You know how people know the Bible by heart? Well for me each panel in a comic is a verse, and each character quote a hymn that I know by heart. I can see a panel online now and my mind immediately goes back to the entire issue, playing it out page by page. I’ve always been fond of heroes that go through the wringer, where character development is art imitating life. That detail is what still gets me excited about certain comic book scenes. I feel like a lot of my favorite scenes from comics would seem obscure when compared to everyone else’s; they’d be overlooked since most of them (not all) involve second or third-string heroes.
Being so passionate about comics, it means so much to me to get a stranger who is completely in the dark on comics, or who just doesn’t know the comic I’m referencing, to give a shit. That being said, I’m going to list five of the most subtle but hard comic book scenes from Marvel and DC Comics (Image is a whole ‘nother post, baby). These are all issues that continuously draw me back over the years and stay with me today. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
“God place me in ya armor, I prescribe no partners /
I do it for the hood like a parka”
THIS. ISSUE. IS. STILL. MY. SHIT. Miles has been Spider-Man for a while at this point and the war that comes with putting that mask on has been creeping to his front door. It all comes to a head here. He done been blessed with Peter Parker’s web-shooters as well as his horrible luck. Venom is back and hunting down Miles’ father, believing him to be Spider-Man. Miles is trying to head to the hospital but Maria Hill is outside his door and somehow knows that he is actually Spider-Man. The hard shit is Gwen and Mary Jane offering Miles advice based upon Parker’s experiences.
Miles can’t have Maria Hill in these streets ready to drop a dime on his identity. Ganke (his mans and dem) agrees too, so what does Morales do? He goes out and confronts Hill. It’s not even a game of cat and mouse as Maria makes it clear that she knows who he actually is (she’s working the case of his dead uncle, a venom attacked his front door, and Gwen and MJ are chillin’ in his kitchen). She is trying to help Miles but how can he just suddenly trust this stranger with his secret ID?
Then a call comes in that Venom is attacking the hospital where his parents are. Listen, it was straight up G up or fuck up time and ya boy Miles showed up just to show out. I love this scene as it is Miles having to take a gamble with revealing who he is in order to save lives.
Ya boy gets a crash course in trust and letting the chips fall where they may as he ducks out right in front of Maria Hill, scaling the walls towards the hospital. YOU SEE THAT LOOK BACK AS HE THROWS THE MASK DOWN THOUGH?! WHAT? That fucking glare back at Maria Hill like, “Aye, you already know what the fuck it is” …straight real shit, man. The split decision to answer the call to action, changing as he’s going up, total disrespect to the fucking rules of keeping the secret ID when lives are on the line? That’s Miles F’n Morales on his Real. Hero. Shit. Tragically, however, this is the scene that shows Miles on his way towards a Pyrrhic victory as he defeats Venom but his mother loses her life.
“Not free, we only licensed, not live, we just exciting
Cause the captors own the masters to what we writing”
Listen, on my life, I promise Jaime Reyes is the greatest teen hero in DC Comics. Jaime Reyes became the third Blue Beetle after the death of Ted Kord. Jaime discovers that The Reach, an alien race coming to Earth swearing peace, actually intends to enslave the Earth through tiny mind control agents they’ve placed in the Earth’s water and atmosphere. Jaime uncovers this as he breaks into one of The Reach’s stations guarded by Tovar the Lava king. Jaime then is forced to reveal to Tovar that all of his memories were fabricated by The Reach. They made up everything about him, his culture, family, and history as nothing more than a cog in their machine.
Reading this issue was rough as you sit there imagining that everything that made you who you are is a lie. The Reach then come in to bury the evidence and Tovar, knowing the truth, decides to still be the hero that he knows he is inside. He looks to Jaime for confirmation and it is heartbreaking as we see that even though his life is a lie he is choosing to fight and even die on that lie.
Prior, Jaime had downloaded all of Tovar’s “memories” as a reach file to prove that The Reach was using him, but now we see Jaime recounting all of Tovar’s history with pride. Tovar is going to die fighting to give Jaime and Danni Garret time to leave. He is not only losing his life, but his “wife” and “children” in the process, for strangers he doesn’t even know and you ask why — BECAUSE TOVAR THE LAVA KING IS BOUT THAT FUCKING LIFE! He will be buried a fucking G. The hardest shit about this scene is that you can tell Jaime doesn’t want to leave him as the area caves in on itself from The Reach’s attack.
Even with his life in danger Jaime still continuously shouts Tovar’s history to keep hyping Tovar up as he fights and to assure him that even if he was created as nothing more than a pawn, he is still who he believes himself to be. This issue is a gem that I feel went overlooked as it plays a huge part in Jaime Reyes’ character development and gives him a small taste of what going to war with The Reach will cost.
“Come on in this house, cause it’s gonna rain
Rain down Zion, it’s gonna rain”
Peter Parker is king of the comeback kids. Period. That’s just facts. Whenever Peter leaves the vigilante game, takes time away, or is on the verge of quitting, he always comes back with a vengeance. As much as being Spider-Man has cost Peter, he always answers the call. In Spider-Man Reign (alternate universe) Peter has been gone for about 30 years. Mary Jane developed cancer and died due to his blood being radioactive. This has been haunting Peter (now a shell of himself) as he imagines she is still around. Meanwhile, the city is under martial law 24/7 and has gone to shit. J. Jonah Jameson ruins Parker’s recluse-ness by bringing him his old black mask. Parker finds himself on autopilot, fighting the corrupt system of the city, who then unleash the sinner (sinister) six on him.
The game gets changed once one of Doc Octopus’ bots drags Mary Jane’s casket to him (as he was catching a beat down). Peter confronts how Mary Jane loving him cost her life and how he left her in her final moments to save lives; she was dead when he returned. He buried his old costume with MJ as that part of him died as well. The homie is having a psychotic break as he climbs into her casket, but then realizes that Mary Jane understood and was trying to tell him to go. We then see Peter awaken in the casket back on his dumb-out shit.
This is why Peter Parker is the fucking homie, man. He’s back in the classic red and blue, back to talking his shit. Peter tried to bury and forget who he was, what he is, for 30 years but once that mask is back on? The jokes are back, the devil-may-care swagger is on one hunned, and Spider-Man is ready to get the streets jumping in this mutha fucka for really reals. Thirty fucking years isn’t enough to bury Gawd. The symbol of Spider-Man busting through the coffin and raising from the dead is one of the fucking hardest scenes you will ever see in comics. Fuck what you read. If that shit don’t get you hype then you are in the wrong place.
“Won’t let the seedy city defeat me
Rub me out like genies, won’t concede till I’m graffiti”
If there was one issue I had to chose to explain to you why Matthew Murdock, AKA Daredevil, earned the title of The Man Without Fear, it has to be this one. An FBI agent sold out Matt’s identity as Daredevil (2nd time his secret ID has been compromised) and this time he can’t fight it. All the good Matt has done as a lawyer and as Daredevil gets thrown to the side as the press hound his door with no chill. They’re waiting to bombard Matt and get whatever scraps they can for a story. They’re basically jackals waiting for his carcass to present itself. Matt’s mans and dem, Foggy Nelson, is telling him that this time he’s going to have to hang up being Daredevil because it’s over.
Listen, where any other hero would hide in themselves, lemme tell you what Matthew fucking Murdock does when the pressure is on. My man stands on a lamp post across the street from his place where a swarm of reporters are waiting for him. He posted up behind all of them in his Daredevil outfit, daring them to face him. THEN HE TAKES OFF HIS MASK AND IS CHALLENGING THESE CATS, MAN!
Are you fucking kidding me? This dude is putting it all on the fucking line, Matt doesn’t fucking back down. My man straight up willing to face the jackals, all because of what Daredevil means to him, what it stands for. To quote Joe Budden, “You know it’s beef when the smart n^&*! gets stupid.” Come the fuck on man, Daredevil been keeping Hell’s Kitchen safe for years and these vultures jump on the chance to take him down? That supposed to stop Matt? Fuck no! Murda Murdock is behind them mask off, giving them the Nikki “Monster” verse before he comes to his senses and realizes this isn’t the way to fight this.
Of every comic I ever read, to me this might still be the most underrated scene in Marvel’s publication. LOOK AT YA MANS WYLIN’ OUT WAY BEFORE NETFLIX! LOOK AT YA MANS! FUCK YOUR FAVORITE HERO, FUCK YOUR FANDOM, FUCK YOUR OTP — UNLESS IT’S MATT MURDOCK AND THESE STREETS!
“Lilies in the valley of my heart
Lay you on your back and fall apart”
There isn’t a stronger friendship in the DC Comics Universe than between “Blue and Gold”: Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, and Booster Gold, Michael Carter. Ted Kord’s death (which sets off Infinite Crisis) has been haunting Booster Gold throughout his series as he wants his friend back. Booster (unbeknownst to the world) protects the timeline from villains trying to change the past for the worst. He is trying to change the world for the better as he goes back in time trying to prevent Batgirl from getting paralyzed by the Joker. Booster learns (from Rip Hunter who is training him) that somethings in time are solidified and CAN’T ever be changed but still Booster tries rescuing Ted Kord.
Ted is saved by Booster but the world goes to shit as Ted not dying creates a ripple effect for the worst. Their fellow heroes are dying and events are making Booster be erased from history. Ted Kord sees this and although Rip Hunter is working on a solution, Ted knows what he has to do. This scene is fucking hard, emotional, rough, and gut-wrenching.
Booster is literally dying but still doesn’t want to lose his friend even though he knows it is solidified in time. Then there is Ted who is choosing to go back to his death. After one of my father’s friends died, he told me that pain of loss is on a different level. “I knew him from kindergarten through college, and now he’s gone.” I thought after losing a parent nothing would hurt as bad as that and hadn’t even realized that friends would be the next thing to lose. Booster and Ted have been friends for YEARS in comics. As soon as Rip Hunter enlisted Booster to protect the time stream all he wanted was to save his friend because he loyal as fuck.
Ted always believed in Booster while the rest of the world saw him as an idiot. Booster becomes the greatest Time Master ever, only known among his descendants, while history writes him off as a black sheep of his family of fellow Time Masters and a fool. Booster has to play the part of the idiot so no one realizes he is actually protecting time. That’s important to know as Booster saves multiple universes without any credit or so much as a thank you. Booster can’t even get the rewarded with his best friends life either.
His role is a tough one to accept but he does and eventually gains the strength to come to terms with Ted Kord’s death. Booster’s journey there is what makes this issue such a pivotal moment in his character development. While history will write him off as a failure, a handful of people, as well as the reader, see how much of a hero he is and the sacrifices he has to make against his will in order to protect time and billions of lives.
There you have it. Again, these are five of my own favorite moments from comic books, a lot of which I feel are still overlooked — these are the issues I find myself going back to the most and walking away with an appreciation for these characters, the creative teams, and the type of stories I enjoying reading. What are yours?