Two things can usually be expected when reading a comic book story: a hero and a villain. Of course, when we think of villains, we generally assume they want to cause death and destruction, to commit atrocious acts of violence. Meanwhile, we think the hero does the other thing: saves the day with non-violent righteousness. But that isn’t always the case.
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We forget that comic book heroes are just as capable of violence as their opposite numbers, and sometimes come across as even hungrier for bloodshed than their infamous villains. Just take a look at the list below; these cases-in-point are heroes whose taste for justice have twisted, turned and soured into a lust for bloody vengeance.
Being the best he is at what he does, the most obviously bloodthirsty hero is Marvel’s one and only Wolverine. He first appeared in “Incredible Hulk” #180, bearing his claws and boldly snarling at the Hulk, so a little violent streak was to be expected. While the next issue didn’t actually contain an epic fight, Wolverine would more than make up for that lacklustre appearance over the next few years.
With Logan’s uncontrolled rage, several powerful villains and some heroes have met their violent deaths and/or dismemberments at the end of his deadly adamantium claws. The “Old Man Logan” story arc, for example, saw him burst out of a tyrannical Hulk, and also showed us how he could completely eviscerate the X-Men. He’s certainly no stranger to violence, but where others like Captain America might show a little restraint, you’ll get no such mercy from Wolverine. Considering he’s more than a hundred years old, it’s been speculated that he’s killed thousands throughout his time on this earth, on top of the multitudes he’s killed in the pages of comics.
She swings around two Okinawan sai, she’s mastered a wide variety of weapons and she’s a trained ninja assassin, so she’s bound to have some blood on her hands. Of course, you might have guessed that after hearing that she was created by Frank Miller, known for graphic novels like “Sin City” and “300,” both of which are violent as hell.
Elektra’s violent nature stems from quite a dark past. In Marvel’s “Elektra: Assassin” #1 (written by Miller), it was revealed that she’d been self-harming as a means to cope with haunting voices and doubts over vague memories of abuse. She also witnessed her father’s death, she’s been killed multiple times and there’s doubt as to whether the psychotherapy that was supposed to give her some sense of stability ever actually worked. That anger and turmoil manifests in the violence, blood and gore she leaves behind her in her comic series, like the slew of S.H.I.E.L.D agents she slaughtered (though had no memory of), for example, before killing a hitwoman and the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who put a bounty on her head in “Dark Reign: Elektra” #5 (written by Zeb Wells and illustrated by Clay Mann, Mark Pennington and Matt Hollingsworth).
14. HIT GIRL
Don’t be fooled by the eleven year old girl you see before you. From an even early age, Mindy McCready was trained to be a lethal assassin with a heart of stone. Since her first appearance in Icon’s “Kick-Ass” #3 (written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita Jr.), we’ve come to know Mindy as a foul-mouthed violent little superhero, the yin to Kick-Ass’ yang. Where she teaches David Lizewski to live up to the name of his alter-ego, David tries to teach her how to just be a “10 and ¼” year old girl. Because of her violent nature, that’s not always easy.
In “Hit-Girl” #3 (written by Millar with artwork by John Romita Jr.), we see Mindy taze her bully, Debbie Foreman, before dangling her over the edge of a recycling facility and allowing the terrified Debbie to fall straight into a passing garbage truck. That’s actually the least violent thing Hit Girl has done to an enemy, so it’s no wonder the character has stirred controversy in both her comic books and subsequent film adaptations, though controversy for the latter was more focused on her constant cursing and not the trail of broken corpses she left behind, weirdly enough.
Next on the list is the Thanagarian with an ancient soul, bashing his way through his enemies with his Nth metal armor and various medieval weapons. He first appeared in “Flash Comics” #1 (written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Harry Lampert) and while over the years the DC universe has changed quite a lot, Hawkman’s terrible violent streak hasn’t. He’s got quite a temper and it shows in the mess he leaves behind. Even in his appearance in 1940’s “All Star Comics” #1, he was seen defeating the sorcerer Trygg by destroying his lair with an explosion while the sorcerer and his assistant Beldame were still inside.
This is one superhero any villain definitely wouldn’t want to cross, because unlike most heroes, there’s a huge chance villains will not walk away. It’s undeniable that Hawkman has little to no regard for human life, which often puts him into conflict with members of the Justice League, at one point battling Green Arrow due to differing views on how best to handle villains.
12. BLACK ADAM
If you thought that was harsh, just take a look at this next DC superhuman claiming to fight for justice. Son of Rameses II, this ancient Egyptian dictator was imbued with the powers of the gods by the high priest, Shazam. Betrayed and corrupted by the high priest’s own daughter, Teth-Adam became Black Adam and was buried, only to be discovered and unleashed upon the world a thousand years later by the unknowing archaeologist, Theo Adam.
Black Adam does not shy away from violence; in fact, he constantly uses it to intimidate his foes or make a point. That earned him the distrust of almost every superhero in the “52” series, after he very literally tore the villain Terra Man in half in front of the press as an example of his stance (and by association his country, Kahndaq’s position) on crime. That’s not even the worst of it. While enraged by the death of his beloved wife, Isis and her brother, Osiris, he massacred the nation of Bialya, just for being associated with the forces that stole the lives of his family. In doing so, he single-handedly began World War III.
Like all superheroes, Midnighter fights for justice and peace. What sets him apart from the rest is that he genuinely enjoys the violence and bloodshed in fighting crime. He was first introduced in “Stormwatch Vol.2” #4 (written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Brian Hitch), along with his partner in heroism and romance, Apollo. He has limited precognitive abilities (a computer in his brain analyzes every fight he gets into, telling him all the different ways to win), he’s incredibly fast and strong. He also has regenerative abilities, which come in handy, since he never shies away from dangerous situations and always seems to have everything under control. Many have said that he’s basically Batman, but with superpowers… and a great love of killing.
The best example of just how violent Midnighter can comfortably get can be found in “The Authority” #16 (written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Frank Quitely, Trevor Scott and David Baron). After the implied assault and sodomy committed against Apollo by The Commander, Apollo and Midnighter take down The Americans in the most brutal way possible. At one point, he smashes someone’s head clean off with a stick and the whole thing ends with Midnighter standing over The Commander with a jackhammer to inflict a terrible retribution. If you’re not crossing him, however, he’s actually quite compassionate and has a very soft and sweet side. So don’t cross him.
10. RED HOOD (JASON TODD)
Within the realm of DC’s Batman-esque characters without the limit of his one rule, we find Red Hood with Jason Todd beneath the crimson helmet. Even when he was Robin, Jason was angry and lived in a moral grey area. He fought for justice, certainly, but his kind differed greatly from that of his mentor, Batman. This was most notable in “Batman” #422 (written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by Mark Bright, Steve Mitchell and Anthony Tollin), wherein Robin hunts down and sees the murder of a serial rapist who had diplomatic immunity. We never really find out whether or not Todd actually did push him off that balcony, but given all he’s done to date, we can make an educated guess in the affirmative.
In other comics, he’s seen wielding guns and trying to hunt down the Bat-family, essentially because Bruce never avenged Todd’s death, his return from which drove him insane. Generally, though, having taken advice and resources from Talia Al Ghul, Todd’s aim is to strike a more adamant fear into the hearts of Gotham’s underworld, and he has rejoined Batman’s most-trusted ranks as an ally. With his tendency to solve problems with blood, though, he’s best described by Ra’s Al Ghul who called him a curse upon the world.
As we’ve seen, sometimes wearing a mask can bring out the more savage side of a crime-fighter. The mask and all its anonymity might engulf the person beneath it, making him or her all the more fierce (sort of like a Twitter handle). That’s essentially what happened to Rorschach, as we can see when he refers to the ever changing ink blots as his real face in Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” series, published by DC.
Rorschach sees the world around him in black and white, which leads him to do some extremely brutal things to decidedly evil people. The best evidence of his extremely violent streak is when he’s locked in prison, surrounded by people he put away and every single one of them wants to kill him. One of them tries and immediately gets hot oil thrown in his face, while another is outright murdered. Then we’re given his interview with the prison psychiatrist to whom he admits incinerating dogs and their murderer/kidnapper owner, going into detail and revealing that he watched the fire for hours. That’s the crazy kind of vengeance you can’t just wave away.
8. THE COMEDIAN
Rorschach wasn’t the only ultra-violent superhero in the “Watchmen” series. Eddie Blake, also known as The Comedian, is guilty of quite a lot, some of which wasn’t done in the name of justice or doing the right thing. He just had a temper and didn’t value human life, which is what led to him shooting a Vietnamese woman he’d impregnated after she scratches him in the face.
In fact, in “Before Watchmen: Minutemen” #1, it was revealed that before becoming a costumed vigilante, Blake had a long record of criminal activity, none of which he seems to be trying to make up for. Then there’s the reason he was kicked out of the Minutemen group: after a photo shoot, he tries to get Sally Jupiter to sleep with him. When she rejects his advances, he violently assaults her, though he’s stopped and beaten by Hooded Justice. This vile character isn’t part of superhero team because he believes in it, but because he loves the violence that goes with it. This is one ‘hero’ who needed to die.
7. RED HULK
Marvel’s Hulk is the embodiment of pure rage. However, he just wants to be left alone. Red Hulk on the other hand, isn’t as simple. Thaddeus Ross first appeared as the Red Hulk in 2008’s “Hulk” #1 (written by Jeph Loeb with artwork by Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines and Jason Keith), though his true identity wasn’t revealed until later. We find that he became Red Hulk with the aid of A.I.M and Intelligencia in order to fight Hulk. Unlike Hulk, Ross maintains his mind, although that doesn’t seem to help. Thaddeus Ross is generally just a violent person.
When his daughter was getting married to Bruce Banner, seemingly cured of the Hulk in “Incredible Hulk” #319 (written by John Byrne with artwork by Byrne, Keith Williams and Andy Yanchus), he entered the venue wielding guns and making threats. When Rick Jones attempted to stop him, Ross shot Jones (don’t worry, there’s a happy ending there). As Red Hulk, Ross has destroyed an entire S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier with everyone on board; he’s even punched Uatu the Watcher in the face, just for trying to watch his fight against the original Hulk! Yes, he’s an Avenger, but a hero? Not exactly.
Though he was introduced to us as Spider-Man’s greatest foe in “Amazing Spider-Man” #300, Venom was more crazed and misguided, rather than actually evil. Aside from fighting the wall-crawler, Eddie Brock used the power of the symbiote to become a lethal protector of the innocent. It was something the symbiote continued to do even after forcibly leaving Eddie Brock. As an anti-hero, the monstrous symbiote found a way to save people and sate its appetite for blood. During Flash Thompson’s brief period as Venom, the symbiote devoured Flag Smasher’s arm during the rescue of Yusuf Kassim in “Amazing Spider-Man” #654.1. There was also the murder of Angelo Fortunato, an act committed by the symbiote which allowed Angelo to fall to his death, just because it saw him as being weak.
While Venom has worked with many superheroes to save lives, it’s pretty safe to say that Venom has destroyed or ended more lives than he’s saved. Interestingly, the symbiote’s species — the Klyntar — were recently revealed as being not just non-violent, but actual protectors in space, though easily manipulated once attached to the destructive power of the human ego. So you have to ask, who was the true bad influence in Venom’s various relationships?
Considering this character was DC’s reply to Marvel’s Wolverine and Punisher, it would be silly to expect anything other than the most ridiculous displays of violence and bloodlust from Lobo: The Main man. Being a galactic bounty hunter, this Czarnian really only has one rule: he keeps his promises to the letter. That’s exactly as confining as it sounds… which is to say, not at all. He’s free to indulge his sadistic nature by carving a path of destruction through his enemies and contracts.
Lobo is the last of the Czarnians. That might sound tragic, but in “Lobo” #0 it was revealed Lobo unleashed a host of flying scorpions upon Czarnia and single-handedly annihilated the population of the planet. Why? For fun! If that somehow doesn’t persuade you of how bloodthirsty he is, remember that when he died and went to heaven (yes, that heaven) “Lobo’s Back” #4 (written by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant, illustrated by Christian Alamy and Daniel Vozzo), he massacred everyone there and was subsequently banished. Hell didn’t want him so he’s essentially trapped on Earth forever, unable to die even if his incredible regenerative abilities fail him.
Speaking of regenerative abilities, our beloved Deadpool actually began as a supervillain in “New Mutants” #98 (written by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicienza, illustrated by Liefeld and Steve Buccellato). Over the years, he’s grown far more over the top and violent (and as a result, more popular). He’s immortal and is really neither a hero nor a villain, meaning he’s free to indulge himself in violence, especially since he’s completely aware that he’s a fictional character and none of the blood and gore really matters. That applies even when that blood and gore is his own, like in “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” #1 (written by Cullen Bunn with artwork by Salva Espin and Veronica Gandini), when he killed alternate universe versions of himself violently and on a whim.
Of course, there’s that time he killed everyone in the Marvel Universe, too, in “Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe” (written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Dalibor Talajic and Lee Loughridge). Heads are separated from shoulders, bodies impaled on street signs and what was it all for? The voice in his head told him to. That’s one way to end crime.
From the depths of hell and the imagination of Todd McFarlane (which incidentally may be the same place) comes a hero unlike any other. Arguably more powerful than most comic book superheroes, Spawn’s power does have a certain usage limit, but his rage doesn’t seem to be so restrained. He’s been to hell and back, and been caught in a war between its forces and the forces of Heaven. Generally, he doesn’t really take a side and can usually be found in dark alleys and dangerous situations. Sometimes he does good things and helps people, but most of the time he’s just venting his anger. Seeing as how he lost everything and everyone he loves, he’s got a lot of anger to vent. As you might expect of someone given the power of hell, it’s made him pretty violent.
Take, for instance, his battle against Thamuz, grand master of torture and someone who now probably regrets torturing Al. During the “Armageddon” storyline, a more angelic Spawn encounters Thamuz as the latter is rampaging on Earth, as part of Satan and Mammon’s apocalyptic plot. Spawn swiftly defeats Thamuz by punching his face clean off, killing the demon. He just wasn’t cut out for being an angelic being, we guess. Though afterwards, his face was pretty… holy.
Marvel’s Frank Castle lost his family in an ill-fated visit to the park where a gangland war took place. That moment birthed the Punisher, a ruthless anti-hero who will use any means necessary to ensure that bad guys stay down. That’s what makes him bloodthirsty: his philosophy. Essentially, he believes that if he lets some murderer get away, he’s responsible for the next life they take. It has made him deeply cynical and dark, putting him at odds with other superheroes in the Marvel Universe.
For example, in “Civil War” #6 (written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell), when Goldbug and the Plunderer humbly offer their aid for Anti-Reg forces, the supervillains are immediately gunned down in cold blood by Punisher, who seems confused by the angered reaction he receives. But the best example of his need for violence is in “Secret Wars” #1 when he visits a room full of villains and promises to rain bullets upon them, even though the world around them all was about to end. There was no point to it, but he was going to kill them anyway; not because it was necessary, but because he had to.
Marvel’s half-vampire vampire hunter is probably the most literally bloodthirsty hero on this list, even if his victims are generally vampires, the immortal lives of which Blade clearly does not value very highly. It all began with his hunt for Dracula. Sure, he was always pretty dark, having killed vampire children in “Marvel Preview” #8 (written by Doug Moench with artwork by Sonny Trinidad). Over time, he grew even more ruthless in his methods, and you’ll often see him depicted wielding various weaponry drenched in blood, reflecting how he’s also grown to care less about saving lives, and more about killing.
We can’t forget that he even spends Christmas surrounded by death, like that time he went toe to toe with Santa Claus! Okay, it wasn’t really Santa, but it did end with some jolly-looking demon losing a lot of blood in “Blade” #4 (written by Marc Guggenheim with art by Howard Chaykin), as he stood atop a pile of dead bodies, the only one still standing.
Who do you think is the most bloodthirsty hero? Let us know in the comments!
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