There's something inherently intriguing about weird alternate versions of superheroes. Fans of other entertainment genres may not understand the fascination that comic book fans have with alternate and depressing future versions of superheroes. TV shows and movies may offer brief flash forwards to increase tension and generate suspense, but rarely do they spend more than a moment in the future. Comic books, on the other hand, devote entire issues, story arcs, and major crossover events to dozens of possible futures and characterizations. The X-Men started the trend with their highly successful Days of Future Past arc, and since then nearly every major superhero has grabbed a piece of the prognostication pie.
Sometimes, these visions of the future and its heroes are pleasant and utopian. But more often, they’re the exact opposite of that. Most comic book futures run the gamut between dystopia and outright apocalypse. In fact, some of them literally feature a giant blue menace named Apocalypse raining terror down upon humanity with his Four Horseman. Yes, alternate futures are mostly meant to be foreboding and dreadful, but some take that extra step to become more disturbing than anything. Read on to discover what upsetting versions of superheroes populate the pages of comics, and cast your vote for the creepiest of all.
Old Man Logan is considered by fans to be one of the best alternate future storylines, and it serves as the inspiration to 2017’s movie Logan. Much of what is seen in the dystopian world of Old Man Logan is dark and disturbing, but nothing beats what has become of the Incredible Hulk.
In a world ruled by villains, with most of the heroes long since dead, the Hulk has broken bad, forcibly married his cousin, She-Hulk, and sired a number of inbred, hillbilly Hulklings. These little monsters wreak havoc on those around them, including Logan, and even stoop to cannibalism.
Few comic book romances are as beloved as that of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. The gorgeous redhead was the webslinger’s rock for several decades, sending him off to battle the evils of the world with a “Go get ‘em, tiger!” and dutifully waiting for his return. M.J. put up with her husband’s constant disappearances and frequent brushes with death, but one thing she probably didn’t bargain for was radioactive sperm.
That’s what she gets in Spider-Man: Reign, a classic miniseries that depicts an aging and broken Peter Parker. One of the reasons he is so messed up is that, unbeknownst to him, his own semen had been irradiating M.J. all those years, and eventually killed her. That’s a pretty on-the-nose metaphor for a destructive relationship.
The major X-crossover Messiah War saw Cable and a version of X-Force head several years into the future to stop a Sentinel-related plot. Along the way, they opened up a storage facility and found a centuries-old Deadpool inside of it.
This Deadpool was now considerably more crazy after only having himself as company for the better part of a century. He had subsisted on eating his own flesh, which would always grow back due to his healing factor. No word on what he drank, although you likely have some unpleasant guesses.
As far as crossovers go, one with a title like Rock of Ages sounds like a good time. However, this major Justice League event was anything but fun for the heroes of Earth. The series featured Darkseid making one of his most serious runs at taking over the planet, killing many of his defenders along the way.
The cruelest fate was left for the Martian Manhunter, who is notable for his famous aversion to fire. Of course, this inspired Darkseid to use him as fuel in his gigantic, destructive boiler, literally burning J’onn J’onzz away one molecule at a time.