Now that “The Walking Dead” is back, you may find yourself craving some mindless waves of destruction to keep you satiated between episodes. You’re in luck! CBR has your fix as we explore the 16 best hordes in comics. To clarify, these men/undead/automatons are no mere henchmen. These pieces of cannon fodder wish they could be henchmen. Henchmen have rights, paychecks, portfolio options, desires for greatness and dental (if they’re lucky). These groups are one step up from mere gangs or suicide squads; rather, they are fully-fledged masses that share a common goal, hive-mind or food supply.
If you’re unsure if a group qualifies, here’s a simple litmus test: “Could this group be effectively utilized in a Battle of Helms Deep siege scenario?” If the answer is yes, then they qualify. Likewise, hive mind mentalities, be they intelligent or simple, also qualify, as having a shared horde consciousness removes one’s individuality.
16. DARTH VADER’S BATTLE DROIDS
You can’t have a list about hordes without mentioning something from the Star Wars universe, and as tempting as it may be to give this spot to the Republic’s Clone army or the First Order’s Stormtroopers, those two armies are brimming with individuality and free thinkers. No, we’re focusing on the mindless automatons that are sometimes programmed to display emotion: the battle droids. In particular we have to give the nod to Darth Vader’s custom battle droid legion featured in Marvel’s “Darth Vader” comics.
Featuring a totally non-functioning respirator grill and ebon paint job, these battle droids follow their cybernetic Sith lord into battle, serving as the only horde Vader can trust on the battlefront. Proving that a weapon is only as good as its wielder, Vader’s droids are some of the only combat effective battle to ever appear in the Star Wars universe. As Vader himself explains, droids won’t betray you, droids keep secrets and droids will give their “lives” in following your command, or march out of an airlock once their purposes have been fulfilled. When you’re a Sith, loyalty is a commodity, seeing as how the bulk of your culture is based around backstabbing.
15. THE BROOD
Armed with razor sharp fangs, a stinger tail, tentacles, wings, a hatred for compassion and an undying loyalty to The Brood Empress, The Brood are The X-Men’s not-so-subtle answer to the Xenomorphs in “Aliens.” The Brood primarily operate based on a hive mind mentality, wanting to serve their cluster’s Brood Queen. Each Brood Queen, however, is loyal to the Brood Empress, who sits at the top of the Brood hierarchy. The Brood are an entirely parasitic race, traveling through the galaxy in their space-whales (because The Brood are weird like that), looking for lifeforms to impregnate with their tails, their sole form of reproduction.
Alternatively, this undying — and sometimes telepathically influenced — loyalty to The Brood Queen is a trait that is not shared by every Broodling, or “sleazoids,” as Wolverine calls them. In addition to practicing eugenics, there is an entire caste of teleporting Brood devoted to eradicating rebellious drones. Notable sleazoids include No-Name — a gladiator from “Planet Hulk” — and Broo, a pygmy drone born with compassion but without a hive-mind intelligence, earning himself enrollment in The Jean Grey School in “Wolverine & The X-Men.”
Tribbles may not appear to have much going for them: they can’t fire a phaser or wield a bat’leth, but what Tribbles can beat you with is the power of love… by which we mean reproducing. The Tribbles’ entire existence is based around eating and mating, spending over 50% of their metabolism on just reproducing, despite being born pregnant. Tribbles are strength in numbers taken to the highest degree, proving a nuisance at one point or another on nearly every incarnation of “Star Trek.”
The Tribbles are not a malicious race, though; they’re just big peaceful purring balls of fluff. That being said, the Tribbles’ insatiable lust is only eclipsed by an insatiable appetite, as a small Tribble colony will slowly but stealthily find its way into your space-kitchen to gorge themselves on your starship’s entire food reserves, before reproducing enough to devastate your planet’s ecosystem. As a matter of fact, Tribbles prove so much of a threat that their entire species are considered mortal enemies to the Klingons, who are essentially the Space-Spartans of Star Trek. The proud ridge-headed warrior people will shriek whenever they see one of those fuzzy little hornballs.
13. THE CROSSED
Rampaging in from Garth Ennis’ “Crossed,” this eponymous mob has been infected by a virus that makes each of their swelling numbers give into their basest and most violent actions, driven to murder, ravage, mutilate and infect you with their bodily fluids, all with absolute pleasure and a nasty face rash. What separates The Crossed from your typical fast-moving zombie is that The Crossed retain a large amount of their intelligence upon being turned. Crossed can operate firearms, set traps, coat weapons with their infectious fluids, and scream the foulest of obscenities at you while sieging a nuclear silo.
The more clever Crossed will practice delayed gratification, resisting a little bit of violence in the moment so that they may have ultra violence later. The most extreme example of this is Beau Salt, who created a civilization for his savage brethren just to ensure that the killing would keep going a century later in “Crossed: +100.” The Crossed’s addiction to violence is also what holds them back from greatness, however, oftentimes turning on one another or even mutilating themselves if they cannot find an uninfected victim.
Not unlike another villain on this list, Doctor Doom’s ego has him surrounding himself with robotic duplicates known as Doombots. Each individual Doombot is a perfect replica of Doom’s likeness and personality, often serving as a body double for when Doom expects to lose, or is just too busy, even assigning a Doombot to pose as him at Stilt-Man’s funeral. Sharing Doom’s likeness isn’t enough, as these robots have the skills to bear the Doom name, with the majority of Doombots being outfitted without enough ordinance and battle stratagems to be considered a viable threat even on their own.
Doom figures if these robots are going to share his likeness, they better be convincing, as every Doombot is equipped to believe they are the real Dr. Doom, except when next to Doom or other Doombots. Of course there is a robot-uprising failsafe installed in every Doombot, coupled with enough explosives to make every duplicate a potential suicide bomber. Throw in the fact that any Doombot can reconstruct its body from just its head alone — meaning you can “grow” a Doombot anywhere — and you suddenly have a self-detonating Dr. Doom operating behind enemy lines.
Foot-soldiers of the Ogdru Jahad and the scaly final phase of man, the Frogmen/Frog-Monsters are the forms of the destroyer for both Hellboy, and the B.P.R.D. A highly faith-based horde, a typical Frogman nest doubles as a shrine to the Ogdru Jahad, aka The Seven Who Are One, aka The Beast, aka The Serpent — basically, they’re the Cthulhu of the Hellboy universe. Each Frogman maintains a psionic link to these Seven Gods of Chaos, who push each and every Frogman to try their best to free the Ogdru Hem, bringing with them the Ogdru Jahad and the end of civilization.
Being able to shift between their frog and human forms on the fly, Frogmen can wait in stealth to build their ranks through either infection or asexual reproduction, in addition to wielding some minor telepathic powers to influence their victims. The Frogmen also pose a significant physical threat, as one elite Frogman almost manages to kill Hellboy in “Hellboy: Conqueror Worm.”
10. THE MINDLESS ONES
Originally introduced in Marvel’s “Strange Tales” #127 (1964) by Stan Lee and jack Kirby, The Mindless Ones are an extra-dimensional race of featureless stone-like men save for one combination eye-orifice that fires death. Typically serving demonic forces, these stone homies are going to fill your armies if you ever make a deal with the devil or a cosmic abomination. They’ll probably do it for cheap too! Rorkannu summoned the Mindless Ones, described as an endless resource of his Dark Dimension, for $100 and “Suicide Girls” in “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.”
The Mindless Ones’ strength comes from their lack of sentience, with habits that typically include shuffling around, making the place untidy and killing stuff. Give them a brain, though, and they lose all combat efficiency. For example, when a Mindless One gains sentience in “Original Sin,” he becomes so horrified with his actions that he commits suicide with The Ultimate Nullifier. In “Spider-Man/Deadpool” #1 , Deadpool is able to hinder Dormammu’s Mindless Ones by stuffing millennial cadaver brains into their husks. The Mindful Ones go on to complain to Dormmammu, believing themselves to be too entitled to serve. Be mindful that your Mindless Ones never become mindful.
9. THE TALONS
Premiering in “Batman: The Court of Owls,” by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, The Talons are a sect of stealthy assassins that have been serving Gotham City’s owl-themed Illuminati, The Court of Owls, since 1666. Each individual Talon is so well trained in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay that typically one Talon will suffice per mission, with the rest waiting in a hyper-sleep sort of stasis. In addition to proving to be better combatants than the Batman, The Talons have synthesized electrum pumping through their ancient veins, granting them endurance and cellular regeneration, with one Talon hunting Batman in an actual labyrinth for an entire week.
Naturally, The Court will gladly deploy more Talons if a threat requires it. For instance, The Court lend Two-Face a customized squad of Talons in “All Star Batman,” and wakes up the entire horde to pursue the Bat and seize Gotham City in “Night of Owls.” The Talons don’t have the same numbers as other entries on this list, but what the Talons lack in numbers they make up for in individual strength. Managing to kill a Talon is feat unto itself, as The KGBeast proudly displays a Talon head and torso as trophies in his home.
Even though Ultron himself is a formidable artificial intelligence whose body over the years has been upgraded to withstand the bulk of The Avengers, and shrug off even Wolverine’s adamantium claws, the killer android has also been known to adopt “Zerg Rush” tactics recently. As of “Avengers” vol. 3 #19, by Kurt BUsiek and George Perez, Ultron prefers to mass-produce multiple weaker bodies that share a uniform intelligence, as opposed to investing in just one overhauled shell. Pivoting to a hive mind mentality has escalated Ultron into the top tier of Avengers villains.
This hive mind mentality has also granted Ultron functional immortality. Each Ultron shares all or part of the Ultron A.I., meaning that only one shell has to survive for Ultron to return. Likewise, Ultron has the ability to upload his programming into other machines, even biological creatures, coming close to converting the planet Titan into Planet Ultron in “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena and Pepe Larraz Ultron’s strength-in-numbers tactic has proven to be so effective that the only way to beat his horde in “Age of Ultron” was to retroactively implant a failsafe shutdown program in Ultron’s original code through means of time travel.
7. THE JOKER STRAIN
Not to be confused with the Jokerz of “Batman Beyond,” these Jokers are the smiling citizenry of the dystopian Gotham City of the future, protected by Damian Wayne, the new Batman who made a deal with the devil to better protect his city. This highly potent virus causes its victims’ brains to turn love into hate, complete with a Joker-brand grin, bloody orifices and newfound appreciation of gallows humor. In “Batman Incorporated” vol. 2 #5, by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, we lay witness to a Gotham City of Jokers, the capital of Hell on Earth, with this future Batman clinging for any chance of a cure in an impossible war.
Known as “The Joker’s Final Gag,” the Joker Strain is a pandemic that fulfills the Clown Prince of Crime’s greatest desire: to turn everyone into monsters. Even in combating the horde Damian-Bat loses by default, having to resort to explosives and high-caliber bat drones just to have the slightest chance of survival.
6. BLACK LANTERN CORPS
DC’s answer to the whole fast zombie paradigm, The Black Lantern Corps of “Blackest Night” are the DC universe’s dearly departed heroes, villains and comic reliefs exhumed from the great beyond to serve the avatar of death, Black Hand, and his boss, Nekron. Sharing a snazzy uniform and fueled by death, all members of the Black Lantern Corps seek hearts to rip out, filling up their black power rings by .01% with each kill. Not just any heart will do, as these ringed revenants prefer the hearts of those who would be the most emotionally affected by their cosmic-zombification. Upon reaching 100%, the main Black Lantern Central Battery — located in Sector 666 of the galaxy — will resurrect Nekron, who will speed up the process of extinguishing all life in the universe.
The Black Lanterns retain a veneer of individuality, often using memories of their past lives to better emotionally manipulate their victims. Notable Black Lanterns include not only death-themed heroes like The Spectre and Dead Man, but also The KGBeast, Hawkman, and their ace in the hole — a zombie Batman-clone. As long as Black Hand is active, there will always be an endless supply of potential Black Lanterns in reserve.
5. THE ANNIHILATION WAVE
Hailing from the appropriately named “Annihilation” event, The Annihilation Wave, also known as The Arthrians, get their moniker from the villainous conquerer Annihilus, who managed to unite the various groups of murderous insects, space-ghouls, warships and tentacled denizens of The Negative Zone under one banner. As the 616 Universe naturally expanded, The Negative Zone that the Wave calls home was being swallowed up, prompting them to cross over and claim the 616 Universe as their own.
Starting things off with a bang, The Annihilation Wave manages to destroy the planet Kyln, the Nova Corps, the Skrull Empire, many of Galactus’ Heralds, and at one point even Galactus himself. The Annihilation Wave even builds their own version of the Death Star designed to process planets into fuel for their warships. Otherwise super impressive, what holds The Annihilation Wave back from the top spot is how easy it is to control them — just hold the Master Control Rod. That’s it. You could’ve just been killed by the Wave, only to suddenly find yourself resurrected by them and then commanding them — as Johnny Storm of The Fantastic Four can attest.
Debuting in Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” #1 (1971), Parademons serve as Darkseid’s shock troops in his lifelong devotion to seizing the Anti-Life Equation. Even when an individual Parademon is singled out, like Parademon from “Secret Six,” their indoctrination proves to be so thorough that they are always driven to please lord Darkseid. As a matter of fact, after this particular Parademon turned himself into a suicide bomb and wound up in Hell, he told his teammates — who happened to be visiting Hell for business — that he would rather stay in Hell than utilize their “Get Out of Hell Free” card, as Hell reminded him of home. You can’t beat a horde whose idea of heaven is literally hell.
Originally Apokolips’ wildest citizens wearing gliders, The New 52 Parademon can belch fire, self-detonate on command, and even “recruit” victims if they have the right tools on hand. Additionally, Parademons are now either genetically remodeled lifeforms, or processed corpses. Ultimately, the average Parademon ranks so low on the sentience scale that it doesn’t even qualify for Batman’s “No Kill” rule, as Bats uses a Parademon to take the blunt of Darkseid’s fatal Omega Beams in “Justice League Unlimited.”
3. MARVEL ZOMBIES
The undead hordes of the original “Marvel Zombies” by Robert Kirkman are the focus of this entry, as they are one of the most unique zombie mobs on this list. See, unlike your typical ghoul, Marvel Zombies retain all of their intelligence and in some cases residual bits of power sets upon being turned. This intelligence, however, is eclipsed by an insatiable hunger for flesh, with the heroes only becoming aware of the horrors they have committed after feeding. When the hunger returns, the clarity will dissipate, starting the cycle all over again. Incidentally, Marvel Zombies don’t follow typical zombie rules, as when Magneto uses Colonel America’s own shield to slice the top part of his head off, the Colonel remarks, “If we catch him — when we catch him — I get double rations!”
How hungry are the Marvel Zombies? They’re so hungry that they managed to out-hunger Galactus, the big purple guy whose diet is planets, swarming him until he was nothing but gigantic bones in a helmet. When the entire Marvel Multiverse is shattered in “Secret Wars” (2016) and the remnants are stitched back together, the Marvel Zombies are the new dominant species, ruling the desolate zone separating lands.
2. THE WALKERS
You can’t have a list of comic book hordes without mentioning classic zombies, and when it comes to classic zombies, no one does it better than the undead masses from “The Walking Dead.” Call them Walkers, Lurkers, Zekes, Ghouls, or whatever, the effectiveness of The Walkers from “The Walking Dead” comes from their overwhelming numbers. These dead-babies made slow-moving zombies terrifying again. Fire a gun once, and that bang travels out, drawing every single Walker to you. Maybe the Walker doesn’t hear the bang, but sees another Walker moving; that’s all it takes to get two Walkers tracking you, and soon enough that two will swell into a horde.
Even when it starts to feel easy killing Walkers, all it takes is one scratch to turn you into a dead man. Even if they don’t get a hand on you and you manage to make it to the end of your natural life, the Walkers will win in the end because we’re all already infected. When you die in “The Walking Dead’ universe, you will turn into a walker. Even if Rick and his Ricktatorship is able to somehow rebuild society, the Walkers will always win in the end.
Sometimes referred to as “Xenomorphs,” but better known as the Aliens from the “Alien” franchise, the Aliens have proven themselves to be the most formidable of hordes, overflowing from their cinematic roots to creep onto the comics scene. The Aliens’ primary purpose in life is protecting their Queen, expanding their hive, murdering and reproduction-via-murder. The common drone is a biological killing machine, sporting razor sharp claws, a serrated tail, invisibility to thermal imaging and twin sets of mandibles capable of ripping through bone and metal. Get lucky enough to kill one and you’ll be met with a spurt of highly pressurized acid-blood capable of melting through the hull of your spaceship and body armor.
RELATED: ALIENS: The 15 Best Xenomorph Comics
The Aliens win the top spot by swarming out of their out films to face hug your favorite franchises, including Predator, Batman, Mortal Kombat, “Animaniacs,” “The Terminator,” even “Regular Show.” When separated from its swarm, a single drone proves to be a formidable threat, capable of stealth tactics, and maturing into a Hive Queen if its kill-count is high enough. In fact, one Alien was deemed frightful enough to wield a Sinestro Corps Ring during “The Sinestro Corps War.”
Did we miss your favorite wave of destruction? Can you think of another horde that we left out? Would you kindly let us know in the comments?