really broke my heart. Because it was so true, Ampersand was a terrible pet, and yet the specificity of his terribleness is what saved Yorick’s life, and ultimately, humanity. I think lesser writers would have gone for the grand sweeping emotions and sadness here, but Vaughan stayed true to his characters and knew that wasn’t how things would have played out. Yorick saying that Ampersand was a piece of shit pet felt like such an utterly true moment of characterization that it really made me feel his loss. Sometimes it’s the small moments that really get you.

Captain Haddock

January 11, 2014 at 8:37 am

Should say the other scene in Blankets is when Raina’s dad catches them…and does nothing. Because he feels he is nothing, and no one to anyone, at least for now. Such a heartbreaking and beautfully tender moment.

Also, the beautiful splash page at the end of Swamp Thing #24, as swampy rises up and embraces his new existence with the dawn shining down at him, is maybe the most beautiful page of comic art I’ve ever seen. It’s just one of those cases where all three artists involved-penciler Stephen Bissette, inker John Totleben, and colorist Tatjana Wood–truly brought out the best in one another and each person’s contribution is vital to the emotional effect of the page. If I could own any one single piece of original comic art, I think it would be this page.

Oh! I can’t believe I forgot the moment in Bone when winter arrives to the Valley. So comicbook and so perfect.

Captain Haddock – That page when Raina’s dad discovers them is devastating. That was one of those moments where the author truly brought me into empathy with a character who was nothing like me.

The Raina as Christ-replacement/saviour panel you mention was also grand. Blankets is filled with pretty iconic moments. The pee fight, Craig’s first sexual experience with Raina, this panel where they meet.

Home is run no more.

Captain Haddock, I was going to say that same moment with Raina, especially after the panels leading up to it in which Craig feels doubt and guilt and quotes scripture to back it up.

Two other moments: Matt and Karen reunite in Born Again. It’s rare we see forgiveness in super-hero comics.

Superman looking down on Earth and thinking “if you knew how much you are loved you would not raise your hand against another” at the end of JLA/ Hitman. Not gonna lie, I choked up.

Astro City #6 (the first series) where the rest of the heroes pick up the slack so that Samaritan and Winged Victory can go on a date. They spend much of the evening debating whether or not it was possible for people like them to have a normal relationship what with them having to save the world all the time. In the end Samaritan succeeds in convincing WV that “There’s always hope” and the two share a kiss before they each have to rush off in separate directions to handle some catastrophe.

Cronin, you bastard. You know what that scene does to me.

A LOT of great choices, but I’ll go for the funeral procession in Sandman. Both the first time we see it, at the end of the Worlds’ End arc, and again during The Wake.

Another Morrison and Quitely:
“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”

Captain Haddock

January 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Ooh! One more! Fourth Man reminded me of Astro City #1/2.
“No one forgets. No one.”
“He knew her. He knows that. In another time, another world- he knew her. And he loved her. And that makes all the difference.”

Starman #73, at Ted Knight’s funeral: “Oh, and he’d want me to thank you all for coming. He was polite that way.” A standout in an issue, and a series, packed full of beautiful moments.

“Could you be
the most beautiful [scene in a comic book]?
Yes indeed
you’re the reason that God made a [comic book]”

What? That’s totally what Prince would have written if he was into comics and not the ladies.

But yeah, the All Star Superman 10 scene is a good one.

Can’t think of others, but if we’re talking WE3, the moment that always gets me is later on in that issue, where Bandit is getting into the safehouse with the cat, and the bits of armor are falling off, and he says something like “is armor not we”. It’s incredibly touching.

And that’s as in depth as I can explain it, because the screen seems to be all blurry now. Excuse me.

Any number of scenes in Strangers in Paradise made me sniffle.

All-Star Superman. Regan. To this day, I look at that scene when I’m feeling down, and it gives me a pinch of hope and strength. With a couple of drops of tears.

Yeah. All Star Superman “You’re stinger than you think you are” is excellent.

I’m torn between that and the “Brave soldier” bit in The Dark Knight Returns.

The end of Astro City #1/2, “The Nearness of You”, always really strikes a chord in me. The Hanged Man’s line “No one forgets. No one.” always gets me.

The scene where Nausicca first discovers clean water underneath the corruption forest in volume 1 of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

It’s beautiful not just for the unparalleled (IMO) cartooning but the realization that in order to cleanse the planet the forest must cover it completely and what that means for the remnants of humanity.

I’m kicking myself because I’m sure I’m forgetting all sorts of “beautiful moments” but the ones that come to mind right now are Marvels #2, with the young mutant girl; Elektra in Daredevil #190; and Aunt May’s “death” in Amazing Spiderman #400. I’m sure I’m forgetting all sorts of touching moments in Spider-man, by Peter David, and others.

The first scene that popped into my head – that has to count for something – was the end of Top Ten #8, where the giant alien, trapped and dying in the wreckage from an accidental transporter collision, explains the night sky as an immense board of lights, keeping score between the great black and (“strewn across it, small and surrounded and vulnerable and brave”), the great white…

http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/troublewithcomics/uploaded_images/TopTen08-18-The-Overview-709812.jpg
http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/troublewithcomics/uploaded_images/TopTen08-22-The-Overview-709845.jpg
http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/troublewithcomics/uploaded_images/TopTen08-23-The-Overview-748805.jpg
http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/troublewithcomics/uploaded_images/TopTen08-24-The-Overview-748833.jpg

Such a big category, but I’ll pick one…

Barks’ Back to Klondike had of course several great scenes, but my favorite is a reference to that by Don Rosa, the end scene of Hearts of Yukon. Glittering Goldie sends Scrooge McDuck a letter telling how she really feels about him, but receiving the letter, Scrooge decides not to open it, thinking it is only more hostility and venom. That way he can still keep on believing she might still have a smidgen of affection for him…and of course this is the last contact between Scrooge and Goldie until Back to Klondike.

Anthropomorphic animals, they break your heart. (Rosa ends up developing some more of that Scrooge-Goldie relationship later, which take some of the impact of that scene away, but if those Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck are read in publication order, that scene hits hard)

Kitty Pryde’s eulogy for Larry Bodine in New Mutants #45. Still gets me every time.

a few come to mind. y the last man standing yorick holding amerstand for the final time making sure his friend goes peacefuly . of course the sceen in coi where superman is holding supergirls body. plus also a issue of new teen titans where beast boy tells Jerico in sign language he wants to be friends.

This is a really hard one. A lot of the really good ones were said, I think. There are probably lots of better ones that I’m totally forgetting, but I REALLY liked the “Goodnight Moon” scene from Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. Sometimes, there are moments that aren’t deaths (even though this is LITERALLY what is happening) that move me and saying goodbye to Batman’s world was a clever, elegant thing.

The ENTIRE issue of Man Thing #6. One of the most hauntingly beautiful stories featuring artwork from Mike Ploog. Just gut wrenching storytelling……

Actually I change my answer. I really loved the ending to ASM 500 as drawn by Romita Sr. It’s perfect.

I hate to be unoriginal, but yeah, All-Star Superman #10. How good is it? Well J. Michael Stracyznski tried to do his own version of it Grounded and it was AWFUL because he decided to have both Supes and the jumper give long sanctimonious speeches about how life isn’t fair but it isn’t UNFAIR either. What? But enough ranting. That scene works because in one page Morrison and Quitely put forth Superman’s purpose on Earth. The whole issue is about why he’s needed and what’s going to happen to a world without Superman, which is kind of solved in that scene by evidencing that the world needs Superman to remind it of how strong it really is, and that even the world without Superman will eventually invent its own, because it is, of course, strong enough to give itself a reminder by inventing Superman. Oh god…

Most beautiful scene in any comic? Jack Knight speaking at his father’s Funeral in Starman #73 gets me everytime

A lot of the great ones have already been mentioned so I’ll try to think of a few that haven’t. Think I’ll stick to DC.

The end of the Neverending Battle storyarc in Superman where Manchester Black, who has spent the entire arc breaking down Superman to prove he’s no better than him, is so overwhelmed by the realization that Superman really IS that noble that he commits suicide.

Future Batman’s plan defeats Darkseid in JLA: Rock of Ages (that JLA run is far better than anything Morrison has written since, in my opinion).

Barry Allen’s return and Iris’ reaction to it in Final Crisis (the one part of that story that I genuinely loved…the rest either bored or confused me).

And, hands down, the greatest moment in comics…Giffen era Justice League when Batman decks Guy Gardner and lays him out cold.

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