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Top 10 Darkest Moments in Superhero Comics

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
Turns out comics can be pretty grim. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Moments in Superhero Comics. For this list, we’re looking at the darkest scenes ever illustrated in a superhero story. As quite a few of these moments are significant to the overall story, please be advised there will be spoilers.
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Turns out comics can be pretty grim. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Moments in Superhero Comics.

For this list, we’re looking at the darkest scenes ever illustrated in a superhero story. As quite a few of these moments are significant to the overall story, please be advised there will be spoilers.

#10: Blob Has Wasp for Dinner


Death is no stranger to both Marvel and DC, but 2009's "Ultimatum" decided to test its readers' gag reflexes with arguably the most disgusting murder of all time. A crossover event triggered by Magneto reversing the Earth's polarity, "Ultimatum" featured many shocking deaths, but Wasp's demise at the hands of the Blob stood out among the corpses, as she was eaten. "Ultimatum" does not clarify whether Wasp was alive when the Blob got peckish, either way, he eventually got what was coming to him.

#9: Joker Skins and Humiliates Monty


Out of all DC's villains, nobody revels in sadism quite like the Joker. Told from a henchman's perspective, 2008's self-titled comic sought to explore the deranged criminal's psyche and presented the Joker as more of a crime boss than a cartoonish prankster. Following a stint in Arkham Asylum that coincided with the villain's gang losing ground to Penguin and Harvey Dent, Joker retaliated by skinning Monty – the owner of a strip club – and forcing the dying man to dance in front of a shocked audience. Nobody puts on a show like the Joker.

#8: Rorschach's Origin


Rorschach is one of the first characters introduced in issue #1 of Watchmen, but readers had to wait until the sixth issue to learn more about this mysterious and dark vigilante. During his sessions with Dr. Malcolm Long, we learn of Walter Kovac’s rough childhood and his path to becoming a masked vigilante, and of the night where he truly became Rorschach. After investigating the disappearance of 6-year-old Blair Roche, Rorschach discovers the girl has been killed by her captor and fed to his dogs. Rorschach handcuffs the man to a stove, covers him in kerosene and offers him a hacksaw to cut his own hand off in order to escape. He doesn’t. The look on Dr. Long’s face says it all.

#7: Doctor Light Assaults Sue Dibny


"Identity Crisis" tends to be considered among DC's darkest storylines, and this reputation is completely justified. 2004's mini-series is a murder-mystery centering around the death of Elongated Man's wife, Sue Dibny. Despite generally being treated as nothing more than a joke villain, the Justice League suspect Doctor Light to be the culprit. Green Arrow reveals that Doctor Light once raped Sue, but Zatanna mind-wiped and altered the villain's personality to prevent a repeat. Besides rewriting the histories of multiple characters, "Identity Crisis" shows Sue's assault in graphic detail.

#6: Kid Miracleman Commits Mass Murder


Often credited with launching the modern age of comics, one of Alan Moore's earliest works was a deconstruction of a golden age superhero called "Marvelman" who was basically a thinly-veiled rip-off of Captain Marvel. Renamed "Miracleman" outside of the UK, this fiercely graphic series includes a realistic childbirth, countless bloody bodies, and Kid Miracleman – the hero's former sidekick – massacring thousands of people. The most harrowing moment comes at the start of his rampage when he considers sparring a young nurse who’d been kind to his meek alter-ego Johnny, only to return moments later for fear that people would think he was going soft.

#5: Green Lantern Finds His Girlfriend Stuffed in the Fridge


The phrase "Woman in Refrigerators" or “Fridging” refers to romantic partners injected into a story solely to be killed off as a means of providing the protagonist with motivation. Lasting less than ten issues, Alexandra DeWitt was Kyle Rayner's girlfriend before the Green Lantern power ring fell into the guy's lap, but the photographer is mostly remembered for being strangled to death by Major Force and stuffed in a refrigerator. After taking care of some thugs, Green Lantern returns home to find Alex on ice, and this incident helps mature Kyle into a better superhero.

#4: The Death of Jason Todd


Unsure whether to ax off a character or not? Thankfully, democracy was created exactly for this type of situation. Bringing an end to Jason Todd's run as Robin, "A Death in the Family" is among Batman's most famous storylines, and DC carried out a ballot to decide if the Caped Crusader's sidekick should survive to fight another day. A highly unpopular character at the time, fans voted in favor of Todd's demise, leading to the Joker senselessly bashing the hero with a crowbar. Just to guarantee the mission was a success, the villain also blew up the building.

#3: Joker Tricks Superman Into Killing a Pregnant Lois


If there is one villain crazy enough to break Superman's spirit, the Joker would have to be it. Set five-years prior to the events of DC's fighting game with the same name, "Injustice" chronicles Superman's transformation from benevolent guardian to tyrannical overlord. Joker kidnaps a pregnant Lois and, using a variant of Scarecrow's fear gas, tricks Superman into mistaking Lois for Doomsday. In a fit of rage and, ironically, trying to protect Joker and Harley from the monster; Superman flies Doomsday into space. Eventually, the gas wears off and Clark learns the truth.

#2: Logan Tricked Into Killing the X-Men


"Old Man Logan" bounces from one deranged and heartbreaking moment to the next, but Wolverine's darkest hour precedes the present day storyline by decades. Back in the day, dozens of supervillains suddenly attacked the X-Mansion, forcing Logan to go on a rampage to protect the students. Once the attackers were all killed, Mysterio revealed this to be nothing more than an illusion, and Wolverine had actually slaughtered the other X-Men. These panels clearly illustrate the corpses of the fallen heroes. Due to the X-Men being taken out, the United States was effectively conquered by the supervillains.

#1: The Killing Joke


Yes, all of Alan Moore's graphic novel. The definitive Joker and Batman comic, Moore's one-shot sees Batgirl crippled and possibly raped by the clown prince of Gotham, while Commissioner Gordon is stripped naked and forced to watch the carnage. These vile acts are intercut with a sympathetic flashback outlining the Joker's origin story, but this contrast only makes the villain's actions all that more repulsive. A highly influential comic, Moore's own opinion on "The Killing Joke" has worsened with age, with the author believing the story was too nasty and regrets popularizing a trend were superheroes have to be brooding psychopaths.
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