Top 10 Tuesday: Marvel Murderers
By Kevin McVicker & Jon Durmin
Kevin: So, a lot of people have died in the Marvel Universe by a plethora of hands, but there are always those few who rise above the other common place mass murderers to commit genocide, and beyond.
Jon: Right on, Kevin. From serial killers to star-system slaughterers these are some scary souls!
Kevin: This list celebrates those who just generally seem to not like life.
Jon: I don’t know if I’d say celebrates, but this IS a run-down of some of the worst of the worst of the murderous in the 616.
Galactus is a being older than the 616 universe who survives by feeding off planets. He’s killed countless sentients in his time, but, in fairness, Galactus kills the same way a tornado kills. He’s just a force of nature; basically a space god. He even makes the effort, by dispatching heralds like the Silver Surfer, to warn civilized worlds of his imminent arrival so that they can evacuate. Of course, not all of his heralds did their job as well as Norrin Radd, and not every race that could heed their warnings did (*cough*Skrulls*cough*), but that’s not directly Galactus’ fault. For a being as old, powerful, and advanced as Galactus a world that isn’t advanced enough to heed his warnings deserves about as much consideration as most people would give the residents of an anthill they just strolled over with their lawnmower. Also, to Galactus’ credit, he’s been an active force in countering the destructive efforts of four of our top five killers.
Bolivar Trask and Hank Pym don’t have much of a body count directly to their credit, but both of their cybernetic offspring appear on this list. Even as manufacturers of these death ‘droids, neither inventor had originated their respective AIs with the idea that they would be kill-bots in mind. Then of course there’s Pym’s recent union with our number 7 death-dealer . . .
Deadpool kills people left and right yeah, and out of continuity has killed universes and people that he shouldn’t be able to. From various versions of himself, to the entire Marvel universe, to zombies, to an entire classic literary canon of characters, Deadpool has killed almost everyone. Even Cullen Bunn (the guy that writers the Deadpool Kills… series) was killed by Deadpool. He’s also nuts, and we get so many stories from his perspective that it isn’t always clear whether his actual body count is much higher or much lower than we believe it to be.
10. Carnage/Cletus Kasady
While an actual body count is difficult to find for Cletus, it is well known that his killing career started at an extremely young age. Cletus was a ‘successful’ serial killer decades before he bonded with the alien symbiote Carnage, and that little happenstance hasn’t cut his numbers down any. Given his proclivity to kill, well, everyone he encounters, it is safe to say his death toll is in the thousands. This is all for a guy who kills with his bare hands. Then there’s our next entry . . .
James Logan Howlett has time on his side for his accrued body count, that’s for sure. The countless Hydra agents, Hand ninjas, criminals, enemy soldiers, AIM operatives, alien invaders and others who have met their end on the wrong end of his claws all contribute to Wolvie’s spot on this list. His murder count usually serves a direct purpose in the interest of the greater good but marks Logan as a soldier or special agent rather than a serial killer. His time seeking redemption and non-fatal solutions as part of the X-Men and Avengers definitely speak to his character. Still, there’s his time brainwashed as an agent of Hydra (in the classic Enemy of the State story), and that’s what really cements Wolverine on a list where he otherwise might have received honorable mention. Between those dark days and over 100 years of soldiering and berserker rages (who knows how many he’s killed while berserk) under his belt our favorite canucklehead’s body count doubtless dwarfs Carnage’s, all efforts at rehabilitation notwithstanding.
8. The Punisher
The Punisher has killed over 48,000 people according to fan estimates. For a normal human using almost nothing but firearms this is a ridiculous amount of death-dealing. Detractors might argue that Frank Castle is, like Wolverine, fighting a war and should be dismissed from this roster of notoriety on the grounds that he’s a soldier. The problem with that rationale is that Frank hasn’t been a soldier since he came home from Vietnam. The only time Frank has had sanction for his actions, other than his own, is under the leadership of General Thadeus “Thunderbolt/Red Hulk”, Ross during his brief time as a member of the Thunderbolts. Other than that Frank deciding he’s a “soldier” in a “war on crime” and has the right to murder anybody who breaks the law, whether that’s human trafficking, drug possession, or jay walking, is about as valid as any other private citizen in the real world who roll up to churches, government institutions, schools, and stores they’ve passed judgment on as “wrong” and opening fire. Sure there are other cosmic characters who have many more kills, but, again, this is just a guy and his guns. Could you imagine if he had the power of just someone like Terrax what his kill count would be? At 48 thousand and counting in just a few decades of story to Wolverine’s mostly sanctioned 100+ Frank’s got an impressive enough count, even if it doesn’t touch the rest of the list.
Even if we dismiss all the alternate future tales (including Age of Ultron) in which the Ultron entity has all but obliterated humanity, this man-machine-monster still makes our list of murderers. In one of his most dastardly deeds ever, Ultron slaughtered the entire population of the small [fictional] eastern European country of Slorenia. He already had a decent number of kills to his name before that act of genocide and has accrued many more since.
6. The Sentinels (with a little help from Cassandra Nova)
Hey, remember when brought up Bolivar Trask? Well those robots, the Sentinels that Trask developed to protect non-mutants from mutants, have a kill count (according to an issue of X-Force) of at least 16,521,618. That number is without including Days of Future Past, or the contributions of super-Sentinels like Bastion and his Prime Sentinels to their total. Credit where credit is due though, the largest portions of the Sentinel kill total is due in large part to their co-entrant Cassandra Nova. Yep, sixteen million mutants in one afternoon were massacred when Professor X’s twisted twin sister let a bunch of sentinels off their leashes, touching off one of the most catastrophic events in Marvel mutant history. There’s the additional death and devastation she caused throughout the Shi’ar Empire while in possession of her brother’s body. Cassandra devastated Shi’ar cities and star fleets for no other reason than to ruin her brother’s reputation and drive his girlfriend (the late Empress Lilandra) insane.
5. Dark Phoenix
Did somebody say devastating the Shi’ar Empire? As the Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey (well not REALLY Jean Grey, but kinda like Jean Grey) savagely consumed the energy from a star which caused it to go supernova and destroyed an inhabited planet in that star’s system. Was it intentional? That’s debatable, but the captions that accompany this iconic scene suggest that she didn’t really care about the consequences. So, yes, this definitely counts. Also take into consideration the souls on the many Shi’ar ships that Dark Phoenix laid waste to on her way to that star and back before capture. Take into consideration the fact that the destructive attack in New York she launched before heading for space lead to the relaunch of Project: Wideawake and the revival of the Sentinels (without which our #6 entry wouldn’t have been possible). Jean/Phoenix knew what she had done, and harbored guilt for it. So much so that she bit the bullet and allowed herself to be executed.
While this may seem like an odd choice, Annihilus and his cosmic control rod are largely responsible for the cosmic scale destructive actions of the Annihilation Wave. Yes, by Annihilus’ command the hordes of the Negative Zone destroyed multiple planets’ populations including Xandar, and all but one of the Nova Corps. Their end goal was to destroy the entire positive matter universe, but they were stopped thanks in large part to our next entry . . .
Far be it from Thanos to allow anybody other than himself to assume responsibility for the total destruction of everything that is. A devout worshiper of death, Thanos is a nihilist in the extreme. The majority of his death toll was racked up during the Infinity Gauntlet series where he killed off half of the population of the 616. Not Earth-616 but Universe-616. That’s not a small number of beings. Ultimately this action was reversed (of course), but it doesn’t negate the fact that he did it with full knowledge and desire, nor all the other murders he’s committed or ordered before and since.
2. The Beyonders
These guys didn’t just destroy half a universe’s population, they started the Incursion cataclysms that resulted in the destruction of almost every single universe in existence. If it wasn’t for Doom (Kevin: ALL PRAISE GOD-EMPEROR DOOM!!!!) nothing would be left. Luckily the liege of Latveria was able to cobble together fragments left from some of those multiple universes to create Battleworld. But still, one planet in all of existence is left. That’s a virtual infinite death toll. That’s why The Beyonders are almost #1. Almost y’see . . .
1. The Hate Monger/Adolph Hitler
There’s one world, one universe, which the Beyonders utterly failed to touch when they went universe hunting – ours. There’s only one villain in the Marvel Universe who has caused as much needless murder and death, in our world as he has in the 616. Making a 4-color debut on the cover of Captain America Comics #1, the Nazi despot had already set into motion both a war, and the infrastructure for the systematic murder of millions in the real world by the time Steve Rogers punched him in the face. World War II casualties number somewhere between 70-85 million people lost to violence, disease or starvation directly associated with the war or the Nazi regime. Even if we allow for 50% of that number to be related to aggressions by Imperial Japan independent of their alliance with the man with the Chaplin mustache, the action of Hitler and his Nazi state still affected somewhere in the neighborhood of 35- 40 million deaths. These are real deaths not fictional ones – real deaths. Many of the most terrifying comic book supervillains (including Thanos) were inspired directly by this little dictator. We got confirmation of Hitler’s reality as a part of the 616 when it was revealed that he was the man behind the mask of the Hate Monger in Fantastic Four #21. Surviving the war in the 616 by way of super-sciences concocted by his agents Arnim Zola and the Red Skull. Just as comic-book science allowed for Hitler to continue to haunt the 616, his depraved legacy has survived into the present day as well, and he continues to inspire real people to turn against their neighbors and commit foul and hateful deeds. For all this, Hitler is the number one murderer to have ever existed in the Marvel Universe.