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
    • Superman himself in a nutshell.
    • The second Bloodsport establishes himself as a virulent bigot with no limits to said bigotry within the first three pages of his debut issue, with his response to coming across a gang of thugs, two black and one white, attempting to gang-rape a woman. He shoots and kills the two black guys while using the racially offensive terms "boy" and "your kind" to them; then when he's got the white thug at gunpoint and the woman demands that he shoot the guy for what they almost did to her, he shoots and kills her while muttering that "they always knew their place," then kills the white guy for being a "race-traitor."
    Superman: Alien, black, Jew, gay...where do you draw the line, Bloodsport?
    Bloodsport: Anywhere I want!
  • 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:
    • For the "Death of Optimus Prime" pre-series one-shot, the four major Decepticons who speak in the Kimia ghetto establish their personalities immediately in a single sentence. Cyclonus disavows any affiliation with the Decepticons, seeing as how he doesn't share their values. Swindle, cheerfully and shamelessly sleazy as ever, tries to bargain his way out. Starscream gives a doubtful, scornful huff because of how things turned out—as a career schemer, he sees the Autobots' lack of coordination for what it is. Ratbat proves that once a politician, always a politician, trying to be released on account of his former social position, and immediately talking out the other side of his mouth in an attempt to rally the Decepticons to him when it fails.
    • 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.
  • The opening panels of Lazarus have main character Forever Carlyle being shot multiple times and killed. Then she heals up, gets back up, and completely wipes out her attackers.
  • When she first appear in W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia Hale muses on how her friend Irma somehow managing to get interrogated in class only on what she studied is nothing special compared to what she's been pulling lately, teases her best friend Elyon about her bad grade in math and her crush on Matt Olsen before leaving her to deal alone with Irma and Hay Lin deciding a penitence for her bad grade, and then notices that Will and Taranee are getting bullied and reacts by sending the bullies running before effectively adopting the new students in her group of friends.
  • The first time we (clearly) see Xadhoom in Paperinik New Adventures has her blasting her way through a wall, save Paperinik from a group of Evronians and killing most of them with an awesome (if relatively subdued) display of her powers, blast Paperinik because she mistook him for another Evronian, notice that her Evronian-killing blast hasn't caused him any damage and thinking that either he wasn't Evronian or was just very tough, and switching to Frickin' Laser Beams to make sure he'll die. This tells the reader that she hates Evronians and is intelligent enough to know how to kill them without harming non-Evronians, and hints to her being a scientist.
  • White Sand is chock-full of those:
    • Drile's introduced as having tried to sell his Sand Master skills for money.
    • The whole story starts with Kenton arguing with his father about skill vs. strength and how he wants to go through Mastrell's Path to prove his worth.
    • Praxton, for that matter, is quickly established as a jerkass and Fantasy-Forbidding Father in the same argument.
    • Aarik's first scene is beating up a thug in two sword moves and throwing a snarky comment before disappearing into the streets.
    • Khrissalla enters the tent Kenton's recuperating in like a supermodel on a catwalk.
  • The very first scene in The Divine shows Jason, in a helicopter over an Asian jungle, shooting panicked animals from a machine-gun for fun. Then a dragon pops up, and Jason, without missing a beat, shoots it in the eye from "an American-made gun" while remarking sarcastically that "they told me not to shoot it. It's bad luck in the fairy tales." It's clear that Jason's a testosterone-addled macho who doesn't believe in anything greater than himself.
  • Caballistics, Inc.:
    • Hannah and Lawrence are introduced being in the middle of a gunfight against a horde of zombies.
    • Ravne is introduced having slaughtered several people to bathe in their blood.