Ever since the OG David ganked Goliath — the biggest Biblical douche next to the Flood — with a sexy piece of leather underwear, stories of gigantic jerks getting humiliated has been one of the cornerstones of civilization. Humiliation is the life-blood of reality television, that shame-bell nun from Game of Thrones (Septa Unella) and cosplay for dogs. There’s something cathartic about watching douchebags get precisely what they deserve, to see the evil and powerful reduced to an awkward Ashlee Simpson lip-synch-shuffle. Maybe it’s because karma gives some semblance of order and control in a chaotic world. Maybe we just like seeing terrible people fall face-first into a steaming hot pile of misfortune, forever trapped in a Mobius loop of hubris, schadenfreude and failure — not unlike some sort of proverbial Milli Vanilli record of destiny.
Whether you can’t believe that a douchebag character has managed to escape justice yet again, or you’ve spent all day praying for true karmic relief, you’re in the need of someone getting their comeuppance in comic book format. Have no fear, for we scrounged up 15 of the most satisfying instances of comic book douchebags reaping some well-sowed crow… No, you can’t sew birds together, we were just combining colloquialisms. Whatever, let’s roll out the karma!
15. JOHNNY QUICK VS. CAPTAIN COLD
Take the somewhat cocky Flash and turn him evil and you get Johnny Quick, the fastest douchebag this side of Earth-3, from Forever Evil by Geoff Johns and David Finch. Quick corners Cold, snatching Cold’s ramshackle cold-gun. Boasting that he’s already killed Earth-3 Leonard Snart, Quick mocks Earth-1 Snart for utilizing a “lame-ass freeze-gun,” which is useless if you don’t have your finger on the trigger.
Cold makes two things clear: First, that’s a cold-gun in Johnny’s hand, which literally stops atoms. Second, if your power-set is based around a sci-fi gun that’s no longer a part of your DNA, you best invest in a voice-activated trigger. With a “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” Cold glaciates Johnny’s thigh before shattering it with a kick. This is Captain Cold at his coldest, having zero respect for this “Mirror, Mirror” Flash.
14. SLAPSTICK VS. TASKMASTER
Taskmaster is your de-facto badass villain for hire, fighting The Avengers to a stand-still single-handedly, training practically every henchman ever and even being the last non-Man-Thing standing against Deadpool in Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe. In the end, none of this matters, as Taskmaster’s fight with Slapstick in Deadpool #7 by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker basically undoes all of the pirate-mercenary’s prestigious combat history in the blink of an eye.
If you find Deadpool insufferable, then you’ll just love Slapstick, who has the power of magic cartoon gloves. Getting frustrated while fighting ridiculousness incarnate to impress his ex-girlfriend, Taskmaster uses his photographic reflexes to copy Slapstick’s cartoon-fu in dodging an attack, only to realize that Slapstick has a cartoon anatomy. Tasky pulls a Bane, snapping his own spine in trying to copy the power-set of the lamest clown in comics.
13. MOONSTONE VS. TIGRA
While escorting Tigra into custody in Avengers: The Initiative #25 (2009) by Christos Gage and Humberto Ramos, Moonstone, the former supervillain but then-current Dark Avenger, laments on the frustrations with her new Ms. Marvel alias. Typically, Moonstone’s moonstone generates her costume Green Lantern-style, so Karla can’t help but complain that despite Ms. Marvel supposedly being a feminist, the booty-shorts from her throwback costume — Moonstone’s current uniform — constantly ride up.
Though she is outclassed, Tigra gives Moonstone another costume calamity to complain about, throwing a heaving slash at Moonstone’s chest before making a break for it. Nonplussed thanks to super-endurance, Moonstone gives chase, only to be mobbed by paparazzi. Realizing that her costume is damaged and that her, uh, twin moons are out, Moonstone hastily retreats to Avengers Tower, barking at Norman Osborn to send someone else. Albeit underhanded, Tigra just won via wardrobe malfunction.
12. LONGSTRIKE’S FIRST MISSION
The de-powered mutant formerly known as Tattoo from The Omega Gang, Christine Cord steps into a customized set of Stilt-Man armor and joins The New Warriors as Longstrike. Despite only being trained for, like, a week by Jubilee in a Murder-World repurposed as a Danger Room, the New Warriors become overconfident on their first mission against The New Zodiac in New Warriors #4 (2007) by Kevin Grevioux and Paco Medina.
Boasting that she’s finally gotten the hang of her Stilt-Man armor, Longstrike fulfills the prophecy of anyone who have ever stepped into a set of Stilt-Man armor by brutally dying in a humiliating fashion in record time, specifically at the claw-hands of Cancer on live television. Wait, that sounded horrible — that’s Cancer, the most ambiguously crab-themed super-villainess ever, who has pincers but also disintegration Voldemort-death-ray powers, for some reason.
11. THOR VS. RED HULK
Red Hulk introduced himself to the Marvel Universe by being stupidly overpowered. Though he be unworthy, Red Hulk is able to beat Thor with Mjolnir and loopholes in Hulk #5 (2008) by Jeph Loeb. First, while Thor has his hand through Mjolnir’s leather loop, Red Hulk grabs the hammer by the head, leaping into space and the second loophole. Apparently, Odin’s magic is worthless in zero gravity, so Red Hulk easily beats Thor with his own hammer. Even when Thor manages to land some hammer-strikes, Red Hulk shrugs it off.
Later, Red Hulk is assigned to work with Thor, who reintroduces himself with some yellow-blood-letting hammer-hits in Hulk #26 (2010) by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman. Thor asks if Red Hulk wants to try his zero gravity loophole again, releasing Mjolnir into Red Hulk’s hands and staking him to the ground.
10. THE PUNISHER VS. MOLLY HAYES
Joss Whedon hates The Punisher. He just does, referring to him as a “coward” in an issue of Wizard and further elaborating in Entertainment Weekly: “Here’s why I’m not running Marvel: If I was, I would kill The Punisher. I don’t believe in what he does.” So, when The Runaways run into Castle in Josh Whedon’s Runaways #26 (2007) with art by Michael Ryan, The Punisher is absolutely humiliated.
Given The Punisher’s notoriety for taking out supervillains, the nine-year-old Molly Hayes — the cutest non-saurian member of The Runaways — erroneously assumes that The Punisher must have super-endurance, or at the very least isn’t just some guy in a skull shirt. With one super-strength enhanced punch to the gut, Molly knocks The Punisher unconscious. After knocking out the most lethal hero, Molly proceeds to take a nap — no big deal.
9. PLASTIQUE VS. FIRESTORM
Plastique makes her explosive introduction in The Fury of Firestorm #7 (1982) by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick, holding the publishing headquarters of The New York News Express — fictional New York’s fourth biggest newspaper — hostage. Plastique has her hostages broadcast her demand for the News Express paper mill to be shut down in Quebec in 30 minutes, even though sawdust is a common ingredient in explosives.
Screaming “Death is my weapon — and my lover!” Plastique triggers her explosive-laced costume, telling Firestorm that they have six awkward seconds until it detonates. Firestorm tackles this Quebecois calamity pragmatically, transmuting the cloth parts of Plastique’s costume into air so that he can grab the explosives. All that remains is a naked Plastique in a room full of the fourth estate, who find this hostage situation hilarious. An oddly excited Professor Stein grades Ronnie’s performance: “Ronald, that was cruel. Brilliant, but cruel!”
8. THOR VS. IRON MAN
In Thor #3 (2007) by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel, Thor summons Iron Man to discuss Stark’s utilization of a Thor clone during Civil War. Later renamed Ragnarok, this grotesque homunculus killed Thor’s fellow heroes for the sake of The Superhuman Registration Act while bearing Thor’s likeness. Tony wastes no time telling Thor to register, before Thor explains that he specifically invited Tony to a locale where Thor wouldn’t have to worry about collateral damage.
Thor proceeds to whoop Iron Man with armor-disabling lightning strikes and crumpling hammer-swings, while nothing in Iron Man’s arsenal can damage The Odinson. After ruining Tony’s armor and delivering an ultimatum to never attempt to command a God of Thunder, Thor begins to leave. Spared from the fatal fury of the Thunder God, Tony asks if Thor would mind flying him back to base. Thor’s reply? “Walk.”
7. RED HULK VS. THE WATCHER
Red Hulk solidifies himself as an overpowered douche by assaulting Uatu The Watcher in Hulk #4 (2008) by Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness and Chris Giarruso. It should be impossible to surprise The Watcher, since Uatu has literally seen everything — with the exception of his own murder. Red Hulk, however, is inexplicably able to both interrupt, and then viciously beat on the kind, giant-headed voyeur.
You have to understand, while The Watcher claims he cannot interfere, he interferes constantly. Therefore, when Uatu appears before a Red Hulk marooned on an asteroid plummeting towards a blackhole in Hulk #26 (2010) by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman, know that Uatu can totally save Red Hulk. Instead, Uatu — whose mere presence technically counts as interference — informs Red Hulk that he is totally about to die, almost smiling before tacking on: “Sadly I am forbidden to intervene, for I am… The Watcher.”
6. THE FALL OF IRON PATRIOT
Norman Osborn’s “Dark Reign” reaches a satisfying conclusion during Siege by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel. Osborn mobilizes his Avengers and hoodwinks the literal God of War to lead a televised, treasonous invasion of Asgard that goes FUBAR. Osborn, “The Prince of P.R.,” loses his composure as he takes some blows from Captain America, stammering as his Iron Patriot armor is compromised.
Norman goes full goblin, screeching as everyone watching this failed siege (fully televised at Osborn’s insistence) discovers that Norman has been wearing Green Goblin face-paint under his armor. This isn’t war-paint, but the crude sort of face-paint one would get at a particularly nerdy child’s birthday party, complete with teeth. Spider-Man performs the coup de grace, clocking Norman while saying “Oh will you shut up already!” Honestly, you can’t humiliate Norman Osborn and not let Spidey get a lick in.
5. PETER PARKER VS. THE KINGPIN
With Aunt May comatose, Spider-Man swaps out the quips for a black costume and web-shooters running low on damns in The Amazing Spider-Man #541-542 by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney. The Kingpin, orchestrator of May’s shooting while incarcerated at Ryker’s Island, asks the guards to open every cell and look the other way, in addition to a suit.
With the entire cellblock in attendance, Fisk delivers a speech on how Spidey is a chump. Spider-Man however, strips down to establish that this is Peter Parker, not Spider-Man, who is about to kill The Kingpin. Fisk can’t land a single hit as Peter proceeds to delivers a dazzling one-sided whooping. The Kingpin “dies” a death of a thousand spider-slaps, as Peter shatters whatever reputation Fisk had. Peter promises that if Aunt May dies, he’ll make Fisk choke on his web fluid.
4. THE PUNISHER VS. THE SHOCKER
A five-way gang-war has erupted in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17 by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber, with The Punisher rolling up for easy pickings. When you’re a super-villain, no one is a bigger douchebag than The Punisher, who pragmatically demands: “Form an orderly line.” This orgy of violence comprised of ninjas, gangsters and Tombstone is unsure how to react — until the Shocker comes barreling in on his Shocker-Mobile screaming “DON’T MOCK THE SHOCKER!” — referencing his whip’s first appearance. Shocker sends Punisher flying, Team Rocket style, with one vibro-blast.
The five families are so dumbfounded by how Shocker — the frequent bladder-spasm suffering sad-sack in a quilted costume– managed to take out The Punisher so effortlessly and without hesitation that no one objects when the head of Silvio Silvermane declares Shocker to be the new head of the mob.
3. BATMAN VS. GUY GARDNER
Guy Gardner spends the bulk of Justice League International reminding us that he should be in charge, never wasting an opportunity to challenge Batman’s authority and/or insult everybody. Initially, Batman can keep Guy in check with a stern “Sit. Down.” Guy doesn’t learn, however, challenging Batman to trial by combat in Justice League International #5 (1987) by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis.
So, we have Guy Gardner, the patron saint of douchebags, issued a willpower-fueled space-police gun for being such an exceptional douche, taking off his Green Lantern ring to fight a guy in a cape. This should be a curb-stomp fight — and it is! With one punch, “One punch!!” to quote Blue Beetle, Batman knocks Guy out instantly in front of almost the entire League. Black Canary is upset however, as she walked in too late to see Batman deck Guy.
2. DOCTOR DOOM VS. SQUIRREL GIRL
Trapped with Squirrel Girl in Dr. Doom’s flying saucer, Iron Man abandons all hope in Marvel Super Heroes #8 (1992) by Steve Ditko and Will Murray, before Doreen summons some squirrels. This doomful dray overloads Dr. Doom’s machinations with their fluffiness, disabling Doom’s armor by gnawing on it. Doom begs to any higher power listening: “NOT LIKE THIS!” This is Dr. Doom, the man who has mastered science, magic and once the devil, terrified that Squirrel Girl is the form of Doom’s destroyer.
Doom panics, getting his cloak caught in a trapdoor before huffing it on foot through the forest. Doom dives into a river, abandoning his mask just to escape a teenager. Triumphant after her very first fight, Doreen gives Doom’s mask to Iron Man in a manner not unlike giving a caught baseball to a toddler, technically making this Iron Man’s most embarrassing moment of sobriety.
1. SUPERMAN VS. ALFRED PENNYWORTH
After snapping Batman’s spine in the Batcave, Superman believes there is no one left to oppose him in Injustice #36 by Tom Taylor and Mark S. Miller. Alfred Pennyworth, however, announces his arrival with a glorious gentleman’s head-butt, revealing that he’s ingested a super-power enhancing pill. Tired of watching his family suffer, Alfred declares no more, delivering a face-kick with such force that his shoe disintegrates. After beating Superman’s face until it craters into the floor, Alfred composes himself, walking away with Bruce in tow.
Whether it’s because we rarely see the gentleman butler lose his cool, or because Injustice Superman is such a douche, witnessing Batman’s combination combat-medic, confidant and father figure just absolutely wreck The Man of Steel is one of the most cathartic moments in comics. If anything, we’re suddenly upset that Alfred wasn’t a playable character in the Injustice game.
What’s your favorite moment of karmic retribution in comics? Did we overlook another comic book douchebag getting their comeuppance? Let us know in the comics!
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