10 Comic Book Villains Who Killed Their Greatest Rival

Even the Joker gets the last laugh every once in a while.

Bullseye Wolverine Old Man Logan
Marvel Comics

With hundreds and hundreds of comics containing tales of supervillains trying and failing to kill heroes, it's all too easy for comic readers to become conditioned and expect their heroes to survive. Much like Thanos, it's inevitable that after reading countless issues of your favourite do-gooder escaping death's clutches, it starts to feel like their plot armour is so thick that there's no way they could actually be killed.

This is why it's absolutely crucial that there are occasions in which a hero's nemesis does kill them, as it not only fixes this disillusionment, but also reinvigorates the big feuds that DC and Marvel live on.

While even death has a habit of not lasting long in comic book universes, seeing seemingly invincible characters like Batman and Thor slip up and be murdered always feels like something special, even if you know it isn't a permanent affair.

It's a move that can admittedly easily be overused - as is best shown with heroes like Jean Grey, who are constantly reincarnated - but, given an intense enough rivalry and a dramatic enough death, it can also be exactly what a plot needs to have that little extra punch when you read it.

10. Lex Luthor Kills Superman - Superman #149

Bullseye Wolverine Old Man Logan
DC Comics

In a comic that precluded the hero's famous defeat at the hands of Doomsday, Superman #149 sees Luthor accomplish a rare feat, by actually managing to take down the Man of Steel.

After spending what is suggested to be years of time gaining Superman's trust, Lex convinces the spaceman that his life is under threat, and that the only way he can be safe is if the hero helps him build a space station that nobody else can access. Ever the kind soul, Kent agrees, and inadvertently builds his own death trap - as Luthor would trap the Kryptonian in one of the ship's rooms, and expose him to kryptonite until he passed away.

This isn't the only time Lex would be able to pull the wool over Kent's eyes - at one point in his comic career even curing cancer just to get close to the Man of Steel - it's the most successful of Luthor's various machinations, which is also exactly why it's not considered canon.


I like my comics like I like my coffee - in huge, unquestionably unhealthy doses.