There’s plenty to be said about the years 2010 through 2019, both good and bad, but it was at the very least a banner decade for pop culture, and in particular, shocking moments in comic books. Whether one is a fan of Marvel, DC Comics, or more independent fare, one is sure to get one's share of twists and turns involving favorite heroes and villains, and at a more rapid rate than ever before.
No character was immune to the bombshell developments of the past decade, not Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, or any of the endless host of comic book lesser lights. From dramatic demises and blasphemous betrayals to game-changing shakeups and revelations that still don’t quite make sense, this decade had it all when it came to four-color plot twists - and things will never be the same.
Alfred Pennyworth Sacrifices HimselfPhoto: DC Comics
The trope of a comic book character appearing to be deceased only to miraculously reappear some time later is so common that sometimes it’s a plot twist when the character in question has actually bit the dust - as was the case with Alfred Pennyworth in 2019’s Batman #77.
The actual demise itself is quite clear-cut, with Bane viciously snapping the faithful butler’s neck right in front of Batman’s son. The reader is left to wonder when it will be revealed that Pennyworth somehow survived, because surely Bruce Wayne would never let his father figure perish... except Pennyworth lied to Wayne that he escaped Bane’s clutches, ensuring Batman would not be around to save the day.
However, by lying, Wayne's trusted butler effectively sacrifices his life to help the Dark Knight serve the greater good.58086Were you shocked?
Captain America Hails HYDRAPhoto: Marvel Comics
When Captain America said “Hail HYDRA” in 2016’s Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, it made such an impact on the world of comics that the line showed up in Avengers: Endgame. In the series, it's revealed that Cap has been retroactively replaced by a HYDRA secret agent (via the Cosmic Cube), and has been plotting the fascistic overthrow of the Marvel Universe for decades.
It doesn’t take long for “Stevil” to establish his Secret Empire, then enact a strange new status quo in which Marvel Comics’ greatest hero serves as its biggest bad. Of course, in the end, the real Captain America comes back and defeats the imposter, but not before the HYDRA Cap executes the Black Widow - and tarnishes Rogers’s reputation forever.55189Were you shocked?
There Are Three JokersPhoto: DC Comics
Through the course of 2016’s Darkseid War, Batman finds himself sitting in the Mobius Chair, a piece of New God technology that can provide any piece of information to its user. The Dark Knight wants to test the device out, and so he asks it for the Joker’s real name. In return, he receives an impossible answer: There are three.
The full implications of this revelation are still being teased out by DC Comics to this day, but it seems meant to be taken literally and not metaphorically. There isn’t just one Joker out there, there are three of them - and that’s about as terrifying as plot twists get.424114Were you shocked?
Doctor Octopus Becomes The Superior Spider-ManPhoto: Marvel Comics
The events of 2013’s Dying Wish and the subsequent Superior Spider-Man were unlike anything ever seen in mainstream superhero comic books. Facing his imminent demise, Otto Octavius (AKA Doctor Octopus) unleashes an ambitious plot in which he swaps minds with his archnemesis Spider-Man. Doc Ock leaves Peter Parker to perish in his debilitated body and happily takes up the mantle of Spider-Man.
Parker is able to pass on his memories, and his lessons of power and responsibility, to Otto’s mind before he disappears, which results in Octavius becoming determined to prove himself a superior Spider-Man to the original - but in his own morally bankrupt way. It would be years before Parker regained the use of his body, and only then at Octavius’s bequest.391102Were you shocked?