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The Darkest Stories in Comics

Updated May 27, 2020 27.9k votes 5.2k voters 1.0m views27 items

List RulesVote up the best dark story storylines in comic books.

Out of all the comic book films that have been released in the last ten years, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series is arguably the darkest. But when you compare those films to the stories that they’re based on, they barely scratch the surface of the darkness beneath. And outside of the comic book world of Batman, there’s an entire history of writers pushing boundaries and inspiring their peers to completely break the rules. The stories on this list are some of the darkest tales that ever graced the pages of a comic book - some of which resulted from shifting trends, others from publishing gimmicks - and we doubt you’ll ever see them on the big screen.

A lot of the stories detailed within this list are NSFW and may be triggering, so if you’re worried about seeing, or reading about something graphic you may want to read one of our lists about fluffiest kittens. The stories on this list come from mainstream and indie comic imprints, but honestly, some of the most shocking story lines come from the majors.

On the lineup, we have shocking character deaths, sexual assaults committed by heroes and villains alike, and at least one account of a character cutting themselves out of another character’s stomach; if any of that piques your fancy then we want to hear from you. After you pour over this list of comic book stories that are too dark to film, we want to know which story you think is the darkest. If there’s a story we missed, leave us a comment and fill us in on the action.

  • 1

    Batman: the Killing Joke

    Photo: flickr / CC0
    Originally, The Killing Joke was meant to be an Elseworlds version of the Batman tale, but for some reason DC decided to make Alan Moore's SUPER GRAPHIC story of the Joker paralyzing and physically abusing Barbara Gordon in front of her father canon. 
    Is this dark?
  • 2

    Wolverine: Old Man Logan

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    The entire "Old Man Logan" storyline is a killer comic that will probably be adapted some day, but the revelation that Wolverine slaughtered his friends and family in the X-Mansion under the hypnotic spell of Mysterio is probably too horrendous to commit to celluloid.

    There's also the tidbit about Wolverine carving his way out of the Hulk, that might be a bit too much for some viewers to stomach.

    Is this dark?
  • Photo: Patrick Peccatte / Flickr

    Not only is this storyline super dark, but it's also one of the most unnecessary stories in comic book history. The story opens with Sue being murdered, and the Justice League going on an adventure to find the murderer. It's revealed that Dr. Light teleported to the JL Watchtower, where he found Dibny alone where he attacked and raped her.

    Not content with simply sending him to jail, the League and Zatanna neuter his mind as punishment for his actions.

    Is this dark?
  • 4

    Mockingbird Raped By Phantom Rider

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    The “Lost in Space-Time” storyline by Steve Englehart was controversial for a number of reasons: Ant Man tried to commit suicide, and the WC Avengers went back in time where they ran into The Phantom Rider who became infatuated with Mockingbird.

    He kidnapped, drugged, and raped her before brainwashing her to fall in love with him. She eventually lets him fall off a cliff (yay!) but then her husband, Hawkeye, divorces her for her actions (BOO!).

    Is this dark?