Consumption of the flesh of the same species is one of the oldest and last taboos still standing in society. The idea of eating any part of a human being is revolting to most people, and those who've done it in the past have been shunned as monsters. That disgust is probably why it's a rare but potent thing for an evil person to do in fiction. There have been movies like The Hills Have Eyes, TV shows like The Walking Dead and books like Silence of the Lambs which have featured flesh eaters as villains. That's why it should be no surprise that comic books have also had their share of people who chow down on human flesh.
Supervillains being what they are, there are a surprising number of villains who've eaten the flesh of humans and other sentient beings. We're going to go over a list of eight supervillains who's eaten all or part of their enemies, either in battle or just for fun. For some, it was just a single incident while others like to eat people on a daily basis. For others, it's part of their power while some just like the taste. But CBR likes to do things the hard way, which is why we're also throwing in a list of seven superheroes who've taken a bite of supervillains and a few other superheroes they didn't like. Some are admittedly superheroes in name only, but don't be surprised if your favorite hero might be on this list.
15 VILLAIN: MISTER RICTUS
In 2003's Wanted miniseries by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, a loser was inducted into a secret society of supervillains. The Society had killed off all the heroes, taken over the world, and divided it up between members of a Council of evil. The society's resident psychotic with a smile was Mister Rictus. Once a religious man, he had been horribly burned and seemingly died, but was reborn with a skull-like face and no conscience.
Rictus had fought for control of the Council against the genius Solomon Seltzer for years, but finally succeeded in ambushing and killing his rival. The next time we saw Rictus, he seemed to be enjoying a meal at an elegant table. However, if you looked closely, you would see that the table had the body of Seltzer as the centerpiece, dressed and laid out like a Thanksgiving turkey.
14 VILLAIN: VENOM
In Secret Wars, Peter Parker gained a cool new black suit. The only problem was that it turned out to be a parasitic symbiote that he had to force off his body. In 1988’s The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (David Michelinie, Mike Zeck, Todd McFarlane), the symbiote returned bonded to Eddie Brock, a photojournalist who blamed Parker for the loss of his career. The two formed the new villain called Venom.
One of Venom's frequent taunts involved eating someone’s brains. It seemed like just a funny way to threaten people until 1996’s Venom: The Hunger #1 (Len Kaminski, Ted Halsted). While fighting some thugs, Venom literally ate one of their brains. That's when Brock discovered the symbiote wanted a chemical found in human brains. Brock's conscience wouldn't let him go through with it, but the symbiote still wanted more.
13 VILLAIN: MAUVAIS
In 2001's Wolverine #165 (Frank Tieri, Sean Chen), Wolverine was captured in a supervillain prison called the Cage. The guards wanted him to die in a very ugly way, and knew a French-Canadian sorcerer named Mauvais had been kept trapped and frozen for hundreds of years beneath the Cage. The guards offered him a deal: kill Wolverine and they would set him free.
Unfortunately for Wolverine, he accepted. The guards locked Wolverine in a room with Mauvais where the sorcerer explained his powers came from eating you-know-what. Tied to a chair and unable to fight back, Wolverine could only scream as Mauvais ate pieces of him to gain enough power to escape. Mauvais ended up eating other creatures like the Wendigo before he was finally stopped for good.
12 VILLAIN: OLD MAN HULK
The Hulk had always been a reluctant anti-hero, but in the 2008 Old Man Logan miniseries, the Hulk went to full-on villain. He also turned to eating others. The series by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven imagined an alternate future where superheroes had been almost wiped out by supervillains and Wolverine had retired to become a peaceful farmer. His vow to avoid violence was threatened by the Hulk gang, the inbred mutant family of the original Bruce Banner.
In the final issue, Logan fought the aging Hulk, who ate him alive. That would normally have been the end of the story, but Logan managed to regenerate and cut his way out of Hulk's body. That was a bad move on the Hulk's part.
11 VILLAIN: SOLOMON GRUNDY
First appearing in 1944's All-American Comics #61 (Alfred Bester, Paul Reinman), Solomon Grundy is an undead and superstrong supervillain who has fought heroes such as Superman, Green Lantern and Batman. He's been killed many times, but always returns to life (though with different levels of intelligence from mindless to genius). We'll be talking about one of his moments where he was smartest and also his most vicious.
Written by Brad Meltzer and penciled by Ed Benes, the "Tornado's Path" storyline involved the android Red Tornado transferring his mind into a fleshly body so he could finally feel human. Unfortunately, it turned out that the transfer was masterminded by Solomon Grundy who wanted to finally get rid of him forever. In 2007's Justice League of America #6, Grundy fought Red Tornado, tore off one of the hero's arms, and ate it right in front of him.
10 VILLAIN: JOKER
The Joker's only goal seems to be spreading chaos and misery, and he's been largely successful, but 2000's "Superman: Emperor Joker" storyline was his most destructive yet. Created by Jeph Loeb, Joe Kelly, J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Schulz, the nine-issue crossover involved the Joker tricking Mister Mxyzptlk into giving him the power to change the world. The Joker turned the world into a nightmarish dystopia of sick jokes.
The Joker killed Batman daily, only to bring him back to life and kill him again, locked Superman in Arkham Asylum, and ate the entire population of China. A mountain of skulls was all that was left of the billions of people, one of the worst things the Joker ever did. The only good thing about the entire thing is that Mxyzptlk managed to get his power back and reverse the damage.
9 VILLAIN: VULTURE NOIR
One of the most unique versions of Spider-Man is the pulp novel version known as Spider-Man Noir. Created by David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico in 2009, Spider-Man Noir is set in an alternate Depression Era 1930s where Peter Parker gained his powers from a spider god. The retro Spider-Man fought crime with speed, strength, organic webbing and a variety of guns.
In the Noir universe, the Vulture isn't an old man with a flight suit but a sideshow freak turned assassin. As the right-hand man of crime boss Norman Osborn, the Vulture killed and ate Parker's Uncle Ben. He almost did the same to Aunt May before he was shot and killed by Spider-Man.
8 VILLAIN: FLAMINGO
One of the newest and most brutal villains on this list is Flamingo. Introduced in 2007's Batman #666 (Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely), Eduardo Flamingo is a serial killer who's best known for his love of pink. Like his namesake, Flamingo wears pink clothes and even drives a pink motorcycle. What makes him truly evil is that he's not content with death.
Flamingo isn't satisfied with just killing his targets. He also cuts off their faces and eats them. He tried to do the same to Robin's sidekick Scarlet, but was stopped by Batman and Robin. He seemed beaten but returned to bring his flamboyant brutality again.
7 HERO: ANT-MAN
The Blob is a violent, brutal and powerful mutant with super-strength, bulletproof skin and the ability to make himself unmovable. He was first introduced in 1964 with The X-Men #3 (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby) where he was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and a long-standing enemy of the mutant superheroes.
Blob was a bad guy but in the Ultimate Universe, he crossed the line. In Ultimatum #2 (Jeph Loeb, David Finch), Giant-Man was searching for the body of the Wasp after a tidal wave. He found her, along with the Blob eating the Wasp's corpse. We would have featured the Blob as a villain, but Giant-Man crossed the line too by growing to enormous size and biting the Blob's head off.
6 HERO: EVERYMAN
Hannibal Bates started out in 2006 with 52 #17 (Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen and Joe Bennett) as the superhero Everyman. His power and name came from his ability to shapeshift into other people. His power came with a twist, that he could only take on the form of someone after he'd eaten parts of their body. While he wasn't very popular on the Infinity Inc. team, he seemed harmless just eating hair and toenail clippings.
Then came the day when they discovered the body of their longtime teammate Skyman. It turned out that Everyman had killed Skyman, eaten some of his body, and passed himself off as Skyman ever since. From then on, Everyman became one of their worst enemies.
5 HERO: DARK SPIDER-MAN
In 1964, The Amazing Spider-Man #19 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced Mac Gargan as a private investigator hired by J. Jonah Jameson to find out Spider-Man's secret identity but failed because of his Spider-Sense, Gargan went through an experimental process that made him the Scorpion.
By 2009's Dark Avengers #1 (Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato Jr.), Gargan had bonded with the Venom symbiote and was hired by Norman Osborn to join a team of supervillains impersonating the real Avengers. The so-called Dark Avengers needed a Spider-Man, and Gargan took on the role, but quickly set the tone by eating a Skrull to intimidate another Skrull into giving information. His hunger only grew, causing Gargan to eat the arms of other enemies like Steel Spider and General Wolfram.
4 HERO: TONY CHU
The world of food has never been considered exciting and action-packed, but the world of the comic series Chew is an exception. Written by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory, the series focused on a police officer who had a strange power: whenever he ate something, he received psychic impressions of where the substance came from. If he ate meat, he would instantly feel its death.
Chu always considered it a curse until the day he tried to arrest a murderer who killed himself before identifying his victims. Chu took a bite of the killer to find out what he knew, and entered a new career as an FDA agent who took bites of his enemies to investigate crimes. With his unusual powers, Chu took on smugglers, killers, and a deadly conspiracy. He gave new meaning to taking a bite out of crime.
3 HERO: SOBEK
Sobek first appeared in 52 #26 (2006), created by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen and Pat Olliffe. He was found in the lab of the evil Dr. Sivana and claimed he was a humanoid bioengineered crocodile who escaped from his cage. He was taken in by the Black Marvel family as a lovable and cowardly sidekick and hero, until he convinced his friend Osiris to give up his powers. When Osiris made himself human, Sobek ate him alive.
It turned out that Sobek was actually one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse called Yurrd the Unknown, sent by Dr. Sivana to destroy the Black Marvel Family. Yurrd fought the Marvels on the side of evil until Black Adam tore his head apart and turned him into a pair of crocodile boots.
2 HERO: ZOMBIE SPIDER-MAN
In 2005, Ultimate Fantastic Four #22 (Mark Millar, Greg Land) introduced the alternate universe of the Marvel Zombies where a plague infected the superheroes and supervillains to make super-zombies. While we could have made this list about nothing but Marvel zombies eating their way through the universe, let's focus on one of the few heroic ones, Spider-Man.
Zombie Spider-Man was one of the first ones to be infected and even ate his beloved Aunt May and Mary Jane. Spider-Man was one of a group who ate Galactus and gained the power cosmic to consume most of the universe, but his hunger subsided. With the help of others, Spider-Man was able to make a way to destroy all the zombies, including himself.
1 HERO: ULTIMATE HULK
Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch pushed the boundaries of heroism in Ultimates #13 when the dysfunctional team faced Herr Kleiser, an alien shapeshifter who had infiltrated Earth in World War II. Herr Kleiser had been manipulating people and governments for decades in a secret plot to control Earth, but proved a deadly combatant.
When Captain America tried fighting him hand to hand, he lost. In a final desperate act, Captain America was able to beat Herr Kleiser by telling the Hulk that Herr Kleiser had been "all over" his longtime love, Betty Boss. In a jealous rage, the Hulk tore apart and ate the alien warrior.