The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

Superheroes don't always toss bad guys in the pokey. No, sometimes they turn them into babies and candles or torture them with quiescently frozen confections. Here are 10 times superheroes engaged in some weird justice.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

10.) Jesse Custer makes a henchman count 3 million grains of sand
In Garth Ennis' Preacher, a bumbling lackey named Hoover attempts to abduct Jesse Custer, the eponymous preacher. A pissed-off Custer uses his divine Voice of Command to force Hoover to count 3 million grains of sand on a beach.

It takes Hoover a year to complete the task, which destroys his body and psyche. Custer belatedly realizes he's overreacted, so he uses the Voice to erase Hoover's memories of the ordeal. (Okay, so Jesse's not exactly a superhero, but he's definitely larger than life.)

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

9.) The Punisher tortures a guy with his grocery list
In the first issue of 1992's The Punisher War Zone, the Punisher told an unlucky perp that he would burn his back off with a blowtorch unless he coughed up intel.

After first telling the criminal that extreme burns actually feel like a piercing cold, Frank presses a popsicle against the crook's back and cooks a steak with the torch. His captive, thinking he smells the savory burning of his own flesh, squeals immediately.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

8.) Reed Richards uses bovine hypnosis
After defeating Skrull spies in the second issue of Fantastic Four, Reed Richards came up with a unique punishment for the shapeshifting aliens. He hypnotized the extraterrestrials into believing they were cows and shipped them off to a pasture in Vermont.

This was a monumentally stupid plan, as the cows' tainted milk caused nearby townspeople to go insane and develop shapeshifting powers After Reed solved that screw-up, the Skrull cows were accidentally butchered and consumed by humans. Those who consumed the beef developed Skrullovoria Induced Skrullophobia — a disease that causes an intense hatred of Skrulls along with awesome (albeit fatal) mutagenic abilities — and banded together to form the Skrull Kill Krew, a monomaniacal superteam who spent their last days gleefully murdering Skrulls.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

7.) The Authority under Mark Millar
During Mark Millar's tenure on The Authority, the future Kick-Ass author made the superteam mete out some grindhouse justice. For example, they exiled a bunch of racist superheroes to an alternate dimension run by black supremacists and sodomized a homophobic Captain America knock-off with a jackhammer.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

6.) Emma Frost and her psychic syrup of ipecac
During a battle in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, Emma Frost implants a ridiculous psychic suggestion in the annals of some unlucky henchmen's minds: "And every time you hear the words 'parsley', 'intractable' or 'longitude' you will vomit uncontrollably for 48 hours."

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

5.) Superman exiles General Eiling to an asteroid
In JLA #26, the diabolical US General Wade Eiling is dying of a brain tumor, so he transfers his consciousness to the immortal, indestructible body of a synthetic humanoid known as the Shaggy Man. Eiling gives the Man a haircut and singlehandedly throttles the Justice League.

Superman is unable to defeat the infinitely regenerating General, so he teleports him to an asteroid, where Eiling is condemned to silence for eternity. This plan wasn't exactly foolproof, as Lex Luthor rescued the General a few issues later.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

4.) Alpha the Ultimate Mutant makes Magneto poop his pants
Back before anyone gave a fig about the X-Men, Magneto built himself his very own synthetic super-being known as Alpha. Magneto's creation eventually realizes that his master is evil, so he turns on the Brotherhood and transforms them into infants. Babality!

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

3.) The Scourge shoots up the Bar With No Name
In the 1980s, Marvel Comics decided to clean out their rogues gallery using a vigilante known as the Scourge of the Underworld. Scourge murdered tons of D-List supervillains, and his most famous hit went down at "the Bar with No Name," a supervillain watering hole where the baddies had organized an anti-Scourge meeting. Scourge disguised himself as the bartender and blew away 18 criminals.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

2.) Almost everything the Spectre's ever done
Back in the day, the Spectre was your go-to man for creative slayings. This supernatural Spirit of Vengeance loved cruel and (especially) unusual punishments tailored to each individual evil-doer. For example, he turned an evil mannequin maker into one of his own murderous creations...

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

...made a giant duck eat one thug and tossed his delinquent pals into space...

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

...and turned the photon-firing malefactor Dr. Light into a giant candle.

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

1.) More or less every Fletcher Hanks comic
Golden Age comic creator Fletcher Hanks was a strange guy with a strange shtick. In almost every single of his comics, omniscient superhumans like Stardust the Super-Wizard and Fantomah the Mystery Woman of the Jungle would torture the ever-loving shit out of criminals. 70 years later, no comic creator has matched Hanks' level of sadistic exquisiteness.

Check out this scene from Jungle Comics #7. First, Fantomah combines a group of slavers into one man (?) and deposits them in a monster civilization...

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

...then the aggregate man tries to escape and is bitten by cobras...

The 10 craziest superhero punishments in comicdom

...and finally Fantomah suspends his/their corpse in the air for no explainable reason. One of these days I'm going to do a Top 10 of the best Fletcher Hanks' bad guy deaths, but I would require a solid year to mull over the order.