Any good story is defined by its villain. Comic books are no exception to that rule. For every Man of Steel, there has to be a cold, calculating Lex Luthor. For every morally righteous Batman, there has to be a criminally insane Joker. That’s the core of any story which is unforgettable. How else will our beloved heroes rise up and save the day, if there are no bad guys in the story at first place?
The comic book lore is filled with many great antagonists. While some are downright deplorable, a few do manage to evoke a sense of empathy for them. Evil, as we know it, is not always inherent. Circumstances play a vital role too in pushing characters to their edge and commit atrocities. Case in point, Magneto.
After the Silver Age of Comics, the graphic tone of comics became significantly darker. With more matured themes coming up, the entire comic book landscape changed when comics were no longer just for kids. From genocide to sexual assault, comics started evolving rapidly. From Frank Miller’s Born Again to Alan Moore’s Watchmen, the storytelling medium changed to a much grittier, realistic, and dangerous platform. The heroes did not just have to fight monsters and aliens from the sky but had to fight their own demons as they were pushed to their edge.
Matured themes do open up a world of possibilities, undoubtedly. Allowing an in-depth character evaluation, comics have slowly become a platform for a social commentary on important issues like authoritarianism, sexual assault, minority rights, and mental illnesses.
But with matured themes, also come darker realities. The ones where there is no scope for redemption. The ones which force the heroes to break their moral code for emotional closure. Or, for vengeance. Here, we have compiled a list of 10 most evil things done by comic book villains which are beyond the scope of being forgivable. Interested? Let’s hop in!
10. Re-creating the Holocaust
The Red Skull is the major archenemy of Captain America. A megalomaniac Nazi, the Red Skull is the epitome of everything truly evil. From helping the Nazis to almost win the Second World War to altering realities, the Red Skull has done some pretty deplorable acts since his inception.
Yet, his one atrocity made him truly unforgivable when he re-created the Holocaust on the island of Genosha. Instead of Jews, the island held many mutants as captives in the Nazis’ concentration camp style. On top of that, the Red Skull captured Magneto, a survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camp, and tortured him by showing him images of Genosha and the captured mutants. That’s outright deplorable, to say the least.
9. Torture of Barbara Gordon
Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke is an iconic Batman arc for a couple of reasons. But, the major reason behind its massive popularity is the violence showcased against one of the most important members of the Bat-family.
In The Killing Joke, the Joker visits Jim Gordon’s house and shoots Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl in the spine, leaving her paralysed. If it was not violent enough, the Joker captured Jim Gordon and put him in his infamous Tunnel of Love. There, he kept showing him photos of a naked and battered Barbara to break him down. The violence was so gruesome that Alan Moore has regretted writing the arc in later years.
8. Ripping out Adamantium
In Fatal Attractions, Magneto once again proved why he is one of the most diabolical villains of all time.
In a fight against Charles Xavier and his X-Men, Magneto used his powers to rip out the Adamantium out of Wolverine’s body. Wolverine’s incredible regenerative ability kept him alive while the Adamantium was ripped out of his body, which made the scene way worse. Such was his condition, that once an unkillable machine was on the verge of death. The intense suffering of being ripped out while staying alive is hard to imagine.
7. A Trip to Hell
Doctor Doom considers Reed Richards as his greatest enemy. Being the two most intelligent characters in the entire Marvel Universe, their rivalry is as intense as it can get.
After killing his lover whom he actually loved, Doctor Doom gained incredible powers. In a show of his newly found powers, he condemned Reed Richards to hell. The shock factor truly became palpable when it was found that Doom had also sent Reed Richard’s innocent son, Franklin Richards to hell. His lack of empathy didn’t even spare a child as a young Franklin Richards had to suffer the tortures of hell for Doctor Doom’s rivalry with his father.
6. Mind Controlling Jessica Jones
The Purple Man is the major antagonist of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. His ability to control other people’s mind and bend their will makes him a crafty and dangerous villain.
Using his power of mind control, the Purple Man’s notoriety reached an all-time high when he subdued Jessica Jones to his will. Under his control, he made Jessica Jones perform sexual acts on him for a very long time. After Jessica’s escape from his mind control, she developed a serious case of PTSD and other issues due to the trauma. Purple Man’s rape and psychological abuse of Jessica Jones explores the much darker theme of sexual abuse against women on the comic book platform.
5. When a Blind Man Cries
An expert marksman, Bullseye’s power to turn any projectile into a lethal weapon makes him a formidable ally of Daredevil.
His personal vendetta against Daredevil and his repeated failures made him a running joke in the comics. Yet, his act of murders quickly put him up in the evil league. He murdered Elektra, a master assassin and the former love interest of Daredevil was a vile act. To make it even worse, he also killed Daredevil’s current love interest, Karen Page. Pushing The Man Without Fear to his limit, Bullseye met a horrific end at the hands of Daredevil. But, the damage was done. The deed was done.
4. Genocide on Genosha
Cassandra Nova is not depicted in a lot of X-Men storylines. Yet, her first appearance was able to win the Villain of the Year award in 2001.
Created by Grant Morrison, Cassandra Nova is the supposedly dead sister of Charles Xavier. As the infants engaged in a telepathic battle in the womb, Cassandra was never really born with a physical body. Yet, she managed to get a corporeal form and wreak havoc. A dark alternate of Charles Xavier, Cassandra wiped out 16 million mutants from the island of Genosha to make a statement. An embodiment of pure evil, her act of genocide was extremely disturbing even for matured comic book readers.
3. An Obsessed Lover
The Reverse-Flash is another iconic supervillain from Flash’s rogue gallery. A sociopath and a genius, the Reverse-Flash is from the 25th century. His pure hatred for the Flash and the things he has done makes him a truly deplorable human. Yet, his most repulsive act might not revolve around the Scarlet Speedster.
Obsessed with a woman, the Reverse-Flash’s romantic advances were thwarted by the woman. To make her fall in love with him, he killed her fiance. Though she confided her pain in Eobard Thawne, she never fell in love. To make her life even more miserable, the Reverse-Flash killed all the men she dated for the sake of his obsession. The resulting trauma made the woman mute. Before he committed any more atrocities, the Flash arrived to set things straight, and probably the timeline too.
2. Tricking Superman into killing Lois Lane
If given a chance, this entire list would have been filled with Joker’s exploits throughout the years. The Clown Prince of Crime has done a number of abominable atrocities. But, this particular one made the list for a particular reason.
In Injustice Arc, the Joker first killed Superman’s friend Jimmy Olsen. Heartbroken, but it was not enough for the Man of Steel to go over the edge. In his final twisted insanity, the Joker tricked Superman to think Lois Lane is Doomsday. As a result, Superman killed Lois, who was also pregnant with their child during that time. Finally, the Big Blue Boy Scout snapped!
1. Rape of Billy Butcher’s Wife
Garth Ennis’ The Boys is arguably one of the darkest comic book ever written. Filled with gratuitous violence and revolting sexual assaults, the core of the series is to never meet your idols.
Billy Butcher is the lead protagonist of the arc, who fights against the ‘heroes’ who are private entities marketed for profits instead of actually saving people. Before the start of the series, Billy Butcher’s wife is brutally raped by Black Noir masquerading as Homelander. As a result, she grows distant due to extreme trauma. She pre-maturely gives birth to a superpowered baby, who kills her during childbirth. As the baby ripped out of her womb, Billy had to kill it before it could kill him with its laser eyes. Imagine the death of your beloved and having to kill your newborn infant for an atrocity caused by someone who is hailed as a hero.