Green Lantern’s “girlfriend in the fridge“
Kyle Rayner needed some sad backstory to become a worthy successor of the Green Lantern ring after Hal Jordan, so they made villain Major Force kill his girlfriend and stuff her into a refrigerator.
This kind of resource made some female fans so mad that writer Gail Simone created the site “Women in Refrigerators” and an infamous list with countless similar examples that many female readers don’t want in comic books.
Joker cripples Barbara Gordon
Maybe the most famous entry on this list.
In Alan Moore’s masterpiece The Killing Joke, the author decides to give us quite a reason to believe the “Clown Prince of Crime” is a really bad guy and not so funny after all, crippling Barbara Gordon and ending her career as Batgirl.
The bloody murder of the second Robin could compete with this scene but we have to take into account that DC actually asked fans if they wanted him dead or not, so it’s not like they didn’t see it coming. The same wasn’t true for this shocking moment in the history of Bat-comics that’s now canon and has been featured in several works such as the the Arkham video games.
Spider-Man goes unmasked
Even though Marvel’s Civil War has plenty of shocking moments, including Captain America’s death, characters -even big ones- die all the time in comics, only to come back bigger and stronger.
But an interesting look at comic books and what these characters could face in real life was Spider-Man choosing to reveal his identity after the American government asks all superheroes to register and come clean, something that could definitely happen if we had people with superpowers all around us.
Death of loved ones
I decided to put these three together since we’re talking about two big superheroes’ loved ones and a beloved fan favorite.
In the first case, I’m speaking of the death of Gwen Stacy, Spiderman’s girlfriend, and of Iris, Barry Allen/Flash’s wife (also featuring Flash breaking Zoom’s neck). The second case is Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix’s suicide, one of the hot topics of ’80s comic conventions.
Three shocking moments considering at that time it wasn’t so common to kill off characters that way.
Wonder Woman breaks Max Lord’s neck
This is one I particularly remember -together with the one about Batman and the JLA- because it’s pretty surprising to watch an icon like Wonder Woman break someone’s neck.
It was something that ruined Diana’s reputation for a while (in the story) and is still one of the most commented moments in DC’s history.
The JLA wipe Batman’s mind
The title should be “Dr. Light rapes Sue Dibny, Elongated Man’s wife, so they wipe his mind and Batman’s; then Batman goes nuts when they finally tell him and suspects everyone from then on” but that would be too long, wouldn’t it.
Read Identity Crisis and tie-ins Crisis of Conscience, The OMAC Project, etc., to know the whole story.
“I did it 35 minutes ago”
How many times have we seen villains reveal all the details of their plan in front of the superhero, giving them enough time to ruin it and save the world?
This doesn’t happen in Watchmen, where we, as surprised as these two characters, witness how Rorschach and Nite-Owl ask superhero-turned-villan Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt when he’s going to do it and his response is the quote in the title.
Mr. Hyde rapes the Invisible Man
This list is unordered because who knows which of these moments you might find the most shocking.
This one is definitely one that’s hard to imagine if you just read the title. How did Alan Moore manage to do this in a comic book? Go read it to find out but Mr. Hyde actually rapes The Invisible Man and that’s something we all knew wasn’t going to be included in the movie adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
A baby dies in The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has so many unexpected and disturbing moments, one of my favorites being the Governor’s torture in the hands of Michonne, but we were hoping for and enjoyed that one.
However, one I didn’t see coming was Judith and her baby being shot. The death of Rick Grimes’s wife on the TV show adaptation might have been sad but I bet they didn’t even consider killing the baby too, something Robert Kirkman made the Governor do in the comics when the Woodbury Army attacks the prison.
Green Arrow‘s sidekick becomes addicted to heroin
During the ’60s, Green Lantern was on the verge of cancellation, which gave writer Dennis O’Neil a great deal of creative freedom when he took over.
“Snowbirds don’t fly” is a two-part anti-drugs story arc published in Green Lantern / Green Arrow 85 and 86 in 1971. Written by O’Neil and Neal Adams, it features both superheroes fighting against drug dealers and finding out that Green Arrow’s ward, Roy “Speedy” Harper, is an addict.
The comic book is considered a crucial moment in the depiction of mature themes in DC Comics and it would pave the way for other relevant changes such as the inclusion of homosexual characters.