Content warning: This article contains references to extreme violence and disturbing content. Most of the comics mentioned have material that may not be suitable for all readers.
When reading comics, the imagery of Superman slamming his fist through the chest cavity of the Joker or having Omni-Man shoving his thumbs into the eye sockets of his opponent isn’t the only thing that makes for a good story. Comics with little to no violence have always existed alongside their counterparts, many of which have a very wholesome story with a happy ending or a sad one. So when these are discussed, readers do not often think of brutal deaths.
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Each reader has a different interpretation of what they consider to be brutal. It doesn’t always have to be someone being torn in half or beaten to death. Some may consider these deaths tame, while others don’t. It also depends on the content of the comic. So whether it’s your simple everyday life or a superhero trying to play the role of the average joe, you’ll always have something different, including various forms of brutality and deaths.
Unlike some of the more violent comic storylines and crossovers that DC Comics has, Daytripper is not about superheroes or villains. Brás de Oliva Domingos is the son of an internationally renowned author. He wishes to write a novel and writes obituaries for the local newspaper for work in his spare time. However, this isn’t an everyday life for the protagonist because, at the end of each issue, the reader gets to see the protagonist dies in several different ways.
There are small moments of violence, but it’s not consumed by it, and it’s not the main focus. The death that would be considered brutal is in issue #7 when he looks for his friend from him on an island in a run-down shack, looking disheveled and lost. When Brás tries to get his friend to leave, his friend de él lashes out, stabbing him to death before taking his own life by stabbing himself in the chest.
9 The Death of Archie: A Life Celebrated
First published in 1939 by Paul Kupperberg, the archie comics have been known for their quirky, upbeat storyline, adventures, and romance. It’s a comic book series that many would not expect a tragic, brutal death from the content they frequently read.
The Death of Archie comic was to conclude the story of Archie and have him go out as a hero by saving a Senator from a shooter by taking a bullet in the abdomen. With a story such as archie, seeing Archie shot and lying in a pool of blood could be considered brutal in the eyes of his fans. But even with this conclusion, more great Archie comics that depict him as a superhero are still available.
8 Royal City
Royal City records the lives of a dysfunctional family and a town that has been slowly vanishing over three decades. This story follows Patrick Pike, once a famous writer fading into obscurity, his two siblings, mother, and father. The family is also haunted by their son/brother Tommy who died when he was younger.
Tommy has chronic headaches; his headaches from him produced hallucinations and were worsened by the radio tower. After getting punched by his brother Richie, Tommy is later discovered face down in the small stream in the woods. It can be assumed that the hit to the head and the other factors inebriated Tommy and made him unstable, causing him to fall into the water. It’s a tragic ending for the young teenager, one that could be considered brutal due to the events leading up to it and how it tore apart a family and haunted them for years.
In some cases, comics will get made into a movie. In this case, the comic Sandcastle was recently made into the movie Old, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
On this island, these individuals age rapidly, and they cannot escape. What makes these deaths and future deaths in this story so brutal is how rapidly they die and how the reader sees the kids grow to be adults, have children, and watch as the parents of these children die. Life passes quicker on this island, and the occupants are trapped and forced to watch each other die.
6 AD After Death
AD After Death is a comic that is set in the future, and a genetic cure for death has been found. Years later, the protagonist Jonah Cooke begins to question everything and has to face his past and mortality from him.
The most brutal death hits the reader right in the beginning with the protagonist’s mother and a disease she suffered from. She was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrom, a malignant connective tissue that prevents the body from producing collagen, and at the time, she was also pregnant with a baby boy. Six months later, her body began to fail, and as her body collapsed, the baby would die alongside his mother.
The currently ongoing story snotgirl is about a social media influencer/fashion blogger Lottie Person and the issues in her life and others around her. It doesn’t seem to be the type of comic to have a brutal death, but the reader will be surprised by volume #10.
Like Daytripper, it depicts violence, but not every death the protagonist has is an excessive amount, and the violence is not the main focus. So far, the most brutal death takes place in a motel when Lottie is under the influence. It was shown as a hallucination, possibly a bad dream of sorts, but Lottie sees a girl being murdered by an individual by having her head smashed in. The complete act is not shown, but the blood splatter and the act of bringing down the blunt object give the reader the idea that it wasn’t a pleasant death.
Before it was ever a movie, Coraline was first a novella written by Neil Gaiman, who later adapted it into a comic published in 2009. As many know, the storyline of Coraline is about a girl that steps through a door to a “better,” fantasy-like world that ends up being desolate and dark. It is also well known that the “Other Mother” is evil and manipulative and has a track record of capturing souls.
As the story progresses, the reader is introduced to these trapped souls that the Other Mother has stolen. When freed, the souls are never shown returning to their bodies, but it does show them moving on. It leaves the reader imagining a potentially deranged and brutal process that might have been worse than simply “sowing” on the buttons that took the lives of the children.
3 Alex + Adam
Alex + Adam is a Sci-Fi/Romance comic involving a man and his android. But before the romance is introduced, the reader is shown what can happen to certain androids if they don’t follow the rules for androids.
His grandmother gifted Jonathan a female Tanaka X-5 android, this android being capable of intelligent human interactions. These androids can be tampered with and given the ability to think for themselves and feel emotions, and one of them was caught at a concert. The android used a fake ID to get in and when discovered, the crowd beat and ripped the limbs off of this android, ultimately killing her. While the act itself isn’t shown, the reader sees the aftermath.
two The Sculptor
The Sculptor is about a man named David Smith who exchanges his life to be able to sculpt whatever he wants for 200 days. However, David soon finds happiness with a girl named Meg. This makes the ending of this comic both tragic and brutal.
Coming clean to Meg about his deal with death, he lost three days. With only 12 days left, David and Meg spend as much time as possible together until the day of Meg’s death from her when she is hit by a truck. After her death from her, David erects one last statue before being shot by a sniper, falling to his death from her. The last thing the reader will see is the bitter-sweet ending of David’s body on the ground and a giant statue of Meg holding their unborn child in the middle of the city.
one through the woods
through the woods is a collection of stories in this singular comic. Each has a dark ending, but one that had the most brutal end was the short story “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.”After a woman gets engaged and lives with her fiance, she begins to hear a voice in the walls. The woman breaks down the wall to find her soon-to-be husband’s dead ex-wife chopped up to fit in the small space. He had murdered his ex-wife de ella using a choker he gave her that would get tighter and eventually behead her. While this scene is not graphic, the reader sees the corpse and the woman’s choker that led her to her brutal death.
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