Throughout comic book history, there has always been an obsession with items of great power. Comic book writers are constantly trying to one-up each other by introducing more and more powerful weapons. Heck, one of the most popular villains in the Marvel Universe is Thanos, whose whole deal is that he is always trying to find a more powerful weapon. The DC and Marvel Universes are slightly different from other companies, in that they have such a strong shared continuity. So, when we compare the most powerful weapons in comics, we're sticking with the Big Two.
Also, we're strictly talking actual weapons here. Not abstract ideas like the Anti-Life Equations or the Phoenix Force, nor powerful items that aren't necessarily weapons (like the Casket of Ancient Winters) or books of spells (like the Darkhhold or the Book of Vishanti). We're just talking objects that theoretically anyone could pick up and use (provided they can lift some of the heavier and/or enchanted items). Here, then, are the most powerful weapons in the DC and Marvel Universe.
15 Mother Box
In its simplest description, a Mother Box is a living computer/iPhone that every New God has. It helps them in their everyday lives, from simple things like disguising Orion's deformed face to bigger things like creating the powerful "Boom Tubes" that allow New Gods to travel all over the universe. However, Mother Boxes are a lot more than just that (we detailed the history of the Mother Box here).
Mother Boxes are also, in effect, a direct conduit to The Source, the metaphysical force that drives the entire universe and serves as the power source for Mother Boxes. They were created by the New God Himon, using the mysterious and powerful X-Element. Since the power of the Mother Boxes comes from The Source, only beings with a connection to it can use a Mother Box. However, each being connects with their Mother Box differently. Mister Miracle has said that his is driven by his feelings of love. Orion, presumably, has a different relationship with his Mother Box.
14 Mobius Chair
The Mobius Chair of the New God Metron is basically like a Mother Box... and then some. Metron shares the same drive that Thanos has, in that they are both obsessed with gaining more power. In the case of Thanos, it is so he can kill more people. Metron, however, is driven by a more noble pursuit -- knowledge -- but the way he gains his goal can be just as vicious as Thanos'. For instance, one of the most powerful pieces of war technology that the New Gods had was their "Boom Tube" teleportation, which allowed them to show up anywhere in the universe in an instant. Metron traded this technology to Darkseid in exchange for enough of the mysterious (and rare) X-Element for Metron to then build his Mobius Chair.
The Mobius Chair can travel through time, space and dimensions. It is practically impervious to harm and it is powerful enough that Metron has used it to pull two planets before. It is Metron's greatest tool in his constant quest for more knowledge.
13 Helmet of Fate
Created by the God of Order Nabu, the Helmet of Fate is the primary tool of the hero known as Doctor Fate (although there are two other tools, the Amulet of Anubis and the Cloak of Destiny, that Fate uses). It is one of the most powerful magical artifacts in the DC Universe. Simply by placing the helmet on your head, you would gain access to a vast repository of magical knowledge. Typically, the helmet also allows the wearer to communicate with the spirit of Nabu directly, which also adds to the wearer's skills.
The wearer of the helmet also gains all the powers of Doctor Fate, which are vast, and include telekinesis, flight, super-strength, telepathy, intangibility, super-speed and increased intelligence; really, the supply of powers is practically endless. The helmet responds best, though, when the user has been determined to be a good fit for it. So while anyone who wears it would gain powers, an approved user would get the most use out of it. Mercenary Jared Stevens was once given the helmet and he actually melted it down and turned it into powerful magic daggers. When Stevens died, the helmet reconstituted itself.
Much like how the Helmet of Fate more or less chooses its owner, so too does the powerful magical weapon known as Mjolnir choose who can wield it. Created by Odin as a way to test his son's worthiness, the hammer eventually was wielded by Odin's son for many years. Eventually, though, Odin's son became too filled with pride, so the All-Father banished him to live on Earth as a mortal, who could only turn back into Thor by finding the hammer (which was disguised as a walking stick). When he did so, he served as Thor for many years on both Earth (Midgard) and Asgard. The hammer still has an enchantment that only those who are worthy can lift it.
Recently, though, something in his past has revealed Odin's son to be unworthy of the powers of Thor. Mjolnir has changed the inscription on itself from "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor" to "Whosoever holds this hammer, if she be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." The hammer is wielded now by the current Thor, Jane Foster, and it has now even moved past the control of its creator, Odin. The hammer is very powerful, as it can control energy and matter (it is also pretty hard when you hit someone with it).
11 Destroyer Armor
The Destroyer Armor is basically Mjolnir, only kicked up a notch, and wearable. Made out of a mystery enchanted metal that is stronger even than the uru that makes up Mjolinir, Destroyer has all the strength of Thor's mighty hammer, but also additional magical powers, including powerful energy blasts. The Destroyer was created by Odin to be a defender of Asgard from outside forces, presumably the Celestials. The armor is fueled by a little piece of each of the All-Fathers, making it astonishingly powerful.
The Destroyer armor has been known to overpower both Thor and the Hulk, just to give a hint at how unstoppable it is. The downside of the armor is how it is used. It is pretty much a husk that is operated by remote control, but when your mind actually enters the armor, it becomes more and more difficult to control yourself. Only beings with excellent willpower like Odin and Thor can manage to stay in control of the Destroyer.
10 Spear of Destiny
One of the most amusing things about the Spear of Destiny, which is one of the most powerful magical weapons in the DC Universe, is that it was invented pretty much just to explain away a question that a lot of readers had over the years. The question was this: "Why didn't all of the DC superheroes during the Golden Age just go use their superpowers to stop Hitler and the Nazis?"
The explanation finally came in 1983's "All Star Squadron" #20, wherein writer Roy Thomas explained that the Spear of Destiny (the famous spear supposedly used to puncture Jesus' side while he was being crucified) was under the control of Adolf Hitler and it would turn any superhero with magical powers (plus Superman) who crossed into Europe into a thrall of Hitler. Thus, all of the major superheroes had to stay away.
In the years since, the Spear of Destiny has remained a powerful weapon, as it can be used to kill the Spectre, the spirit of God's vengeance on Earth!
When we were first introduced to the Odinsword in “Journey Into Mystery” #117 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta), we learned that if the giant blade were ever taken out if its equally giant sheath, it could mean the end of the universe. This was too juicy for Lee and Kirby to not revisit, of course. They teased the possibility of the sword being used twice. First in a story where Odin threatened to brandish it unless a villain backs off, and again when Thor and his friends almost unsheathed it to stop the evil Mangog.
The sword was used during a battle with the Celestials, when Odin entered the Destroyer armor and grew large enough to carry the Odinsword, which he used to attack the Celestials. It even successfully penetrated a bunch of their armors (sadly for Odin, they quickly regenerated and defeated him). The Odinsword has shown up a few times since then, most recently in "Fear Itself," when Odin entrusted the sword (shrunken down in size) to Thor to use on the Serpent.
8 Sword of Superman
"Superman Annual" #10 from 1984 is generally not that well-known of a piece of comic book history, especially when the very next year was Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' "For The Man Who Has Everything," but what was introduced in that Elliot S. Maggin, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson story is something that has struck a nerve with power-obsessed comic book fans ever since. You see, that annual introduced the Sword of Superman!
What is the Sword of Superman, you ask? Well, at the Big Bang, a sword was formed that had an "S" on it. It drifted throughout outer space for eons until it was called to Earth through a psychic connection with Superman's adopted father, Jonathan Kent, who likely alerted the sword to Superman's existence on Earth. It showed up and instantly bonded with Superman, making him even more powerful than he ever was -- and this was pre-Crisis Superman, so he was pretty darn powerful. However, as the sword made him all-powerful, Superman felt his humanity slipping away and decided to give up the sword for good.
7 White Lantern Ring
An item given serious consideration for this list was the Green Lantern Central Power Battery, the home of the energies that make up the Green Lantern Corps. There is an argument that the battery should still be on the list, but because it is part of the energies present in the White Lantern Ring, we felt it best not to duplicate listings. Thus, the representative for the world of the Lantern Corps is the White Lantern Ring.
The White Lantern Ring has the powers of all the other rings on the color spectrum, which would already make it one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. However, it also has the ability to control the Life Equation, which is astonishing, as it now holds the power of life itself. Kyle Rayner briefly was the bearer of the only White Lantern Ring in existence. The power was too much for him, however, so he ultimately split it into seven rings, with each ring bearer controlling a piece of the powerful Life Equation.
Possibly the most ridiculous weapon on this list is the Beyondersbane, but even as silly as it is, it technically is powerful enough that it bears mention on this countdown. During "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars", a powerful being known as the Beyonder brought a bunch of superheroes and super villains to a mysterious alien Battleworld where they were told to fight each other for his amusement. In the end, Doctor Doom stole the Beyonder's powers and once the heroes helped the Beyonder get them back, he left before eventually returning home. However, the Beyonder was now very curious about the planet that these heroes came from, so in the sequel mini-series, "Secret Wars II," the Beyonder became corporeal and visited Earth.
While here, the Beyonder used his vast powers in a number of ways. Mephisto tried to trick him into using his abilities for evil, but Beyonder was too clever for him. At one point, the Beyonder actually destroyed Death, so that no one on Earth could die anymore. When he was convinced that was a bad idea, he brought Death back. However, Mephisto was able to siphon off the tremendous amount of energy used to kill Death and used it to power the Beyondersbane, a device possibly powerful enough to destroy even the Beyonder! Mephisto planned to attack the Beyonder when he was at his weakest, so he sent a whole pile of supervillains after him. In the end, though, the Beyonder foiled Mephisto's plot and destroyed the machine. Yeah..."Secret Wars II" was pretty darn silly.
5 Miracle Machine
The Miracle Machine first showed up in "Legion of Super-Heroes" stories, but its use was infrequent. This is because the Miracle Machine can literally do anything its user thinks of. Naturally, this led to a number of crazy stories, including Brainiac 5 of the Legion being driven insane. Ultimately, Matter-Eater Lad had to just eat the thing to stop it (which, in turn, drove him insane for many years).
The Miracle Machine was brought back into continuity during the crossover event "Final Crisis", where Brainiac 5 gives Superman the machine to help save the Earth from the destruction Darkseid had done to it. However, Superman could not figure out how to make it run until he luckily came across some X-Element (which looks suspiciously similar to the Worlogog, another powerful weapon that didn't make the list because of its similarities to the other New Gods weapons) from Metron's Mobius Chair. It helped power the Machine and Superman basically wished for a happy ending for Earth and a universe without Darkseid.
4 Cosmic Cube
The Cosmic Cube was introduced in a Captain America feature in "Tales of Suspense" as something created by Advanced Ideas Mechanics and used to basically alter reality itself. The Red Skull got a hold of it, and it was only the quick thinking of Captain America that led to Earth not being ruled by an omnipotent Red Skull. The Skull became obsessed with the Cube and has tried to either get a hold of it or create new ones over the years. Over time, it was revealed that the cubes are, in effect, eggs of cosmic beings. So Cosmic Cubes eventually grow into cosmic beings (we did a whole history of the Cosmic Cube here).
Most recently, a young Cosmic Cube was used by S.H.I.E.L.D. to create an altered reality where S.H.I.E.L.D. would place supervillains into to make them think that they were happily living in small town U.S.A. The Red Skull and Hydra burst this little bubble, however, after Rick Jones alerted the world about the existence of this twisted little prison. It was during this event that the Cube gave Steve Rogers his Captain America powers back. However, it also altered Steve's past to make him a part of Hydra as a sleeper agent for all of these years (this was due to the Cube's connection to the Red Skull -- it wanted to make him happy).
3 Ultimate Nullifier
While nothing beats the Beyondersbane in terms of silliness, the Ultimate Nullifier comes close. Think about it: the whole purpose of this device is to erase the universe! Who even builds something like that? Were there lesser nullifiers in the process? Did one Nullifier just erase, like, Cleveland? In any event, the main thing is that this device exists in the Marvel Universe and Galactus kept it on his space hip. When Galactus was threatening to destroy the Earth, the Watcher oh so subtly interfered by sending the Human Torch on a mission to get the Nullifier. Mister Fantastic then played a cosmic game of chicken with Galactus -- either Galactus stop trying to eat the Earth or Mister Fantastic would wipe out the whole universe. Galactus backed off.
However, this being comics, just like how once someone mentioned how the Odinsword should never come out of its sheath, so, too, did everyone want to see what would happen if the Ultimate Nullifier was actually used. This happened during "Infinity War," when Quasar used it to try to stop the evil Magus (who had a hold of five cosmic cubes!). But when he did so, the Magus was able to counter the attack and instead nullify Quasar! Luckily, the effect turned out to be temporary. The Nullifier was finally fully used during a "Fantastic Four" storyline where the universe was nullified, but then put right back together again.
2 Infinity Gauntlet
Over the years, there had been numerous power gems used in cosmic Marvel stories (they were originally all called soul gems). Eventually, Jim Starlin came up with the idea of doing a story where Thanos manages to collect ALL of the gems and combined them into the Infinity Gauntlet. This led to a mini-series, "Thanos Quest," where Thanos defeated each of the Elders who guarded the gems and took control of them for himself. With the Infinity Gauntlet in his command, Thanos was now the most powerful being in the universe. In an instant, he snapped his fingers and killed half of existence!
Eventually, however, Adam Warlock led a group of heroes to stop Thanos, using his connection to the Soul Gem in the Gauntlet to understand that Thanos didn't truly want to be omnipotent. Eventually, Thanos lost the Gauntlet and Adam Warlock got a hold of it. He went before the Living Tribunal, the cosmic entity that judges all of creation, and the Tribunal determined that the gauntlet could never be used again. Of course, this being comics, "never" was a short time, as the secret superhero group known as the Illuminati got a hold of the Gauntlet and decided to split the gems amongst themselves. Later, Captain America had to use the Gauntlet to stop an inter-dimensional incursion on Earth. Later, when the Multiverse was in disarray, Black Panther managed to put together a new Infinity Gauntlet to stop Doom, who had become the god of the Multiverse. The Gauntlet hasn't been seen since.
1 Heart of the Universe
The Heart of the Universe was created due to an interesting trend in the Marvel Universe. There had always been an odd balance between good and evil, but in recent years, it seemed as though there was an attempt by Death to help the good side a bit more by having more and more heroes come back from the dead. This put the universe out of sync and thus it created the Heart of the Universe in an attempt to even out the amount of people who were supposed to be dead. The Heart of the Universe was first possessed by an ancient pharaoh known as Akhenaten, who quickly dispatched most of Earth's heroes.
The remaining heroes, along with Thanos, took on Akhenaten and Thanos gained the Heart of the Universe for himself. He quickly realized that this was much more powerful than even the Infinity Gauntlet; the Gauntlet allowed Thanos to affect the universe, but this was part of the universe itself! Ultimately, the Living Tribunal decided that Thanos couldn't have such a powerful weapon, so Thanos destroyed the Tribunal and all of Earth's heroes.
In the end, he ended up destroying everything except his old frenemy, Adam Warlock, who was outside the universe at the time. Warlock convinced Thanos to return everything to the way it once was, but destroy the Heart. Thanos did so, and only Warlock even remembers that the Heart once existed! But again, this is comics, so don't be surprised if someone revisits the Heart in the future!
What do you think is the most powerful weapon in comics? Let us know in the comments!