Major massacres with body counts in the hundreds (or even millions) are strangely common in superhero comics, and Marvel was no exception. Whether it was to make the heroes righteously angry or to show how monstrous a villain was, Marvel often resorted to a massacre to raise the stakes of its biggest comics.
These massacres didn’t just kill countless innocent people and heroes, but they also reshaped the stories and worlds they were a part of. Some of these massacres were dark futures that could have been averted, while others were permanent tragedies that forever changed those who witnessed them and those who survived the horrors.
This article contains mention of suicide.
10 The Punisher Killed Every Marvel Character
Casualty Rate: 500 Marvel heroes and villains
In an alternate universe, The Punisher’s family was caught in the crossfire of an X-Men mission gone wrong rather than a mob hit. This motivated The Punisher to kill more than 500 Marvel heroes and villains while being financed by other victims of the heroes’ careless collateral damage. Unsurprisingly, this one-shot was written by the hero-hating Garth Ennis.
The Punisher’s one-man war on the Marvel Universe was only possible because he was written to be impossibly and unfairly competent, while his targets were conveniently written to be bumbling self-parodies. This major massacre in Marvel Comics ended when The Punisher took his own life after he killed his only friend, Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil).
9 The Punisher’s War On Crime
Casualty Rate: At least 2,000 criminals
The Punisher was single-handedly responsible for one of the biggest major massacres in Marvel Comics. Although he’s been killing criminals since his debut, The Punisher never got an official tally. In his MAX run, the police estimated that he killed at least 2,000 criminals during his roughly 30-year war on crime.
Besides the fact that The Punisher is canonically one of the Marvel Universe’s most skilled soldiers and the deadliest person alive, the authorities turned a blind eye to his massacre since they agreed with his brutality. Before he retired, his massacre went global while his body count possibly tripled thanks to The Hand’s help.
8 The Marauders Massacred The Morlocks
Casualty Rate: The Morlock population
The Morlocks were The Dark Beast’s failed experiments who either escaped or were exiled by him. These Mutants found refuge by forming a community in Manhattan’s abandoned Cold War-era bomb shelters. The eugenicist Mr. Sinister hated them for “poisoning” his “perfect” gene pool, so Mr. Sinister had his Marauders kill them.
The X-Men arrived too late to stop the Marauders. There’s currently no final tally of the Mutant Massacre, but it’s been estimated that thousands of Morlocks were ruthlessly killed in this major massacre in Marvel Comics. Only a handful of Morlocks survived the massacre, and they’ve never been able to rebuild their old numbers and strength.
7 The Kree Wiped Out New Arctilan
Casualty Rate: At least 4,000 Inhumans
The Inhumans were the survivors of the Kree’s cruel experiments on prehistoric humans. They founded their own kingdom on the moon called New Arctillan. At its peak, the thriving capital had a population of 4,000. Unfortunately, the Inhumans were driven to near extinction when the remnants of the broken Kree Empire attacked them.
The Kree killed most of the Inhumans to force Black Bolt into joining their ranks. The Inhuman Royal Family killed the last of the Kree, but they’re currently the last of their kind. It should be noted that this major massacre in Marvel Comics partly happened because Marvel needed to retcon the Inhumans after their failed push.
6 The Decimation Reduced The Mutant Population To 198
Casualty Rate: Approximately 986,420 Mutants
At most, the number of Mutants never exceeded that of a small country’s populace. But thanks to the Scarlet Witch, Mutantkind was reduced to 198. When she rewrote reality so that the Mutant gene never existed, the Scarlet Witch de-powered and/or killed almost a million Mutants. These million were already the few survivors of Genosha’s fall.
Mutants suffered the most major massacres in Marvel Comics, but M-Day was one of the worst catastrophes they faced. Those who didn’t die during The Decimation of M-Day were hunted down or died in other equally grim circumstances. The Mutants were able to get their powers back, but not before even more of them were killed.
RELATED: 10 Epic Ways Fall of X Could End
5 The Wild Sentinel Wiped Out Genosha
Casualty Rate: At least 16,000,000 Mutants
Genosha was a crowning monument of Mutantkind’s independence and prosperity, but it also became the site of one of the worst major massacres in Marvel Comics. The advanced country was a sanctuary for Mutants with a population of more than 16 million. But a single Wild Sentinel killed everyone and reduced Genosha to ash.
Without warning, Cassandra Nova’s Wild Sentinel attacked Genosha and killed everyone. All that was left at the end of the massacre were ruins. The country’s population became zombies who attacked whoever set foot there. The massacre of Genosha continues to be one of the most formative tragedies in the X-Men’s and Mutantkinds’ lives.
4 The Sentinels Killed All American Mutants
Casualty Rate: All known Mutants in North America
The iconic two-parter Days of Future Past (written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and illustrated by Byrne) was the X-Men’s darkest timeline. Here, the Sentinels took over America and exterminated almost all American Mutants. The few surviving Mutants — including people with mild Mutant genes — were cruelly oppressed.
No concrete figure was given, but it’s safe to guess that the Sentinels killed millions of American Mutants. They also planned to take their genocide worldwide. This major massacre in Marvel Comics was a potential future that the X-Men successfully averted, but it was still one of the darkest and most tragic events in Marvel canon.
3 Hala Was Destroyed By Mister Knife
Casualty Rate: The entire Kree civilization
The once-mighty Kree Empire has been trapped in a downward spiral for the longest time. Mister Knife (aka J’Son, heir to Spartax’s throne) drove the final nail onto their coffin by annihilating their capital planet, Hala. J’Son also killed the Kree’s leader, The Supreme Intelligence, and permanently broke their empire.
The few surviving Kree were reduced to nomads and scavengers. This major massacre in Marvel Comics was so devastating that it was one of the main reasons why the Kree Imperium struck an allegiance with their longtime enemies, the Skrulls. It’s worth noting that the Skrulls only agreed to this because they were also in equally dire straits.
2 The Annihilation Wave Killed Half Of Marvel Cosmic’s Side
Casualty Rate: Half of Marvel Cosmic
Annihilus lived up to his name’s origins by annihilating more than half of the Marvel Universe during Annihilation (written by Keith Giffen and illustrated by Andrea Di Vito). While Earth’s heroes were squabbling amongst each other during the Civil War, Annihilus was busy massacring the cosmos, including entire planets and vast empires.
The Annihilation Wave’s victims included but were not limited to Xandar, the entire Nova Corps, most of the Kree and Skrull Empires, and more. This major massacre in the Marvel Universe was so unstoppable that it took the united efforts of previous enemies like Nova, Ronan the Accuser, and the Super-Skrull to barely stop Annihilus.
1 The Zombies Ate The Marvel Universe
Casualty Rate: The entire Marvel Universe
When Marvel’s heroes and villains were infected by a zombie virus in Earth-2149, it only took them a day to devour humanity to the point of extinction. The Marvel Zombies ate so many people that they were starving in their debut mini-series. The run ended with them eating Galactus, absorbing his powers, then eating the entire Marvel Universe.
It didn’t take the zombies long to eat everything and everyone in the Marvel Universe, either, and they were left starving after just a few weeks. What made this major massacre in Marvel Comics so horrifying was its speed, body count, and totality. Even if the zombies eventually regained some of their humanity, they literally ended all life in their universe.
By killing countless innocent people, including major heroes and villains, these massacres in Marvel Comics changed everything for the worse. Read More