For several decades following Marvel's inception, the levels of violence depicted in its comics were fairly tame. The Golden and Silver ages contained barely any gore in Marvel comics; it was mainly battles of fisticuffs, with the occasional shocking death peppered in to keep the stakes high for our heroes.
But "gore," or really, any high level of brutality now seen in Marvel's books has only truly emerged over the last thirty or so years. While the themes of the books have always dealt with relatable issues that us non-super-powered folks face each day (Peter Parker fitting in at high school, Tony Stark's alcohol abuse, etc.), the physical violence has steadily increased, sometimes to the point of being downright shocking.
In many cases, non-readers still perceive comic books as being nothing more than early-era novelties. Ones that depict Captain America throwing a haymaker at Hitler. Or Spiderman simply webbing up his foes.
But that's certainly not the case with the entries below. No, we're talking about characters being eaten. Ripped in half. Berserker rampages that end with entire teams of people left in bloody heaps. Indeed, Marvel has shown they're not afraid to get their hands - and other body parts - bloody in the process of storytelling. These are some of the goriest moments in Marvel comics.
Let's kick things off in a big (and little) way, with the death of none other than Wasp.
Marvel's Ultimate series of books began interestingly enough in 2000: they took all of their signature characters and gave them an entirely new universe to play in. Gone were the consequences of the "real-world" characters (i.e., Earth-616, the primary continuity timeline), and instead, new storylines were developed without having to rely on events from decades past.
And, perhaps in an effort to rev up the stakes in the Ultimate line, one of the stronger members of the Avengers, Wasp, was killed off in a most unceremonious way - by being eaten by one of the lamest characters ever drawn up: the Blob, a.k.a. Fred Dukes.
Although Wasp was technically already dead after drowning in a flood, her character was certainly not given a proper send-off when big Fred Dukes found her in a sewer and, shockingly, began ripping her apart with his teeth in one of the most brutal Marvel moments ever devised.
But, for an added bonus, Dukes quickly got his just deserts by Giant-Man himself, who promptly bit Duke's head clean off out of pure, unadulterated rage.
While it was certainly shocking to see Wasp go out on such a low note when the Blob chewed her up like a starved wolf tearing into the flesh of some unfortunate animal (seriously, The Blob??), one could only imagine the amount of - wait for it - avenging that the man responsible was in for. Surely, whoever found Fred Dukes was going to make him pay in ways that he could never imagine and-
Oh. Wait. Nevermind.
Giant-Man just showed up, and immediately chomped The Blob's head clean off.
While almost equally unceremonious, the grotesque (and, frankly, baffling) method of executing the Blob is nonetheless one of Marvel's most uniquely gory moments.
To say Wolverine and the Hulk have a bit of a history is an understatement, as the two go way back. So far, in fact, that Wolvie's first appearance was in none other than The Incredible Hulk #180, which saw the pair scrapping almost immediately.
Fast-forward about four decades and we find ourselves in the Ultimate universe in a six-issue miniseries written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof titled Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. Here, much like in Wolverine's first appearance, the two are immediately at odds.
But Hulk takes care of that within the first few moments of the issue - by literally ripping Wolverine in half. It's one of the most shocking moments in not only Wolverine's already super-violent history but also in Marvel's as well.
Is Ares a familiar Marvel character? No. Is his death going to warrant the same media attention as Superman's or Captain America's? Absolutely not. But was watching him getting torn in half - vertically, mind you - one of the most shockingly gruesome moments in all of Marvel history?
You bet your flailing entrails and splash-panel viscera it was.
During 2010's Siege storyline, Norman Osborne, the classic Spiderman villain, devises a plan to use his H.A.M.M.E.R. technology in order to take over not just our world, but Thor and Ares's homeworld of Asgard as well. In the process, he's also managed to take advantage of emotionally-unstable-yet-dangerously-powerful hero Sentry to use against the other Avengers.
As a result, when push comes to shove at the gates of Asgard, shove comes to Sentry taking Ares's body and treating it like a ticket stub at a carnival.
Such an extreme level of violence had practically never been seen in such "mainstream" books as The Avengers, but with Ares's blood, guts, and more blood all over their pages, Marvel proved they can shock as well as anyone.