Especially the funeral. "I miss your battle cry." And then the next page is a full spread of Cap and The Avengers with the Catch Phrase "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!" on it... *sniff sniff*
The now-iconic panel of his bloody corpse lying on the courthouse steps. The chalk outline still there a year later. Thor knocking out all broadcasting technology for a moment of silence on the one year anniversary. The Fallen Son book.
"It wasn't worth it."
The infamous issue ends with Sharon Carter tearfully realizing her deed in helping to murder Capnote It turns out that she fired the fatal shot that killed Cap, as she's at a loss at what she unwittingly did.
When the above (and "The Confession") are taken into account, the The Avengers/Invaders miniseries (which takes place between Steve's death and resurrection is heartbreaking. Tony's reaction to seeing Cap on his screens... Past!Cap telling Iron Man that he admires him for sticking to his principles despite having to go against his friends... It's kind of like being punched in the heart. A lot.
The Confession. 22 solid pages of tearjerker, ending in a devastating splash panel of Captain America's corpse, with Tony Stark kneeling beside it whispering, "It wasn't worth it."
There is also the the double splash panel of a Holocaust survivor's memory of being in a Nazi death camp, and Captain America leaping into battle to liberate herself and her people.
The What If? version of Civil War also does contain one thing, from Iron Man's perspective. Uatu arrives and gave him a vision of HOW it was possible to avoid further bloodshed and make good use of the Superhuman Registration Act, without killing Cap... if Tony just backed down and stop being stubborn. Cue massive My God, What Have I Done? on Tony as Uatu left him shouldering all the burdens that he could've avoided in the first place.
Another dead Captain America issue, from an earlier era. Stars & Stripes Forever is many panels worth of heroes and villains and a few random civilians reacting to Cap's death, culminating in a eulogy by the Falcon. (They Never Found the Body and he got better, but it's still sad.)
Thor #11. Using Mjolnir, and bellowing "Avengers Assemble!", Thor summons the soul of Captain America. We then learn that Cap's soul is trapped between the worlds, and it is cold. On top of that, he can now feel the pain of the world and of his friends, and constantly bombarded by the sounds of people attempting to use his death for their own agendas. But when Thor asks him if he wants his death avenged, Cap replies:
No... there has been too much pain and death because of what happened that day. I won't add to it. I have no debts you need to settle, and no regrets.
Hank Pym at the end of Secret Invasion is subjected with many Tear Jerker moments, especially when he learns that his wife Janet van Dyne has died. Him being told of the recent events, and his eventual angry outburst chewing out Tony Stark is pretty sad on many levels, for both sides.
"Where's Janet?" The Mood Whiplash as everyone goes quiet, having been celebrating the rescue of the replaced heroes just one panel ago, is like a punch in the face.
Avengers: The Initiative #26. We're introduced to a couple of D-list villains, Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax, whose only claim to fame is that they'd once fought Dazzler. After being recruited into the Shadow Initiative, Johnny learns that they're nothing more than cannon fodder, and their superiors are going to be intentionally sending them on suicide missions without the knowledge of the recruits. Going to visit Trauma, he learns that because of the way benefits and pensions are written, his family that he's estranged from will be well taken care of in the event of his dying in the line of duty. He decides to go through with it, but not before intentionally injuring Doc so he'll be sent home, and thus spared. Johnny's killed in the fight to reclaim Prison 42, and his and other deaths, as well as the sudden arrival of the 'big names' of the Initiative right at the end of the battle, suddenly make the rest of his unit aware of exactly what they are to their bosses.
The ending of the Avengers vs. Atlas, in which an alternate version of the original Avengers team (Cap, Hulk, (Gi)Ant-Man, Thor, Wasp, and Iron Man) willingly sacrifice themselves to stop a time-virus from taking over the timeline they've found themselves stuck in. "Talk about nuttin' up," indeed.
Avengers Disassembled has a few, notably the deaths of Scott Lang and Clint Barton, but also The Thing fighting against his friends and trying to get to the wreckage of the Kree ship, because Clint deserves a proper burial.
The remaining Avengers, technically no longer Avengers, paying tribute to all their friends who have died. They wonder if anyone bothered to come, only to look outside and see a huge crowd, with signs paying their respects to the Avengers and the people they lost.
The death of Mockingbird in West Coast Avengers. She dies in her husband's arms after the two of them save Wanda's life in #100. It's made even worse by Bobbi and Clint having gotten back together recently. The normally happy-go-lucky Hawkeye is absolutely devastated, quits the Avengers and spents a long time in isolation in the middle of nowhere. The reason he eventually returns is that one of his old mentors tells him that Bobbi wouldn't have wanted him to live like that.
Sure, she turned out to be a skrull, but that added another level of tragedy to it—she was a skrull who honestly believed that she was Bobbi, that she loved Clint, that she loved being an Avenger and she died. No wonder we saw a a Mockingbird skrull in the issues after her death. Imagine how it feels to realise that you aren't the person you think you are, that you're not even a copy. You're a completely different person with their memories and appearance.
Bobbi's return. She's been gone for three years, much of which she spent on the run from Skrulls. It was the Skrull who got back together with Clint. She's traumatised, having flashbacks, and it's only made worse when the spirit of the Phantom Rider, the man who raped her, returns to haunt her.
The scene in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" where Superman pleads to the planet Earth itself for the strength to save its people. Later in that same book, the death of Alfred, as he watches Wayne Manor and his life with the Waynes go up in a roaring ball of flame - as he thinks, "How utterly proper."
The death of Toyman at the roller coaster (though he had it coming); it's not the actual event that packs the punch, but to see the usually cheery Carrie Kelly completely shattered and crying at the gruesomeness of his death, shedding tears through her silly thick glasses. A couple of pages through the next issue, she is still at it, about to be traumatized for life until Batman calls her to pick him up.
This scene is so infamous, that the only death scene more famous that it is the Death Of Superman (whether its the Man of Steel's torn cape flying on a stick or Lois Lane cradling a bloody, bruised and very much dead Superman)
And in in 'Under The Hood', where Jason had a gun to The Joker's head, telling Batman that if he were to stop him from killing the clown, he'd have to shoot Jason in the face, complete with tears. See here.
Alfred's reaction when asked by Superman at Bruce's funeral how he is handling it all:
"Am I alright? No, I'm not. ...My son has died."
Similarily, Bruce leaves a message concerning his last farewells, in case of his death.
"I always thought of you as a father to me, but I was wrong. You're not like a father, you are my father Alfred. And the fact I am blessed to have had two amazing ones in this life of mine, well it only makes it harder to say. Goodbye, Dad.
In Knightfall, when Scarecrow makes Batman relive Jason Todd's death, he delivers a eulogy while beating the Joker half to death.
Batman: "Just a boy. Braver than any man. Too brave to become a man."
In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Two-Face (during the process of his therapy) is denied his coin, being forced to use a die and then tarot cards. Without his coin, his personality disintegrates completely, unable to decide whether of not to stand up, eat, or use the bathroom all because his mental disorder assigns decisions to each one of the cards.
Two-Face: "The moon is so beautiful. It's a big silver dollar, flipped by God. And it landed bad side up, see? So He made the world."
Two-Face at the end, whether through gratitude to Batman or a small part of Harvey Dent reemerging for a brief moment, lying about the coin toss to let Batman leave the asylum.
Two-Face: "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a house of cards."
More likely was because it was April Fools' Day.
Or because he equates Batman's death with going free, and his survival with (figuratively) remaining in the Asylum with the rest of the madmen for the rest of his life ("He dies here").
Parts of The Killing Joke with regards to the Joker, of all people. The joke at the end, and the following line:
Joker: "Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away... forever."
The implication being that something happened to him that was so horrible that he gave himself amnesia to forget and still went insane.
Batman has this in the famous scene where Bruce's parents die.
Another Batman example: you would never believe a Lampshade Hanging to be this, but the story "When Is A Door" from Secret Origins Special #1 (penned by Neil Gaiman himself) has one. Despite being rather nonsensical, The Riddler's longing for "the good old days", back when The Joker wasn't killing everything that had a pulse, always gets to him. Nostalgia may be a part of it, seeing as how Riddler makes several references to the unforgettable sixties Batman TV show. This line is what really makes him crack up:
Riddler: "You look around here these days, it's all different. It's all changed. The Joker's killing people, for God's sake! Did I miss something? Was I away when they changed the rules?"
The Batman storyline "No Man's Land" has the death of Commissioner Gordon's wife, Sarah, at the hands of the Joker. Joker has a large number of infants held hostage; Sarah rushes in with a gun, and Joker tosses one of the babies at her, forcing her to drop her gun to save it. No points for guessing what he does once she's unarmed. Gordon gets the news outside - he rants tearfully about how the Joker has gone too far and seriously considers killing him, but after shooting him in the knee, chooses law over anarchy and walks away. And if him weeping on the steps as Batman holds him steady doesn't get to you, then the scene of him spending the new year alone, singing Auld Lang Syne dry-eyed over Sarah's grave definitely will.
Actually, what's even worse is that the Joker isn't laughing as he walks away. Even HE doesn't find it funny, which just makes it depressing.
Earlier on in "No Man's Land," there's the story where Renee Montoya first really meets Two-Face, "Two Down". At first, Renee is understandably suspicious of Two-Face who is a prominent member of Batman's own Rogues Gallery... but as they work together, even though she never forgets what he now is, she starts bonding with him and seeing what he could have been—-to the point where she's willing to stand up to the Batman himself in his defense. A viewer who doesn't feel her anguish and compassion for this horribly tragic person has no soul.
Going Sane. This underrated little four-part story arc humanizes The Joker far better than The Killing Joke ever did. The finale is especially sad: it features The Joker's inevitable return to madness and Rebecca hoping in vain for the return of her "missing" fiance, "Joseph Kerr".
What's worse is the realization that, because the Joker constantly reinvents his personality as a symptom of his madness, events similar to Going Sane may have played out several times over the course of the Joker's career.
The ending to the Batman: Black and White story ''Two of A Kind'': Two-Face, after being cured of his psychosis and having his face restored, falls in love with his psychiatrist and gets engaged. However, it is revealed that said psychiatrist has a psychotic twin sister who will stop at nothing to get Harvey to herself. She successfully seduces him, but when Harvey tries to break off the affair, she went Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and brutally murders her sister. Harvey, consumed with rage, destroys his newly restored face and meets with the psychotic twin, so as to exact revenge, and does so successfully, though he breaks down heartwrenchingly after having committed the act, cradling her body helplessly, looking as if he was crying. This is less heartbreaking than what he says to Batman after shooting the sister in the chest:
"Then I just waited for you to show up— as you always do— to take me back where I belong... with the rest of the crazy people."
A recent story in Batman: Streets of Gotham dealt with Mr. Zsasz kidnapping orphans and runaways and forcing them to participate in knife fights for people to gamble on. The Tearjerker comes into play when Batman and Robin encounter Humpty Dumpty, who has been gathering the bodies of the murdered children and giving them toys to try to "fix" them. And it's Christmas time as well, just to twist the knife a little more.
Gotham Central: Crispus Allen's murder. And how his killer got away with it. The only time I've ever cried reading a comic.
Damian's death and the resulting fallout in the Bat-Family. Batman & Robin in particular has an arc with Bruce going through the 5 stages of grief, where he further alienates and hurts his allies, still bearing wounds from Death Of The Family.
Another Streets of Gotham example is pretty much everything about "Sonny" the orphan and who he is heavily implied to grow up to become. Injured at a fire in his foster home he is sent to Martha Wayne's clinic where Martha and the staff are the only ones to ever show him kindness, and ends up witnessing a crime by some particularly nasty mobsters who break his jaw and infect him with a virus they were planning to use in wiping out Gotham's slumdwellers to test it's effects. However he returns to the clinic and Martha and her friends managed to find a cure which averts the deadly epidemic, which causes the most repulsive and sadistic of the mobsters to immediately firebomb the clinic in an insane rage. The kid survives and rushes to find help for an unconscious Martha, only to run into the same mobster who abducts him unseen even as the Justice Society closes in. He then proceeds to inflict horrifying physical, mental, and sexual abuse on the kid for the next few years, beating him till he is unrecognisable and forcing his already broken jaw to set incorrectly making it extremely pointed. All the while taunting him by telling him to "laugh more" and to stop frowning. Given such a horrifying backstory its depressingly clear how someone like The Joker was born.
Batman #471. Batman heads into the sewers to investigate an odd string of robberies perpetrated by Killer Croc. Turns out that he had been taken in by a bunch of vagabonds, an old lady protecting him. When Batman finds Croc, Croc goes nuts and starts attacking until Bats realizes that time's up: they're activating a new waterway and it would destroy these people's home. Bats and Croc try to hold back a crumbling wall, but when the old lady falls into the flooding room, Bats is forced to rescue her. Helplessly, everyone watches as Croc is swept away, defiantly screaming at the water before he does. The last panels show the vagabonds singing "Hush Little Baby", the song the old lady used to pacify Croc. He did come back about two years later, but those last panels are still powerful
Aunt May's death in Amazing Spider-Man #400 was a perfect, poignant sendoff for the character. So naturally, it was treated to a sloppy Retcon three years later.
On the topic of Spider-Man, the mini comic "Leah". What makes it even more of a tear jerker is that the writer made it in remembrance of a friend.
Also, "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man," in which Spider-Man visits Tim, a nine year old fan. The story's heartwarming enough already (especially when Spidey shows Tim his secret identity), but what really gets readers is the revelation at the end that Tim was diagnosed with cancer and given a few weeks to live.
"I saved you, honey... don't you see? *quietly* I saved you..."
And Mary Jane'sreaction towards the grieving Peter◊ makes it even more of a Tear Jerker. Doubles as one of MJ's biggest CMOAs as well... it's difficult to stay and comfort a guy after he tells you "you wouldn't be sad if your own mother died!" (And for the record, MJ's mother HAD already died, and she was actually QUITE sad about it.)
Harry Osborn's death, after snapping out of his Green Goblin persona and saving Peter's life. Peter asks him why he did it, and Harry gasps out his last words: "How could I not, Pete? You're my best friend." And much like Aunt May's death, the company saw fit to taint this moment, only this one with one nasty Thanatos Gambit.
"Maybe Next Year" is an issue about Peter remembering his Uncle Ben's tradition of taking him out to a baseball game. They support a team that (almost) never wins, but they have to keep cheering...
The water works increase by the end. The last game he went to with Ben reveals that for once the their team actually wins, which causes an excited Peter to finally understand Ben's message of always supporting the team no matter what... And then after this heartwarming moment the narration reveals that this all takes place just three days before Ben's murder.
"Everything", a short one where Peter, having been vacationing in San Francisco, tries to save people after an earthquake. He can only do so much.
Cop: "Can you fly?"
Spidey: "I can swing."
If you can get past the whole Mary Jane dying because of radioactive cells from having sex with Peter, then the story can actually be quite sad, like when Doctor Octopus gives the original Spider-Man costume back to a crushed Peter Parker, but Doctor Octopus was already dead, trying to find Peter so that he could bring the age of Super Heroes back, he put a recorded message into his arms to deliver this.
What happens to Sandman's daughter. He wasn't even aware of her existence, and he only realizes her true identity right before she's murdered by the Mayor's thugs. His horror and grief at her fate is what ultimately gives him the strength to rebel and help Spider-Man defeat Venom and rid New York of its fascist regime.
Even his debut ends with one. You know? Uncle Ben's death?
Peter: My fault... All my fault... Because I didn't stop that punk when I could have! Now Uncle Ben is dead! He's dead!!!
Amazing Spider-Man 657, particularly the last page, always has this troper in tears. This was right after Johnny Storm's death and Peter's going to mourn with the Fantastic Four. The whole comic alternates between being a tearjerker and a Crowning Moment of Funny, but it ends on a particularly tearjerking note with Peter watching Johnny Storm's video-will of sorts, in which Johnny not only gives Peter his spot on the team, but his spot in the Fantastic Four family.
Johnny: If you’re hearing this, I’m sorry, pal. Sorry that I’m gone. ‘Cause... well... I know how you feel when it comes to losing family. And that’s what you are to me. Family. So... if you’re thinking of this as my last will and all... I’m not leaving you my sports cars or stuff like that... I’m leaving you the best thing I ever had... My spot on this team. A place in this family. The best sister, two brothers, niece, and nephew a guy could ask for. They— We all love you, Pete. So? You up for it, bro? We’re all here for you.
"The Final Curtain" from Spectacular Spider-Man #27. It starts with Peter visiting Uncle Ben's grave on Christmas Day to have a chat with his ghost and wish him Happy Holidays, and it slowly slips into Peter sharing a recurring nightmare about finally being defeated by his foes, all interspersed with flashbacks of a seven year-old Peter freezing up on stage during a class play. Peter comes clean about all of the crushing fears and insecurities that he deals with every day when facing his Rogues' Gallery... and it gets all the more heartbreaking when Uncle Ben pointedly tells him, at one point, that he's not really there, and that Peter's just talking to himself. In the end, there's no one with whom Peter can be this honest about how much being Spider-Man scares him, but he still puts up with it every day, because, well... it's his responsibility.
During the Gauntlet, Peter Parker was unemployed, cosmically divorced, and being battered by his classic enemies. The only good thing to come out of everything was that Aleksei Sytsevich, the Rhino, had married and reformed. When the new Rhino kills Aleksei's wife, Spider-Man desperately pleads and struggles in vain to keep Aleksei from becoming the Rhino again and is left with nothing but fear and loneliness when he fails.
A sound comes out of Spider-Man that's so soft it screams. It's the sound of his heart breaking.
The Gauntlet seems to be full of this. Another case of Tear Jerker, mixed with horror for good measure appears when Curt Connor loses control of his Super-Powered Evil Side and kills his son Billy. It's horrifying and heartbreaking because it depicts a father losing control of himself and killing his own child. Even worse, the experience essentially destroys "Curt" as well, leaving the Lizard in charge.
They piled it on stupidly thick in The Gauntlet. Little Keemia screams at Spider-Man that she hates him. He'd gotten involved in a murder case when a friend of his was implicated for screwing up the evidence, to find that the victims, a woman and her lawyer, were involved in an acrimonious fight with Flint Marko, the Sandman. She'd been snowing him into believing he had a daughter, even though it was no longer physically possible for him to have a child, and he'd become so obsessed with trying to be a good father that a part of himself had split off and killed them in order to get them out of the way without him even being aware of it. Spider-Man defeats him and gets the girl back, but because her grandmother (who had been her caretaker when Marko took her) admitted she wasn't watching the child when she was taken, CPS is putting her in the foster system, after Spider-Man had promised her she'd be with her family in order to make her go with him. Not knowing what happened to her mother, Keemia had thought her "father" was a good father, and so having lost everything as a result of leaving him, views Spider-Man as a liar and a thief.
Ultimate Spider-Man gets a few, but one of the most poignant is after J. Jonah Jameson fires Peter. After a run-in with the Kingpin's goons (during which Spider-Man saved him) and a fierce phone call from Aunt May, Jameson walks to Peter's house late at night and waits for him to return. He sits with Peter on the stoop and gives a heartfelt explanation of why he snapped and fired Peter when he asked what was so wrong with Spider-Man. Jameson, in a rare sympathetic moment, tells Peter that a few years ago his son, who meant the world to him, was killed in a NASA shuttle accident. The agency sealed everything off as classified, and Jameson didn't even get a body to bury. He says that his son was a hero, that men like that are real heroes, and that people like Spider-Man just cause chaos. Even though the reader (and obviously Peter) disagree with him on that issue, it is such a heartwarming yet simultaneously heart-wrenching moment of weakness and grief from the grouchy old man that no one can hold it against him, topped off by Jameson rehiring Peter and telling him that he'll assign him to Ben Urich so that he can learn what reporting is really about.
And Jameson's realization that he was wrong about Spider-Man, something that sadly could never happen in the mainstream series thanks to Status Quo Is God.
In Ultimate Spider-Man when Spider-Man dies. Crosses into Fridge Horror if you believe that both the Ultimate Peter Parker and the Mainstream Peter Parker share many of the same traits.
All of Ultimate Fallout. Everyone's reaction to Peter's death is emotional. Captain America QUITS over it, Nick Fury also feels responsible, and the city of New York mourns, to the point that thousands pay their respects at the funeral.
Mary Jane: "What are you going to do to me...?"
Nick Fury: "I loved him." Mary Jane looks at him in shock. "I met him when he was just a baby. His parents were working on a project for us."
Mary Jane: "You knew his parents?"
Nick Fury: "Yes."
Mary Jane: "I-I didn't know that."
Nick Fury: "When his parents died, I wondered if I there was any way I'd be able to do right by them. And then I was so excited when he had the accident that gave him his powers. Now I could do something. I was grooming him, you know. I was so sure he would grow up to be the man his father wanted him to be and so much more. This brave, one-of-a-kind genius little boy. I should have taught him more, I should have slowed down the world so a boy like him could become the man he was supposed to become."
Mary Jane: "I didn't know you knew his parents." Nick Fury pauses and she continues. "Okay I won't-I'm not going to send out anything I wrote. I didn't know.'
Nick Fury: "I understand you're looking for someone to blame for this... my point is... you blame me... and I came to tell you... you're absolutely right.*tear streams down his cheek*"
Spider-Men features the exchange where 616 Spider-Man meets Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. They're naturally asking lots of questions about their counterparts, and when Gwen asks Peter what she's like in his world, he hesitates for a moment, then just smiles and tells her that she's awesome.
There was one 9/11 short that was particularly memorable for being tragic and heartwarming at the same time. Basically, both well known heroes and villains (magneto, Dr. Doom etc.) put aside their differences to help clear the rubble and help search for bodies. One particular scene has a closeup of Dr. Doom's mask, showing us that he's CRYING. The most memorable scene for this editor however was one where a little boy is sitting among the rubble. When Spiderman asks him if he needs help, the boy responds matter-of-factly that he's waiting for his father, only to see his father's corpse being carried out of the rubble. His reaction is summed up in one word: "Daddy!!" This editor can't even think about this scene without crying a lot.
Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow? is full of profound Tear Jerkers from start to finish. Arguably the biggest? A teenaged version of his cousin Supergirl, who he'd always treated like a little sister, time travels from the past for a visit. She has recently died in the present, and he doesn't dare tell her, so he has to force a smile and wave goodbye as casually as possible when she leaves. The Man of Steel breaks down in tears as soon as she's gone.
Krypto's death gets me everytime. Especially how Lois narrates that Superman heard it happen and couldn't do anything about it.
The Death of Superman. The entire ending of the fight between Supes and Doomsday, where you suddenly realize that the Man of Steel knows that he might not survive this, and still keeps on fighting. Then when they both drop dead, you're subjected to 4 straight pages (2 of them double spreads) of every person whose seen the fight starts breaking out into tears. Anyone who read the comic did too. And the flag made from Superman's torn cape was just extra incentive for the water works.
The Funeral For a Friend arc that came afterwards was even worse, all starting with this: Superman Armbands.
Bibbo Bibbowski, a big-hearted lug who initially liked Superman because he was "tough", first tries to help Professor Hamilton try to save Superman (even though the only thing protecting Bibbo from getting fried himself was a personal forcefield), and after the funeral prays to God and asks Him why He would take a hero like Superman instead of "an ol' roughneck" like him.
The moment you realize that the greatest hero since the creation of modern comics has just DIED tends to make more than a few tears well up in your eyes, ending a decades long career spent saving the lives of sentient beings around the universe countless times. To quote an AC/DC song "For those about to Rock, We salute you". We love you, ya Big Blue Boy Scout.
The ending of the War Of The Supermen storyline. New Krypton is destroyed. Flamebird (Thara Ak-Var) sacrifices herself to reignite the sun while Chris Kent is held back from saving her by the Nightwing entity. Chris Kent seals himself into the Phantom Zone to make sure General Zod doesn't escape, bidding a final farewell to Superman, his true dad. Sam Lane is hailed as a hero instead of the racist bastard he truly is, while everyone thinks all Kryptonians are evil.
Action Comics #800 is a retelling of Clark Kent's life from the moment the Kents found him until the instant he decides to be Superman. While that story is good (and has a few tearjerker moments itself), it's interspersed with short b+w vignettes of people in the DC Universe who have been inspired by Superman in different ways, such as the man who willed himself to learn to read because he wanted to know what Superman was saying in a comicstrip, or the boy dying of cancer who reassures his father that he'll be fine because they're "going to get all the Kryptonite out." It's the final piece that really turns on the waterworks, though: it's the story of a policeman who wears a Superman shirt under his uniform; he'd been doing it for six years, ever since another cop had been shot, and all the guys he worked with made fun of him for being superstitious. Then one day, he runs to help a woman who's being attacked, and is shot in the process. When he recovers and returns to the precinct, everybody who'd ragged on him is there to welcome him back, and they're all wearing the same Superman shirt. He still wears his, too, complete with the bullet hole.
The "boy with cancer" story is even better when you realize it was drawn by Tim Sale, best known for his collaborations with Jeph Loeb - whose son Sam Loeb died of cancer. And the art is close enough that if you wanted to, you could see the dad in the story as Jeph himself.
The finale of The Black Ring storyline in Action Comics. Lex Luthor, having gained the power of a god decides it's time to finally kill Superman and summons him into space for a final showdown, during which he learns that Superman is Clark Kent... and promptly LOSES IT, raging at the perceived injustice that Superman got to have parents like the Kents, while he had a scumbag like Lionel for a father. In the end, he has the choice to bring peace and happiness to the universe FOREVER... or kill Superman. And he just can't do it. He finally loses his mind as he realizes everything he's lost, not even knowing his own name.
It's not just that. Luthor, with the power of a god, decides to torment Superman with visons of loss, as he believes that Superman is so alien that he couldn't understand the concept. First he shows Superman how much pain the citizens of Metropolis felt when he was murdered by Doomsday, then showing his birth parents' final moments on a dying Krypton, then his loss of the person he called his son, Chris Kent (Lor-Zod) as he threw himself into the Phantom Zone to stop his bastard of a father General Zod and finally the destruction of New Krypton. Yelling at Luthor to materialize the most painful loss in his life, Luthor then shows the death of Jonathan Kent in Clark and Martha's arms. The realization that dawns upon Luthor is surprisingly painful.
Superman/Batman #76. Every damn page of it. The issue is from the viewpoint of Superman as he deals with the death of Bruce Wayne. The most touching moment is when Superman is talking to Wonder Woman. Clark is discussing how they'll outlive everyone they know and how they're higher beings. Diana stops him, telling him that no matter how he wants to rationalize it, he's just a man grieving for a lost friend.
Superman trying to end famine in Africa in Peace On Earth. He's a Physical God, he should be able to accomplish anything, right? He can't.
Recently in Action Comics, in which Supermanfails to save Pa Kent from a fatal heart attack, because Kandor was coming back to full size and he was mesmerized.
The way he was so determined in that scene:
Superman: Pa? ...I ...why can't I hear Pa's hear beat? *Flying away from the battle.* Pa! Not my Pa! I can save him!
*Cut to Ma Kent running towards Pa Kent, face down in the middle of a field.*
Superman, flying so fast his hair has caught fire: I can save everyone!PAAAAA!
Superman-Prime: This is an indestructible flower from New Krypton. For him, from all of [the Superman Squad], in remembrance of all that we are, and all that we will be.
Issue #41 of the Ultimate X-Men series is the second part of a series called "New Mutants". It breaks from the previous issue (which showed people in New York protesting against the Xavier School of Gifted Youngsters) by following a young teenager who wakes up one morning to find that no one is around. He goes downstairs, and his family is gone. He walks outside and there are people on his street, who spontaneously explode when he turns away. He goes to school, meets his friends, and then his friends vaporize in front of him. Frightened out of his mind, he runs into a cave. He is surprised to see Wolverine, who has been waiting for him. Logan gives the kid a can of beer, and explains to him over the last half of the issue that his mutant power has manifested itself when he hit puberty the night before: the ability to destroy organic matter. This is the final exchange of the book:
Boy: So, like...(sniffles)...like one chromosome or whatever to the left, and I woul'a maybe been one of the X-Men.
Logan: Finish your beer.
Boy: Just do it.
The final shot of the book is Logan leaving the cave. The expression on his face says it all.
Gambit being left in Antarctica by Rogue in nothing more than leggings. It was incredibly sad and cruel because if not for the events of his on-going series, Gambit's death would have been sure. They tried to explain it away later that Rogue absorbed his self-hate, but shouldn't she have hated herself then? It was just a maximum case of abandoness it breaks hearts.
Rogue: Home? Yo ain't got no home. Not with me, not with the X-Men.
Gambit: But... I love you...
Rogue: You're honest with the people you love, Remy. Otherwise... it's a gamble.
Later issues (between the abandonment and his return) stated that she did hate herself when it happened, and as soon as his personality faded from her head she spent every spare moment she could flying back to Antarctica to find him...Her failure to do so triggered another bout of self-loathing where she tried to get herself depowered through ''yet another'' phony mutant cure.
Ladies and gentlemen, as of recently in the X-Men, Kurt Wagner, also known as Nightcrawler, is dead.
Wolverine #147. When Archangel heals Abraham Kieros aka the first War and allows him to walk again. Specially with Abraham's words as Angel helps him get up from his bed, which were something like this (translating from the Spanish edition):
Abraham: Archangel...? I don't know how you did it. But I can finally start to move. I think I'll be able to walk! I don't know what have I done to deserve this, but thanks... Thanks for giving me hope again.
Cable's funeral in X-Men: Second Coming. Especially the shots of Hope giving his eulogy and telling everyone that he, as a soldier, got what he wanted out of life and that no one needs to shed tears for him — while she and Cable's father Cyclops are crying.
The bit where Cable died was even more wrenching. We see the techno-organic virus consuming him outside and in, and Hope forces her way over to stare in shock. She whimpers softly "Please...come back to me..." and right before the nightmarish spread of Cable blowing apart, he manages to look at her and give a tiny, hopeful smile. That smile, and the image of Hope laying down next to the only remaining part of his body, his metallic arm, and weeping, will haunt me to the end of my days.
The X-Men First Class story "Catalyst": Starting off with them all losing their powers (leading to a Tear Jerker for Angel when he wakes up to see his wings fall apart around him). At first they're attacked by a Sentinel, which prompts Scott to at first beg for his powers back, even though just a second ago he was cheering with joy at finally being able to see. But then later get them back, ten times stronger. However, since Xavier, Jean and Iceman are now godlike, Xavier decides that they need to give up their new found power levels. The others, Angel, Beast, and Cyclops are not godlike, Angel can now heal others and has bigger wings, Beast is now as strong as the Hulk, and Cyclops has gained control of his power. Upon hearing Xavier's reason for giving them up, which requires they all give them up, Scott is the first to agree with him, simply because he believes anything Xavier says. So Scott gives up the chance to have full control over his powers for once so his friends don't become drunk with power; while it's hard to see, it looks like he's about to cry from the sacrifice.
The scene in the X-Men crossover Necrosha in which Warlock rescues Doug from the techno-organic zombies, by summoning a pair of sentient guided missiles he had created.
Missile 1: "Self/Father has need of our help?"
Missile 2: "Is it time to create the final boom?"
Warlock: "With sadness, affirmative.
Missile 1: "Sadness is not appropriate input, Self/Father."
Missile 2: "Was it not for this purpose that we were made?"
Wolverine's son Daken meets a beautiful, sociopath FBI agent and tries to make her "realize" that she loves him. She does not, or is unable to, feel the same about him. In fact, she thinks he's no better than the criminals she puts away everyday. Seeing Daken realize that he can't make this one, normal woman love him, that he can't have this one good thing in what's been a pretty miserable life, is pretty painful...especially if it sometimes feels as if I'm going through the same thing...
The first issue after M-Day of New X-Men, when hundreds of young mutants woke up powerless. Not because it was epic or melodramatic, but because it was a very realistic portrayal of the confused mindset of teenagers. Without their mutant abilities and features, friends couldn't recognize each other and some were scared of one another. A couple kids refused to believe their powers were gone and died trying to use them again. One kid was punching a wall as his fists were bleeding, happy to be able to feel again. It was a painful analogy of the horrible crap that happens to teens in the real world.
The last issue of M-Day. All of the heroes are fighting one another, and someone comes to the realization that it's Pietro that had caused this reality to exist in the first place because he wanted to save Wanda. The last moment before everything flashes back again always gets me, especially with the lone tear running down Wanda's face. "Daddy, no more mutants."
And the earlier scene, where Pietro is demanding that their father do something because otherwise Wanda will die, and Erik just looks so tired and helpless and can do nothing but turn away. Magneto, MASTER OF MAGNETISM, being absolutely beaten by the world is a Tearjerker on its own, and then you add in Pietro's literal collapse, and Wanda's quiet exhaustion— She's been pulled out of her bright, happy world so many times since we've last seen her, she actually accepts that her friends will come to murder her as a relief.
Joss Whedon hates his characters. Even his favorite ones. That is the only way to explain the end of his run on Astonishing X-Men, where Kitty doesn't die... she is just forced to drift intangibly through space, probably forever. Don't bother hating him for it, he probably hates himself too.
Jean Grey's death at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, particularly after Uatu's poignant statement at the end: "Jean Grey could have lived to become a God. But it was more important that she die... a human."
Colossus' sacrificing himself to release the Legacy Virus cure. Even though you knew they'd get around to bringing him back eventually, it was a touching scene.
In an old issue of New Mutants, Danielle Moonstar uses her Valkyrie powers to stand between Death and a childhood friend who was in a car accident...until Death tells her that her friend has slipped into an irreversible coma; Danielle can keep him from dying, but he will never wake up. Grieving, Danielle stands aside, and from inside the hospital room we hear the monitor flatline...
Captain Marvel's redemption and sacrifice in Kingdom Come, along with Superman's reaction. Also, the flashback to Lois Lane's death, and Magog's Heel-Face Turn.
The hypothetical defeat of the Justice League and the destruction of Earth in Justice. Everything in that sequence is painful to read: Flash's utter failure to save his city, the gruesome death of the Martian Manhunter, the boiling of Aquaman's oceans, the death of Lois Lane, the crushing of Wonder Woman, the destruction of the Earth and the survival of a tearful Superman who couldn't even lift a finger; even when it was a nightmare implanted by Brainiac and Lex Luthor into their fellow supervillains, it's really crushing how the possibility of such event could be greater than everyone expects, driving them to collectively attack and temporarily defeat the Justice League. Keep in mind, these are only the first pages of the introduction.
When Zatanna and the Martian Manhunter find Aquaman's maimed body. Keep in consideration that Brainiac removed the top of his head and his brain. At first, a worried Zatanna thinks that he is dead, but Professor Caulder (leader of the Doom Patrol) is able to restore his missing parts by submerging him in saltwater. This is one special story that actually shows Aquaman's full potential and drive as it should be.
The almost-death of Zatanna. The chase for Brainiac leads Zatanna to magically teleport herself and her companions right behind Brainiac's consciousness, which is jumping between bodies; it reaches outer space, where Zatanna (who is fully human) fades out from lack of oxygen. Superman basically has to burn through the atmosphere with the beautiful magician wrapped on his cape to make it in time to ground level, and make an enormous effort just to not to blow her up with his super-breath or crush her thorax by administering CPR. He succeeds, but the frantic pace of the sequence and Superman's rush to save her is really painful to watch.
"We do it because it needs to be done. Because if we don't, no one else will. And we do it even if no one knows what we've done. Even if no one knows we exist. Even if no one remembers we ever existed."
Issue #12 of the mini-series Ion: Guardian of the Universe was especially emotional. Kyle Rayner's mother dies, at which point he uses his Ion powers to revive her. The real Tear Jerker moment comes when she asks him to put her to rest, and tells him she loves him.
From the more recent "Threeboot" continuity, there's Legion of Super-Heroes #11, when Elysion has killed Dream Girl. Brainiac 5 places a force-field over her body, and informs the other Legion members present that he has a plan to save her, to beat death - by outthinking it. The others go off to try and stop Elysion from doing any more damage, while Brainiac 5 remains standing over his fallen teammate. The final page of the issue shows Brainiac still inactive, and Legionnaire Theena confronts him.
Theena: But sir, you said you had a plan to save her.
Brainiac 5: Not yet.
Theena: Why not?
Brainiac 5:(in a small voice, with tears streaming down his face) I'm not smart enough.
The sorrow, frustration, and impotence conveyed in that one phrase is heartbreaking.
The after effects can be seen in Nightwing #139, the Brother vs. Brother issue. Tim and Dick end up physically fighting over the fact that Timwants to use a Lazarus Pit to bring back everyone he had lost at that point: his father, best friend and girlfriend. It ends with Tim accepting he can't use it and crumpling into big-brother Nightwing's arms for a well-earned Cooldown Hug. It's a tearjerker breakdown and a depressing reminder that a year and a half is a short time to lose three people you love.
Also, that painfully depressing tribute issue of Superman/Batman: written as a tribute to a young boy who died of cancer. The issue was written and drawn by 26 different artists at DC Comics, including all the big, well known guys, and concluded with a tearjerking Superman centric short.
It's worse if you know the story behind it. The boy in question, Sam Loeb, was Jeph Loeb's son. He had been asked to write that issue of Superman/Batman because it was about Superboy and Robin, but had only got as far as writing the outline before he died of bone cancer. It was at his funeral that the idea of the 26 (nicknamed because there were originally 26 of them and it was issue 26 of the comic) to finish it and get it out in his name. The writers and artists were from both Marvel and DC (Marvel having decided that it was bigger than any rivalry) and all profits went to establishing a fund in Sam's name. The Superman short was written by Jeph as a way of dealing with the loss of his son. The kicker? The note that Superboy finds, and is shown on the last page of the short, was the last note Sam wrote before he died.
Similarly, the death of Bart Allen after his depressingly short stint as the fourth Flash. It's the fact that his last words to another character are "I think I love..." which really gets people.
The reaction of Tim Drake to Bart's death (making him the last remaining member of the original "Young Justice" trio from the nineties) even more than Bart's actual death: A single page with no words and a dropped communicator, and Robin just sitting there in silence at the bottom of the page said more than the entire, disastrous arc had thus far. Even without Bart being mentioned at all in the rest of the issue, you knew what it was that had freaked Tim out so much.
The death of Bart's speed-scout in Young Justice which sends Bart into shock and makes him stop wanting to be a hero.
Not to mention Batman's tribute to Martian Man hunter in the tie in: silently unmasking and laying an Oreo on J'onn's coffin.
The DCU Elseworlds comic, Created Equal. A cosmic storm sweeps past Earth, killing every male on the planet except for Superman. If Superman using his heat vision to carve in a Batman insignia on the grave marked "Bruce Wayne" doesn't get to you, then the dialogue between Martha Kent and her adopted son over the grave of Jonathan Kent will. Or the fact that Superman is forced to leave Earth because his presence threatens to mutate the virus, killing the rest of the human population two days before his son is born. And then the second issue starts with tragedy when Adam accidentally kills his mother while hugging her.
This editor had barely heard of Animal Man before 52, and he cried like a baby at his death. It's made worse when he, being the Meta Guy he is, tells the others what the audience is thinking.
Many tearjerker moments exist in 52. Week 34, Day 7 finds the Question in the hospital dying of cancer as Renee Montoya looks on - on New Year's Eve, deliriously singing "Oh Danny Boy" in a haze of pain and morphine as the television counts down. 5... 4... 3... 2...
The last few issues are chock-full of tears, some happy, some sad, especially with each twist of Skeets' fate, and the ultimate fate of Ralph and Sue Dibny. "Honey, your nose is twitching."
Booster getting the chance to say goodbye to Beetle, and saving the multiverse right afterward:
Booster: Light up the whole damn sky, Daniel! This one's for the blue and the gold!
On the subject of Booster, him having to sacrifice Skeets to stop Mr. Mind, particularly their last conversation. Fortunately, Skeets got better.
Mar'i "Nightstar" Grayson's very existence in an alternate reality is enough of a tear jerker in itself, considering Dick Grayson's relationship history, but worse is when Mar'i is asking about her grandparents. Yes, there is grandpa Bruce, but recall both Dick and Kori didn't exactly have much more than each other. Being told her Tamaranean grandparents are with X'Hal and the Grayson's are in heaven is one of those moments you just want to pick up and hug her. And Dick.
The universe of the Crime Syndicate. It's a wonderfully comic book idea: evil counterparts of the Justice League ruling the world and fighting good counterparts of classic DC villains. However, it descends into pure horror and Tear Jerker with one detail about this world: because of the nature of their universe, evil will always win. Meaning that in this universe, people like Lex Luthor and the Joker can be redeemed, become more then their mainstream counterparts could ever hope to be... and constantly be thwarted by Ultraman and Owlman, and fight in vain for truth and justice in a world that is inherently evil.
There is a hope spot though: as a side effect of the universe being reshuffled in a JLA arc, evil doesn't always win there any more, but that also means good doesn't always win in the main universe any more, either.
Justice Society of America has a few good contenders - Jakeem Thunder's tearfully-rendered orders to the Thunderbolt to bring back Johnny Thunder, who'd died following the Ultra-Humanite battle. Then there's Atom-Smasher's death at the hands of The Spectre, and Stargirl's reaction to it - she's a cutesy teen hero, and he's the older guy she has feelings for and idolized, so she breaks down in tears over his dead body. Then again when she spends an issue talking about parents (i.e. how her stepfather is a good one and her real father is a scumbag), only to find out that her birth father has died. Her reaction is to break into tears, and ask her stepfather why she even cares, unable to comprehend why she would feel bad for someone who "was never even there!" "Because you're a wonderful daughter." is the answer.
there is also a more meta tear jerker there. Stargirl is based on the sister of Geoff Johns, who wrote JSA (and Stars & STRIPE); she died on flight TWA800. It makes me a bit teary after an Archive Binge of my collection to see this character go from a bit of a brat into a competent reliable mentor-ish hero and remember that he wrote her after his sister.
The last story in the collected edition of "The Lightning Saga", which shows all of the personal meetings between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. It shows all of the ups and downs (in one scene, Batman is talking about how he has found a new Robin named Jason and how happy he is), and it's all drawn in the styles of the some of the most memorable artists who have ever drawn in Justice League. How can you not shed a tear or two?
Half of Teen Titans Go! #47 (based on the animated series) deals with Robin reminiscing about his parents on the anniversary of their death, with the other Titans coming in periodically to try and help him cope, each in their own individual way. The story ends with Robin going up to the roof of the Tower, taking off his mask and breaking down and crying before being comforted by Starfire, while off across the bay a concerned Batman watches through binoculars, smiling and deciding that Robin's in good hands.
The first canonical meeting of Superman and Captain Marvel in the Modern Age, "First Thunder". Billy's friend is killed by mercenaries (hired by Dr. Sivana) and Cap manages to arrest them and take them to the police headquarters. Upon taking his friend's body to the hospital and being told he is dead, Billy transforms to confront the killers and then Sivana. When Superman confronts Cap later on, Supes discovers that the mighty hero he had just recently met was really a young boy.
"Ask my family and they'll tell you I was a Navajo. Ask the Army Air Force and they'll say I was an American. But if you ask my brothers, they'll set you straight. John Cloud was a Loser."
The story of John Henry, a black vigilante fighting the Klan in the South. His family murdered, he is eventually killed by the Klan after months of fighting them.
Even worse is HOW he dies: he's wounded and trying to escape a murderous posse, and he ends up in a back yard where a small white girl with dead eyes regards him, and then calls out to the posse his location...
Kingdom Come and JSA has been already mentioned, but what about that story, when the Superman from Kingdom Come is, right after the nuclear explosion that killed the other superheroes, transported to main DC-Earth, joins the JSA and when he returns home we can see what happened with him after the end of Kingdom Come? We seen him almost killing all ONZ members only to stop at the last moment, when he finds out that not all of his friends have died. He retires and spends the rest of his life peacefully - we see him raising babies with Wonder Woman, attending on Batman's funeral and other stuff like that. Hundreds of years pass, until we reach the 31st Century - a multi-racial crowd is starring at the sky when Legion of Super-Heroes is flying by. An old, grey-haired man, using his own cape as a cloak and a cane to stand is among the crowd. And he is so damn proud it makes me cry.
Agreed. One of the scenes taking place on main Earth is particularly sad. Kingdom Come Superman, after everything that happened to him for the last ten years, uses his vision to look over the world he finds himself in, only to see heroes flying around without a care in the world, visiting sick friends at a hospital, or showing kids how to fold a flag. You can practically feel his heart breaking.
A recent arc in Booster Gold has him traveling back in time to watch himself at the funeral of Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. He just stands there, unable to say anything at all. He just collapses and starts to cry. We cut back to the present day, where Ted, now reanimated as a Black Lantern zombie, is attacking Booster Gold and Jamie Reyes, the current Blue Beetle. Booster eventually defeats the zombie Blue Beetle, with some of Ted Kord's old technology. At the end, Booster buries his friend again and says "Rest well, Ted. You'll never be forgotten." Booster's Robot Buddy, Skeets, replies "Indeed he won't, sir" and then proceeds to show a montage of all the memories that the two shared in life. The last page shows Jaime stating "I can be the Blue Beetle, but I can never replace Ted." Booster replies, "Maybe so. All you can do is be the best Jaime Reyes you can be. Everything else will fall in place. Best way to honor Ted I can think of."
The Wonder Woman story "Chalk Drawings" isn't really about Wonder Woman; it's about the suicide of a depressed teenage girl. And it's absolutely heartbreaking.
In the climax of Blue Beetle, when he's finally facing down the Reach, we see Jaime decide to make a heroic sacrifice. That's not tearjerking. It's pretty awesome, but not tearjerking. And then you see the Scarab, an alien intelligence designed to help the Reach conquer planets, completely agree to stick with him until the end, stating "Reyes[Friend]/Sacrifice[Good]. Scarab[Hero]" Yes you are, Scarab. *Sniff.* Yes, you are.
The origin of Saint Walker "All will be well", Atrocitus "They came, and we... and we did nothing...", and Sinestro. "Was it worth losing the only woman you ever loved?" To make matters worse, recent issues are dropping hints that even Larfleeze of all people, has a tragic past.
A story where Zatanna has a nightmare and then convinces Batgirl and Wonder Woman to go out clubbing and dancing. At first, the story seems like a cheery fluff story set in the past, but as the story goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that Zatanna's nightmare was actually a prophecy of Barbara Gordon being paralyzed. Zatanna and Wonder Woman, knowing they can't fight prophecy, just wanted to give her one last perfect night. The tears really come when the story cuts to the present and you see how important that night was to her.
Barbara Gordon: I had the most wonderful dream. I was dancing...
Madame Xanadu #26 starts with a very young boy, Sammy, who drifts from place to place, who for some reason has an unbearable stench. Dogs are particularly angry at him at all times and he can't remember where he went to school, thoug he naturally drifts to playgrounds. In dreams, he's a brave space adventurer, whose only fear is the mysterious Space Witch that keeps popping in his dreams. And one snowy night, as he's escaping from another pack, one of he dogs manages to bite him... and his foot comes off. Suddenly, the winds heralding the Witch swirl, and Madame Xanadu soothes the dogs and sends them home. Then, she gently asks him to trust her, and to show her where he sleeps. He takes her to the abandoned storeroom where he always sleeps, and she casts a memory spell to help him remember - his mother, a teenage mother unable to raise him, descending to prostitution and drug abuse, left him in the storeroom to get her fix, telling him to wait for her. Turns out, he never left; all that remains of him is the tiny skeleton in the floor. Madame Xanadu soothes him, and tells him he can go now. Sammy sinks into his body, and finally goes to sleep forever.
Early in Grant Morrison's JLA run, Professor Ivo and T. O. Morrow rig up a fake superheroine to join the Justice League in open tryouts — Tomorrow Woman. The plan is to have her detonate a bomb that will wipe out the entire League at the proper moment. While she's chained up in "downtime," her creators gloat that they didn't even put the word "freedom" in her vocabulary banks. When the time comes, and the League is facing a major cataclysm, Tomorrow Woman sacrifices herself and uses the explosion to stop it. Superman finds her soon after, obviously the worse for ware:
Tomorrow Woman: Duh-duh-d-d-don't... don't look at me...
Superman: Why? You didn't have to sacrifice yourself. Why did you do it?
Tomorrow Woman: I... I... word not present in vocabulary... word not present in.. present in vocabulary...
The JLA Alternate UniverseThe Nail has the murders of Robin and Batgirl at the hands of The Joker, while a restrained Batman can only watch. Then he goes Unstoppable Rage, kills the Joker on live TV and has an epicHeroic BSOD.. And by the end there's the murder of Not!Superman's Amish parents in front of him too, and his heartbroken reaction after he fights their killer... the mutated Jimmy Olsen.
The Justice Society of America story "Out of Time" which chronicles the final moments of the third Hourman as he sacrifices himself to preserve the timeline and the universe and to give the first and second Hourmen a chance to be a family again.
It took me a long time to read Sue's funeral without crying my eyes out. Especially when Ralph is so distraught he can't even speak and ends up losing his shape.
In an issue of The Ultimates, there is a wall of photos of everyone that died in the Hulk's rampage. In itself, it's a really sad moment but seeing a child's drawing of a policeman with the child's handwriting on it with the words "We miss you Daddy" clinches it.
There are many Tear Jerker moments in Runaways but Gert's death takes the prize.
What makes it worse is it is the second time Gert has died in Chase's arms.
The girl's design was based on a story in a pre-code horror comic, trust me that was a real tear jerker.
She shows up again in the sequel by sneaking into Sheldon's hospital room.
The death of Gwen Stacy from an entirely different angle. It's not less painful than the original story.
The Death of Captain Marvel. Mar-Vell telling his lover, Elysius, that's he's dying without dialogue. When the Skrull general salutes Mar-Vell as an honorable enemy, even while his own people, the Kree, reject him. And finally, when Thanos comes to reconcile him to death.
Hang on until Uncanny X-Men #522, in March. That is all.
Silver Surfer: Requiem. The story of the four-part "what-if" focused on the Silver Surfer as he discovered he was slowly dying because the power that Galactus gave him started wearing off. It's a wonderfully touching series, with a tear-jerker happening at least once in each and every issue:
Issue 1: The Surfer discovers that he is dying, with Reed Richards breaking the news to him.
Issue 2: Spider-Man, the last person he encounters before beginning his journey home to Zenn-La, convinces the Surfer to unleash the Power Cosmic long enough to give the world a glimpse of the same freedom and peace he's experienced thanks to the same power.
The only thing he ever wanted was to bring peace to the world. And for five minutes, he did just that.
Issue 3: On his trip back to his homeworld, the Surfer becomes stuck in the middle of an interplanetary war that had been waged for generations, with both sides' leaders now simply perpetuating the battle for their own gain. Norrin disables the ability of the two sides' fleets to make war, then shows both sides the truth of their situation. His intervention results in the end of the war and a peace between both worlds.
"If sacred places are spared the ravages of war, then make all places sacred. And if the holy people are to be kept harmless from war, then make all peoples holy."
Issue 4: Norrid Radd returns to Zenn-La to face his fate, and Galactus - who returns to offer the Surfer a chance to live, which Norrin rejects - tells him that no harm will ever come to Zenn-La, respecting the final wish of "the most honorable being I have ever known". After the Surfer passes away and the planet has mourned his loss, Galactus sends his remains into deep space and creates a new star using his power, one which would remind Zenn-La "not so much of his sacrifices, not so much for what he lost, as what he gave."
The death of Marvel Comics villain Black Knight. On his deathbed Nathan Garrett laments that he wasted his life and his intellect by turning to a life of crime and asks Dane Whitman, his nephew and the only person who ever meant anything to him, to use his technology for good so that the world will one day remember the Black Knight as a benefactor to mankind. Dane accepts.
When the Irredeemable Ant-Man tells the mother of his child that he can't be involved in its life, as well as the whole exchange with the empath he falls in love with. That final speech where he admits his failings and promises that he will honestly try to change, even as it becomes apparent that he probably can't and never will.
The Punisher MAX series has more than a few emotionally hard-hitting moments, such as the final couple of panels of "The Slavers" in which we learn that, despite Frank killing the titular slavers and Viorica being able to assume the closest thing to a decent living in New York, the scars from her mistreatment and the killing of her baby will never fade away. Also, the end of the fifth issue of "The Man of Stone" arc, where O'Brien dies in Frank's arms, asking only that he kill Rawlins for her, and to stay with her so she wouldn't die alone.
Iron Man is not exactly thick with these moments, but there is one that always gets me: In #22 of the first volume, Janice Cord, Tony Stark's love interest of several years, gets dragged into a three-way battle between Iron Man, Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man. As she dies her fading last words are "You called me 'darling'... strange... it sounded so much... like the way Tony says it to me...". She never even knew. And the superhero business was definitely not her world. She was practically the definition of an innocent bystander.
Planet Hulk had one right after the other at the end. After a long fought battle, being infested by "creatures" that mutate everything into a zombie creature, and catching a nuke, Hulk prepares for a well earned peace. Then the shuttle that brought him to his home goes critical. Everyone dies except for a handful of people lucky enough to understand what's going on when he shouts to move. His wife and unborn child die in his arms. He screams to the heavens to give him all his people back, then in a defeated, sorrowful tone, meekly asks for the heavens to give her back. Right after, his friends come to get him so he isn't stuck on a wasteland. One of which, Noname, is a Brood who's crying over the lost child she tried to take to safety and failed. An alien creature based off the xenomorphs and for humor, threatened to eat the face of one of the other characters, is crying for a small child.
The last issue of perpetually B-list Marvel hero Quasar's solo series. Thanks to various cosmic events, his girlfriend has been sealed away on an alternate Earth that she can never leave and he can never visit (as ordained by The Living Tribunal, essentially God's personal representative). His security company is on the verge of collapse. And one of his nastier villains escapes his other-dimensional imprisonment and threatens everyone he loves, causing Quasar to pull a Faking the Dead to his friends and family, and self-exile from Earth. Specifics change, but his overall happy level has barely fluctuated much from this degree of suck right to the present day (he's currently stuck somewhere between alive and undead, though this at least looks like it might change soon).
In the last issue of the mini-series The Thanos Imperative we have Mistress Death walk silently away from a distraught Thanos, who has just destroyed a whole universe to please her and prove to her that he loves her. As she walks away, a human-faced death sheds a tear, as she knows that he will forever be kept alive and never be hers to love. Something about Gods and such never being able to love is especially sad.
Hulk: The End is practically made of tearjerkers. It's an Else Worlds story in which Bruce Banner/Hulk is the only intelligent creature left on Earth after a nuclear fallout. Bruce is a withered old man, and the Hulk seems helpless in this new world. Despite having only each other for company, Hulk still hates Banner more then anything, and refuses to reconcile with him and let Banner die peacefully. Every day, the Hulk is eaten alive by mutant bugs, only to regenerate and continue the cycle. Now it sounds bad, right? Gets worse. Near the end, Banner finally dies from a heart attack telling the Hulk to let his anger go. The Hulk's final line:
Hulk: Banner's gone, took care of him last night... Hulk is strongest one there is... Hulk... only one there is... Hulk feels... cold.
Fantastic Four #587, The Last Stand of Johnny Storm. the Human Torch, Ben Grimm, and the Future Foundation go through a portal to the Negative Zone to try to stop the Annihilation Wave. Johnny's niece, Val, knows that the only way to close the portal is for one person to stay behind and close it manually. Ben, who has taken a formula that makes him human for a week, volunteers to stay behind. However, Johnny pushes Ben through the portal back to Earth, sacrificing himself. The part that really makes it is Johnny's pure defiance and bravado until the very end.
Human Torch: A billion to one... you think I'm afraid of that? YOU THINK I'M AFRAID OF THAT? FLAME ON!
The aftermath is even worse, especially the reactions of Franklin and Valeria. They're just kids, but because of their powers and intellect they think they could have prevented Johnny's death. Franklin confesses to Spider-Man that he thinks he could have saved Johnny if he had a better handle on his Reality Warper powers. Spidey tells him he can relate, since he also failed to save his uncle. Valeria's way of dealing with it is both sad and disturbing. She writes up an agenda for the Future Foundation with Annihilus' assassination as a top priority. It's sad because she can't grieve like a normal little girl. It's terrifying because little girls should not be planning assassination attempts.
The worst of all though is how the ever loving blue eyed Thing mourns. He meets with Thor and Bruce Banner and the two try to show him a hologram of Johnny. Ben grows furious and attacks Thor. Thor is about to fight back when Banner stops him and transforms into the Hulk. The Hulk stands completely still as he lets Ben punch and attack him until The Thing tearfully collapses. For two characters defined by looking like monsters, this show of utmost humanity is absolutely gut wrenching.
Then there's Fantastic Four #267. Sue's pregnant with her and Reed's second child, but radiation due to exposure to the Negative Zone is threatening both of their lives. Reed calls in the experts in radiation - Bruce Banner, Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch of Alpha Flight), and Michael Morbius, but they're not enough. Langkowski suggests bringing in Otto Octavius, who's currently locked up and on meds, and when Reed goes to retrieve him, Otto is only too happy to once again be given a chance to help people instead of hurting them. Unfortunately, though, Reed just happens to drive the Fantasticar past an anti-Spidey billboard from the Daily Bugle, which sets Doc Ock off, and he jumps ship, forcing Reed to battle him. Reed eventually gets Octopus to settle down and agree to help again (though still in full Doc Ock persona), and they rush to the hospital, where Sue is saved, but... the final page, one panel enclosed in black, tells it all.◊
In The Mighty Thor #4 (Matt Fraction's run), Odin and Galactus and their respective forces are fighting over who will gain control of the Life Seed. Instead of fighting head-on, Odin and Galactus engage in a psychic battle where they show each other their worst memories. Towards the end of the issue, we see Galan, a younger Galactus, investigating the impending doom of his universe. The kicker comes when it is revealed to the reader and to Galan that his wife/lover is pregnant. For a brief panel, the reader sees Galan overjoyed at the prospect of being a father, only to have his universe, his lover, and his unborn child die a few seconds later. This one memory overwhelms the mighty Galactus. I'm not one for recons, but this one was rather touching, if only for the reason that it showed that Galactus, The Devourer of Worlds, was once a normal person who had everything taken away from in a brief instance; it really hits home when you realize that he has to kill trillions every year just to keep the current universe from being completely being destroyed.
Finesse of Avengers Academy, gifted with the ability to mimic any fighting skill she sees, thinks the Taskmaster might be her father because of their similar power. They spar to get the readings from one another and Taskmaster tells her that the mimicry power comes at a cost: the loss of long-term memory. They might be related; they might not be. But not only will he eventually forget the entire conversation they had, he won't even remember who she is because she's not a person with a unique fighting style, just an amalgam of other people like he is.
This builds on Taskmaster's miniseries in which his origin is revealed. He was just a normal SHIELD agent who underwent a procedure to be able to mimic the fighting styles of anyone. Unfortunately, this had the side effect of making him lose his memories over time. Even worse, his wife (likely Finesse's mother) continues to operate as Taskmaster's handler in the hopes of keeping him from doing anything too evil (and reporting information he gathers to SHIELD to help protect him). Because even if he can't remember her, she still loves him (and, when he regained his memory of her briefly, he still loved her). The real tearjerker: The reason Taskmaster is a villain is because, while he can't remember it, he still feels horrible guilt over forgetting his wife because one of her earliest memories is being abandoned by her parents. This, along with Taskmaster's role in Initiative and Agent X largely make him one of the biggest woobies in the Marvel Universe.
Also from Avengers Academy: Hank's broken reaction when he finally has to admit that Jocasta is right that he's not able to bring Jan back whole yet, and that Jan would have hated to come back as anything less after having had to see her own mother live her life as a vegetable after a car accident. Just the look on his face when he finally forces himself to let go of his obsessive quest and say goodbye is crushing. And then later he discovers the body he was trying to revive wasn't even her and she's still nothing but scattered molecules out in the void somewhere.
Captain America discovering that Bucky is alive, but that he's the Winter Soldier. When he calls out to him and the Winter Soldier asks who Bucky is, and then when Steve restores his memories and Bucky remembers everything that he's done—and he tells Steve that he should have killed him instead.
It's probably best summed up by a quote by Ed Brubaker:
Cap still lost. If I was going to take away the tragedy of Bucky being killed in action, I had to replace it with something worse. Cap couldn’t save Bucky and because he couldn’t, Bucky became his own worst nightmare. And then in trying to save Bucky again — by giving him his memories back — Cap tortures Bucky by making him realize everything he did as the Winter Soldier too. Bucky is such a great tragic character and that tragedy has different sides to it now."
One issue of Punisher War Journal double whammies, especially with the last pages if you hadn't heard of what happened. The entire story isn't about Frank Castle, but about a normal joe named Ian, whose apparently a member of the NYPD. A supervillain ends up causing a ruckus and Ian holds him at gunpoint, ready to take him down. However, as the story progresses, you come to find out why he became a cop and why he was here now: he became a cop following the 9/11 attacks, but he wasn't a full cop, just an auxillary one. However, everything fell apart when his family had been killed in the Stamford incident and was let go. He put on the uniform and patrolled New York City not out of duty, but because it was all he could do to keep himself sane. When the Punisher shows up, giving the cops the opportunity to take down the villain, Castle goes to walk away, only to look up and see the death of Captain America. Just his stunned reaction to it - No. Not him. "No..." - is enough to see that the man has some great Hidden Depths and even he can be shaken by something like that.
The entire last issue of Garth Ennis's Fury: My War Gone By series is basically an examination of how little Fury's life of war has meant. Even the enemy who defeated him in Vietnam acknowledges that it was all pointless.
Fury: "I wanted the girl and the war and the victory. I chose one."
Maria Hill's backstory, as revealed in Invincible Iron Man. Her mother died either during or shortly after her birth, her father hated her for it, and she grew up with everyone telling her that she was terrible, from her childhood, to being kicked out of high school, to when she was in the Marines, to when Fury was yelling at her. On top of this, she's shown being treated badly by the SHI El D agents around her, with one saying "so long, sweet cheeks" and her narration says that she can't resist slapping back once more. Is it any surprise that Maria's first instinct is usually to attack people? She's spent her entire life being hated for things as simple as being alive and being a woman?
Even worse—we see a photograph of Maria's desk when she's clearing it out - it's of her shaking Fury's hand. This implies that she used to look up to Fury, but in another issue where he broke into the Helicarrier to warn her about the Skrulls, he didn't even remember meeting her before.
Gen 13's issue #76 of the vol. 2 series. The entire thing is a sweet, poignantly funny party on the beach, complete with skinny-dipping, drinking, and plenty of hooking-up (with gratuitous Fanservice). Only to find out that it's all a product of Caitlin's mind, as she and the other teens are in the process of getting blown up by a bomb: "Is this a Gen-Active thing... My mind conjuring a delusional unreality in the thousandth of a second before I'm vaporized...? Or does everyone die like this... the brain frantically stretching time into a subjective eternity, trying to comfort itself against the end?..."
Swedish children's comic Bamse (which is aimed at really young children, like "just learned to read" ones) has this in the origin story of one of the series' villains (Wolf) let's see: orphaned at birth, raised by three abusive criminals, forced to help them commit crimes, wolf meets she-wolf, she-wolf teaches wolf to read, wolf's parents make him break in at she-wolf, wolf gets caught but escapes with help of she-wolf, wolf tries to get a job but can't because of earlier criminal behavior, wolf becomes pissed off, wolf thinks of she-wolf a lot. Wolf eventually meets main character of comics, and after continuously being thwarted wolf eventually performs his Face-Heel Turn. That should do it, right? Not precisely, wolf still thinks of she-wolf, eventually meets up with her by accident. Happy ending, right? Not quite. She's married, with two children. Sad wolf.
And then they make it even worse by quoting Fröding...
Fables when Snow and Bigby finally get married. They were happy tears. Also in 1001 Nights of Snowfall with the story of Flycatcher and the story of his dead wife. That development broke my heart. What about the illness and death of Boy Blue? Or The Last Castle?
Xadhoom's Heroic Sacrifice / I Want My Beloved to Be Happy in Paperinik New Adventures. If you want details: after finally defeating the Evrons and saving her people, she realizes that she has no place among them; she flies into space, says "All my life I wanted to do what was best for my people, and now I know how", and uses her powers to turn into a star so that her race can settle on the nearby planets.
Most of the comics written after September 11 and published in the 9/11 memorial collection provoke this, but one in particular is especially moving; it outlines the story of a young man who berates himself for his inability to really feel anything after the attacks, blaming his exposure to popular culture and the jading, desensitizing effect it has had on him after bombarding him with so many terrible images over the years. It lasts until he hears The Beatles' "Let It Be" on his car radio when driving home the night after the attacks... and has to pull over as the tears flood out of him.
The sequence with the small boy waiting for his Dad.
A woman trapped in the rubble is saved by a fireman, who pulls her out of the debris and helps her out to the EMTs. He smiles reassuringly behind his oxygen-mask, then turns around and heads back in. We end with the woman, with a bandage or two, paying her respects to a Missing poster of the firefighter who saved her. The woman's narration doesn't help the reader to man up and not cry.
The story with the two cartoon birds flying around speaking in rhyme. The poem ends with "I know you are / But what am I?"
While we're on the subject of 9/11, the Spider-Man "Black Issue" was quite moving itself. Featuring all the characters, hero and villain, working together, along with a shot of the big name villains (Magneto, Doom, etc.) paying tribute. And to top it off, a single tear rolls down the cheek of the ruler of Latveria.
Judd Winick's Pedro & Me: the true story of Pedro Zamora, AIDS activist, housemate on The Real World, and all-round beautiful human being, is so sad and so moving.
Don't believe a story about an anthropomorphic bunny can make you cry? "A Mother's Love", one of Stan Sakai's earlier Usagi Yojimbo stories, ends with the rabbit ronin killing a old woman at her own request as she cradles and sings to her son, whom she has just murdered to end his brutal rule over their village.
To say nothing of the stunner at the conclusion of Fathers and Sons. Right at the moment when Usagi decides to not tell Jotaro of his true parentage, even though it breaks his heart... right at the very moment he's almost out of earshot, a tearful Jotaro confides that he knew Usagi was his father all along! If that doesn't make one a little misty-eyed, nothing will.
When Element Lad murders his former teammate Monstress in Legion Lost. Even if you found that moment to be ridiculous, however, there's still Legion Lost's ending, in which Live Wire sacrifices himself to save the other lost Legionnaires and let them return home - having first formally resigned from the Legion because Legionnaires don't kill - complete with a callback to the Legion's founding and a very effective fade-to-white.
In Serenity: Better Days, what Wash sees his and Zoe's future as with the money the crew have found. If you've watched the movie, you will understand.
In #5 of the original series, Leetah is refusing to submit to her Recognition with Cutter, because she's too proud to give in to an involuntary mating urge. Cutter, the tough young wolf-blooded elf punk chieftain, turns to her with tears in his eyes and tells her "I'm not sure I can live without you".
Flash forward to #16... Cutter and Leetah are now happily lifemated and have a pair of children, but last issue they got caught up in a battle and Cutter was grievously wounded. The cover shows Leetah weeping, but we don't know if it's because he's dead or alive. Later that issue, when it's finally revealed that Cutter will live, we see Cutter's best friend Skywise, who's been keeping his emotions under tight rein up to that point, hugging Cutter's children fiercely and weeping while they do their best to comfort him. Note: the following link contains other story spoilers: link.
There's also the death of Nightrunner, the farewell to One-Eye, and most of all, the death of STARJUMPER. That last one especially because of how hard Skywise tried to save him.
Early Alan Moore comic The Ballad of Halo Jones has a heartbreaking moment between Halo and her best friend Toy. They've both signed up for the army and are fighting a war in a remote region of a remote planet. Their unit gets ambushed on their first real sortie and all the soldiers except Toy and Halo are killed. Toy is injured, so Halo helps her limp along, and eventually fashions a stretcher so she can drag Toy to their HQ, keeping a determinedly positive attitude all the while despite the grim circumstances. And then she arrives and tells the medic to attend to Toy, and the medic takes one look at Toy and says "How long has she been dead?" Halo's answer: a quietly stunned "What?"
This one was almost certainly pinched from one of the most famous, and gutting Tear Jerker moments in the Erich Maria Remarque novel and classic film All Quiet on the Western Front. Steal from the best!
Glyph. No-one being able to remember it's existence even after it died to save Halo's life.
Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm. The premise of the story is that an eighteen-year-old girl named Grace is suddenly accompanied by versions of herself aged six, twenty-nine and seventy. For seventy pages it's not clear why this has happened or what the title means, and then the six-year-old Grace starts acting up, and eighteen-year-old Grace reveals that she had a sister called Lily who died when she, Grace, was six — and her parents were so wrapped up in their own grief that they couldn't help Grace through hers. Finally Grace confronts her parents:
Grace: Mom, Dad... d-do you sometimes wish I had died instead of Lily?
Mom: ...Grace, don't you ever ask that question again. Do you hear me? If you ever ask us that again, you are grounded for a year! [hugs Grace] Oh, I'm a terrible mother! I'm sorry, honey, I'm so sorry...
Grace: No, Mom, I...
Mom: Grace, we love you so so much. I'm so sorry if we don't seem like we show you enough...
Dad: Grace-ya, you have our love for two daughters all to yourself. And that's not only because of Lily's death. We're that proud of you.
Caption: That night I slept with my 6-year-old self in my arms. She — I — slept like an angel. The first real sleep since Lily's death.
WE 3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. You wouldn't think that a comic about stray animals being transformed into robotic killing machines would make you cry. You'd be wrong. "Home... is run no more."
Even the covers are kinda heartrending. Especially the third one.
"When the Wind Blows", good Lord, it was nothing but Tear Jerker. The worst bit of it was how completely ignorant the couple in the story are of their fate while the reader is sobbing on their behalf.
"No one forgets. No one." and "He knew her. He knows that. In another time, another world - he knew her. And he loved her. And that makes all the difference."
The Beautie Special.
The death of Marty Chefwick AKA Mock Turtle becomes really sad when you look back at his telling the reader they should never give up on their dreams, because his has come true.
Especially if you consider the fact that the Turtle thought that the residents of Kiefer Square had saved him from the Chessmen because they considered him to be one of them/their friend despite the fact that they'd never seen him before. In reality, they had done it because they mistakenly thought that the Chessmen were responsible for the string of killings up to that point.
Blankets by Craig Thompson certainly counts as one big Tearjerker, even despite it's Doorstopper status.
The end of Bone, specifically, Lucius' funeral and Thorn and Fone Bone's goodbye.
Swamp Thing:This body moves... it has life... but a heartbeat is not a woman... a breath is not Abby. I close my eyes... and when I open them... Abby is still dead.
Floronic Man, despite being a genuinely despicable person gets one when his cruel actions and the Swamp Thing's intervention lead the Green to abandon him and he realizes that he's once again utterly alone.
Hitman. Garth Ennis writes a tale which starts off as a bunch of friends who all happen to be hitmen who drink together. Almost everyone dies over the course of the comic, the final issue ends with the title character charging an army by himself in a futile attempt to save his dying friend. "We are such little men" an observer remarks. As the two friends lie dying together one of them reminds the other of a dream he had, where they walk into their favourite bar and all their dead friends are there and the barman says "Drinks onna house fellas. There ain't no closing time. But you gotta leave your guns at the door."
And then there's the scene with Tommy and Sister Concepta at the grave of Pat Noonan, who was his surrogate father and her lover (yes, she's a nun).
Tommy: "He was a great man, wasn't he, Connie?"
Concepta: "He was just a man, Tommy. He wasn't a great man, or a good man, or some kind of a saint. He did some decent things and he did some evil things. He killed people. Sometimes for his country, sometimes for money. Once or twice just to help his friends. He did what he thought he had to. He was no better and no worse than a lot of people who've walked this Earth. He was just a man. And I loved him more than God almighty."
The ending of JLA/HITMAN: a while after Tommy's death, Superman stumbles across the mostly-demolished wall of the Watchtower bathroom, and finds the facetious "Tommy wuz here" graffiti Tommy had scribbled there a few hours before the Crowning Moment of Awesome in which he had singlehandedly stopped a Bloodlines-alien infestation.
Doctor Who: The Forgotten. In the final scene, the Doctor speaks to the TARDIS, which has helped him in his Journey to the Center of the Mind by taking the forms of several of his companions. He begs her to take one final form before he goes, leaving the audience to incorrectly assume he means Rose. But the next page has him rushing forth to hug and apologize to the ghost of his granddaughter Susan.
Susan: Grandfather, I always loved you, and I know that in your heart of hearts you made the right decision. But now it's time for you to move on, time for you to be left behind and start a new life. Look to the light, grandfather. Ignore the darkness ahead. Goodbye.
Doctor Who, in the 2010 special. The Tenth Doctor is sleeping and having a terrible nightmare. He sees past incarnations and companions he either failed to save or left behind, in a dead, burning world, being hounded with a companion he always loses, and is feeling horrible when he meets a small, blue woman. The woman shoves her hand into the Doctor's chest and rips out a small black ball of all his negative feelings, promptly dumping it away. And then the Doctor feels much better and the world suddenly isn't so bad, until he begins walking away... and then the Eleventh Doctor shows up to cheer him up a bit before the regeneration we all know will kill the Tenth Doctor. And then he awakens, and wonders to the TARDIS if she isn't absorbing his bad dreams, before going into another adventure in a colorful world...
To be specific, the main character has spent an indefinite amount of her young life preparing to battle a giant in order to save her mother. We are lead to believe that this and all supernatural aspects of the story are simply in her head and her mother is simply dying of cancer. Then a TITAN (they're like a hundred times worse than giants) attacks. She fights it and, against all odds wins. Then the titan tells her, he was never coming for her mother, but for her. Her mother is simply dying of cancer. There's nothing she can do.
The Darwyn Cooke version of The Spirit has an issue that focuses in flashback on the friendship and burgeoning romance between Denny Colt and Sand Sarif, which is cut short by the tragic death of Denny's uncle and foster father and Sand's father in a robbery gone wrong. Blaming Denny by proxy, Sand cuts ties and begins to slip down a slippery slope into crime. Despite Denny's desperate attempts to help her, each time she sees him after this she rejects him with increasing bitterness and cruelty... until one night when, after murdering her lover, she comes to him, desperate and not knowing who else to turn to, her one last chance for salvation and redemption. Unfortunately, she's rejected Denny once too often and just that little bit too cruelly, and he bitterly turns her away.
Being one of the greatest artists ever to work in the medium, Will Eisner knew how to provoke a heartfelt tear in the original Spirit stories as well. For only one example, see "The Story of Gerhard Snobble", the story of a little man who learns how to fly; the fact that the narrator feels the urge to insist to us right from the start that despite the premise that 'this is not a funny story... please, no laughter...' should tell you everything you need to know about what's coming.
'The Death of the Red Mask' just brings a tear to one's eye. All he wanted to do... was to be able to fly.
The death of the Psycho Pirate. He just wanted to bring back all the fun characters that he remembered from before the Crisis. It ends up using up his life force and he begins to fade away. His last words? "Smile for me".
Grants's whole conversation with Animal Man is this.
Grant: Maybe, for once, we could try to be kind.
Judge Dredd. America. The whole thing, but especially the last issue. Which manages to be simultaneously brutal Tear Jerker and major Squick.
Mariko's death and Morph asking the Timebroker to let him stay on the team even when he's allowed to go back his original reality, which we've seen is pretty nice.
Mimic's death at the hands of Proteus, dying like a dog being mocked until his last moment, and Blink trying to save him, trying to believe he's somehow still alive even as other characters spell it out explicitly. That arc ended on a major Downer Ending, especially after what happened to Morph...
The final chapter of Empowered 5. Mindf**k's Heroic Sacrifice is bad enough, but the following scene with Emp and Sistah Spooky is just heartbreaking.
Volume 6, oh gods. "What does "three seconds too late" mean, Spookums?"
Y: The Last Man induces quite a tearjerker with Yorick and Beth's long-awaited reunion. Yorick is unable to believe that Beth is right there, believing it to just be a dream. Beth tells him it isn't, and they share a bittersweet moment together made all the more heart-wretching by what happens later.
It gets worse: "Yorick? Where did the Israelis go?" 'Away.' "Where's 355? . . . Oh. Oh man." Then issue 60 makes it worse with the flashback.
The scene with Ampersand...
At the end of the astronaut arc the shuttle crashes, and the woman survives while the two men die, because she is pregnant. At the end, when she is asked who's baby it is, she responds:
I don't know. I loved them so much. I loved them both so fucking much.
Deliah: You've come to kill me. It's you, isn't it? You've come... Thank god. Oh thank god.
He already knows that she feels horrible shame for what she had done at Larkhill, so rather than a painful, karmic death as everyone else had been given, he lets her have a final confession of sorts, and promises that her death will be by painless poisoning.
Deliah: Then you are going to kill me
V: [holding up an empty syringe] I killed you ten minutes ago while you were sleeping
Deliah: Is there any pain?
V: No. No pain.
Valerie's letter. Just... Valerie's letter.
I shall die here. Every last inch of me shall perish. Except one.
Some newspaper comic had a strip after the Columbia disaster where a boy and his dog were sitting in their backyard in a cardboard box they'd painted to resemble a space shuttle and little kiddy space helmets. There's only one speech bubble, where the boy says "Some stars shine brighter than most - to show us all the way.", and in the sky, there are 17 stars, for all the NASA astronauts ever lost in spaceflight.
Persepolis. Persepolis, Persepolis, Persepolis. Anoosh's death, Marjane's mother fainting when she left for Austria, and how, even with its (mostly) happy ending, the story finishes with saying that her grandmother died a couple years later. "Freedom had a price..."
1985. Just the whole mini series. It was a beautiful, wonderful ending - but Gosh, it was soooo saaad.
A comic novel named Laika. Oh my gosh. It was a rather fictionalized account of Laika the real dog (but still containing some truth), and she honestly had some really tough stuff going through. Because her owners couldn't afford to take care of her they gave her up as a puppy... to a kid's mother who wanted him to learn responsibility. He didn't want the dog and locked her in a closet and refuse to feed her. Then he finally took her for a walk, said she ran away and threw her in the river. My god was that kid cruel! That dog loved him!! And he just threw her out the window! The girl who owned Laika's birth mother (and her mother) regretted giving her away, and hoped she was safe. But it's not over... she was a stray for awhile and learned to forage on her own from another dog. Then the dogcatcher caught Laika and killed the other dog by stomping on its head. Because the shelter was full, Laika was going to be put to sleep but was saved and given to the animal behavior scientist. And she fell in love with Laika and the other dogs, and there are parts where it seems like Laika and the other dogs are speaking to the woman themselves. And as you all know... Laika died in orbit, as she did in the book and the behavior scientist just coudln't take it anymore and resigned from the space project, while everyone else who knew Laika died after only 5 hours said "...nobody knows about this..." obviously they regretted it too. Then in a final twist of fate, she walks by the girl who originally had Laika as a puppy and was apparntly on first-name terms with her too. Oh my gosh, if only she knew the girl wanted her dog's puppy back... the illustrations showing the dog being sealed up in a rocket for over twelve hours before launch and finally dying of asphyxiation would be hard on any dog owner who has ever had a dog who just wanted to be with you.
The novel was written by Nick Abadzis - read it, it's good (but be prepared to cry like a child all through it). The manner in which Abadzis shows Laika's actual flight - where the harsh reality of Laika's confusion and being alone, buffeted by g-forces is contrasted with scientist Yelena's imagination where she and Laika stand safe and together to see the whole world below them - will get to you. And Yelena's troubled dream where Laika, surrounded by terrifying machinery, asks "Don't you want to play with me?"
Laika's actual death, with the alternation between panels of Laika in the rocket, and Laika's death-dream of floating through space through the sun. It wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't for the voice speaking to Laika telling her not to worry, and calling her "good dog".
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac does have some rather depressing comics. The one in which he meets Edgar. Edgar is a religious man who shows no fear in the face of his imminent death and actually gets close to Nny, only for Nny to kill him anyway after admiting he "admired (Edgar's) conviction" and one where he waxes poetic with Nailbunny about his decent into madness and very obvious depression over the fact that he's losing himself to whatever gave real life to the Doughboys. Jhonen might have some understanding about how madness can affect people.
Knowing Johnny started killing people because someone murdered his parents when he was young.
You're joking about that last one, right? Jhonen certainly was. Sorry, it's hard to tell without Sarcasm Mode.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where, but everything after Ramona vanishes in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe can bring a tear to your eye.
Even before that, we have Kim bluffing to keep Scott's spirits up during the fight in Volume 5.
Grant Morrison ends his run on Doom Patrol with a classic one in "The Empire Of Chairs". Kay (Crazy Jane) Challis is subjected to electro-shock therapy which makes her just an ordinary person. She goes about an ordinary little life, getting more and more sad, until she leaves to - we think - kill herself. However, in a lovely pastiche of "It's A Wonderful Life", as she is apparently about to do so... Cliff Steele shows up at her side, and leads her - now smiling - off onto Danny The Street, who promptly dematerializes out of the series. Sad to happy tear-jerker in the blink of an eye!
Vladek: (to his son, Art) "I'm tired from talking, Richieu, and it's enough stories for now"
Preacher #10. An issue dedicated to the incredibly sweet story of how Jesse and Tulip met. They realize that that there was no reason at all that they shouldn't be together and that he'll "love her 'till the end of the world." And then a man walks into the room and shoots Tulip in the head.
The death of Hyde in the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was definitely not your standard tear jerker. Hyde was a monster, and he knew it, completely denying and shooting down anything that would make him sympathetic (his feelings for Mina being love, any desire he might have had to save the world), but somehow him destroying the Martians after saying goodbye to Mina and going to his inevitable death singing and dancing ended up looking really noble. He was an awful person, but he did heroic things; a true anti-hero. Then they named a park after him. You know the one.
The Boys has two. The first is in the first issue, Wee Hughie is holding hands with his girlfriend Robin when superhero A-Train smashes her into a wall. It's not only her death that's a tear jerker it's that right before this they've declared their love for each other in a sweet scene. The other one is in issue #47, Magnificent Bastard Billy Butcher has arranged it so that Wee Hughie sees Annie January aka Starlight of the Seven, blowing three other members of the Seven to get on the team, including A-Train who killed Hughie's girlfriend Hughie and Annie have a verbal fight where Hughie calls Annie every name in the book while Annie calmly tries to explain everything to Hughie. Eventually, Hugie tells Annie that he doesn't want to see her anymore and starts to walk away from her. It's hearbreaking on two levels: Annie had earlier in the issue said that Hughie was the only good thing in her life and they're both clearly just cut up by it.
"Je t'aime. From the first." If you've read 'The Bloody Doors Off', that ought to make you choke up.
Invincible has quite a few, but the one where Mark learns that his dad is an alien despot has to be one of the worst. He tries to fight his father, only to get beaten black and blue by his much stronger dad. While beating down his own son Omni-Man asks why he wants to save the Earth so badly when he'll end up outliving everyone he knows and asks what Mark would have left after 500 years. Mark, barely conscious, responds thusly:
Invincible: You, dad. I'd still have you.
Rex Splode's funeral. Made NO easier by the conversation Atom Eve and Invincible have later. This, by the way, is AFTER Invincible has gone through a SERIOUSLY dark time in his life, including having evil doubles from all sorts of alternate universes slaughter thousands all over the world and fighting the absolutely insane Viltrumite Conquest, a fight during which he WATCHED ATOM EVE GET KILLED. It's one of the best played "dark ages" in superhero stories, and it is done in just a few issues.
Zot!! Any one of the Earth stories counts, but the final issue, The Great Escape, deserves special mention. A lot of it was about how people want to escape reality and into fantasy and such... and that can really hit home.
An issue of G.I. Joe provides background for the modern version of Tripwire, explaining how he can be so at ease while defusing bombs in tense conditions. While in college, he took a semester abroad at Imperial College London, where he met a girl and fell in love. While working on a bomb, he thinks about all her favorite things, taking his mind off the danger. After his semester was over and before he could come back to the girl who was waiting for him, she was killed in the 7/7 London bombings. He doesn't worry about the bombs because if one does go ff, he'll finally be reunited with her.
The death of Katarina in the Nikolai Dante storyline "The Wedding of Jena Makarov". In the aftermath of the rebel assault on the Winter Palace, Katarina is fatally shot by the escaped Vladimir. In spite of being in her death throes, she drags herself to her feet and trudges to the chapel, where she sees Nikolai impaled on one of Arkady/Dmitri's bioblades. Katarina picks up Nikolai's huntsman, takes aim, and shoots Dmitri in the head. Nikolai rushes to his mother and hugs her, but then sees the wound. Katarina says it doesn't matter who shot her, and with her last breath, tells Nikolai that what Dmitri did to her was the worst thing that had ever happened to her, the result was the best thing. Yes, she does love Nikolai, her son.
The gradual decay of Spider Jerusalem due to his illness is pretty hard to read. He gets better, but still...
The massacre at the college campus by the riot police is as terrible as you can imagine.
In Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August. The panel in which the young girl transforms into a werewolf in front of Kate Corrigan... (shudders).
The death of Vasilisa The Beautiful by Koschei The Deathless. Not only the fact that she is just a little girl that packs the punch, but the Baba Yaga is forcing Koschei into killing Hellboy by offering his own death in exchange... Koschei dies no less than three times in pursuit of Hellboy, all the while he is begging the Baba Yaga to just let him die with some dignity.
The death of Hellboy, of course.
In the same story line, when Hellboy finds that Alice has died, charred by flames that wouldn't kill him, but would kill a normal person in no time. Turns out it was only an illusion, but damn!
Mike Mignola really has a thing against gorillas and chimps. They always get killed in very creative ways... and they always cry for help... sometimes with a human voice. (sob)
In Hellboy's sister publication B.P.R.D., the death of Roger The Homunculus.