Superman. Most of the other comic book badasses owe their existence to him. Yes, he's aided by incredible superpowers, but many times he has gone up against opponents with equal or greater superpowers and still come out on top, even when a foe does hit upon his weakness, he has a good chance of beating them anyway.
Sgt. Rock. The man beat BATMAN in a "most badass man in comics" contest. He kills tanks with his hands. And he has no powers other than a dedication to kicking Nazi ass. His whole unit actually finds killing Nazis less physically stressful than any other activity, including eating.
Blade. For all things that live under your bed and go bump in the night, Blade is their Boogeyman.
John Constantine the Hellblazer. He outwitted the Devil and God, and did something that was considered impossible by many at that time, he outwitted Batman! Apparently he is was so badass, he was exiled from the DC Universe in case soft kids ever read his stories.
Squirrel Girl. The beast of a mutant that took down Doctor Doom. Alone. On her first try. As a teen. She goes on to defeat Wolverine, Deadpool, M.O.D.O.K,Mandarin, Giganto and THANOS (among other big names) all with her natural squirrel related abilities. Deadpool refers to her as the most dangerous person on earth, and for a real good reason.
Most of the X-Men maintain some degree of badass. It helps that Cyclops makes them train without their powers to functional Badass Normal skill levels. By way of a few examples...
Cyclops beating up six men at once with his eyes shut. Oh, and then there was the time when the X-Men were brainwashed into trying to kill him. He managed not to hurt any of them too badly...
Storm losing her powers and still being badass enough to lead the team for a couple of years. Including beating Cyclops in a one-on-one duel. Not to mention all that time spent on the streets of Cairo made her an excellent CQC knife combatant, as Callisto found out first hand in a duel with the her in the Morlock tunnels.
Nightcrawler once fought his way through several dozen superhumans without using his powers. Oh, and with a broken leg. He once punched out Mephisto.
Cannonball vs Gladiator.
Jubilee can dropkick two men in the balls at once. After blowing their guns up just by thinking about it.
Rachel Summers fought Galactus. It was a draw.
Gambit. Any and everything about Gambit. But to be more specific, he takes out a whole Sentinel single-handedly. With a piece of chewing gum.
Badass runs in the family. Wolverine's daughter/Opposite-Sex CloneX-23 is sometimes hinted at being even more dangerous than Wolverine himself. Captain America spent years personally tracking her down after her field test (which involved massacring something around a hundred people. When she was nine years old). She killed Lady Deathstrike for hurting Hellion, fought Daken to a standstill and became one of the only people he openly admitted admiration and respect for, and the Enigma Force has declared her the heir to its power. Oh yeah, and she once kicked Mr. Sinister out of her head when he attempted to pull a Grand Theft Me on her.
The Punisher. Just even hearing his name makes criminals and gangsters run the other way. They usually don't get far.
And again with Spartans, most of the Spartans in 300. In fact, the narration makes a point of mentioning how badass they are. Repeatedly. It's not a Take Our Word for It, though; the narrator himself is one of the warriors.
Spider-Man. When you can punch Wolverine out of a window, you're qualified as a badass, hell when all you do is treat dangerous and top tier enemies, alies and cosmic threats like children while telling them of like it's open mic night in mostly all of his fights, You're a Grade A Badass. There's also Venom and Carnage, who became popular among Spider-Man readers in the Dark Age, thanks to their Badass if not often outright psychopathic natures. Then came the even more insane marketing schemes.
Spiderman is probably the most badass underdog superhero in all of fiction. Even the most badass of his power level level have been beat down and defeated by him. Including Wolverine, Deadpool, Iron Fist and even Captain America.
Marv (pictured above) from Sin City is a walking personification of the concept. He is a near invulnerable man who at various points in the story shrugs off multiple gunshot wounds (including one to the head), being hit by a speeding car three times in succession, taking a blow to the head from a sledgehammer, massive blood loss, all while mowing down countless fully armed enemies using only his fists and whatever he can find. Even taking a jolt via electric chair only prompts him to tell his executioners, "Is that the best you can do you pansies?"
Sin City is rife with badasses. Dwight McCarthy, John Hartigan, Wallace, or deadly little Miho. Or Kevin and Manute for that matter.
Even among other Sin City badasses, Marv is considered a badass' badass
Every major male and most female characters ever written by Frank Miller.
He made Robin cool, by turning him into her, and making her kick ass.
Robin was already cool. A teenager who runs around with Batman and beats the shit out of criminals? Hate to break it to you, but Miller's version is no more badass than usual.
But he also wears tight colorful uniform and shouts cheesy one liners. And he's a sidekick.
And then the original one ended up in the Cowl. Badass certified.
Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is infamous for the bad-assedness young Scrooge pulls off. In "The Raider of Copper Hill", he fights off a small army of claim jumpers bare-handed. In "Terror of the Transvaal", after getting double-crossed and left in the African savanna by a young Flintheart Glomgold, he's so mad he cows several angry wild animals on his way back to civilization. And in "King of the Klondike", Scrooge goes into an Unstoppable Rage after unscrupulous businessman Soapy Slick kidnaps him, chains him up, tries to steal his claim, and to top off the Kick the Dog list, makes fun of Scrooge's late mother.
What's even more impressive is that, crazy as his fighting skills are, he doesn't even have to hit you to destroy you. At one point, he analyzed and demolished a super-soldier's psyche, forcing him to question his life and leave the fight a broken man.
Various characters in Preacher, especially the Saint of Killers. The special sidestory "The Good Old Boys" parodies the idea with a character who's all tough talk but no actual worth.
Herr Starr is Preacher's penultimate badass, even though he is a villain. He's a normal human who nevertheless rises from nothing to being one of the world's top assassins and secret agents, rises to the top of a world-controlling secret society to subvert their plans to save the world all by himself, doesn't back down even in the face of an unkillable Angel of Death (the Saint) and a preacher who has the voice of God within him, and keeps going even after suffering many painful and humiliating injuries. His most impressive feat is when he's captured by a Cannibal Clan who eats one his legs, manages to escape after killing them all, and jumps on one leg through a desert to get to safety.
How did Jesse Custer himself get left off? Does he ever lose a fight? He beats Cassidy, a vampire who's invulnerable, using his word of God only to make sure that Cassidy will attempt to fight him. Badass Normal indeed.
Parodied by Ruben Bolling; The Impossible Squad! All members are clench-jawed hard smokin' macho sergeants and almost all of them solve things with explosives.
Batman. Probably the original Badass Normal of superhero comics, not only does he nightly take on the psychotic criminals of Gotham City, but he is and always has been a premiere member of the Justice League - with no superpowers - and unflinchingly enters battle with alien overlords, dimension-eating demons and cyborg mutants - again with no superpowers. He's on par with and widely respected by even the most godlike metas in DC's mythos, and he's managed this by simply by keeping his mental and physical fitness superbly honed, utmost dedication to his Mission, and sheer willpower...
A Superman/Batman storyline that involved Batman getting Superman's power proved what everyone already knew— if Batman had super powers, everyone else would be obsolete.
Superman himself, in canon, has even referred to Batman as the most dangerous man on the planet.
Batman's reputation is known even among aliens, as shown when the Sinestro Corps attemtpt to recruit him. Luckily, he managed to summarily scare the ring off before it could take him to be trained.
This outright stated he's more capable of instilling fear than his enemy the Scarecrow (who was the next on the list).
He didn't scare the ring off his finger, or will it off, or anything. The ring left because it sensed green energy from Hal Jordan's ring, which Bats had been wearing a few minutes before the yellow ring arrived. Batman himself had nothing to do with why the yellow ring couldn't claim him.
He manages to still look like a badass even with the lower half of his face pummeled almost boneless by Etrigan in The Widening Gyre.
On the other hand, Widening Gyre was also the book which made one of Batman's most badass moments, also his most embarassing.... *sigh*
Many Gotham City denizens are certified Badasses - Jim Gordon does Batman-esque things without either being Batman or having hyper training, whilst doing it by the book in the most corrupt city in the USA. Alfred is the most Badass Butler ever. Stephanie Brown slapped Batman. Jason Todd doesn't let little things like death get in his way. Cassandra Cain likes to dodge bullets. Damian made a mask out of blood and took down a supervillain with another 10 year old. World of Badass, indeed.
Lex Luthor tried this once in a fistfight against The Joker: "I am Lex God-damned Luthor. I raise my voice, and Satan himself is on bended knee. I am the leader of the free world, you impotent little psychotic. I've had the most powerful beings on this or any planet gunning for me for years, and you think you're going to scare me?"
Ogami Itto of Lone Wolf and Cub is Japan's greatest badass, although there is a justification. As the former Executioner of the Shogun, he was expected to fight for the right to get such a cushy job, presumably besting every other swordsman in Japan for the right to be "the Shogun's right hand". Consequently, when he goes rogue, no man/woman/ninja hit squad can stand against him. At one point in the series he fights off a crowd of female assassins while drugged unconscious. Despite this, the series is fantastic for trying to find new, creative ways for the bad guys to provide some challenge worthy of him. His enemies, acknowledging him as the greatest swordsman in Japan, will attempt to send, say, the greatest rifleman in Japan against him, or some such.
Rorschach is, among other things, more badass than the Antarctic itself, enduring the bitter cold and what had to be some severe wind chill on one of Nite Owl's hoverbikes with no superpowers and no more protective equipment than the same overcoat and hat that he wore around New York. Without even a shiver.
There is also Ozymandias, who effortlessly defeated aforementioned Rorschach and his ally Nite-Owl at the same time, and later caught a bullet with his bare hands.
King Mob of The Invisibles turned himself into his hero, Jerry Cornelius, becoming not only a successful writer and accomplished magician but a master assassin capable of killing people in every conceivable way including inside his mind.
Nextwave counts too. Even the Butt Monkey managed to make the lord of a hellish dimension wish he was dead... Using the contents of a restroom. Starting at the toilet, and finishing with the toilet brush.
Deadpool, feebs! He's fought Wolverine to a standstill, and in one issue escaped from being crushed by a giant stuffed teddy bear by snapping both wrists and ankles while talking the whole time...even though talking was what was making the bear fall. He also fought the Incredible Hulk and managed to steal his blood. Also, in one of the Marvel Alternate Universes, he was commissioned to kill all mutants. At the end of the story, there were four left, and they were hiding from him in Japan. FOUR. I could go on forever on this one.
DC Comics' Frankenstein eradicated two supernatural creature infestations, dismantled a slave ring on Mars, killed a humanoid living universe and destroyed an invasion fleet from a billion years in the future. All of this in a limited four-issueseries.
Did anyone read the JLA issue where, on one of the first pages, there is a full page splash of Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, before he Took A Level In Bad Ass, standing on top of a massive pile of prison escapees, in a super-prison, or at least maximum security, considering that all of the inmates were villains he and his team put there, with his uniform torn, his body beaten blood and blue, and yelling out the words (paraphrased) "Who the HELL stole my power ring?!" (That was a run-on and a half...) In other words, Kyle Rayner, an artist, took on a prison-full of people with a grudge against him, bare-handed and without his powers. I say that makes him pretty Bad Ass.
What issue is this??? o_O
That was issue #34, and when the light-based villains, the few villains left, were about to get the upper hand on Kyle, there came another badass: Aquaman. "Most of your powers are dependant on light. My eyes are adapted to see at six thousand fathoms. Think about it".
How is Judge Dredd not on the list? The man has survived hardened criminals, robot attacks, assassination attempts, city-wide riots, multiple wars and planetary-level apocalyptic events.
Yeah! For over 25 years Judge Dread has worked 23 hour days (sleep machines, remember) bringing 'Law and Order' to Megacity One. He regularly faces off against heavily armed criminals and pychos but he has also :
Single handedly stopped a block war.
Been instrumental in defeating the Dark Judges on numerous occassions.
Teamed up with Jonny Alpha to kill the necromancer behind a planet-wide zombie apocalypse.
There are a couple of Judge Dredd / Batman crossovers. One in Megacity One and one in Gotham City. The lawman and the vigilante don't exactly get on (the fights are draws) but when they team up the bad guys really didn't stand a chance.
Victor Von Doom. During the Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness crossover, Doom was infected with The Virus. The same virus that made every other human being in the world infected with it instantly become completely, unapologetically evil and devour their friends and family. And he just willed himself to ignore it. Why? Because he's Doctor Goddamn Doom.
Lobo, the last Czarnian. Even more than being Bad Ass he's a Sociopathic Hero. Well, very light on the "heroic", but he makes up for it with extra "sociopath".
Deathstroke. He singlehandedly beat the crap out of the entire Justice League. He also was quite capable of stabbing The Goddamn Flash.
Really, most superheroes will be this at one time or another. It's kind of the point of being a superhero.
Once upon a time, Scott Summers/Cyclops. In the old days, he was smart enough and dangerous enough to take on the X-men, with them trying to kill him because Mastermind had made them think he was Dark Phoenix, and hold them off without killing them while simultaneously outplaying Mastermind. On another occasion, he managed to sneak up on Wolverine. Then they changed him into a different and largely unrelated character.
The Phantom Stranger is enormously badass, having the most power this side of God and all. But if you put the dampers on his magic, he'll still kick your ass the old-fashioned way—breaking wrists, punching ice giants, wrestling lions. None of those examples are made up.
The Phantom Stranger's girlfriend, Cassandra Craft, is pretty badass, too. She's a blind seer, but she's managed to successfully fend off an assault from Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster at the same time, and willingly tags along to fight mummies with the Stranger in Egypt.
Ares, God Of War. He became a member of the Avengers, because they needed somebody with the skills and experience of Wolverine and the power of Thor. Some of his actions:
During a fight with army of Iron Man's armors, he ripped one in half and used its rocket shoes to scorch others, and later was riding another one, using a knife he stuck in its head as a rudder.
In a fight with him, X-Man, one of the most powerful mutants in the Universe, accidentally jumped in a zone between time. Ares just jumped after him and beat him so hard that some African tribe saw it in visions.
This deserves at least some elaboration. G.I. Joe are a team made up of the most badass members of the most badass branches of one of the most badass armies in the entire world. Each individual member of the team could reasonably be called one of the most badass people of their respective specialty to such an extent, even their resident firefighter killed an enemy trooper by splitting his helmet open with his axe in combat. Cobra deserves mention just by virtue of being able to not only survive against this force, but on the rare occasion (in the comic) to actually score victories, which leads us to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, who might be the single most badass members of their respective teams. A few examples:
Ripcord single-hendedly attacking Cobra Island looking for his girlfriend, and almost succeeding. After having his clothed switched by Zartan to sneak into GI Joe headquarters, Ripcord turns the tables and impersonates Zartan to sneak into Springfield.
Zartan, not only for stopping Ripcord with a bow and arrow, but sneaking into a hidden ninja village, accidentally killing a ninja master, and then sneaking out again while Storm Shadow takes the blame.
Serpentor led a hastily assembled and badly outnumbered force against the Joes, not only breaking through their lines, but giving the rest of Springfield time to evacuate, and stopping to pick up his wounded, all while having a bullet-wound himself.
Cobra Commander (who is much different than his cartoon incarnation), by simple virtue of beating Serpentor's ass in a fight.
Roadblock, who can carry and hip-fire a 70lb machine-gun (as well as make a mean souffle).
Snake Eyes, who after having his face and vocal cords hideously damaged by an accident, chose to continue with the mission to save a comrade rather than be medivac'd to safety.
Storm Shadow, who after coming back from the dead, broke into GI Joe headquarters and effortlessly beat a handful of resident badasses (including Quick Kick and Scarlet) without causing anyone any serious injury, just to have a talk with Snake Eyes.
Billy, Cobra Commander's son, who received ninja training from Storm Shadow and manages to be one of the most badass ninja in the Joe-verse even after losing a leg and an eye.
When The Baroness saw that Maj. Bludd was targeting Destro, chose to flip her own tank over to foil him. She was caught in the explosion, but not only survived nearly her whole body being engulfed in flames, but after some plastic surgery came out even better (and badder) than ever.
Somehow, we seem to have forgotten to mention Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic Action Girls in the history of fiction. How we forgot to mention her, we'll never know. She's generally perceived to be almost as strong as Superman, almost as smart as Batman, as tenacious as either one, considered to be the all-around greatest melee fighter in the DC Universe, has a sword that can easily cut Superman, and whose code against killing is slightly more flexible given the circumstances.
Cassandra Cain, the third Batgirl. Executive Meddling notwithstanding, she was trained by her father, a deadly assassin that also trained Bruce Wayne, to read people. The slightest...um...slight...would tell her what they would do before they did it. And it would bore her. She was more than a combative equal to the Dark Knight, and sucker-punched another high-skilled assassin, Lady Shiva...with a broken arm. That's just the beginning.
The Metabarons. Each one of them. It begins with Othon who kills a trained armored guy equiped with top notch weaponry, and it ends with Nameless, who can kill entire universes! (Those who doubt it can refer to his Father-Mother Aghora, who effectively destoyed one...)
Empowered. OK, she ends up hostage twice a week because the suit giving her powers continues getting torn, but she STILL continues being a superhero. And when she gets pissed for some reason, it's better if you beg for mercy. The guys who kidnapped her boyfriend? They didn't even knew what happened to them. Ninjas with the ability to suppress pain who were about to cut her best friend's arms and legs before kidnapping her? They were defeated in five seconds. And when she faced Deathmonger, one of the evilest supervillains, poor villain barely managed to complain he had been warned not to underestimate her before getting nuked (OK, he was the one to set off the nuke, but Emp was the one forcing him to stay after beating up his zombie army).
Tommy Monaghan from Hitman. He puked on Batman's shoes and lived to tell about it, gave Superman one of the most inspiring pep talks of all time, and is someone you don't want to mess with if he's carrying a gun. Which he usually is.
Take one goddamn guess to answer why Bane is called The Man Who Broke The Bat.
Black Panther, in Priest's first arc, punches out Marvel's version of the devil. Later on, he engineered a hostile takeover of Stark Industries, snuck a fleet of warships into NYC and beat Iron Man (not Tony Stark... IRON MAN) in a fight.
Daisy Johnson went from a trusted SHIELD agent in SecretWar to NickFury's protege and soldier-in-training in SecretWarriors to eventually running SHIELD (and getting "indefinitely suspended") in SecretAvengers. Oh, and she has vibration powers and she was an Avenger for a little while..
The Flash's rogues have their moments, moreso when Geoff Johns took over.
Any character with the title of Iron Fist. To be an Iron Fist you not only have to be better at hand to hand combat than all of your piers (who all started training in hand to hand combat at a young age), you have to kill a dragon with your bare hands.