Superhero comics aren’t always about stopping petty criminals and keeping supervillains off the streets. Earth-shattering and universe-altering events have become commonplace in today’s comic book industry. Event crises from Marvel and DC Comics are the new normal, where superheroes must band together in order to save reality and protect time and space from crashing in on itself. The end of the universe is the new bank robbery at this point. It happens almost every day.
However, the heroes are not always successful at preventing the end of the the universe. Sometimes they fail to preserve all of creation and sometimes things are so damaged, a reboot is the only way to solve the problem. Over the years, heroes and villains alike have been responsible for bringing the world to an end, or destroying an alternate reality. Maybe the universe is preserved at the end of the story or maybe it is utterly wiped out. Whether the story is in continuity or not, eliminating an entire universe is no small feat. You have to have control over enough power that it affects everything around you on a universal scale. Here are 15 characters who were successful in destroying an entire universe.
15 NAMOR AND THE CABAL
In Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers, Namor makes the difficult decision to sacrifice one Earth to save another. The Illuminati could not bring themselves to commit such an act, so the Sub-Mariner felt he needed to do what was right. He went on to reform the Cabal with Thanos, Maximus the Mad, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Terrax, and Black Swan in order to protect his universe from being destroyed during the incursion of the Marvel Multiverse.
This new group went on to destroy several alternate realities in order to guarantee the safety of the 616 universe. Namor later realizes just how brutal his new partners were. He betrays them to the Illuminati, however, his old friends decide to strand them all on a doomed Earth instead. Following the incursion event, a new Squadron Supreme attacked and killed Namor in retribution for killing Doctor Spectrum’s world.
Though we never get to see Imperiex destroy the universe, it is implied that this being of pure entropy has brought some form of existence to an end before. Imperiex wields the powers of the Big Bang in an endless effort to create the perfect universe. When he attempts to destroy the Earth and restart all of creation in Our Worlds At War, he proves to be the ultimate enemy to the entire DC Universe.
Many superheroes fall in battle against Imperiex and his powerful Imperiex Probes. Superman, Steel, Darkseid, and Lex Luthor finally band together to send the villain back in time to the Big Bang. Just before he is destroyed, Imperiex realizes that the only way the universe can ever be perfect is if he no longer exists.
13 THE LIGHTSMITHS
In the “Lights Out” Green Lantern crossover from 2013, the being known as Relic attempts to wipe out all wielders of the emotional spectrum in order to prevent the universe from being destroyed. Apparently, the Lightsmiths from the universe before the current one were responsible for the end of existence. When these beings used up the reservoir of emotional energy in their universe, all life was snuffed out, save Relic.
These Lightsmiths were their universe’s version of the lanterns who wield the emotional spectrum. They were tasked with safeguarding the universe; however, unknown to them, the very tools they used to do good were actually destroying everything. When the Green Lantern Corps becomes stranded in the universe before the current one, all creation begins to collapse in on them. This is the eventuality Relic wanted to prevent.
The universe of Earth 2 took a beating in the New 52. After that world’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were killed in an attack by Darkseid, the forces of Apokolips eventually returned and destroyed the planet. Following the events of Convergence, the heroes of Earth 2 and the surviving population were gifted with a new planet to call home.
The Amazon relic Pandora’s Casket allows the one who opens it to reshape the world; however, its powers are far too great and volatile to be trusted. In Earth 2: Society, the Ultra-Humanite attempts to open the casket in order to take over the world, but the Earth's "Wonders" (superhumans) stop him just in time. Desperate to prevent the powers of the Casket from falling into the wrong hands, Fury opens it. Reality is wiped out before it is systematically reformed again into a better world.
11 DARK PHOENIX
In the mainstream Marvel universe, Jean Grey commits suicide in order to stop herself from being the evil Dark Phoenix. In What If? #27 from 1981, Jean had her powers successfully removed by the Shi’ar Empire. This allows her to return to Earth with the X-Men and remain on staff at the mansion. Unfortunately, her powers manifest again.
While she remains stable at first, the Phoenix persona comes to life at night and leads her to destroy dead worlds and uninhabited stars. The X-Men confront her about her activities, but things get out of hand when the conversation turns into an argument. She becomes the Dark Phoenix once again and obliterates her teammates. The trauma from this event causes Jean to unleash the Phoenix Force on the entire universe, destroying it.
What If? #32 from 1982 tells a different version of the Korvac Saga. In this version of the story, Michael Korvac is able to kill the Avengers and resurrect them as his servants. Despite his ability to dominate his enemies, there are those in the universe who still resist his control over the universe. He absorbs the most powerful entities in creation, yet there is still resistance among the cosmos.
In a fit of rage, he absorbs all life on Earth and prepares to face this alien armada that approaches. Unable to achieve his goal of universal order no matter how many beings he kills and absorbs, Korvac uses the Ultimate Nullifier to kill Eternity and wipe out all of existence. Finally, with no life in the universe, he has achieved his goal.
In Marvel: The End, Thanos comes into control of the Heart of the Universe, an energy source so powerful that he becomes the universe itself. This power allows him to learn the existence of a flaw in the universe that will lead to the destruction of all life. Now that he is all-powerful, he has the ability to fix the flaw, but the cosmic beings of the Marvel Universe take issue with his new status.
After defeating every superhero in existence, he absorbs all of creation into himself, including celestial beings like Eternity, Infinity, and the Living Tribunal, as well as the entire multiverse. Now the only being in existence, Thanos is visited by Adam Warlock, who convinces him to do the right thing and fix the universe. The Mad Titan recreates all life but sacrifices himself to do so.
8 MISTER FANTASTIC
Following the death of Galactus, the entity of destruction known as Abraxas began his reign of terror on all of creation. He corrupted several versions of the Herald known as Nova, killed alternate versions of Galactus, and set his sights on Earth-616. The Fantastic Four proved to be the last line of defense before Abraxas destroyed the entire multiverse.
Franklin and Valeria Richards resurrect Galactus, who steals the Ultimate Nullifer from Abraxas. Left with no other option, Mister Fantastic uses the device to wipe out all of existence in Fantastic Four #49. As a result, the universe reconstituted itself without Abraxas having ever existed. Everything that he had destroyed was returned to normal. In this instance, the universe’s most dangerous weapon proved to be its savior.
7 CAPTAIN MARVEL
The cosmically aware son of the original Captain Marvel proved to be powerful enough to destroy the entire multiverse. Rendered mentally unstable by his massive powers, Genis-Vell is manipulated by the cosmic beings Entropy and Epiphany into snuffing out all of creation. When the world is recreated, he suddenly has a sister named Phyla-Vell.
It is this power that ultimately leads to his end. As a member of the Thunderbolts, Genis is seemingly killed by Atlas. Zemo is able to resurrect him by using energy from the beginning and end of the universe. Unfortunately, this gives Genis the power to destroy the universe. After exploring future timelines where the universe has been wiped out, Zemo decides to effectively kill him in order to save the universe.
6 BAT-MITE AND MXYZPTLK
In the 2000 Elseworlds tale Superman and Batman: World’s Funnest, Bat-Mite and Mister Mxyzptlk lampoon common Silver Age comics. The two imps appear in order to torment Batman and Superman; however, Bat-Mite and Mxyzptlk end up fighting each other instead. They kill many of the heroes and eventually destroy the entire universe, requiring them to resume their fight on a different Earth.
Their altercation destroys multiple realities, including Earths 2, 3, X, S, and C. They even wipe out the Kingdom Come universe, The Dark Knight Returns, and the DC Animated Universe. In the end, the two combatants are exhausted and begin to laugh -- this has all been in fun! The two return everything back to normal and promise to do the same thing next week.
In DC’s follow up to the original Crisis, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! was released in 1994 to clean up many of the universe’s alternate timelines. Hal Jordan had recently gone insane after the destruction of Coast City. As the villain Parallax, Jordan sought to remake the universe in his own image, a world where his city was never destroyed. With the help of the villain known as Extant, he unleashed a wave of entropy from the end of time all the way up to the beginning.
After whittling all of time right down to the Big Bang, a collection of superheroes gathered at the dawn of time and were able to prevent Jordan from accomplishing his goal. Damage was then able to recreate the universe by unleashing a new big bang.
4 THE GENTRY
In Grant Morrison’s 2014 romp through the DC multiverse in The Multiversity, it is established that if Earth-8 is a pastiche of the Marvel Universe, Earth-7 corresponds to the Ultimate Marvel universe. This reality was utterly destroyed by a group of interdimensional beings known as the Gentry. The sole survivor of the universe was the hero known as the Thunderer (a pastiche of Thor) who escapes to warn others of the imminent danger to their own world(s).
Together with heroes across the multiverse known collectively as Justice Incarnate, Thunderer returns to Earth-7 in order to stop the Gentry. There they discover that their enemies are just a handful of the endless supply of villains employed by the being known as Empty Hand. This villain has torn apart reality on Earth-7 and has already destroyed “Multiverse-2” before he banishes the heroes.
Superman-Prime (formerly known as Superboy-Prime) became lost in the multiverse following the events of Sinestro Corps War. He began to travel from world to world looking for Earth Prime and destroying the realities that didn’t measure up. At the same time, the quantum-powered despot known as Monarch (formally Captain Atom) built an army to take over the entire multiverse.
Countdown to Final Crisis led both villains into a conflict that would leave an entire universe destroyed. Prime was led to Earth-51, supposedly the one “perfect” Earth in the multiverse. Unfortunately, by the time he found it, Monarch’s army had already laid waste to the planet. The two fought a brutal battle that resulted in Superman-Prime tearing off Monarch’s armor, exposing his immense quantum powers. The force of these unleashed abilities result in the total destruction of the universe, leaving nothing behind.
2 THE ANTI-MONITOR
The big bad of the DC Universe is the Anti-Monitor, the supreme being from the Antimatter Universe. Created as the evil mirror image of the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor started his campaign of ultimate destruction billions of years ago. When he reawakens prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, he is compelled to destroy the Positive Universe and its multiverse.
The villain builds up a store of anti-matter energy that he unleashes as a deadly wave of destruction. It sweeps through the multiverse, erasing universe after universe from existence. By the time the heroes are able to stop him, the Anti-Monitor has destroyed countless worlds before the five remaining realities merge into one new universe. It’s hard to believe anyone has done a better job destroying multiple universes.
1 MOLECULE MAN AND THE BEYONDERS
In the lead-up to Secret Wars, the Beyonders (the secret architects of all creation) decide to destroy the multiverse as an experiment. It is revealed that the Beyonders had created the Molecule Man as a means to bring creation to an end. Owen Reece exists throughout the multiverse as a singularity in order to serve the Beyonders as a bomb capable of destroying universes.
In New Avengers #33, Molecule Man kills one of his doppelgängers, bringing that universe to a premature end. He then sends Doom on a mission to kill all the Molecule Men across every reality in order to stop the Beyonders and save Earth-616. In a final confrontation against this unknowable enemy, the Beyonders successfully destroy the world; however, Doom preserves creation in the form of Battleworld.
Are there other characters who have destroyed the universe? Let us know in the comments!