MEGA POST: The Staff Picks Their Most Iconic Moments in Comic Books

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You might have noticed, but we here at BNP love us some comics. We GET IT IN with some comics. We always talk about our favorite (or most infamous) moments while reading comics, the “I remember where I was when I read this” moments. We know that you have some of your own and definitely want to hear them. Here are some of the ones we came up with…

Lauren Bullock’s Picks:

Earth 2
Robinson/Scott/Scott
DC Comics – 2013

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Oh. Hell. No. Not. EVER. The New 52 (at what point does it stop being new already?) is known for its long, long, LONG list of grievances, but this moment enraged me so much I was compelled to write an entire poem about it just to air out my rage. Do you know how hard it is to find representation of multiracial (not biracial, multiracial people? Do you know how messed up it is that you can have fifty billion species of alien but creators CANNOT COMPREHEND the possibility of mixed people having mixed children? AND YOU’RE GOING TO WHITEWASH THE ONE CHARACTER WE HAD? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS? Nopity nope the hell nope.

Superman: Red Son #3
Millar/Johnson/Plunkett
DC Comics – 2003

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Huh? But Superman… is actually… Lex Luthor’s… descendant… and he’s in the past… and WHAT? This was just a LOST-level twist ending for me, which, depending upon your commitment to said show may or may not be a good thing for you. In general, I really enjoyed the storytelling and imagination of Red Son simply because it inverts a lot of the typical Superman tropes (truth, justice, American way and all) but preserves the integrity of his character and core values to work for the greater good. I still think about this ending sometimes, however, and just how unprepared I was for the conclusion.

The Amazing Spider-Man #672
Slott/Ramos
Marvel Comics – 2011

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Something you need to understand about me before you react: the entire purpose of Spider-Man, in my mind, is to have a platform for Mary Jane Watson. I’m certainly not afraid to shout my MJ love from the skyscrapers, and that means without a doubt that Peter and MJ are my OTP forever and ever. Some of the Spider-Island story is admittedly inane and I’m not always a fan of the art (some of the proportions and facial expressions are downright weird), but I’ll be damned if these panels don’t hit me like a sack of K-dramas right to the heart. So much “God WHYYYYYYYY?!?!” in one moment.

Jordan Calhoun’s Picks:

Y: The Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
Vertigo – 2002-2008

Easily the most emotional reaction I ever had in response to a comic came from Y: The Last Man. I was once told by an old, bearded man the following certainty: the anticipation is always worse than the event. He had a beard, verifying his wisdom, so the lesson stuck with me on ascending roller coasters, hospital visits, and Michael Bay films – waiting for a terrible experience hits harder than the actual experience ever can itself. So it went with Y: The Last Man as I read with bated breath for tragedy to snatch the life from one of my favorite characters of all time.

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Major character deaths – from Lori Grimes to Ned Stark – typically come out of nowhere to knock us on our asses and leave us doubting what we just saw. The difference between this death and others is the scene exposition. The scene was set up so you know what is coming, but rationalize with every passing panel how it could be avoided, how it’s too soon, how it just can’t happen now. God, anytime but now. They were the most emotionally exhausting panels of my life, these pictures covering less than 2 pages. After 10 minutes of staring at Yorick and 355 break an emotional wall after 5 years of character growth and adventure, I took a deep breath, rubbed my forehead in my hand, and willed myself to turn the page.

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It was the first time I ever had to put a book down and just reevaluate life, and fairness, and the point of it all. A full existential crisis did not ensue – my bearded mentor proved right – but nothing else in comics ever left me so breathless.

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House of M
Brian Bendis & Olivier Coipel
Marvel – 2005

Marvel’s “House of M” arc imagined a Marvel universe with no more mutants. With most mutants de-powered and others unaware of anything wrong, characters lived in a world of their dreams; a world that appealed to their hidden desires of normality, all a figment of their imagination by means of Wanda Maximoff’s psychotic breakdown. Peter Parker is married to Gwen Stacy, Steve Rodgers is an aged veteran, and Carol Danvers is Ms. Marvel, a super hero admired and beloved by all. Only Wolverine kept his memory, possibly a product of his healing ability or his mind having been manipulated so many times in the past, and a little girl named Layla Miller who had the power to restore the memories of others. Dragged along by Wolverine, the two set off to form a resistance against the psychological prison of their false utopia.

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Imagine if you were told all your memories are forged. Everything you know to be true in life is false, you have been deceived with your own emotions, and you are living a complete dream. How would you feel? Some felt distain for having been woken, preferring the perfect dream to a flawed reality; others felt a duty to set the world right. Cyclops threw up. But it was Emma Frost’s reaction that I will never forget; her absolute anger upon realizing what happened. Married to Scott Summers and living in Connecticut, Emma Frost came home to the most unexpected of surprise parties.

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Several pages show the flood of memories rushing back into Frost’s head as she awakens from the dream, all of them true, and all of this being lies. I would like to note 2 things here: first, Emma’s aggression towards the timid Layla, a little girl who never really asked for any of this, is pretty funny; second, below, the sadistic smile on Wolverine’s face showing us he’s taking at least a little pleasure in the powerful psychic’s own mind-warp. But nothing compares to her first words after being awoken in the brave new world.

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And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Emma is fed up. Hell hath no fury, and she will kill you. And your kids.

Taj William’s Picks:

“The Secret Six’s Last Stand”
Simone / Walker / Palmiotti
DC – 2006

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Since their debut in the Infinite Crisis tie-in mini series “Villains United” Gail Simone’s lovable group of C/D-list DCU delinquents have become DCU fans favorite fictional band of badasses. Maybe the greatest moment during the series 36 issue run was during the final issue where during the teams assault on Gotham they get cornered in a abandoned warehouse by an army of the DCU’s heavy hitters including the Teen Titans and Justice League. This was maybe the books greatest display on how much these villains have grown and moved through the ranks fully solidifying themselves as powerful threats within the DCU. Instead of just admitting defeat the Six decides to go down the same way they came in…fighting for their lives.

In epic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” fashion, the Secret Six rushed the battlefield fully prepared to die. It was the absolute perfect send off for the series because lets be honest. Quietly sailing off into the sunset has never been this team style and that’s why we love them.

“Spider-Man single-handedly defeats the entire X-Men”
The Secret Wars
Shooter / Zeck / Layton
Marvel 1984

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In 1984’s “Secret Wars” event there was a lot friction between the X-Men and the other heroes due to The Avengers distrusting the mutants. Some of the distrust was justified since Rogue had recently defected from Magneto’s Brotherhood. Spider-Man who was just doing whatever a spider can was exploring the building they were using as headquarters when he came across the X-Men discussing deflecting to join Magneto since they no longer felt welcomed. Xavier sensed Spider-Man’s ease dropping and in a panic to escape and snitch on the X-Men’s plans to Reed Richards what followed was one of the most one-sided fights in the history of Marvel Comics. In 2 pages Spider-Man quickly makes light work of the mutants making them look like foolish amateurs in the process. Although it’s Xavier who has the last laugh as he wipes out Peter’s memory before he can tattle to Reed. Still this was an ass-whooping that comic fans will never forget.

“Dick Grayson fulfills his legacy by becoming the Bat”
Various Artists and Writers
DC – Anything Dick Grayson until the New 52’s

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There is something special and powerful about the end scene of “The Lion King”. After our 90 minute run time where we watched Simba’s journey from a boy to a man and all the obstacles he’s over come in between. You couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride watching Simba follow in his father’s footsteps and take his rightful place as King of the Pride Lands. Watching him survey HIS land from on top of Pride Rock along side his beloved Nala, and friends Timon and Pumba, as Rafiki raise up newly born Kiara. The circle of life continues. The sense pride could be felt watching Dick Grayson ascend the ranks and defying all popular tropes (not growing up nor aging, not reaching their final goal) when he reached the pinnacle of his career; becoming The Dark Knight.

Watching Dick Grayson grow from an orphaned circus acrobat to become the first Robin was like the same as watching your first born’s first little league game. Seeing Dick grow and change into Nightwing where he had his own city to protect was much like sending your child to college. But witnessing Dick take up the mantle of the Bat and wield it with just as much power, authority and cunning as its predecessor is enough to bring tears to your eyes. A bright young hero growing into a darker entity to fill his mentor’s boots and complete a full character arc is almost unheard of in mainstream comics but Dick Grayson did it (until the new 52 came along and ruined EVERYTHING). Given how many long time comic book fans grew up with Dick, he will forever holds a special place in our hearts.

Carrie McClain’s Picks:

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Claremont / Anderson
Marvel – 1982

At a young age I quickly understood the parallels of what a mutant could represent and how discrimination could be justified against marginalized groups. I first read God Loves and Man kills in high school and as I quickly devoured page after page I realized this was HEAVY. The book that I was holding was gut trenching and tear jerking and pulled me apart in so many ways to where I felt all my nerve endings were crying and tapping out. To be fair, there are several moments in this book that could have made an entry on this list but one in particular that has haunted me forever because My English teacher Ms. Jones (one of the greatest English teachers of all time!) was playing Billie Holiday music in class that day and “Strange Fruit” came on (it is important to note this was my first time hearing the song) and it clicked in my head.

The connection was made. I was spooked. And forever changed in how I viewed comics and the emotional bridge that is formed between us, the readers and the characters contained in the panels. In this scene, Magneto comes across two dead mutant children at a playground, they were chased there and gunned down by the Purifiers after witnessing their parents’ deaths. Their corpses are wrapped up high in swing sets with “MUTIE” scrawled across the seat of the swing visible to anyone who would upon them. It’s a gruesome sight as the first stanzas of Gary Jackson’s poem inspired by the scene tells us below:

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Magneto has come across a hate crime. These children were killed and left there as an example to others of their kind; their little bodies hanging in the breeze, like fruit hanging from a tree. It is a terrible sight. A modern day lynching. Something so heinous I can only remember the sensation of someone grabbing me by the heart and wrenching it from here to there. Magento makes sure to take the children down from the swingset but that’s all he can do for them as they are now dead. I can remember myself raging, gripping the ends of the book tightly, my breathe caught in my throat. I mourned these two children and all people who were doomed to die in similar fashion because of their differences that set them apart from the majority.

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Happy Birthday Martha Washington
(One Shot/Single Issue from the “Martha Washington” series)
Miller / Gibbons
1995

I was told by an older, African American female comic book fan online that Martha should especially be in my collection because it was a gritty, thought provoking series about the complexities of war featuring your truly, Martha, a fellow black girl. A fellow black girl that happens to be a solider with the most fierce accessory of a solo peace sign as an earring. Here, in this issue: Martha barely escapes death on the battlefield. She starts moving and soon finds a slew of bodies strewn about. They are the bad guys, the armed Neo Nazi skin heads and their bodies, several of them, knocked unconscious, left alive purposely– are everywhere, the surrounding area is trashed showing proof of a deadly battle. Martha soon stumbles upon Captain Kurtz, a super solider of sorts, by means of a serum he invented. On the first page that we see him, Martha tells us, “He’s the kind of man they tell you doesn’t exist….He’s not just a solider. He’s an inventor. A geneticist, physicist, and genius at everything he’s ever done.” And Martha is not there to save him, or even assist him. Her mission is to take something from him.

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Good ol’ Captain Kurtz isn’t put off by Martha, her mission or how his odds are looking right now, which are pretty bad. He commends her on a good job as a solider, tells her to write her mom soon and smiles through the whole thing. He gives her what she needs: a vial of his blood to help produce the next batch of super serum. He’s dying and he knows it. Martha knows it. And there’s nothing she can do to save him.

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There’s nothing she can do to help him: he’s this giant beast of a man who she found keeping the Liberty bell out of the hands of the enemy. He’s bigger than life. He’s her hero. And she can do is nod and escape in the tunnel he made and hear him die, laughing and taking out as many as he can. At a safe distance Martha holds the vial of blood in her hands and decides that she’s going against orders: They’ve stolen enough from Captain Kurtz. Their forces are going to have to get by without him and his last sacrifice. She drops the vial on the ground and it shatters. Martha realizes that he, too was a pawn –different yet the same as she. She chooses to leave without his blood and by doing this she honors him…and perhaps, she honors herself too by not blindly following orders and allowing Kurtz some dignity, something he wasn’t afforded much towards the end of his life.

Oz Longworth’s Picks:
“You’re Stronger Than You Know…”
All-Star Superman
Morrison / Quitely
DC Comics – 2006

Grant Morrison is an intensely strange guy who writes intensely strange shit. I’m STILL trying to figure out what the hell happened in Final Crisis. With that in mind, All Star Superman is easily one of the greatest Superman stories ever told. To call it a quintessential depiction of the Man of Steel would be putting it mildly. Here, you had the tale with an artist like Frank Quitely working on the book, there were certainly a plethora of screenshot worthy moments. But one in particular could easily sum up the tone and theme of the entire book. In the midst of a routine helicopter rescue (someone should really look into the faulty helicopters in Metropolis), Superman overhears a psychiatrist trying to talk a desperate patient down on the ledge. In the midst of his many labors throughout this book, Big Blue manages to find the patient and comfort her in her darkest moment.

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There were truly legendary moments in this comic where Superman defied all odds and went the extra mile to save humanity, but this is arguably the most powerful of all. Without a single punch or mountain, it is a testament to what makes Superman the first and best of all heroes. Half of the threats in the book aren’t even solved with force. His goodness inspires other, ally and foe alike, to aspire to be better than they were before they met him. With all of his godlike abilities, his greatest power is his never ending well of compassion and faith. Even when we don’t believe in ourselves, even in our worst moments, he is a hero who sees humanity for what it is and, more importantly, what it can be. Somewhere in our darkest night, we made up the story of a man who will never let us down.” ~Grant Morrison

“We’ll take little pleasure in hurting you….”
from Daredevil’s “King of Hell’s Kitchen” arc
Bendis / Maleev
Marvel – 2006

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Picking a moment from Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil was a difficult task for me, mainly because I can only choose one. Arguably, the Bendis years of the Man Without Fear are some of the best since Frank Miller himself. His identity outed to the press, a more vicious Kingpin than ever before, the return of Bullseye….the Guardian Devil had truly been put through the ringer. More taut crime drama (Bendis’ bread and butter) than superhero yarn, it was the character study of a hero who’d fallen hard from grace and, possibly, didn’t see himself coming out on the other end smiling. After declaring himself Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, Matt Murdock had experienced a short amount of downtime until he was viciously attacked by the Yakuza who thought they could make a play for the defeated Kingpin’s territory. Matt suited up again and brought some old friends (Spider-Man, Iron Fist and Luke Cage “The GAWD”) to tell them they were wrong. Fucking wrong.

Have you ever heard of having your ass handed to you so badly, that you happily confess your crimes to the cops and turn yourself in?

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Not only was this a love letter to the fans including every reason Daredevil is one of the best street level heroes there is in comics, but also writing-on-the-wall proof as to what makes Bendis’ work so uniquely compelling. There are few writers better at breaking a character down, taking a microscope over the things that keep them together (or tear them apart) and rebuilding them into a better hero than they started.

“To Me, My X-Men”
Astonishing X-Men
Whedon / Cassaday
Marvel – 2008

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Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men was a pretty big game changer for the X-franchise as a whole. Of course, most of the credit he gets these days is for the Avengers movie, but his fresh take on Marvel’s mutants was a godsend that became a template for how movies and television would handle many of these iconic characters for years to come (think about it….try to name two people you know who were standing in the gap for Emma Frost before Whedon came along). The best retooling has to be Cyclops, though.
For years, Scott Summers had been saddled with a reputation of being, at best, at worst (by this, I mean the movies), a whiny douche and, at best, an uptight Monday morning quarterback. Whedon reintroduced the character as a far less repressed, calculating leader (partially thanks to Emma being his post-Jean Grey rebound girl) who’d grown tired of merely putting out fires for the mutant community.

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In other words, Cyclops was sick of people’s shit.

The best moment that sums this up was when a depowered Scott been taken prisoner by the leader of the Breakworld who’d been tasked with wiping out mutantkind (and the Earth with them). Scott, in Batman fashion, confessed that he knew he and the rest of the X-Men had been spied upon via electronic bug. When asked if he had any other secrets to reveal, there was pretty much only one appropriate answer.

This was like Whedon’s magnum opus for his take on a character whom he’d put through the ringer more than many writers who’d come before him. Gone was the squeaky clean pretty boy captain of the varsity team, replaced by a hardened man of resolve who could fight Wolverine on the front lawn and not only live to tell about it, but then Wolverine orders a few pages later. This was when we knew beyond any doubt that Scott Summers is the Captain America of the mutant race.

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Omar Holmon’s Picks:

DareDevil vol 2
Bendis / Maleev
Marvel – 1998 – 2009

We talking comic book scenes that changed the game? Then we talking that classic Daredevil. Matt Murdoc is outed as The Man Without Fear. This the second time his life has fallen apart around him. Last time it was this bad was back in DareDevil Born Again in 1985 by Frank Miller. This time its worse a leak in the King Pin’s crew lets it be known that Matt Murdock The GAWD is Daredevil. Now Matt Got press hounding him for the story, staking out his life like a bunch of fucking leeches. Matt was FED UP and Benis has him delivers this gorgeous soliloquy as a mantra of how he isn’t afraid of the storm their creating and why he does what he does. Maleev nails this shit especially with the grit, rain, and the look of unyielding in Matt’s face.

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Mighty Avengers
Ewing / Schiti
Marvel – 2013-14

Mighty Avengers isn’t just top 5 ongoing or canceled team books, it takes precedent over most solo books as well. I was already sold on the book but when they had Luke Cage having this discussion with Adam Breshear (Blue Marvel) this took things to another level. Name me a book in mainstream comics where two black men (fathers no less) are having a discussion on this scale…. (I’ll wait)….. Al Ewing captured encompassed representation in this discussion between Luke and Adam on a whole new level that hasn’t been touched in comics man. Ewing broke new ground with this development and dialogue.

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William Evan’s Picks:

“The Flash & Hal Jordan outrun the Black Rings”
Blackest Night #6
Johns / Reis / Albert
DC – 2009

Make no mistake, Geoff Johns’ masterpiece during his nine year run with Green Lantern will always be the Sinestro Corps Wars. As Omar Holmon has said many times, that storyline is like DC Comics’ Star Wars. Because it’s so revered, its easy to forget how good the Blackest Night crossover event was (Wow, crossover events used to be good?). While there is a ton of action that incorporates just about every major character in the DC universe, living or dead (we’ll get to that), the main spine that runs throughout the book is the renewal of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan’s friendship. Nothing testd this more, than one of the most grave moments of the series.

Serving the Lord Nekron, the embodiement of Death is taking over the world, having forged its own Black Power Battery of sorts that produces Black Power Rings. When Black Hand produces the skull of one Bruce Wayne, it wields the rings the power to reclaim the heroes that have died and been resurrected. Which is just about everyone.

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It turns Wonder Woman, Superman and company against our heroes, including The Flash and Green Lantern. But, weirdly, a zombified Superman isn’t their biggest problem. Having come back from death as well, the rings want them too. And that’s when the greatness comes in.

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Not only is this the quintessential panel that shows the brotherhood between Barry and Hal, but as he has many time before, The Flash literally outruns Death.

New Avengers
Hickman / Various
Marvel – 2013-14

You knew we weren’t gonna get all the way through this without one of Marvel’s best heroes. There are so many T’Challa moments to choose from (and we could do a separate post on T’Challa and Storm, actually, we have), but this is deserving as well. During Avengers vs X-Men, a Phoenix-fueled Namor raises an ocean above the mighty Wakanda and drowns half of its people. The repercussions of that moment echo throughout the Marvel Universe, including the annulment of T’Challa and Ororo’s marriage (gotdamn, shit, fuck, don’t get me started) and the blood feud between the Sub-Mariner and the Black Panther. Forced to join forces in the Illuminati, T’Challa makes it very clear where they stand.

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Well damn. This will all come out in the wash right? About 20 issues and one dead planet later, after the prodding of the the former Panthers (including his father T’Chaka), Namor’s actions have driven T’Challa to the brink. The often cold, calculated and emotionally suppressed King of the Dead is FED UP and really tries to give Namor the Donkey Kong Possible Kill Screen.

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Only a sonic Hulk ground attack kept the rest of the Illuminati from picking up Atlantean King Confetti from all over the ground. And the crazy thing is: THIS SHIT AIN’T DONE YET. Who knows if this will have the grave ending for one of these cats that have been suggested, but you know round 2 is coming soon.

“Deathstroke vs The JLA”
Identity Crisis
Meltzer / Morales
DC Comics – 2004

Lot’s of panels coming so I’ll keep my commentary short and sweet. Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke aka The Terminator is a bad muthafucka. This dude is a one eyed, one man army. Ask the Justice League of America. These cat’s don’t want no trouble. I’ll the let the panels tell it (click on them to enlarge, you’ll want to see the Green Arrow narration).

It’s seven against one. In Slade’s mind, that makes us about even. His masks shifts slightly. He’s smiling underneath.
BARS!!!!

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It takes an arrow to the eye that isn’t there anyway to finally get Slade off his game. But for that moment, he was untouchable. Slade Da Chessmaster. Slade Da Gawd.

Of course we couldn’t list ALL of our favorite moments, but we know that you have plenty we didn’t get to. Share them in our comments!

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  • Anjuan Simmons

    This is a great list. I just wanted to say that Black Nerd Problems is just amazing. I didn’t even know this site existed until I stumbled across some of the contributors via Instagram. You guys are doing a great job. I appreciate it. I’m sure that many more feel the same way.

  • Draper

    Great list. I love the addition of “God Loves, Man Kills”. I think it’s one of the essential readings if you want to understand the X-Men and the Marvel Universe at large. I would like to include World War Hulk. Hulk basically single handedly whoops the ass of every major hero in the Marvel U. But the part that stuck out to me was after he found out about his friend’s betrayal, when he was so angry that his very footsteps shook the planet. We all know that the angrier Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. But that panel showed me that there is really no limit to his strength. He is the world-breaker.

    Also, the Fatal Attractions X-Men storyline in which Magneto rips the Adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and Xavier gets so pissed that he minds wipes his best friend (resulting in one the most dangerous villains ever, Onslaught).

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