Establishing Character Moment: Comic Books

The panel that made fanboys say
"Who's Gwen Stacy again?".

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Bendis' Uncanny X-Men
  • Magneto is introduced when he fearlessly attacks a horde of killer robots. He goes on to lament the deterioriation of his power over metal and simultaneously establish that he is still a formidable opponent: these facts set up his character and plot arcs.

  • Laura- despite her young age- has a lucid nightmare involving blood and corpses. She calmly explains the details of this dream, ending with:
    And it never ends. Never.

  • Cassandra Cain throwing herself in front of Commissioner Gordon to prevent him from being shot by an assassin whom we later learn is her father. She swiftly becomes the new Batgirl, with Barbara Gordon's blessing and gratitude.
  • Captain America summed up real quick.
  • Batman first appeared on a rooftop beating up thugs.
  • By far one of the most famous lines in all of comics, "Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!" It is almost mandatory for Mary Jane to say some form of that line in any later incarnations.
  • Bookhunter's opening chapter is unrelated to the larger plot, and instead serves to set the tone of the story to follow. A SWAT team has been called in to deal with a freelance censor, and when they invade his apartment, they find the perp threatening to immolate himself and the books he stole; clearly, in this universe, books are Serious Business. Detective Bay's response to the standoff shows that, underneath his veneer of rationality, he is a Cowboy Cop willing to do completely insane things in his pursuit of criminals.
  • The first dozen or so pages of Runaways exist solely to provide one of these for each of the kids: Gert is shown correcting her dad's Latin in the middle of an argument about politics, Chase is shown getting beaten up by his dad for getting bad grades, etc. Similarly, the first time we see Ascended Fanboy Victor, he's talking about superheroes with his buddy Jorge.
  • Joseph in Scott Pilgrim seems shy and unassuming at first, but the first time he opens his mouth...
  • Watchmen
  • Superman in a nutshell.
  • Issue #1 of The Fantastic Four: It all begins with one strange man shooting a signal flare into the air — a flare announcing, "The Fantastic Four!" Sue Storm was hanging out with a socialite friend at the moment the flare went off. She promptly turns invisible and walks out into public, testing her powers by taking a cab and attempting to pay the unsuspecting cabbie the fare. Ben Grimm, who is at a clothing shop in heavy disguise, hears of the signal flare and sheds his constricting clothing, revealing himself as the monstrous Thing. His debut catches the attention of the police, who open fire on him and thus force him to escape through the sewers. Johnny Storm is at a service station getting his car fixed when he learns of the flare (which by now had turned into the number 4). He flames on and flies through the air as the Human Torch. The Nation Guard attacks him with a nuclear warhead hunter missile. Two stretchy arms grab the missile before it could obliterate him and disposes of it via the sea. By now Johnny's flames had worn out and is plummeting to his death, but the strange man from before saves him, revealing himself to be Dr. Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic. And this is all before the Superhero Origin!
    • This shows just about everything that you need to know about Doctor Doom.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 is all about this. It starts with a shot of Peter Parker being snubbed by his friends, then Uncle Ben playfully teasing his nephew and Aunt May feeding him a healthy breakfast. Then Flash pushes Peter over and steals the girl he was introducing himself to.
    • In the first issue of the series, J. Jonah Jameson comes onto the scene writing one of his infamous anti-Spider-Man editorials. It could be said, however, that the real Establishing Character Moment is the day after Spidey successfully saves Jameson's son from a malfunctioning aircraft, when he runs an article about how Spider-Man sabotaged the aircraft himself and broke several laws in rescuing his son.
    • Subverted with Gwen Stacy; she shows up flirting with Flash Thompson and vaguely intrigued by Peter Parker, but after some Character Development, the scene actually seems out of character. Played straight with her alternate universe heroic counterpart Spider-Gwen as the cover to Edge of Spider-Verse #2 has her changing into her costume, setting the comic book world ablaze.
  • In The Secret Service, the first time we meet Gary he is expressing concern for his mother, wanting to watch a film legally instead of seeing a friendís pirate copy and trying to keep his stepfather from using his brother to roll his weed, showing he is not entirely the stereotype he seems.
  • The first issue of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is filled with them:
    • Ultra Magnus is complaining about not being allowed to screen potential crewmembers, and angrily points out that he considers Autobots who wear their badge slanted untrustworthy. Then we see his P.O.V., and he's having to resist the urge to arrest Drift right there and then.
    • Ratchet is talking with Bumblebee, trying to save a dying 'bot, but he fails and blames his aging hands.
    • Prowl is arguing with Chromedome, with lots of subtext on both sides. Then Rewind cuts in, and he's filming the event just in case it might one day be important, instantly annoying Prowl. Later on, Rewind gets another moment when he defensively reacts to someone making a remark about having to walk somewhere (because Rewind turns into a datastick).
    • Brainstorm appearing on the landing pad with a briefcase chained to his arm. Red Alert mentions his reputation as a Mad Scientist, backed up by Brainstorm refusing to say what's in the briefcase.
    • Swerve annoys Red Alert by jokingly calling himself "Megatron", and then squeeing about going on a quest. Red Alert informs him he can only come on board if he never speaks again.
    • Rung tries to get on-board, only for Red Alert to not recognise him at all, despite Rung having been his psychiatrist for six centuries. Then he notes Rung's model-ship collection, and while describing it, Rung's arm is sliced off by a passing Cyclonus.
    • Tailgate's first appearance is him at the bottom of a pit, legs gone and in a desperate need to get out to make an appointment on time. He manages to do so by blowing up some energon he had with him... and immediately freaks out on seeing an unconscious Whirl nearby.