Sometimes, it's unavoidable - superheroes need to take lives. Even the best and brightest of the spandex crowd, like Superman and Spider-Man, have had to enact lethal justice on a handful of occasions, an act that always carries with it an appropriate amount of angst. And that sense of guilt and grief is only intensified when the person at the other end is a family member - something that happens with surprising frequency in the comic book world.
The list of superheroes who have killed their parents, their children, their siblings, or their spouses is so long that, were it to belong to any real-world profession, it would be cause for serious alarm and investigation. Instead, it's a tried-and-true method of upping the stakes for a comic book character - and it seems like almost every caped crusader has found the need to cross this particular line at least once.
It’s understandable that someone like Wolverine, who has been alive for more than a century, would have sired many children in that time. But that still doesn't explain why he keeps being forced to snuff out his own lineage.
Most memorably, Wolverine's son Daken - whose existence he was unaware of for decades - goes full supervillain and threatens the lives of the students at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. To stop this from happening, Wolverine drowns Daken in a mud puddle in Uncanny X-Force #34, all the while imagining the life they could have had together had things gone differently.
And that's not even the worst of it. In one 2011 storyline, Wolverine systemically slays an entire team of baddies known as the Mongrels; then, in Wolverine #14, he finds out that each and every one of them were his own offspring, recruited just so he could be tricked into ending them, a devastating revelation that put the most popular member of the X-Men on a dark path for a time.
Plenty of superheroes have been forced to slay their own siblings, but only Betsy Braddock can claim to have done so using another sibling as an intermediary. In Uncanny X-Force #23, she discovers that her oldest brother, Jamie - who had recently returned from the afterlife following a bout of supervillainous madness - is destined to once again become an existence-threatening villain known as the Goat Monk.
Located far away from Jamie, Psylocke at first implores her other brother, Brian - the hero known as Captain Britain - to stop him before it's too late. When Brian refuses, Betsy takes psychic command of his body and does the grisly deed herself, snapping Jamie's neck with Brian's super-strong hands.
- Photo: DC Comics
The alternate and apocalyptic timeline depicted in the Injustice games and comics diverges from the main DC Comics timeline thanks to a truly horrifying act of evil. In Injustice: Gods Among Us #1, the Joker tires of messing with the Batman and instead decides to set his sights on the Man of Steel - and the results couldn't be more devastating.
The Clown Prince of Crime doses Superman with a combination of fear gas and Kryptonite, leading Supes to imagine the sudden appearance of Doomsday. It's only after he's flown his monstrous foe into space that Superman realizes he's actually holding his own wife, Lois Lane, in his arms - and she doesn't survive. To make matters worse, Lois is pregnant at the time and the unborn child is lost. Worse still, the Joker has Lois's heart hooked up to a nuclear device, which explodes in downtown Metropolis when she expires.
All in all, it's pretty understandable why Superman's very next action is to punch a hole through the Joker's chest.
As a clone of Wolverine, Laura Kinney doesn't have parents in the same way most people do. But Sarah Kinney, the woman who carried her in the womb, delivered her, and helped raise her, is as close to a real mother as X-23 is going to get. Though Laura is designed as a killing machine, it's Sarah who is responsible for giving her a degree of humanity, which makes Sarah's ultimate fate all the more tragic.
Another doctor on the X-23 project imbues Laura with a trigger scent - a certain chemical compound that causes her to fly into an uncontrollable berserker rage whenever she smells it. And in X-23 #6, when Sarah attempts to free her daughter from the facility in which she was created, that trigger scent is released, causing Laura to lose control and violently execute her own mother - an act that still causes her a great deal of trauma.