Comic books are certainly no strangers to epic battles, but with characters who are more or less Gods among men, it’s hard to make a fight seem balanced and fair, not that the writers don’t try and find some way to suspend our disbelief.
Despite comic books’ best efforts to provide explanations for ridiculous upsets via convenient plot twists or random McGuffins, sometimes the writers know when a comic book character just has to have his butt handed to him. Whether these characters had it coming, a result of poetic instant karma, or were blindsided by a superior foe, one thing is for sure — every single one of the characters on this list were completely owned.
Here are the 15 Most Humiliating Defeats In Comic Book History.
15. Batman vs Guy Gardner (Justice League #5)
Guy Gardner is one of those insufferable characters that absolutely no one likes, in-universe or otherwise. Sure, Guy’s got a power ring, but his attitude is that of a whiny, entitled child, not of a superhero.
Batman, on the other hand, is just a normal dude who uses nothing but his intellect and an intense gym regimen to take out bad guys, which lands the Dark Knight heaps of respect and superhero street cred, unless you’re Guy Gardner.
When Batman is put in charge of the Justice League International, Guy Gardner doesn’t share everyone’s opinion that the Caped Crusader is the best man for the job. Gardner doesn’t hide his resentment either. Instead, for a number of issues, Gardner sulks about and complains about how he should be in charge. Finally, Guy and Bats decided to throw down in order to settle things between the two. Batman levels Guy with one punch, knocking him out cold and giving birth to an instant comic book classic in the process.
14. Street Thugs vs Darkseid (Super Powers #3)
Darkseid is one of the most powerful and generally terrifying entities in the entire DC multiverse. An insane individual who will stop at nothing to shape the universe in his own image, Darkseid is a force to be reckoned with, which is why his run-in with street youths in Super Powers #3 is absolutely hilarious.
After losing his omega power and becoming stranded on Earth, a severely weakened Darkseid finds himself puttering about Metropolis. Realizing that his appearance is bound to start attracting attention. Darkseid decides to stoop to a new low by breaking into a thrift shop to steal some clothes to blend in with the locals.
Opting for a red fedora and a green plaid overcoat, Darkseid huddles in an alleyway, contemplating what went wrong, when two street youths begin to accost him. The two thugs get fed up with Darkseid’s ugly mug and proceed to smack him upside the head with a chain and rob him blind before high tailing it out of there, leaving Darkseid to lament his lot in life.
13. Bruiser vs Wolverine (Runaways #12)
Wolverine may be the best at what he does, but that doesn’t mean he always comes out on top. In fact, Wolverine has suffered through some pretty horrendous stuff, but he has always managed to maintain his dignity. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Runaways #12, when he goes toe-to-toe with the Runaways resident tween, Molly Hayes (aka Princess Powerful/Brusier).
Wolverine, acting as a member of the New Avengers, is investigating the savage beating of Dagger. All the evidence leads to her partner, Cloak, being responsible, who has turned to the Runaways for help. Finding Cloak holed up in a cathedral with Molly, Wolverine confronts them.
A single panel later we see Wolverine crashing though the doors of the cathedral and flying through the air before landing face down in the snow. He laments the fact that Molly is one of the few remaining mutants on the planet, no doubt his ego being bruised by getting owned by a 12-year-old girl.
12. The Sentry vs Temugin (Agents of Atlas #3)
The first incarnation of the Agents of Atlas began life in 1958 as a team of misfit superheroes operating under the FBI to rescue then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. After a number of successful top-secret missions, the government disbands the team and all information regarding their exploits is classified.
Years later, after Norman Osborn rises to a position of power within the United States government, the Agents of Atlas reappear, acting as “supervillains” working against Osborn. One of their schemes involves meeting Osborn on a boat on the Hudson River to negotiate the purchase of several powerful weapons. Osborn shows up fashionably late with his bodyguard, The Sentry, at his side. Temugin, one of the Agents of Atlas, takes offense to Osborn’s transgression and launches into a flying kick aimed squarely at the Sentry’s head. Without even bothering to look in the direction of Temugin’s foot, Sentry grabs Temugin’s leg in mid-air, flinging him miles backward into the river. In hindsight, a jump kick probably not the best way to greet a guy who has the power of a million exploding suns.
11. Booster Gold vs Royal Flush Gang (Justice League #4)
In the 25th century, prior to adopting the Booster Gold persona, Michael Jon Carter works at the Metropolis Space Museum, where artifacts from 20th Century superheroes are displayed. Carter decides to steal some of the artifacts — such as a Legion of Superheroes Flight Ring and Brainiac 5’s force field belt — and travel back to the 20th century, where he can use his knowledge of the future in conjunction with his super powered devices to become a hero.
Depicted as a glory hound and showboat, Booster Gold uses his newfound celebrity to amass wealth and fame. In an effort to drum up even more publicity, he tries to land a spot on the Justice League. In order to impress the team, he sets out to stop the Royal Flush Gang, a group of supervillains whose schtick is that they dress like playing cards.
Booster easily dispatches three out of the four Royal Flush Gang members, leaving Wanda Wayland, better known as Ten, as the last one standing. Booster awkwardly explains to Wanda that in the 25th century, where he is from, true equality among the sexes has been achieved. Because of this, he has no problem decking a woman, although he does so somewhat reluctantly.
10. Wolverine vs Cyclops (New X-Men #142)
Cyclops and Wolverine may be teammates, but their relationship is strained, at best. The two characters are complete opposites; one is the calm, cool and collected leader, the other is an unpredictable loner who doesn’t let things like morals stand in the way of what he thinks is right. Throw in a smoking hot redhead that they’re both in love with, and you have one of the greatest rivalries in the entire Marvel Universe.
While Scott Summers and Logan have been able to put aside their differences for the greater good more often than not, calling them friends would be a stretch, and that is why New X-Men #142 is so good. In the issue, Wolverine and Cyclops are sitting in the Hellfire Club, drinking whiskey. With lowered inhibitions, Scott finally allows some of his emotions to show through his tough exterior. In between downing shot after shot, Scott and Logan get a few things off of their chests, in a rare example of the two characters confiding in one another.
It’s a poignant moment punctuated with a bit of humor, as Scott becomes more and more inebriated with every passing panel, while Logan is able to handle his booze a bit better. Logan also takes the opportunity to chastise Scott for being ungrateful for all of the things that Logan knows he could never have. Scott may get the ladies, but at least Logan’s got him beat in the drinking department.
9. Peter Parker vs Wilson Fisk (Back in Black, 2007)
After the events of 2006’s comic Civil War, everyone knows the secret identity of Spider-Man, which inevitably leads to an assassination attempt. The assassin’s bullet misses Peter but strikes his beloved Aunt May, who has to be rushed to the hospital with critical injuries.
Angry and guilt-ridden, Parker dons an all black Spider-Man suit similar to his time with the symbiote, and tries to uncover who is responsible for the hit. Throughout the Back In Black story arc, we see a different side of Parker, one whose morality has been compromised in his search for vengeance.
Parker eventually discovers who commissioned the assassination attempt, and it is none other than Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin. Spider-Man confronts Fisk, who at this time, is sitting in jail. Parker removes his Spider-Man mask, telling Fisk that he is going to exact his revenge as Peter Parker.
Fisk, the loud mouth that he is, responds by verbally berating Parker, basically outright telling him how awesome he is. Unfortunately for Fisk, Parker is fueled solely by rage at this point. Parker has no desire to simply incapacitate Fisk; instead he wants to destroy him, which he does in a completely one-sided fight, beating him to a pulp physically and severely damaging his reputation in the criminal underworld.
8. Hal Jordan vs Batman (Green Lantern: Rebirth #6)
When Hal Jordan’s hometown is completely destroyed and everyone he has ever known is killed in the process, he goes off the deep end. Using his power ring to recreate Coast City and his dead parents, Hal is confronted by the Guardians of the Universe, who attempt to take his power ring away, as he has exhausted its energy for selfish purposes. Infuriated, Hal goes on a rampage and kills several Lanterns and Guardians, becoming a supervillain known as Parallax.
Years later, it was revealed that during his tenure as a villain, Hal Jordan was in fact possessed by an evil entity known as Parallax. During the Rebirth storyline, DC resurrected Hal Jordan after he had sacrificed himself to reignite the sun, penance for all of the atrocities he committed as Parallax. Now resurrected and once again a Green Lantern, Hal Jordan helps to imprison the Parallax entity, and vows to help to rebuild the Green Lantern Corps. Batman, however, isn’t buying any of this.
Unconvinced that Hal Jordan isn’t responsible for his actions as Parallax, Batman is openly hostile towards Hal, constantly reminding him of all of the terrible things he did while possessed. Eventually, Hal has enough of Batman’s constant goading and decks him. An unsuspecting Batman is taken by surprise and hits the ground hard, much to the delight of Guy Gardner.
7. Thor vs Loki (Thor #382)
They don’t call Loki the “Trickster God” for nothing. For years, Loki has been pulling the strings behind some of the worst headaches of Thor’s entire career. From turning Thor into a frog to inhabiting the body of Thor’s former lover to becoming a viral video-loving 12-year-old version of himself, Loki is the master of layered manipulation.
In Thor #382, Loki’s machinations have landed Thor in the realm of the undead and allowed the Frost Giants to lay siege on Asgard. The mighty Thor is able to overcome these insurmountable odds with the help of Loki, who promises to use his magic to restore the fallen Asgardians in exchange for amnesty.
A short time afterward, Thor decides to pay Loki a visit. Thor basically tells Loki that he’s a jerk in need of a serious attitude adjustment, and of course Loki responds in the most obnoxious way possible. To teach his little bro a lesson, Thor calmly walks up to Loki and breaks his arm with Mjolnir.
6. Squirrel Girl vs Dr Doom (Marvel Superheroes #8)
It has become somewhat of a running gag within the Marvel Universe that the amateur superhero Squirrel Girl can best any villain out there. Whether you want to believe it or not, she has beaten the likes of M.O.D.O.K., Mandarin, and even Thanos, but perhaps her biggest claim to fame (and the one that put her on the map) was her victory against Dr. Doom way back in 1992.
In an attempt to impress her idol, Iron Man, Squirrel Girl rescues him from Dr. Doom’s clutches by using her mutant ability to call for help — in the form of thousands of squirrels. The furry little guys get into every nook and cranny of Doom’s ship, chewing through the wiring and rendering his tech useless. The frosting on the cake is when Doom himself is overwhelmed by hundreds of squirrels, all nipping at him in their own bushy-tailed version of a Zerg Rush. As if the defeat wasn’t bad enough, Doom utters a truly humiliating line in this embarrassing defeat, proclaiming, “Confound these wretched rodents! For every one I fling away, a dozen more vex me!”
Before you brush this one off by saying Squirrel Girl is a joke character, just remember that the official Marvel database has her power stats completely maxed out.
5. Doomsday vs Justice League International (Justice League #69)
We’ve mentioned this one before in our list on the most one-sided fights in comics, but the fight between Doomsday and Justice League International deserves a mention here as well, since Doomsday mops the floor with every Justice League member with ease.
Doomsday has just broken free from his restraints and is tearing through Oklahoma, leaving a wake of destruction behind him. Justice League International investigates, which quickly leads to a fight with the raging behemoth. What follows is a complete embarrassment for the Justice League, as Doomsday just tears through them without slowing down, all with one of his hands still tied behind his back.
Sure, this incarnation of the Justice League is little more than a glorified back-up squad, and they were missing Superman, who at the time was busy being interviewed on a talk show, but the Justice League gets beat so badly here that when the dust settles, you even feel bad for Guy Gardner.
4. Luke Cage vs Dr. Doom (Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #8-9)
Way back in 1973, Dr. Doom hired the silver headband wearing, working class hero Luke Cage to take out a bunch of rogue Doombots who were posing as African Americans in New York City. Cage is understandably cagey about being under the employ of a known supervillain, especially one that is borderline racist (he calls Cage “a black” and his background as one of “petty hoodlums and petty crimes”), but he eventually relents, as the Doombots are engaging in shady behavior.
Cage is successful in tracking down the Doombots, but Dr. Doom, in a baffling display of tightassery, fails to pay Cage his $200 fee. Cage is miffed over being stiffed, so he borrows the Fantastic Four’s jet and flies to Latveria to get Doom to pay up.
Doom is shocked to find out that Cage would go through the trouble of tracking him down, all for a measly $200. But Cage tells him that when he “puts in an honest day’s work”, he “expects his bread for it”. Doom, being the ultimate cheapskate, still refuses to pay Cage, resulting in Cage explaining to the good Doctor that it’s the principle of the matter, before laying him out with nothing more than his bare fist.
3. Lockjaw & The Pet Avengers vs Thanos (Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, 2009)
Thanos is one of the biggest baddies in the entire Marvel Universe, being both completely insane and insanely powerful. His infatuation with Death means that he won’t think twice about killing, a trait that he has exhibited multiple times before. A formidable foe on his own, when the Mad Titan gets his hands on the Infinity Gems, his powers are elevated to that of a God, becoming omnipotent and capable of wiping out millions with a snap of his fingers, which he’s done. So it’s understandable that the superheroes in the Marvel Universe want to make sure that Thanos doesn’t get his hands on the Infinity Gems again.
So, when Mr. Fantastic visits the Inhumans in search of the Gems, Lockjaw, the Inhuman’s bulldog chauffer, decides to take matters into his own paws and find the Gems himself. To help in his quest, Lockjaw assembles a team of superpowered animals, including Throg, the frog who has hammer made from a sliver of Thor’s Mjolnir, Lockheed, Shadocat’s fire breathing alien dragon, Redwing, Falcon’s hawk, Hairball, a cat imbued with the same energy bubbles as Speedball, Zabu from the Savage Land, and Ms. Lion, Aunt May’s dog.
Together, they not only retrieve all of the Infinity Gems, but also run afoul of Thanos in the process. During the altercation, Thanos kills Ms. Lion. The remaining Pet Avengers are angered and use the power of the Infinity Gems to strand Thanos in an alternate dimension. The group then uses the Gems to revive Ms. Lion and pledge to reunite whenever the world needs them.
2. Batman vs The Hyperclan (JLA: New World Order)
The Hyperclan was a group of aliens who appeared on Earth and immediately announced their intent to make the world a better place. In addition to using their Superman-like powers for defeating criminals, the group also aimed to earn brownie points with the public by doing altruistic things aimed at making life better for everyone on the planet.
Many of Earth’s superheroes, including the JLA, were skeptical of the Hyperclan’s motives and set out to investigate them. They quickly deduced that the Hyperclan was using mind control in order to sway public opinion against the JLA. Before long, the two groups came to blows, with the JLA suffering a crushing defeat.
At this stage, Batman was presumed dead, and the rest of the JLA — including Superman and Wonder Woman — were captured and subjected to torture at the hands of the Hyperclan. Batman, however, was alive and well and sneaking around the Hyperclan’s base of operations, like John McClane shuffling through the ventilation system of Nakatomi Plaza. Batman had discovered that the Hyperclan were actually evil White Martians, and being Martians, they were susceptible to fire. Armed with only some lighter fluid and matches, Batman took out each member of the Hyperclan one by one, rescuing the JLA single-handedly.
1. Deathstroke vs JLA (Identity Crisis #3)
Slade Wilson is essentially Batman, if Batman carried around a sword and lost an eye to a jilted lover. As Deathstroke, Slade is an accomplished assassin, capable of eliminating his targets with incredible precision. Remember how tough he was in Batman: Arkham Origins? In the comics, he’s even more tenacious. Said to utilize 90% of his brainpower, Deathstroke is a master tactician, able to plan several moves ahead of his opponents, factoring in hundreds of variables to overcome even the most powerful heroes.
None of this is more evident than when Deathstroke faces off against the entire JLA in Infinity Crisis #3. Dr. Light, on the run for murder, hires Deathstroke as his bodyguard when the JLA shows up to take him into custody. Despite being grossly outnumbered and up against some seriously powerful heroes, Deathstroke takes each member of the JLA out with alarming efficient and speed, showcasing knowledge of his enemies’ weaknesses and how to exploit them.
The JLA eventually manage to take Deathstroke down, but only due to the fact that there are seven of them and only one of him. It’s a good thing Batman and Superman weren’t there to see this embarrassing defeat at the hands of a guy who wears swashbuckling pirate boots. If you were wondering why DC has tapped him for a major role in the DCEU, look no further.
Which humiliating comic book defeat was your favorite? Sound off in the comments.