Top 10 Most Violent Moments in Comic Book History
Published: July 23, 2013 - 6:02pm
Whether it can be perceived as straight up shock value or brave storytelling (or in many cases both) these are the most memorable acts of violence that I've read in comics. This list contains my favorite comic book fight of all time as well as the most heart-breaking and gut-wrenching acts of I've ever seen put to print.
Don't be surprised to find Robert Kirkman on this list a whopping three times and I even pondered just loading the entire top 10 with moments from his various series. I limited myself to just two entries from The Walking Dead alone, although I could have included many, many more. I'm still arguing with myself as to why I didn't add Michonne's infamous torture revenge scene but believe it or not, there were two sequences that are even worse. Legendary writer Garth Ennis also appears three times to tie for first place with Kirkman while Mark Millar comes in second place with two entries.
Major Spoiler Warning the following list contains pivotal scenes from these titles: Invincible, Preacher, Kick Ass 2, The Boys, PunisherMAX, Old Man Logan, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Crossed and The Walking Dead.
#10. "Like Father Like Son" – Invincible
Robert Kirkman's coming of age superhero tale starts out as something you could consider to be a family friendly comic series -- right up until heads start flying. Not to mention, a father beats his son nearly to death in one of the most epic battles I've ever witnessed… That includes the Death of Superman by the way… If you were disturbed by the amount of collateral damage in the final moments of the latest Superman film Man of Steel, then this fight will likely hit you to that same effect.
Buildings are decimated in beautiful full page spreads from artist Ryan Ottley and the battle is even taken to the mountaintops, then all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. It's a glorious issue that fully dedicates itself to a father and son duking it out in what stands as the most impressive superhuman fight that I've ever laid eyes upon.
#9. "Yeehaw!" – Preacher
Garth Ennis' bizarre opus of vampires, rednecks, heaven and hell is at its best when we see our main hero Jessie Custer finally getting revenge against the bastards who laid waste to his entire childhood. With his girlfriend shot in the face and fresh off the satisfying face to floor pounding of a literal chicken f***er that murdered his childhood friend, Custer confronts the man who killed his father: uncle Jodie. Custer opts not to use his superpowered voice of god to finish the fight, but instead beat the man to death using his bare hands.
The fight is violent and one of the most satisfying acts of brutal revenge that I've read, making the comic series my favorite of all time. If you go by the trade paperbacks, volume 2 which features this moment is my personal favorite of the nine books. The kicker is when Custer's evil as hell grandmother explodes into flames like a fireball and Jessie screams "Yeeeeeeehaw!" It doesn't get any better than that folks. "Burn in hell you witch! Burn!" It's beautiful.
#8. "Hit Girl vs. Mother Russia" – Kick Ass 2
There's a lot of violence in Mark Millar's Kick Ass comic series, much of it considered quite gratuitous. Actor Jim Carrey, who stars in the film adaptation of Kick Ass 2 recently renounced ties to the project after considering it too violent. The first comic run of Kick Ass was a fun romp but I personally found the feature film more appealing. The comic sequel however, certainly changes up a lot of the dark humor and in return delivers some seriously troubling circumstances for our scuba suited titular character.
Children are gunned down, dogs are beheaded and don't forget superhero gang rape. Some found the work to be a little much, which is fine if you can't handle it but I personally thought each shocker, although excessive at times, to be a well written scene that truly jarred me. The fight between Hit Girl and Mother Russia is hard to look at and the final panel is one of the most disturbing moments of the series. Picture a small girl with her face beaten to the point of being unrecognizable as she severs the head of a woman using a broken shard of glass. If you thought the C-bomb in series one was rough then you ain't seen nothing yet.
#7. "Worst Rescue Ever" – The Boys
When Garth Ennis finally revealed the gritty details of the infamous event that was only ever hinted at during prior issues, I was not ready for the results. We all knew that most of the superheroes featured in his darkly comedic action series were sociopaths, but this was something else altogether. After terrorists hijack an airplane, the supers fly in and proceed to make matters even worse. A child is sucked out of the plane when they make their entry and the leader of the group proceeds to beat the terrorists to a pulp in the cockpit while calling a team-mate the N-Word.
Passenger ear-drums explode during a super-powered shout and the worst rescue attempt in the history of comics ends with a plane of innocents going down while disorganized superheroes panic and retreat. The entire premise of The Boys is to demonize the superhero genre but this moment for me was the most horrific out of any event featured in the series. And that's saying something because there are many….many more…
#6. "The Kingpin Sacrifices Own Child" - PunisherMAX
Jason Aaron's spiritual successor to Garth Ennis' Punisher run is not only one of my favorite comic series, but I actually enjoy it more than its predecessor. Steve Dillon's art will always be a massive selling feature for me and has been since I fell in love with Preacher -- so I loved his realistic take on these Marvel Universe characters. Bullseye looks like the Colin Farrell movie counterpart and he's bats*** crazy. Frank Castle looks vulnerable, which is perfect and the Kingpin featured in this run is by far my favorite takes on the classic villain.
When you read the series, much of the screentime is actually split between The Punisher and Kingpin. Lot's of moments would allude to both characters having their respective decent and despicable qualities but nothing will prepare you when Kingpin is faced with the option to save his own child who is being held at knifepoint by one of his enemies. While his wife looks on, Kingpin proceeds to tell his wife that they'll just have another son….. The knife slits his son's throat and the man is officially transformed into the ruthless and heartless son of a b*** we all know as The Kingpin. It's a gut-wrenching moment and it's so shocking and violent not in the amount of gore or anything, but the act itself is so jarring that it must be recognized here as one of the best…of the worst.
#5. "Mysterio Tricks Wolverine into Killing X-Men" – Old Man Logan
My favorite Wolverine arc has to be Mark Millar's futuristic 'What If?' inspired story about an aged Logan struggling to make it in a dystopian future where most of the world's heroes were killed off and villains have taken over the world. Imagine if you will the Clint Eastwood from Western classic 'Unforgiven' and then merge with that iconic comic character Wolverine and you have the groundwork for 'Old Man Logan'. The story is simple but effective as a blind Hawkeye coerces Logan to go on a roadtrip and earn a couple bucks in the process so his landlords (who are descendants of the Hulk) don't kill his family.
What's fascinating about this mini-series is that Logan doesn't pop his claws until the penultimate issue. He's quit being The Wolverine and when we find out why he's made that choice, we have no reason but to agree after witnessing a flashback that takes us to the event in which all of the Marvel Universe villains teamed up to take out the world's heroes. The bloody fight sees Wolverine hack and slash his way through copious amounts of villains until Mysterio appears behind the carnage to introduce himself to a gore covered Logan. Then we realize that Wolverine was actually murdering every single member of the X-Men after Mysterio tricked Logan via his hallucinatory powers. The two-page spread from art powerhouse Steve McNiven reveals a decimated X-Men team in one of the most disturbing images you're likely to see as an avid Marvel fan. This entire sequence is the highlight of 'Old Man Logan' and it just so happens to be the most horrific as well.
#4. "Mr. Hyde Rapes The Invisible Man" – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
If you've never read Alan Moore's comic series about iconic literary figures that assemble a super team but you're maybe familiar or have simply seen the film adaptation -- then the above headline will certainly shock you… Just a tad. In the second volume of the graphic novel series, our League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are put to the test when the alien invasion from 'War of The Worlds' threatens to wipe out the planet. During the otherworldly chaos, our League just so happens to have a traitorous prick in their midst -- the Invisible Man. It was hinted during the first volume how disgusting The Invisible Man was when the team recruited the guy after he was molesting young women and the victims believed that a ghost was having a great time on a rape-spree.
Well, it turns out what goes around comes around. Gross. Mr. Hyde finds out that the Invisible Man is the traitor and after revealing that he could sense him the entire time due to his heightened abilities, Hyde grabs The Invisible Man and proceeds to beat him half to death before raping the bugger. Some time later during dinner, Hyde is seated at the table and blood begins to slowly appear all over the place. As it turns out, Hyde has also eaten his victim. In other words, don't double cross The League and don't judge the comic property from an EXTREMELY watered down film adaptation either.
#3. "Salt is Not the Best Defense" – Crossed
Garth Ennis' pedal to the medal take on the 'zombie' or 'infected' craze is by far the scariest version of the apocalypse yet. A virus begins to spread throughout the globe which causes a burned flesh scarring on the victims' faces in the shape of a 'cross'. Those infected, lose all control and proceed to inflict as much 'evil' as they possible can. This includes raping severed limbs, cannibalizing whatever and whoever and however they can while also brutally murdering anything that comes their way. This is not your typical zombie because they can still operate weaponry, and think…. despite becoming extremely psychotic.
Nobody is safe in Ennis' debut run of this series, which has since spawned several spin-offs that have taken the extreme and gratuitous content up several notches. Children are killed or even turned themselves, which is perhaps even more disturbing considering the language that 'the crossed' speak in (usually more F and C Bombs than anything else). When a nerdy looking guy believes that he's found the deterrent to stop the infected, he pours a circle of salt on the ground around himself, his wife and young daughter. We then find out that salt is definitely not the answer to his problems during the most horrific two-page spread in the history of comics. Both the man and wife are raped, while being gutted, as the young child is hoisted in the air and being shred to pieces. Don't forget the masturbating audience of 'crossed' laughing hysterically while they watch. Yup -- I'm forever traumatized. Thanks!
#2. "Glenn Meets Lucille" – The Walking Dead
Longtime fan favorite Glenn was apparently on tap to be killed for quite some time according to Robert Kirkman. I'm glad they waited until the series' epic 100th issue to get the job done. The record selling comic is not a bloodbath from beginning to end. It's not a zombie-filled horror romp. Instead it's the most intense, suspenseful and ultimately shocking comic that I've read in years. Rick and his survivors are ambushed on the road and we are introduced to new villain Negan who proceeds to play a game of eenie meenie minie mo in order to decide which person must be killed as payback for his dead soldiers.
Negan winds up pointing his barb-wire laced baseball bat at Glenn, which he affectionately refers to as 'Lucille' before proceeding to bash in the poor guy's head. What really sells the trauma here is when we see Glenn cry out to Maggie as his eyeball hangs out of its socket. Negan then laughs at how gross the sight is while he tees off on Glenn in one of the goriest sequences I've ever seen. Artist Charlie Adlard is a master and even though these panels are heart breaking, they're also some of his best work -- ever. Upon reading this issue I actually felt physically ill to my stomach. I couldn't focus, couldn't talk, all I could do was just sort of sit down and try to stop myself from shaking in a dark corner.
#1. "The Prison Assault" – The Walking Dead
The culmination of what is arguable the best and most infamous story arc in Walking Dead history is also it's most violent. It has to be. The Governor, who was long thought to be dead at the hands of Michonne's torture-revenge fest, shows up at the prison on top of a bloody tank: all hell breaks loose and we begin to significantly shorten the cast of characters one by one. If you're a fan of the television series, then it's no surprise when I tell you how disappointed I was at the lack of this event occurring at the end of season three. There's still time however…. Still time to rectify the TV series and do as the Governor proclaims -- "Kill them all!".
Technically the assault lasts several issues, which includes the exhausting and nasty decapitation of Tyreese, but the icing on the cake is when the tank finally rolls over the prison gates and EVERYBODY starts to die. The Governor's crew mows down Rick's camp one by one, including Herschel and his son like they were NOTHING. Then we cut to a scene where Rick, Carl, Lori and her baby are running for the hills only to see a panel of Lori exploding during mid-escape via shotgun blast. Her dead body hits the ground, including her infant daughter and Rick holds back tears while telling Carl to keep running. The woman who made the killshot on Lori finds out that the Governor commanded her to shoot a child and proceeds to shoot the villainous bastard in the back of the head, feeding him to the hordes of zombies that are now advancing into the yard. This still stands as the most shocking and profound sequence of events in Walking Dead history and arguably ALL of non-hero related comics.