Follow TV Tropes


Mind Screw / Comic Books

Go To

  • Most of the stories Grant Morrison writes. Notable exceptions include his JLA run, We3, and All-Star Superman, which are comparatively straightforward. For a perfect example of this trope however, see Final Crisis. All of it.
  • The Incal, anyone?
  • The point in which The Maxx jumps from trippy to actual Mind Screw may vary from person to person. Some may say it's when the villain turns out to be a giant psychopathic self-help-fueled banana slug; other may say it's just right before the revelation of why Julie's Outback was created (that part with the Hooly); or maybe when Sarah comes back from Disney Death as an Isz...
  • A certain scene in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac pulls a particularly screwy example: the schizophrenic titular character is having just another debate with the Doughboys, two voices in his head he identifies as two styrofoam figures he painted. There's nothing much out of the ordinary at first. However, when a third 'voice' in the form of a dead rabbit tries to warn Johnny that the Doughboys are trying to use him, the perfectly ordinary styrofoam figures start moving around by themselves and proceed to tear the rabbit's head off, and continue to move around for the rest of the scene. Johnny briefly remarks that he's never seen them move around like that before, and one replies "Well, the rabbit provoked us." However, near the end of the scene Johnny stops in mid-rant and asks "Um, how come you guys aren't moving around anymore?" The other simply replies "We can't move around - we're made of styrofoam."
    • That one gets cleared up later. Basically, later on, you discover that Johnny is actually at the epicenter of the accumulation of human negative feeling, so much so that it fuels kind of magical happenings. Thus, the Doughboys can occasionally move around, Johnny can never get caught for his crimes and the other stuff that doesn't fully make sense is explained.
  • Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape. In which Tom "Nemesis" Tresser finds himself in a mysterious city, along with all DC's other "spy" characters, and apparently it's the future setting of OMAC, complete with Lilas and GPA agents, or maybe it isn't, and characters die, but come back, and when he dies, the whole thing starts again. Appropriate, since the whole book is an homage to The Prisoner.
  • Batman:
    • The Killing Joke managed to confuse everyone who read it, ending with Batman and the Joker laughing over a joke. The third to last frame shows the characters' feet with the headlights of a police car between them, the second to last removes the characters' feet, and the last simply shows the wet ground they were standing on. Alan Moore has since admitted that he has several regrets writing this graphic novel, based in part on a rather misinformed understanding of the characters at the time.
    • Advertisement:
    • If you thought The Killing Joke was mind-screwy, then you're never going to make it out of Batman: R.I.P. with your sense of reason intact. Batman having a whole separate personality triggered by an arbitrary gibberish phrase that's a Shout-Out to a Silver age Batman comic ('Robin Dies At Dawn!'), The Joker cutting his own tongue in half with a razor and having no lips and being almost unintelligible because of it, Dr. Hurt potentially being a demon or the devil (your interpretation WILL vary)... Yeah, Killing Joke is a cakewalk compared to that storyline. Then again, Grant Morrison wrote it, and while he is considered one of the better Batman authors, his work, as mentioned above, can be very mindscrewtastic.
  • The Deadpool: Wade Wilson's War mini series pulls one. It really makes you think.
  • Marvel Comics has several:
    • X-Cutioner's Song: Was Stryfe Cyclops' infant son all grown up and seeking revenge? Was Cable just a cyborg clone of said son, trying to justify his existence as a failed lab experiment by becoming a super-hero? The ending left so many unanswered questions in spite of writers went into the crossover outright stating that the story would reveal all about Cable's origin and why he and Stryfe had the same face.
    • Advertisement:
    • The Crossing: Kang has been manipulating EVERYONE in the Avengers, from stealing Vision and Scarlet Witch's kids (and Quicksilver's daughter' Luna in the future) and brainwashing Iron Man and Hank Pym to use as sleeper agents, with Hank Pym going insane when he resisted Kang's brainwashing. And all of this being done in the name of destroying the "Celestial Messiah", who in the end turns out to be a monster that threatens to destroy all of time and space and not the bringer of peace as previously stated in the classic saga "The Celestial Madonna".
    • Avengers Disassembled, made worse when you consider that fans of the Avengers (and several other writers at Marvel) reject outright Brian Michael Bendis and Tom Brevoort's attempt to Word of God explain away all plot holes and incoherent storyline reveals as "Wanda being crazy, hence it's not supposed to make sense".
    • The ending of the Spider-Man story "A Death in the Family", which ended with Norman Osborn pulling out a gun after Spider-Man accused him of trying to bait Spider-Man into putting him out of his misery via putting Flash Thompson in a coma/going to the media and trying to scapegoat Spidey for Gwen Stacy's death via incompetence. Was Norman contemplating suicide or was he, as he insisted to Spider-Man, not suicidal and pondering why he didn't just shoot his rival?
      • Everything involving Mysterio since Kevin Smith killed Quentin Beck off counts in a lot of ways, since Marvel can't decide if Quentin is still dead or faked his death in the above mentioned Smith story, or if he's now some sort of half-zombie/half demon being sent from hell to make mischief on Earth.
    • The recent Sisterhood of Evil Mutants arc in Uncanny X-Men; was it really Madelyne Pryor in charge of the Sisterhood? Was it her evil doppelganger from another universe? The Phoenix Force taking Maddie's form in order to screw with the X-Men, while plotting to once again steal Jean Grey's corpse in order to gain corporal form?
    • Reed Richards is the sole, possibly-patented inventor of the Laws Of Physics for Universe 616. note 
    • The X-Men storyline "Here Comes Tomorrow." Suddenly and without warning, the comic is catapulted into a hellish Bad Future Alternate Universe full of old characters, new characters (most of whom have very little explanation as to who they are), and new characters related to old characters, plot points that you'd think would be very important being dropped almost offhandedly and then immediately forgotten about, bizarre lines of dialogue like "I drowned the last whale," and to top it all off, the final scene takes place in the Disney Acid Sequence of a dimension that is the Phoenix Force's realm. The writer? Grant Morrison, natch.
  • Central Park, a short Franco-Belgian comic by Jean-Luc Cornette and Christian Durieux. The story goes like this: Johan and Yasmina are a Belgian couple visiting Central Park while on vacation in New York. Johan poses for a picture with one of the zoo's polar bears, who then strikes up a conversation with him. No-one sees this as unusual - the bear himself eventually lampshades this. In the meantime, Yasmina disappears. As Johan searches for her, mysterious walls began to spring up throughout the park, blocking his paths and preventing him from leaving. He meets another person trapped in the park, "Snake", a hobo who used to be a taxi driver by the name of Theodore Roosevelt - oh yeah, all the taxi drivers that Johan and Yasmina encountered in the city had the names of U.S. presidents. At one point, Johan's shoes are mysteriously replaced by a pair of rollerblades. Norman, the polar bear, shows up again, jogging through the park and wearing Johan's missing shoes. History is revealed to exist between Norman and Yasmina, and through it all, the walls around the park continue to grow...
  • Wonton Soup by James Stokoe is a space trucker cooking opera set in a universe that makes the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seem sensible and simple. It's impossible to list the craziness of the series in one sentence but as an example one time the two main characters get high off the brains of one of the galaxy's oldest races, a failsafe program within the brain attempts to lead them to crystal forged from the hopes of a thousand alien geniuses. They simply have to say a safeword and the crystal will flush out the bad vibes, instead they stare at each other and then reach the same conclusion "Let's smoke it!" and somehow the comic goes even further into Mind Screw territory.
  • Dylan Dog loves this trope, almost always combining with Surreal Horror and/or All Just a Dream (and in a few cases, Dream Within a Dream).
  • Warrior unfortunately falls under this due to the impossible-to-read Purple Prose and the non-sequential art.
  • Superlópez: Los Petisos Carambanales is about an attempt of Escariano Avieso to mess with Superlopez's head and making him retire.
  • Marville: Long-debunked scientific hypotheses. Parodies that don't make sense. Wolverine as the first human. Dinosaurs speaking Hebrew. Random switching from parody to serious philosophy and back again. Given that the philosophy is so silly and the comedy is so poor trying to tell which part is which is liable to make your head hurt.
  • Rork: What you expect with massive Kudzu Plot, Time Travels, (Timey-Wimey Ball included), Dimensional Travelers, Schizo Tech, and Eldritch Abominations all around? This comics is like whole new level Mind-screwiness.
  • The Doom Patrol were originally billed as the "World's Strangest Heroes!" back in the 60s. They treated their superpowers like disabilities and frequently fought strange enemies, but with the original comic being so old, it might seem rather normal nowadays. This is not a problem, though, as in the late 80s, the aforementioned Grant Morrison took over the recently-launched So Okay, It's Average revival with the intention of making it weird like the original. What he ended up writing was something far weirder, and the result is a Surreal Horror story in which the Doom Patrol engages in numerous metaphysical fights with Humanoid Abominations and the forces of law, with relatively little focus on action. While Morrison's run is the most infamous by far, its Spiritual Successors, the runs of Rachel Pollack and Gerard Way, are similarly experimental and bizarre.
  • Venerdì 12 has Judas, Aldo's servant capable of magic. He spends most of the series mocking and tormenting Aldo and anyone they meet but also helps him with his daily life and trying to lift the curse that turned him into a monster. In the Grand Finale he plays an indirect but decisive role into lifting the curse by not tormenting and chasing off Dulcistilla and exposing Bedelia as a living memory of the time they spent together brought to life by the curse, leading to Dulcistilla recovering the self-esteem he needed to let the memory go and accidentally lift the curse... And then the very last panel of the series shows him in the cursed carillon, meaning he was part of the curse all along.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: