When a child thinks of what a hero is, they will most likely envision a person or character who will always strive to do what is right. As adults, we realize that people are complicated and even the best of us will sometimes fall short of their lofty ideals. At one time, comics were thought to be a medium that was designed strictly to appeal to children. As time passed and people began to recognize that wasn’t the case, lines of good guys and bad guys started to blur.
As fans of storytelling, we love the introduction of more nuanced characters and storylines but sometimes feel shocked at the deeds writers have had protagonists commit. We’re here to introduce our readers to some of the crazier examples of former champions of the right going off the radar.
10 Thor Drops the Equivalent of a Nuke On China
One of three characters who’ve grown to become the core of The Avengers as we know it, the Asgardian God of Thunder is one of Marvel’s mightiest heroes. During one story published in 1963, Thor easily defeats a Chinese army single-handedly. The next morning at the Communist headquarters, a lowly scientist is ordered to kill Odin’s son or face death himself. So he turns himself into the super-powered Radioactive Man and sets out to fulfill his task.
Using his radioactive hypnosis (that's a thing, right?), he temporarily takes control of Thor's will. After Thor regains full control of his faculties, he uses a tornado to launch his foe back to his homeland which sets off a nuclear explosion. Seen in another panel reading a newspaper, which reveals the bomb did massive damage to China, the fact that Thor’s irresponsible action must have killed many, many people is laughed off, like nothing.
9 Supergirl & Comet
Comet the Superhorse served as Supergirl's companion for quite a while before a strange story forever altered their relationship to those who were paying attention. The pair travelled to another planet at Superman's request to aid a friend of his, who was in danger. Once they saved the day, the alien being, they saved revealed to Comet that he had superpowers and wanted to reward him for his rescue. The trusty horse wishes to become human and his wish is granted.
Comet, now known as Bill Starr, saves Supergirl in his new form and the two of them return to Earth after it is revealed that any comet passing by Earth will once again reveal his humanoid form (because that makes sense). When the astrological event happens next, Bill seeks out Supergirl and seduces her. With only limited time before becoming a horse again, Comet makes out with Supergirl then leaves her before reverting back to being her horse! The fact that she fell in love with him but still treated him as a nothing more than a pet depending on his form is pretty strange.
8 Starfox, Mind Manipulator
If this Avenger and Eternal was more famous, this entry could have taken the top spot on our list. An alien being gifted with the ability to “psionically stimulate the pleasure centers in nearby people's brains”, he is accused of using that ability to have his way with those he desires.
Never cleared of using his power to sleep with a happily married woman, it is never made explicitly clear if he is someone who assaults people's minds or if he's a home-wrecker. Eventually put on trial on his home planet, the decision was made that he needed to be stripped of his power all-together. Apparently, he screwed with Thanos when they were kids, which resulted in untold lost lives. Though he was never officially found guilty of sexual assault in any Earth or space court it was revealed that he had forced his teammate and friend, She-Hulk to fall in love and marry a man in a whirlwind affair.
7 Ant-Man’s Treatment of The Wasp
Arguably the most fun superhero movie ever, Ant-Man featured Hank Pym, the original person to take on the mantle, in a major role. A founding Avenger in the comic books, he also happens to be an incredibly flawed individual. At one time married to The Wasp, Janet van Dyne, he should have had the storybook ending that all true heroes deserve.
Instead, he became the ultimate example of a complicated hero in the Marvel Universe. In the original Marvel universe, he beat his wife while in the midst of a mental breakdown, which of course is no excuse. That pales in comparison to his far more deplorable actions in the Ultimate Universe, however. Taking part in a vicious brawl with his wife, when she shrinks to escape his rage, Hank finds her, sprays her with raid, laughs at the agony it would have to create and sends ants to literally kill her. She survives and amazingly they became a happy couple again soon thereafter.
6 Human Torch Likes Them Young
Known as a ladies man in practically every medium he has appeared in, Johnny Storm’s greatest love may be an Inhuman named Crystal. He was dating another woman when they first met and clearly had the hots for her older sister but those barriers fell away quickly and the two began to see one another.
After they became an official couple, she decided to leave her ancestral home to move into the Baxter Building with her new boyfriend and officially joined the Fantastic Four for a brief time. Working and living together, it seems pretty obvious that their relationship progressed further than holding hands and making out, which is what made a random line so creepy. As the team is about to leave on a rescue mission, Reed Richards suddenly brings up the fact that she is, in fact, a minor. We agree leading a youngster into battle is questionable but dear lord man, she’s sleeping in the same bed as a grown man in your home.
5 The Thing, Skull-Crusher
For many superhero fans, Ben Grimm may be the most lovable long-lasting character ever. A sensitive man with a hard exterior, The Thing is known as one of the most honorable characters in comics history. Fiercely loyal to his teammates, he was actually transformed into the creature we know today because he had his friend Reed’s back, at great risk to himself, with nothing to really gain himself.
Another messed up moment from the Ultimate Universe, during a big event known as Ultimatum, our hero did something that was incredibly out of character. Facing down a being he believes to be his long-time foe, Dr. Doom, he reaches out, grips its head and crushes it entirely. Revealing in a later panel, his rocky hand is covered in blood, he seems to relish the moment. In later comics, it was revealed that it was actually the mother of The Human Torch and Invisible Woman, Mary Storm, whose skull he savagely destroyed. Wow.
4 Lois Lane Seduces Superman’s Dad
Lois may not typically be thought of as a superhero, but her deeds are often heroic which qualifies her for our list. Way back, in 1965, she managed to travel back in time and through space, to a still intact, Krypton, where she comes into contact with Supes’ folks. Stranded on a planet that she knows is destined to be destroyed; she does what any reasonable person would do, pretends to be her boyfriend’s mom and seduces his father. Wait, what?
Once the planet is entirely shrouded in darkness, a nightly occurrence apparently, she masquerades as Lara and makes out with Jor-El, her future father-in-law. Her deception is quickly discovered, as Lara arrives just in time to see her man and Ms. Lane locking lips once they become visible again. Apologizing profusely and explaining what happened, The Man of Steel’s father shockingly reveals that he has fallen for the new girl. We guess, Lois is one hell of a kisser since they weren’t talking much, if at all. In the next few panels, Lois suddenly has her ship repaired and before heading for Earth, tells the two lovers to get back together, something they just agree to do, like nothing. Once back on Earth, Lois realizes she almost became Superman’s mom and is thoroughly creeped out, as are we.
3 Cyclops, Wife Deserter, Cheater and Murderer
Cyclops has been the de facto field leader of the X-Men since the beginning. Scott “Cyclops” Summers is supposed to be the embodiment of the morally upstanding mutant. He is supposed to be the perfect example of the Charles Xavier's dream of mutants and humans living together in harmony.
The first cracks in the façade he’d created took place when Jean Grey was resurrected the first time. Scott's long time love, Jean, had been believed dead when he had found himself a woman to marry and have a child with. Scott seemed madly in love with his new wife until it was revealed that his ex, was alive and he abandoned his new family. Years later, Scott telepathically cheated on Jean with Emma Frost, who he entered into a long-term relationship with after Ms. Grey died once again. Afterwards, he inherited the powers of his deceased wife’s alter ego, The Phoenix, which granted him nearly unlimited power. Arguably overcome, the fact that he kills his long-time mentor is may be more understandable but he has since become a much darker character.
2 Reed Richards, Mass Murderer
In the Ultimate Universe, Reed Richards is an egomaniac who led a group that committed a full-fledged genocide. As in the movies, Reed was a founding member of The Fantastic Four, but in the Ultimate line of comic books, he was driven crazy when the team broke up and his love Sue, rejected his proposal. After faking his death, the former hero had Spider-Man’s home, the Baxter Building and Shield’s headquarters attacked by alien creatures.
Creating an army bent on perfecting the planet, called the Children of Tomorrow, their base was attacked by a small group of superheroes including Thor. Recognizing the incredible abilities of the Thunder God, Reed set his sights on his people and in a shocking turn of events, he led his followers as they killed every other Asgardian.
1 Charles Xavier
A powerful telepath, he travelled the world finding mutants he believed would follow him and trained them to use their abilities. He also taught his new followers that humans and mutants should live together peacefully. Then some of his more despicable deeds came to light.
For instance, there was a team of mutants, he brought together to save some of his other students. Believing he’d sent them to their doom, instead of taking responsibility for their fate, he erased them from the memories of the world. One of those people, Gabriel Summers, was the brother of two of his followers, Havok and Cyclops. On top of that, it came to light that he’d enslaved the will of the physical manifestation of his much-heralded training facility, The Danger Room. Danger, as the being came to be known spent years doing the bidding of Charles while he ignored its telepathic screams for relief. Then, of course, there is his manipulation of Wolverine and love for an underage Jean Grey. In short, no hero has a longer rap sheet we can think of.