Top 5: Superheroes Gone Bad

WARNING! There could be spoilers ahead!


5. Omni-Man

It’s bad enough when you find out your dad is keeping a big secret. When you find out it’s not the fact that he’s a super-hero but he’s an alien double agent intent on subjecting humanity, that’s another thing all together. When Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker did the big twist in the early issues of Invincible that the titular character’s father, the Superman-esque Omni-Man, was in fact a villain…. things changed. It put Invincible on its course to be a pillar of modern superhero comics, and put Omni-Man as one of the most unique and terrifying characters in Kirkman and Co.’s super-hero universe. Later issues show Omni-Man repent his previous actions, but he’s still a super-hero I wouldn’t trust protecting me.


Superboy Prime

4. Superboy-Prime

Petulance is one thing, but when it’s engrained in a boy with the powers of Superman… well, you’re in trouble. Like some sort of twisted mirror version of DC’s Man of Steel, Superboy-Prime grew from a boy version of Superman into being a starkly violent, rash and catastrophe-causing character. When it turned out he was a normal boy from our own world — a comics fan who joined the DCU and gained powers — well, it gave the term “fanboy rampage” a whole new meaning.


Hal Jordan

3. Hal Jordan

A evil turn so surprising that an army of comic fans raised up against DC in an almost “Occupy Wallstreet” style. When Hal Jordan turned his back on the common good and down the dark path of unlimited power (and the parasite known as Parallax), he became one of the most divisive characters in comics. I’m still reeling from the fact that Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver were able to bring the character back from that into the good graces of comic fans as a hero again.



2. Plutonian

Although we never quite got to know him much as a hero, from what Mark Waid and Peter Krause showed us of Plutonian in Irredeemable it was one of the most night-and-day transitions in comics. Following up on Waid’s two previous stories showing heroes going bad, the Plutonian really showed how it’s not so much a flip of a switch but a steady, brooding downfall that turned the blond-haired hero against his people.



1. Jean Grey

The transition of Jean Grey to become the Phoenix and ultimately the Dark Phoenix was a twist so violent that even the comic creators who did it had second  thoughts. The epic “Dark Phoenix Saga” was an end to the innocence of the X-Men, showing one of its founding members — and the heart of the team — becoming a twisting, malevolent monster was one of superhero comics’ biggest moments ever. Possessed by the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force, some might argue that Grey was merely a passenger in her own body when it went bad (or a clone even) but no matter how you slice it, Jean Grey went bad… way bad.


  1. The first trade of Invincible surprised the shit out of me. The turn had not been spoiled for me and it really shocked me. It’s still one of my favorite trades.

    I think I’d have to put The Mighty on my list. I don’t know if Alpha One was ever good, so I don’t know if I could claim that he turned, but that little miniseries is fantastic.

  2. I remember how shocking the Omni Man reveal was to me at the time. Those Viltrumites are a brutal bunch of mustaches.

  3. Sorry, but I find Superboy-Prime to be offensive and insulting.
    Comics creators want me to be passionate enough to spend the money to buy the books they make. The publishers whip up and foment this gotta-have-it-now frenzy that creates that rabid fanboy mentality, and then they want to turn around and mock it and make fun of it? No, thanks. I pass.

    • Yeah I’m really surprised to see Superboy Prime on this list if only for the fact that he was almost universally reviled during Infinite Crisis and still remains one of the most annoying and whiny villains of all time.

      Honestly I think a character like Terra from Teen Titans is far more deserving of the Top 5 spot than Superboy Prime.

    • Terra was always meant to be a Villain though, even from her first appearance she was created to join the team as a spy.
      I actually enjoy Superboy-Prime. He’s incredibly powerful and difficult to defeat and his attitude rings true to me regarding certain segments of fandom (hey, I myself have likely been guilty of Superboy-Prime esque behavior)
      I especially liked him during the Sinestro Corp War, and his bizarre issue of Countdown where had kidnapped Mr. Mxy was probably the only issue from that series that I at all liked.

    • I actually kind of liked Superboy-Prime too. He’s not my favourite of all time, but I always thought if you were trapped in some nexus of reality, unable to really grow or interact with others (beyond the handful of others trapped with you) as you watch worlds going to hell, you might get a little crazy.

      As for being a reflection of some aspects of fandom…well, as JokersNuts points out, sometimes there’s that aspect. C’est la vie.

  4. Watching the Plutonian do what he did gave me a new respect for Super Man as a character.

  5. You know whpo I would put on this list? Ozymandius from Watchmen. ANd yes, I probably spelled that wrong.

  6. I thought onmi-man was always bad. Just covering he’s tracks for his mission. But i like the rest of the list.

  7. Jean never became Dark Phoenix.