Out of all the staples and tropes in comic books and science fiction, one of the most popular is mind-control. Readers and fans want to know which of their favorite superheroes is the strongest or who would win in a fight between two characters — the easiest way to settle these debates is by having them fight. Of course it’s not easy to maneuver heroic figures into battling, so a push is typically needed. One such push in mind-control. Even though comic book readers relish in seeing heroes slug it out over rooftops, it’s easy to understand why civilians in comic books would fear their super saviors.
In a world of lightning bolts and skyscrapers getting casually tossed around, matters are made even worse when the most powerful people on the planet can’t control themselves, acting in the service of a potential madman. While under the influence and mind-control of supervillains, superheroes have been made to perform truly awful deeds. From assisting in taking over the world to being mind-controlled into sleeping with monsters, there’s little baddies won’t try and make heroes do. Here at CBR we’re looking at 15 separate occasions when superheroes were mind-controlled into committing rather despicable, and often murderous, actions.
15. SUPERMAN TRIES TO KILL WONDER WOMAN
Constantly getting brainwashed into nearly killing his fiends, one of the more famous examples of Superman being mind-controlled is when he tried to kill Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman #219. Over several months, the villain Max Lord has been creeping into Superman’s mind. Feeling the time is right, he unleashes the Kryptonian on Wonder Woman. Lord tricks Superman into thinking Wonder Woman is Doomsday, cackling with glee while they fight.
Disillusioned, Superman goes all out on Diana. From burning her face and breaking her wrist, to taking her out to the sun and hitting her back to earth, her reentry causing a massive crater. Superman is relentless and Wonder Woman is trying to survive, holding back a hair because she knows he’s not in control. The fight ends, Diana having given as good as she’s got, by capturing Lord, and much to many fans’ shock, killing him.
14. THE HULK TRIES TO KILL CABLE
In the event known as “Onslaught: Marvel Universe”, Onslaught is the fusion of Professor Charles Xavier and the darker aspects of Magneto’s personality; even the young reality-warper Franklin Richards becomes part of him. Boasting tremendous power, there is little the physical manifestation of Xavier’s psyche can’t do. Strong beyond measure, his only real concern, besides every superhero in the Marvel Universe teaming up on him, is other psychic heroes.
Cable, the son of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, is as skilled in combat as he is psychically powerful. Onslaught, capturing telepaths and reality-warpers to increase his power and killing those he can’t control, mind-controls the Hulk to try and kill Cable. Their fight is long and brutal, with Storm getting dragged into the fight, and only by essentially rebooting the Hulk’s brain are the two X-Men able to win and recruit the green behemoth to fight with them.
13. SPIDER-MAN TRIES TO KILL DAREDEVIL
Way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #16, Spidey and Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, are forced into a bout of mortal combat. In the issue, the villain known as the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime are rolling through town, promising to put on a show featuring Spider-Man. It’s all news to Spider-Man, but he decides to attend since the event is supposedly for charity.
When the web-slinger arrives, he inadvertently discovers it’s a trap, but it’s also too little, too late. Falling under Ringmaster’s hypnotic spell, he’s Ringmaster’s puppet. Ringmaster takes the opportunity to hypnotize the crowd and have his lackeys rob them. Unfortunately for the criminals, Daredevil is in the crowd and tries to stop them. Ringmaster commands Spidey to pummel Daredevil. He nearly succeeds, but Daredevil knocks off Ringmaster’s hypnotic hat and saves the day.
12. JESSICA JONES IS FORCED TO SLEEP WITH PURPLE MAN
Killgrave, the Purple Man, is perhaps the most notorious fiend when it comes to mind-control. He shares a long and violent history with heroes like Daredevil and Luke Cage, but it’s his past with Jessica Jones that he’s best known for. After Jessica Jones briefly ran into Killgrave, he immediately hit her with his mind control power. For eight months, Killgrave would torture Jessica physically and emotionally, putting her into a mentally-induced Stockholm syndrome.
It was the worst time of her life. One day, Killgrave sends Jessica to kill Daredevil, but she accidentally mistakes the Scarlet Witch and her red costume as Daredevil and knocks her over the head. Enraged, the rest of the Avengers attack Jessica, putting her into a coma and only Carol Danvers’ intervention prevents them from killing her outright.
11. DEADPOOL KILLS ALL THE HEROES
Cullen Bunn’s first iteration of Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe told the tale of the Merc with the Mouth doing just that; killing every hero. He wasn’t being mind-controlled, he just wanted to break the system and find the source of everything. Now in his follow-up series, Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again, Deadpool is doing just that. This time, the deadly assassin is being mind-controlled by the Red Skull and a group of supervillains.
The whole while, Deadpool has been leaving clues so his fellow superheroes can help him and break the proverbial spell. In the meanwhile, he’s killed the Uncanny Avengers, the X-Men, every Spider-Man, the Punisher, the Guardians of the Galaxy and loads of other heroes. As of now, the series is still going on, so it’s still up in the air about whether the heroes will save the day; it’s not looking good for them.
10. SPIDER-WOMAN TRIES TO KILL SPIDER-MAN
Not only is mind-control an invasive power, but it can be a darn creepy one. Mandrill, right out of Marvel Comics, is a Baboon who wears a cape, talks like a human and also has the ability to control women. Using a type of pheromone, he can use his mind-control and seduce them, making them do literally anything he pleases, including having them fight for him.
During “Dark Reign” (in New Avengers #61) Norman Osborn is essentially running the world. Many lesser villains are trying to make a rep so they can be included into his inner circle. One night, Mandrill and the Griffin are running around when they spot Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. Almost immediately, Mandrill swoops in and mind-controls Spider-Woman into trying to murder Spider-Man. She nearly succeeds until Spider-Man takes the fight to Mandrill and breaks his control over the other superhero.
9. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE TAKES OVER THE WORLD
In the relatively recent Justice League vs. The Suicide Squad, the League battles the Suicide Squad as they try and shut down Amanda Waller’s Task Force X program. Comics being what they are, the two teams eventually band together when confronted by a larger group of villains, led by none other than Max Lord. Lord, who’s questing after the Eclipso Diamond, breaks past the assemblage of heroes and steals the gem.
He immediately is taken over by the ancient deity of revenge and then mind-controls the entire Justice League as they become Eclipso’s minions. In the span of minutes, the League all but takes over the entire world, running governments into the ground and disarming every nuclear weapon. Luckily, the Suicide Squad is left standing and is able to defeat Eclipso, restoring the League and returning the world to normal.
8. THE AVENGERS TRY TO KILL SPIDER-MAN
During the Spider-Man centric event “Ends of the Earth”, Doctor Octopus is dying and has decided to make his passing exceptionally memorable. Creating a global warming device, Octavius wants to use it to cause pandemonium around the world, only to save the day at the last minute so he’ll be seen as a hero. Enlisting the rest of Spider-Man’s classic group of foes, the Sinister Six, the group works together.
Peter Parker sees through the scheme and launches an assault on Doc Ock’s lair and is met by the Sinister Six. However, Spider-Man brought the Avengers along with him; the feeling of victory is short-lived. Doctor Octopus uses some funky tech to mind-control Earth’s Mightiest Heroes into trying to kill Spider-Man. As you might expect, Spidey is able to spin his way out of the problem.
7. THE INHUMANS TRY TO MURDER EACH OTHER
Maximus Boltagon, though he’s also known as Maximus the Mad, is the brother of Black Bolt, the leader of the Inhumans. Like his moniker suggests, Maximus is quite loony, except for when he’s not, and constantly enjoys plotting against his brother, family, and whoever else he sets his sights on. It’s never so much a matter about why, though he would like to rule, but why not?
In Inhumans Prime #1 Medusa, the Queen of the Inhumans, is actively looking for Maximus to arrest him so he can pay for various misdeeds. When she, and nearly the whole Inhuman entourage find him. Maximus, having prepared for the moment gives a raw piece of Terrigen crystal to The Unspoken, turning him into a giant monster. He’s quickly defeated, so Maximus goes to plan B: mind-controlling everyone into fighting each other. It works until the benevolent mind-controller Captain Swain ends Maximus’s fun.
6. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE TRY TO KILL EACH OTHER
In the JLA storyline “Crisis of Conscience” by Geoff Johns, the League has decided to tell Batman they messed with his memory way back when, kicking off Identity Crisis. As they muse over the decision, they’re suddenly attacked by the Secret Society of Super Villains; their memories were also restored and now they’re out for blood. Despero, one of the League’s strongest enemies who boasts incredible mental powers, is part of the Society.
Long story short, he mind-controls most of the League, separating them into two teams: those who agreed with the mind-wipes and those who were opposed. Ordering them to essentially fight to the death, the League is about to kill Superman when Zatanna appears, reverses Despero’s telepathic control, and then, despite Batman’s protests, brainwashes the villains back into submission.
5. THE X-MEN TRY TO KILL NIGHTCRAWLER
The X-Men and mind-control are forever wrapped together in an inescapable web of mental disaster. There have been countless villains, and even heroes, who have resorted to mind-control to achieve their ends at one point or another. One of X-Men’s most feared nemesis where mind-control is concerned is the Shadow King.
Nightcrawler #8 takes place a little over a year after Kurt returned from the dead and he’s spent time adjusting to the world and everything he’s missed. One day, while Xavier is training a bunch of mutants in the Danger Room, Nightcrawler is suddenly contacted by Bloody Bess, asking for his help. Nightcrawler goes to her aid and then the Shadow King possesses the X-Men, en route to help Kurt. The Shadow King tries and fails to possess Nightcrawler, since coming back from the dead offers immunity. And so the X-Men try and kill Nightcrawler in the following issue.
4. DOCTOR STRANGE SUMMONS A DEMON
During the Infinity storyline, Thanos is creating chaos all around the universe, with his eyes set on the planet Earth. In order to soften the planet’s defenses, Thanos send his generals, his Cull Obsidian, aka the Black Order, to systematically destroy various oppositional and strategic forces. One of those general is Ebony Maw, a horribly skeletal-look creature who has a profound way with words, though it’s really just mind control.
Maw is sent to take care of one superhero: Doctor Strange. Realizing the Sorcerer Supreme is a great threat Ebony Maw uses his incredible powers of persuasion to convince Doctor Strange to summon the Old One Shuma-Gorath to New York City. With his work done, Maw leaves, Strange is none the wiser, and Luke Cage and his Avengers are left to deal with the mess.
3. THE INVISIBLE WOMAN TRIES TO KILL THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Despite all their superheroics, the Fantastic Four are a family above all else. Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm are not only some of the most powerful Marvel heroes around, but they’re some of the most respected. That hasn’t prevented bad guys from trying to worm their way into the heads of the Fantastic Four.
The Pyscho-Man, a fear-totting villain from the Microverse, along with Hate-Monger manipulates all of New York, making the citizens irrationally angry and violent. They also infect the Invisible Woman forcing her dark side to manifest into the villainess known as Malice. With all of Sue’s force field powers, but none of her restraint or compassion, Malice tries killing her friends and family. She nearly succeeds until Reed verbally assaults her, turning Sue back to normal.
2. WONDER WOMAN TRIES TO STEAL THE JLA SATELLITE
Back in Justice League of America #143, fans everywhere finally saw a fight between titans Wonder Woman and Superman. This being comics, the real reason behind their battle is long and tedious, but essentially boils down to evildoers, their hatred for the Justice League, and choosing to mind-control Wonder Woman into fighting Superman.
Aboard the Justice League Watchtower, the mind-controlled Wonder Woman has been ordered to take over the League’s satellite. Superman intervenes, which leads to them fighting. Immediately, Superman can see Wonder Woman is acting weird, leading him to restrain himself, but he can barely hold on as she battles him with her Amazon strength. Eventually, the fight ends in a draw, as the rest of the League arrives and helps release Diana from the mind control that she has been under.
1. WOLVERINE MUDERS ALMOST EVERY HERO
In the story arc “Enemy of the State”, Hydra takes control of Wolverine and trick him into trying to kill a bunch of his fellow hoeroes. For the most part, their plan fails. However, in What If? Wolverine: Enemy of the State, Hydra takes total control of Wolverine and their plan is more than successful. While in the proper timeline, the heroes of the Marvel Universe were able to rescue Logan, suffering only minor casualties; this time around the superheroes aren’t so lucky.
Tasked with wiping out nearly every hero, only a few are able to stand up to Wolverine and the special enhancements that were bestowed upon him by Hydra. In the end it all comes down to Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, and it’s revealed that the entire world fears anyone with superpowers The final page also reveals that all the heroes who attempted to stop Wolverine and Hydra, were pretty much gutted to death.
Are there any other horrifying instances of mind-control that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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