10 Iconic Comic Book Moments (That Are Secretly Terrible)

The Killing Joke is one of Batman's most revered stories, but it commits a terrible comics cliche.

The Killing Joke Barbara Gordon
DC Comics / Brian Bolland

There are some comic book storylines that are so memorable, they are chiseled in our minds forever. Readers will never forget when Jean Grey turned into the Dark Phoenix. Witnessing Barry Allen give up his life to save reality was heart-wrenching. Seeing Spider-Man merge with the Venom symbiote was a huge moment, not just for the wall-crawler, but for the reader as well.

These scenes may stand out because they were the turning point in the story, permanently changed the character's dynamic, or because they led to the death of a major hero or villain.

These moments have become so embedded into the world of comic books, it feels blasphemous to criticise them. However, nothing is beyond scrutiny. Just because a story is iconic, well-drawn, or had a lasting impact doesn't mean it's perfect. Some tales seemed fantastic at first but when you look at it again with a fresh set of eyes, you may notice some flaws you didn't see the first time.

To criticise these stories isn't to suggest they aren't great. But it is possible that that some of these moments received far more praise than they deserved.

10. Jean-Paul Valley Becoming Batman - Knightfall

The Killing Joke Barbara Gordon
DC Comics

Bane has proven time and time again to be one of Batman's smartest and most intimidating adversaries. When he snapped Bats' spine in the Knightfall storyline, Bane became the stuff of legend in the supervillain community.

Bruce Wayne's injury was so severe, he took a sabbatical for several months to recover. Because Gotham needed a Batman, many readers assumed Bruce Wayne's protege, Dick Grayson, would step up and finally don the cowl.

Instead, Bruce passed the mantle to Azrael AKA Jean-Paul Valley. Even though Azrael was an ally to the Bat Family at this point, he was a brainwashed assassin for most of his life. Considering the Dark Knight had only known him for several months and Azrael tried to kill him upon their first encounter, this decision sounded ridiculous.

Why didn't he choose Dick Grayson? Heck, Alfred would've been a better choice! Bruce tried to justify his actions, saying he needed to give Azrael purpose to stop him from reverting to his murderous tendencies.

And what did Azrael do? Kill people as Batman!

While no one can deny Az-Bats is an iconic part of the character's history, Knigthfall probably should've been the vehicle for the former Robin to succeed his mentor.


James Egan has written 80 books including 1000 Facts about Superheroes Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Horror Movies Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about The Greatest Films Ever Made Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Video Games Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about TV Shows Vol. 1-3 Twitter - @jameswzegan85