Kingdom Come: Judgment // artwork by Alex Ross (1996)
If you’ve paid attention I worship “Preacher” like no other comic despise the few post you can find of it here in Comics Forever. It is truly a masterpiece and I dare to say an American classic in Graphic Novel literature. Since I want to highlight this moment I won’t go into specifics regarding the story before this moment. Maybe if you haven’t read it it will peak your curiosity and make you pick up the book to see what the hell I’m talking about here.
After shit went down in the last issue of the series God has returned to heaven to take command of his reign again. He finds a lone figure between him and his throne…
The Saint Of Killers. A man whose sole purpose it’s to be the death bringer of the Lord has finally come to collect a long overdue debt and to set things straight with the big man.
You see… The Saint Of Killers has figured out what God is all about. He is nothing more than an attention-whore. The Lord is a being willing to cause pain, destruction and death for no other reason than to see who would love Him. He sparked wars between the angels to find out who would stay on His side. He created a world full of humans who would fight in His name, just to see who loved Him more…
The Saint now knows all of this and he’s having none of it. He spits back at the lord, telling him how he has outgrown his creation. God out of his throne it’s not as powerful as when he’s sited on it. Fearing what it’s about to come, God acts like a spoiled child by remembering The Saint Of Killers who he’s threatening…
But the guns of The Saint Of Killers are blessed by The Devil and The former Angel Of Death. their ammo will ever run out, they will never misfire, never miss their mark, they will never wound, they will always kill… and God knows that.
Just one step away from salvation, and unkillable foe stands before him. God does his best to justify every action he has taken against every living being since the beginning of time. Facing certain death, God does the unthinkable. He begs for his life offering a bargain.
But The Saint Of Killers is tired of listening, he’s tired of the manipulations, he’s tired of the killing, he’s tired from the long journey that he can’t even remember when it started. In the end he says to the Lord exactly what he want’s just before putting a bullet between his eyes…
The Saint Of Killers shot God dead. Then he sat in God’s throne… and rested.
This great moment was brought to you by the insane mind of Garth Ennis. The beautiful art of Steve Dillon and you can read it in full in Preacher #66 by Vertigo an imprint of DC Comics.
The Avengers & The X-Men: The 50th Anniversary! // artwork by Jack Kirby (1963)
Well the day is coming to an end but I didn’t want it to let it go without sharing a little comic history around here. You see in this very day on September of 1963 (that’s 50 years ago bucko!) Marvel Comics unleashed to the world what it would become the premiere superheroes teams in comic history of this modern era. Yes, you may argue that slot was already filled by the almighty Justice League Of America featuring the Pantheon of Olympus taking care of the world. But the dynamics of team books had already been redefined by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in The Fantastic Four two full years prior to these releases. Here we had nothing but a brand new take on a basic idea. The Avengers was a team of heroes that really didn’t get along but nonetheless gathered together to resolve a crisis that none of them could handle alone. The X-Men however was as it’s tittle aptly put it “The Strangest Superheroes of All”. While every hero in the Marvel universe got his/her powers because of radiation or accidents, these guys were born this way and they were hated and feared because of this. Most outcasts could relate to this concept and as time proved the brand was Marvel’s ticket to success in the comic business (for almost all of the 80’s and the 90’s the top selling book was Uncanny X-Men, the only comic that could challenge those numbers were the New Teen titans of DC in the 80’s and Spawn of Image in the 90’s).
As the 21 century approached and The X-Men had their day in the sun, now it was the time for the Avengers to shine. Blessed for most of their story with the top notch talents of the industry, The Avengers became a franchise in the early 2000’s with multiple books and the basis for the Cinematic Marvel Universe a move that was so brilliantly executed that it made the team as recognizable and loved for the casual viewer as Marvel’s main staples (Spider-Man and Wolverine) and DC Powerhouses Superman and Batman.
Today you can find The Avengers and The X-Men all over the place and in every flavor you may like (Animation, Action Figures, Movies, Video Games, etc.) But to the true fan their legacy lives on in the Comics where we met them, the Comics that have chronicled their victories and defeats, the Comics where we learned to love these characters, The Comics where we still have some of the greatest talent in this world telling the best stories they can with these awesome characters.
Here’s to 50 years more! Congratulations guys!
Whoever reads the X-Men knows that Wolverine always had the hots for Jean Grey. Maybe the correct statement should be that he loves her very much, but the commitment of Jean to Scott Summers and Logan’s sense of honor have always kept them apart. In Wolverine #75, part 5 of the Fatal Attractions storyline, we got to see how deep these feelings go for the canuck.
Injured, battered and broken from a battle to the end with Magneto, the X-Men are trying to get home in a modified Blackbird plane that allows space travel. Wolverine got the short end of the stick having his adamantium pulled out of his body by the master of Magnetism. His injuries are maxing out his healing factor and life is slipping out of his body.
Professor X can only go to Logan through his mind in the psyonic plane and avoid him the pain of understanding how much damage has been done to him, but the light of death is calling and Wolverine is tired of the battle and of the never ending fight.
…So he’s ready to welcome the light in the form of Colossus’s sister the recently deceased Ilyana Rasputin, who surprisingly pushes him away!
Meanwhile in the outside the X-Men are fighting a losing battle against bad weather and failing technology, Professor X states that there’s nothing he can do for Logan anymore as Jean tries with all her power to keep the plane together.
When lighting strikes, the main hatch is gone and only Jean can keep the other members of the team in the plane as she’s being sucked out by the sheer pressure.
Thinking only of saving his team and the man that has made her have doubts about his true feelings, Jean unleashes the last of his telekinesis and asks them to not look back and save themselves.
In the underworld Wolverine listens to a voice calling for help. A voice that makes the light fade away. A voice that calls him out from his heart. Just in that moment he understands why Ilyana pushed him away.
The voice of his beloved Jean Grey makes his battered and broken body regain the strength to go for the cries for help and just as Jean is about to let herself go to a certain death is Wolverine who catches her at the last second proving how much he truly loves this woman.
Wolverine makes one of comic’s greatest last minute save by overcoming death just to be with Red one more time. If this is not a milestone from the heart and a true tearjerker, I don’t know what it is!
This great milestone was produced by the more than capable hands of writer Larry Hama, penciler Adam Kubert, the inks of Mark Farmer and the colors of Steve Bucellato.
Way back in New X-Men #132, The X-Men went back to Genosha to pay respects to the fallen nation, only to find themselves trying to solve the mystery of ghosts and apparitions led by a green haired woman. What they find is Lorna Dane, retrieving Magneto’s last statement to mutants, his declaration of immortality. The moment didn’t stick, but it would have been one hell of a farewell to a very powerful and iconic character.
"It’s a strange thing to die in the darkness, It’s strange thing to die. I was Magneto master of the magnetic forces… Now I will be a voice in the darkness, echoing forever. Once I was a mortal man, Now I am becoming a memory, inmortal. They have though they could silence us forever. Instead we have become magnetic, unstoppable. Do you understand? Our voices will be broadcast around the world… into space. At the speed of light. At the speed of radio. Our voices traveling without end through the depths of time and space. Beyond this life. And far, far… beyond this death."
An amazing tearjerker brought to you by the talents of Grant Morrison and Phill Jimenez.
This is pretty recent but it’s an amazing moment. As I stated in an early review Aquaman has emerged as a powerhouse in the DCnU, not only is he royalty, he’s also a fast talking strategist with tons of combat experience and a chip on his shoulder the size of Alaska. His first impression of the team is best left said by his choice of words to them when they first meet:
As proper introductions are made, The King of The Sea explains to the League how the invading forces of Parademons are destroying his kingdom, he’s the first to acknowledge the fact that they are together to fight the invasion, something that no one on the recently formed team had noticed.
Aquaman is not there to waste time. Displaying a No-nonsense attitude, he begins to lay out a strategy to fight what he believes is the center point of the invasion, but find opposition in Hal Jordan, The Green Lantern who chews him off and dismiss him, reminding the king that he’s not under sea anymore and he’s not a fish he can boss around.
Jordan goes as far as asking the King what the hell he’s supposed to do regarding about his powers, pointing out all the comical references made about him in pop culture and pointing out the abilities of his recent partners who have more than enough power to lead.
A swarm of Parademons appears before the team as Jordan ceases his little rant. Aquaman, who never lost his cool during the little confrontation let’s his actions speak for him.
Using his natural telepathic abilities he commands the life of the undersea, to take care of the problem for him, the next few panels prove that the king his here to kick some ass and take some names!
Aquaman shuts Jordan’s mouth who can only deliver a “Never mind” after such an amazing display. The King has arrived!
Oh my… this kicks so much ass that I get a rush retelling it. This tale predates Secret Invasion and it’s a fine example of how the build up to this story was great, even more than the actual event. The Kree-Skrull war had just ended, the Skrulls were forced to retreat by the alliance of The Kree and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the King of the Skrulls aboard his mother ship demands an explanation for the recent failure.
With excuses and regret the loyal advisor try to make the leader understand the need to settle for defeat and to regroup and rethink their strategy, the King of The Skrulls will have none of that.
In that very moment a small, but powerful group of Marvel’s finest arrive to the mother ship and introduce themselves, they are the leaders of several factions of the Marvel universe together they gather to dictate the way things should be done to ensure the survival of the human race, together they are the Illuminati!
Losing no time they state the reason for their presence in the Skrull home world, the scene doesn’t lack in testosterone in any of it’s panels, the demands of the Illuminati are very simple: Leave the earth alone or suffer the consequences.
The Skrull King spit back at the words of the earth heroes, dismissing their threat and their recent defeat as a temporary setback and that eventually the planet will belong to them, threatening every living subject on the planet and the familes of those in front of him, The Illuminati, having offered their ultimatum just have one resoruce left to make the Skrulls understand that they mean business…
They let the King of The Inhumans, Black Bolt, whose sole whisper can bring down mountains, cut loose with his voice, crushing the mother ship and killing every one in the process! Talk about badass!
Some folks out there like to bash the early 90’s as a time of a lot of inconsistencies on Marvel Books, half the time I don’t know what they are talking about, since some of these comics are the ones I grew up to and I used to read them passionately, and most of them are still very dear to me, most important than all: they made sense to my 12 year old mind; X-Men: Crossroads was one of those, one of the times when Jim Lee got to show off what he was capable to do as an artist, following the plots of Chris Claremont, the duo worked so well that they were given their solo book on the mutants (you know it today as X-Men: Legacy), this was magic working predating the Image revolution.
Anyway, back to this milestone, this ain’t a “What if”, this is canon continuity, and it happened in Uncanny X-Men #276: Charles Xavier is serving as Warlord for the Shi’ar empire, after a big reveal, he manages to survive an ambush by two fellow X-Men and Deathbird, who promptly make their scape, the rest of the team arrives on the scene, but one of them smells something funny in the air.
Wolverine instinctively knows when somebody doesn’t smells right and I ain’t talking personal hygiene here folks, he can smells lies and doppelgangers from afar, and when his nose stars to tell a different story than the one told by his mentor he knows that is time to act!
Without a second to lose, Wolverine acts on pure instinct alone and goes for the kill, his reputation precedding him, just one lethal blow proves fatal for Charles Xavier who instantly falls to his death in the arms of Lilandra.
His teammates wondering if he has gone mad, are left asking themselves what made Wolverine go for such a harsh move without warning?, the answers to these questions comes, of course, but let’s just say that “Secret Invasion” wasn’t the first time that a planetary system was tried to be overtaken from the inside. One hell of a read, with enough action and intrigue to make it a worthy X-Men story.
The JLA where literally screwed. In one fast-paced storyline, where there is not a single moment to breathe, the JLA squared it off against the forces of Heaven and won, this powerful story happened in JLA #6 & 7 of the 1996 series, with words by Grant Morrison and art by Howard Porter; the tale is full of memorable moments, but the greatest one involves the defacto leader of the team, Superman who was going through his phase as an energy being, it all begins with Zauriel, a rogue angel who has fled from Heaven, Asmodel the second in command of the celestial forces comes looking for him with a whole damn army.
The team however has been incapacitated, with Flash stuck into dimensions in a teleporter, Superman stranded on the moon, Batman being MIA, and only a handful of heroes to deal with the incoming invasion, to makes things worse, Neron, the self appointed ruler of hell in the DC universe makes the moon come down to crash the earth.
With things looking pretty grim, the team does what it does best and they star kicking ass, with Superman taking care of business in the moon using his new powers to repel the satelite from earth and back to it’s proper place.
On earth Asmodel is facing off against the only member of the league powerful enough to stand up to him: Martian Manhunter, however there is only so much he can do being incredibly vulnerable to fire and Asmodel relying heavily on it to best him, the cards are flipped once Superman is able to return to his friends.
In what can only be described as one of the most epic moments in recent comic-book history Superman arrives to save his friend from a severe beating by one of the most powerful enemies they have ever faced, with strength and determination he let’s his tired friend know that he can rest by looking through gritted theet to Asmodel and saying: “I’ll take over now”
The impact of this confrontation it’s so grand that Martian Manhunter cannot retire, he can only witness as one of the most powerful beings he knows fights for the planet he loves so much.
Superman stands his ground, he would not let Asmodel take one more step or kill anybody else, the most powerful hero took on the forces of heaven and he would not yield to them, if this moment is not pure comic book gold, I don’t know what it is!
The Punisher is a one man army, that’s pretty clear to whoever has been reading the character for the last 10 years, specially when a man like Garth Ennis is chronicling his adventures, sometimes, Franks takes on guys who are way stronger than he is, and sometimes he faces guys who have a wild imagination for murder, In a scene straight out of Punisher Max #36 Frank show us that he is a very resourceful man, when trying to take down Barracuda, a top assassin for a dirty energy company he finds himself along a gangster in the middle of the ocean with the grandaddy of Bruce the shark checking him out for lunchtime
The gangster, not knowing the company he’s keeping, is only worried about saving his hide, having survived his throat slit and his legs chopped off by the shark, the sea hunter is trying to make his mind about whetever the target is a worthy meal, Frank knows this, because he’s making up his mind too about what to do to save himself.
When the shark stars to charge in their direction, the gangster stars the big rant saying who he is and offering everything he has to make Frank save him, he only introduces himself to him: “I am The Punisher”.
Those are the last words he’ll ever hear before being tossed to one of the most cinematic (and funniest) deaths in comic books.
The scene, while gruesome, is one of the great examples that no matter the situation, Frank is always on his mission, no matter the odds he’ll fight for his survival because he has to kill every scumbag that has ever walked the face of the earth.