Comic Book / Underworld Unleashed

Underworld Unleashed was a DC Comics mini-series published in 1995, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Howard Porter.

Several super-villains get black candles. When they light the candles, they are summoned to Neron, a demon who offers to enhance their powers in exchange for their souls. His real goal from empowering the villains is to get Captain Marvel's soul.

After Neron is defeated, the villains keep their new powers without having to uphold their deal with Neron.

This comic book series provides examples of:

  • Badass in Distress: When the heroes find out that Neron's looking for a certain pure soul, everyone automatically assumes it's Superman he's going after and, since he's MIA, he's in Neron's grasp. Turns out that wasn't the case - the entire Superman family was embroiled in "The Trial of Superman" storyline, forcing them all off planet.
  • Crisis Crossover
  • Cross Through: Many titles feature their protagonists being targeted by the powered-up villains or by Neron himself while they're in the middle of a situation. After they go through the encounter, they're back focusing on their respective predicaments.
  • Deal with the Devil: Besides the villains, there are also some heroes who made deals with Neron, like Blue Devil.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Trickster cons Neron out of his victory. Afterwards he decides to go straight, on the grounds that when he dies he really doesn't want to be where Neron can get hold of him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: You ever hear the line "When villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories"? This is the story that line comes from.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Okay, so Neron is making all these deals so he can get his claws on one particular soul. But when Captain Marvel offers it to him in exchange for the Selfless Wish of letting everyone else go free, his sheer innocence and nobility leaves Neron in agony.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Neron gets what he wants: Captain Marvel's soul. However, since Captain Marvel gave it in a selfless act, it's too pure for Neron to have it.
  • Killed Off for Real: Mongul. Neron allowed any villain to leave if he disagreed with Neron's plans, but defying him is another story.
  • Red Skies Crossover: Due to the nature of the saga, most crossovers were unrelated to the main story and only dealt with the corresponding hero facing an enhanced villain. An extreme case is the Aquaman crossover, where Major Disaster's appearance wasn't even part of the main story of the issue and he didn't even face Aquaman, but killed the villain Thanathos after mistaking him by Aquaman himself.
    • The Batman issue had it even worse. All its ties to the crossover were a single panel of Mr. Freeze vaguely referencing dealing with Neron and battling Green Lantern earlier in the crossover.
  • Say My Name: During this saga, anyone tricked by the Trickster screams his name angrily.
  • Super Empowering: Most villains got power boosts from their deals.
  • Supporting Villain Protagonist: The Trickster.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The main goal of the story was to create this effect in villains who had fallen from grace.
  • Wasteful Wishing: The Joker sells his soul for a box of cigars.
  • The Worf Effect: Neron effortlessly Neck Snapping Mongul, a guy canonically stronger than Superman.