Last year was a pretty big year for comic books, especially for the two biggest rival in the business, Marvel and DC. Each of these juggernauts introduced massive storylines in an attempt to bring in new fans and, in some cases, make up for some recent missteps. For Marvel, last year saw the launch of Civil War II, the sequel to the incredibly successful arc which saw our favorite heroes facing off with one another. Not to be outdone, DC unveiled their Rebirth storyline, which was basically a way to give new fans what they love while addressing the concerns older fans had with the New 52. Needless to say, there were quite a few standout moments.
Like any year, there was some good, some bad, and some truly bizarre comic book events, and this list covers all of them. This isn’t a countdown of the best or worst moments of the year, but rather those moments that were memorable and shocking for whatever reasons. It could be a shocking death, an unexpected character revelation, or just some good old-fashion comic book weirdness. For better or worse, these moments will be remembered for making fans ask that old question, “WTF?!”
Here are the 17 Most WTF Moments In Marvel And DC Comics Last Year.
17. Bruce Wayne Returns
Fans are used to seeing superheroes give up their mantles or be replaced over the years, but when Bruce Wayne does it, it somehow seems like a bigger deal. One of the lasting themes of the comics, as well as the films, is that Wayne’s heroics are more of a curse than a responsibility. He’s backed himself into a crime-fighting corner and the only way he can escape servitude as Gotham’s protector is in death.
At the end of Batman: Endgame, it appears that’s exactly what happened, as Batman seemingly died fighting The Joker. Of course, he’s not really dead but rather suffered that favorite comic book condition– amnesia. With Bruce forgetting his previous life as the Caped Crusader and having no interest in remembering it, it’s up to Jim Gordon to fill the role. But when the threats start to mount, Bruce finally returns as Batman, appearing with the very sassy line, “Hi Jim. Who died and made you Batman?”
While it’s supposed to be nice to see your favorite heroes return, this moment was a bit depressing as Bruce Wayne had finally been free of his tortured life. He was happy, he was starting a new life, but in the end, he knew Gotham needed him more than he needed happiness.
16. Death Of Cyclops
The Death of X storyline, which saw the X-Men and the Inhumans facing off, was always destined to be a bloody affair. You don’t have two super groups like this going head-to-head without some major casualties. And while some fans may have even predicted the death of such an important character like Cyclops, it’s doubtful anyone saw it playing out like this.
The catalyst for the whole showdown was the Terrigen Mist; the substance which gives Inhumans their abilities turned out to be deadly to mutants. Obviously the X-Men took issue with this and sought to destroy the mist, but the Inhumans stood in their way. After the ensuing struggle left the mutant Alchemy dead, Cyclops became enraged and threatened the Inhumans before being killed by Black Bolt. However, Emma Frost later reveals that version of Cyclops was a mental projection of hers and the real Cyclops had died back in Issue #1 after coming in contact with the Terrigen Mist.
It’s one thing to kill off one of the most popular members of the X-Men, but this was a particularly devastating way to do it. It makes sense that Cyclops would die trying to protect his fellow mutants, but to have the reality be an unceremonious death before the story even kicks off pretty big shock.
15. Bruce Wayne’s Suicide
Batman’s origins are probably the most famous out of any comic book hero. We’ve seen the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne so many times that it’s become something of a joke, however, during the Rebirth storyline, those well-trod origins got a much darker reimagining.
The arc entitled I Am Suicide, deals with Batman assembling a team of supervillains to go on a dangerous mission against Bane. Many thought the title referred to Batman creating his own Suicide Squad, or the general suicide mission he’s embarking on, but the truth is much more disturbing. As Batman fights off literally hundreds of henchmen, we’re told the story of the night Bruce Wayne lost his parents. Overcome with grief, the 10-year-old boy took his father’s razor and attempted to kill himself.
A suicide attempt from a child is some pretty heavy stuff, but it gets even more dark as Bruce explains he considered the suicide successful. In his mind, Bruce Wayne died that night and Batman was born. It’s clear writer Tom King isn’t pulling any punches with his take on the character.
14. Mockingbird Is Saved By Mer-Corgis
Mockingbird has never really been one of Marvel’s most popular characters. While she no doubt gained some fame due to her inclusion on Agents of SHIELD, she’s still a second-tier character at best. And yet her solo colic got a lot of notice last year thanks for some social media controversies. However, perhaps the most bizarre moments from the series was not controversial at all, it was just… unexpected.
The story finds Morse on a cruise ship hounded by the villainous Lincoln Slade and surrounded by superhero cosplayers (wait, it gets weirder). At one point, Morse finds herself thrown off the cruise ship to certain death, but she is saved and brought to shore.
What saved her? Was it Namor? Aquaman, in a special crossover event? No, it was actually corgis, well, mer-corgis to be precise. What is a mer-corgi, you ask rationally? Well, it’s half miniature, adorable dog and half fish. As it turns out, Morse discovered an entire lost kingdom of these creatures. Cute? Absolutely. Weird? Without a doubt.
13. Marvel Meets Minority Report
In the same year that we saw the MCU tackle the highly popular Civil War storyline, we saw the comics go back to the same well with their sequel, Civil War II. While the first story found Tony Stark and Steve Rogers facing off over the issue of Superhero Registration, this time around we saw Stark butting heads with Carol Danvers (a.k.a Captain Marvel) over an issue that was much different, and yet somehow familiar.
The story began with the discovery of an Inhuman named Ulysses, who could see events before they happen. Danvers saw this as the perfect tool for fighting threats before they happen while Stark maintained there were too many variables. If that sounds like something you’ve seen before, that’s because it’s the exact debate at the center of the 2002 film Minority Report.
Lack of originality aside, this was a far cry from the politically charged debate that propelled the first Civil War. The conflict did inspire some admittedly cool moments, but it’s hard not to feel the writers copped out with an easy moral question rather than exploring something a bit deeper and more topical.
12. There Are Three Jokers
The Joker is probably the most famous comic book villain of all time, and that is a real accomplishment, considering how little we actually know about the Clown Prince of Crime. While the comics and movies have at times given Joker a backstory (most notably in The Killing Joke), his true identity has been kept a secret.
Well, in Justice League #42, Batman sought to answer that very question which has plagued him for a long time. After gaining possession of The Mobius Chair, an artifact that can travel through time and space, Batman asks it for the Joker’s true identity. Of course, the answer could never be that easy and the chair gives him the ominous answer that there are three.
It’s a big moment, but one that actually provides more questions than answers. Are there three separate versions of the Joker? Have three different people been operating under the same mantle? Who are these three versions? While the answers may not be coming for a while, it’s given fans plenty to theorize about.
11. Bane Gets Naked
Bane is certainly one of Batman’s most formidable foes, and for good reason. In the classic Knightfall storyline, the hulking baddie actually broke Batman’s back, inspiring Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. As it turns out, the events of Knightfall were still continuity in the current Rebirth comics, so fans were eager to see these two come face-to-face again.
In I Am Suicide, Batman and his band of villains head to Bane’s lair, where the Caped Crusader has a rematch with the one foe who broke him. However, Bane isn’t wearing his Venom-inducing gear, nor his famous costume. In fact, he’s wearing… nothing actually. Bane is completely naked and stays that way for the whole story. He and Batman even fight while he’s in the buff.
What makes the whole thing stranger (and it’s pretty strange to begin with) is the fact that there’s no real reason for Bane to be naked. It’s not mentioned or addressed at any time. It’s possible that Bane is trying to show that he doesn’t need his equipment to defeat Batman, but couldn’t he have at least put on some pants?
10. Doom Gets A New Face
It’s probably safe to say Secret Wars was not the complete success that Marvel was hoping for. The storyline was seen by many as a gimmick to untangle the complicated web of multiverses and bring in classic comic arcs. So given the skepticism, few fans thought the story could stick a satisfying landing.
While much of the talk going into the final issue was about this marking the end of the Fantastic Four comic run, the whole thing concluded with a pretty big moment for their arch nemesis, Doctor Doom. After a god-like Reed Richards wiped the slate clean and reverted the universe back to a time before the Secret Wars, we see Doom removing his infamous mask to reveal an unscarred face. Reed gave him his old face, and more surprisingly, Doom looks happy.
It’s actually a pretty ingenious way to end the fighting between these two old foes. Reed didn’t beat Doom with force but with kindness. He gave Doom happiness and, for now, it seems like he’s reformed, even taking up the mantle of Iron Man. It was an unexpected, yet satisfying handling of a classic Marvel villain.
9. Another Clark Kent
To say the fallout from the death of the Superman was confusing would be a massive understatement. Trying to untangle this mess hasn’t been easy, but we’ve done our best to explain things. Rebirth seemingly chose to replace the deceased New 52 version of Superman with the pre-New 52 version, but things got a whole lot more complicated from there.
While there is a tremendous amount of backstory that brings us to this point, the short version is that while the Rebirth version of Superman was saving Metropolis, it was revealed that a second Clark Kent exists in the same universe. This Clark Kent, a reporter at the Daily Planet, is a perfect doppelganger, completely without the Superman alter-ego. He can’t fly, he isn’t super strong, he doesn’t have heat vision– he’s just a reporter.
It’s just one more confusing piece to add to this mind-melting puzzle of the Rebirth storyline. It’s still unclear who this new Clark Kent is or if this means the New 52 Superman is still alive, but it did offer up the very trippy moment in which Superman and Clark Kent met face-to-face.
8. Miles Morales Kills Captain America
Despite fans’ love for Peter Parker as the original Spider-Man, Miles Morales has built up quite a fan following for himself over the years. There was a significant push for him to appear in the reboot of films and it’s been confirmed the upcoming animated film will center around him. But fans might not be so warm toward him after he was linked to the death of one of the original Avengers.
Nearing the end of Civil War II, the two warring sides of superheroes meet in an epic clash. As the Inhuman Ulysses looks on at the violence his powers are creating, those powers suddenly get a massive boost. For a moment, everyone can experience the same visions of the future as Ulysses, and they all see young Miles standing over the impaled body of Steve Rogers.
7. Lois Lane Becomes Superwoman, Then Dies
As if the Rebirth storyline needed any more complications, it was announced shortly after the death of Superman that the mantle would be taken up by none other than Lois Lane herself. Lane would even headline her own comic title, Superwoman. Of course, DC had a few surprises in store which made for a pretty shocking first issue.
First of all, it turns out the title of Superwoman would be shared, as Lana Lang was gifted with the same abilities as Lois upon Superman’s death. So readers are treated to the sight of two Superwomen fighting side by side, but before you can ask why the story isn’t called “Superwomen” we get our answer. The issue ends with Lois turning to stone and dying in the exact same way Superman died.
This is a pretty bold way for DC to kick off a title. While there probably weren’t too many fans who thought Lois would keep the title forever, no one could have guessed she’d lose it so quickly. The whole thing was a big blow and made even more creepy by the fact that Lois seems to be talking to Superman right before she dies.
6. Thanos Kills War Machine
While the topic at the center of the debate in Civil War II may have been a little weak, there obviously needed to be a catalyst to really get the fight started. And what better catalyst than the death of an Avenger?
After suffering a pretty horrible injury in Captain America: Civil War, James Rhodes, aka War Machine, continued his streak of bad luck by being the casualty that kicks the whole thing off. Going against Tony Stark’s wishes, Carol Danvers, Rhodes, and a handful of other heroes set off to confront Thanos after Ulysses warns them of an impending attack. However, the Mad Titan gets the drop on the heroes and in the ensuing chaos, he delivers a devastating and fatal blow to Rhodes. Stark blames Danvers for Rhodes’ death and the conflict grows from there.
It’s always shocking to see a beloved hero die and there was certainly a lot of weight put on this death. Not only was Rhodes a central figure in the Avengers for a long time, but he also shared a very close relationship with both Stark and Danvers, making him the obvious candidate to bite the dust, bad luck aside.
5. Captain Marvel Puts Tony Stark In A Coma
In the first iteration of Civil War, the conflict ended with the leader of one side, Steve Rogers, being killed. It was one of the most memorable moments in modern comic book history and was so popular that fans were sure they would see the moment recreated in the big screen version. So Civil War II has some big shoes to fill when it came to the concluding their story.
The final issue saw Stark and Danvers facing off over the arrest of Miles Morales for the future-murder of Steve Rogers. Danvers is obviously the more powerful of the two, but Stark was not backing down. However, the fight came to an epic and devastating end when Danvers delivered a blow so powerful that it destroyed Stark’s armour and put him in a coma.
While the moment certainly didn’t pack the same punch as the death of Captain America, it was a big finish. Whereas Stark was largely considered to be in the wrong by the end of the original Civil War, here he gets the moral high ground and goes down fighting for what he believes in. On the other hand, Danvers let her beliefs take her too far, to the point of seriously hurting a former friend.
4. Wally West Returns
Sometimes the biggest comic book moments don’t come from deaths of favorite characters or heroes switching sides, but rather an emotional moment that makes fans everywhere weep like babies. This is certainly the case with DC’s Rebirth story reintroducing the original Wally West into the universe.
The story finds Wally stuck between realities, trying to find a tether that will allow him to come home. However, in this reality no one remembers who he is— not Batman, not even his former wife Linda Park. Wally finally accepts his fate and decides to bid a final farewell to Barry Allen. Barry, like the others, doesn’t recognize Wally at first, but as his old friend begins to fade from existence, his memory triggers and he grabs Wally’s hand, pulling him into his reality. The two old friends embrace with tears in their eyes, along with readers everywhere.
The writers really milked this moment for all it was worth. Having Wally desperately try to come home and the heartbreak of being forgotten really pack an emotional punch. And then when you think it’s all over for Wally, they stretch out Barry’s slow realization. It’s one of the most crowd-pleasing moments of last year.
3. Death of Hulk
A massive event like Civil War II was destined to have a few deaths, and while the death of War Machine was a shock, no one could have foreseen The Hulk also being a fatality of the conflict.
The Hulk is probably the most undefeatable members of the Avengers, but due to his unpredictable nature, it also makes him the most dangerous. So when Ulysses had a vision of a rampaging Hulk, the other superheroes took it seriously. Tony Stark and Carol Danvers confronted Bruce Banner, with Stark just wanting to talk and Danvers looking to bring him in. Banner took offense to the interrogation and just as he was looking like he might lose control, he was fatally shot by an arrow from Hawkeye.
It was a pretty shocking moment to see one of the most powerful heroes killed by a friend. The whole thing gets even crazier when it is revealed that Banner asked Hawkeye to kill him if he ever lost control again. The whole impact of the moment was somewhat dampened by the fact that we got a Zombie Hulk shortly after, but at the time it was a pretty shocking moment.
2. Watchmen Enter The DC Universe
Crossover events have been a huge draw in the comic book world. But while there have been many unexpected crossovers over the history of the industry, including even a Marvel/DC crossover, the truth behind Rebirth’s biggest secret; the Watchmen have entered the DC universe!
Following Batman’s brief run-in with Wally West, an object was thrown out of one reality and lodged itself in the side of the Batcave. When Batman investigated it, he found the infamous smiley face pin worn by The Comedian. Since then, fans have been speculating that characters from Alan Moore’s seminal work have already made their way into the Rebirth universe. Many think the mysterious Mr. Oz is in fact Ozymandias, while there is a growing theory that The Comedian is one of the three versions of The Joker. Finally, it was confirmed that the entity responsible for stealing 10 years from reality and kicking off Rebirth was none other than Doctor Manhattan himself.
It remains to be seen what role the Watchmen will play going forward. There is a possibility that this big tease amounts to little more than an Easter Egg, but that doesn’t seem likely. Regardless, if the goal of this crossover was to get fans more excited about the convoluted Rebirth storyline, then mission accomplished.
1. Captain America Is A Hydra Agent
When a classic and beloved comic book character suddenly departs from everything they have ever stood for is it clever writing or a cheap gimmick? That was the question at the center of Marvel’s massive reveal in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.
Fans were more than happy to have the original Cap back in his old uniform but that feeling would quickly be replaced with shock, betrayal and rage. While on mission with Jack Flag, Cap suddenly turn on his friend, throwing him out of a plane and proclaiming “Hail Hydra”.
It was the most shocking comic book moment of the year and one that got fans talking the most. While some found humor in the uncharacteristic twist, others were outraged, calling it a betrayal to the character and their childhoods. Of course, if they had waiting a few months that rage could have been cooled as, despite Marvel claiming this was no trick, it was revealed to be a scheme hatched by Red Skull to rewrite Rogers’ history. Still, the twist had lasting ramification leading into Civil War II and beyond. But while it was a buzzworthy moment, something tells us we won’t be seeing Chris Evans proclaiming “Hail Hydra” on the big screen.
What comics moment from 2016 made you go “WTF”? Let us know in the comments.