The Greatest Pages in Comic Book History, Vol. 1
As soon as I sat down to think about writing this, I realized I may have placed too much on my self. First off, most people are going to immediately disagree with most, if not all of my choices for this article, even though I used my favorite public forum reddit to get a feel from the community by asking others about their favorite pages. There are decades upon decades of comic books to pull from and yet, every page that I decided to include comes from the 1990’s or later. But hey, I haven’t been around all that long and it’s likely that the redditors who responded are just as young as I am. For this first volume of this series, I wanted to stick with what I know. But of course, there are many, many great moments from earlier comics, some that are probably more important, poignant, and exciting than the ones here. However, I really wanted to capture the beauty of comics. I tried to avoid the major series that have impacted years of continuity because of course those pages are important. I just wanted to look right in the middle of an ongoing or limited series and pick something cool. You don’t necessarily have to know a character or story arc to understand what is going on in these pages. Just enjoy the art and the moment that it exhibits. And if you feel that I am an idiot for leaving something out, let me know and I’ll try to include it in the future. If you feel like I am an idiot for including something, well… I’m sorry? Let’s get to it, in no specific order.
Batman and Robin. Orphans.
Batman knows pain. He saw his parents die. He’s seen countless allies die. HE HAS DIED. This page from 2004’s limited series Identity Crisis, sees then-Robin Tim Drake experience this pain. His father, John Drake kills villain Captain Boomerang, but not before being killed by the villain right in front of Tim. Batman is there to hold his sidekick and comfort him in his time of need. It’s powerful stuff coming from an otherwise fairly average series. I know I said I would try to stay away from the big stories, but I just couldn’t resist. Just look at the emotion on that page.
Spider-Man vs. Wilson Fisk
From the final issue of the Back to Black story line, this page features Peter Parker standing over a badly beaten Wilson Fisk. That’s right, Peter Parker. Back to Black was a pretty dark story arc that saw Parker often put aside his Spider-Man alter ego to do the things the hero could not in order to avenge his Aunt May. The arc culminated in a showdown between Peter facing off against Fisk, the man who ordered the hit on Peter’s family. Peter takes the chance to not only threaten Fisk with certain death if May dies, but also to taunt him with the fact that he is a villain in a world of super-powered beings. He just wants Fisk to know that he can and will kill him. Dang, Spider-Man.
Animal Man Can See YOU!
So, here is one that shakes things up a little bit. After starting off with two of the most recognizable heroes on the planet, I’m throwing some Animal Man at you. This page comes from Grant Morrison’s early 90’s run with the fairly obscure DC hero. The rest of the series was pretty well-respected, but in issue 19, Morrison took it to a whole new level. You see, this page is the culmination of one hell of a peyote trip for Animal Man AKA Buddy Baker. Yes, that’s correct, a peyote trip. Buddy sees some pretty weird things during his trip, including a magic flying whale and a version of himself from the future. His future self has some pretty cryptic warnings for Buddy, including telling him to turn around and learn the truth. That’s when we get this page. You see, Buddy is actually seeing you, the reader. It all causes him to disassociate for a while and he even ends up outside the frame of the comic for a page or two. It’s pretty weird and pretty great and I would suggest reading the issue, if not the whole series. It’s Grant Morrison after all.
“I Did It Thirty-Five Minutes Ago”
This is one of those comic book pages that a great deal of people are probably pretty familiar with. From the final issue of the series Watchmen, this one always gives me chills. Sure, Watchmen is no longer unique and groundbreaking, but this page encapsulates exactly why it was back in the mid-80’s. The fact that an evil plan was enacted that was impossible to stop was a pretty new concept back then. And Ozymandias is just so frighteningly cool about the whole thing. Millions of people around the world dead, and he makes sure that everyone knows that he is the smartest man in the world. Too bad writers still often have a hard time writing a villain as well as Ozymandias was written.
Superman Saves the Day
There are few pages that exhibit such pure emotion as this one from Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman. For the uninitiated, the series was an opportunity for Morrison to write a Superman series without having to constrict himself to the continuity of the DC Universe. What he delivered was one of the best Superman story lines of all time. I really don’t want to spoil much because I suggest you read it if you haven’t, but here is the basic story behind this page: with his death looming, Superman uses his final days to make the world a better place. While flying all across the globe, the Man of Steel takes a moment to save this single life. A lonely, depressed young girl who just needed help. It’s a standout moment in a series already full of them. It’s always nice to see Superman’s more caring and tender side, especially these days with Injustice everywhere.
The Return of Bruce Wayne
Hey, look, another page from a Grant Morrison series. And yes, another Batman entry. But hey, this page is awesome for another reason than the previous one: it’s just totally badass. You see, for a great deal of Batman and Robin, Dick Grayson had been posing as Batman while Bruce Wayne was stuck on a crazy trip through time and space. This page comes at the end of the a three issue arc called Batman and Robin Must Die. Things hadn’t been going well for the Dynamic Duo. The nefarious Dr. Hurt seemed to have the upper hand with Batman incapacitated and Robin (Damian Wayne) outmatched. However, with a little help from an old friend, the two were able to turn the tables and take down Hurt once and for all. It is revealed that the old friend is in fact Bruce Wayne who appears from the darkness to inform Hurt that, “It’s all over.” It’s a pretty incredible moment at a time when it really seemed that we were going to watch Dick, Damian or both die at the hands of Hurt.
So, that’s Volume 1 of the Greatest Pages in Comic Book History. As I said, many of these are suggestions from friends and internet pals. If you have a page you want to see in the next list, let me know in the comments below. If you can tell me why it deserves to be on the list, I’ll even quote you. Don’t be afraid to use that comment section below. It’s free!