Face It, Tiger: The Most Iconic Quotes in Comics
I love a good line of dialogue. Combined with a key moment and a striking visual, it can become something legendary. My goal today is to provide to you with just a few of the quotes that have become so memorable, that most long-term comic fans can visualize the moment just from hearing the line of dialogue. In other words, moments so iconic, they can be referenced in that one sentence.
I didn’t do an extensive amount of research, because that’s not my thing, so I won’t pretend this is a comprehensive, all-encompassing list. If you want something like that, please feel free to hit the donate button on the right side of this webpage. Also, this isn’t meant to imply that if you don’t recognize these quotes immediately, that you are not as good a fan as anyone else. I know how comic fans get about having their comic trivia chops challenged.
For the purposes of this list, I’m going for specific moments, so famous comic book quotes like “with great power, must also come great responsibility” or “I shall become a bat” will not be included, as they are used far too often to represent any singular moment. Similarly, no origins, as they are inherently more memorable and reprinted more often.
Justice League #5 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire
Guy Gardner’s braggadocio and ambition to lead the team was finally snuffed out in one quick stroke by Batman. Arguably the most famous moment from one of the most beloved Justice League runs.
I DID IT THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES AGO
Watchmen #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
At the time, one of the most shocking cliffhangers in comics history, and a clever subversion of superhero adventure tropes.
PROFESSOR XAVIER IS A JERK
Uncanny X-Men #168 by Chris Claremont, Paul Smith, and Bob Wiacek
The story behind this quote isn’t as memorable as the image itself. It’s a memorable full-page image on page one of the comic. The first image in the first issue of what would be a long and celebrated run by artist Paul Smith.
ALL IT TAKES IS ONE BAD DAY
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
The Killing Joke is simultaneously one of the most popular and most controversial Batman stories ever, but the central theme behind the Joker’s actions in the story is that anyone can go crazy after one bad day.
Amazing Spider-Man #121 by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, and John Romita
This one may be a bit subjective, as I and other big Spider-Man fans will probably know exactly what you’re talking about with that one sound effect, but might not be as obvious to a wider demographic. Regardless, it’s one of the most iconic single pages in the history of comics.
NO MORE MUTANTS
House of M #7 by Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel, and John Dell/Scott Hanna/Tim Townsend
These three words impacted almost a decade of X-Men storytelling, from what is arguably the best event comic of the modern era.
YOU THINK THIS LETTER ON MY HEAD STANDS FOR FRANCE
Ultimates #12 by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, and Paul Neary
Outrageous, insulting, and instantly recognizable.
THE LAST TIME YOU REALLY INSPIRED ANYONE WAS WHEN YOU WERE DEAD
Infinite Crisis #1 by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, and Andy Lanning
As Michael Kelso would say, “burn!”
YOU’VE TAKEN YET BEST SHOT, NOW IT’S MY TURN
Uncanny X-Men #132 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin
Wolverine’s rise to stardom was a slow burn, but it’s undeniable that this panel, and the issue that follows, were a breakthrough moment for the character.
A MAN WITHOUT HOPE, IS A MAN WITHOUT FEAR
Daredevil #229 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
The best quote from what is undeniably the best Daredevil story ever written.
YOU’RE LOCKED UP IN HERE WITH ME
Watchmen #6 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Arguably the most memorable Rorschach quote of many, but oddly doesn’t match up with the image of him in the prison cafeteria.
WHY DOES EVERYONE SAY MY NAME LIKE IT MEANS SHUT UP?
X-Men #10 by Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, and Scott Williams
Not very famous, but it’s a personal favorite and it’s my list.
THIS ISN’T A MUDHOLE, IT’S AN OPERATING TABLE, AND I’M THE SURGEON
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley
Frank Miller is known for his gruff Clint Eastwood tough guy dialogue, and this is the grimiest of them all.
ULTRON, WE WOULD HAVE WORDS WITH THEE
Avengers #22 by Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Al Vey
A well-remembered storyline from a beloved run, and a pitch perfect quote that has transcended both.
I’M THE GODDAMN BATMAN
All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #2 by Frank Miller, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams
One of the most highly anticipated projects in recent memory, was initially met with disappointment for being too over the top, which is perfectly encapsulated in this one line of dialogue. Instantly mocked by a legion of fans to the point it’s ironically become probably the most iconic quote of the past 10 years.
FACE IT, TIGER … YOU JUST HIT THE JACKPOT!
Amazing Spider-Man #42 by Stan Lee and John Romita
If there’s a more iconic quote for a single moment in the history of comics, I can’t think of it. One of the most dynamic debuts of a character that had been teased, hidden in shadows, for years. Mary Jane would go on to become one of the most beloved supporting characters in all of comics, and with a quote and artwork like this, it’s not hard to figure out why.