The life of a superhero is a stressful one: fighting crime, protecting civilians, keeping secrets and even watching your arch nemesis escape time and time again is enough to drive anyone to insanity. It takes a certain type of resilience and courage to fight the good fight, but even superheroes are human… er, sort of. Regardless, it’s understandable, with all the pressure they’re under, that superheroes break from time to time, some more than others. In particular there are quite a few heroes who did more than just break under the pressure, they completely snapped!
Be it due to the pressures of being a crimefighter or because of all the horrible stuff these heroes have gone through — deaths of loved ones, losing their home, rough childhoods, etc. — these superheroes went completely bonkers, some turning evil, others going on rampages of epic proportions. But let’s be honest, superheroes snapping or cracking from the pressure is actually one of the most realistic aspects of superhero comics. After all they go through, all they’ve seen, done or experienced, it makes sense that a superhero’s psyche is always on the verge of breaking. With that, here are 16 superheroes who completely SNAPPED.
15. HAL JORDAN – PARALLAX
Before anyone points it out, yes we know that Hal Jordan’s temporary insanity was retconned in the 2000s. After reintroducing Hal as Earth’s main Green Lantern, his villainous career was rewritten so that he was a victim during the entire ordeal, so to speak. Hal had been possessed by the ancient cosmic entity known as Parallax.
However, before this retcon, comic readers believed their beloved Hal Jordan had gone crazy. After the destruction of Coast City and all of its inhabitants, Hal snapped. He recreated the city with a Power Ring construct, even talking to created versions of his friends and family. After the Guardians of Oa stripped his ring from him for his actions, Hal went even further, stealing the Guardians energy, taking out as many Lanterns as he could (taking each of their rings) and absorbing the energy of the Central Power Battery.
14. HANK PYM – YELLOW JACKET
It’s bad enough that Hank Pym won’t stick to one costume and name, but let’s not forget he also created Ultron. Yes, Ultron, the ever-returning robot baddie who will stop at nothing to destroy the Avengers, maybe you’ve heard of him? Prior to Ultron, however, Hank went through a pretty rough period. After taking up the Yellowjacket moniker, he was kicked off the Avengers for attacking an opponent who had surrendered. This is where things got much, much worse.
Following his suspension from the Avengers, Hank suffered a mental breakdown, rousing up a harebrained scheme to regain his spot on the team. He built a robot, Salvation-1, to defeat the Avengers as a means to show how much the needed him. When Wasp tried to stop him, Hank struck her. This only worsened his situation as he was completely expelled from the Avengers and was divorced by Janet.
Walter Kovacs grew up in an abusive, broken home, and his life was never easy, which explains his psychotic break. When he was, 16 Walter got a job at a dress shop after leaving his abusive home. After hearing that one of the dress shop’s customers was raped and murdered, and that none of her neighbors stopped it, Walter became disgusted by the apathy of others.
Creating the persona of Rorschach, he started fighting crime, helping those when others might look away. At the beginning of his career, Rorschach merely left criminals beaten and tied up, but all that changed after the death of a young girl named Blair Roche. After learning that the killer fed the girl’s remains to his dogs, something snapped in Walter. He killed the dogs and left the killer for dead in a house fire. From that day on, Rorschach murdered criminals.
12. SENTRY / THE VOID
The sometimes forgotten “Superman of Marvel,” Sentry, AKA Robert Reynolds, was once a meth addict who broke into a laboratory and stole an enhanced version of the Super Soldier Serum. The Serum gave Reynolds the power of a million exploding suns and Reynolds quickly adopted the superhero life, becoming known as Sentry. Sentry had a successful career as an optimistic and widely loved superhero, accepted by both the public and fellow heroes. However, that soon changed.
This is where it gets a little convoluted. Basically, there was a split persona within Sentry known as the Void that began to appear within him. Otherwise known as Dark Sentry, the Void is indeed Reynolds’ dark side that came to be as a result of and is powered by his superhuman abilities. It’s not entirely clear how the Void works, but its awakening is definitely counts as a psychotic break for Sentry.
11. THE PLUTONIAN
Another “Superman-like” hero meant to explore the all-mighty type superhero is The Plutonian, the central character of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable. The Plutonian was the world’s greatest superhero, loved by all and a perfect boy-scout type. The Plutonion has a plethora of powers, super strength, super speed, flight, and various other abilities all resulting from his ability to manipulate matter on an atomic level.
As a superhero, The Plutonian dated reporter Alana Patel, but as a civilian, the two were merely coworkers. He went by the name Dan Hartigan, and one day he pulled his peer aside to reveal that he was The Plutonian. Alana was disgusted by the secret and revealed his secret to the news station they worked for. In response, The Plutonian destroyed everyone in the city who knew his secret, snapping from the loss of the love of his life and his revealed identity.
10. JASON TODD – RED HOOD
Towards the end of the “Hush” story arc, it was suggested that Jason Todd was back, somehow alive after dying at the hands (and crowbar) of The Joker in Batman: A Death in the Family. In Judd Winick’s six-issue arc, “Under the Hood”, we find that Jason is indeed alive, and that he’s out to stop Batman’s war on crime by starting one of his own.
After returning to life, Jason wasn’t quite himself, he wandered the streets, lost and without memory or purpose. That is, until Ra’s al Ghul placed him in the Lazarus Pit, healing his body and awakening his memories. One might think this was a good thing, but all Jason’s memories did were remind him that Batman let him down. Out to prove Batman obsolete, Jason dons the Red Hood persona and starts his own anti-hero crusade against crime.
9. CYCLOPS – AVENGERS VS. X-MEN
After the events of Schism, mutant hatred was at an all-time high, and the species was too divided to stand strong against the attacks and discrimination. Cyclops, concerned for his people, began to change; he was a bit more extreme when it came to protecting the mutant race and a bit more violent. Then, at the beginning of Avengers Vs. X-Men, Nova crashed to Earth with a message: The Phoenix was coming.
While the Avengers prepared to combat the cosmic entity, Cyclops saw things a bit differently. He believed that The Phoenix would bring forth a new age of mutants, reinvigorating the species. When Captain America moved to stop The Phoenix, Cyclops responded by blasting him into the ocean. Eventually, the Phoenix Force would take over Scott and four other X-Men which would lead him to kill his mentor, Professor X. Well, that escalated quickly.
8. DARKWING II
In the somewhat satiric superhero world of Invincible, there is a team known as the Guardians of the Globe, a stand-in for/parody of the Justice League. Amongst the Guardians is Darkwing, a powerless vigilante who watches over Midnight City, a city where it’s always nighttime. Darkwing also had a sidekick called Night Boy who would later take over as the second Darkwing.
Midnight City is a dirty, dangerous place where crime runs rampant. The pressure proved to be too much for the second Darkwing, and he snapped. Darkwing began killing any person who committed a crime. No matter how minor the offense, nor if anyone was hurt or not, Darkwing would kill them without mercy. Caught in the act by Invincible, Darkwing II tried to lie his way out before he was stopped and, fortunately, given a second chance after rehabilitation.
7. BARRY ALLEN – BLACK FLASH
The Black Flash is an entity manifested from the Speed Force that acts as the grim reaper for all speedsters. The Black Flash himself can die as well, as shown in Flash: Rebirth when Barry Allen and Wally West encounter his corpse in a field. Even stranger is the fact that two speedsters have disintegrated after touching Barry Allen.
It turns out the Barry was released from the Speed Force to be the new Black Flash. Now this alone doesn’t make Barry crazy, of course, but what he does next shows a significant change in Barry’s usual demeanor. After learning that he is now basically Death to speedsters, Barry avoids his friends and family, running faster than any of them and re-enters the Speed Force. Barry doesn’t act like himself at all, but we’ll forgive him since his mental snap is out of concern for his loved ones.
6. SCARLET WITCH – HOUSE OF M
Now, to be fair, if you had kids, had them taken away, learned that they were just manifestations of a demon’s soul, watched them return to the demon from once they came and then had all memories of them ripped from your mind, you might go a little crazy too. The reason that it’s so much worse when it happens to Wanda Maximoff is because of the fact that she has reality-warping powers.
Of Scarlet Witch’s many mental meltdowns, House of M is perhaps the most well-known. After a boost in her powers, Wanda is targeted by the Avengers and the X-Men as being too dangerous. Before they can kill her, however, she uses her powers to create a reality where everyone has their heart’s desire fulfilled. Even after she’s stopped, she becomes angered with Magneto, and depowers 90% of all mutants. Jeez, talk about overreacting.
5. WONDER WOMAN – THE TRUTH
At the beginning of the DC Rebirth Wonder Woman line, Wonder Woman finds that her memories and her story, is constantly changing. And she’s right. After The New 52, the Rebirth Wonder Woman is now one of many incarnations of the character. Now though, it seems she’s become aware of the changes.
In the recent story arc “The Truth,” Wonder Woman finds her ever-changing background to be too much. She learns that her memories of The New 52 never happened, she was never the Queen of Themyscira, never took the God of War mantle and never returned to her home after leaving. She also learned she could never return to Paradise Island. All of these factors led to Wonder Woman’s mental breakdown and she seeks professional help, as implied by the cover of “The Truth: Part 1.”
4. THE HULK – PLANET HULK
The Hulk is basically the embodiment of losing it. Think about it: he gets pushed over an edge and then turns into a monster. However, there was a time when this went even further. We are of course talking about “The Green Scar,” of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. This was a persona created by The Hulk while enslaved and forced to fight on planet Sakaar.
After breaking free and liberating the other gladiators, The Hulk created a new home on Sakaar, finding love along the way. However, the Hulk’s love and his new home were both destroyed by the ship he was sent in. Blaming the heroes who banished him, the Hulk was so enraged that he returned to Earth and released a power said to be “world-breaking.” He wanted to destroy the heroes he thought responsible, but stopped after seeing just how dangerous he was.
3. BATMAN – THE KILLING JOKE
Though you could very easily consider Batman already crazy, he for sure snaps at the end of The Killing Joke. The Killing Joke is surrounded in controversy, both in its treatment of Barbara Gordon and because it’s never clear if the story is canon or not. Regardless, when Barbara Gordon is brutally assaulted and injured by The Joker, Batman makes it his mission to stop The Joker.
This alone is a snapping of sorts, since instead of wanting to beat up The Joker, Batman tries to appeal to the psychopath, attempting to help The Joker rather than defeat him. Clearly he’s too tired of the cat and mouse game they play and want this madness to end, one way or another. Then, at the end, The Joker tells a joke (surprise) that actually makes Batman laugh. The two burst out into laughter together, showing Batman has momentarily lost it.
Wolverine already has a long history of going berserk. In fact, it’s his special move in Marvel vs. Capcom. But there was a time when he experienced a lasting psychotic break. After Magneto ripped the adamantium from his bones, Logan’s healing factor began to run rampant. Since adamantium is a poisonous metal, Wolverine’s healing factor was slowed as it combatted the foreign substance.
With the adamantium gone, Logan’s healing factor was no longer stunted and his natural mutation would further progress. This led to him turning into a feral beast of a man. His hair grew longer, he grew fangs and claws and his body grew stronger. It wasn’t just appearance that changed, Wolverine’s mind began to regress, he was essentially turning into an animal. Wolverine tried to fight this change, but struggled, hurting and killing others as he tried hold on to his humanity.
Superman is kind of the worst. Seriously, he’s the worst friend to Jimmy Olsen, he’s crossed the line A LOT and it’s pretty clear that his whole “incorruptible boy scout” image is all talk. There’s quite a few examples of Superman snapping and just going crazy on villains, and sometimes on fellow heroes.
A great example is when he lobotomized Manchester Black. He had enough of his crap and just fired lasers into his brain until he short-circuited Black’s powers. Alternate versions of Superman aren’t much better, either. The Red Son version used brain implants to “change the minds” of those who opposed him, Superman Prime just straight up kills everyone all the time and the Injustice version of Superman killed The Joker, Green Arrow and a long list of other heroes and villains. Seriously, Supes needs therapy.
Did we miss any other moments when heroes lost their minds? Let us know in the comments section right now!
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