Every comic reader expects the heroes to win in the end, but that isn't always the case. How about those rare comics where the villain wins (at least for a while)? It's a move that caused genuine shock and heartbreak in theaters across the globe at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, and the medium that film takes its inspiration from is no stranger to the bad guys getting to pump their fists from time to time. Sometimes, the baddies deserve a win too.
Doctor Doom drops his medical practice and takes on the mantle of "God Emperor Doom" in Secret Wars. Everyone's favorite not-Captain America, Hydra Supreme, reforms the United States in his image in Secret Empire. The Joker becomes nearly omnipotent in the Superman storyline "Emperor Joker." Getting to see your favorite supervillain truly pull the strings for a bit can be extremely exciting - even though we all know the heroes will obviously end up winning out in the end.
In the six-issue storyline "Thanos Wins," readers get to see what happens when the Mad Titan finally gets what he wants: supreme rule after killing almost everything in the universe to appease Mistress Death. The reality of this King Thanos timeline is known as Earth-TRN666, and it basically shows a future version of the Earth-616 reality where Thanos slays everything and rules at the end of time. He's basically got the Hulk as a lapdog. It's quite the visual.
The mainline version of Thanos is brought there to eliminate King Thanos by the elderly ruler so he could finally be with Mistress Death in the afterlife. The young Thanos refuses to do so, returns to his own reality, and vows to never end up like his older self, who would willingly beg for death.Cruel rule?
"Old Man Logan" has proven to be one of the most popular X-Men storylines of the past 20 years. Heck, it's proven to be one of the most popular Marvel storylines of the past 20 years, period. The original 2008 Wolverine story arc was written by comics superstar Mark Millar and went on to inspire multiple volumes and other "Old Man" spinoffs like Old Man Hawkeye and Old Man Quill.
The United States of this story has been conquered and divided by supervillains, with the Red Skull declaring himself President of the United States to stroke his massive ego. The mentally-deteriorating Skull keeps various trophies of dead superheroes and ends up getting slain when Wolverine uses Cap's shield to decapitate the madman.Cruel rule?
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In true Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo fashion, Dark Nights: Death Metal is sufficiently bonkers in a way all comic book fans should be able to get behind. The Batman Who Laughs is granted rule of Prime Earth by Perpetua (the original creator of the DC Multiverse) and warps everything to fit his twisted view of reality. Dubbed the "Metalverse," Prime Earth is reshaped into a world of nightmares.
Gotham City becomes a continent-sized city where massive Joker Dragons rule the skies. There are the Arkham Wastelands, a radiation-filled, desolate landscape where Captain Atom exploded and left destruction in his wake. And Superman is put into a giant prison for superheroes, dubbed New Apokolips, where he serves as the power source. Wonder Woman ends up stopping the Batman Who Laughs in the end, and reality is restored to its normal state, but Dark Nights: Death Metal proved to be a fun, short look into the dark side of DC Comics.Cruel rule?
In 2015, Jonathan Hickman did what Jonathan Hickman does and created one of the most memorable Marvel events ever put to the comic book page in Secret Wars. After years of build-up, the various realities of the Marvel Comics multiverse collided, and Doctor Doom used the powers of Molecule Man to create Battleworld, which essentially was a mish-mash of various realities under the planetary rule of "God Emperor Doom." With an ego that cannot realistically be measured, it is no surprise Victor Von Doom would install himself as the ultimate ruler by using someone else's powerset.
Doom takes Reed Richards's family for himself, installs Doctor Strange as his second-in-command, and rules over the planet the only way he knows how: angrily. Molecule Man ends up siding with Mister Fantastic in the end, which created a soft reboot of the Marvel Universe in the process. But we'll always have a soft spot for the time Doom actually won for a little bit.Cruel rule?