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Armor Piercing Question / Comic Books

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  • The Authority: Midnighter caps off a Not So Different speech to an Iron Man expy with this:
    Midnighter: God, you're probably somewhere between thirty five to forty years old and you've never even been held, have you?
  • The Batman Adventures: In Issue #28, Batman asks if the Joker really wants to make him psychotic. That makes the Joker back down.
  • The end of Batman: Hush features one of these: "What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?" Specifically, Batman is asking the Riddler — who is revealed to be The Chessmaster for the whole series and has deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne — a riddle that everyone knows the answer to already, which makes it a worthless puzzle. Batman then points out that if the Riddler reveals the Caped Crusader's secret to anyone else, the riddle "Who is Batman?" will become just as well-known — and therefore as pointless — as the elephant question. The Riddler, due to his psychosis, can't allow that to happen, and has a Villainous Breakdown.
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  • In Birds of Prey, the Question once managed to get Huntress (whose Berserk Button is crooked cops) to back down by boiling the entire sorry socioeconomic underpinning of Gotham City's hellholishness down to one simple question: "Do you know how much an honest cop makes in Gotham before taxes?"
  • In Blackest Night Issue 7, we have one from Nekron to a nameless Guardian of the Universe that comes with a Wham Line response that shows just how far the Guardians of Oa had fallen by that point, and sign of how much worse they were going to become:
    Nekron: Why have you spent eons fighting so hard to protect life when you don't live it, creature? Why did you vow to guard the universe?
    Guardian of the Universe: I... I do not remember.
  • In Civil War II: X-Men #3, Magneto confronts Rachel Grey with the intent on recruiting her to take the Inhuman Ulysses. At first, she rejects it, but when Magneto asks if the Inhumans ever lifted a finger to save the mutants in her timeline, it's enough to instantly sway her.
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  • In God Loves, Man Kills, Kitty punches out a fellow dance student who calls her a "mutie-lover". When Stevie Hunter, her African-American dance instructor, tells her his rhetoric was "just words," a furious Kitty responds:
    Kitty: Suppose he'd called me a nigger-lover, Stevie? Would you have been so damn tolerant then?!
  • Green Lantern:
    • If not parodied, then certainly not taken seriously: Hal Jordan has gotten a blue (hope-powered) ring against his will, and it won't unlock its full powers for him until he answers a question: "What do you hope for?" Since he can't make the ring leave him until he unlocks its full powers, and until then it just sits on his hand asking again and again, and he gives a series of insincere answers like "World peace," Hal eventually snaps, "I hope you stop asking me that question!" The ring accepts this as a sincere answer.
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    • Green Lantern was once asked why he helped "blue skins, orange skins, and purple skins," but never "black skins." The question drove Green Lantern and Green Arrow to travel across America solving problems closer to home.
  • In H'el on Earth, after Superman is done gathering information from Lex Luthor, Lex Luthor gives him something to think about.
    Lex Luthor: Why can H'el do much more than you? Is he more powerful than you... or have you just failed to make yourself as powerful as he? And if that is the case... what are you so afraid of, Superman?
  • House of M leadup ("What would you have me do?"). The Avengers are coming to kill the Scarlet Witch because she is destroying reality. Quicksilver confronts Magneto about it. Magneto asks the question. Quicksilver repeats the information. Magneto repeats the question.
  • In Infinite Crisis, the Golden Age Superman, Kal-L, drops in on Batman in an attempt to recruit him in his quest to restore Earth-2. Kal-L tries to explain that this Earth is too corrupted to save. However, despite Batman being in a Despair Event Horizon, he counters with one question: "What about Dick Grayson?" It's enough to get Kal-L to back down and begin questioning his actions, something that doesn't take until the Modern Age Superman hits him with a Wham Line.
  • Happens to Inertia in Impulse when he's about to kill both Impulse and his mentor, Max.
    Impulse: You really don't get it, do you? I love him... I'd die for him, or with him. That's what you do... how you feel when you love someone. Haven't you ever felt that way about someone? Hasn't ever anyone felt that way about you?
    Inertia: no...
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: When Ganthet confronts Superman about his Regime and allow things to run its course like the Guardians of Oa do. Superman then asks if they allowed Krypton to be destroyed, which Ganthet fails to answer and dodges the question entirely.
  • Kingdom Come:
    • Edward Nygma, who is now Selina Kyle's lover — though "boy toy" is a better description — loves to do this, highlighted by asking Lex what he plans to do about Superman. It's the only time Lex is completely out of control.
    • In the Novelization, when Wonder Woman is questioned by the Amazons about her actions during the crisis, she states that Paradise Island had become too insular.
      Diana: For example, who among you has actually met a living soul who does not live on this Island?
      (a few hands went up among the four- or fivescore assembled sisters; even they went down when everyone realized what their former princess meant by "living")
  • Nemesis the Warlock: While Purity's attempt at Shaming the Mob doesn't work on the majority of the Terminators assembled to watch her execution, Brother Gogol is momentarily shaken when she asks them "What are you all hiding behind your masks?"
  • Providence has Dr. Alvarez giving one to Robert Black:
    "There is a concealed country, therefor, hidden below the society we show the world. Uncomfortable truth, it lurks behind our pretences. This truth, it is a land sunken beneath many fathoms. Were it one day to rise and confront us all, what would you do, Mr. Black? What would any of us do?
  • In The Sandman, Morpheus asks one of these. Archangel Lucifer, having surrounded Morpheus with the Legions of Hell and intending to trap him, claims that Morpheus is powerless as dreams have no power in Hell. Morpheus asks him, and the assembled demons, what use there would be for Hell if those in it could not dream of Heaven. The demons disperse and Lucifer is forced to let him go.
    • Death's whole personality is due to this. At first, she hated her job, until one person she was taking called her out on her attitude, and asked, "How would you like it?" After this, she decided to spend one day as a mortal. At the end of this day, she realized the one thing mortals needed at the end was comfort, and so resolved to become a comforting presence.
  • In Issue 179 of the Sonic the Hedgehog comics by Archie, Sonic and Tails get into a massive fight. Initially it's believed to be because Tails's is trying to protect his family from Sonic for turning them to the authorities, but it quickly reveals that it's much deeper than that...
    Tails: You would've let my dad rot in prison!
    Sonic: He tried to oust the king! You can't just give Elias the boot!
    Tails: He's trying to save the city, and you won't give him a chance!
    Sonic: He wasn't in jail for a day! You didn't give me a chance to do anything!
    Tails: The great Sonic the Hedgehog wasn't quick enough?!
    Sonic: Dude! You're taking everything I've done to help you and skewing it!
    Tails: So you hooked up with Fiona to help me?!
    Sonic: Wait... Is she what this is all about?
    Tails: Don't say it like that! You knew I loved her! And you went out with her! I don't care if the Fiona I knew was a robot! I don't care if she ended up choosing Scourge over me! You knew I loved her, and you went with her anyway! I thought you were my friend! I thought you were my brother! But everything I care about, you take away from me!
  • In the final storyline of Dan Slott's Spider-Man, Spidey manages to weaponise Self-Deprecation when Norman Osborne is ranting about what he could have achieved without the Spider in his way:
    Spider-Man: Ha! You finally cracked a good one! You know who's under this mask. I'm the world's biggest screw-up. So what does that say about you?
  • Butch gives an epic one to both Anita and Gila at the end of the Confidential arc in SpyBoy.
  • Superman: Red Son: Brainiac warns Superman against even speaking to Lex Luthor, so Luthor puts the question in a letter. Superman has been haunted by his failure to restore the "bottled city" of Stalingrad, this Elseworld’s stand-in for Kandor; that's one of the thing that drives him to protect Earth (which he does, by establishing a benevolent dictatorship). Luthor's question, which drives Superman to his knees: "Why don't you put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?"
  • Swamp Thing: The Swamp Thing stops Woodrue's rampage by asking What plants will breathe without animals to exhale carbon dioxide. Woodrue has a Villainous BSoD.
  • During their team-up to take down Malcolm Colcord's attempt to revive the Weapon X project, Daken tries to deliver one to his little sister, Laura Kinney a.k.a. X-23, by asking why she holds herself back by caring for others and is afraid to let go and fully embrace her training and skill as a killer. The question falls flat: Laura isn't fighting to prove anything, but is instead fighting for something bigger than herself. She then completely turns it around on him by asking why he holds back and is afraid to allow himself to care about others. Manipulative Bastard that he is, Daken still doesn't have an answer.
  • Thunderbolts: Jolt hits her teammates with this:
    I have lived with you, fought alongside you and I know you liked being heroes. I know it felt good for you to do the right thing and that you don't want to do this. Am I wrong? Abe? Melissa? Erik? Can you honestly tell me that I am wrong?
  • Wonder Woman likes to back up her hard questions to villains by having them wrapped in her lasso of truth when she asks them, ensuring that the individual in question cannot lie to her (though they don't have to answer) and more importantly they can't lie to themselves and see fully the truth of their motivations and goal. This has lead to many a moment of My God, What Have I Done? and is the reason many of her villains end up her friends and allies.
  • Prodigy/David from the Young Avengers hits Teddy with this when convincing Teddy to mend his romantic relationship with his fiancé Billy and thus save the universe with The Power of Love after Teddy has an existential crisis over Loki insinuating that Teddy was possibly wished into existence by Billy's reality-warping powers.
    David: Listen. Yes, [Billy] could have accidentally wished you into existence. Existential nonsense. Who cares? It doesn't matter. You're you. He's him. Your love is as real as anything I've ever seen.
    Teddy: But—
    David: Teddy, listen. A magical power someone else has over you for no reason you can really justify but cascades through you until every cell cries out for his touch? What do you think love is?


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