POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics: Just Missed It…
There are only two moments left on this little list of mine and with that in mind I’d thought I’d take a moment to explain myself. POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments in Comics is, in case you couldn’t piece it together, an entirely subjective list. That is because it is MY list, the 7 moments that stick out in my head as the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a comics reader. So while you may not have been affected by the death of Guardian in Alpha Flight #12, it was definitely a big deal to me when I read it. The list is subjective because, well I’m the subject in question. The only thing harder than making the selections from this list was having to discard other moments that I had an just as much impact on me. There are some defining moments in comics that are just not on the list period. I mean there are some moments that are glaringly obvious that I just pretty much avoided simply because I wanted this list to be more personal than just an argument over whether the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne is more important than a kindly Kansas couple finding a baby in field in rural Kansas. This list is MINE, it is personal and I chose to share it.
So what are some of the moments that didn’t make the cut then? I really wanted to put an Uncle Scrooge moment on this list. I love the work of Carl Barks and his “disciples” like Don Rosa. The problem was picking one. Uncle Scrooge is the most prolific of the Disney comics and there are so many great stories to choose from. Should it involve Magica De Spell? Should it be the introduction of Flintheart Glomgold? Which Beagle Boy heist sticks out more than the others? The problem boils down to picking just one. So many questions one has to ask oneself when picking just one Uncle Scrooge moment. I really wanted it to be from a Carl Barks story too. The problem was, the Uncle Scrooge moment I wanted to use wasn’t by Barks, it was by Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge #297), not that Don Rosa didn’t write a good story. Hell if I wanted to read an Uncle Scrooge by someone other than Barks, Don Rosa is the go to guy. The moment is the catalyst for 90% of Uncle Scrooge’s adventures, the moment Scrooge McDuck first gets his Number One Dime is THE defining moment for the character. The first dime Scrooge ever made is something others believe is responsible for maintaining his vast fortune. Magica, Glomgold and Ma Beagle and her boys have all tried stealing it and in some cases have succeeded, but Number 1 always finds its way back to Scrooge. It isn’t that the Dime is a good luck charm; it is more a representation of honesty and hard work paying off. Uncle Scrooge is comic’s BEST representation of the American Dream coming true and it was damn near heartbreaking for me to not put that one story on the list.
Almost as heartbreaking was leaving off my favorite moment from Cerebus the Aardvark. There was no moment I was torn up more over than leaving Cerebus off the list altogether. Dave Sim poured himself into Cerebus for 300 issues. There was a time in the 80s when one talked about influential independent comics you were pretty much talking about Cerebus. Now when I say Independent Comics, I don’t mean Underground Comics like the work of Robert Crumb. I mean self-publishers that had vision and drive that ended up building publishing empires simply by not being in the “mainstream” of comics i.e. Superhero and Funny Animal comics. Sure Cerebus became the flag waver for the Independent comics scene, hell Sim even had the chance to take Cerebus to wider audience in the late 80s but opted not to. Sim wanted to remain true to his vision of the independent comics publisher and his vision for Cerebus. Sure, his vision for Cerebus ended up being not what his readership expected. I mean I can’t think of a writer who did more to alienate his core fan base more than Sim did. He would write entire sections with no art, relying strictly on prose (asking comic book readers to read? The Cad!). He would take long stretches where seemingly nothing would happen only to end it with something horrifically violent. He took an entire section to tell a fictionalized retelling of the last days of Oscar Wilde. In reality, Sim alienated his readers simply by letting his personal life affect his work, though Sim denies this to this day. Sim also tries to say his latter half of Cerebus isn’t misogynistic when it is hard to say it isn’t [Editor’s Note: IT IS!]. So what was the moment in Cerebus I had in mind? It happens during “Flight”, which was in itself a segment of a larger story arc called “Mothers & Daughters”. In it, Cerebus retaliates against the Cirinists, a militaristic feminist group that is in power, when he hears one of them brag that the Cirinists have physically abused the woman who actually holds his heart, Jaka. His retaliation is to kill the Cirinists and urge the men to rise up against all the Cirinists. This revolution is short-lived, as in less than 2 pages. The result is that those that rise up are cut down by the Cirinists in no time. I was deep into Cerebus at this point, reading the volumes thanks to my buddy Bill Wrigley. It was that moment, a 2 page splash showing a team of Cirinist soldiers surrounded by hacked and bloody corpses that actually shocked me. Just 2 pages earlier I had thrown my fist up in the air in support as Cerebus urged his followers to “Rise Up and KILL THE CIRINISTS!”. Then, in a blink of an eye, the rebellion was over. I wanted to put this on the list, I really did. But Cerebus is so dense as a narrative that asking people to get through 150+ issues of a continuous story, that can be very tough to penetrate, is asking a bit much just to get to one moment. Especially when you consider not everyone is ready to read an entire volume about the final days of Oscar Wilde. Even worse, it might lead to a person trying to read the rest of Cerebus 300 issue run and that might leave one with a bad taste in their mouth or more than likely wanting to punch you in the mouth for insisting they read it.
Bringing things back to the realm of Superheroes, you’ve probably noticed a serious lack of Batman on this list. Well, not to spoil things for you, but you aren’t getting any Batman for the top 2 moments either. Weird, given my love of Batman. I mean Batman is my favorite character in all of fiction. I’m not talking about any specific period of Batman by any specific artist or writer. I mean Batman, as both a character and concept. So why no Batman on the list? Because, in his 73 year history, there are possibly only 3-4 DEFINING moments for Batman as a character. Hell it is really just 3 moments since one of them happened to Barbara Gordon and not Batman himself (If you have to ask what moment happened to Barbara Gordon, SURPRISE! You just proved you are NOT a Batman fan). The first moment is obvious I would think. I mean if you saw parents gunned down right in front of you, it is pretty much going to fuck you up for life and I don’t mean the “dress up like a bat and fight crime” kinda messed up either. I mean we are talking about the main drive for why Bruce Wayne is Batman. Many make the argument that Batman’s story is one of revenge and that is totally not the case. It isn’t about revenge, it is about Justice. It is about one man trying to make a difference in a city without hope. It is about making sure that there won’t be another 8 year old boy left crying in an alley over the bodies of his dead, murdered parents. I sympathize with Bruce Wayne but come on; there was no way I could put that on the list simply because it isn’t exactly a jaw dropping moment for me. The same thing can be said for the second defining moment for Batman, a moment so simple and seemingly stupid but is so important because without it you don’t have Batman as a persona. It is all that damn bat’s fault. Bruce Wayne was lamenting that he has spent his young life training to fight crime but not having an actual method to do it and then because his butler is too lazy to close the window a flying rodent flies into the den and gives him inspiration. Oh fine, go with the Batman Year One interpretation, it doesn’t matter. The bat coming through the window is the second biggest catalyst for why we have Batman. I mean if a panda had crawled through his window, our boy Bruce would be eating bamboo and jumping from rooftop to rooftop as Panda-Man. The third moment brings up the subject of Jason Todd and honestly, that is a whole separate issue unto itself that I refuse to get muddled up in this conversation.
In the end, there are tons of moments that from my vast comic reading experience that could have made the list. The thing is, I’m not really trying to cater to anyone with this list but myself. Like I said, the list is completely subjective and the subject giving you the list is me. I could’ve written 1800 words on Watchmen and how the opening page gives you clues about all the major players in that story. I could’ve really gone in depth on your asses about why Secret Wars #12 has a moment so moving and packed with emotion that you almost forget it is an intimate moment between Captain America and his oldest sidekick (i.e. it ain’t Bucky or Rick Jones and sure as fuck ain’t Nomad). I want to tell you so much about Secret Origins Annual #12 left me with a smile on my face yet also left me the sad and yet joyful reminder of “Electricity always travels in a circuit”, thus telling us that Barry Allen is responsible for his own creation as The Flash. Hell I made a conscious choice to avoid non-family friendly material like Omaha the Cat Dancer, which despite being erotic/pornographic furry comics, is actually a pretty great story. Hell when my #1 and #2 choices get written up you’ll be getting one reaction of something I read when I was 13 years old and another from when I was in my 30s. You see this list isn’t about insisting my picks are the be all and end all for great comics moments. It is about showing anyone who will listen that comics are a medium for everyone, be they young or old. You don’t have to be 10 years old to be moved by a Green Lantern story or 55 to look at Donald Duck with a sort of fondness you reserve for an old friend. Comics as a storytelling medium remain the mythology of the 20th Century and in the end the best myths stand the test of time and are shared from generation to generation.
So what are the top 2 Moments In Comics as far as Yours Truly is concerned?
Well they both involve members of one family. Here is your only hint…