31 Days of Comics Challenge: Day 10

The Most Beautiful Scene in Any Comic

SPOILER ALERT!!  If you intend to read Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and you do not want to have me spoil a major scene for you, do not read any further!!

The scene in question isn’t beautiful in a feel-good way.  It is poignant, and the poetry of the scene is beautiful beyond measure.  It involves DC’s version of Captain Marvel.  To understand the scene, I must briefly recount Marvel’s origin.  As told in Whiz Comics #2, dated 1939, Marvel’s destiny is tied to the street urchin and newsboy, Billy Batson.  Batson is pure of heart, and so he is chosen serve as Captain Marvel’s link to the physical world.  Batson’s initiation occurs when he is taken by a kindly stranger through the disused subway tunnels, to the sanctum of the wizard Shazam.  The wizard uses his power to connect Billy and Captain Marvel, so that the Captain will take Billy’s place in the physical world whenever Billy says the word “Shazam!”

And so was the status quo for Captain Marvel’s comic books for decades.  Enter Frank Miller and his dark imagining of a possible future for the DC Comics universe.  In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, an aging Justice League reunites to battle the combined forces of Lex Luthor and Braniac.  There is a point when Braniac, in the form of a giant UFO, is causing untold destruction and loss of life.  Captain Marvel flies in with some of the other heroes to fight off the monster.

The scene that I love occurs when Marvel is holding up a ton of rubble.  Wonder Woman steps in and tells him to wait for Superman to arrive.  She says that Superman will get him free of the load, and then he can turn into Batson long enough to heal his Captain Marvel form.  Marvel replies, “…I never turned into Billy.  A lot of people got that wrong.  What happened was, me and Billy, we switched places.  And he was never in the best of health.  He died eight years ago.  So I’m going on a one-way trip.”

Wonder Woman doesn’t understand.  She asks, “Where do you go?”  He replies, “Where….  Where’s a wish go?  Where’s a dream go when you wake up and can’t remember it?”

Finally understanding, the proud amazon tells him, “Say the word, warrior!  Go out with a lion’s roar!”  So he screams it.  One last time.

Bless you, Frank Miller, for making me cry over Captain Marvel.  Only you would think of something so perfect, so poetic, such a dignified send-off for the character.  It is obvious you have great affection and respect for comics.

All dialogue quoted © DC Comics
Miller, Frank.  Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  New York City: DC Comics.  2002.  Print

Tomorrow: Old Comic