Narm: Comic Books
thought captions, illustrations, and violence is not immune to Narm.
Series with their own lists:
- Many things operating under the Grandfather Clause can count for uninitiated readers. For instance, the Marvels' transformation phrase. Sure, it's cool and dramatic; and it works for readers familiar with it. But in the end, they're shouting 'Shazam!' at the top of their lungs.note
- In the 70s and early 80s, Hostess ran ads in comics featuring comic book characters foiling crime with fruit pies and Twinkies. Most often, this took the form of distracting them from crime by throwing snacks at them. Perhaps the height of this is Captain America versus the Red Skull: "Your cosmic cube refuses to obey you, because it's enjoying the Hostess Twinkies."
- Parodied here◊.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books in the early-to-mid '90s. The "cheap heat" generated by Rob Liefeld and the artists that tried to capitalize on Image Comics' popularity and style led to a lot of comics with cringe-inducing characters, with designs and names to boot.
open/close all folders
- "What are you, dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman."
- After a while, the constant repetition of how old twelve-year-old Dick Grayson, age twelve, born twelve years ago, is can get highly amusing.
- A comic that drove Linkara nuts: Batman: Fortunate Son. The comic states that all forms of rock'n'roll are evil. This comic wasn't published in The Fifties, when that was a common belief, but in 1999. It brings us lines like these:
"Punk is nothing but death... and crime... and the rage of a beast."
- The scene in which people are critiquing the musician in this comic. One guy says, "He still plays the strongest guitar I've ever heard." Another guy turns around with a narmful angry expression and yells, "Yeah? SO WHAT?!"
- The "Pigs from a gun" line was from "I am the Walrus", a song made to confuse people and nothing more... and yet Batman says this line as though there was some kind of deeper symbolic meaning to it. This makes both Batman and the writer look incredibly stupid.
- Bats also quips "twist and shout, Mr. Crowe!" while punching Crowe.
- Batman #66. "So! They laugh at my boner, will they?! I'll show them! I'll show them how many boners the Joker can make! This emphasis on boners has given me an idea for a new adventure in crime! Gotham will rue the day they mentioned the word boner!"
- Atop the Fourth Wall clarified the narm by openly stating the current meaning of the word.
- We can do more.
- 'Boner' meant 'screwup' back in the day. It was used over and over because it was sorta funny: Epic Fail-based crime, and the Joker trying win with his mad Epic Fail skills. This meant the word got used a zillion times, creating the most hilarious thing in the history of ever when the word changed meanings.
- Amazons Attack: Bees. My God.
- The infamous "crying Joker" scene from Brian Azarello's take on The Joker. (The scene is found here.) It could have worked on a weird, Narm Charm level with the "tragic clown" aspect, but the look on Jonny's face puts a crimp in that.
- The Absence◊, a new Batman villain, was shot in the head but survived due to some weak science. As a result she has a large, perfectly round hole all the way through her head which resembles the effects of a gunshot only on the Itchy and Scratchy Show. Every scene with her and her cartoonish, bizarre injury looks utterly ridiculous. These issues of Batman and Robin were written by Paul Cornell, whose writing usually maintains a bizarre balance between "serious" and "goofy" (see, for example, his runs on Action Comics and Knight and Squire). The scenes with the Absence are at least more legitimately compelling than they would have been if written by pretty much anyone else, which given the inherent ridiculousness of the character, is saying something.
- Even Batman: The Dark Knight Returns isn't immune. While Bruce Wayne muses in a manly, Milleresque fashion over how he hates himself and not being Batman again, he walks out onto the street... past a pair of badly drawn doomsayers that could best be described as reject snow goons from Calvin and Hobbes, clutching clumps of cardboard with "WE ARE DAMNED" scrawled upon them. Doesn't help that Calvin made said snow goons do the exact same thing to illustrate how they would "die" or melt at the end of winter.
- This cover◊. Awww, just look at that thug's puppy eyes...
- In this panel, the villain of the week informs Batman and several other heroes that he's infected them with poison that will kill the loved ones they've touched. The other heroes all think immediately of their love interests like Iris West or Jean Loring, but Batman thinks of Robin, making it seem like he's declaring the Boy Wonder to be his lover.
- Rather infamously, there was a period where the Joker inexplicably cut off his own face and disappeared. That's an odd plot point but not necessarily narm. What pushed it into narm was the fact that when he came back, rather than properly reattaching the face or getting a new one, he proceeded to wear the removed face like a mask, strapping it to his head with a belt. This often looked about as ridiculous as you'd expect (at one point he even wore the face upside-down for no reason) and even when it was drawn in a properly scary manner, it was so absurd and over-the-top that many found it impossible to take seriously. Scott Snyder seemed to agree, as by the time Joker next appeared his face had been repaired.
- In an attempt to make an excuse for Power Girl's fanservicey costume, one writer had her claim to Superman, in a melodramatic ramble, that it was the result of waiting for whether she should put his S-shield symbol there or something else. (Never minding that there was nothing stopping her from just filling it with cloth.) If the explanation weren't laughable enough in itself, despite being played for deep, meaningful Character Development, the last part of it has Power Girl, with an exaggerated pout and teary eyes (the artist basically had the characters "overacting"), say "Fill my hole, Superman." Also, the "fill my hole" bit wasn't in the original comic◊.
- Superboy Prime◊ will kill you! He'll kill you TO DEATH!!!
- Superboy Prime was a strawman of the DC fanbase, with what was left of his subtlety lost when he was written by the Countdown writers, so all of his dialogue becomes hilarious once you imagine him speaking in a stereotypical fanboy voice (as Linkara did in his three-part review of Countdown to Final Crisis).
- Franchise/Superman #680 by James Robinson had some pretty weird dialogue, but this line really takes the cake:
[After a mysterious satellite had cut off his powers] "Where is she? My lady, the sun. She makes me strong. She gives me her light and her life and I am forever grateful."
- Superman at Earth's End. This is where Linkara got his catchphrase "I AM A MAN!" The Broken Aesop about guns just adds to the narm. Superman's massive Santa beard only adds to the hilarity.
- During Superman's funeral in The Death of Superman storyline, there's a panel of everyone gathered around his casket crying... except Batman, whose face... well, just see one fan interpretation. The fact that he's the visual center of the panel, drawn taller than everyone near him and is the only person facing that way doesn't help at all since it's next to impossible not to notice him.
- The Death of Superman has its good points, but some bits of dialogue make it obvious that the script was scribbled in a rush to replace a year's worth of thrown-out material.
"Gee, no wonder dad left and wants a divorce."
- The Death of Superman has its good points, but some bits of dialogue make it obvious that the script was scribbled in a rush to replace a year's worth of thrown-out material.
- Superman #713 has our hero tell Superboy and Supergirl that the world doesn't need a Superman, so he's gonna quit being him and wants the other two to follow his lead. That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself. The moment is ruined, though, by the fact that, as he's saying this, he's taking off his costume in front of his cousins. Pants and all!
- Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel Seconds is not an over-the-top comedy like Scott Pilgrim but a serious dramatic tale about love and relationships. This would be a little easier to swallow if its protagonist Katie didn't have a hairdo that looks it came straight out of a third-rate Shōnen series.
- Every scene involving the Pretty Fly for a White Guy character in A Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid, especially his death scene, where he's strangled to death by bling given to him by Pimp Freddy.
- The zombie!Doctor Light progressively tearing off the current Doctor Light's costume during their battle in Blackest Night. She's supposed to be in danger of getting raped and then eaten. But some genius went to the trouble of putting Fanservice in the scene.
- You know you've reached impressive levels of Narm when the people making the comic refuse to include a panel because it keeps making them laugh. In 52, Booster Gold was going to die, but the authors were Genre Savvy and realized that nobody who had experience with comics would believe he was dead. So, they figured out an obvious solution: Show the body. They also had to make sure it was clearly a corpse; otherwise, "he's just in a coma" would be tossed around right away. They had him bisected and falling to the ground in two bloody chunks. Unfortunately, seeing the two pieces drop to the ground was found amusing; the trade paperbacks came with commentary from the creators, along with a few preliminary sketches, and the authors revealed that the separate panels of one part of the body falling, followed by another panel showing the rest of the body falling, could not be taken seriously, and the supposedly horrific and disturbing death of a major character was instead ridiculous. They took out the original panel and re-wrote it, salvaging the scene.
- Much later in the series, a hand-to-hand sparring session uses a certain sound effect a few times. That sound effect? "Fap". Um...
- A Free Comic Book Day featuring Iron Man and The Mighty Thor ends with the villain doling out this apparently unironic gem:
"We are incredibly rich! We have more rights than you!"
- "My ward, Speedy... is a JUNKIE!"
- While Johns' run on Green Lantern is excellent overall, the Red Lanterns are hard to take seriously, seeing as they vomit up blood as a weapon.
- On a similar note: Dex-Tarr◊ Is Crazy Awesome!
- Ridiculously, one of the Green Lantern refers to the stolen children of Lanterns murdered by Kryb, as "Corphans."
- Some of the impact of Alan Moore's "Tygers" is blunted by the over-the-top designs of the demons.
- This◊ panel remarks on how Hal is Jumping Off the Slippery Slope (and in fact it used to be the trope picture) and this close to becoming Parallax. But once you realize that his expression is very similar to the infamous trollface, the drama is immediately killed. Unless you think that Parallax actually was a huge troll, story-wise.
- Then there's the Manhunters and their Badass Creed "No Man Escapes The Manhunters!", which goes from badass to Narm pretty quickly due to their tendency to incessantly repeat this creed at every possible opportunity, even as they get their asses kicked over and over again. This is particularly bad in the Millennium arc, in which they'd say the creed seemingly every page they were on. By the end of the arc even the heroes were sick of hearing it.
- From Mr. T and the T-Force #1 (yes, really):
"IT'S A CRACK BABY, FOOL!"
- An Author Tract in Phonogram about women Stuffed into the Fridge in music was delivered by a goddess who used the word "indie" like an ethnic slur. It generally fell into Mundane Made Awesome territory, and peaked with this phrase:
- And then everything exploded.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog seems to assign artists regardless of whether or not their art style is compatible with the general tone of the story, so it's not uncommon to see a dark storyline with light-hearted artwork or vice versa. Probably the most outstanding example comes in an issue where Sally confronts Sonic over whether showing up Robotnik is more important than their relationship - any drama the scene may have had is killed instantly by the fact that the penciler drew Sally's mouth as literally taking up half her face.
- One early Spider-Man story arc saw him getting captured and chained up by gangsters. When he breaks free, his narration doesn't attribute it to his super-strength, but to a far sillier sounding ability:
Spider-Man: Fortunately, they didn't count on my power of chest expansion!
- Venom, depending on the artist who's drawing him. He's supposed to be terrifying, but when he looks like THIS◊, it Crosses the Line Twice and he becomes ridiculous.
- James Robinson also wrote some rather... questionable thought captions in a 1994 Tales of Suspense one-shot. Iron Man is questioning why Captain America even hangs out with him, because Cap is basically perfect and Tony is deeply flawed. His musings begin, "I look at your handsome face... into your clear, azure eyes..."
- Geoff Johns' run on The Flash is excellent... with one minor exception. In the Iron Heights one shot, The Flash dramatically unmasks serial killer Murmur, who until then was horror incarnate. What followed was a full page of Murmur's face, which revealed two things: he had sewn his own mouth shut, and he was more wall-eyed than Marty Feldman. For some readers, this combination reduced a "Damn!" reveal to a "Wha?" one.
- Starfire from Teen Titans has always walked the line of looking ridiculous, since she's an alien princess with really, really long hair that's sometimes drawn in a very 80s style and wears a pretty Stripperiffic costume that walks the boundaries of both good taste and plausibility. Red Hood and the Outlaws made the unfortunate (or possibly ingenious, given how much publicity it wound up giving the book) decision to start out the book with Starfire dressed like this, which is only possible if it's taped or glued to her nipples. Thankfully, the fanservice was greatly toned down after a few issues.
- The nearly-naked thing was actually spoofed in a Superhero Short on Cartoon Network's DC Nation, where Mad Mod takes the Teen Titans (all from the cartoon) back in time by decades, changing their costumes to match. Starfire gets extremely upset when they get to the 80s, and covers her shame with her ridiculously long hair (which was also pretty goofy, when you think about it).
- In the 1970s The Avengers had a now-obscure villain called Egghead (his head was shaped like an egg) who sat plotting in his lair and exclaimed, "It's not fair! All I ever wanted to do was rule the world! Is that so much to ask?". He then reflects on how he's not getting any younger and doesn't have many years left to take over, making it less of a Villainous Breakdown and more of a Villainous Mid-Life Crisis. That one may have been intentional, but only Roger Stern knows for sure...
- Jim Shooter's tenure as writer of The Avengers was good on the whole, but his constant indulgence in Purple Prose resulted in several ventures into narm territory. His habit of introducing villains off-screen while the heroes stared out of the page and cried, "OH, GOD, NO! NOT YOU! ANYONE BUT YOU!" Fine when genuinely dangerous villains like Ultron were involved, but less effective when it was lesser threats (like the Grim Reaper) or silly, forgotten opponents (like Tyrak, who looked like an Atlantean member of the Village People).
- In The Darkness #4 Jackie pulls out a hitman's entire skeleton. It goes "POP!"
- Volume 2 of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen includes an enormously disturbing scene in which Mr. Hyde violently tortures and kills the treacherous Griffin (The Invisible Man). As gruesome as this scene is, when Nemo discovers Griffin's remains, his dialogue may well make it kind of narmy.
Nemo: AAAAHN! HYDE! MAD ANIMAL, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? YOU ARE THE SHIT OF THE WORLD! I SHALL KILL YOU NOW!
Quatermain: It's... it's like a milking-stool...
- Earlier, Quatermain and the team encounter a Martian Tripod for the first time, towering over them out of the darkness in the middle of a raging storm. How does Quatermain describe this incredible sight?
- The early The Mighty Thor comics were full of this, to the point where it borders on Adam West territory. Seeing Loki try to make his escape by summoning a cloud of pigeons is funny enough... but it becomes even more hysterical when, the next time he makes an appearance as a villain, he tries to escape by actually turning into a pigeon. Considering that Loki's current motif is the Magpie, it does make you wonder if he just really likes birds or something.
- The Ultimates vol. 3 gets special accolades for the worst Bond One-Liner imaginable:
Ant-Man: "If she's the mother... I'm the mother-fucker!"
- The Walking Dead: The Governor, riding on a tank, wearing a weird outfit and an eyepatch, and only one arm, shouting "KILL THEM ALL!" is very jarring against the general tone of the series.
- The Darker and Edgier Thunder Cats: Dogs of War features this line:
"This night, we mark our territory... with... blood!
- Two moments from Ultimatum:
- Quoted from Nick Fury when he's rescued from the pocket dimension:
I was wondering when you bungholes were going to show up.
- For context, Ultimate Universe Nick Fury is modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, who you'd probably never hear say something like that.
- And between Magneto and Susan Storm:
Susan: Don't bull@&$# me!
Magneto: (exclamation mark appears above his head)
- The random deaths, all gory, become sort of funny after a while.
- In the Ultimate FF tie-in, Dormammu finds a wayward Johnny Storm in his dimension. His reply? "Well, well, look what this constipated city just crapped out."
- Quoted from Nick Fury when he's rescued from the pocket dimension:
- Watchmen discusses one in-story, in Under The Hood. The original Nite Owl recalls a coworker experiencing a great personal tragedy while wearing a massive pair of fake breasts and listening to "Ride of the Valkyries". It induces the group to fits of laughter, and then the man kills himself. Hollis later cites it as 'the saddest thing he can think of'.
- Some of Rorschach's narration, especially in the first chapter are made pretty ridiculous thanks to his slightly unbalanced mind, like when, out-of-nowhere, he starts suspecting random people of being gay and/or child pornographers.
- Speaking of Rorschach...
- RONCH RONCH RONCH
- Rorschach ambushing Moloch by popping out of his fridge was so ridiculous it crossed from hilarious back over into Crazy Awesome. Especially narmy if you think about the time it must have taken for Rorschach to move all the stuff inside the fridge and hide them in Moloch's kitchen and how many things could have gone wrong in the plan. Or how long he must've been just sitting there inside the fridge.
- This odd fourth-wall-breaking moment from an early issue of Chris Claremont's X-Men, back before he really found his voice:
Omniscient Narrator: You and the X-Men had saved the world from a nuclear holocaust, but you lost a man to do it... and try as you might, you can't balance those scales in your mind or in your heart... can you, Cyclops?Cyclops: No.Narrator: Can you?Cyclops: No!Narrator: CAN YOU?Cyclops: NO!!
- "Killed by my eyes! My cursed, mutant, energy-blasting EYES!"
- Speaking of Cyclops, while throwing the X symbol like a gang sign in A vs X was bad enough, doing it again while giving out a speech about the Children of the Atom at a camera at a police station seems extra douchey.
- In Uncanny X-Men #424, one panel has a bunch of corpses. The Narmy part comes when you realize that two of them have been placed so it looks like one of them is giving the other a blowjob.
- Also from X-Men, there's the Church Of Humanity, which convinces Nightcrawler that he's a priest; it plans to install him as Pope and then fake a Rapture (which is not part of Catholicism) by having people eat Communion wafers that contain a disintegrator. Then Kurt's holoprojector was to fail at a convenient time to convince the world that an openly mutant Pope is the Antichrist. This will bring down the Catholic Church, and so people will be forced to join the Church of Humanity and hate mutants; clearly, there are only two religions, and atheism isn't an option, and the destruction of the Church and mutants will bring down Western civilization. All this because the main villain... was a nun who was raped by a priest. The plan failed because poor Kurt couldn't control his sexual urges, which is remarked upon several times. Oh, and there are Bible quotesnote scattered throughout the book along with dialogue like "healing thingie".
- Yes, being repeatedly brainwashed and manipulated by military conspiracies kind of sucks, but Wolverine may be overreacting just a little bit in The Pulse #9:
Get out! No more SHIELD! No more Fury! No more Hydra with the hands. No more. Stop raping me, all of you!! STOP RAPING ME!!!
- One More Day is loathed by many comic book fans, but as much as there is to get pissed about if you're a fan of Peter and MJ as a couple, there's one gloriously narmy line as well that you can laugh at. To really appreciate this, you have to remember that the person speaking these words is Mephisto, the ruler of Hell. Among all of the villains in the Marvel Universe, he's among the most powerful. Whenever he shows up, people think Oh Crap!. What kind of horrible, unspeakable act is he trying to commit this time? What does he want?
Mephisto: I want your MARRIAGE.
- Also, Peter's anguished cry of pain as he relinquishes the love between him and his wife? "NYAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!"
- "Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross-reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony. Listen. Listen."
- In the Lizard part of the Spider-Man story The Gauntlet, the Lizard uses some sort of telepathy to activate the lizard part of Spider-Man's brain, essentially causing Spider-Man to revert to his primal survival instincts. The story thus far has been pretty dark, with the previous chapter climaxing in the Lizard eating his son. However, with the lizard part of Spider-Man's brain in control, we get the line "I is prey!"
- Justice League: Cry for Justice features an absurd overuse of the word "justice," until you might start wondering if everyone's somehow picked it up as a Verbal Tic.
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise: When Gorlam Prime disintegrates at a molecular level, Jhiaxus declares his victory and makes an epic Villain Exit Stage Left through the destruction and Monstructor climbs onto the ship and straddles it like a kiddie ride. The result is a combination of funny and adorable.
- Transformers Dark Cybertron: Nova Prime and Galvatron entering the normal universe through Megatron's body starts off as pure, unleaded Nightmare Fuel. But then on the first page of part 5 the way it's drawn (juxtaposed with Casual Danger Dialogue) causes it to look really silly. It's less "undead abominations entering our plain of existence" and more "Jane, get me out of this crazy thing!".
- There's also the revelation that Waspinator controls the Necrotitan with his "staff", i.e. the gun formed out of his energon stinger in beast mode. As one reviewer pointed out, this means Waspinator controls the Metrotitan with his butt. Even worse when Shockwave ditches his Arm Cannon so he can replace it with the aforementioned butt-gun.
- Anytime Spider-Man referred to himself in the third person as "The Spider" in the grimdark stories of the 1990s.
- In Wanted, the final scene, a Take That, Audience! which calls out the reader for supporting a monstrous Villain Protagonist like Wesley, falls pretty flat for two reasons; first, Wesley breaks the fourth wall completely out-of-nowhere to deliver this filibuster and second, it assumes that the audience liked Wesley, despite the fact that the comic never had him do anything likable ever, not even in a Black Comedy sense.
- In the Tirek issue of My Little Pony: Fiendship Is Magic, he says twice in the span of as-many pages that Scorpan is entirely loyal and would never betray him. It was possibly intended as ironically funny, but comes off as forced and awkward. The third time it comes up, it's definitely forced.
- Darkseid has a rather notorious (and memetic) tendency to chill o◊n couches◊ whenever he comes to Earth. Try imagining an ancient Eldritch Abomination said to be the living embodiment of evil relaxing on your couch and try not to burst out laughing.