Comic book supervillains aren’t the most trustworthy bunch. This is hardly surprising given that they’re even more villain-y than your average, un-powered villain. It just comes with the territory. You’d never ask The Joker to pick you up at the airport, since he’d probably just murder you and rig some planes to release deadly, smile-inducing nerve gas into their closed air supplies as soon as they hit cruising altitude. And you’d never ask X-Men baddie Sabretooth to feed your dog while you’re on vacation because he’s more of a cat person.
But that lack of reliability also extends to their relationships with each other. An alliance means nothing to a supervillain. The whole point of supervillains is that they don’t follow your rules, man, so they can’t even be bothered not to include their fellow criminals in their lists of victims.
Check out these 20 times that supervillains turned their murder intent upon their own kind.
20. Apocalypse kills Rictor
X-Men‘s “Age of Apocalypse” crossover event takes place in an alternate timeline that arises after a time traveler accidentally kills Professor Xavier and has the villain Apocalypse completely taking over the planet. It changes the nature and alignment of several mutant heroes and villains, so while Julio Esteban “Rictor” Richter normally uses his seismic powers for good, this storyline recasts him as a villain working for the bad guy.
Unfortunately for him (but luckily for Gambit and his team of X-Ternals, which, by the way, is one of the most amazingly ’90s superhero team names ever), Richter is as good at supervillainy as he is picking a “mutant name.” We doubt anyone either appreciates or notices the homophone, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here.
Richter tries repeatedly to thwart the X-Ternals in an attempt to win favor with the boss and maybe receive a juicy promotion from “goon” to “thug,” and he fails miserably every time. After one especially botched mission has Richter returning Gambit-less once again, Apocalypse tells him that his organization no longer needs his services.
19. Doctor Doom explodes Juggernaut’s head
The 2010 – 2012 Marvel Universe vs. series depicts a version of Earth on which a viral outbreak starts turning people, including superheroes and villains, into cannibals. Don’t confuse this with 2005’s Marvel Zombies, however, because they are totally different things.
The outbreak starts in New York, and it falls to a small group of superpowered uninfected to make a final stand. But that doesn’t work too well because the cannibals have Juggernaut on their side, and Juggernaut is crazy even when he doesn’t crave human flesh. In fact, he’s just about to snap Thor in half to get at that sweet, sweet Asgardian marrow when suddenly, and to the surprise of everyone, the bad guy’s head explodes.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just the final stage of Cannibal Fever; that would have been really lucky and rendered all the fighting unnecessary. Instead, it was just Doctor Doom’s way of making an entrance.
Doom claims that he has a cure for the disease that does not involve blowing Juggernaut’s dome off, and all the Avengers have to do is make him the unquestioned emperor of the planet. This is basically the ultimate seller’s market, and the heroes have to give in. But Doom’s hunger-killing “Doomstones” are really just a means to control the wearers because Doctor Doom likes subjugating people almost as much as he enjoys naming his inventions after himself.
18. Nitro blows up a town
Marvel’s first Civil War event — the one that stood in for the Red Scare, not the later one that was basically Minority Report — starts with a televised fight between inexperienced superhero team the New Warriors and supervillains Nitro, Cobalt Man, Speedfreek, and Coldheart, who are hiding in a house after a prison break. Nitro decides he doesn’t feel like getting into a big fight (maybe he just ate), so he uses his explosive powers to blow up a huge chunk of Stamford, including a school.
The incident kills 600 people, 60 of whom are children, and the incident sets off events that lead to the U.S. government passing legislation requiring every superpowered person to register and receive proper training and oversight. This escalates to a civil rights-violating superprison in an antimatter universe, the death of hero Goliath — and the fake death of Captain America — and Iron Man receiving several dozen superpunches in his stupid face.
Obviously the Stamford Incident has some real victims, but the ensuing events gloss over the fact that Nitro’s selfishness extends to his fellow fugitives, who receive few mentions if any throughout the rest of the almost 100 comic issues that make up the event.
17. Ultron annihilates Korath the Pursuer
Like Apocalypse, the mad, artificially intelligent supervillain Ultron is tough on his employees. He demonstrates this quality in Marvel’s “Annihilation: Conquest” storyline, which has the robotic fiend leading the cybernetic species Phalanx in a bid to take over the universe.
Korath the Pursuer, a Kree who uses biotech to give himself superpowers, serves as one of Ultron’s underlings, and in the series’ first issue, he has one job: to capture the newly restored Adam Warlock and prevent him from helping the good guys free the enslaved Kree Empire. Warlock is an artificially created, “perfect” human that some Earth scientists cooked up in their lab, for some reason, so he makes a pretty appealing asset. But Korath fails, so the boss makes an example of him and presents him with his organization’s impressive severance package.
16. Cupid wrecks brick
Marvel villains don’t have a monopoly on murdering each other; DC’s antagonists are similarly fickle with their loyalties.
Carrie “Cupid” Cutter, an insane, murderous archer with an obsession with the Green Arrow, started her crusade to impress the vigilante by taking out several low-level thugs so that they couldn’t bother him anymore. But soon, it escalates to higher-profile targets.
Danny Brickwell, better known as Brick, is an underworld boss with red, unbreakable skin. This makes way more sense than the version of the character that Vinnie Jones played on the CW show Arrow, who is just really mean and doesn’t seem to notice when Oliver Queen shoots a bunch of pointy sticks into his body. We’ll take the one with superpowers, thanks.
Cupid knows she has to step up her game if Green Arrow is going to notice and appreciate her, so she sets out to take Brickwell down. But he’s made of rocks, so she has to be a little more imaginative than just shooting arrows into the guy. Instead, she launches a demolition ball into Brick’s penthouse, which is presumably bulletproof but as vulnerable to wrecking as any other building. The attack snaps Brick in half.
15. Black Adams pokes Psycho-Pirate
Infinite Crisis, the landmark, universe-changing event that serves as a sequel to the landmark, universe-changing event Crisis on Infinite Earths, has an alternate version of Lex Luthor, Jr. (son of Lex Luthor and Lois Lane, who presumably married to corner the world market on names starting with L) playing around with the multiverse to create the perfect Earth. But that means destroying a whole lot of other planets and the people who live on them, so a coalition of heroes and villains alike rise up to thwart him.
One of the less likely members of the resistance movement is Captain Marvel‘s archenemy, Black Adam. He isn’t so much trying to do good as he is exploiting a cosmic loophole that says that you can’t really get into trouble for murdering someone who no longer exists once the universe resets. We assume.
Adam soon finds Psycho-Pirate, who has been using his ability to manipulate people’s emotions to help Luthor in his schemes. But Adam has no time for feelings, so before the emotion-bender can render him too scared to fight, he uses his considerable strength to poke Psycho-Pirate’s eyes out … through the back of his skull.
14. Tony Twist mows down Curse
Image Comics’ Spawn series contains very few characters who are truly, absolutely good; everyone’s more or less just varying degrees of terrible. And that makes sense because it was the ’90s, and nobody liked anything back then.
The Curse (Phillip Krahn) was one such ambiguous character who believed that he was destined to lead the armies of Heaven in the final conflict between good and evil. And he showed his devotion to his cause by removing his eye and arm in a pretty misguided attempt to demonstrate his devotion to God. We don’t know if that impressed the Almighty in the slightest, but Curse replaces his missing limb with an awesome arm cannon capable of blowing a hole right through Spawn, so maybe it all worked out.
Krahn teams up with mobster Tony Twist for a time before betraying him, so we assume that the cool tech gave him some unearned bravery. Twist proves this wrong by driving his car into Curse’s occult lab, hitting the villain and setting off a massive explosion of chemicals. The crime boss survives this attack, but Krahn does not. We don’t know if he got a chance to apply for the whole “head of Heaven’s armies” job in person afterward, but we doubt he was qualified considering all those times he worshipped dark forces.
13. Gorilla Grodd brains Monsieur Mallah
Here’s a twofer from Salvation Run, a limited series that has the Suicide Squad capturing most of DC’s supervillains and stranding them on a planet because it’s probably just safer that way. The bad guys can’t decide whether they want to return to Earth or just fight each other to control their new home, and not everyone survives the discussion.
At one point, Monsieur Mallah suggests an alliance with his fellow sentient gorilla, Grodd. But the latter isn’t having it, since he got his super-smarts from an alien (or radioactive meteor, depending on the version), and Mallah received his from a human scientist. We aren’t sure what the difference is, but all that matters is that Grodd believes one is clearly superior, so he laughs off the request. Mallah doesn’t approve of this treatment and starts a fight, which stops temporarily when the French gorilla’s romantic and criminal partner, Brain — who is literally a brain in a glass case — implores Grodd to have mercy.
Grodd, never one to pass up an opportunity to increase efficiency, promptly picks Brain up and uses him to beat Mallah to death. The case breaks, because gorillas are strong, so the disembodied organ also dies.
12. Jack o’lantern kills the other jack o’lanterns
Five men have taken up the mantle of supervillain Jack O’Lantern, and the only things they have in common are that they fly around and have masks shaped like carved pumpkins. They’re all varying degrees of crazy, but no previous incarnations match the standard of insanity set by the most recent version.
He works for the third Crime Master, who “adopted” the villain and molded his already disturbing, sadistic childhood tendencies into assassination skills. The boss later coerces Flash Thompson into using his Venom symbiote to steal its “grandchild” Toxin from a lab in Las Vegas. And that means that Flash and Jack get to go on the most awkward road trip since that blizzard diverted Steve Martin and John Candy to Wichita.
During a really uncomfortable breakfast — which ends with Jack murdering the owners of the diner and leaving candles burning in their hollowed-out skulls — the criminal reveals that he spent months taking out his predecessors to “clean the brand up.” That obviously doesn’t include the second Jack O’Lantern, Steven Levins, who gets a bullet from the Punisher during the first Civil War, but we imagine the current incarnation is too crazy to keep count.
11. Blacksmith fuses Rainbow Raider
Rainbow Raider’s death in the Flash comics is only slightly less ignoble than the various Jacks O’Lantern, but at least he gets to go out on page. Regardless, he dies in an aside in an issue in which he isn’t even the main antagonist, so that’s got to sting a bit.
Raider, whose real name is Roy G. Bivens (because of course it is), is a frustrated, colorblind artist who turns to crime with the aid of special goggles that let him fire solid beams of rainbow light. We aren’t sure how that makes him particularly adept at pulling heists, but he’s a minor villain, and that’s probably why.
During a 2002 issue of The Flash, Bivens starts a ruckus at Blacksmith’s criminal bazaar, the Network, when an art buyer refuses to cough up some dough for his latest forgery (he’s trying to pass it off as genuine). Blacksmith steps in and uses her powers of bio-metallic manipulation to fuse Raider with his work. We imagine that once that happened, any music that was playing in the Network stopped abruptly, possibly accompanied with a comical noise like a phonograph needle screeching, before everyone collects themselves and returns to their business.
10. Carnage backstabs Klaw
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that any supervillain scheme that involves inviting Carnage to join your mash-up team is doomed to fail for obvious reasons: that thing is crazy.
Venom’s offspring loves killing so much that it named itself after mass murder, and if that doesn’t give a hint that Carnage won’t be a team player, we don’t know what else to tell you. But that doesn’t stop The Wizard from rolling out his plan, anyway. His plan includes bonding Carnage to a mind-controlled person in an attempt to keep him the Symbiote in check, and surely nothing could possibly go wrong.
At one point, The Wizard loses control of Carnage, and it swipes a chunk of vibranium and uses it to stab Ulysses Klaw in the back. As we’ve already seen, Klaw is especially susceptible to vibranium’s sound-dampening abilities, so this is bad news for him. His injury even proves beyond fatal, causing him to explode, killing Carnage’s host and leaving it free to take over The Wizard.
Klaw fuses with the “sound wall of the universe,” which is a pretty neat trick that he uses to get one last sonic shot off, defeating the alien slime long enough for Spider-Man to get it into containment.
9. Zemo redistributes Genis-Vell
The Suicide Squad’s less punk-rock Marvel counterpart, the Thunderbolts are a weird hero team made of reformed supervillains. So we’re not sure if someone who’s joined up still counts as a villain, but this incident is so weird that we can’t help but throw it in.
Genis-Vell was the third Captain Marvel until the awesome, cosmic power that comes with the job drove him straight-up insane. This sets him on a series of bizarre adventures that include setting up a private-eye-style office on one of Saturn’s moons and destroying the universe. Or, as comic characters call it, just another Tuesday.
He joins up with the Thunderbirds when he returns to Earth and takes the name Photon, but after a fight goes especially poorly, frequent supervillain Baron Zemo uses universal energy to speed Genis’ recovery. Unfortunately, this creates an unbreakable link between the former Captain Marvel and time itself, which threatens to obliterate everything.
In order to prevent that, Zemo freezes Genis, separates his body into pieces, and scatters the bits throughout the Darkforce Dimension, which is where that black gunk from the second season of Agent Carter came from.
8. Prometheus turns Clayface into living C-4
DC villain Prometheus is currently appearing on the CW series Arrow, but in the comics, he usually takes on the entire Justice League instead of just Worse-Dressed Batman. He’s a go-getter, that Prometheus.
In the Cry for Justice miniseries, the JL thinks it’s captured the criminal mastermind, but this is a comic book, so nothing can be that simple. In fact, Prometheus had captured the third Clayface, Preston Payne, and mutated him to have the shape-shifting powers of earlier incarnations. Originally, Payne’s failed cure for his own hyperpituitarism turns him into living goop, and he has to wear a containment suit and melt other people in order to survive. So Prometheus did him a huge favor … for a little while.
Payne disguises himself as Prometheus and “turns himself in,” and the Justice League doesn’t find out he’s a decoy until just before the bomb the real villain planted inside of Clayface primes and blows up their entire building. A lightning flash from Captain Marvel, Jr. saves the team (somehow), but Payne ends up scattered all over the bomb site.
7. chillblaine freezes golden glider
Lisa Snart, who commits crimes as Golden Glider, was Captain Cold’s sister and a clever inventor; she had an arsenal of gear and weapons based on jewelry, which is just delightful. She also whipped up a copy of her brother’s trademark freeze pistol, and that’s where she went wrong.
In the course of committing crimes, she took on several partners who went by the name Chillblaine, and that’s who the extra weapon was for. Unfortunately, the fourth one was only interested in her for her cold gun, and he almost immediately uses it to kill her. We’d joke that it was a metaphor for something if it weren’t actually really sad.
Chillblaine tries to fake his own death to avoid Captain Cold’s inevitable vengeance, but it doesn’t fool the superior criminal. The surviving Snart tracks the former sidekick down, freezes his skin to immobilize him, and then throws him off of a roof to his death. So that’s like a bonus entry for you.
6. Deadbolt mortar-ly wounds Bolt
Family conflict is a staple of comic books — and basically every other form of drama, for that matter. You have Superman‘s occasional struggles to reconcile the differing lessons of his Kryptonian and Earth dads, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s conflicts with their often-evil, vaguely racist father, Magneto, and Sue Storm’s daily struggles with having a smug, a-hole husband who demands that everyone call him “Mr. Fantastic.”
All we’re saying is that the awkwardness of Superhero Thanksgiving is on a totally different level than yours. What, your uncle owes your dad money? Please.
Larry “Bolt” Bolatinsky made himself a suit that let him teleport, but that amazing engineering prowess did not translate into good parenting. He was cruel and distant to his son, Terry, so it’s no surprise that the younger Bolatinsky would fall in with a rough crowd. Specifically, Clock King, who orders the kid — now with his own tele-suit and operating under the name Dreadbolt — to murder Bolt and prove his loyalty.
Dreadbolt has no problems with this, so after some familial bickering, he uses his gear to zap his dad into a brick wall. And we don’t mean that Bolt comically bumps his nose like in a slapstick comedy routine. He ends up inside the wall. This proves instantly and understandably fatal, and we don’t envy whoever had to go clean that up, but we’re sure the CSI-style puns flowed fast and easy.
5. Pied Piper blows DeSaad’s face off
It’s easy to underestimate Pied Piper because his whole thing is that he plays a flute with hypnotic powers. Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull does that, too, but he only uses his powers for good.Onthe other hand, Anderson, to the best of our knowledge, does not know the mind-controlling Anti-Life Equation, so that probably changes things quite a bit.
Because Pied Piper does, however, he becomes of great interest to superdupervillain Darkseid, who needs the Equation to completely rule everything. It falls to his lead torturer, DeSaad, to get that knowledge out of the Piper and keep the whole “universal rule” plan rolling. It does not go as planned.
The problem with coercing a guy into using his magical flute to unlock a weapon of unimaginable power, however, is that you have to give him the flute. Meanwhile, you’re just torturing him and making him hate you. At his first opportunity, Piper uses his surprisingly considerable musical powers to play the most amazing woodwind solo ever. It rocks so hard, in fact, that it blows DeSaad’s head right off.
4. magneto disarmors apocalypse
At the end of director Bryan Singer’s last X-Men film, it took everyone’s powers combined to take down Apocalypse, but in X-Men: Omega, which is the finale to the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, it only takes one: a supremely ticked-off Magneto.
Omega has Magneto’s X-Men make their final assault on Apocalypse and his dystopian regime. Mutant fights break out all over the place, and Apocalypse launches a surprisingly one-sided attack on his foe.
“The end-game is yours and mine alone!” the villain says while he’s strangling an oddly permissive Magneto. “This is no time to disappoint me! Fight back! Why won’t you fight back?”
“I … can’t,” the other replies. “I’m concentrating.”
“What — No!” Apocalypse says, just before Magneto uses his awesome powers to rip him in half.
We suppose he realized too late that metal armor is not the best choice when you’re fighting a guy capable of affecting the course of a tiny ship that is floating around light-years from Earth. And we understand that the suddenness of his loss was a huge surprise, but for a guy who prides himself on making grand speeches about the new world order and the superiority of his kind, those were some pretty anticlimactic last words.
3. Thanos stomps Annihilus
Thanos has been going on cosmic adventures almost as long as he’s existed, and his latest escapade has him going up against Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone. The (bigger) villain uses Adam Warlock — who is basically a professional pawn at this point — to wage genocide, and only the Mad Titan is crazy enough to stop him. Sometimes, you just have to call the guy whose love for the personification of Death informs absolutely everything he does.
The big purple guy assembles a superteam to fight back, and everyone dies. But luckily, comic-relief friend Pip manages to rescue Adam Warlock, who is able to restore the universe to its original state. But before that, they make a quick stop at the Negative Zone to deal with Annihilus.
Warlock decides to de-evolve the villain to minimize the damage he can do, and by the time he’s done, the insect-like Annihilus is nothing but a tiny bug. While Adam thinks this is sufficient punishment for all of that wrongdoing, Thanos respectfully disagrees and devises a more permanent solution by crushing the transformed despot under his boot.
2. Joker kills Multi-Man multiple times
Duncan Pramble, the Multi-Man, has a really bizarre superpower that is actually every superpower– but not simultaneously. Every time he dies, he immediately reincarnates with a different ability, and he innately knows what he can do every time he comes back.
Last Laugh has Joker discovering that he’s dying from a brain tumor and staging one final, epic caper to go out on. But before he can start that, he has to escape from prison, and his plan includes gaining access to the armory. Multi-Man doesn’t have the ability to help the Clown Prince of Crime out in that regard, but Joker has the patience, persistence, and moral flexibility to keep murdering the poor guy until he does.
We don’t know exactly how many times Multi dies before he becomes useful, but his 43rd go makes his skin incredibly conductive, and after 77 resets, he gains the ability to become two-dimensional. Eventually, however, Pramble gets some exploding powers that let him knock a hole in the floor, and the prison’s fire-suppression system puts his flaming body out so effectively that it freezes him solid.
1. red skull assassinates hitler
While Adolf Hitler wasn’t literally a supervillain, since if he could fly or bend steel, he’d have made sure everyone knew, he’s likely the closest our universe will come to having one. And he was still an insane megalomaniac with an army and designs on world domination, so we’re inclined to count it.
The A-Next series includes a trip to Earth-9907, which is exactly like “regular Earth” except that instead of Red Skull sitting out most of World War II trapped in suspended animation in a bunker, he got out. Seeing that the Axis powers couldn’t possibly win the war, he decided it was time for a change in leadership. That included seizing command of the German war machine by assassinating Hitler.
Under his guidance, the Nazis overrun the planet and reign supreme. But once they’re done, the regime’s new leader, Victor von Doom (who killed Red Skull to get his job because that’s how this universe rolls) realizes that the entire economy depends on being at war constantly, and nobody remains to oppose them. So he takes the only logical course of action: Creating a device that will let his armies travel to other dimensions and conquer them.
But all of this starts with Red Skull shooting Hitler in the back, and that’s the relevant part.
What are your favorite moments of villain-on-villain murder? Be sure to let us know in the comments.