One of the coolest comic book stories I've ever read is when they changed the Flash's eye color from blue to green from one issue to the next, and then like 70 issues later they brought back the blue-eyed Flash to reclaim his life from the impostor. I thought it was just mind-blowing that they'd wait six years to pull off a plot like that, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. The answer was: nothing. Nothing happened, because this wasn't a real plot. It was just a theory some guy with too much time on his hands posted on a message board, and the eye-color changes were just printing errors or whatever.
However, sometimes guys with too much time on their hands come up with crazy comic book theories that should be true, and everything fits in so well that it's hard to believe it's not intentional. Like ...
#4. Alan Moore Had Batman Kill the Joker and No One Noticed
Batman: The Killing Joke is the second most influential Joker story ever told (the first one being the epic saga of his boner). Written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, The Killing Joke has inspired both film incarnations of the Joker and remains universally praised by anyone who isn't a hairy old grouch who worships snakes and hates his old comics. And yet there's one part of this undisputed classic that doesn't sit right with a lot of readers: At the end of the comic, after the Joker has shot Batgirl through the spine and tortured Commissioner Gordon, he and Batman just stand there laughing for a while like the best of buds.
"Oh, that Marmaduke."
Many fans believe it's out of character for Batman to share a light moment with his nemesis after he inflicted so much suffering -- shit, some even say Bats should have just killed the Joker right there. Well, according to a very convincing theory that did the rounds in 2013, that's exactly what Batman did, right under our noses. Seriously, look at this panel again:
Is Batman leaning on the Joker as he convulses with laughter ... or is he reaching over to snap his neck? According to comics superstar Grant Morrison (who wrote Batman for seven years and knows his shit), it's clearly the latter. Morrison explained as much on Kevin Smith's podcast Fatman on Batman, as Smith had a series of orgasms over this mind-blowing revelation:
As Morrison points out, immediately after the "choking" panel, the laughter comes to an abrupt stop and the comic ends, presumably along with the Joker's pulse. What's even more significant is that this reading makes total sense with the themes of the story: The Killing Joke is all about Batman recognizing that he is trapped in an endless, self-destructive cycle with the Joker and doing something to stop it. At first he approaches the Joker and tries to reason with him, but this has the same effect as trying to reason with a freshly painted wall.
Right down to the stained gloves.
By the end of the comic, the Joker himself tells Batman it's too late to stop the cycle and proves he's beyond redemption by seriously hurting Batman's friends ... so Batman breaks his fucking neck. It all fits. Alan Moore wrote the last Joker story (and the last Batman one, by extension, since he's a killer now), and no one noticed for 25 years. Even though the biggest clue was always right there in the title: The Killing Joke. Perfect.
Why It's Not True:
Only a day after this theory went viral, Rich Johnston of BleedingCool.com had the bright idea to check the comic's script to see what it said on the "choking" panel:
"AND THEN- oh bollocks my caps were on."
Wait, shit, Batman is convulsing with laughter. There's no mention of Batman killing the Joker anywhere in the script, and Moore is the type of writer who describes the ripples on the puddles on the ground, so that's not the kind of detail he would have left out. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
#3. Watchmen Has a Secret Plot Twist Hidden in Plain Sight
The best thing about Watchmen is that you notice something new every time you read it. I've had this comic for half my life, and I'm still finding new things.
It took me 15 readings to spot the phallic symbolism in Panel 2 (the pen, I mean).
The level of detail in Watchmen is frightening. For instance, there's a panel in Issue 5 that shows you a first-person view of Rorschach rummaging through a trash can, and since it's seen from his perspective, obviously you don't see his face (which hasn't been revealed yet). Meanwhile, a separate but concurrent panel shows you a news vendor saying "I bet there's all kinda stuff we never notice" ... and in the background, there's Rorschach's still-secret identity (a crazy guy who goes around with a "THE END IS NIGH" sign), going through the trash. It sounds obvious, but it takes most people at least a couple of readings to notice that.
Also "shadowy forms" = Rorschach's face, clearly.
So, when superfan James Gifford wrote a long essay about how a panel of some people eating in a restaurant secretly solves one of Watchmen's biggest mysteries, that seemed completely plausible (especially to the legion of Internet commenters who revealed they'd always known that, thus proving their superior intellect). The big mystery is the fate of Hooded Justice, an enigmatic vigilante who debuted on October 13, 1938, and disappeared sometime in the '50s. In the comic's text pages, it's suggested that he was a circus strongman named Rolf Muller and that he didn't so much disappear as get killed, but none of that is confirmed.
Apparently his neck noose got caught in a revolving door.
H.J. is also hinted to have had a gay affair with fellow crime fighter Captain Metropolis, who apparently went on to get decapitated in a car crash in the '70s. However, as Gifford's essay explains, a panel in Issue 1 shows what looks a lot like an older Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis sitting together in a restaurant, both with their heads still on and holding hands:
Check out the inverted Robin masks on their necks. NOTHING IS A COINCIDENCE.
The date? October 13, 1985. The anniversary of Hooded Justice's debut. The man on the left has pretty much the same mustache as Rolf Muller, and the one on the right could easily be Captain Metropolis with some extra pounds:
The wings on his chest are fatter, too.
By the way, the characters talking in the background are two retired superheroes who will hook up as the story progresses. The parallel has to be intentional, right? It seems pretty clear by now that Metropolis faked his death to be with his secret lover. After all, this is a comic with a naked blue god in it -- everything is possible!
Why It's Not True:
Except this, because it's been debunked. The theory had been doing the rounds for 10 years when Rich Johnston of ComicBookResources.com (he gets around) emailed Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons to ask him about it. Gibbons' answer? The idea is "interesting and plausible," but not what they intended. Apparently they just put that old couple in the foreground to show that homosexuality is socially acceptable in this far-out alternate reality.
You messed up, Gibbons. You should have just said "Oh yeah, that's totally it."