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Contrived Coincidence / Comic Books

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Contrived Coincidences in comic books.


General

  • Most people go their entire life without seeing a crime that would require them to step in to help. No superhero, particularly one who has resolved to give up his cape, can last a day without seeing someone being mugged in an alley, or stumbling across a burning building with a woman screaming for help from a window.
    • Brian Garfield realized this when writing a sequel novel to Death Wish: "Long ago Paul [the Vigilante] had learned not to waste time in fruitless search for felons in the act of committing crimes; the odds were too long. A robbery took place in the city every three minutes... but it was an enormous city and there were three million potential victims".
    • Paul Benjamin, besides using himself as bait, comes up with the idea of shadowing the courthouses. After all, criminals often are repeat offenders who have to show up for parole hearings, methadone treatment, etc. So, he tails them from the courthouse. See page 56 of Death Sentence. Other writers averted this through the use of police scanners; the Spider usually an early version in The Cholera King, while Hero at Large with John Ritter and The Exterminator 2 showed the protagonists using police scanners.
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    • This exact point made in Zot!. There's an issue called "Looking for Crime" in which Zot looks all over New York for a crime. The closest he gets to finding one is finding a homeless person stabbed, and he didn't witness it.
  • If you are a superhero, then someone you know will be murdered horribly, or develop superpowers, or at least have some slightly odd seemingly innocuous problem that will be intimately connected with a supervillain's latest Evil Plan. If you're lucky, this will be because your enemies know who you are and are targeting them because of the connection. Probably not though.
  • If you're a supervillain, no matter what crime you commit or where you go to do it, some superhero will be around to stop you, and odds are good it will be your Arch-Enemy.
    • Lampshaded in a Moon Knight series, where some supervillains who've decamped to the West Coast note that anyone operating in New York is a moron.
    • This trope practically breaks the Shocker in Ultimate Spider-Man. He's just a bank robber with fancy safe-cracking equipment, but for some reason Spidey turns up at every job to kick his ass.
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DC Comics

  • The fates of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent crossed paths a ridiculous number of times before they ever became Batman and Superman, and even before they knew each other's secret identities.
    • A Superman/Batman story featured Jor-El using a probe to take the mind of a human to Krypton, so he could ask what kind of planet Earth was. The human he selected went on to use the advanced technology of the probe as the basis of a great company called Wayne Enterprises.
    • In the very first Superman/Batman crossover, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne happen to take a cruise at the same time and are coincidentally assigned to be roommates. Why Wayne can't afford a single occupancy cabin or, for that matter, his own cruise liner, is unexplained. They are both in the cabin at the same time, changing into costume, when a bright ray of light beams through a port hole, lighting up the room and revealing the two superheroes' identities to each other. And Lois Lane wound up on the same cruise, because a female passenger chickened out at the beginning. Apparently only one person disappeared from the cruise, so Clark couldn't be given his own room.
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    • A later comic retcons this story, saying that due to an overbooking error, there are only two rooms to share between Clark, Bruce, and Lois, and obviously Lois isn't going to share a bed with either of them.
    • In the Silver Age continuity, as well as in the current one, both Superman and his archenemy Lex Luthor spent most of their life in Smallville before moving to Metropolis. In other words, the two biggest public figures in one of the world's largest cities happen to come from the same small and obscure Kansas town.
  • In Convergence, it's amazing how many heroes who aren't normally based in Gotham or Metropolis just happened to be in the city taken by Brainiac at exactly the right time.
  • Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason Todd had pretty much the same origin story as Dick Grayson. That means Batman encountered two orphaned circus aerialists whose parents were killed as part of a plot to extort the circus.
  • An issue of Grant Morrison's run on JLA begins with the team discovering that seven different supervillains, by pure coincidence, picked the exact same day to try kidnapping the president. The more and more contrived coincidences occur, including retroactively in time, eventually leading to the reveal that someone's been messing with probability.
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice opens with heroes all across the world, all completely independently of each other, deciding to Rage Against the Heavens with "I want justice!" at the exact same time.
  • The Green Lantern / Green Arrow / The Flash Crossover "Three of a Kind" begins with Conner persuading Kyle and Wally to go on an Arctic cruise, only to find that Sonar, Hatchett and Heat Wave are on the ship, plotting to revive a catatonic Dr Polaris. Not only do the heroes stumble upon a crime, it's one that involves one villain from each of their Rogues Galleries! (Plus JLA villain Polaris.)

Marvel Comics

  • This deliberately happened in Cable & Deadpool. In the wake of House of M, Deadpool was searching for the real Cable trapped somewhere in an alternative timeline. But just as he teleported to the real world with the real Cable, Scarlet Witch had changed the real world into her image, thus the middle aged Cable was transported into a baby (It Makes Sense in Context). And despite everything changing to normal, baby Cable stayed as a baby (but not for long). It was all to being sold as a tie-in to House of M, and apart from some breather issues forward it didn't do much for the plot.
  • The first arc featuring Captain Mar-Vell had him sent to Earth in order to spy on the human population and see if they pose a threat to the Kree. By sheer coincidence, Yon-Rogg, Mar-Vell's treacherous superior, accidentally killed a military scientist named Walter Lawson, who was on his way to a new assignment at Cape Canaveral. Because Lawson was a recluse who had rarely been seen in public, Mar-Vell was able to assume the dead man's identity and begin working at the same military instillation where (unbeknownst to Mar-Vell) a captured Kree Sentry was being held.
  • How short-lived 70s supergroup the Champions was formed: Iceman and the Angel have enrolled at UCLA, the Black Widow is applying for a professorship, Hercules is about to give a guest lecture and the Ghost Rider happens to be riding by just when Pluto's army is attempting to capture both Hercules and a professor who happens to be another goddess. Creator Tony Isabella, in his foreword to the Masterworks collection, acknowledged that he had "used up a year's allotment of coincidence" with that.
  • Spider-Man: A common trope in the comics and adaptations is the cartridges of both of his hands running out of web fluid at exactly the same time.

Other Comics

  • Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire shows Sonja tracking down the great chef Gribaldi, currently enslaved by swamp-dwelling cannibals. Gribaldi has secretly been freeing their human captives and cooking small lizards and eggs in their place for several weeks. Sonja just happens to arrive a couple of hours before lizardmen, enraged by the theft of their offspring, assault the swampdwellers. Sonja and Gribaldi escape in the confusion.
  • Most of Revival is restricted to a small radius around a Michigan town so coincidences can be handwaved with one exception: the general assigned to coordinate the concentration camp happens to personally know that a secret ninja assassin is living in an Amish community less than fifty miles from the town and have enough influence to call in a lethal favor over said assassin's protests.
  • New York City is unusually small in The Sculptor.
    • Early in the book, David Smith is unwittingly involved in a large flash mob prank. That same night, the party his friend takes him to happens to include the participants of that same flash mob.
    • That same night, he makes friends with a woman from the group, Meg. Six weeks later, David nearly throws himself at a train, and Meg is there to rescue him, and to nurse him back to health since she apparently has a habit of treating people from off the streets.
    • David loses contact with his friend Olly when his phone service is canceled, but a week later randomly runs into him on a street.
  • In Swordquest: Waterworld, a war between the air-breathers and the Aqualanians is interrupted when the leaders of both factions are knocked unconscious, and the protagonists' rival convinces everyone that the protagonists — with no recollection that they're actually brother and sister — should settle things with a Duel to the Death.
  • Y: The Last Man:
    • The most successful human cloning scientist in the United States happens to be a woman who is the daughter of another scientist who may or may not have wiped out all the men in the world except him and Yorick and he tested on Yorick's monkey, Ampersand, who was probably the reason Yorick survived the gendercide and Yorick happened to get Ampersand through a shipping error because it was next to the monkey Yorick was supposed to get but didn't because they both escaped and the shipping guys didn't know which was which. There are plenty more.
    • The latter one isn't as much a coincidence when you realize that, once you grant the existence of the shipping error, someone would have gotten the vaccinated monkey, and they would probably be the last man instead of Yorick.
    • Very few names start with Y, so it's a pretty big coincidence that the only person (in fact, the only mammal) with a Y chromosome after the Gendercide would just happen to have a name that starts with the letter Y. But on the other hand, that's the selective reporting fallacy. M is a much more common initial letter (Mark, Matt, etc.), so if someone with one of those names had got the monkey he would have been "M: the Last Man", which also looks coincidental. Likewise, L (for "last"), V (for "vir", Latin for "man" in the masculine sense, "Homo" means Man in the human sense) and T (for "testosterone", which he has more of than anyone) are also common initial letters. It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with an epithet that goes with almost any initial letter, so the name thing isn't actually much of a coincidence even though it looks that way.
    • It's also not a huge coincidence that a successful biologist has a father who's also a successful biologist, given that parents often encourage their children to choose the same profession they have, and help them on their way. Which seems to be exactly the case in Y: The Last Man. Since cloning is implied to be both the cause and the solution to the gendercide, it doesn't take a huge leap of faith to accept that the expert they seek to help with the problem is also the daughter of the man who might've caused the problem.
      • On the topic of coincidental parentage, let's not forget that the last man alive just coincidentally happens to be the son of the woman who ends up as US president once all the men are taken out of the equation.
    • However, the fact that at the exact same moment Yorick is proposing to his girlfriend, 355 is carrying an ancient artifact that's prophesied to kill an exorbitant amount of men when it leaves the country it's in, and Dr. Mann and the woman her father impregnated give birth to their clone babies fits this trope rather well.


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