"Take this job and shove it I ain't workin' here no more My woman done left and took all the reasons I was workin' for. You better not try to stand in my way as I'm walkin' out the door Take this job and shove it I ain't workin' here no more."
– Ferret-faced Country-Western legend
At one time or another, we've all faced the temptation to blurt out Johnny Paycheck's immortal words of resignation to the incompetent, tyrannical employers of the world. From the lowest ditch digger to the highest corporate executive, "walkin' out the door" remains a potent fantasy for the hassled, unappreciated working man.
However, quitting a job in righteous indignation is by no means confined to our mortal plain, but extends into the fanciful world of comic book superheroes as well! Yes, even the costumed champions of justice have been known to storm off the job in cold, Paycheck-like fury!
As if in answer to my Perfect Segue prayers, let's start off with Fury on the cover of Infinity, Inc #42 (1984), as she takes a brave stand for motherhood and quits quite possibly the worst named team in comic book history:
By comparison, Green Arrow's motivation to quit in Justice League #181 (1980) isn't quite as noble. A bonafide "second fiddle" since joining in JLA #4 (1961), it apparently took Ollie a whole 171 issues (and nearly 20 years) to finally come to that realization.
Sharp-eyed historians will note that Green Arrow's final words echo a 1962 Richard Nixon quote ("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore...."), ironic considering Ollie's status as the JLA's resident hot-headed liberal.
As arguably the most famous "Quit Cover", Amazing Spider-Man #50 (1967) adds a defining visual to the sub-genre by featuring a large, looming superhero identity overlooking the downcast, defeated alter-ego...in this case Peter Parker.
Of course, as any long-time Spider-Fan knows, this was one of dozens of times Peter Parker would hang up his web-shooters and be "Spider-Man No More". Still, despite the theme's repetition, this cover remains one of comics' most arresting images.
The gents at DC Comics must have agreed, since a mere four months later Superman #201 takes a startlingly similar approach.
While DC undoubtedly wanted to equal the drama of the Spider-Man cover, the breathless "Sensational! Clark Kent Abandons Superman" blurb at the top seriously oversells the obvious...a practice that became one of the most endearing characteristics of DC's Silver Age covers.
Similarly, the cover of Flash #159 (1966) leaves absolutely nothing to interpretation as Barry Allen's career-ending intentions are spelled out in excruciating detail.
Judging from his attire, Barry's next vocation appears to be the exciting world of valet parking.
Following Flash’s non-verbal example are a few other resignations that relied more upon the printed word than a conventional verbal message.
Fantastic Four #191 (1978) elegantly conveys the 5,478th disbanding of the F.F. on the front page of The Daily Bugle (a space normally reserved for "Spider-Man: MENACE!" headlines).
Metropolis newspapers proclaim the end to crime, war and disasters on the cover of Action Comics #368 (1968), giving Superman no choice but to slink off into the sunset, effectively becoming comics' first laid-off superhero. Note the trash bin overflowing with lethal firearms!
As you can see from the cover of Defenders #75 (1979), not even the Hulk was spared the pain of superhero lay-offs, as he and his fellow Defenders were given their walking papers after Nighthawk disbanded the team.
Weren't the Defenders always touted as a loosely knit "non-team"? With that in mind, how do you disband a non-team?
But I digress.
While it's hardly surprising that a "non-team" like the Defenders would call it quits, even the most dedicated superheroes found themselves throwing in the towel...including Batman!
At this point, it should be noted that proclamations like "never again", "no more" and (my favorite) "forever" should be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to quitting superheroes. Despite the dramatic finality of their vows, rest assured they were back in business within an issue or two.
Case in point, Batman's resignation in Detective Comics #247 (1957). Despite the finality suggested by the scene, Batman was back in action the very next issue dispatching an evil Gondolier.
But the length of the resignation wasn't really the point. Rather, it was the drama of getting there. Drama like Bruce Wayne hurling his Batman cowl into the fireplace!
While we're on the subject of hurling cowls, this may be the first "Quit Cover" to initiate the long tradition of heroes tossing aside portions of their costume or, in some cases, their entire costume while quitting. In fact, nothing says "I've had it!" more than chucking the super-duds!
Batman's sidekick Robin, along with Kid Flash, did just that on the cover of Teen Titans #39 (1984)...going so far as to obscure part of the logo with his discarded tunic.
However, no disgruntled teen could toss a costume like Clark Kent on the cover of Superboy #161 (1969).
Whether it's the downcast face, the fluid two-armed toss of the implausibly unified costume, or the flabbergasted body language of the Kents, nobody quits more dramatically than Superboy (especially when drawn by Neal Adams).
Steve Rogers renounces his superhero identity...all together now... “forever” on the cover of Captain America #176 (1974), symbolically driving home that point by bouncing his famous shield off the floor (most likely leaving a large, non-symbolic gash).
Unfortunately, Thor's comically unwieldy "Thou knowest not what thou dost" statement diminishes bit of John Romita Sr.'s otherwise riveting illustration.
Like Steve Rogers, Hal Jordan flings the very symbol of his identity on the cover of Green Lantern #181 (1984), making it clear he's through being a "whipping boy" for his little blue bosses, the Guardians of the Universe. The bold "I QUIT!" certainly removes any lingering ambiguity.
By the way, the Guardians painting their meeting chamber pure yellow is either unforgivably stupid....or pure genius. I can't decide which.
Tony Stark echoes the Green Lantern technique on Iron Man #21 (1970), by punctuating the conventional Throwing of Equipment with a confident "I QUIT!".
The final "Costume-Tossing Quitter" is none other than Wonder Woman herself, fed up with Man's World...or maybe just the U.N. (pictured behind her) on the cover of Wonder Woman #269 (1980).
To the chagrin of the male onlookers, her tiara and magic lasso were the only parts of her costume Wonder Woman chose to discard.
So, the next time you're on the job and you've reached your boiling point, take heart and know that your favorite superheroes have shared in your frustration. Sure, we can't respond to those frustrations by hurling a power ring or colorful costume into our employer's face....and we probably wouldn't get our job back by next month's issue...but at the very least, it's strangely comforting to know that even superheroes can hate their jobs enough to channel their inner Johnny Paycheck.