The Comic: Captain America Comics #1
The Shocking: Not so insane nowadays in a world overflowing with nutty imagery, but certainly a shocker in its day, the first issue of Captain America had the titular hero fulfilling everybody’s WW2-era wishes by smacking Hitler right in the face. And that was nine months before the US even entered the war.
The Comic: Amazing Spider-Man #130-131
The Shocking: Aunt May moves on from Uncle Ben, deciding it’s time for her to walk down the aisle again – even though she damn near needs a cane to do it. She's about to get hitched to Octavius, who just so happens to be a villain out to crush Spider-Man's web. Talk about awkward.
The Comic: Astonishing X-Men #4
The Shocking: Having been killed off and stayed killed for two whole years, Colossus returns courtesy of Joss Whedon, who cleverly leads readers to believe that it is Jean Grey who is set for a return. Instead, the hulking Colossus breaks back into the X-verse, having been prisoner to an alien who's used his blood to create a mutant cure. Madness.
The Comic: Preacher – And Hell Followed With Him
The Shocking: Preacher introduces one of its finest characters, the brilliantly-named Arseface - so-named because his face does indeed look like an arse. Further mad genius comes in Arseface's own translated box-outs, which make sure we can understand his inane mumblings. Turns out he has the soul of a poet.
The Comic: Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Part Four
The Shocking: Having been transformed into a musical superbeing, Vanya proves just how powerful she now is when she takes up her violin, plays a note, and promptly destroys her creator (The Conductor of the Orchestra Verdammten). Not only destroys him, but rips him in bloody half. The power of music, eh?
The Comic: Watchmen #4
The Shocking: We discover four issues in just how Dr Manhattan ended up as the naked blue megaman we’ve been scratching our heads over.
In one of the series’ most fascinating issues, Dr Jon Osterman gets trapped in an Intrinsic Field Subtractor and disintegrates. He returns first as a floating brain with eyes, and then as a human nerve system before finally materialising as the big blue being he’ll finally become…
Right Hand Man
The Comic: Walking Dead
The Shocking: After seeing a helicopter crash, Rick, Glenn and Michonne investigate, stumbling upon the small town of Woodbury, Georgia.
There, they find a mad Governor is ruling with a dictator-like grip on his subjects. The Governor proves his madness when he tortures our hero Rick, and cuts off his right hand…
It's the beginning of one of the most WTF mini-arcs ever seen in comics. We won't spoil the ending, but it'll make your jaw drop.
Hyde And Seek
The Comic: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2 #5
The Shocking: The Martians have landed on Earth and are making a right mess of things.
When Edward Hyde gets whiff of a traitor in the midst, he makes it his mission to deal out a little vengeance. And Hyde is not somebody you want to get on the wrong side of.
Cue a horrific scene in which he brutally rapes the Invisible Man – something made all the more horrible by the Invisible Man’s blood, which slowly becomes visible…
The Comic: Batman #428
The Shocking: Over 10,000 Batman readers voted in the debate on whether or not to kill off Jason Todd aka Robin. It was a close-run thing, which is insane enough in itself considering how hated Todd was.
Eventually, Robin bit the dust – and in a bloody way that perhaps made fans that voted for his death feel a little bit ashamed of themselves.
The Comic: Superman: Lex 2000
The Shocking: Yes, you read that heading right. Lex Luthor officially ran for office in this comic run, and ended up getting a pass to the Oval Office.
And, oddly enough, he turned out to be a pretty decent prez, leading America in a deadly clash against invading aliens. Odd indeed.
Fools Rush In
The Comic: Fantastic Four #300
The Shocking: Female Skrull Lyja the Lazerfist comes up with a genius plan, disguising herself as Alicia and shacking up with Johnny – much to the chagrin of The Thing, who’d been dating the real Alicia. Making things worse, Johnny eventually marries evil Alicia. If all soap operas were like this, we’d watch more soap operas.
The Comic: Wolverine: Origin #2
The Shocking: It was the maddest idea in comic history – reveal Wolverine’s enigmatic backstory. The fans went bonkers, arguing it should never be revealed. But reveal it Paul Jenkins and Andy Kubert did, delivering a story of surprising grit and gall. There was also the revelation of just which nipper would turn into Wolvie – a shock in and of itself.
The Comic: Captain America Vol 5 #1
The Shocking: Talk about rewriting history. Bucky Barnes made a surprise return to the pages of Captain America comics when Ed Brubaker found a little loophole in the comic book history. Except his reunion with the Cap had Bucky brainwashed and turned into a cold-hearted assassin. A cold-hearted communist assassin. Whew.
Why The Long Face?
The Comic: Mighty Thor #337
The Shocking: Funny thing about Thor’s hammer Mjolnir – whoever wields it is imbued with the power of the thunder god himself. Which Walt Simonson played around with in #337, in which horse-faced alien Beta Ray Bill grabs the hammer and uses it for his own agenda. Sounds nuts. It was. But in a sort of brilliant way.
DC Vs. Marvel
The Comic: DC Vs. Marvel #1, Marvel Vs. DC #2-3
The Shocking: Unthinkable in this age of warring movie studios, but things were different back in the gilded time of 1996, when Marvel and DC teamed up to create this universe-splicing oddity. A manic case of cross-pollination, the crossover’s plot was inspired by fan votes (now that’s nuts) and led to the creation of the Amalgam Universe, which quite frankly rocked our socks.
The Comic: Batman #497
The Shocking: A stroke of insane genius thissun, as the inoffensive Bane was introduced to the Batverse as a means to continue the ongoing Venom arc – except Bane ended up creating the biggest offense when he broke Batman’s back. With Bruce Wayne incapacitated, a new Bats entered in the form of Jean Paul Valley, who laid the smackdown on Gotham’s criminal lot in an entirely new, hyper-violent way…
The Comic: Batman: The Killing Joke
The Shocking: Alan Moore proves he’s king of the comics with The Killing Joke, which delves into the history of “fucking lunatic” The Joker. Moore doesn’t pull any punches, the comic’s standout scene resulting in Barbara ‘Batgirl’ Gordon getting shot and then sexually assaulted by the grinning, gurning madman. Even superheroes aren’t safe from this villain.
The Comic: Watchmen #12
The Shocking: Rorschach comes to a sticky end in the final chapter of Watchmen . Attempting to expose Adrian Veidt and his perverse plans, Rorschach is eventually killed by Dr Manhattan – who is actually a fellow superhero and friend. Which makes it all the more shocking.
The Comic: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Twilight
The Shocking: The comic-bound Buffy season eight comes to a climax as the identity of villainous Twilight is unveiled – and it turns out to be, well, we’re not going to spoil it here for those who’ve yet to catch up. But suffice to say it’s bonkers – in more way than one, as Buffy is thrown into the mother of all shagathons…
The Comic: 52 #1-#52
The Shocking: This moment took a year to unravel in full, but that in itself is an indication of its ambitions. Masterminded by a ‘Fab Four’ of comic writers that comprised Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, and Mark Waid, 52 was published every week and never failed to bring the brilliance. With a hoard of DC heroes (Supes, Bats, Wonder Woman), it was a massive undertaking – and the Fab Four pulled it off with flying, patriotic colours.
The Comic: X-Men #25
The Shocking: Magneto unleashes hell on Wolverine during an assault by the X-Men. Distracted by Jean Grey’s annoying psychic interference, Magneto is attacked by Wolverine, who slices an X on the villain’s chest. Magneto gets his own back, ripping the adamantium from Wolvie’s bones, damn near killing him. Some of the most iconic comic book imagery ever created.
The Comic: Superman #75
The Shocking: Impossible. You can’t kill Superman! Or… can you? Well, that’s precisely what DC did in the dark days when the only things that were selling comics anymore were massive boobs and even massiver guns. Publicity stunt? Pretty much, but DC did it with style and heart, making this one of the most wrenching comics ever.
The Comic: Y, The Last Man #60
The Shocking: Our hero Yorick Brown completely shuts down in the penultimate instalment of the Y comics. It’s 60 years later, and he’s in a straightjacket, reflecting on his life while new cloned men are walking the world. Depressing, crazy stuff.
New York, New York
The Comic: Amazing Spider-Man #36
The Shocking: As the world reverberated with shock over 9/11, Marvel recruited their most NY-friendly character to address the tragedy on their behalf. Taking a break from the Spidey arc, #36 showed Spider-Man reacting to the 9/11 atrocities – and became an emotional outlet for comic fans.
Death Becomes Her
The Comic: Crisis On Infinite Earths #7-8
The Shocking: Marv Wolfman and George Perez take a knife to DC’s pages as they streamline the DCverse to rid it of many surplus alternates. And when we say ‘streamline’, we mean ‘butcher’, as both Supergirl and Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) fall prey to their pruning. Staggering but necessary.
The Comic: Identity Crisis #1
The Shocking: More plot-serving death and destruction, as the Justice League are put through the grinder by author Brad Meltzer. What’s worse than killing a villain? Killing one of your own – which is what happens when Atom accidentally kills Jean Loring. The fall-out of which is enormous, as the League descends into doubt and despair.
The Comic: All-New Collectors' Edition: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
The Shocking: Superman and Muhammad Ali enter the ring to fight over who’s the real champion of Earth. The winner will then fight an alien to become champion of the universe at large. Yep, it’s a suitably nuts concept from Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams.
The Comic: Action Comics #1
The Shocking: Now here’s a crazy notion – try to imagine a world before Action Comics . Hard to imagine it, right? Well, when Action Comics came along with Superman in tow, they heralded a whole new age – the age of the superhero. Totally bonkers but they obviously did something right – just look how many superheroes we now have. Thanks Action Comics .
The Comic: Watchmen #12
The Shocking: Alan Moore’s genre-busting comic series completely rewrote the comic book rulebook, and the ending of his 12 issue saga is the perfect madcap blowout. What happens? Well Ozymandias, who we think is one of the main heroes, unloads an alien menace on New York which sends out a shockwave that kills millions of people...
The Comic: Green Lantern Vol. 2, #85-86
The Shocking: Don’t do drugs, kids. That was the clear message not so subtly folded into the pages of this issue, as the Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy gets hooked on heroin. “DC attacks youth’s greatest problem... DRUGS!” cried the cover line. The Mayor of New York congratulated DC for tackling such an important issue, but that issue crippled the comic, and it was cancelled just three issues later.
The Comic: Phoenix Saga, X-Men Vol. 1 #101-108
The Shocking: Begun in 1976 and picked up again in 1980, the Dark Phoenix Saga is one of X-Men’s most popular and impactful. And it all starts with that moment when Jean Grey repairs the M’Kraan Crystal, receiving an influx of power in return. The ensuing story is mad genius in motion as one of the X-Men turns against her comrades forever.
The Comic: Green Lantern Vol. 3 #48-50
The Shocking: No hero is untouchable, which was proved in Green Lantern's Emerald Twilight run. Outraging the fans, silver age hero Hal Jordan was turned into the evil Parallax, and pitted against new Lantern Kyle Rayner. Just who are we supposed to side with here?
The Comic: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas Part Three
The Shocking: Seance is killed by Hazel and Cha-Cha, and ends up in a heavenly deadworld where he talks with a cowboy. Caught in this bleached white landscape, he chats with who he assumes is God (or near enough) and is promptly sent back to Earth. “Just like that.”
The Comic: Civil War #3
The Shocking: Captain America and Iron Man meet on the battlefield. They’re both heroes, but you wouldn’t know it – they’re fighting on different sides now. Soon enough, an Earth-shaking battle erupts between their opposing forces – which is when ‘Codename Lightning’ enters to cap things off. Yep, that’d be Thor, or at least a clone…
The Comic: The Mighty – Twilight Of The God
The Shocking: Cop Cole goes up against unstoppable superhero Alpha One when his true plan for the world is unveiled. Turns out Alpha’s a little bit gaga, and only Cole stands in his way. The ensuing bone-crunching fight is a doozy, as the two duke it out…
The Comic: Preacher – All In The Family
The Shocking: “Good evening boys,” says a voice, as Jesse Custer meets his grandmother for the first time in a long time. Unveiled in all her grisly glory, she’s a bald, wrinkled, puckered villain with razor-sharp fingernails and one heck of a cleavage. She’s crazy, and is the final sting in the tail for Custer’s first adventure.
The Comic: Daredevil #181
The Shocking: Unveiled just a year previously, Elektra looked to be a Daredevil mainstay – she was, after all, the love interest/rival of our titular hero, and one who Matt Murdock was hoping to redeem. Except he never got the chance, because she was shockingly killed off by Bullseye in the comic's most jaw-dropping twist.
The Comic: Thor
The Shocking: Walter Simonson introduces Surtur the Fire Giant in momentary eruptions of flame and brimstone in a storyline that took a year to develop. Long before Thor even met his nemesis, the villain was being slowly unveiled to readers, who couldn’t wait for the inevitable showdown.
The Comic: The Boys: Cherry Part Two
The Shocking: Annie January discovers she has to get down on her knees to join corrupt superhero group The Seven – not to pray, but to provide an altogether more oral kind of service. These aren’t your father’s superheroes, that much is clear.
The Comic: Avengers Vol 4 #'s 500-503 & New Avengers #1
The Shocking: Newly-recruited to the Avengers, ex-Brotherhood babe Scarlet Witch lets loose, wreaking havoc on her new teammates. After killing Hawkeye, ex-hubbie Vision and Jack Of Hearts, she manipulates Stark so that he feels pissed and embarks on a torrid fake affair with Captain America. She’s just a devil woman.
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