(Warning: The following contains a whole lot of adult imagery and situations, to say nothing of a whole lot of horrifying comic book gore. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise.)
Now, for an artistic medium that spent much of the twentieth century being forbidden to feature even the gentlest modicum of adult content, comic books sure have made up for lost time over the past few decades. The thing is, while DC and Marvel have somewhat held their own in the horrifying moment stakes, there's a whole other world of independent comic book companies out there, and as it turns out, they're willing to go a whole lot further than Marvel or DC tend to be able to. Here, then, is a look at...
The Five Goriest Deaths Marvel And DC Couldn't Have Published
Now, it's worth noting that this list isn't comprehensive — and you should absolutely let me know everything I missed in the comments below — and doesn't include a few notable moments. A particular moment in Garth Ennis's Crossed, for instance, misses out by virtue of being so fundamentally unpleasant to even think about (if you're willing to brave it, you can read about it here), and several legendary scenes are disqualified by technically appearing in DC or Marvel prints.
With that in mind, though, let's get this show on the road.
5. Marv Feeds Someone To A Wolf In 'Sin City'
Now, Frank Miller's Sin City was never exactly shy when it came to ultra-violence — using its monochromatic palette to great effect when it came to getting away with a whole lot of bloody murder — but The Hard Goodbye's crowning moment remains distinctly shocking all the same.
After all, it features protagonist Marv feeding cannibalistic serial killer (and murderer of Marv's lover, Goldie) Kevin to his own pet wolf — one piece at a time.
That last panel, all in silhouette, with just one line of captioning, is pretty much a perfect encapsulation of how horror — and even conventional gore — can be most effective when it does, and shows, as little as possible.
4. Invincible Headbutts A Guy To Death
Now, if you were under the impression that Robert Kirkman only pulled off horrifying deaths on The Walking Dead, then you might want to give his superhero comic book Invincible a try. After all, it once featured an extensive and incredibly brutal battle between leading hero Invincible and dastardly villain Conquest.
Which ended with Invincible headbutting the guy to death.
Now, sure, Conquest had seemingly just straight up murdered Invincible's girlfriend — and didn't ultimately turn out to be all that dead — but even so. Ugh.
3. 'The Boys' Mashes The Falcon Into A Plane
Now, technically Garth Ennis's The Boys had no right to use Marvel's Captain America or Falcon in the World War II-set section of its story — and so constructed gleefully unsubtle analogs of the duo (alongside other classic near-heroes).
Which ended poorly for Not-the-Falcon, when he took off at one point and was immediately eviscerated by a passing plane's rotor blades. And then rolled over by a tank. Maybe don't mention any of this to Anthony Mackie, eh?
2. 'From Hell' Brings Horrifying History To Life
A true legend of bringing horrifying, dream-haunting moments to the comic book page, Alan Moore has long since proven himself a master of the deeply unsettling. From Hell, though, took things to a whole new level, with mind-achingly plausible gore transforming the comic book page into a disturbing mass of blood and horror.
Now, the only way that gets beaten to No. 1? Well, it just had to be Negan...
1. 'The Walking Dead' Gets Brutal Upside Glenn's Head
About as topical as it gets, with The Walking Dead's recent season finale cutting off just before showing one of the most iconic comic book moments of recent years. Issue 100 of the comic book introduced one of the most appalling villains in comic book-dom: Negan.
Who swiftly proceeds to brutally beat fan favorite Glenn to death with his spiked club, Lucille. Which sounds... bad, but not "No. 1 slot" bad, right? Well, maybe not so much...
The combination of topicality, cruelty and sheer visual brutality (not to mention a fair dose of horrifying gore) earns The Walking Dead the top spot, but the big question now?