2016 is an incredibly strange year, filled with shocking revelations, horrifying images and unspeakable events–and that’s just in comics. Take a look as we run down some of 2016’s most controversial moments in comics.
You are more than likely familiar with this twist. Steve Rogers was revealed to have always been an agent of Hydra. The headlines hit from USA Today to the LA Times. It even was a major surprise for Chris Evans in TIME Magazine (who wasn’t too fond of this new character development).
But this moment… is not shocking. At least for major fans of Marvel/DC. It isn’t because of foresight or because there was dramatic build-up. It’s because this has happened for shock value, pretty much in the same way that the character has survived death his own death and “retirement.” Much like another well-known, American superhero who walked away from what was known as his defining personal beliefs:
The impact of this decision may last for a few months, but we can all agree that it was a corporate decision made with a time rewind button in mind.
Ironically, you can take a look at a recent issue of The Ultimates #5, which does amazing work of both explaining and parodying this dilemma with a presentation by no other than team member Galactus (!!!). In this issue, Galactus actually works as a frustrated comic relief who needs to explain why there’s a retcon/reboot every few years and is having a hard time recognizing why many things matter.
This isn’t to say that the Big 2 aren’t capable of surprises to advance their stories anymore, but as for shocking, strong, meaningful changes to advance storylines and franchises in organic ways, 2016 has not been slacking.
Here are some of our picks for the most controversial moments so far but be warned, this article is MADE OF SPOILERS:
- The Omega Men #12 – The ending
The Omega Men were destined to have a controversial ending from the moment the first book was published on stands. DC completely caught their audience off-guard by creating what looked like a franchise clone of Guardians of the Galaxy and instead creating an extremely dark and ever-evolving story of a galactic version of ISIS….from ISIS’ point of view! This can even be further driven home by looking into the profile of the author, Tom King, and his history as an ex-CIA agent.
Without giving too much away, the ending gives the reader the same emotions that would come at the end of The Wire or Breaking Bad, where you are hoping these terrible individuals whom you’ve had the (mis)fortune of investing emotions in will each find fates of their own design. And thanks to the sharpest writing DC has seen in the past year, you know that nothing is to be trusted and what you expect or see is only a veil until the last page.
- INVINCIBLE #127 – The first self-aware, unwanted reboot.
Do you know what the #1 rule of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is? No? That’s because the one rule is simple:
There are no rules that can’t be broken.
The book was built on this foundation and this rule still applies 127 issues into it’s run. And this book addresses a valid point that I’ve found as a major flaw with Marvel’s Miles Morales/Spider-Man or DC’s Barry Allen: Would you really be okay with a new status quo of everything that is so strong that your previous continuity is non-existent? Invincible is great at using it’s abstract form to question what we are used to as cliched traditions in comics. And it’s happily celebrating this view again.
- The Vision – Family Tragedy
Funny Story: About five years ago, I was told to give Breaking Bad a shot by FanBros’ very own DJ Benhameen who sold it to me in a single scene. It was the moment when Walter White is in the shower and the Salamanca Brothers are waiting for him quietly on his bed. This single moment of dread washing over the viewer. The outcome horrific in every way. It’s a scene without any spoken dialogue, just dread. The kind of dread that washes over you during an old-school zombie movie as the waves of despair have taken a physical form and create a destiny for our hero that ends right in that room.
This is a writing format that needs to be earned and Tom King (on this list a 2nd time) has mastered it. It’s a series that puts the spotlight on the flaws of being a human and how the question of the proper morality that comes with those emotions: this is the messy thesis/peitrie dish that comes with that experiment. This issue will make you dread turning the page in a comic that is known for it’s non-existent action. The characters are the driving force, the circumstances are the villains and the audience is just along for the ride. To give away what happens destroys any of the tension this book earns, so I leave you with that image…and my highest recommendation.
- Rat Queens #15 – The Trial
Rat Queens has been getting a lot of love for the past few years and is well-deserving of it. The characters are amazing, the D&D style fights are brutal and it’s got a fantasy-era setting with a cast of warrior women who would fit in at a dive bar on the LES of New York, all while drinking foolish men under the table, expressing plans to toss bearded man in bed and voicing their love of shapely women. The occasional bartering of weapons & armor for drugs and candy are often key to our heroines’ main themes.
So, when the heartbreak hits, right when the series has boldly forced the reader to say an inevitable goodbye to who many consider the main character of the series, it shows that this series has only begun to define these characters by adding a new dimension to the themes of the series.
- Book of Death #4 – Gilad’s Decision
You should be reading Valiant Comics. I know your one friend tries to tell you about it. Yeah, he has more time on his hand than you do. You really don’t have time to get into a new universe of characters when you have the The Big 2 to choose from…
But… what if…. this was the best universe?
Continuity, story structure, characterization and franchise plotting have always been at it’s optimal within this comic line and this story only proves why. This story could count as a sequel to 2015’s The Valiant crossover and it follows its tradition of being the best comic crossover of that year. There are tie-ins, but you don’t need them. There’s backstory, but it’s explained to you organically and without being constant exposition.
And this story is an amazing book-end to multiple heroes and villains who earned the best dramatic conclusion I’ve read in quite some time. Personally, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1 – It’s Good
No, seriously: It’s Good. This franchise has always been devoid of personality and was designed with “characters” that could only be defined by color-coding. So, by taking this lack of detail and showing what it’s like after leaving this team that constantly saved the world, that provided so much power and has given a child the experience of being a trained warrior, it produces what is easily the best story this franchise has to offer.
I’m hoping this is the first character piece of what happens to a ranger after they’ve left the team and exploration into the type of people that experience creates. I have never been excited about any future developments with the Power Rangers franchise and this has completely turned me around (kinda).
2016 has been no stranger to shocking moments. Be sure to shout out to @FanBros with your favorite moments this year.