The 16 Bleakest Moments in Marvel Comics History

List Rules
Vote up the moments that were so bleak you had to put the book down and take a breather.

With in-fighting between heroes, deaths of loved ones, zombified characters, and heroes trying to protect those who fear and hate them, the Marvel Universe can be a tough place to live, but that’s just scratching the surface. For some characters, Marvel is so grim and depressing that nihilism seems like the only way to view the world.

Here are some of the bleakest moments in Marvel history. Which do you think was the darkest? Vote up the grim Marvel moments you had to take a breather after reading.


  • 1
    1,756 VOTES

    Mr. Immortal Can't Die No Matter How Much He Tries

    One of the biggest jokes in the Marvel Universe is the existence of the Great Lakes Avengers. This team of milquetoast Midwesterners has been laughed at by the Avengers, the X-Men, even the Champions, but they keep coming back for more. That said, they’re horrible heroes, as one of their members, the Grasshopper, lasted with the group for a matter of seconds before dying.

    Their leader, Mr. Immortal, doesn’t have that problem. He has the unique ability to return from death no matter how he dies and to watch those who die near him go to the afterlife.

    In GLA #1, readers learned he’d always had these abilities, watching his mother die in childbirth and his father die in a fire he started as a child, and after his first girlfriend left him, he killed himself. Again, and again, and again.

    Even after he adjusted to his powers, faux suicide became his go-to coping method. Cosmic beings even told him he’ll still be alive and alone with the last sun burns out. Fun, huh?

    1,756 votes
  • 2
    1,719 VOTES

    In the End, There Will Be Only Hulk

    The Hulk is the strongest one there is, but one day he’ll be the weakest one there is. In fact, he’ll be the only one there is. In the Marvel one-shot Hulk: The End, readers learn that when all life on the planet Earth is long dead, only the Hulk will remain, finally having achieved what he wanted all those years: to just be left alone.

    You’re alone now Hulk, how do you like it? Sucks to be you.

    1,719 votes
  • 3
    1,286 VOTES

    Ruins: Everything You Loved About Marvel, Only More Depressing

    The world of Ruins #1-2 is best described with only three words: “everything went wrong.” Writer Warren Ellis created this dystopian parody of the 1994 classic Marvels mini-series to show just how bad things could be. In this world, Johnny Blaze didn’t make a deal with the devil, but his life was so bad that his final stunt involved lighting his own head on fire while biking off a ramp.

    Bruce Banner mutated after exposure to gamma radiation, but his body continued to sprout tumors until it burst from the inside out.

    All mutant powers come with terrible side effects, leading Mystique to uncontrollably twist into a Cronenbergian nightmare, Nightcrawler to eat his own tail, and Quicksilver to need amputation to stop the shaking. Galactus died in this book just because.

    No reason. The main character, photographer Phil Sheldon, contracts a radioactive spider disease from Peter Parker and dies before learning why the world sucked so much.

    1,286 votes
  • 4
    969 VOTES

    The Age Of Apocalypse Sucked For Mutants And Humans

    In a reality without Charles Xavier and before the modern age of Marvel, the ancient mutant Apocalypse took over the world. By Apocalypse’s decree, only the fittest could survive - that meant every mutant fought for survival, every human was tread upon, and any lucky superhumans had to beg for scraps. The worst of this world appeared in Generation Next #1-4 and X-Universe #1-2.

    Here we see human work camps with internees like kindly old May Parker and innocent little Illyana Rasputin, and human refugee camps under assault by traitors like the blind assassin Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil. This world was so bad that its greatest heroes, Magneto’s X-Men, willingly died under a barrage of nuclear bombs after defeating Apocalypse.

    969 votes
  • 5
    900 VOTES

    The Fantastic Four Make The Age Of Ultron Even More Depressing

    In the Age of Ultron storyline, perennial Avengers foe and numerically-obsessed robot Ultron finally succeeded in killing almost all life on Earth. This necessitated superheroes calling in their reserves, so the Fantastic Four abandoned their deep-space mission to help their Earthbound comrades, leaving their children, adolescent Franklin and pre-kinder Valeria, behind on their spaceship. Knowing this may be a suicide mission (and it was), each team member left a goodbye message for the children in Fantastic Four #5AU.

    Among the notes, the Thing claimed to have created their worst enemy Doctor Doom (he didn’t, but he died thinking he did), and Reed Richards told his children there is no God and they won’t go to Heaven. Sure, you’d expect a scientist like Reed to have a pragmatic view of death, but just a few years earlier THE WHOLE TEAM MET GOD. Seriously, they met the big guy, and he looked like Jack Kirby. Plus, Reed’s known people who have been to both Heaven and Hell.

    Doom’s whole origin was based around visiting Hell. Plot holes aside, the team went to their deaths, except Sue Richards who stopped Ultron with time travel but became trapped in the new reality. So where does that leave the kids? Alone in a spaceship lost in space and time and with no Earth to return to. Great way to end a story, Marvel.

    900 votes
  • 6
    662 VOTES

    Rachel Summers Had The Worst Childhood

    In the seminal storyline “Days of Future Past” from Uncanny X-Men #141-142, readers saw the bleak Sentinel-filled future that forced humanity into martial law and mutants into death camps. The worst of it, however, fell on Rachel Summers. The daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey, Rachel was kidnapped as a child and tortured by the government until she could be turned into the first Hound, as seen in Excalibur #52. As a Hound, she was made to hunt down other mutants and watch as they were killed, or worse, turned into Hounds.

    That’s how she spent her teenage years, helping mutilate the ones she loved. She escaped, and eventually made a home for herself in the present of the Marvel Universe, but she never stopped having flashbacks to those years of servitude.

    662 votes