Monday, August 18, 2008

Cool Plot Twist Moments

Ok, who saw the ending of Sixth Sense coming? How about that moment in Psycho when we find out the truth about "mother"? It's those great plot twist moments that keep us coming back to the movies. Well, sometimes they happen in comic books too. Here's a few of the better ones in recent years we didn't really see coming:

"I'm the X-Factor."

When Peter David brought Jamie Madrox back into the Marvel world, he gave the Multiple Man an interesting problem: his duplicates were no longer exact dupes of himself. Now each had their own little personality quirks that made them either a help or hindrance in a situation. Sometimes they worked for him, and sometimes they worked against him, and he never knew what was coming.

Rictor is contemplating suicide and Jamie decides to send over a dupe to negotiate with him (because he's scared of heights). After making a few, he comes across one who seems perfect and sends him over. The dupe manages to talk Rictor out of the suicide attempt and all seems goodEnter the X-Factor series. Now Madrox is leading a detective agency with other mutants. A de-powered again...until they turn to go. Then the dupe drops a little revelation that's he not what he seems and shoves Rictor off the ledge. After a brief confrontation, Jamie learns this dupe is "The X-Factor", a crazy part of himself that will surface at some point in the future and Jamie will never know when that dupe is the one he's depending on.

This was a classic moment, and set some tension in the series for a while. Peter David gave a whole new meaning to the term "X-Factor" and suddenly the name of the series was synonymous with the unexpected more than an X-Men wannabe team. Eventually, this played off into an even bigger plot twist at the end of the second six-issue storyline. We saw "the X-Factor" again, and it was completely unexpected and a beautiful payoff to the what turned out to be a 12-issue related arc. I think this series is awesome and you should check it out. I can honestly say I never saw the twist coming, and "the X-Factor" returned in the coolest way possible.

Jason Todd is Hush...or Not

During the Hush storyline, Batman found himself facing off against a villain who knew all the intricate workings of his personal life. There was no rational explanation for this, until a jaw-dropping moment in a graveyard as Hush's bandages dropped away to reveal Jason Todd. This former Robin was believed to be dead, and now all of Hush's actions made sense. The desire for revenge, the intimate knowledge of the Caped Crusader's life...everything fell into place.

Of course, this ruse only lasted a few pages before we found out it was Clayface and not really Jason Todd (until later, when we found out it was Jason Todd who swapped places with Clayface later during the chase), but the shock was there and the seeds were planted. Suddenly everyone was thinking: wouldn't it be cool if Jason Todd did return as some tough, bad guy version of himself? That's exactly what happened later, but it was this moment that was the catalyst for it all.

Ray Palmer is a Killer...or Not

When DC started promoting Identity Crisis it was almost a guaranteed hit. Brad Meltzer, the best-selling novelist, was making a statement in comics and he'd promised something big. The series definitely delivered in a lot of areas, and it made you look at Doctor Light in a whole new way. Suddenly it brought a gravity to the fight between good and evil we'd never seen before. Innocent people could get hurt. In this case, Sue Dibny (wife of the Elongated Man) was brutally murdered in a perfect "locked room" scenario, and it was up to the JLA to find out who would stoop to this. Who could get in and out of a locked room without tripping any alarms? How could they do this without discovery? Who had declared open season on the loved ones of the JLA?

It wasn't until the sixth issue that we got our answer in the form of tiny footprints on Sue's brain. Someone incredibly small had been standing on her brain, and only one person fit that category: Ray Palmer aka The Atom. This was one of those perfect cliffhanger moments that kept you in suspense for an entire month until the final issue came out. With that one revelation, everything made sense and fell into place. Of course, it was a red herring, but even when the real murderer was revealed, it made even more sense! It was a plot twist on a plot twist, and it was a gut punch moment.

A lot of things happened in this story I didn't like (not the least of which was the brutal violation of Sue Dibny by Doctor incident I consider gratuitous and just there for the shock value), but the final reveal was a good one. The story didn't end with some huge fight scene, but like any good mystery it ended with a one-on-one confrontation with the killer eventually leading to their confession.

"My Name is Peter Parker."

During the Civil War, there were all kinds of things going on there that count as cool moments. We got faked out with the "return" of Thor (who turned out to be a clone). We got blown away by the real return of the Punisher to the hero world. The Fantastic Four took separate sides in the war. Several other big moments come to mind, but the one I would have never imagined seeing was the public unmasking of Peter Parker. While it wasn't a surprise who Spider-Man was, it was a surprise to see him publicly admit it.

After years of being concerned with the welfare of his family, Spider-Man threw that all to the wind and pulled off the mask on national television. This added some great moments to the comic, including J. Jonah Jameson fainting as he realized who he'd been working with for years. The stories in Spider-Man built to a new tension as Spidey worked to save his family after this revelation brought dozens of bad guys down on him, but it all fizzled out when Marvel decided they were in over their heads and wiped the slate clean with Brand New Day. But for sheer shock value, that unmasking was out of the blue.

Elektra is a Skrull

Gotta be honest, this didn't really grab me that first time I read it. I wondered what had happened to Elektra, but wasn't thinking it was a world-wide thing yet. Still, this was the opening salvo for the Skrull's "Secret Invasion", and it was unexpected. So many questions came to mind, not the least of which was "Why her?" She'd never been that big of a player in the Marvel U, so what made her so important?

It would be over a year later before we found out just why she was so important, and by then we'd learned of tons of other traitors in our midst. This was the moment that started it.

Ok, so there were a lot of other twisty moments I didn't mention, but I wanted to keep these to recent years. I'm open to suggestions though. What major plot twist moment did you not see coming?

Another comic book review this Thursday, and then next Monday we'll be taking a look at the greatest character deaths in comic book history!

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