Five iconic moments in Comics

The reign of comic books began with detectives and stories of action. It moved on to fantastic stories of humans changed by cosmic radiation and mutations, even going to the point of celebrating humans simply inspired by the acts of fictional heroes. And these heroes have ranged from mutants and technologically empowered mortals to gods from Asgard. Villains have ranged from gangsters and disgruntled anti-heroes to forces as strong and fearsome as the lords of Hell. With a million mind-boggling multiverses emerging from each publishing house, stories have diverged and combined and given us leagues of power and avenging brotherhoods. Reading every single one of these creations would take a lifetime, if not more and we limit ourselves only to the ones we've heard of or had recommended.

My experiences, too, have been limited so, but today, I'm hoping to present a few scenes from comics that have truly blown my mind. Given the nature of the scenes, some of these constitute spoilers and I'd advise you against reading that bit if you intend to read the comic at any point. I've also tried to give a brief summary building up to each of these epic scenes. Keep in mind that without context, these won't be as impressive and I highly recommend reading the comics mentioned. And as I wrote it, I noticed that the list of 5 has only 3 authors. Oh, well. And without further ado, here are five AWESOME moments in comics:

Note: Click pictures to enlarge

  •  5) 300 - The beginning of the battle at Thermopylae [No spoiler]
    We've all seen Zack Snyder's slow motion action scenes and the merciless massacre of invading Persians by 300 Spartans standing as the last line of defence. One must read the comics to have a true grasp of the brilliance of Frank Miller, the creator of the graphic novel. As the Spartans arrive at the battlefield and witness the invading hordes, there is no long speech of inspiration given by King Leonidas. Simply, as one of the exemplary examples of laconic speech,  he says, "Come and get it". And before the end of the battle, Leonidas shows that even gods can bleed.
    This is Spartaaaaaaaaa!
    • 4) Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan's change of mind [Mild spoiler]
      Picking one scene from Alan Moore's epic is difficult. A novel that takes you through the lives of ex-superheroes begins with a death. Defining moments usually centre around the character of Rorschach. The story itself begins with his journal - "A comedian died in New York today". As time progresses and his incarceration revealing his true nature, one cannot help but marvel at what he says to his fellow inmates - "I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me." The amount of character development seen with Rorschach may be absent when it comes to Dr. Manhattan but it is ultimately his decisions that affect the progress of the story. And the turning point in his decisions comes on the surface of Mars as he stands upon the infamous "Smiley" crater with Laurine Jupiter. The dialogue on what he views as thermodynamic miracles help him regain some form of admiration, if not respect, for humanity and bring him back to Earth.
    As told by naked blue men.
    •  3) Sin City - The ending of "The babe wore red" [BIG spoiler]

    It's hard to not like a series that has stunning artwork and coloring with a storyline that puts those long running multiverses to shame. And when this series has crime, guns and girls in plenty, it becomes impossible to not love it. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it's by Frank Miller. Sin City has so many intertwined stories that selecting one for show is an act that disgraces the rest. The only explanation I can provide is that this is one of those endings that I remember even after a long time. It is completely wrong to assume that the rest of Sin City is anything like this and this is only the story that I personally favour. "The babe wore red" is one of the stories in the One Shot series and traces the story of a girl, Mary, who is rescued by Dwight McCarthy after his friend is killed. As the story progresses, Mary tells him he's a hooker who had become entangled in the mess after she propositioned his friend. Dwight suspects all along that she was lying and the last page of the comic proves him right. Mary mentions that she was 'engaged' and Dwight hears her praying at some point in Latin. And the ending reveals everything with a package to Dwight from Mary.
    Engaged. Ah, that's what she meant.

    • 2) Batman: The Killing Joke - The joke [Mild Spoiler]

    We're back to Alan Moore with this one. A single story written by Moore gives an insight into a possible origin for The Joker. As Commissioner Gordon is abducted and tortured and The Joker attempts to prove that he isn't that much crazier than the common man, we see how much Batman and The Joker have in similarity. This is one of those rare points where he even attempts to make peace with his nemesis - only to get in response a joke; A joke that explains their relationship, similarity and impending spiral to mutual destruction. Both of them begin laughing and the comic closes with their reflections in the rain merging into one.
    Only Alan Moore can write a joke so excellent and serious.
    • 1) Sandman - Retrieving the mask of the Dream god [Mild Spoiler]

    Arguably, my entry into the world of graphic novels began at its peak. A series for the graphic novel industry as epic as The Lord of the Rings was for long fiction, it traces the story of Morpheus, also known as Dream of the Endless. Gaiman himself summarized the series in Endless Nights with "The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision." Again, this is a series with so many highs that choosing one point was a matter purely of personal choice. In the beginning of the series, Dream is imprisoned and his journey to retrieve belongings to restore his power takes him to hell. As he wins his helm from a demon that had it, he is challenged by Lucifer and the hordes of Hell asking him why they should simply let him walk. Lucifer goes further and confronts him asking what power Dreams have in the depths of Hell. And that, Dream takes, as his cue for bringing in the awesome:
    And so, Lucifer decides who his immortal enemy is. Apart from God.

    Five iconic moments from five fabulous works of fiction. I only wish more people would drop the 'comics are for kids' idea and read these.

    I have a few more moments lined up and if I gather enough, we might even have a second Five Iconic Moments. Until then, find a nearby bookstore and grab a copy of one of these.

    - Mod

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    Pinko said...

    Fuck, there's a fight in 300 ? You spoiled it for me.

    On a side note, I thought that Will Eisner was the creator of the modern graphic novel? (A Contract with God)

    Anonymous said...

    Thoroughly recommend Arkham Asylum if you haven't read it yet. The art work is mindblowing

    Mod said...

    I think I mentioned that that particular bit didn't actually have a spoiler :P

    And if you're referring to the line about Frank Miller, I'm talking about 300, not the genre of graphic novels :)

    Mod said...

    And @Anonymous: I have read it. Sadly, taking a single frame of it out of context will add more to confusion than to the discussion :)

    Anonymous said...

    Hmmm. On the top my head the two more things I would add would be
    1) The Dark Knight returns - An aged Batman climbing 100 stories with the guy on his back just to hear him scream when he wakes up. As he says "Priceless".
    2) Arkham Asylum - The Joker shouting "April Fool", if you know the scene I mean. Represents to me the difference between the Joker and the Batman. How despite all his strength the Batman is bound by his self-imposed moral code which makes him go to Arkham despite not fearing "He might feel like he's home" and the Joker exploiting this several times.

    Anonymous said...

    Sorry that should read as
    -go to Arkham despite fearing "He might feel like he's coming home"

    Mod said...

    ^ Will append to the next post :)

    Anonymous said...

    Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" is a more defining moment in batman comics history... don't you think? The darker shades of Gotham, Gordon and Superman... and the "idea" of Batman much more than a detective or a vigilante...

    PS "I think of Sarah, the rest is easy..."

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