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Narm / Comic Books

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Any drama this scene may have had, ruined by my dialogue! My cursed, mutant, energy-blasting dialogue!!

Yes, even the seemingly foolproof combination of panels, speech balloons, thought captions, illustrations, and violence is not immune to Narm.

Series with their own pages:

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  • Batman #66:
    • "So! They laugh at my boner, will they?! I'll show them! I'll show them how many boners The Joker can make! This emphasis on boners has given me an idea for a new adventure in crime! Gotham will rue the day they mentioned the word boner!"
    • 'Boner' meant 'screwup' back in the day. It was used over and over because it was sorta funny: Epic Fail-based crime, and the Joker trying win with his mad Epic Fail skills. This meant the word got used a zillion times, creating the most hilarious thing in the history of ever when the word changed meanings.
  • Rather infamously, there was a period where the Joker inexplicably cut off his own face and disappeared. That's an odd plot point, but not necessarily narm. What pushed it into narm was the fact that when he came back, rather than properly reattaching the face or getting a new one, he proceeded to wear the removed face like a mask, strapping it to his head with a belt. This often looked about as ridiculous as you'd expect (at one point he even wore the face upside-down for no reason) and even when it was drawn in a properly scary manner, it was so absurd and over-the-top that many found it impossible to take seriously. Scott Snyder seemed to agree, as by the time Joker next appeared his face had been repaired.
  • This ruined the cover for Issue #21 of the Rebirth run of Red Hood and the Outlaws. Red Hood's pointing his gun at The Penguin's face while Cobblepot smugly blows smoke into his. Most of the cover is very well drawn until you realize that Jason's hand looks like it's coming from his crotch.

  • In an attempt to make an excuse for Power Girl's fanservicey costume, Geoff Johns had her claim to Superman, in a melodramatic ramble, that it was the result of waiting for whether she should put his S-shield symbol there or something else. (Never minding that there was nothing stopping her from just filling it with cloth.)
  • Superboy Prime will kill you! He'll kill you TO DEATH!!!
    • Superboy Prime was a strawman of the DC fanbase, with what was left of his subtlety lost when he was written by the Countdown writers, so all of his dialogue becomes hilarious once you imagine him speaking in a stereotypical fanboy voice (as Linkara did in his three-part review of Countdown to Final Crisis).
  • Superman #680 by James Robinson had some pretty weird dialogue, but this line really takes the cake:
    [After a mysterious satellite had cut off his powers] "Where is she? My lady, the sun. She makes me strong. She gives me her light and her life and I am forever grateful."
  • Superman: At Earth's End. This is where Linkara got his catchphrase "I AM A MAN!" The Broken Aesop about guns just adds to the narm. Superman's massive Santa beard only adds to the hilarity.
  • During Superman's funeral in The Death of Superman storyline, there's a panel of everyone gathered around his casket crying... except Batman, whose face... well, just see one fan interpretation. The fact that he's the visual center of the panel, drawn taller than everyone near him and is the only person facing that way doesn't help at all since it's next to impossible not to notice him.
    • The Death of Superman has its good points, but some bits of dialogue make it obvious that the script was scribbled in a rush to replace a year's worth of thrown-out material.
      "Gee, no wonder dad left and wants a divorce."
  • Superman #713 has our hero tell Superboy and Supergirl that the world doesn't need a Superman, so he's gonna quit being him and wants the other two to follow his lead. That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself. The moment is ruined, though, by the fact that, as he's saying this, he's taking off his costume in front of his cousins. Pants and all!



  • The Norwegian translation of W.I.T.C.H. falls into this sometimes by first showcasing Dark Mother with her English name in this Italian comic, only to for translating it to 'Mørkemor' for the rest of the comics. What really makes this narmy is while it's correct by all means (mørke meaning dark- and mor meaning mother) is that mor is also sometimes for fun put at the end at young girl names (kinda like a rarer and weirder chan). Like for example Lisemor, Saramor, etc. So she doesn't sound like a threat at all; doesn't help that so far that arc along with the 2 before it had sorta been a long Breather Episode.
  • Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel Seconds is not an over-the-top comedy like Scott Pilgrim but a serious dramatic tale about love and relationships. This would be a little easier to swallow if its protagonist Katie didn't have a hairdo that looks it came straight out of a third-rate Shōnen series.
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  • Every scene involving the Pretty Fly for a White Guy character in A Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid, especially his death scene, where he's strangled to death by bling given to him by Pimp Freddy.
  • Harry's reaction to being shot in the leg in the third issue of Resident Alien? "nyaaagh".
  • The zombie!Doctor Light progressively tearing off the current Doctor Light's costume during their battle in Blackest Night. She's supposed to be in danger of getting raped and then eaten. But some genius went to the trouble of putting Fanservice in the scene.
  • You know you've reached impressive levels of Narm when the people making the comic refuse to include a panel because it keeps making them laugh. In 52, Booster Gold was going to die, but the authors were smart and realized that nobody who had experience with comics would believe he was dead. So, they figured out an obvious solution: Show the body. They also had to make sure it was clearly a corpse, otherwise, "he's just in a coma" would be tossed around right away. They had him bisected and falling to the ground in two bloody chunks. Unfortunately, seeing the two pieces drop to the ground was found amusing; the trade paperbacks came with commentary from the creators, along with a few preliminary sketches, and the authors revealed that the separate panels of one part of the body falling, followed by another panel showing the rest of the body falling, could not be taken seriously, and the supposedly horrific and disturbing death of a major character was instead ridiculous. They took out the original panel and rewrote it to salvage the scene.
    • Much later in the series, a hand-to-hand sparring session uses a certain sound effect a few times. That sound effect? "Fap". Um...
  • A Free Comic Book Day featuring Iron Man and Thor ends with the villain doling out this apparently unironic gem:
    "We are incredibly rich! We have more rights than you!"
  • Iron Man's roller skates, sometimes called jet skates, were constantly utilized during the seventies and eighties, and the writers had no problem with a grown man using roller skates as part of his arsenal, as exemplified by what he said while fighting Cap: "I see even YOU'VE forgotten the roller skates that are part of my arsenal!" The line was reproduced word for word in a parody Assistant Editor's Month story of Iron Man, said by a kid cosplaying as Iron Man to another kid impersonating him (though admittedly, that's closer to Narm Charm). By this point, the roller skates have become fondly-remembered by the fans, but much like Green Arrow's boxing glove, can't really be included in a modern serious story. Also narmy was the way he frequently narrated how much fun he was having with them.
  • "My ward, Speedy... is a JUNKIE!" (The comic debuted in 1971 and probably seemed less silly at the time, though.)
  • While Johns' run on Green Lantern is excellent overall, the Red Lanterns are hard to take seriously, seeing as they vomit up blood as a weapon. Made even more hilarious by the fact this is a reference to the saying "blood boiling with rage". They're so angry that their blood is literally boiling and coming out of their mouths!
    • On a similar note: Dex-Starr is awesome!
    • Ridiculously, one of the Green Lantern refers to the stolen children of Lanterns murdered by Kryb, as "Corphans."
    • Some of the impact of Alan Moore's "Tygers" is blunted by the over-the-top designs of the demons.
    • This panel remarks on how Hal is Jumping Off the Slippery Slope (and in fact, it used to be the trope picture) and this close to becoming Parallax. But once you realize that his expression is very similar to the infamous trollface, the drama is immediately killed. Unless you think that Parallax actually was a huge troll, story-wise.
    • Then there's the Manhunters and their Badass Creed "No Man Escapes The Manhunters!", which goes from badass to Narm pretty quickly due to their tendency to incessantly repeat this creed at every possible opportunity, even as they get their asses kicked over and over again. This is particularly bad in the Millennium arc, in which they'd say the creed seemingly every page they were on. By the end of the arc even the heroes were sick of hearing it.
    • The White Lanterns draw their power from something called a "White Power Battery". Probably an example of something that looked okay written down but really should have been sounded out verbally.
  • From Mr. T and the T-Force #1 (yes, really):
  • An Author Tract in Phonogram about women Stuffed into the Fridge in music was delivered by a goddess who used the word "indie" like an ethnic slur. It generally fell into Mundane Made Awesome territory, and peaked with this phrase:
    "You... emosogynist."
    • And then everything exploded.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) seems to assign artists regardless of whether or not their art style is compatible with the general tone of the story, so it's not uncommon to see a dark storyline with light-hearted artwork or vice versa. Probably the most outstanding example comes in an issue in which Sally confronts Sonic over whether showing up Robotnik is more important than their relationship — any drama the scene may have had is mitigated by Sally's mouth taking up literally half her face.
  • One early Spider-Man story arc saw him getting captured and chained up by gangsters. When he breaks free, his narration doesn't attribute it to his super-strength, but to a far sillier sounding ability:
    Spider-Man: Fortunately, they didn't count on my power of chest expansion!
  • Venom, depending on the artist who's drawing him. He's supposed to be terrifying, but when he looks like THIS, it Crosses the Line Twice and he becomes ridiculous.
  • James Robinson also wrote some rather... questionable thought captions in a 1994 Tales of Suspense one-shot. Iron Man is questioning why Captain America even hangs out with him, because Cap is basically perfect and Tony is deeply flawed. His musings begin, "I look at your handsome face... into your clear, azure eyes..."
  • Geoff Johns' run on The Flash is excellent... with one minor exception. In the Iron Heights one shot, The Flash dramatically unmasks serial killer Murmur, who until then was horror incarnate. What followed was a full page of Murmur's face, which revealed two things: he had sewn his own mouth shut, and he was more wall-eyed than Marty Feldman. For some readers, this combination reduced a "Damn!" reveal to a "Wha?" one.
    • Johns brought the Flash's traditional Rogues Gallery (Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, Weather Wizard etc.) back to the comic after their long absence during the Mark Waid run and was widely praised for their portrayal. Unfortunately, when it came to their most popular member, Captain Cold, Johns's tendency towards "Johnsian literalism" was in full swing, so instead of being a blue collar crook who used a freeze ray to knock over banks because it was his job, Captain Cold is now a villain because his father was a cold man with a cold heart whose cold treatment made his son turn cold to the world, and now he wants to make the rest of the world as cold as he is inside. Reasonable enough, but it takes a turn when you learn that, when he was a boy, the only place Cold felt safe was his uncle's ice cream truck because he liked the cold.
  • Starfire from Teen Titans has always walked the line of looking ridiculous, since she's an alien princess with really, really long hair that's sometimes drawn in a very 80s style and wears a pretty Stripperiffic costume that walks the boundaries of both good taste and plausibility. Red Hood and the Outlaws then proceeded to fall off that tightrope by featuring Starfire dressed in such an absurdly revealing outfit that made it hard to take seriously.
  • In the 1970s The Avengers had a now-obscure villain called Egghead (his head was shaped like an egg) who sat plotting in his lair and exclaimed, "It's not fair! All I ever wanted to do was rule the world! Is that so much to ask?". He then reflects on how he's not getting any younger and doesn't have many years left to take over, making it less of a Villainous Breakdown and more of a Villainous Mid-Life Crisis. That one may have been intentional, but only Roger Stern knows for sure...
  • Jim Shooter's tenure as writer of The Avengers was good on the whole, but his constant indulgence in Purple Prose resulted in several ventures into narm territory. His habit of introducing villains off-screen while the heroes stared out of the page and cried, "OH, GOD, NO! NOT YOU! ANYONE BUT YOU!" Fine when genuinely dangerous villains like Ultron were involved, but less effective when it was lesser threats (like the Grim Reaper) or silly, forgotten opponents (like Tyrak, who looked like an Atlantean member of the Village People).
  • Marvel’s Revolutionary War event revived many of the 1990s Marvel Uk characters, including the Knights of Pendragon and their patron, the ancient and arcane Green Knight. Except this time the Knight shifted from his usual inhuman form into a giant version of popular British Olympian Mo Farah and squashed the antagonists - undead Arthurian knights - under his running shoes.
  • In The Darkness #4 Jackie pulls out a hitman's entire skeleton. It goes "POP!"
  • Volume 2 of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen includes an enormously disturbing scene in which Mr. Hyde violently tortures, rapes, and kills the treacherous Griffin (The Invisible Man). As gruesome as this scene is, when Nemo discovers Griffin's remains, his dialogue may well make it kind of narmy.
    • Earlier, Quatermain and the team encounter a Martian Tripod for the first time, towering over them out of the darkness in the middle of a raging storm. How does Quatermain describe this incredible sight?
    Quatermain: It's... it's like a milking-stool...
    • In Quatermain's defence, the original novel used this description for the Martian tripods as well. Not that this exactly helps matters, but still.
  • The early The Mighty Thor comics were full of this, to the point where it borders on Adam West territory. Seeing Loki try to make his escape by summoning a cloud of pigeons is funny enough... but it becomes even more hysterical when, the next time he makes an appearance as a villain, he tries to escape by actually turning into a pigeon. Considering that Loki's current motif is the Magpie, it does make you wonder if he just really likes birds or something.
  • The Ultimates vol. 3 gets special accolades for the worst Bond One-Liner imaginable:
    Ant-Man: "If she's the mother... I'm the mother-fucker!"
  • The Walking Dead: The Governor, riding on a tank, wearing a weird outfit and an eyepatch, and only one arm, shouting "KILL THEM ALL!" is very jarring against the general tone of the series.
  • The Darker and Edgier Thunder Cats: Dogs of War features this line:
    "This night, we mark our territory... with... blood!
  • Two moments from Ultimatum:
    • Quoted from Nick Fury when he's rescued from the pocket dimension:
      I was wondering when you bungholes were going to show up.
      • For context, Ultimate Universe Nick Fury is modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, who you'd probably never hear say something like that.
    • The random deaths, all gory, become sort of funny after a while.
    • In the Ultimate FF tie-in, Dormammu finds a wayward Johnny Storm in his dimension. His reply? "Well, well, look what this power-constipated city just pooped out."
  • Watchmen discusses one in-story, in Under The Hood. The original Nite Owl recalls a coworker experiencing a great personal tragedy while wearing a massive pair of fake breasts and listening to "Ride of the Valkyries". It induces the group to fits of laughter. They quickly realized their mistake and apologized to the man, but he ended up killing himself later that day. Hollis later cites it as 'the saddest thing he can think of'.
    • Some of Rorschach's narration, especially in the first chapter are made pretty ridiculous thanks to his slightly unbalanced mind, like when, out-of-nowhere, he starts suspecting random people of being gay and/or child pornographers.
    • Speaking of Rorschach...
    • Rorschach ambushing Moloch by popping out of his fridge was so ridiculous it crossed from hilarious back over into Crazy Is Cool. Especially narmy if you think about the time it must have taken for Rorschach to move all the stuff inside the fridge and hide them in Moloch's kitchen and how many things could have gone wrong in the plan. Or how long he must've been just sitting there inside the fridge.
  • This odd fourth-wall-breaking moment from an early issue of Chris Claremont's X-Men, back before he really found his voice:
    Omniscient Narrator: You and the X-Men had saved the world from a nuclear holocaust, but you lost a man to do it... and try as you might, you can't balance those scales in your mind or in your heart... can you, Cyclops?
    Cyclops: No.
    Narrator: Can you?
    Cyclops: No!
    Narrator: CAN YOU?
    Cyclops: NO!!
  • In Uncanny X-Men #424, one panel has a bunch of corpses. The Narmy part comes when you realize that two of them have been placed so it looks like one of them is giving the other a blowjob.
  • Yes, being repeatedly brainwashed and manipulated by military conspiracies kind of sucks, but Wolverine may be overreacting just a little bit in The Pulse #9:
    Get out! No more SHIELD! No more Fury! No more Hydra with the hands. No more. Stop raping me, all of you!! STOP RAPING ME!!!
  • One More Day is loathed by many comic book fans, but as much as there is to get pissed about if you're a fan of Peter and MJ as a couple, there's one gloriously narmy line as well that you can laugh at. To really appreciate this, you have to remember that the person speaking these words is Mephisto, the ruler of Hell. Among all of the villains in the Marvel Universe, he's among the most powerful. Whenever he shows up, people think Oh, Crap!. What kind of horrible, unspeakable act is he trying to commit this time? What does he want?
    • That's right, in this thrilling issue, Mephisto serves divorce papers!
    • Also, Peter's anguished cry of pain as he relinquishes the love between him and his wife? "NYAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!"
    • "Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross-reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony. Listen. Listen."
      • This sentence was runner-up in the "Found" category of the 2008 Lyttle Lytton Contest. It's prize-winningly bad.
  • In the Lizard part of the Spider-Man story The Gauntlet, the Lizard uses some sort of telepathy to activate the lizard part of Spider-Man's brain, essentially causing Spider-Man to revert to his primal survival instincts. The story thus far has been pretty dark, with the previous chapter climaxing in the Lizard eating his son. However, with the lizard part of Spider-Man's brain in control, we get the line "I is prey!"
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice features an absurd overuse of the word "justice," until you might start wondering if everyone's somehow picked it up as a Verbal Tic.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: When Gorlam Prime disintegrates at a molecular level, Jhiaxus declares his victory and makes an epic Villain: Exit, Stage Left through the destruction and Monstructor climbs onto the ship and straddles it like a kiddie ride. The result is a combination of funny and adorable.
  • The Transformers: Dark Cybertron:
    • Nova Prime and Galvatron entering the normal universe through Megatron's body starts off as pure, unleaded Nightmare Fuel. But then on the first page of part 5 the way it's drawn (juxtaposed with Casual Danger Dialogue) causes it to look really silly. It's less "undead abominations entering our plane of existence" and more "Jane, get me out of this crazy thing!".
    • There's also the revelation that Waspinator controls the Necrotitan with his "staff", i.e. the gun formed out of his energon stinger in beast mode. As one reviewer pointed out, this means Waspinator controls the Metrotitan with his butt. Even worse when Shockwave ditches his Arm Cannon so he can replace it with the aforementioned butt-gun.
  • Anytime Spider-Man referred to himself in the third person as "The Spider" in the grimdark stories of the 1990s.
  • In Wanted, the final scene, a Take That, Audience! which calls out the reader for supporting a monstrous Villain Protagonist like Wesley, falls pretty flat for two reasons; first, Wesley breaks the fourth wall completely out-of-nowhere to deliver this filibuster and second, it assumes that the audience liked Wesley, despite the fact that the comic never had him do anything likable ever, not even in a Black Comedy sense.
  • In the Tirek issue of My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic, he says twice in the span of as-many pages that Scorpan is entirely loyal and would never betray him. It was possibly intended as ironically funny, but comes off as forced and awkward. The third time it comes up, it's definitely forced.
  • Darkseid has a rather notorious (and memetic) tendency to chill oncouches whenever he comes to Earth. Try imagining an ancient Eldritch Abomination said to be the living embodiment of evil relaxing on your couch and try not to burst out laughing.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
    • Nightwing's death is probably the most infamous moment of the comic: he gets hit with a stick in the head by Damian and stumbles dazed over a rock, breaking his neck in the process. Its anti-climatic as it sounds and more funny than it has any right to be.
    • The way Superman reveals Batman's secret identity. Batman shut down the Watchtower, so Superman, using Cyborg, posts "Batman is Bruce Wayne" on his Twitter account. It makes sense, but it's too hilariously mundane and anti-climactic to take seriously. Did we mention Superman has his own Twitter account and everyone knows it's his?
    • The overuse of the "NAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" sound effect.
    • Batman taking out his frustration on a punching bag after Dick's murder is completely ruined by the face he is drawn with.
  • Rulah is just a little too glib about killing a Baleful Polymorph:
    "Sorry, but you were a doomed creature of evil!"
  • The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars: During the trilogy, it's revealed that Fire Lord Sozin has outlawed same-sex couples, leading Korra to exclaim, "That guy's the worst!" However, this seems to brush aside the more atrocious things Sozin had done like leaving his best friend (Avatar Roku) to die during a volcano eruption, starting a hundred-year war that cost many lives, and committing genocide on the Air Nomads (except Aang) and almost all of the dragons. This also seems to make it sound like that the Fire Nation was always very tolerant and progressive until Sozin became Fire Lord, thus making him seem like he outlawed same-sex couples and committed his more terrible actions just For the Evulz.
  • In Marvel's Point One prelude to Avengers vs. X-Men, Sam Alexander attempts to warn a planet about the dangers of the approaching Phoenix Force. When he is ultimately too late to evacuate the planet before the Phoenix Force destroys the population, his response is probably one of the most inappropriately-placed and nonsensical uses of Totally Radical lingo put into a comic.
    Nova: ...All those people... I... Epic Fail...
  • In the first story arc of Shadowpact a group of magical villains have captured a small town and are sacrificing people into a giant pit. This pit is referred to, even by the villains themselves, as a murder hole.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Wonder Woman uses her lasso to undo the brainwashing Circe put Superman through the whole sequence takes an uncomfortable number of panels, an unnecessary number of which are dedicated to Superman crying into her chest apologizing while pretty much the entire superhero community stands and stares like this is a momentous awe inspiring occasion.
  • In Kingdom Come, Captain Marvel's arrival at the Gulag battle is an Oh, Crap! moment that's framed as a single-page Splash Panel. But the framing makes it look like Superman is looking at his crotch which has a noticeable bulge. And right next to the bulge is the narration box "Armageddon has arrived".
  • In the original printing of Final Crisis and its earlier collected editions, Mandrakk ended his monologue while confronting Superman in the final issue of the series proper with "Come closer, I need to eat you raw! SLLUUBBBRR." Considering later collection editions modified the monologue to have Mandrakk say "Where Mandrakk waits for you," which originally appeared in the panel right before it, it's clear even DC came around to finding the original ending bit silly.
  • Rise of Arsenal is supposed to be the tragic tale of a grieving man, Roy Harper (current Arsenal, former Speedy), who falls back into drugs and violence to cope. Yet all the ways chosen to depict this are melodramatic and ridiculous, such as a woman being beaten with an extension cord, constant hallucinations of a ghost child - including one where she appears in place of a dead cat! - and closing it off, Batman showing up and proceeding to kick the living crap out of Harper while saying, "I'm your friend. "