The Comic Vine staff has put our noggins together to collect and codify the all-time greatest moments in comics.
We make no pretense at any academic objectivity here - - these aren't supposed to be the most "important" to the history of the medium. These are simply the times where we've been so wrapped up in a story that we literally had to say "Wow!" when we turned the page. These are the most-memorable pages or panels for readers like you (as decided by our highly-discriminating reckoning.)
These are the top fifty greatest moments in comics...
20. Storm & Cyclops fight for X-Men leadership in UNCANNY X-MEN #201
Well, here’s an older comic to put SCHISM in some perspective. Way before he ever hooked up with Emma Frost and way before he finally wed Jean Grey, Cyclops was married to Madelyne Pryor… and he was kind of a jerk to her. As in, he wasn’t around for the birth of their son, Nathan (the future Cable,) and he was actually even the last person to call to check up on her. It seemed rather clear that his attention was divided by his duties as the X-Men’s leaders, so Storm proposed a friendly match in the Danger Room to decide who should lead. Even though she'd lost her powers at the time, Ororo still bested Scott through cunning maneuvering, stealing his visor a crucial moment and proving that his mind was too distracted by his family to lead the X-Men properly. Do the results still ring true today?
19. John Stewart kills Mogo in GREEN LANTERN CORPS #60
Hal Jordan may be the greatest Green Lantern, and Sodam Yat might be the ultimate Green Lantern, but there ought to be an even more superlative description for Mogo, a living planet GL. Seriously, how do you even hurt a planet, let alone kill it? Well, when Mogo was brainwashed by the villainous Krona during WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS, John Stewart had to find a way. Using an Indigo Tribe ring to take on the powers of the Black Lanterns, he fired a death-charged missile into Mogo’s heart that finally slayed the creature, asserting how awesomely-outlandish comics can be by showing that planets are actually mortal, too.
18. Barry Allen meets Jay Garrick in FLASH #123
This particular moment has far more significance then you probably realize. Sure, the new Flash meeting his predecessor cutely establishes the whole notion of heroic legacies, but there’s more to it than that. If you’ve ever wondered how alternate realities and timelines ever got so complex for DC and Marvel - - how there could be so many universes that crises are necessary every few years to sort them all out - - it’s because parallel worlds have been a part of superhero comics since the early Silver Age! And it all started here. It isn’t too hyperbolic to say that, without this auspicious meeting, we likely wouldn’t ever have seen the likes of Kingdom Come, Age of Apocalypse, ad infinitum.
17. Lori Grimes & her infant child gunned down in WALKING DEAD #48
We’ll see if the TV show ever gets this cruel...
You want to talk about the worst conceivable outcome for a love triangle and the suspicious paternity case lying right in the middle of it? Officer Rick Grimes woke from a coma to find that his wife, Lori, and his partner, Shane, had gotten a whole lot friendlier while he was sleeping during the zombie apocalypse. As in they’d gotten "friendly" enough that, when Lori realized she was pregnant, nobody (readers included) could be quite sure if the baby was Rick or Shane’s. She eventually did give birth to a little girl, Judith, and, as you really ought to expect things to go in a zombie apocalypse, the two were brutally killed soon after while everybody was fleeing from a sadistic “Governor.”
In case you didn't realize... nobody is safe in this series. Nobody.
16. Captain America points to his "A" in ULTIMATES #12
When a hero’s dressed up in the American flag, reactions to his patriotism will range. Some will see it as just a cool outfit without any political connotations, others will see it as an aggressive expression of jingoism. Cap’s attitude about the suit has been continually redefined by writers over the years, and the big "A" he insists on wearing on his forehead has gotten almost as many snickers as the wings on his temples. Thus, it's just cathartic to see Cap, in the heat of battle, finally expressing some RA-RA enthusiasm for one of his costume's potentially sillier design elements and for all the patriotic pride it exudes.
15. The Saint of Killers shoots up heaven in PREACHER #66
When Ennis and Dillon’s mega-series starts off with such a provocative, button-pushing premise - - that of disillusioned preacher, Jesse Custer, setting out to confront no less than the almighty - - it really just has to escalate until it reaches the utmost peak of the transgressive. Thus, Jesse’s sometimes foe, a “holy hitman” called the Saint of Killers finds a violent reckoning like no other in the series’ final issue. He barges into paradise, pistols blazing, and guns down the "man upstairs” who’d abandoned creation and caused the Saint and Jesse such anguish. Then, the Saint takes a seat on his throne… and you likely won’t ever see something as offensive again (not even in THE BOYS.)
14. Bane breaks Batman’s back in BATMAN #497
Something tell us that this particular moment is going to be brought up a lot more so soon - - maybe even recreated by a couple actors come July 2012? The 90s were a time when many of our big heroes were falling on hard times. Some went clinically insane, other were murdered in public, but there’s something far more gut-wrenchingly visceral about a hero receiving an injury he can’t just walk off by the next issue, though. What’s maybe even scarier is how this wasn't an act of furious rage. No, this was the single, crowning moment of a cold, cunning plan Bane very calmly orchestrated over the course of a few months, spreading the Caped Crusader thin until he finally could finally break the Bat.
13. Hulk lifts a whole mountain in SECRET WARS #4
How strong is Hulk? HOW STRONG IS THE HULK?!?! THIS STRONG!!!!
Comics fans love the stats and figures of their favorite character to be hashed out clearly in stories, without any room for disagreement. Thus, this moment should be referenced any time anybody casts a doubt on whether Hulk actually is the strongest one there is. The Molecule Man drops an entire mountain falls on our heroes and the jade giant holds the thing up on his own - - all hundred and fifty billion tons of it, all by himself. When you've got a loose cannon with that much raw power, you can understand why the Illuminati found it in their best interest to get him off the planet.
12. Batman & Catwoman finally kiss in BATMAN #610
His back’s been broken, his body's a road map of pain, his loved ones have been murdered… can Batman ever catch a break, for once? Perhaps there’s no more welcome break from all that anguish than a break that comes in the release of decades of powerful, stewing sexual tension. While this didn’t answer the “Will they? Won’t they?” question as… thoroughly as some recent comics have, it stands out for being one of the few respites in both of those costume night ragers’ conflict-ridden lives. They might never be able to make a relationship such as this work in the long run, but at least we got a fleeting glimpse of what such a romance could look like, unencumbered.
11. Wonder Woman snaps Max Lord’s neck in WONDER WOMAN #219
An act of violence, committed out of love. Out of love! After Max Lord took a particularly nasty “heel turn” and used his hitherto-unrevealed mind control powers to make Superman into a highly-dangerous pawn, Wonder Woman was faced with terribly few options for how to proceed. When Mr. Lord arrogantly told her (while wrapped in the lasso of truth, no less) that Supes would only ever be freed over his dead body, she had even fewer options. Thus, because her love for the man of steel (romantic? platonic? Take your pick) was stronger than her usual code of conduct and her fear of media condemnation... she snapped Lord's neck and gave the JLA's happy-go-lucky days a very final endpoint.