Top o’ the Lot: Comic Book Onomatopoeia

OnomatopoeiaAn onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. And comic books are full of them! Since the earliest days of the genre, comic books have been using words to communicate sound in imaginative and entertaining ways, so much so that the practice was tossed into the 1960s Batman TV show, and Kevin Smith even created a character named Onomatopoeia. Keeping with my overall goal to more Tops o’ the Lot that are unique yet relevant I wanted to pay an homage to this distinct aspect of the medium I love so much. So, without further ago, we BANG!, BLAM!, and KAPOW! our way through Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Comic Book Onomatopoeia.

Honorable Mention) BOOOM!

This is more of an umbrella pick of onomatopoeia than an actually pick, and it’s pretty inclusive. ‘BOOOM!’ it’s close cousin ‘NA-COSBOOM!, ‘KAPOW!’, even ‘THOOM!’ should get its comeuppance, and I just didn’t want to choose one. Either way, BOOOM! (with at least 3 ‘O’s) works for the overall idea behind the use of these devices. They makes things more real, and it’s that piece of flair that really sells a panel, and that’s what onomatopoeia is all about.

5) Rorschach Eating

You could almost spell the cold beans. CHLOP. THLUP. SHORP. LEP. It worked beautifully to communicate Rorschach’s slovenly dining habits and overall anti-social attitude, but it also helped establish his single track mind to rid the world of evil-doers. But it was gross! No, that;s REAL bean juice, and you need a napkin. And a breath mint.


4) Bamf!

If there’s one thing better than being able to teleport whenever you want, it’s having an awesome sound effect to go along with it. Now, there’s the usually sucking sounds and other noises that go along with teleporting characters, but none are as iconic or cool as the BAMF! of the mutant known as Nightcrawler. It’s so iconic to the character that his version of site to site teleport is known as “BAMFing”. It’s one hell of a trick and a pretty good ability to have in a fight.

3) Thwip!

One of the best part of being Spider-Man is web-slinging. Gliding through the air on a rope made of web between buildings, up and down, tumbling and somersaulting like an acrobat would be so much fun. But it all starts with a sound. Spidey’s web-shooters come equipped with an ergonomic design, interchangeable cartridges, and a sound effect for the ages. The film versions never got it quite right, but if/when Marvel gets the property back it’s one of the first things I’m going to look…er, listen for.



Perhap the most recognizable of all the onomatopoeia on this list and certainly one of the most iconic, Wolverines trademarked retractable claws have a just as trademarked sound that goes along with them. He’s the best there is at what he does, but SNIKT! isn’t the best of this list.


1) Kraka-Thoom

When you absolutely, positively want to destroy everything in nearby, it’s time for KRAKA-THOOM! Made popular by many overly powerful characters, including the Hulk, this onomatopoeia was made most famous by the Asgardian Avenger himself, The Mighty Thor. There’s plenty of variants, but it’s still the one, the only, the greatest comic book onomatopoeia of all time!

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