15 Killer Superheroes
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Sure, the Punisher kills people every day. But these are heroes who have sworn to protect life - what are they doing killing? Get ready to have your mind blown.
Yes, even the paragon of truth, justice and the American way has taken a life. John Byrne's 80s reboot of the Man of Steel fixed a lot of the cruft that had built up around the character, but it also introduced some strange things into Kal-El's personality. The most shocking came when Superman faced off against three Kryptonian criminals: General Zod, Quex-Ul and Faora. After taking away their powers with Gold Kryptonite, Superman realizes that if they ever return to menace him, it could mean the end of all life on Earth. So he stone-cold executes them with Green K. This wasn't an easy decision and it sent him into a bit of an ethical tailspin, but he did it.
For a dude with razor-sharp claws in his arms, Wolverine has a pretty low body count, I think. You'd think that pretty much anybody to go up against the X-Men would go home in a body bag, but it doesn't happen. When he does decide to pull the trigger, though, it's pretty spectacular. Probably the most intense Wolverine kill came at the expense of longtime rival Sabertooth, who Wolvie first incapacitated by disabling his healing power and then decapitating him.
Okay, it's probably a good thing that they established that Jean Grey and Phoenix were two different lifeforms, because if they weren't, the lady would be in a lot of trouble. Probably the biggest moment in her career of genocide came when she obliterated a sun that was being circled by at least one inhabited planet, killing an entire civilization. This act wasn't in the original script, and it caused the creative team to have to hustle to change the ending - Phoenix was originally supposed to be given a "psychic lobotomy," not killed - to make her pay for her crimes.
The straight-laced leader of the X-Men isn't a guy who you'd tag as a stone cold killer, but even Scott Summers has employed his eye blasts lethally on occasion. One of the most notable examples comes in Grant Morrison's first issue of New X-Men. A mission to rescue a deformed mutant named Ugly John gets sidetracked by a Sentinel attack, and without powers to protect himself John gets severely injured. At Wolverine's request, Cyclops puts the poor chump out of his misery. Harsh!
As a taker of the Hippocratic Oath, Dr. Strange is bound to protect life, not end it. But what do you do when your master, the Ancient One, is telling you that the only way to stop the rampaging force of the extra-dimensional Shuma-Gorath from conquering the Earth is to kill him? You shut up and do it. Earth's Sorcerer Supreme made the ultimate sacrifice when he snuffed the Ancient One out to keep Shuma-Gorath bound in his cthonic dimension forever.
It's one thing to have to kill an enemy - it's far different to pull the trigger on a friend. But that's exactly what happened to Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. When the Thing was possessed by Dr. Doom and threatened to destroy New York City, Richards strained his hyper-scientific mind to find a way to free his teammate. Unfortunately, he couldn't, and, back to the wall, resorted to using lethal force. But since this is comics, the story doesn't end there. Richards proceeded to invent a device to storm the gates of Heaven and bring Grimm back - and it worked! Well, it's a comic book.
Sure, Cap killed a bunch of Nazis during WWII, but that was war, you know? The gloves come off. After being thawed from the ice and returned to civilian life, the Cap swore never to pop a cap in somebody's body again. But when on an undercover mission to save a planeful of hostages, Steve Rogers was forced to pull the trigger to save innocent lives. That action, occurring early in Mark Gruenwald's historic run, led Cap to start doubting his mission as well as his country. And then somebody shot him - irony!
Daredevil has been on the thin line between hero and vigilante a few times, but the recent Shadowlands crossover finally put him over the edge. After taking command of ninja organization The Hand and trying to turn it into a force for justice, DD is corrupted by its influence and, in a battle with longtime nemesis Bullseye, dislocates both of his shoulders and stabs him through the heart, killing him. Even worse, Daredevil tries to bring him back as a zombie in service to The Hand before being stopped by other, less-crazy heroes.
Back to the world of archery for a bit - Cry For Justice was an absolute disaster of a series in just about every way, but it did give Oliver Queen a chance to actually shoot someone in the face with an arrow, which must have been nice after dicking around with giant boxing gloves and bolos and crap all his life. When villain Prometheus wipes out Star City from space with an orbital laser, Green Arrow hunts him down and puts an arrow through his skull.
The Sentry has a pretty checkered past in the Marvel universe - sure, he's normally a good guy with "the power of a million exploding suns," but he also harbors a genocidal alter-ego called the Void and it's really easy to mind-control him. Case in point: while serving on Norman Osborn's Avengers team, he did a bunch of nasty stuff. The worst is probably grabbing reformed Olympian god of war Ares and tearing him clean in half. Gross!
Of course, Spider-Man is notorious for accidentally killing Gwen Stacy, but that was sort of a no-win situation - either he broke her fall with his webline (snapping her neck) or he let her plummet to the ground below the George Washington Bridge. Either way, he's screwed. But Spidey has taken a life or two on his own, both accidentally and on purpose. One notable moment came in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5. The Finisher was a goon hired by the Red Skull, who was responsible for the death of Peter Parker's parents. In the battle with him, Spidey redirected a rocket at his tank, killing him in the explosion.
Wonder Woman is the representative of a whole island of warrior Amazons, so it's not surprising that she'd have to put somebody down once in a while. Probably her most notable kill was Max Lord, a former funder of the Justice League turned mind-controlling supervillain. After putting Superman under his thrall and using him to brutally beat down Batman, he's poised to rid the world of superheroes forever until Wonder Woman tracks him down and snaps his neck. He's recently been reanimated by White Lantern energy and is up to his usual bad tricks.
When you're piloting what is the equivalent of a walking Sherman Tank with repulsor beams, it's unavoidable that there will be some collateral damage. Amazingly, Iron Man avoided racking up any serious body count until the legendary Armor Wars storyline, which saw Tony Stark discovering that a crap-ton of supervillains have been using his technology to do evil. He travels the world taking out anybody and everybody who uses Stark tech for malicious intent, but things go pretty wrong during a fight with the second Titanium Man (really the super-intelligent midget known as the Gremlin) when he burns to death inside the suit.
Oh, man. The Sub-Mariner just has no luck with the ladies - maybe that's why Sue Storm never committed. His first bride, the Lady Dorma, was killed by underwater supervillainy, but it's the case of his second wife, the former member of Alpha Flight known as Marrina, that we'll talk about here. The aquatic heroine was actually an alien Plodex, but Namor married her anyways. Unfortunately, getting knocked up transformed her into a gigantic sea serpent, and Subby had to drive a sword through her head and kill her. Dude was pissed.
It's no surprise that the God of Thunder has spilled a little blood - after all, Vikings don't really screw around with sissy concepts like "jail." But one of his most recent smackdowns was also the best. Hero-turned-mind-controlled-dupe the Sentry has been Mary Sue-ing through the Marvel universe in the last decade, humiliating characters left and right to show how powerful he is. Well, Thor ain't having none of that, and during the Siege of Asgard he batters him down before the Sentry reverts to his mortal form, at which point Thor incinerates him with a lightning bolt.