Superheroes get injured in the line of duty all the time. Usually they are the minor cuts and bruises you would expect from someone going out and beating people up on the regular. All too often, superheroes take a beating while they are out on patrol. It’s difficult to be a fan of Batman, for instance, and not be inundated with images of broken bones and old scars. Oliver Queen on CW’s Arrow is also the victim of bodily injuries over a long period of time.
Despite these injuries, they always seem to show up healthy and able on their next mission, for the next storyline. However, that doesn’t mean everyone always walks away from crimefighting unscathed. Sure, some heroes have been killed in the line of duty, but there are still many others who have been seriously maimed in a fight. Sometimes permanent damage is inescapable when it comes to such dangerous activities as superheroics. These are injuries that (mostly) cannot be easily healed with time and often result in permanent changes to the character, if they don’t have the ability to heal properly. Here are the 15 bloodiest times superheroes have been maimed in the line of duty.
15 LOIS LANE LOSES HER LEG
Recently, in Superman #24, the Kent family has gotten to the bottom of the strange happenings in Hamilton County that have been shaping their lives since the beginning of Rebirth. It turns out that several of the townsfolk are actually superpowered members of the Super Elite. When giant monsters come to destroy the town, the group reveals itself, and in the chaos, Lois Lane is hit with debris that severs her leg above the knee.
Superman rushes to her aid and quickly works to save her life. He uses his heat vision to cauterize the wound and stop the bleeding before rushing her off to the hospital. His next order of business? Rescue his son Jon from wherever he is being held. The question we have now is whether or not Lois Lane will be down one leg from here.
14 AQUAMAN LOSES HIS HAND
This seems to be a recurring thing for Arthur Curry. Back in the ‘90s, DC Comics wanted to make Aquaman into more of a badass, so Peter David had him lose his hand in a fight, as depicted in Aquaman #2 from 1994. The villain Charybdis absorbed Arthur’s ability to communicate with sea life and uses it to stick Aquaman’s hand in piranha-infested waters. When our hero pulls his hand out, he’s shocked to find that only bones remain.
Years later, after Aquaman dies and is resurrected, he has the same hand cut off while fighting Black Manta. The Entity of Life, who brought him back from the dead, would also require him for a later task. After stopping a war between Atlantis and the surface world in Brightest Day #19, Aquaman is taken away and transformed into the water elemental, where he once again has two hands.
13 US AGENT LOSES AN ARM AND A LEG
John Walker, aka U.S. Agent, answers the call to fight against Norman Osborn during the events of Siege. In The Mighty Avengers #36, he attempts to stop the Thunderbolts from stealing Odin’s spear, but Nuke is able to use the weapon against our hero, and the results are ugly. Walker ends up losing his left arm and left leg in the fight.
Following Osborn’s incarceration, Walker is appointed as the new warden of The Raft maximum security prison as a thank-you for his service. He refuses to use advanced prosthetic limbs to replace the ones he lost. As warden, he still proves himself to be physically capable, even from a wheelchair. U.S. Agent later returns to active duty when his wounds are healed, somehow as good as new.
12 ALFRED LOSES HIS HAND
Batman: Endgame is the final epic confrontation between Batman and the Joker, as brought to you by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. In the lead-up to the ultimate showdown, the villain breaks into the Batcave to have a look around. In Batman #39, Alfred confronts him with a shotgun, ready to kill the clown, but the Joker strikes first and cuts off the butler’s hand with a knife. It’s a startling sight, to be sure.
After Batman and the Joker are believed to be killed, Alfred refuses to have his hand reattached, believing that with Bruce Wayne dead, he has no more use for it. However, considering this is comics we're talking about, when Batman returns, Alfred (somehow) has his hand reattached good as new.
11 EARTH 2 DICK GRAYSON IS PARALYZED
Earth-2 Dick Grayson is a writer with a wife (Barbara Gordon) and a son. He’s happy and has nothing to do with Batman; there’s seemingly no way he becomes a superhero. Then his wife dies, his son goes missing, and during the events of Convergence, he comes into contact with Thomas Wayne, the Batman of Earth-2.
Dick Grayson becomes involved in the multi-dimensional conflict that the alien entity Telos puts all of creation through. Thomas Wayne sacrifices himself to blow up every Batman villain ever, and it’s all set up perfectly for Dick to take on the mantle. At that moment, the Joker shoots him and paralyzes him from the waist down. Telos provides him with an exoskeleton, which he eventually uses to become the next Batman.
10 RAVAGER CUTS OUT HER OWN EYE
Deathstroke may be the world’s deadliest assassin, but he’s also the world’s worst dad. We knew how poorly he treated Grant and Joey, but with Rose he was the most manipulative. In Geoff Johns’ run on Teen Titans in the mid-00’s, Slade Wilson takes his daughter Rose under his wing and trains her to become the next Ravager.
While things initially go well (as well as they really can), Rose fails to meet her father’s impossible expectations when she hesitates to kill her brother Jericho. Desperate to belong to a family, she decides to gouge out her own eye in order to prove to him that she can still be a part of the Wilson family. It’s a startling scene that even Slade sees as going too far.
9 BATGIRL IS PARALYZED BY THE JOKER
In the seminal story Batman: The Killing Joke from 1988, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland have the Joker shoot Barbara Gordon in the stomach in an attempt to drive Commissioner James Gordon mad. Batman must then track down the Joker and rescue Gordon from an abandoned amusement park before the villain can do permanent damage to him.
Unfortunately, as a result of this story, Barbara is left paralyzed from the waist down and is forced to give up her career as Batgirl. Years later, she would take on the identity of the computer genius Oracle, and the Batgirl mantle would be transferred to Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. Oracle would remain in a wheelchair until the New 52 relaunch in 2011.
8 THOR LOSES HIS ARM
Following the events of Original Sin, where Thor becomes unworthy to wield Mjolnir, Odinson attempts to continue his superhero career in Thor #1. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn out too well for him when the axe Jarnbjorn proves to be a poor substitute for his mighty hammer. In battle with Malekith the Accursed and the Frost Giants, Thor has his arm severed with his own weapon and is left to die at the bottom of the ocean.
The new female Thor becomes the wielder of Mjolnir, and it is up to her to defeat Malekith. The original Thor returns with a new metal arm made out of black uru and initially wants his hammer back. After seeing her wield its power, he relinquishes his former title and officially adopts the Odinson moniker.
7 RISK LOSES BOTH ARMS
A former member of the Teen Titans, Risk is called into action, along with the other reserves, to fight Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis #4. Prime goes on a rampage, killing or maiming many of the heroes assembled in front of him. One of them is Cody Driscoll, who has his arm torn clean off from the shoulder. It is later seen in Teen Titans #32 just how close he was to bleeding out.
During the Sinestro Corps War, Superboy Prime returns to Earth as a member of the Sinestro Corps. Risk finds Prime on the battlefield in Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime in order to get his revenge, however, he again proves to be completely outmatched, and he has his other arm ripped off. He hasn’t been seen since, so who knows if he even survived this encounter.
6 VIC STONE BECOMES CYBORG
The very origin of Cyborg involves Victor Stone being maimed beyond belief in this or any other universe after he survived a fateful explosion. In New 52 continuity, Cyborg was created when a Mother Box blew up in Vic’s face during Darkseid’s invasion of the planet. The energy of the device destroys half his body and begins to kill him; however, his father is able to save him with the help of S.T.A.R. Labs technology.
Silas Stone injects his son with advanced nanites and equips him with prosthetic limbs to create the superpowered Cyborg. Horrified at what he has become, he runs off to eventually join the Justice League. Unlike his original origin, this updated story also gives Vic the abilities of a Mother Box, allowing him to teleport.
5 RED ARROW LOSES AN ARM
During James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli’s Justice League: Cry for Justice miniseries from 2009, Green Lantern and Green Arrow create a proactive team to hunt down bad guys and put them behind bars before they can commit crimes. While that may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t exactly work out for anyone, least of all Roy Harper.
In the team’s hunt for Prometheus, the villain infiltrates the Justice League by pretending to be Captain Marvel. When Red Arrow discovers the ruse, Prometheus attacks him and severs his arm. Roy stumbles back to the group a broken and bloody mess before falling unconscious. By the time he wakes up in the hospital, he finds out that his city was blown up and his daughter died in the incident. Roy Harper then lost his mind, so this entire incident was particularly brutal.
4 WOLVERINE IS RIPPED IN HALF
Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, by Damon Lindelof and Leinil Francis Yu, was a six-issue miniseries that took the creators four years to produce. The story tells the epic confrontation between Wolverine and Hulk from the Ultimate line of books. Logan is sent to the Himalayas to assassinate the Hulk on behalf of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Things don’t go too well.
During the battle, the Hulk tears Wolverine in half and throws his legs a few miles away. Issue #1 opens with Logan dragging himself through the snow in search of his lower half. His guts hanging out, it’s quite a show. Over the course of the series, he also loses an eye and at one point is literally just a talking head. This assignment was a bad idea.
3 RED TORNADO IS RIPPED APART
At the beginning of Brad Meltzer’s run on Justice League of America, Red Tornado's soul is tricked by Felix Faust into entering the body of a human instead of his familiar android body. He decides to inhabit a human form in order to be a better man for his family, but it also leaves him weaker than he is normally.
When confronted with an intelligent Solomon Grundy, Red Tornado is no match for the brute strength of the newly-intelligent mastermind. Grundy beats him to a pulp and literally tears him limb from limb, leaving him to die before the Justice League finds him. With the help of Zatanna’s magic, he is able to return to his android body just as his new human body begins to die.
2 DEADPOOL IS EVISCERATED BY AN ELEPHANT
In the opening story of Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan’s Deadpool from 2013, the Presidents of the United States are brought back from the dead and it’s Deadpool’s job to kill them again. In the second issue, the Merc with a Mouth tracks down Teddy Roosevelt, who is in the middle of a hunting trip at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Deadpool tries to make his move against the living dead President, but things go a bit haywire. Long story short, Deadpool gets eviscerated by an elephant's tusk and his guts go flying everywhere. The battle continues, even though he’s stuck on the elephant. Despite the egregious and clearly life-threatening injury, Deadpool heals as good as new in just a few panels.
1 INVINCIBLE IS GUTTED BY CONQUEST
On the brink of the Viltrumite War storyline, the villain Conquest comes to challenge Mark Grayson, aka Invincible, over the control of Earth. Conquest proves to be far more powerful than anyone he has ever fought, but during their second encounter, Invincible is determined to kill him once and for all.
Grabbing hold of his neck, Mark tries to strangle the villain, no matter what. In an attempt to free himself, Conquest manages to punch a hole through the hero’s body and pull out his guts. Invincible doesn't break his hold and finally kills the evil Viltrumite, however, it takes Mark a full 10 months to recover from his wounds. The whole fight looked to be unspeakably painful and incredibly disgusting.
Do you know another time a superhero was maimed? Let us know in the comments.