More than just a captivating source of entertainment, comic books have been looked at as escapism, learning tools, and a way to provide commentary on relevant social or political topics. One way that comic books have rarely been looked at is as history textbooks, but there are so many allusions to current times in comic books that we can’t help but look at certain issues of comic books as strange time capsules. Or we can even go as far as to call them crystal balls.
Pop culture has a knack for making wildly accurate predictions of the future. The Simpsons were the first to depict a world where Donald Trump became President of the United States, several Apple creations first appeared in the original Star Trek series, and the Back to the Future series was the first to depict technological advances such as virtual reality and hoverboards. With that said, let’s take a moment to consider that a lot of these moments can be explained as simple coincidences or even just inventors taking inspiration from pop culture to create real things. These are moments of life imitating art, if you will. However, sometimes mediums in pop culture tend to make insane predictions, which not only turn out to be incredibly accurate but also occur in real life so exactly as portrayed that it makes us wonder if there are oracles in pop culture who are predicting such moments. Many of these moments happen in comic books, and here are 16 examples of such occurrences happening.
16. DC Kills Princess Diana… of Themyscira
Superheroes die all the time in comic books. Superman, Batman, Captain America, you name ’em — any superhero name that springs to your mind at this very second has probably died and come back from the dead at least a handful of times in the wonderful world of continuity-depleting, retcon-inducing comic books. We can add Wonder Woman to that long and ever-growing list thanks to issue #126 from her 1997 comic, but what makes this particular death so significant is the fact that it came just three days before Princess Diana of Wales died in a fatal car crash. This wouldn’t seem like such a striking coincidence if not for how Wonder Woman is often referenced as Princess Diana of Themyscira in light of her death. DC Comics killed their version of Princess Diana shortly before the real Princess Diana was killed.
15. New X-Men Predicts 9/11 Days Before Event
There are several images from comic book lore which can be cherry picked for alluding to the 9/11 tragedy, but none are quite as visually striking as this one captured in issue #115 from Grant Morrison’s critically acclaimed New X-Men. The image features a Sentinel plane flying headfirst into a skyscraper building in Genosha. While that image alone brings up awful memories, it gets even weirder when taking into consideration that this issue, in particular, was released in September of 2001 — within days of the attacks on the Twin Towers. While the attacks take place in two different countries, the parallels between this moment in comic book history and the all-too-real disaster that befell us in American history are too similar to deny.
14. The Secret Service Predicts Oscar Pistorius Incident
The Secret Service was a comic book series by Mark Millar that ran from 2012 until 2013 and would go on to be adapted as the film Kingsman: The Secret Service. Though it was a critically acclaimed series, it was still underground for the most part. However, one moment that caught viewers’ attention was one that looked eerily similar to a moment regarding the tragedy surrounding Oscar Pistorius. In one issue of the comic book, the character of Gazelle shoots his victim with his silencer pistol piercing through the door and into his target. Gazelle happens to have bionic legs, similar to Pistorius’s prosthetic legs. It’s also worth noting that this issue was released in the same week that Pistorius killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by unloading four bullets through a locked door in the same way that Gazelle kills his victim.
13. 1986 Batman Comic Predicts 2012 Theater Shooting
In 2012, the release of the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, was dampened by a tragic theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The mentally disturbed James Egan Holmes walked into a Century movie theater and caused a violent uproar that left 70 people injured and another 12 people dead. This fiasco was eerily reminiscent to an issue of The Dark Knight Returns (which, ironically enough, went on to inspire The Dark Knight Rises) from 1986. The scene saw a gun-toting lunatic shoot up a p-rn theater and the news media going on to blame Batman for inspiring the killer to kill. That in itself is reminiscent of how several news programs blamed the content of The Dark Knight franchise for inspiring Holmes to kill.
12. Lex Luthor Builds Atomic Bomb Before US Department
Early depictions of Lex Luthor saw him more as a scientist rather than the politician and businessman whom we know him as today. His most shocking invention came in 1944 in Action Comics issue #101 where he built an atomic bomb. The bomb was the first of its kind in the comic world and in real life. Coincidentally, the comic book depiction of an atomic bomb was strikingly similar to what the government had been working on with the Manhattan Project at the time. When word got back to the United States Department of Defense, they politely asked DC Comics to push the publication of this issue back a little. They refused to reveal why but demanded that this issue not hit the shelves regardless. They got their wish, and a year later, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The comic storyline was delayed from publication until 1946.
11. Superman & The Challenger Disaster
If one were to delve deeper into who wrote the issues featured on this list, one would find out that most of these titles were penned by John Byrne. Somehow, he just has a knack for predicting major events in the confines of his comic books. It almost seems like it could be more of a coincidence. From the very beginning of his career, he had this hidden talent as in 1986, the first issue of Superman he ever wrote saw Superman saving a NASA space shuttle from crashing. Days before he was ready to turn in the final draft of his story, the Space Shuttle Challenger was obliterated after taking flight with seven of its crew members killed. Out of respect for those who passed, Byrne changed his story at the last minute. One key detail he could not change was the fact that a non-astronaut was onboard the shuttle. In the comic, it was Lois Lane, while in real life, it was teacher Christa McAuliffe. It’s like Byrne’s an all-knowing oracle or something.
10. The Eagle Predicts Modern Computers
While some readers may not remember this comic or possibly never even heard of it, it did do an accurate job of predicting modern technology. The Eagle was a British anthology comic that originally ran from 1950 until 1969 and followed the sci-fi adventures of pilot Dan Dare. The Eagle used its unique science fiction elements to provide a glimpse into what technologies may look like in the somewhat distant future. Surprisingly enough, the writers behind the comic were wildly accurate as computers in the panels look almost exactly like they did early in the computer’s evolution from the bulky screen monitor to the keyboard. The comic also predicted that computers would eventually replace television and stereos as basic home entertainment systems. In the age we live in where TV/movie streaming services and digitally downloaded music are all the rage, this couldn’t be truer.
9. Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane Predicts 3D Printers
3-dimensional printing seems to be the latest, hottest craze to be sweeping the world as we speak. This unique framework of revolutionary technology once seemed to be an impossible feat to achieve when conceived in 1964, but it seems like the idea didn’t sound too crazy to the writers behind the Superman spinoff, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. Not only does the 3D printer get featured in the 1960s comic decades before it is actually brought into reality, but Superman actually defines it for what it is today. He says that the 3D printer is “a processing machine that creates busts from photo-images!” Amazing to think that technologies that the general public struggled to even comprehend in the 60s were practically invented by comic book writers.
8. From Tom Tomorrow to the Patriot Act of Tomorrow
Under the pseudonym of Tom Tomorrow, Dan Perkins penned a comic strip for Spin Magazine in 1994 that eerily alluded to the Patriot Act, which went into effect in 2001. In fact, it alluded to numerous things regarding privacy, which we started to deal with in the 2000s. This comic was a direct comedic response to the news that a revolutionary “clipper chip” was being developed by the NSA to make it easier for governments to listen in on phone call conversations. At the time, it may have been hilarious to read this comic and even think that the government would go a step further and have the gall to allow police to search any civilian’s home at any time for no particular reason, but reading it now in a 2017 post-Obama, post-Snowden world where our privacy seems to be the government’s least concern, this comic merely echoes the paranoia we feel regarding our government today.
7. Archie Comics Predicts Digital Age of Music
When we think of Archie Comics, we think of one of two things: 1940s-50s swing and the show Riverdale. Even if you think of the latter, you can’t think of Riverdale without thinking of the original comic which debuted in 1942, and that brings us right back to the 1940s-50s era. Point is that the last thing that will ever spring to mind when thinking about Archie Comics is digital music. Yet, an issue released in 1972 gave us perhaps the earliest depiction of digital music to ever be theorized in pop culture. In the issue, Archie is given a groovy glimpse into the future, and in the future, there’s “computer music,” which is described as “new sounds” that get picked up straight from the computers, leaving modern instruments obsolete. While we still use basic instruments like drums and guitars, EDM is huge nowadays. It seems to be exactly what the writers of Archie Comics had in mind when writing the comic book.
6. Kingpin Inspires Electronic Tagging
This may actually be less a case of prediction and more a case of inspiration. In the early 80s, a new concept called electronic tagging was being developed. Electronic tagging refers to a form of surveillance that uses an electronic device to track a person. There was a newspaper comic strip where a supervillain, Kingpin, used a similar type of device against his nemesis, Spider-Man, by attaching an electronic bracelet onto the hero’s wrist to track Spidey’s every movement. That same comic strip was used by Judge Jack Love to convince Michael Gross, a computer salesperson, to monitor such a system for the sake of observing five offenders in the New Mexico area. Gross accepted the task and the monitoring system in question would become what we know today as electronic tagging.
5. Marvel Team Up Predicted NY Blackout of 1977
In 1977, on July 13th and 14th, New York was overtaken by a city-wide power outage following a flurry of lightning strikes that took place near key voltage points. No one would have ever thought that the City of Lights would ever go lightless — well, unless you happen to be the writers behind Marvel Team-Up issue #60. Then you would have predicted it much earlier in advance as the comic was released a week prior to the blackout. The comic book blackout occurred in a similar manner as well as the supervillain at the center of the comic, Equinox, has the ability to fire blasts from his arms. One of these blasts happened to hit a power transformer, causing the city-wide blackout.
4. Uncle Sam Comic Predicts Surprise Pearl Harbor Attack
We’re not sure what’s stranger: the fact that this comic managed to predict such a specific and tragic event or the fact that someone actually took the time and effort to pen a comic book starring Uncle Sam himself. Yes, Uncle Sam was the face of the flagship National Comics brand, and it seems oddly ironic that the face of America also happened to star in a comic depicting the surprise attack on American soil. The issue was #18 and the year was 1941, the same year that Pearl Harbor was attacked. The issue came a month before the attack. The only difference between the real-life attack and the comic premise was the fact that the comic saw Nazis attack Pearl Harbor while in real life, it was the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. That small detail aside, this one is eerily specific.
3. Juggernaut Crashes Twin Towers in X-Force #4
In 1991, the fourth issue of X-Force featured resident X-Men villain, The Juggernaut, cause enough destruction in the city to bring The Twin Towers crashing down. There’s something about the Twin Towers being destroyed that seemed to evoke a recurring image in comic books long before the Twin Towers were destroyed in real life. Perhaps, American writers thought that the visual of the Towers being destroyed was such a horrifying idea that it would add something captivating to their stories. Maybe it was because the idea was horrifying enough to actually happen. And lo and behold, 10 years later, it did. Whatever the reason for this recurring comic image may be, the fact remains that there’s a long list of comic books that alluded to the 9/11 tragedy years before it ever happened, this being one of them.
2. Uncanny X-Men Predicts Japanese Earthquake
As many comic book fans know about John Byrne, the images that he has inked on the pages of comic books have often amounted to some strangely accurate moments happening in real life. If Byrne inks it on the page, there’s a chance that it might happen in real life as well. His take on Wonder Woman’s death was released days before Princess Diana’s death. New York City experienced a blackout days before Byrne depicted such an occurrence in Marvel Team-Up, and he predicted a 1978 earthquake in Japan shortly before it actually happened. In an issue of Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine finds himself in Japan where archrival Moses Magnum uses his powers to cause an earthquake. Shortly after, Japan was hit with a number of earthquakes.
1. Heavy Metal Builds A Wall Before Donald Trump
Prior to his shocking election win, the idea of Donald Trump being the President of the United States had been a long-running gag in pop culture, most notably on The Simpsons. While that can be foretold as more life imitating art rather than a prophetic prediction, the imagery evoked in a July 1990 issue of Heavy Metal seems all too on the nose to not have been whispered in the writer’s ears by some all-knowing prognosticator. Aptly titled “The Wall,” the story saw Donald Trump and Harry Hemsley conspiring to build a wall to “keep the peasants at arm’s length.” Trump was not depicted as a President in this comic book, but the rhetoric used to single out a marginalized people as “other” and then separate them from “us” via a wall is a promise that dominated much of Trump’s presidential campaign.