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No Sell / Comic Books

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No-Selling in comic books.

  • Superman:
    • The Last Son of Krypton, pictured above, who set the model for any number of similar Flying Brick characters by being invulnerable to everything under the sun and then some.
    • Originally this was described as "nothing less then a bursting shell" could pierce his skin but Power Creep over the years has upgraded this such that anything less powerful then nuclear weapons doesn't have a prayer and even those can be no more then a mild inconvenience. This has also directly resulted in the birth of Kryptonite and other weaknesses and why Kryptonite Is Everywhere as creators struggle to challenge Superman and indirectly probably why there is an entire range of villains and heroes almost as powerful to provide rivals Superman can't just curb stomp. Special mention goes to magic which is one of Superman's weaknesses, not because he is particularly weak to it, but because unlike everything else, he doesn't specifically resist to it. Depending on the Writer though this seems to come in different degrees where he may not be invulnerable but is still super-tough enough to endure several hits from say Captain Marvel's magical lightning bolts.
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    • In "The Super-Duel in Space", the first battle with Brainiac had Superman the victim of this trope. Thanks to the villain's forcefield, nothing Superman could throw bothered him, or his ship. Superman even tried throwing chunks of an asteroid the size of islands to no avail.
      Superman: Won't anything defeat that super-alien? I'll hurl this giant meteor! (Pant!)
      Brainiac: You're only wearing yourself out, "Punyman"! Even if you threw the Earth itself, it would only bounce off my Ultra-Force shield! Ha, ha!
    • Where this trope gets interesting is with his alter-ego, Clark Kent. Superman is no less invulnerable than usual while living as a civilian, but he needs to pretend to be normal to protect his secret identity. On occasion, he's shown deliberating how he should best sell an incoming attack so as not to let an aggressor know who he is. When The Joker is swinging a massive mallet at his (Clark's) head, Supes spends several panels (a fraction of a second mid-swing, in real-time) trying to decide how best to sell the attack. He has some difficulty since he's never witnessed the aftereffects of such a thing, and eventually realizes that getting hit square in the head like that would kill a normal human being, so he needs to act like the mallet just barely grazed him instead.
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    • In Krypton No More, Superman hits super-villain Protector with a giant pipe, but Protector changes his body into diamond and the pipe shatters upon impact.
    • In War World, Pre-Crisis Superman punches The Spectre in the stomach. The Spectre doesn't care. Superman hits him with his full might. The sheer force of the blow makes the nearby cliffs tremble and demolishes the ground beneath his feet. The Spectre doesn't even flinch.
      Superman: I dislike doing this, Spectre — We're supposed to be on the same side — but you've left me no — Huh? You didn't even flinch!
      The Spectre: Why should I — when I felt nothing? To me, your angriest blows are no more than the whisper of snowflakes!
    • In The Death of Superman, Doomsday is practically wiping the floor with the Justice League with one arm bound behind his back. So they all decide to hit him with everything that they've got. After nearly exhausting their energy, they decide to quit thinking there's no way Doomsday could still be standing. But then the smoke clears, revealing that all they did was release his arm.
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    • The full context of the current page illustration provides yet another variation on the trope. The Big S is no-selling The Big Green Guy's punches — at first. However, longtime fans of both recognize a growing flaw in this plan.
  • Supergirl:
    • Kara Zor-El was born in the early Silver Age, which means she was invulnerable to anything weaker than a nuke since the beginning.
    • In Action Comics #286 Lex Luthor shot at her with a machine gun even though he should know better than anybody how tough Kryptonians are. Naturally, she stood still while the bullets bounced off. This situation is inverted in an early Post-Crisis battle when the newly arrived Kara picks a fight with Luthor and discovers his warsuit will simply shrug off anything she throws at it.
    • In Many Happy Returns, super-villain rebel shoots a beam weapon at Kara. Kara stands her ground as several laser rays "hit" her and asks if they were supposed to hurt because she is feeling nothing.
    • Red Daughter of Krypton: Two Red Lanterns test a machine launches missiles tipped with a touch of neutron star core matter... on Kara. It was her idea. One missile struck her. And it did nothing. But getting her angrier.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton Wonder Woman's bracelets deflect Supergirl's heat vision and later Darkseid's Omega Beams.
  • In the Legion of Super-Heroes comics, Nemesis Kid's ability to adapt to his enemy's powers is frequently applied this way. And in the LSV War, Blok was suddenly revealed to be immune to telepathic abilities after the villain Esper Lass tried to control his mind: "I am BLOK, Esper Lass... and your power has no claim on me!" Umm, since when?
  • In Gotham City Garage, a solar-powered weapon explodes in Kara's hands. Given she is sun-powered, it works right as you'd expect.
  • Wonder Woman: Darkseid planted multiple Apokoliptican bombs all over Olympus, and set them off. The smoke cleared — and the city was unharmed. Since it exists because of the will of the gods, the whole city could No Sell the explosion.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Wonder Woman and the Duke of Deception each get one for the other:
    • The Duke of Deception is entirely unharmed by Diana's attacks on him at Athens, with them passing harmlessly through him.
    • Wonder Woman is immune to the Duke's illusions, though he finds a way around it after their first encounter this work around only works from a significant distance, as in well over 50 miles so that she can't actually see the location he's trying to trick her about since she can still see through the illusions even if now she's actually noticing them.
  • Mutant siblings (or other close relatives) in the Marvel Universe are sometimes unaffected by each other's abilities. Sometimes even when that would make no physical sense...
  • Trauma's fear based shapeshifting powers failed when he tried to use them against Norman Osborn and The Hood because the source of the Hood's power, the Dread Demon Dormammu, has a ceasefire agreement with the source of Trauma's power, his own father the dream demon Nightmare. Trauma once tried to use his powers against the Incredible Hulk, transforming into the Abomination, into the Juggernaut, into Brian Banner, and even Bruce Banner, none of them even giving the Hulk pause. When questioned as to why he was immune, Hulk put it simply; he has no fear.
  • Whenever Bruce Banner Hulks out, standard military procedure is to order armored columns, and air and artillery strikes against him, with predictable results.
  • The Mighty Thor completely No Sells Titania when she tried to attack him in the first Secret Wars storyline. Titania was drunk on her new-found power and thought nothing could stop her, so she just charged right in. Against Thor. Edging into Too Dumb to Live, although Thor didn't kill her.
    Titania: Me! Titania! The woman who killed Thor! (Punches Thor)
    Thor: Mayhap, woman. (Hits Titania so hard she is knocked out of sight over the horizon) When icicles doth grace Surter's firey realm.
  • The Quiz, a member of the Brotherhood of Dada (opponents of the Doom Patrol) has "every superpower you haven't thought of yet", which means just that - she can give herself any power, but her opponent can No Sell it just by thinking of it... unfortunately, while he does that, she'll just think up a few other powers to continue with. Also, she can easily No Sell her opponents by coming up with a unique power that counters theirs; she defeated the Negative Man with "power to conjure spirit-proof jars" and trapping the negative spirit inside.
  • The second issue of US-1 featured an ordinary trucker who was tough enough to completely ignore being hit in the head with a wrench.
  • This is one of Popeye's trademarks. The sailor's ability to take punishment has stymied more foes than his ability to dish it out. In one memorable instance, Popeye gets shot in the stomach at point-blank range, only to spit the bullets out into his hand. As he tells his stupified attacker, "What, didja think I was a softy?"
  • The Forgotten Realms comics had a brief demonstration of magic immunity and circumvention thereof. It ran thusly:
    Nameless Cyricist: Give up! I cannot be harmed by your spells.
    Elminster: Perhaps so. But are you equally immune to falling masonry?
    Nameless Cyricist: [Oh, Crap! + Big "NO!"]
  • One recurring method of Easy Evangelism in Chick Tracts is when a follower of a non-Christian religion that worships demons sics them at the pure innocent Christian du-jour, only for God to ward of the attack completely. This usually prompts the Magical Minority Person to approach the Christian and ask what kind of awesome God he has. It should be noted that, as far as we know, this is supposed to be a realistic portrayal of the real world.
  • Subverted in Rising Stars. A supposedly invincible character who feels no pain is shown to be terribly useless. Just because he was invulnerable didn't mean that he could stay standing when hit; he just wouldn't feel pain. And then he was murdered when someone taped him to a chair and tied a plastic bag over his head while he slept. He wasn't able to tell anything was going on, so he asphyxiated.
    • Played more straight later on: It turns out that whenever a "Special" dies, the remainder get more powerful. So by the time there's only a few dozen left (After a series of murders, then super-human battles, then military strikes), they're all Flying Bricks who can take anything... except for an EMP blast which short-circuits their powers.
  • The tactic itself is discussed in a Tangled Web of Spider-Man story starring Crusher Hogan, the wrestler who Peter Parker beat when he first got his powers. Hogan, a shooter, is unhappy with his opponent no-selling his hits for the crowd and threatens to break his arms if it keeps happening.
  • The classic Spider-Man vs Wolverine comic ends with Spidey fighting Wolverine in an East German graveyard. Spider-Man is legitimately pissed off, and trying to pummel Wolverine, but: "I'm hitting him hard enough to wreck cars... and I can't get him to stop smiling."
  • Used in a 2000 AD Judge Dredd story when the titular judge is fighting an other-dimensional being known as Judge Fear, whose "hat" is to kill by revealing its face which causes the person seeing the face of fear to die of fright. Judge Fear tries it on Judge Dredd.
    Judge Fear: Gaze into the face of fear!
    Judge Dredd: Gaze into the fist of Dredd! [punches Fear in the face]
  • In one of the Intercontinuity Crossovers comics of Judge Dredd / Batman, the ectoplasmic Judge Death is released from his captivity by The Joker, but tries to possess his body as a reward. It doesn't work out; Judge Death gives up when he's not quite sure how to control a mind as deranged as the Joker's. Joker instead convinces him that they should team up, and Death turns him into a fifth Dark Judge to use the Joker's "talents" in a more useful way.
  • In the original quest of ElfQuest, when Cutter first meets the annoying, fairy-like Preserver, Petalwing, he threatens to crush it if it doesn't behave. Petalwing laughs and invites Cutter to try. He does, to no effect. Switching the threat to Petalwing's wings however...
    Petalwing: Hee Hee Heeee! Highthing can't squash Petalwing! Try! Try!
    Narration: Cutter squeezes the tiny creature with all his might!
    Cutter: Umph! Your skin's as tough as thick leather!
    [other preservers begin to attack Cutter]
    Cutter: Stop it, or I'll pull this one's wings off!
    Petalwing: Ooohh — Poor Petalwing! Don't pull! Don't pull!
  • In Batman & Captain America, The Joker hits the Red Skull with a dose of his Joker Venom (which leaves its dead victim with Joker-like grins on their faces), while the Skull fires a dose of his Dust of Death (which leaves its victims' heads reddened and shriveled, resembling red skulls) at the Joker. After brief coughing fits, they realized that their respective poisons are both similar in make-up and long-term exposure to their own trademark weapons has left them immune to each other's poisons. Unfortunately for the Joker, he's not immune to a Tap on the Head from one of Red Skull's goons.
  • Scarecrow also once tried using his fear toxin on Joker. Joker took it without flinching and proceeded to beat up Scarecrow with a chair. Whether this is due to Joker's messed-up biology or messed-up mind is up for debate.
  • When written right, this is what makes the Juggernaut such a fearsome foe - with power of Cyttorak, he becomes the unstoppable force the moment he starts moving. This is why, especially in the early days, everyone made a scramble to remove his helmet and hit him with a psychic blast as nothing else worked. Among the things he has been hit by without budging an inch have been a tanker truck full of fuel (which naturally exploded on impact), Cannonball flying full tilt at him twice, and Thor throwing his hammer at him.
  • In his first appearance in Preacher, the Saint of Killers No-Sold a pick-up truck being driven into him at high speed (the bodywork just crumpled around him). He was similarly dismissive of dozens of cops and soldiers repeatedly shooting him and attacking him. It really gets turned Up to Eleven in the sixth volume when he shrugs off direct hits from tanks rounds, and shortly afterward he topped even this, by No-Selling a nuclear warhead to the face.
  • In Atomic Robo volume 7, Val Akilinov is completely immune to the deleterious effects of alcohol. Why? She's Russian. At one point, a character who's had less to drink than her concludes she's too inebriated to fly and hands the plane controls over to Val.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Methraton takes a full-powered attack from Lucifer himself and comes out of it with an expression of mild irritation, like someone threw a rock at Dr. Manhattan.
  • In the Batman storyline "I Am Suicide", the Ventriloquist ends up confronting the Psycho Pirate, who attempts to use the Medusa Mask on him. It doesn't work as the Ventriloquist suddenly slugs him as Scarface takes over, represented by his hand moving. As Scarface tells the Psycho Pirate while dropping him to the ground, the only one controlling the Ventriloquist is him.
  • In a Galactus/Darkseid crossover "The Hunger", Darkseid mistakes Galactus' concern for Norin Radd as pity, and blasts him with his Omega Beams, designed to target its victim's inherent weakness. They do nothing, as Galactus states he was merely pragmatic, knowing Radd would rebel someday, just not now, and he had no "inherent weakness" for the Omega Beams to exploit.
  • Robin Series: Tim fakes not being effected by Johnny Warlock's life draining power to great effect since Johnny had already half convinced himself Robin was immune to his powers when Tim took advantage of Johnny overusing them to the point of weakness to beat him near to death on a previous occasion. As he controls his magic with his mind the fact that he is now convinced he can't hurt Robin with his magic means that he actually can't.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Misty Knight blows a fire extinguisher on the Silver Wing. He gets up as if that was nothing.
    • Ultimate Vision: Several planes fired atomic weapons to the Gah Lak Tus module. Its forcefield was barely scratched.
  • The fight scenes in The Infinity Gauntlet can pretty much all be summed up as "Thanos no-sells everything used against him" whether that's Wolverine's claws or a Celestial throwing entire planets.


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