Although there are many ways in which you could define a “hero,” it’s safe to say that pervert, cannibal, murder, psychopath or addict probably wouldn’t come into it (unless of course it was with the word “NOT” in front of those adjectives, in giant letters). However, there have been plenty of times in the comic book world where our heroes have fallen far short of greatness… and a few of them have even waded out into the murky waters of outright villainy.
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In order to separate the not-so-good from the downright awful, CBR has ranked the 15 heroes whose actions or traits have made us all pretty damn uncomfortable at one time or another, from best (or, should we say, the “least worst”) to the absolute worst. Get ready to see your heroes topple like super-powered dominos!
Now, before you all start a riot, let it be said that CBR loves everything about the Merc with a Mouth, from his zany quips and overt awareness of his own fictional nature, right down to his gnarly, scrambled-egg face. However, that doesn’t mean that Deadpool doesn’t sometimes totally gross us out.
Although canon dictates that he needs to reunite his head with his body to heal, he’s survived having his head ripped off and crushed by Hulk (in “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe”), as well as having large portions of his head consumed by zombies (in “Night of the Living Deadpool”). One thing’s for sure though… Deadpool’s inability to stay dead has led to some pretty gruesome scenarios that are enough to make your stomach turn.
In “Deadpool vs. Carnage” #3, for example, everyone’s favorite anti-hero is turned into itty, bitty pieces and scattered across the floor like a discarded kebab. Worse still, the “Dark Angel Saga” story arc in “Uncanny X-Force” #11-#18 sees Deadpool feeding pieces of himself to the emaciated and dying Archangel after one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine, leaves him too weak to move — noble, yes, but still cannibalism. Although we love him to pieces and back, it’s fair to say Deadpool’s one of the ickiest heroes out there.
Everyone loves the Irish, but there’s such a thing as taking it too far, as Marvel learned to its peril when it debuted a character in “Marvel Super-Heroes: Contest of Champions” #1 made up of every Irish stereotype imaginable. That character was Shamrock, otherwise known as Molly Fitzgerald.
When it comes to naïve cultural clichés, she’s got them all. Red hair? Check. Green outfit? Check. Lucky as a four-leaf clover? Check. A brother named Paddy? Check. Connections to the IRA? Check (not kidding). Her main superpower is the ability to be possessed by the innocent victims of war just long enough that they can tip luck in her favour — seriously, do they not have anything better to do? Surely Irish heaven is a pub? — so she can get the better of her enemies.
Even someone with the cultural sensitivity of a brick will be able to sense that there’s something seriously wrong here. Thankfully, Shamrock hung up her tights for good after breaking her leg in an incident entirely unrelated to her superhero duties (probably tripped over a leprechaun, judging by her heavy-handed characterization). She briefly turned up later in the Marvel Zombies universe, but if we’re lucky, she’ll stay dead from now on.
Proty, otherwise known as the Protean Beast of Antares, is one of DC’s grossest and most bizarre concoctions. If you’re not familiar, let us get you up to speed: Proty is a walking, talking, telepathic lump of protoplasm (let’s not kid ourselves, he’s basically a spunk-ball) from space that is rescued from an intergalactic zoo and later adopted by Chameleon Boy as a pet… because who wouldn’t want to befriend something that looks like it should be cleaned up with a tissue, right?
As if his slimy exterior didn’t make us uncomfortable enough, Proty finds a way to be even creepier by bodysnatching the corpse of Lightning Lad just so he can cosy up with his fellow member of the Legion of Superheroes, Saturn Girl. In “Adventure Comics” #312, after Lightning Lad dies in the course of his Legion duties (y’know, protecting the world from stuff), Proty disguises himself as Saturn Girl and uses a machine designed by Mol-El to transfer his life force into Lightning Lad’s body… using lightning (shocker!). The whole Legion assume Proty died as a result of the transfer and that Lightning Lad managed to return from the dead, so Saturn Girl ends up happily married to the guy, never questioning whether or not she shares her bed with a spunk-man.
12. Iron Man
Yes, he’s cool, he’s rich and his sarcasm game is off the charts, but someone’s got to say it: Tony Stark is a total womanizer. He’s locked lips (and sometimes limbs) with pretty much every female character who’s crossed his path. That’s why it’s so disturbing seeing him get all lovesick over a murderous, sentient suit of armor.
In “Iron Man” #26-#30, after battling with Whiplash in the middle of a lightning storm, Iron Man is hit by massive electrical discharge. When he wakes up, his armored suit is a sentient being with a man-crush on its creator so huge it makes Cap and Bucky look like just good friends. It isn’t long before the armor is holding him prisoner in his own home and trying to eliminate any and all competition for his affections — like his other suits, for instance. Oh, and did we mention that the armor also takes Tony to a deserted island and tortures him until he says he loves it back?
He does love it back though, that’s the scary thing: after the armor rips out its mechanical heart to save Tony from a heart attack, we see the man with a heart of steel blubbering over its mangled robot-corpse, asking it to “let me get inside you!” and begging it to live. Stockholm syndrome’s a helluva thing.
Marvel’s Ultimate series sure has a lot to answer for. In addition to all the cannibalism and extreme domestic violence, things have gotten pretty damn pervy… and in all the wrong places. In “Ultimate Spider-Man” #66-#67, for instance, we see Logan and Peter Parker undergo a body-swap à la “Freaky Friday.” Sounds innocent enough, right? Wrong. Did we mention Peter Parker’s only 15 at this point? No? Well, get ready…
Whilst poor ol’ Peter’s running around the city, getting pinned down by trucks and skewered on his claws and whatnot, Wolverine goes to school in Spiderman’s place, pretends to be a teenager and hangs out with Peter’s hot-but-not-legal-yet girlfriend, Mary-Jane. Not only that, he also does his very best to convince her to lose her virginity to him.
When the X-Men finally show up to save the day, it is revealed that the body-swap was Jean Grey‘s way of punishing Wolverine for trying to hit on her all the time (did we mention she’s also a teenager at this point?). Someone really needs to lock that boy in adamantium cuffs before his claws can wander any further!
10. Comet the Super-Horse
Clearly, Proty isn’t the only “pet” to get out of control. Although Supergirl’s trusty steed, Comet the Super-Horse, might seem innocuous at first glance, it’s worth pointing out that (a) he’s not really a horse, he’s a centaur who was turned into a horse accidentally by a witch, (b) he’s literally obsessed with the woman who spends half her time dry-humping him as he carries her around on his back, and (c) he doesn’t actually bother telling Supergirl any of this, but instead goes about his super-horse business plotting ways to make the poor girl fall in love with him.
What’s even creepier is that it kind-of works: in “Action Comics” #301, thanks to a comet passing through the solar system and a highly convenient witch’s spell, Comet is transformed into human form and immediately disguises himself as “Bronco” Bill Starr, a rodeo rider who turns Supergirl into a weak-kneed fangirl. What follows is a bizarre seduction in which neither one dares to reveal their true identity to the other, but they fall hopelessly in love anyway. Whether this counts as bestiality is anyone’s guess (does it matter that he’s still essentially a horse?). Regardless, it’s hard to deny that it’s pretty creepy. At least buy the girl a saddle, dude!
If you’ve never heard of Aviax and you’re in the mood for a laugh, then you’ve come to the right place. Gifted with the ability to transform into any bird of his choosing — because flapping and pecking your enemies to death really is the most efficient way to go about it — Aviax suffers from super-porous bones (meaning they can break really easily) but counteracts this flaw with the amazing ability to look at stuff from really, really high up.
The reason Aviax features on the list is that… well, he’s got a bit of dinosaur fetish. In “The Wanderers” #12, the titular team come across a planet, the dino population of which is dying out thanks to a radioactive fog. Aviax, keen to help the natives evolve into things with feathers, decides to take extreme action to resolve the problem: mixing his DNA with theirs by, erm, mating with them whilst in bird form.
With the whole team looking on, Aviax manages to “pin down” a lady dinosaur and do the deed. He then creeps away in the morning while she’s still asleep. Sadly, the Wanderers scarper without ever finding out if Aviax’s plan for radiation-resistant dino-babies has come to fruition.
There have been some strange superpowers handed out in the Marvel universe over the years, but arguably none of them are as creepy as those given to Starfox, aka Eros of Titan. Like his name implies, Eros is capable of psychically stimulating the pleasure sensors in another person’s brain to manipulate their emotions. His powers become even stronger when he has physical contact with his intended recipient. On top of that, he is inhumanly strong and wholly resistant to terrestrial diseases. Put it all together and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an all-powerful, mind-controlling rapist.
Yes, it’s true that Starfox mainly uses his powers to, ahem, “fight crime,” but that doesn’t mean he’s innocent of mind-feeling people up for his own personal gain. In “She-Hulk” #6-#7, Starfox needs a lawyer to defend him in court after “charming” his way into the bed of a happily-married woman. Although Jen Walters (aka She-Hulk) initially jumps at the chance to defend a superhero, she soon discovers that being a former Avenger doesn’t make Starfox a good guy. As well as forcing witnesses to perjure themselves rather than incriminate him, he also interferes in Jen’s relationship with James Jameson, basically making her infatuated with a whiny and emasculated moron who doesn’t appreciate her Hulk form. Way to go, jerk.
7. Big Bertha
Despite being the most renowned supermodel in Milwaukee, Ashley Crawford (aka Big Bertha) puts the “plus” into plus-sized. She has the ability to change her form into a giant, impenetrable flab-cushion big enough to shield a country if necessary — indeed, in her role as part of Mr. Immortal’s Great Lakes Avengers, she managed to protect all of America’s flyover states from harm simply by squatting over them.
Now, being chubby alone doesn’t warrant “BB” a place on this list, and we’re certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with having a superhero who’s not stick-thin — there isn’t. In fact, we’re all for more body-positive role models in the comic book universe. The thing that makes us uncomfortable about Big Bertha isn’t her obesity, but rather the fact that she binge-eats to buff up and then has to vomit up all the extra body mass she’s not using in order to shrink back down to a skinny supermodel. In short, her creators John Byrne and Dan Slott turned bulimia into a superpower… which is about as uncool as it gets.
Superman is about as clean-cut as heroes come in the comic book world, but he’s still been around the block enough times to have a few nasty skeletons stashed away in his Fortress of Solitude. There was that time he almost shot a porno with Big Barda (“Action Comics #593), for instance, or that whole weird tentacle sex thing with Batman (“World’s Finest Comics” #289). The reason that Kal-El’s managed to score so high on the list, however, comes down to love rather than sex… specifically, the love he has for his jailbait cousin, Supergirl.
In “Action Comics” #289, after Supergirl fails to find a suitable wife for her cousin in either the ancient past or distant future, Superman confesses that what he really wants is for them both to be free of Kryptonian law so that he can marry her instead! She’s still a teenager at this point, so he travels to an alternate reality where marrying your cousin is OK and finds an exact, grown-up replica of her. Falling “in love at first sight,” they decide to get married on the spot, no questions asked.
In the end, Kal ends up leaving his new love behind so he can keep pining after his cousin. Nice one, Superfreak.
Arisia’s the sort of girl who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Ever since she appeared back in “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps” #1, she’s made it absolutely clear to anyone with eyes, ears or even the most basic level of brain development that she has a thing for Hal Jordan.
Given that she’s a 13-year-old girl and Hal’s pretty holier-than-thou when it comes to moral righteousness, it’s no surprise that he tries to get her to turn her attention to boys her age instead. Arisia, being the bunny-boiling psychopath that she is, translates this kindly rejection into “he will love me if I have bigger breasts” and uses the Power Ring to transform herself into a buxom, legally-aged lady.
Even when Hal tries to reject her again, owing to the fact that his girlfriend Carol recently died, she still doesn’t get the message, and eventually Hal gives in to her sexual badgering — a fact which is pretty creepy in itself, given that her mind is still 13, even if her body looks much older. That’s just creepy no matter how you slice it.
4. Gin Genie
It’s fair to say that the X-Statix team — later known as X-Force — is probably the most emo group of superheroes in the game. However, Gin Genie really takes the cake (or the bottle) for being the most tragic of them all. She’s capable of generating powerful seismic waves and power blasts… but she has to be totally wasted to do it. Yes, you read that right… Gin Genie’s powers are dictated by how much booze she’s managed to guzzle.
It also turns out that Genie is a mean drunk and regularly lashes out at her fellow teammates when she’s riled up. She’s basically that one friend we all have who can’t handle her liquor and ends up trying to start a fight with anyone who looks at her funny. By making Gin Genie’s superpower dependent on her alcoholism, her creator Peter Milligan turned her addiction into a running joke: she’s supposed to be a “hero” and instead she’s just a hot mess with no real redeeming qualities. What a quality punchline (said nobody).
Unsurprisingly, Gin Genie was bumped off in “X-Force” #116 while on a mission to rescue boy-band “Boys R Us,” and thankfully, Marvel hasn’t tried to introduce a character like her since.
The Hulk has always walked a fine line between superhero and supervillain thanks to all that smashing, so it’s hardly surprising that he should feature on this list. However, in the “Old Man Logan” story arc, Hulk goes far past the line. Having become one of the supreme overlords of the United States after conquering the Abomination, he helps terrorize the few remaining heroes, like Wolverine.
After getting his grandchildren to mercilessly slaughter Wolverine’s entire family and leaving their bodies out to rot, Hulk faces off with Wolverine directly. In the course of their fight, Hulk ends up consuming Wolverine’s battered body, adamantium skeleton and all. It’s true that this isn’t the first time the Hulk has turned to cannibalism, but we’ve never seen him chow down on a pensioner before. It’s a pretty grim sight to behold, even if Wolverine is looking mighty good for his age.
It turns out you can’t keep a good wolf-man down, though, as Wolverine ends up busting Hulk’s guts from the inside as he claws to get out. And you thought the worst that could happen after a dodgy meal was indigestion…
Despite all the good he’s done as part of the Avengers, Ant-Man is perhaps best known amongst fans for his epic failures, the most notable being the creation and subsequent loss of control over the psychotic AI, Ultron. However, Ant-Man’s alter-ego Hank Pym went from bad to worse in “The Avengers” #213, after getting into a physical altercation with his wife Janet (aka the Wasp) while in the throes of a nervous breakdown brought about by his impending trial and potential expulsion from the Avengers.
Although writer Jim Shooter has since explicitly stated that he never meant to turn Ant-Man into a wife-beater, stating he intended Hank to “accidentally” hit Janet while “throwing his hands up in despair and frustration,” no-one seems to have enlightened artist Bob Hall to this point. The result is Janet taking a full-on right cross to the face to the accompaniment of a sickening “WHAK!” Not cool.
Nor can we forget that in the Marvel Ultimate universe, Ant-Man demonstrates an altogether more sadistic streak by spraying his wife with insecticide whilst she was in wasp form and sending a swarm of ants to kill her. Kinda makes you wonder why she takes him back.
In the top spot, as the absolute worst of the worst, we have Jekyll… or should we call him Hyde? Henry Jekyll serves as a member of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, meaning he’s somewhat of a “hero” in the weird and wonderful world created by Alan Moore. He also transforms into the psychopathic, Hulk-esque monster known as Hyde if he experiences too much stress. Probably not the best trait for someone battling to save the planet from bad guys.
After Hyde witnesses the Invisible Man, aka Hawley Griffin, screwing the team over by helping a bunch of Martians take over the planet in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” #5, he decides to teach the little traitor a lesson in the most unheroic way possible: by raping him to death. Yes, you read that right. Although Griffin thankfully remains invisible throughout the whole sorry ordeal, Hyde is later given away by the blood that starts appearing on his clothes once the invisibility starts to wear off. It’s left to poor old Nemo to discover his mangled body.
The worst bit of all? HE DOESN’T EVEN GET PUNISHED FOR IT. The League decide it’s better just to get on with fighting the Martians than to deal with having a sadistic, murdering rapist in their midst! What. The. Hell?
Is there a hero who should have made it to zero on our list? Let us know in the comments!