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Top 10 Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Superman

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Man of Steel, meet misery. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Superman. For this list, we’ll be looking at the very worst things, both physical and emotional in nature, to ever happen to this iconic superhero.

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Man of Steel, meet misery. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Worst Things That Have Ever Happened To Superman.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the very worst things, both physical and emotional in nature, to ever happen to this iconic superhero.

#10: Getting His Brain Flooded by Kryptonite

You don’t have to be a comic book historian to know that Superman and kryptonite don’t mix. The intensity of its effects has varied over the years, but generally speaking, kryptonite de-powers Superman (and other Kryptonians), causing them to feel unbearable pain. If applied internally or left near a Kryptonian for too long, the substance can prove fatal. Across Superman’s long and colorful history, the poor guy has been exposed to Kryptonite countless times, but rarely in more excruciating fashion than in 2012’s Action Comics #6, when the Anti-Superman army entered Superman’s head with a microscopic piece of Kryptonite. Luckily, the Legion of Super-Heroes entered his head and managed to save the Man of Steel.

#9: His Slow Death via Kryptonite Poisoning

Though the aforementioned episode was surely unimaginably painful for Superman, at least it had a happy ending. In 2016, the Post-Flashpoint, pre-Rebirth Superman wasn’t so lucky. At the end of the aptly named story arc “The Final Days of Superman”, our intrepid hero suffered a fatal case of kryptonite poisoning. Thankfully, he died surrounded by friends and loved ones, with a smile on his face and the knowledge that he’d led a good and fulfilling life. But… he was also being consumed from the inside out by massive amounts of radiation that made his body eat itself, leaving nothing behind but an ashen shell. He not only died... but died an agonizing death.

#8: Getting Beat by Batman

The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight might be the two most iconic superheroes on the planet and long-time allies, but they’re not exactly evenly matched. Superman is a god, and Batman is the world’s most resourceful and resilient man. Given the power-level gap, and with all due respect to Bruce Wayne, the walloping that Clark received at the hands of an aging Batman in the pages of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is downright embarrassing. Again, a well-placed piece of kryptonite proves to be Superman’s downfall. Adding insult to injury, the only thing that saves Clark from a definitive defeat is Bruce having a heart attack.

#7: His Dog Died Saving His Life

Whether you’re a simple man or the Man of Steel, you’re hard-pressed to find a better best friend than a dog. And, as an alien living on earth, Clark must’ve taken great comfort having his similarly-powered four-legged companion from Krypton by his side. Krypto’s place in the comics has been inconsistent over the years, with writers seemingly finding this 1950s addition to Superman’s lore simply too silly for modern readers. But in Alan Moore’s two-part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, we got this heartbreaking moment that forced readers to re-evaluate Superdog’s legacy and emotional value. There’s nothing quite like the sting of losing a pet, because really… you’re losing a best friend.

#6: The Death of His Cousin

Choosing a life of super heroics comes with a lot of responsibility, burdens, and sacrifice. But perhaps the greatest downside is knowing that those you hold dear, particularly your fellow capes, living in constant danger. Inevitably… you’re going to lose people you love. Rarely in Clark’s history has this risk been made more painfully clear than when his cousin, Kara, lost her life in the pages of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. Just the cover image of this iconic issue is enough to make you choke up. Of course, magnifying the pain of this loss for Superman is the knowledge that Kara willingly died to save him.

#5: Losing Ma and Pa Kent

The argument of nature versus nurture comes up regularly when discussing Superman’s values. Though many Elseworld stories have argued that there’s some sort of inherent goodness to Kal-El, the Kansas upbringing he got from Jonathan and Martha Kent undeniably helped make him the hero he is today. Ma and Pa Kent mean the world to him, and so, when they were killed by a drunk driver in the New 52 timeline, Clark was understandably devastated. Not only did the loss leave a mark on this version of Clark Kent, but it also severely impacted readers, who had similarly grown attached to the Kents and their continued role in Superman’s adult life.

#4: The Death of His Home Planet

Kal-El might’ve left Krypton too early to have much memory of it, but his life has nonetheless been defined by it - or rather, its absence. When Krypton was destroyed, he was robbed of the opportunity to have a normal, Kryptonian life or any real connection to his heritage. And while he was taken in and loved by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who gave him the best life an orphaned alien could ever ask for, there’s still no denying the fact that growing up on a foreign planet made life much more difficult for him. His childhood, though generally happy, was also one of confusion and alienation. With his powers, life on Earth would never be simple.

#3: Pa Kent's Death

In the mainstream continuity, Jonathan and Martha Kent had been around for decades, serving as continued sources of guidance for their superhero son. In a medium jam-packed full of heroes without parents, they were a welcome presence and an essential piece of Superman’s lore. In Action Comics #870 however, Superman lost his father, Jonathan Kent, when the villainous Brainiac targeted the family farm in Kansas with a missile. Pa Kent manages to get Martha out of the house in time, only to have his heart gives out. Losing his father would’ve broken Clark under any circumstances, but knowing that one of his villains likely triggered it… makes the moment almost unbearable.

#2: He Accidentally Killed Pregnant Lois Lane

Had this taken place in the mainstream continuity, this would have claimed the number one spot. Thankfully for Superman’s sanity, it’s not - this is the Injustice universe. Have you ever wondered how to break Superman? Look no further than this unthinkably cruel and evil plan devised and executed by the Joker. In an elaborate ruse involving fear toxin, Superman winds up fighting Doomsday and opts to drag the villain into outer space. It’s there that the fear toxin wears off, and Superman sees his true adversary, or rather, victim - Lois Lane, his pregnant wife. Joker made Superman kill the love of his life. It’s easily one of the darkest panels in comic book history.

#1: His Death Against Doomsday

This moment not only rocked the comic book community to its core but was felt around the world. Superman is an icon that extends well beyond his own medium, and when he died, fans everywhere mourned. The writers behind this crossover event created a new villain for the occasion, one so powerful that he would break the Man of Steel, and christened him with the fitting name of Doomsday. The ensuing battle was brutal and epic and only ended when the two beings of Kryptonian origin literally beat each other to death. Superman took hits like never before, and, in a shocking conclusion, Earth’s seemingly unbeatable champion… died.

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