8 times Superman got villainous in the comics

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Superman stands out among superheroes as one of the most prominent role models in fiction. This is precisely why so many find the story of an evil Superman so compelling, imbued with a terror of seeing this divine being turn against humanity or a tragedy of seeing this hero among heroes become one. bad.

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There have been times in the comics when, either on his own or as a result of a villain’s manipulations, Superman has gone from being the greatest hero in the world to being a terrible foe. DC’s many great writers have done this concept justice in many excellent and compelling stories that play with the concept in unique and creative ways.


8 Batman: Hush (2002)

Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Batman classic saw Batman and Catwoman at one point investigate Poison Ivy, hunting her down to Metropolis where they discovered the villain had brainwashed Superman using his new plant-infused powers. of Kryptonite. Always ready, Batman summoned his handy Kryptonite Ring to defend himself from attacking Superman in a tense pursuit, doing everything he could to stay alive.

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The Man of Steel was freed from Poison Ivy’s control by the timely intervention of Catwoman dropping Lois Lane from the Daily Planet building. Her love for Lois manifested itself, overriding her orders and saving her, which broke Ivy’s influence. Although brief, it was a scary moment when the most powerful superhero among them suddenly became the servant of one of Batman’s thugs. With a moral to hold him back, Superman has become one of the Dark Knight’s most terrifying and powerful villains.

7 The Darkest Night (2009)

Black Superman in DC's Darkest Night

One of the greatest DC events of all time, Blackest night saw the rise of the Black Lanterns, fueled by death itself. Sending black rings of power to the unlimited dead and reviving them as zombies. It was a dark time when many of DC’s long-dead characters returned from the grave as zombies to fight the living, and it was both terrifying and amazing.

However, Nekron’s Undead ranks also included those who had previously been slain and resurrected, including Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and, yes, Superman. Seeing the Man of Tomorrow – Controlled by a Black Ring as the zombie servant of a terrible new villain was a gruesome comic book highlight, but the combined forces of the entire DC Universe ultimately saved the day. Perhaps the most disturbing element of all in this evil appearance of Superman was his appearance. With his rotting flesh and fully exposed jaw, the zombie Superman was a terrifying sight for heroes and fans alike.

6 Superman / Batman: Absolute Power (2005)

Superman kills Green Arrow in Absolute Power

When supervillains from the future travel time to kill the Justice League of America, they acquire a young Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, raising the two boys to supervillains. Superman and Batman become the world’s greatest threats, equally strong and resourceful, but utterly devoid of the moral fabric that made their main versions the iconic heroes they are.

Perhaps best of all, the story is cannon, and forces the heroes to mend the mercilessly damaged timeline, but there are still consequences that make this story a meaningful chapter in the history of these two iconic superheroes. It’s a unique twist of the unlikely Batman and Superman duo, maintaining a sort of friendship between the two heroes turned villains as they journey through different timelines together.

5 Superman: Condemned (2014)

Superdoom with glowing red eyes

Legendary villain Superman Doomsday never killed the Man of Steel in the New 52 sequel. Instead, in an arc written by Greg Pak, Charles Soule, and Scott Lobdell, audiences’ expectations are turned upside down when, after As Doomsday emerges from the Phantom Zone to rampage across the world, Superman kills the beast only to be infected with a virus that turns him into the doomsday monster itself: “SuperDoom”.

This massive epic makes Superman the greatest threat to the DC Universe, a brainless rampaging monster who is nearly unstoppable. Not only that, several major villains like Brainiac and Mongul step in to exploit the chaos, raising the stakes even higher as the remaining heroes fight on too many fronts to protect Earth. This is arguably one of the most intense arcs in the New 52.

4 Superman: The Dark Side (1998)

Superman, dark side

John Francis Moore and Kieron Dwyer created this story where baby Kal-El’s spaceship landed on the worst planet possible: Apokolips. There, Superman’s most evil villain, Darkseid, raised Kal-El as his own son, conquering worlds in his name. Not all is catastrophic, however, as this Superman has a spark of redemption within him that holds a promise of hope in this dark alternate world.

This story has even been loosely adapted in the Superman: The Animated Series episode “Legacy” (2000), where Darkseid captured and brainwashed Superman into believing he was raised on Apokolips. It was the darkest chapter in the series, ending it on a sort of depressing, but it led to the more optimistic Justice League (2001) series where Superman’s conflict with Darkseid persisted.

3 Superman: Sacrifice (2005)

In a multi-issue crossover event written and illustrated by a team of DC’s best, Maxwell Lord brainwashed Superman by distorting his view of the world, making him see Batman as Brainiac and Wonder Woman as Doomsday. Famous, he brutally beat the Dark Knight to death, but Wonder Woman ultimately saved them both in a controversial move.

While not “evil” per se, the Man of Steel has become a powerful foe, showing just how wicked Superman gets when he believes that the people he loves, like Lois Lane, have been. killed by heartless supervillains. Being the target of this anger created a terrifying story while simultaneously giving Wonder Woman a chance to save him from himself.

2 Superman: Red Son (2003)

Superman son red

What if Kal-El’s spacecraft had landed in the Soviet Union? This is the question of Mark Millar’s Elseworlds story. Raised as a communist loyal to the Soviet state, Superman takes control of his new adopted country to extend a seemingly utopian rule across the world, while Lex Luthor opposes his rule from within the United States. Spanning decades, the epic story could have been a multi-year series in its own right.

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While part of what makes this take so fascinating is that Superman is not unrecoverable. Despite being a conqueror, he is truly compassionate from start to finish, so much so that some fans of this famous classic don’t even consider him “evil” per se. Not only that, his Lex Luthor is basically the “good guy” in the story despite his moral imperfections and is described as one of the character’s smartest iterations.

1 Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)

injustice gods among us batman v superman

The underrated thorn on Superman’s side, the Joker used Kryptonite-based fear gas to hallucinate the man of steel Lois Lane, pregnant with his child, as Doomsday. Not realizing the truth, he hit her in the space where her heart stopped, setting off the Metropolis nuclear device that destroyed the city. It was the first domino that launched Superman on the path to becoming a dictator.

After performing the Joker, one event after another radicalized Superman further to villainy, joined by several sympathetic heroes drawn to his cause. It is a powerful and tragic journey from the beginning to the present day. Filling in the gaps in a narrative that started with the game Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013), the comic book series is the definitive story of a Superman who got lost. Most disturbing of all is how public sympathies still remain somewhat with the Man of Steel. His loss of Lois and his accidental role in his death are still present even when the former hero does terrible things by burning Martian Manhunter alive.

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Split image of Emma Frost, smiling Kid Omega, and the Phoenix with flames around her in Marvel Comics.


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