Roasting Old Chestnuts: ComicsAlliance’s Favorite Cliches



Today, according to CA’s parent blog, the Asylum Network, is National Cliche Day, and in order to celebrate, I’ve put together a gallery of my ten favorite comic book cliches!

Putting this together was one of those experiences where I was almost overwhelmed with choices, as seventy years of super-hero comics have resulted in an entire language of recurring tropes, from the tradtional Marvel Comics Fight-Then-Team-Up to Gotham City’s absolute refusal to put homicidal maniacs behind anything tougher to break out of than your average grade papier-mâché. But it ended up being a lot of fun picking out the ones that were fun to talk about from the near-limitless selection Laura Hudson and I bantered back and forth.

If pressed, though, I’ve got to admit that my favorite of the ones listed is the outright insanity of super-villain names. Like I said when the last issue of Batman and Robin came out, if I’m Dick Grayson and I meet a guy named “Oberon Sexton,” I’m just going to start hitting him on general principle, and if I’m Jeremiah Arkham, I’m going to think very carefully before hiring “Alyce Sinner” to help me run my asylum.

In either case, give it a read, and if you’d like to share your favorite four-color cliche, feel free!

28 thoughts on “Roasting Old Chestnuts: ComicsAlliance’s Favorite Cliches

  1. Because I’m too lazy to make an account over at your new gig…

    Loki also crushed on Storm too. :)

  2. I love the constant alliteration of early comic book characters. Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Sue Storm, Reed Richards….it warms the cockles of my heart to see them.

  3. I’m more of a Marvel guy, personally, but I’m a big fan of DC’s naming conventions from the 40’s and 50’s, where a good selection of their heroes have two first names.

    Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne. Barry Allen. Hal Jordan (arguable for the time, maybe, but Jordan is a legitimate first name today). It’s not as much fun as the alliteration, but it always makes me smile.

  4. The Invincible panel you use to illustrate #5 is awesome. What do I need to buy to see it in context?

  5. At my comic shop a few weeks ago the owner pointed out that Morgan Spurlock seems like a cool guy, but he totally has a super-villain name.

  6. You know, I never really thought about the whole “two first names” idea, myself, but it works. And I have to admit after my last comment, Clark Kent might not be perfect alliteration, but it’s the same sound, so I count it. So there you go, Superman can fit TWO naming tropes in comics!

  7. When it comes to ominous names I realized that if I had an awesome last name like Doom, Strange, or Savage I would feel morally obligated to obtain a doctorate even if I had to go with a Honduran diploma mill to get it.

  8. Don’t forget Killer Moth as an anti-Batman. By day, millionaire Cameron van Cleer is a philanthropist and socialite, but by night he is the Killer Moth. Hiding out in the Mothcave, driving in the Mothmobile to answer the Mothsignal.

  9. This is a live-action TV trope that I hate, but perhaps it has showed up in comics now and again: The “protagonist wakes up in an insane asylum and the rest of the series is just a hallucination” episode. Hate hate hate it.

  10. Villains who have had a multitude of opportunities to exterminate their nemeses go begging due to extensive monologuing and gloating. Speechifying has been a greater deterrent to successful supercrime over the years than any combo of powers you can point at.

  11. The comic cover that depicts something that doesn’t happen in the story, although this isn’t as common as it used to be. It was even referenced in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

    Actually, that could be a good list for a future comics alliance post.

  12. Y’know, I’m no comix doctor or nuthin’… but if I saw a paper that said “SANE” being held by a lady with THOSE eyes and THAT smile, I think I’d trust her face instead of the paper, and lock her back up just to be on the safe side.

  13. This blog seems to be mostly a place to plug War Rocket Ajax and the Comics Alliance stuff lately… :(

  14. Well, it’s the same amount of content as before, just hosted in a few different places…some of which Chris gets paid for, he sez.

    The only thing I don’t like about Comics Alliance is having to sign up to make comments, and the lack of alt text…but, I end up seeing links to different things that are cool, and that makes up for it.

    Gawd, do I ever sound like a commercial

  15. To jmags:
    That particular Invincible image is actually the cover to one of the issues, though I’m blanking on which one.

    Needless to say, the actual events don’t quite match the cover.

  16. The Invincible panel you use to illustrate #5 is awesome. What do I need to buy to see it in context?

    It’s the cover to Invincible #22, which you can find in Volume 5 of the trades.

  17. Ah, that was just a clone. There was also an Uncle Ben from another dimension that was a serial murderer, and now you know why I don’t read Peter David comics anymore.

  18. Really, Chris? I just assumed it was because you’d met him.

    There was an Uncle Ben from another dimension in the old Spidey cartoon from the 1990s whose deal was that he didn’t die and this somehow made Spidey evil. I may be remembering that wrong.

  19. Well, there’s also the time that he said not reading Orson Scott Card’s comics because he’s a fucking jackass was the exact same as censorship, and that what we should do is give people with whom we disagree lots of money in hopes that this will show them A Better Way.

  20. I still like X-Factor, but whenever somebody tells me that they liked Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, I look at them funny and remind them that he made an alternate universe Uncle Ben into a murderer, and then I never speak to them again.

    It’s tough to lose friends over something trivial, but if they honestly liked a series containing THAT, then they were never really my friends after all.