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The 50 Greatest Moments in Comics: #50-41

Everybody's got their favorite moments, but here are our picks for the indisputably GREATEST ones.

It's really about time we did one of these. The Comic Vine staff has put our noggins together to collect and codify the all-time greatest moments in superhero 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 first ten of the top fifty greatest moments in comics.

Don't worry - - this moment isn't on the list. It's memorable, though, no?
Don't worry - - this moment isn't on the list. It's memorable, though, no?

So relax, have some fun and be inspired to offer your own personal choices, all right?

== TEASER ==

50. Peter Parker dies in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #160


There have been countless superhero deaths over the years and the decades, and everybody knows by now that they’ll all eventually be reversed. There are no such reassurances in the Ultimate universe, though. Dead is dead, and the familiar scenarios of the regular Marvel U are allowed to reach the logical endpoints that traditional continuity has prevented (or protected?) them from reaching. Thus, the fact that this Spidey would die defending his loved ones from the Green Goblin is doubly tragic, because it does seem like the most likely fate that would befall an underage vigilante playing around with dangerous super-criminals. Since we've seen this Spidey's entire, brief career on page, this conclusion maybe even makes us grateful that the regular one's gotten off easier in his timeline, and that we've gotten to see him in action for so much longer.

49. The true birth of the Punisher in BORN #4


No screen adaptation of the Punisher will ever get past the basics of his origin, nor the surface explanations for his vigilantism. Throughout his run, Garth Ennis dug much deeper into Castle’s motivations and explored territory in his life that had never truly been shown up until then. Here, he shows that big Frank wasn’t just a normal guy who was totally transformed by “one bad day” - - he'd actually harbored vindictive and bloodthirsty tendencies for his entire life. Vietnam gave him a savory taste of what a life at war could be like, and the taste made him hungry for more. When a rescue team searches for the sole survivor of the Fort Valley Forge massacre, they find a Frankenstein monster who’ll soon be given an identity with the death of Castle's family. It's an undeniably terrifying scene and sight.

48. Batman knows the Hyperclan’s big secret in JLA #3


Grant Morrison had the brilliant idea to keep the Leaguer’s private lives separate from their adventures during his run on JLA. Every issue had an “all killer no filler” feel and, really, there are many more moments we could've included here - - and most of them involve Batman.

The Dark Knight’s always been an icon, of course, but this was the first time he felt like a badass; a relentless tactician who holds all the cards and is prepared for every conceivable contingency. Here was his first such badass moment, showing the white Martians how it was a grave mistake to underestimate this particular “mere human.” They didn’t do their research on him, but he did his homework on them and their weaknesses to fire, deducing a way to take these space gods out with only a bottle of gasoline and a pack of matches.

No villains dismissed the Batman after this one.

47. “I’ve got the box” in ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN #8


This is technically a major spoiler but it’s real hard to avoid those when discussing a comic that’s 25-years-old. Frank Miller un-apologetically revels in the power fantasies inherent to the superhero and he'll flip the bird to anybody too constipated to get the joke. ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN is a wickedly-fun satire that takes pot shots at the Right and the Left and every one in-between. It spends eight feverish issues establishing what a wonderful, misanthropic pig SHIELD Agent Garret is while also harping on the ever-escalating threat of nuclear annihilation posed by the presidential election of the Hand's demigod, the Beast. So what could its proper final trick? How about putting the power of the latter into the outrageously-inappropriate hands of the former? Few other moment in comics have gotten this gleefully anarchic.

46. Deadpool faces everybody he’s ever killed in DEADPOOL #33


Joe Kelly’s run is the definitive version of the ‘Pool for most of us. DP was still cool, he was still dangerous, his adventures had nasty snark and heartfelt pathos, and there was even something romantic about how his book was able to get away with so much because it was narrowly dodging cancellation every month. Like this very fitting end for the ‘Pool, for example...

Deadpool had gone through a three-year-long quest for redemption and had even saved the universe. It was even looking like he was just about to get satisfaction against T-Ray, the man who’d murdered his wife, Mercedes, and set his life on its horrible downward spiral. Only it turned out that T-Ray was actually Wade Wilson and Deadpool was actually the psycho killer who did the murdering and life-ruining. DP's entire life and quest for a redemption had been a farce; a coping mechanism constructed by an insane mind. With the rug pulled out from underneath so tragically, Deadpool threw his arms up at last and surrendered to his vile nature in both figurative and literal terms. At that moment, T-Ray and Mercedes used their black magic to conjure everybody DP had ever killed and the Merc with a Mouth perished against their onslaught, going down swinging and unrepentant.

45. The Kid who collects Spidey in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #248


Many copies' collectble value was ruined due to the tears readers shed over this one-off issue's bittersweet ending. A young boy who’s Spider-Man’s #1 fan, collecting every article about the wall-crawler (even the Daily Bugle’s retractions about their favorite “public menace,") gets a personal visit from Spidey after he learns that the boy's just days away from succumbing to leukemia. The web-slinger opens up to his young fan about what it’s like to be Spider-Man, showing him a trust he'll never be able to show to any other stranger again. The story was the fulfillment of a fantasy many children involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation have when requesting to meet their favorite superhero; and it's a demonstration that Spidey doesn't always have to be punching bad guys to make a difference in people's lives.

44. The T-Bolts are really the Masters of Evil in Thunderbolts #1


We still haven’t gotten over the shock of this surprise. It struck us, like lightning, just before high speed internet made such secrets all-but-impossible to keep before streetdates. In all promos and advanced solicits, the T-Bolts were presented simply as new heroes with a vague “dark secret" who were stepping up to fill the power vacuum left by the “death” of all the heroes during the finale of ONSLAUGHT. We, the readers, were in the same shoes as Marvel U's desperate citizenry, placing our trust in what would soon be revealed as Baron Zemo ingenious, diabolical scheme to seize, control and crush the hope of the world under the new Masters of Evil's boot. It was an absolute knock-out way to set up a whole year's worth of white knuckle cape-and-mask tension.

43. Swamp Thing revives in blue SWAMP THING #56


Here’s a moment that precisely illustrates the unique appeal of a “shared universe” and an open-ended title. As with the Punisher, any screen adaptation of SWAMP THING will never get past the origin story; it'll keep Alec Holland perpetually hung up on regaining his humanity. Alan Moore and Steve Bissette show us here how that's actually the least interesting angle on the character by taking Swampy literally light years away from his original premise. After the meddling of Lex Luthor and Batman “kills” him, Swamp Thing's consciousness escapes from the Green of Earth and into the Blue of unnamed planet in another solar system. There, he re-constitutes himself out of the azure vegetation and spends an entire issue roaming throughout the alien fauna and pondering his inexplicable circumstances. It's real hard to think of many other comics that have shown how far a concept can be taken beyond any boundaries better than this does.

42. Huntress saves the universe in DC ONE MILLION #4


Superheroes forget to think fourth-dimensionally when they’re dealing with threats from the future. Who’d have figured that Solaris, the Tyrant Sun of the 853rd century, would be defeated by a street-level vigilante whose business doesn’t typically go beyond busting wise guys down at the Gotham docks? Since the Justice League and the Justice Legion Alpha are fighting the same villain in two different eras, Ms. Bertinelli realizes there’s really no rush to figure out how to defeat Solaris - - they’ve got centuries to figure it out, in fact. Under her instruction, the two JLAs set some nasty traps throughout the Solar system that nab the evil sun in a way that not even his astronomically-advanced consciousness could ever see coming. And that's not too shabby for a leaguer who never seemed that special next to Atlantean kings and Amazonian princesses.

41. Barry Allen's sacrifice in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #8


The debate over the precise dates for each superhero age’s beginning and end will go on and on. Still, if the Silver Age started with Barry Allen’s debut, it most certainly ended with his “death” here, which coincided with the onset of many years of storylines like WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS that deconstructed everything that had long been taken for granted about clean-cut heroes like the second Flash. Even though Barry eventually returned from this merging with the Speed Force - - and we’re possibly only a few years off from seeing a generation of kids who can’t remember him ever being gone - - his acceleration to light speed in a last ditch effort to thwart the Anti-Monitor still remains one of the most iconic deaths ever. It literally ushered in a new era.

Stay tuned for numbers 40-31 next week!

141 CommentsRefresh
Avatar image for mrwolf710
Posted By mrwolf710

This is cool. For someone who only got into comics in the last couple of weeks after not having read them since 1985 or so, a list like this fills in a lot of history for me. Awesome. Can't wait for the rest.

Avatar image for the_impersonator
Posted By The Impersonator

Great list!

Avatar image for aheld92
Posted By Aheld92

My favorite Moment in comic history is the Death of Phoenix, I'm guessing that will be in the top ten. also When Emma Frost comes back and Saves the X-men By killing Cassandra Nova, though I doubt that will make the list. Also a very cool moment I thought was when Jean reassembles Emma In after her diamond form is shattered In New X-men #141. I always wondered why people thought Jean would come back and Fry Emma for sleeping with scott, If the just read Morrison's run on New X-men (one of my Favorites, got me back into comics) they'd understand that Jeans the reason Scott and Emma are together in the first place.

Avatar image for haydenclaireheroes
Posted By haydenclaireheroes

My favorite from the list are the Death of Spider-man and Bart Allen's sacarfice. Can't wait to see the rest of the list.

Avatar image for gothamred
Posted By GothamRed

barry only made number 41, the rest of the moments must be amazing

Avatar image for ultim8roux
Posted By Ultim8Roux

oSome things I expect to see

Batman revealing that it was his plans that took out jla
Superman vs asmodel panel
"I did it 30 minutes ago" nuff said
Prometheus tossin batman's limp body in front of flash and green lantern
Captain america facing down thanos 
Don't call me superboy
Jason todd's return in hush storyline

And I will be back to post more. Dope post comicvine
Avatar image for zombietag
Posted By zombietag

YES great article. i think im gonna read the tpb for #48 now, sounds cool!

Avatar image for pikminmania
Posted By PikminMania

Stuff I'm sure will be on the list:

Uncle Ben's death

Bane breaking the bat

Batman's parents dying

Black Manta killing Aquaman's son

Ozymandias, "I did it 35 minutes ago"

Silk Spectre's dad

The Killing Joke

V for Vendetta

Death of Superman

Green Lantern as Parallax

Dark Phoenix

Avatar image for pikminmania
Posted By PikminMania

@The_Tree said:

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

Grant Morrison should basically just have the Top 10 to himself.

Yes, yes he should.

I think Alan Moore should at least get the top 5

Avatar image for redheadedatrocitus
Posted By RedheadedAtrocitus

Man this looks great. I have read many of these but not all, and am very tempted now!

Avatar image for lp
Posted By LP

I can't imagine what comes next. :)

Avatar image for leokearon
Posted By leokearon

Transformers US 75, better be on the list

Avatar image for innervenom123
Posted By InnerVenom123

@Fantasgasmic said:

wait a minute... 46. Is it me, or does that show Kidpool waaaay back in 1999?

Different character, he was a "chibi" version of Deadpool, Kidpool is based on him. (I forget his exact name, but he attacked Deadpool when they were in Japan).

Avatar image for kalakarinth
Edited By Kalakarinth

Torch's death

Martian's death

Spidey's moment of recognition in Spider-Island

Death of Thanos, Star-lord, and Nova

The infamous girl in the fridge

Superboy Prime's reality shattering punch

Hal's possession and return

Fantomex's murder of Kidpocalypse

Return of Johnny

Avatar image for baddamdog
Posted By Baddamdog

Surprised flash's death is so low, I hope there's a psylocke moment in this countdown!

Avatar image for jonesdeini
Posted By JonesDeini

I wonder how much of this list will consist of moment not related to Capes comics.

Avatar image for frobin
Posted By Frobin

OMG ... these lists are so subjective - even if you would call the list 50 greatest moments in SUPERHERO comics it would be totally impossible to come to a satisfying end.

But it's good stuff to jabber ... so Batman knowing the secret of the Hyperclan deserves a better ranking, would say Top15, Barry Allen's sacrifice also could rank a bit better.

On the spur of the moment (and these are the real good moments - those you remember first without starting to search your collection) I have these scenes on mind:

  • Klor killing Goliath in Civil War (#?) and then Sue Richards ends the fight by allowing Cap's team to retreat
  • Sue Richards asking Reed what the f#%6 he's doing and he answers he's doing this weird stuff to protect her and she gets totally mad and rips a big hole into the Baxter Building saying something like: "Do I look as if I needed protection to you" ... or something like that ... would have to look the exact wording up ... guess this happened in Fantastic Four (#??)
  • the first story arc of the New Avengers (jailbreak) when Spider-Man gets his arm broken or The Sentry ripped Carnage in half
  • more back in history: the whole JLA under control of Starro in Justice League of America (the cover is #190, but there is a great scene within the book too),
  • the Zombie Fantastic Four in Ultimate FF (the Frightful Four, don't know the # ... around 25, I guess) - first appearance of the Zombie dimension.
  • Ultimate Thor and his community or followers, Ultimate Thor more as a guru or spiritual leader and protecor of Mother Earth ... best Thor ever (too bad Marvel switched him back into a lame 616 thundergod version!!!),
  • the first WildC.A.T.s issues, especially the fight between Wildcats and Cyberforce (or Warblade and Riplaw?), guess in WildCATs #6 or so
  • StormWatch Vs. Aliens: when the Aliens kill half of the Stormwatch roster
  • The Authority ... could name a moment in almost every story arc of the first volume ...

Well, and I'm sure if I start searching my collection I find many, many more moments ... but these mentioned above are (say with Batman in JLA #3) sort of my Top10.

Avatar image for superskrull86
Posted By Superskrull86

Great list. Can't wait till' next week.

Avatar image for blueshirt
Posted By Blueshirt

Flash is low, but perhaps Kara's higher up.

Any guesses on the top? I'm betting it involves a certain length of time, perhaps 35 minutes or so. ;)

Avatar image for the_hero_without_a_name
Posted By The_Hero_Without_a_Name

@Fantasgasmic: Thats Widdle Wade hes a clone of deadpool that was made by Japanese Yakuza

Avatar image for outside_85
Posted By Outside_85

Since Barry's departure is so low...I guess there wont be any NTT moments on the list :(

Avatar image for moywar700
Posted By moywar700

death of ultimate spider-man should be number one =[

Avatar image for mrfuzzynutz
Posted By Mrfuzzynutz

Solid start!

I would switch the Death of Supergirl for the Death of The Flash, Barry needs to go much higher on the list

Avatar image for liquidswords
Posted By LiquidSwords

A great stat! Love that Garth Ennis Punisher is on the list.

Just like on Giant Bomb, the nerd rage this list is going to bring is going to be hilarious/embarrassing/hilarious.

Avatar image for _zombie_
Edited By _Zombie_

A couple I think should go in there:

-Cap surrendering during Civil War

-Cap's assassination

-With great power, comes great responsibility

Edit: Also, forgot this:

-The death of Rick Grimes' wife and child in The Walking Dead

Though, tbh, there's a fair amount of Walking Dead moments that could go in here.

Avatar image for mickoreo_lz
Posted By mickoreo_LZ

Like what you're doing here CV. Interested to see the rest of the top 50. And hopefully people realize that this is a matter of opinion, not fact, so there's no reason to get all upset

Avatar image for stronger
Posted By Stronger


Avatar image for jcbart
Edited By jcbart

I hope the genocide of Genosha is in here somewhere! Kitty Pryde phasing the bullet through the earth, Joker shooting Barbara Gordon (better be in the top 10) and "No more mutants" should be included also.

Avatar image for keroga
Posted By KEROGA

death of tim drakes father

Avatar image for cody1984
Posted By cody1984

@MysterioMaximus said:

@spaceboy said:

The Punisher first appeared as a Spider-Man villain and while he didn't have super powers he has always been considered an antihero in a superhero universe. Excluding him would mean other unpowered characters like the Kingpin or Lex Luthor would have to be excluded as well.

Um...what? I don't even sort of get your logic.

Punisher first appeared as a villain, per se, who was fooled into being against Spider-Man by the Jackal. He's an antihero, which is not the same as villain. Kingpin and Lex are villains. Nor does non-powered equal morally questionable. Having no super-ability means just that...they don't have super powers. It doesn't say ANYTHING toward their allegiances or ethical code. There are powerless characters of light, gray, and dark.

So...what the hell are you talking about? o.O

Not to mention, this is "50 Greatest Moments in Comics" according to ComicVine...not "50 Greatest Superhero Moments"...who says it has to be superhero?

Thanks for clearing that up for him MysterioMaximus.

Avatar image for kingjoeg
Posted By kingjoeg

good article, I would love to see more top 50 lists

Avatar image for redowl_1
Edited By RedOwl_1

Cool a top 50 list, I like this kind of things


Creepy but... Where is the evil laugh? It looks like the right moment

Avatar image for difficlus
Edited By difficlus

Come on death of ultimate spider man only number 50? :(

Avatar image for sexuallobster
Posted By SexualLobster

@ssejllenrad: thats barry allen no?

Avatar image for apatheticavenger
Edited By ApatheticAvenger

A few more moments I'd like to see:

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5
Avatar image for the_stegman
Posted By The Stegman

i really think Death of Superman will make number one

Avatar image for wdchefdave
Posted By wdchefdave

Super Girl, Ferro Lad, and Electra. And gimme a side of "sidekicks"... Bucky and Jason... but they didn't stay dead!  Bad boys... play dead!

Avatar image for thesavageassasin
Posted By TheSavageAssasin

This made me really want to read the whole Elektra: Assassin series.

Avatar image for spidermanwins
Posted By SpidermanWins

Very nice. I'll be looking forward to seeing the rest.

Avatar image for nystreets09e
Posted By NYStreets09e

@The Mast said:

The death of Elektra will be there. It's hard to imagine what an impact that had. Also, Karen Page selling Daredevil's identity.

Agreed I would also throw in Maybe Matt descend to madness and becoming the new leader of the Hand in Shadowland..

Avatar image for rarecheshire
Posted By RareCheshire

Can't wait to see the full list!

Avatar image for armylife1124
Posted By armylife1124

Loved the Thunderbolts..that was a awesome moment first time reading it....can not wait for top 40....

Avatar image for deadcool
Posted By Deadcool

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

Grant Morrison should basically just have the Top 10 to himself.

I am sorry, but you sound like a Fanboy...

I am sorry!!! SorrySorrySorrySorrySorrySORRY!!!

Avatar image for codysf
Edited By CODYSF

@The Myth:

I won't be surprise that it will be number one it was a big impact. when Superman died.

Avatar image for thefilmkiller
Posted By The Lobster

This better be on here

Greatest moment from any comic book I've ever read, the only time I've ever actually yelled out "F**k Yeah!!!!!"
Avatar image for saren
Posted By Saren

Almost forgot, Lucifer pimpslapping Michael definitely needs to be here.

Avatar image for miss_garrick
Posted By Miss_Garrick

I like your picks. Looking foward to the next group.

Avatar image for goldenkey
Posted By goldenkey

I don't know if it will be on here or not but Im gonna be upset if Batman beating Superman in Dark Knight Returns is not on here. I'd guess Hal turning bad will be as will the Death of Superman. Barbara Gordon getting shot by Joker will be in the top 5 easily. This is a cool idea. It should have been top 50 triumphs and top 50 tregedies so we could get a few more on here. There are a lot.

Avatar image for chris2klee
Posted By Chris2KLee

Good list so far, although for me the Punisher Born moment would have ranked higher.