Overkill comes in many forms. Sometimes, characters in question are just notoriously hard to kill, thus necessitating an excessive execution. Sometimes, you just have to give a character the full clip, chuck your empty weapon at them, feed their body to an alligator, feed that alligator to a shark, feed that shark to a bear, then jettison that bear backwards in time to the happiest day of that character’s life — because they totally had it coming. No matter the reason, whether you’re hiding from Jason Voorhees, tweaking out on some high-quality War Boy chrome, or just poured a Red Bull into a goblet forged out of the face-bones of your enemies, you’re well aware that there is no kill like overkill.
Entries on this listicle are sporadically ranked based on the relative amount of overkill utilized, as well as the overall theatricality of the overkill in question. Unfortunately, we’re focusing solely on comics, so that one guy from Game of Thrones who went flying over The Wall when hit by a Giant Arrow does not qualify. Otherwise, throw on “Rasputin” by Boney M., because we’re here to satisfy that bacchanal bloodlust with 15 of the most gloriously over the top and intricate instances of comics overloaded with overkill.
True to the legend, Hellboy’s incarnation of Rasputin is notoriously hard to kill in “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction” by Mike Mignola and John Bryne. Murdering a Russian mystic proves to be a team-building experience, as everyone gets to lend a hand. First, Abe Sapien nails Rasputin right through the pentagram with a harpoon. Next, pyrokinetic Liz Sherman torches Rasputin’s crib, Cavendish Hall, setting the ancient wizard ablaze. Rasputin still finds the energy to taunt Hellboy that he will never learn about his true past. Hellboy is all whatever about it, crushing Rasputin’s burning skull with The Right Hand of Doom.
Death isn’t the end for Rasputin, as his ghost lives on to annoy Hellboy. Funny enough, the only mark that Rasputin bears from his death is a flaming hole in his chest, a constant reminder of that one awesome time he got harpooned by a gentleman merman.
14. THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE
Stubborn as ever in the face of death, Damian Wayne proves himself to be the son of the Bat with his unflappable spirit in “The Boy Wonder Returns” from Batman, Incorporated #8 (2013) by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Jason Masters. The form of Damian’s destroyer is Heretic, Damian’s clone brother and would-be successor in The League of Shadows. Heretic was born into overkill, augmented with superhuman abilities and trained for metahuman murder since birth, which involved Heretic punching his way out of a blue whale.
Despite Heretic’s augmentations, it’s Damian who proves to be hard to kill, refusing to quit against his mother’s monster. Riddled with bullets, arrows, a Bane-worthy back-breaker and super punches, Damian still fights on, spitting blood into Heretic’s face. Even when impaled on Heretic’s sword, Damian can’t help but suck his teeth at his own demise.
In the quote-unquote realistic Punisher Max Universe, the closest Frank Castle comes to fighting a supervillain is his antithesis, Barracuda. Since his introduction in Punisher MAX #31 (2006) by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov, Barracuda has survived nigh-inhuman levels of punishment. Here are the bullet points: fingers on left hand severed, then fed to seagulls; custom gold teeth knocked out; eye stabbed out; strangled with barbed wire; testicles electrocuted for an hour with a car battery; skull bashed with a wrench; nose broken; nose ripped off with a hammer; shot in the chest; and then, a car exploded on top of him.
To actually kill Barracuda in Punisher MAX #54, Frank has to hack off Barracuda’s left hand and right forearm before plunging an axe into his chest. Finally, Frank unloads a full Ak-47 clip into Barracuda — 30 rounds — just to be safe.
12. THAT YELLOW BASTARD
Coming in from the eponymous “Sin City: That Yellow Bastard” by Frank Miller, That Yellow Bastard gets everything that he deserves and more. After detective John Hartigan stops Senator Rourke’s son, Junior, from harming nine-year-old Nancy Callihan by shooting off his ear, hand and junk, Senator Rourke frames Hartigan, imprisoning him for eight years. When Hartigan is released he returns to finish the job, as through the horrors of medical science, Junior was able to grow back all of his bits, albeit now with a yellow complexion.
After stabbing Junior, Hartigan snaps Junior’s knife-hand. To ensure he’s unarmed, Hartigan removes Junior’s other weapon by manually castrating the jaundice jerk-face. Hartigan is aware of the usefulness of the double tap, beating That Yellow Bastard deep into the floorboards, giving the pee-colored pedophile a punch for every day that Yellow Bastard stole away from Hartigan.
The cover of The Avengers #502 (2004) by Brian Michael Bendis, Danny K. Miki and Frank D’Armata warns that “One of these Avengers will die!” omitting that it is the most awesome over the top death, ever. His triple-quiver — filled with explosive-tipped arrows — immolated, Hawkeye screams “Not like this! Not like this!” Seizing a nearby Kree soldier by the jetpack, Hawkeye clarifies, “LIKE THIS!” as he hits the jetpack’s ignition, throwing the two of them into a nearby warship. Be the bullet, Hawkeye.
So, seeing as how he had seven panels of comic book time to pull off a “Killamanjaro,” Hawkeye totally had enough time to take off his quiver. It’s not like Hawkeye was wearing a flamethrower backpack. In fact, we’re pretty sure most quivers have buckles and/or clasps specifically for this reason, but shut up — Hawkeye’s death was shiny and chrome.
10. BILLY BUTCHER BUTCHERS JACK FROM JUPITER
Humiliated after his sexual proclivities are made public, Jack from Jupiter makes the biggest mistake of his life in The Boys #59 by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun, erroneously killing Butcher’s innocent bulldog Terror in retaliation. Butcher proves his namesake, pinning Jack to the wall with one hand while using the other to repeatedly stab Jack in the gut with a knife, continuously asking “Why’d you kill me dog, Jack?” Jack passes out, but when he regains consciousness Butcher is still stabbing and asking why Jack did it, even as Jack’s entrails spill out.
Typically, superhero overkill in The Boys occurs out of necessity. Jack from Jupiter, however, was a goner after the first stab. Regardless, Butcher persists in a murder-trance, breaking out of it momentarily to reveal the true horror of the scene: “It ain’t me, son. I’m somewhere else watchin’ it happen. It ain’t me.”
9. ULTIMATE WOLVERINE
Despite his healing factor, if you cut off Wolverine’s head, he’ll die. Ultimate Wolverine, however, is far more indestructible than his 616 counterpart. Decapitate Ultimate Wolverine, and he’ll keep talking. Therefore, it takes a precise amount of overkill to ensure this Logan is deader than dead, which Magneto delivers in 2009’s Ultimatum by Jeph Loeb and David Finch. First, Magneto isolates Wolverine, manipulating Cyclops and Iron Man to perform friendly fire, reducing Logan to a pulpy skeleton. Wolverine gets one last stab in before Magneto tears the adamantium from Logan’s bones.
To be fair, Ultimatum is an overkill orgy with dialogue sprinkled in, so here’s the nasty bits: Blob cannibalizes the Wasp. Giant-Man bites off Blob’s head. Dormammu binds Dr. Strange until his head bursts. Madrox suicide bombers swarm Giant-Man. Sabretooth brains Angel, then gnaws off a wing. Ben Grimm smooshes Doom’s head.
8. BATMAN VS. LORD DEATH MAN
Does it count as overkill if your opponent can’t die? Death is only temporary for Mighty Lord Death Man, who goes for the overkill, dual wielding Tommy Guns while ramping his supercar off of a bullet train with Batman ghost-riding the whip in Batman, Incorporated #2 (2011) by Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette and Michael Lacombe.
Batman claims, “I know you won’t stay dead. So just for you…a fate worse than death.” before throwing Death Man off a roof and into the path of an armored truck driven by Catwoman, but how does Batman know Death Man is immortal? What if LDM only has 30 lives like in Contra? Did Batman really have to lock Lord Death Man into a safe before jettisoning him into space? Wouldn’t Arkham suffice? Given his no-kill rule, fighting Lord Death Man has to be crimefighting catharsis for Batman.
7. DAKEN VS. THE PUNISHER
Channeling Gary Oldman in The Professional, Norman Osborn sends everyone to exterminate The Punisher in 2009’s Dark Reign: The List – Punisher #1 by Rick Remender, John Romita Jr. and Dean White. Just like the title, The Punisher’s demise is drawn out. With sewage seeping into a fresh gunshot wound on a broken leg, a septic Punisher fights Daken — fully recovered from Frank biting off his lip and strapping explosives to his bicep — in a bloody rooftop brawl in the rain.
With Osborn’s glider regiment on standby, Daken eviscerates The Punisher, slitting Frank’s throat and slicing off an eye before cutting off Frank’s best knife-stabbing arm. Castle just switches knife arms, which Daken promptly removes. Daken decapitates Frank before performing an emergency hemicorporectomy. Finally, Daken kicks the giblets that was once The Punisher off the roof and into an adjacent dumpster. Don’t worry — Frank gets better.
6. DEADPOOL, NICK FURY & CABLE VS. ADOLF HITLER, TIME LORD
After killing yet another potential chrono-assassin, Adolf Hitler gains access to a time machine, goose-stepping through the time-stream to kill Nick Fury in 2014’s Deadpool #26 by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Scott Koblish. Hitler’s future robot successfully vaporizes Fury and Deadpool, but not before Wade sends a postcard describing the battle to Cable — prompting him to return to the past with a future future robot.
Triumphant the second time around, our heroes unload their guns into the future Fuhrer for an entire page, not giving pause when the narrator suggests Hitler’s probably dead. Deadpool drops the bullet-riddled Reich-master off at his bunker, perfectly preserving the time-line by convincing the guards that Hitler’s totally about to kill himself: “Ach, I can’t take it anymore! I’m the saddest dictator now. I’m Hitler… Hitler killing himself… myself.” Flawless.
Given Darkseid’s infamy, it takes a whole lot of high-concept cosmic nonsense to stop The God of Apokolips in Final Crisis (2009) by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke. Breaking his no-guns/no-kills rules, Batman hits Darkseid with a special time bullet, poisoning him. Darkseid also headshots Batman with The Omega Sanction, “the death that is life,” which traps its victim in an endless cycle of life and death throughout time. This would qualify as overkill if you didn’t just give Batman infinite lives, Darkseid.
Bleeding out Kirby crackle, Darkseid is then bum-rushed by two Flashes to take a hit from the Black Racer, DC’s avatar of death on skis. Apparently, colliding with the literal embodiment of demise isn’t so bad, as Superman has to pop in to deliver the final note with a literal miracle machine.
4. DOOMGUY VS. EVERYONE
The 1996 DOOM comic by Steve Behling, Michael Stewart and Tom Grindberg is overkill incarnate punched into words. Doomguy punctuates nearly every sentence with an exclamation point, and every line that explodes from Doomguy’s mouth is a thunder-cocaine-cheetah of brilliant madness as he rips through Demons while tweaking out on a Berserker pack: “You are huge! That means you have huge guts! Rip and tear!” This is a manual of insanity.
Here’s what Doomguy punching into the guts of a Cyber-Demon: “Ooh. Here it comes! Here comes the night train!” Simultaneously, Doomguy is thinking: “Choo choo cha’ boogie!” When his power-up fades, Doomguy doesn’t disappoint: “AHHH! Chainsaw! The Great Communicator!” Oh, the plot? Doomguy goes through an array of increasingly bigger guns in his quest to find the biggest gun, The BFG, “The Holy Grail of firepower.” You know, DOOM. Also, “Dance! Dance, Bonedaddy!”
3. THE ANTI-MONITOR
Nearly every DC intellectual property must band together to pull off the multi-stage murder of The Anti-Monitor in Crisis On Infinite Earths (1985) by Marv Wolfman, George Pérez and Dick Giordano. First, Supergirl sacrifices her life in shattering the Anti-Monitor’s outer shell. Next, Dr. Light and Alexander Luthor sap Anti-Monitor’s energy supply, with Light redirecting the energy into a beam that breaks Anti-Monitor’s armor and organs.
Every wizard then poisons Anti-Monitor’s demonic rations before Earth-2 Superman crushes Anti-Monitor with celestial bodies. Darkseid then utilizes an Omega Beam channeled through Alex that momentarily throws Anti-Monitor into a star. Speaking for the audience, Earth-2 Superman screams “I have had enough!” punching The Anti-Monitor so hard that his essence shatters, his remains pooling into a nearby star which implodes. Clearly, killing the final boss of the multiverse is no easy task.
2. GLENN VS. NEGAN
The indomitable spirit that had allowed Glenn to survive 100 issues of The Walking Dead suddenly becomes a liability when Negan decides to make an example of Glenn to punish Rick. It takes a lot to snuff out the human spirit, even when utilizing a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. You unfortunately feel every bloody bite of Lucille, the vampire bat, as Glenn endures each swing, constantly calling out for his wife, Maggie. Even when his head is caved in and his eyeball pops out, Glenn persists, his “Maggie!” crumpled into a guttural moan.
Much like The Ricktatorship, we can only helplessly watch as Negan painstakingly establishes that he isn’t just another monster of the week. Additionally, killing a fan-favorite character like Glenn, who had been around since the first issue, in such an over the top manner boosted Negan into top-tier villain status.
1. THE DEATH OF JASON TODD
During September 15-18th, 1988, fans voted for the death of Jason Todd. DC followed through by killing off the second Robin as hard as possible in “Batman: A Death in The Family” by Jim Aparo, Jim Starlin, George Pérez and Adrienne Roy. Utilizing a possible long-lost biological mother to lure Jason out, Joker pistol whips Jason. Two henchmen join in, who waste no time in kicking a teenager in the ribs, before Joker unleashes a crowbar combo. Joker leaves Jason for dead, locking him in a room with a time bomb and his maybe-mama. The bomb explodes right as Batman arrives.
Jason Todd’s death was excessive in order to clarify that Robin was indubitably deceased, until everyone remembered Lazarus Pits were a thing, at least. Regardless, Jason’s murder convinced Batman not to take up a sidekick for years, and is apparently why Bat-fleck is cool with murder.
What’s your favorite instance of comic book overkill? Did we overlook an over the top demise? Let us know in the comments!
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