10. “You think this letter on my head stands for France?”
From Ultimates Volume 2, Captain America tells Nazi aliens to eat a dick and manages to throw the Vichy under the bus. This was a controversial line, in a book that recast Captain America from a hopeful anachronism to an arch-conservative war hawk. Lots of people hated it, but the whole idea here was to tell alternate versions of Marvel’s heroes—not simply tell new stories in another universe that happen to take place in 2014.
9. Avengers Mansion blows up, and all the heroes show up.
It was the ultimate “Avengers Assemble” panel. Brian Bendis made his name as the guy who destroyed, then rebooted, The Avengers—long before rebooting was something you did every six months. It was time for the team as we knew it to end, and this was the perfect way to show how important it had been to Marvel Comics for forty years…And to promise how it could become even more important, which it did.
Who would have thought something Jack Of Hearts did would make a “most memorable” moment?
8. Punisher runs Wolverine over with a steamroller
From Punisher #17 (2001) by Garth Ennis and Darick Roberson. Ain’t no Pun like an Ennis Pun ‘cause an Ennis Pun don’t stop. There are so many brilliant moments from Ennis’ Punisher books, and I’ve read them all at least four times through, but this is probably the one people remember the most. It was such an Ennis statement about the reality of brutality versus the superhero version of it. At his worst, Wolverine is never more than PG-13. But Frank Castle? He’s almost X-rated.
7. Bullseye Kills Elektra/Daredevil lets Bullseye fall.
I don’t know if this counts as two moments or one, but if it counts as two, I’m going with DD holding on then releasing Bullseye to fall. The ambiguity of that moment (did he lose his grip, or loosen it?) said so much about the character. When people talk about ambiguity in comics, the “Glen Stacy” example comes up a lot: Did Spider-Man kill her because he broke her fall with a web line but the sudden stop snapped her neck, or was she dead before his webs even touched her? But either way, Green Goblin set the train in motion—the worst Spider-Man did was cause her death prematurely. The fall almost certainly would have killed her even if he didn’t catch her. But Frank Miller’s portrayal of Bullseye’s crippling fall haunted Daredevil for years after that (see the famous example of him playing Russian roulette by Bullseye’s hospital bed) and emphasized the shadowy moral code of a man who beats criminals with fists and clubs but will turn around and defend them in court.
6. Wolverine is the best at what he does best.
..But what he does best isn’t very nice. The best piece of writing Chris Claremont ever did, and the most character-defining sentence in the history of comic books. Well, I guess there was also “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Those two are close.
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