Superheroes with a big body count

I mentioned in another thread that I picked up a copy of All-Star Squadron #19 (1984, I think, without the copy in front of me), in which the Golden Age Green Lantern destroys a Japanese city - but not really, as he was goaded into it by the Brain Wave and it all happened in some sort of illusory existence. But still. The guy with the magic ring was willing to destroy a city in order to avenge his friends.

That got me thinking about times when superheroes really lost it. And I kind of struggled, because the examples I thought of where either bad guys (like when Cheshire, a DC Comics character, destroyed the imaginary country of Qurac) or individuals who don’t really qualify because they are otherwise morally deficient (Vertigo Comics’ Lucifer, when he enters the Mansions of Silence and thereby knowingly kills billions).

Batman has killed the odd villain in self-defence, and John Byrne’s Superman (issue 24, from say 1989?) executed the three Kryptonians who had destroyed a parallel world. Over at Marvel Comics, Wolverine is right up there in terms of murders.

But which other characters, like Green Lantern, have ever really let loose and decided to blow up a few hundred thousand people?

According to some editors, the Punisher has killed almost 50000 people. Roughly…Nagasaki, give or take. Or, somewhat less than all the US combat deaths in Vietnam.

Kinda makes the superheroes who consider him “just another criminal” seem a bit hypocritical for not actively pursuing him more vigorously. Either they’re letting a worse mass murderer than the Joker run even freer…or they’re tacitly using him as a sort of pressure valve to keep the worst “mundane” crime from getting out of control while the big shots are all battling aliens and supervillains.

Lobo’s got a pretty high body count, having depopulated entire worlds:

By the way, the idea goes way back. There were “imaginary stories” back in the 1960s that imagined Superman destroying the entire Earth.

The Joker (an unambiguous villain – Lobo sometimes seems to be both) has a piddling small count, by comparison – Joker's Body Count | DC Database | Fandom

Phoenix (Jean Grey) has killed billions.

Depending on A) how much control Bendis/Millar have at Marvel and B) which revision of the character they’re using, the Hulk has
A) Either never killed anyone: Bruce Banner has always managed to keep him that much in check or
B) Killed millions and millions of people–people die from the shockwave when he jumps/lands. People die from him clapping his hands. All those soldiers that Thunderbolt Ross flung at him every issue he appeared in in the '60s and '70s? Dead.

B is utterly stupid, but is cannon (or not) depending on who’s writing him. Keep in mind it makes no sense that Reed, or Daredevil or Spider-Man or Stark would just let Banner walk off after a Hulk rampage under Scenario B. And that happened probably 100+ tims.

Also, Grant Morrison’s Magneto probably killed 1/3d of the people in NYC that one time (including infrastructure related damage)

Thanos killed half of all life in the universe when he had the infinity gauntlet.

Doctor Who destroyed the entire universe, a few times I think, and had to reboot the whole thing up again. Parallel universes, too. Not strictly a superhero, but good luck beating “all life, ever”, Punisher. :slight_smile:

I know that there have been stories in which Thanos fighting with the good guys was in his best interests, but when was Thanos ever a superhero?

The Spectre destroyed the country of Vlatava, and Black Adam destroyed Bialya, both fictional DCU countries. Not sure what the purported body count was ever said to be in either case.

Well, I was going to say Princess Projectra, but she only has a body count of two. Nemesis Kid (with her bare hands, no less) and the Emerald Empress.

Ozymandias from Watchmen destroys New York and kills millions as part of his scheme to save the world.

Captain America was a combat soldier. He’s racked up some large amount of killing without even going off the deep end.

“Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe”

It’s not really canon, though.

The Plutonian is up there

Invincibleas a titular “good guy” has offed plenty of enemies without being nuts or mind controlled.

Wildstorm Universe “Heros” also tend to have high body counts.

Marshall Law.

the avengers not only have an impressive kill count, but the general public has taken a beating too. its the main plotline in the movie * captain america: civil war*, that the world’s govts are fed up with the avengers collateral damage numbers and want to put them on a shorter leash.


Love it or hate it, the movie did a great job of slimming that down into a soundbite.

“Killing millions?”
“To save billions.

Heck, wasn’t that Hydra’s argument in Winter Soldier ?

By reference to Lucifer, the OP is designed to discount those with amoral orientations, eg:

a. Punisher
b. Ozymandias
c. Lobo

The Spectre and Ghost Rider, as spirits of vengeance, have their actions dictated by extreme moral conviction - but perhaps also by compulsion, in which case they do not account. Same goes for Hulk (out of control, mindless version) and Jean Grey (driven to mass murder and destruction by the Phoenix Force).

Thanos and Black Adam are villainy villains so they are automatically out. Same goes for Mongul when that character destroyed Coast City and its 7 million citizens.

Magneto is a lineball call, depending upon when he was written and by who. Defending mutants from genocide by killing those who would commit genocide is a big call but one made on a moral compass. Going nutso however and killing people as a supervillain is another issue entirely.

Captain America, on the other hand, is a good example. As a WW2 soldier, he was directed by a moral directive to liberate people from evil, machine gun in hand.

But I was really picking at examples where generally placid, altruistic superheroes are enraged and wipe out, say, a team of bad guys. Or a city of bad guys, whichever. Arguably, I guess, Tomar Re’s ineptitude as a Green Lantern caused the destruction of Krypton, but that was an act of negligence, rather than anger.

TYphoon Signal 8:

Black Adam was not portrayed at that time as a total villain, he was a Magneto-type - protecting his people, albeit more ruthlessly than standard super-heroes would.