Superheroes are the protectors of the Earth, the defenders of everything that is right and good in the world. They need to remain in complete control of their emotions or else their powers become a major threat to everyone. This is one of the big storylines in many different comics, especially Superman. What if these superheroes decide to turn against humans? But writers can’t play with these ideas all the time lest their effects are dulled through overuse. This restraint on behalf of the writers is what makes these superhero “breaking points” so special when they do happen. Almost every superhero, at one point or another, flips out a little and goes on a rampage of varying degrees. Sometimes a flip out leads to an argument, maybe a fistfight, a death or, in the really rare occurrences, something even worse.
There’s something really cathartic about watching a typically good character completely lose control and freak out. Having a superhero snap and letting their emotions take control of them is a very human quality, so we love watching it and reading it; it helps us relate to them in a twisted sort of way. But it’s not always the superhero’s fault that they’ve lost control. There have been times when a they are under someone else’s control, forced to do things they wouldn’t normally do. In these storylines, we tend not to blame the superhero, which makes it an extremely convenient device for the writers. Their heroes essentially get a “get out of jail” free card and can commit all sorts of atrocities, all the while placing the blame on someone else. We’re not letting them forget so easily though. So let’s count them down.
Here are 15 Times That Superheroes Completely Snapped and Lost Control.
15. Spider-Man After Gwen Stacy Was Killed
In the classic storyline, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” the comic world was shocked when Norman Osborn (The Green Goblin) threw Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, off of a bridge. When Spidey tried to catch her with a web before she hit the ground, Stacy’s neck snapped from the ensuing whiplash. We didn’t really know how Spider-Man would respond because he felt so strongly about Gwen, so when we saw him lose control, it was pretty amazing. In the very next issue, Spider-Man tracked down the Green Goblin and beat the crap out of him. Even though he lost his mind and beat his enemy senseless, he couldn’t bring himself to kill him all the way dead. Instead, he let the Green Goblin’s own glider hit him and “kill” him.
14. Cyclops Kills Xavier
In Avengers vs. X-Men #11, we saw a crazed Phoenix Cyclops lose himself to his newfound thirst for power. The issue ended with a showdown between Cyclops and his mentor, Professor Xavier. Xavier tried to convince his surrogate son to relinquish the power and come back to the good side, but Cyclops relented, embracing instead the full power of the Phoenix and killing Xavier. This was a poignant moment because Scott Summers is usually so mild mannered and controlled. To see him so power hungry and full of rage marked a momentous occasion for the X-Men comics and the Cyclops character. We can argue till we’re red in the face who was actually behind it all, but it was Cyclops who lost control and Cyclops who snapped, so we’ll allow it.
13. The Flash Kills Zoom
Professor Zoom had already apparently killed Iris West Allen, the Flash’s first wife, so when he threatened to kill Barry’s new to-be-wife in Flash #324, the Flash was having none of it. The Flash and Professor Zoom start battling it out at top speed all over the place. During the fight, Zoom carved an effigy of Iris into a mountain and this didn’t make the Flash any happier. He completely freaked out and took the fight to new heights, or depths, whatever. Finally, Zoom breaks away and starts approaching Fiona. He is just about to reach her and kill her by putting his finger through her head into her brain, when the Flash tackles him, breaking his neck in the process and killing him.
12. Marvel Boy Kills His Father
Marvel Boy may not be everyone’s favorite hero, but, in New Warriors #20, he showed a side of himself that people could at least get behind and cheer. The story started when he first got his powers. His father started to abuse him both physically and emotionally, hating him for being different than all of the “normal” kids. Eventually, Marvel Boy left home because of his mistreatment and stayed away for a while. When he returned home, Marvel Boy’s father was still a jerk. One night, after Marvel Boy had been injured in a fight, the father attacked the weakened Marvel Boy, beating him and even hitting his mother in the process. This caused Marvel Boy to lose it completely, killing his jackass of a father. Though it was an accident, the boy killed him. There’s no doubting that.
11. Wonder Woman Snaps Maxwell Lord’s Neck
This one is questionable because you might argue that Wonder Woman was completely in control, but for her, this action is significant. The issue in question takes place in Wonder Woman #219. Superman is being controlled by Maxwell Lord, and he’s flying around causing all sorts of ruckus everywhere. Wonder Woman is able to slow Superman down a little bit, but he soon recovers and continues on his rampage. Seemingly out of options, Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth on Lord, questioning him on how to stop the out of control Superman. Lord reveals that the only possible way is to kill him, the man in charge of Superman. Wonder Woman, knowing this is truth (because of the lasso and all), doesn’t really think twice about it. She snaps the villain’s neck like a twig and goes about her day.
10. Wolverine Kills X-Men
Similar to the Wonder Woman question, the Wolverine: Old Man Logan storyline presents us with a Wolverine who is under the control of someone else. Well, kind of. Because of this, we can’t necessarily say that “he snapped,” but we certainly can say that he lost control. Either way, we’re including it in this list because it’s awesome. It’s the future and Logan is an old man. He hasn’t used the Wolverine persona or his claws since this mysterious night in the past when the villains attacked. We learn, through flashbacks, that a massive group of supervillains attacked the X-Men mansion, 40 mutants in total. During the attack, Wolverine goes crazy and smashes them all, killing every single one of them. After the fight and the intense slaughter of all the villains, things change and Wolverine realizes it was all an illusion. The entire time, Wolverine was being presented with visions from Mysterio and all of the villains that he killed in combat were actually Wolverine’s fellow X-Men. He retired his Wolverine mantle after that, killing himself in a way.
9. Green Arrow Kills Prometheus
In the Cry For Justice comic, Green Arrow’s patience and control is pressed to its absolute limits and he doesn’t really do all that well with that kind of pressure. It’s all thanks to Prometheus, a villain determined to attack superheroes and hit them where it hurts most. In this story, the Red Arrow had his arm ripped off and then his daughter was crushed as part of Prometheus’ plan. This really set off the Green Arrow, but he ultimately decided to let Prometheus go after he had been captured. It seemed, for a time, like the Green Arrow had kept his emotions in check, but then the scene shifted to Prometheus’ lair and we see that wasn’t the case at all. Prometheus heard a noise behind him that he turned to investigate. It’s then that he saw the Green Arrow had come to pay him a visit. After a very brief discussion, the Green Arrow looses an arrow straight into Prometheus’s forehead, sticking him to the wall and killing him.
8. Superboy-Prime Punches Pantha’s Head Off
In Infinite Crisis #4, Superboy and Superboy-Prime get into a big scrap. Superboy-Prime, convinced that he is the main Superboy, becomes more and more evil and Superboy and his superhero posse decide that Prime needs to be stopped. Though Prime continuously insists that he is innocent and just wanted to talk to Superboy, his actions continue to escalate and the fight gets worse. As the battle shifts from Smallville to Keystone City, it culminates into one super crazy moment. Pantha, trying to break the two up, flies up behind Superboy-Prime. This causes Prime to swing his arm back striking Pantha in the face. Although it did look accidental, and he claimed it was, the result was catastrophic. You see, the force of the blow didn’t just hurt Pantha, it knocked her friggin head clean off her shoulders. The head even flew back knocked Ambush Bug unconscious. Just brutal.
7. Ant-Man Biting Off The Blob’s Head
The Ultimatum is a weird comic and many refuse to accept it as canon, but we’re not talking canon here; we’re talking losing control and that’s exactly what happened to Ant-Man in this twisted storyline. So, the Wasp drowns and it’s all very sad. But the scene quickly gets morbid as the Blob starts eating the Wasp’s body after she had drowned. It seems like Hank wasn’t all that thrilled about this disgusting villain defiling the body of the Wasp, so he, as Giant-Man, picked the Blob up and bit his head off. He didn’t eat it, if you were wondering. He just spit it out on the road and walked away jovially. For a guy who is normally so PG, this was a pretty odd moment.
6. Daredevil After Elektra’s And Karen’s Death
In the comic Daredevil Vol. 2 #49, we get to see a side of Daredevil that we don’t often see. Sure, Matt Murdock has a bad temper and he tends to flip out from time to time, but we saw something a little different when the superhero finally got a hold of Bullseye after he had killed Karen Page and stabbed Elektra to death. Daredevil took joy from beating down the villain and mocking the bullseye tattoo on his forehead. To really bring home the rage, Daredevil grabbed a rock from the ground and carved the bullseye on the villains forehead, making it even more permanent than it already was by forever scarring it. It’s not even the action that is so insane but Daredevil’s reaction afterward, just smiling ear to ear.
5. The Hulk After Caiera Dies
So in World War Hulk, the Hulk is married to Caiera and they have a child on the way. After he is tricked by the Illuminati and sent into space with her, their spaceship exploded and she and the unborn child were killed. Now the Hulk has a bad temper during the best of times. You can only imagine what this tragedy did to him. He went bananas. The Hulk traveled from place to place smashing everyone in his path. He singlehandedly destroyed so many different superheroes that we won’t even start to list them here. Eventually his rage grows to such an extreme that the radiation threatens the entire Earth and he is taken down to save the planet. Even if you consider how grouchy the Hulk is and how often he loses it, this is an entirely different level for him.
4. Spider-Man After Aunt May is Shot
In what is easily the most badass Spider-Man moment, the Back in Black issue saw Aunt May take—what was said to be—a fatal shot from an assassin. While we may know that Aunt May is immortal and can never die, Peter Parker doesn’t know this, so he lost it, completely. He tracked down everyone involved with the shooting and found that it all led to the Kingpin. He found the Kingpin in prison and he beat the living daylights out of him. He beat him within an inch of his life and then promised to kill him if Aunt May was to die. After he beat him to a pulp and got Fisk really scared, Parker decided to let him live with the shame of being handily beaten by a guy half his size in front of everyone in prison.
3. Green Lantern After Coast City Was Destroyed
In the Death of Superman storyline, Hal Jordan’s home, Coast City was destroyed by Mongul. To try and resurrect the city, Green Lantern attempts to use the power of his ring, but its power is revoked before he can make it permanent. Consumed by grief and angered by this, Jordan becomes the villain Parallax, killing almost all of the other Green Lanterns, taking their rings and absorbing their power. Even though we learned that Jordan was under the control of Parallax, it was a pretty dark moment in the character’s history. His power grew exponentially and he became one of the more feared superheroes to date. Controlled by someone else or not, this was an epic Green Lantern story.
2. The Dark Phoenix
Most people know about Jean Grey’s Phoenix and how she must keep her powers in control in order to remain Jean Grey. Well, that doesn’t always work out so well. In the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean shatters the barrier that kept her powers in check and the Phoenix takes over. She renames herself “Dark Phoenix” and goes crazy, smashing down the X-Men and leaving Earth. After the trip, Dark Phoenix rejuvenates her drained power by devouring a star, which, in turn, kills the population of the planet orbiting the star. In this moment, Dark Phoenix is considered more of a threat than Galactus, so a number of different legions team up to take her down.
This one is a little unfair. The Irredeemable comic is all about this concept: a superhero snapping and losing control. As Mark Waid, the writer, argues, not all superheroes are mentally equipped to deal with the power and responsibility of being a superhero, so it’s bound to happen that one would lose it and go mental. This story follows the Plutonian, once thought of as the world’s greatest superhero, as he slaughters the people of Earth and all of his former friends, family and allies. The comic evolves into making the Plutonian a supervillain, but in the early stages, he’s a hero on the edge of losing complete control and the fallout of when he does.