The DC Comics universe is historically recognized among fans as having the most diabolical array of villains in the world of comics. Many classic DC villains have no regard for the lives lost or ruined in the course of their evil machinations. From Lex Luthor to the Joker, DC’s villains have run amok for decades, making the lives of the publisher’s superheroes absolutely chaotic.
Sometimes, though, the villains that make up the rogue’s gallery of such classic heroes as Superman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League have the capacity to surprise readers. There have been some instances where DC’s greatest villains have perished while saving lives.
9 Superboy-Prime Redeemed Himself
Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Secret Origin By Scott Snyder & Geoff Johns And Various Artists
Superboy-Prime rose to prominence as one of DC’s greatest threats as part of the landmark Infinite Crisis storyline – recognized as one of the greatest DC comics of the 2000s – by Geoff Johns. Hailing from the reader’s Earth (the “real” world), Superboy-Prime was driven to villainy after being manipulated by Alexander Luthor.
In Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Secret Origin, though, Superboy-Prime managed to redeem himself. With the last of his might, Superboy-Prime strikes the Darkest Knight, preventing the expansion of the Last 52 and resetting himself, awakening on his own Earth and setting out to become that world’s Superman.
8 Shazam Breaks Luthor’s Spell And Dies A Hero
Kingdom Come #4 By Mark Waid, Alex Ross, And Todd Klein
The events of Kingdom Come see the DC Universe nearly destroyed by a superhero war. Lex Luthor spent decades reconditioning Billy Batson to use the power of Shazam to destroy the Justice League and the superhuman community at large.
Shazam breaks open the gulag in which the Justice League was housing the world’s super criminals, allowing them to reign chaos around the world. However, Superman brings Billy back to his senses. As Shazam, he destroys a nuclear missile sent to destroy all superhumans. Several heroes and villains die in the explosion, but Shazam’s sacrifice prevents further expansion of the superhumans’ war.
7 James Gordon, Jr. Removed Himself As A Threat
Batgirl (Vol 5) #49 By Cecil Castellucci, Robbi Rodriguez, Jordie Bellaire And Andworld Design
The alliance between Batman and Commissioner James Gordon is one of the smartest decisions Batman ever made. But Gordon’s son and namesake, James Gordon, Jr., has made life difficult for the Bat Family, particularly for his adopted sister, Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). When the younger Gordon began targeting young women who look similar to Barbara, Batgirl began a relentless pursuit of her brother.
When she confronted James on top of a skyscraper, the junior Gordon’s split personalities began to war with each other. Young James’s more human side kicked in, and he threw himself off the building, hoping to spare others (including Barbara) from his murderous wrath. The incident resulted in tension between Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon, who blamed her for his son’s death.
6 Man-Bat Saved The World From A Mystical Threat
Detective Comics #1040 By Dan Watters, Max Raynor, Arif Prianto, And Rob Leigh
Kirk Langston, the Man-Bat, was never one of Batman’s most famous foes, but he was one of the Dark Knight’s most formidable. Langston’s transformation into the monstrous Man-Bat plagued Gotham City for decades. However, when Langston finally met his end in Detective Comics #1040, Man-Bat died a hero.
In a previous adventure alongside one of the smartest members of the Justice Society, Doctor Fate, Man-Bat found himself possessed by a demonic force that sought to feed on Gotham’s fears and spread its power on a global scale. It seemed Man-Bat had forced the demon out of him, but that wasn’t enough to defeat it. Langston reabsorbed the demon to contain it. He succumbed to his wounds, but in the process, saved the world from being destroyed by a horrific, otherworldly force.
5 Mr. Mxyzptlk Once Gave His Life For Superman
The Adventures Of Superman (Vol 1) #646 By Greg Rucka, Karl Kerschl, Wayne Faucher, Tanya & Richard Horie, And Rob Leigh
Mr. Mxyzptlk is an imp from the 5th dimension who has tormented and terrorized Superman for decades. A being akin to Batman’s Bat-Mite (and now Nightwing’s Nite-Mite), Mxyzptlk is all but omnipotent, possessing the power to alter reality. In the aftermath of DC’s Day of Vengeance storyline, though, Mxyzptlk altered his own reality.
With the villain Ruin on the verge of killing Superman with a Kryptonite-based weapon, Mxyzptlk jumps in the path of the spear. By giving his own life to save Superman, any life saved by the Man of Steel after that point must, in part, be credited to his impish adversary.
4 Last Knight’s Lex Luthor Died Giving His Earth A Superman
Last Knight On Earth #3 By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Pascencia, And Tom Napolitano
In Last Knight On Earth, Lex Luthor finally turns public opinion against Superman, resulting in the Man of Steel’s death. However, in this version of the DC Universe, things quickly deteriorate. Chaos runs rampant across the globe to the point that the heroes of old are all but extinguished.
Realizing his folly, Luthor dedicates the rest of his life to filling the void he created by causing Superman’s death. Controlling the Superman robots in the Fortress of Solitude doesn’t quite pan out, so Luthor creates a time-space wormhole, bringing baby Kal-El’s capsule from another universe into his. Ultimately, this world’s new Batman is charged with raising the child to become the Man of Steel. It isn’t a last-minute sacrifice, but Luthor worked to the very end to ensure that his world had a Superman.
3 Hal Jordan Righted Horrendous Wrongs With His Death
The Final Night #4 By Karl Kesel, Stuart Immonen, Jose Marzan, Jr., Lee Loughridge, And Gaspar Saladino
The corruption of Hal Jordan at the hands of the Parallax entity was devastating to the DCU in the 90s. As Parallax, Jordan murdered the entire Green Lantern Corps and nearly erased the fabric of time itself in the Zero Hour storyline. Green Arrow seemingly killed him, only to return in 1996’s The Final Night.
Hal Jordan volunteered to carry a series of devices into the heart of the sun to prevent the Sun Eater from causing a devastating supernova. Chanting the Green Lantern oath as he nears his destination, Jordan’s sacrifice saved everyone on Earth. It also led to his soul being claimed by the Spectre. Although Jordan’s sacrifice was temporary, his resurrection enabled him to continue saving lives as Green Lantern.
2 Red Son’s Bizarro Died Saving Millions
Superman: Red Son #1 By Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Andrew Robinson, Paul Mounts, And Ken Lopez
Superman: Red Son tells the story of a world where Kal-El’s capsule landed in Soviet Russia. He grew to be a literal Soviet Superman, eventually supplanting Joseph Stalin. In response, American scientist Lex Luthor clones the Man of Steel. Unfortunately, this universe’s Bizarro is just as imperfect as the original.
Bizarro and Superman battle over London, with Bizarro’s recklessness resulting in massive collateral damage. But when a nuclear missile threatens even more lives, Bizarro carries the weapon into space and perishes when it detonates. In doing so, he prevented nuclear war and saved millions of lives.
1 Starro Began And Ended With The Justice League
Justice League: No Justice #3 By Various Writers And Artists
Starro may have one of the most generic DC villain names, but he was the original Justice League adversary. And it was in the presence of the Justice League that Starro’s journey ended. Brainiac assembled Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains and combined them into teams to face off against one another.
With the assembled group’s lives threatened, Starro uses Atom’s Bio-Belt to enlarge himself but is torn apart in the process. The diversion enabled the team to escape, however, making Starro’s last act a life-saving one. Starro lives on, though, as Batman retrieved a piece of his starfish-like body and preserved it in a jar. The League adopted it as Jarro and now serves as an unofficial mascot for the JLA.
NEXT: 10 Superman Villains Perfect For James Gunn’s Reboot
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