Evil Versus Evil

aka: Evil Vs Evil

"Sometimes, the only way to stop Evil is not with Good. You must confront it with another kind of Evil."

Sometimes, everyone just needs a break from heroes. It can get a bit repetitive to have every protagonist be a white-as-snow goody-two shoes hero. A refreshing dose of moral ambiguity can do just the trick. When you're tired of watching heroes be heroic, watching a Villain Protagonist be villainous can be a nice change of pace.

However, there's a problem with this. Heroes are very popular because people take a liking in their benevolent acts. This is probably because people are, to some small extent, basically good; they like watching other people be happy, succeed against all odds, and so forth. At least most of the time anyways. The reason villains lose all the time is because they do things that make the audience unhappy; after all, that's their purpose for being villains. Watching a villain defeat the heroes and plunge the world into darkness and suffering might be refreshing at first, but it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

The solution to this is to pit the Villain Protagonist against the Villain Antagonist. Someone so rotten that no matter how low you go on the Karma Meter, you'll still want to go after them and carry out justice. That way, the character(s) can be evil while doing good. It's the best of both worlds. You don't have to do really rotten things like kicking puppies, you can kick fire-breathing demon puppies instead. It's kind of hard to Take Over the World when another Evil Overlord is already ruling it; or wants to destroy it. It also wouldn't do to allow some other villain to kill your heroic archenemy before you can score that triumph for yourself. For a Gentleman Thief who wants the best loot, what better target than other thieves? The Starscream has to have someone to overthrow, right? And even the most vicious Knight Templar is right once in a while. And if both bad guys are bad enough, having them killing each other is a victory for everyone!

Note that if a work's primary conflict is about Evil Versus Evil, then there is a serious risk of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. If the viewers/players/readers cannot support any faction, they may simply not care. This may be averted by making one of the sides more sympathetic, a villain with standards, or at least some likable trait to endear him to the audience.

Of course, if he gains too many good traits, then the trope shifts into Grey and Black Morality which is a different trope.

See also Even Evil Has Standards and Black and Gray Morality. Contrast Good Versus Good. Also contrast Enemy Civil War, Eviler Than Thou, and The Good, the Bad, and the Evil, which are about antagonists battling other antagonists. This trope is the opposite of a Villain Team-Up. Has a Sub-Trope in Evil Versus Oblivion, where one side is world-destroying bad.


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    Comic Strips 
  • MAD's Spy vs. Spy, in all its various incarnations. Except for their arbitrarily assigned color scheme, the two sides are identical, committing the same horrible (if hilarious) atrocities on each other. (Which was creator Antonio Prohias's whole point.)
  • This Dilbert strip, Mordac the Preventer vs Catbert.
  • Robert Reed's science fiction novelette "Five Thrillers", published in the April 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is about a sociopath who slowly rises through the political ranks, repeatedly prevents genocides and eventually (SPOILER ALERT!) saves the human race from complete destruction, all because he is disturbingly, creepily, stomach-turningly amoral, way moreso than the supposed villains of the story.
    Fan Works 
  • Zan-Shocker vs. the Voidspace Army in Kamen Rider x Super Sentai x Super Milestone Wars: Crossover Taisen
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams has the supervillain 8-Ball going up against hired killer Bullseye when they're hired by rival syndicates during a Mob War. 8-Ball wins.
  • The Council Era, a fanfic created through the cooperation of several writers on the Mass Effect Fanon Wikia (not Fan Fiction wikia) has an Evil Versus Evil plotline within the Grey and Gray Morality of the Mass Effect universe. On one side is the Lawful Evil, morally-corrupt equivalent of a galactic United Nations, The Council, and their advisor Tyrin Lieph. On the other is a ruthless Neutral Evil species led by another Starscream, Halak Marr, whose primary goal is becoming a Master Race.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Draco believes (along most Slytherins, apparently) that Dumbledore was the Greater Evil and that Voldemort and his Death Eaters, though bad, were the only people with a chance to stand up to him.
  • Engineered by the Emperor in Tales of the Emperasque: he causes Tyranid Hive to attack Dark Eldar, weakening them both. By extension, so many Dark Eldar souls going to Slaanesh, a villain himself, causes him to attack another villain, Khorne, effectively taking them out of the picture for centuries.
  • During the last third of the Digimon story Zero 2 A Revision, UmbraDevimon and Demon both invade the Real World at the same time; apparently deciding that it's not big enough for both of them, they start throwing their armies at each other in order to wipe each other out. And then, the Gravemon invade as well, and they suddenly find something more dangerous to worry about.
  • The Shape of the Nightmare to Come has Abaddon's Chaos Imperium fighting against the Perturabo-Angron alliance (Abaddon wins with the aid of Typhus), and later on Huron Blackheart's Eastern Chaos Imperium and the Void Dragon's Necron forces. Even worse, a key element of the fic's setting is the removal of two factions engaged in a massive Evil Versus Evil war - The Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan and the Ork Empire of Octarius inadvertently gave birth to the New Devourer, Ork/Tyranid hybrid lifeforms, who then proceeded to eat 1/3 of the galaxy.
  • This has popped up a couple of times so far in Queen Of All Oni: First, Valmont used the first Oni mask to steal control of the Ninja Shadowkhan away from Jade and turned on her, forcing her into a brief Enemy Mine with Jackie. Then Ikazuki showed up and, after a brief fight, forced Jade to serve him, at least until the J-Team defeated him. And seeing as Jade's ultimate plan is to overthrow Tarakudo as ruler of the Oni, this will probably show up some more.
    • In a situation not involving the Oni, Jade gets captures by the Evil Sorcerer Lung, who wishes to break her to his will, thus granting him control over her and her tribe. Jade's minions, Left and Right, track him down and launch an assault on his fortress, completely curb stomping his forces before fighting and killing him and freeing Jade.
    • And then there's Drago, who comes back in time to eliminate all rivals to his power in the future, including Jade. Because of this, the Matriarch (Jade's future self) sends her servant Karasu back in time after him to stop him. Meanwhile, Drago also ends up fighting present-day Jade's foreman Blankman.
    • There's also the Shadow Hand fighting the various creatures sealed in the Vault of Endless Night.
  • Narrowly subverted in the Pony POV Series. Discord's mind games drive Princess Luna nearly to the point of turning back into Nightmare Moon to stop him. She just barely restrains herself enough to regain her grasp on sanity, but still assumes her Nightmare Moon form in order to trick him. Also subverted later, as many assumed the second Big Bad Princess Gaia/Nightmare Whisper would overlap and fight with Discord upon his release, but that wasn't the case.
    • Played straight in the Epilogue/Dark World timeline — about five hundred years prior to the "present" of the Dark World arc, Grogar escaped from his imprisonment and went to war with Discord for control of Equestria (given their respective M.O.s, this is also an all evil version of Order Versus Chaos). Notably, during the war many of Discord's enemies allied with Grogar, as they viewed his "perfect order" as preferable to Discord's "perfect chaos". Sadly, Discord ended up winning, condemning Equestria to a further five hundred years of his rule. Though this might be a good thing, as Word of God has stated Grogar in this timeline is a monster in his own right and essentially a Darkseid Expy.
    • Also at some point in Dark World, the Master overthrew Discord and his minions and made himself the new Evil Overlord of Equestria, only to be defeated by the Valeyard.
    • Also briefly in Dark World is Proto-Nightmare Twilight versus Angry Pie, though the former is quickly talked down.
    • The Dark World also has The Nameless Passenger/Nightmare Paradox vs Discord. The former turns out to be a Knight Templar and The Corrupter, despite being out to defeat Discord as well. As it turns out, Discord lost a long time ago. And by the time he's able to defy her, he's not exactly evil of his own accord anymore.
    • Queen Cocoon vs Chrysalis in Chrysalis' Origins Episode. While Cocoon did make Chrysalis a slave and was in general a terrible ruler who almost destroyed the changelings by pure incompetence, Chrysalis was still a budding Sociopath with a considerable body count by that point in time. Chrysalis even says she's not opposing Cocoon because Even Evil Has Standards, but because she's disgusted with Cocoon's incompetence.
    • Flashbacks in the Wedding Arc reveal another example: Chrysalis vs General-Admiral Makarov, who tried to kill her for no reason other than to satisfy his ego. And given that both were created by Pandora, this also counts as an all evil version of Cain and Abel.
  • In The Tainted Grimoire, Duelhorn declares war on Khamja.
  • The Immortal Game: Titan and Discord have been enemies for thousands of years, and prior to the former being sealed away by the Princesses, constantly fought over control of Equestria. The desperate heroes exploit this to recruit Discord into an Enemy Mine.
  • The Hasbroverse: Word of God and World Building backstory establishes that at some point, COBRA somehow got the bright idea to attack the Decepticons. The end result was COBRA being decimated, with most of its leaders killed.
  • Jewel Of Darkness: There's elements of this in the Cycle of Revenge between the human and Metahuman supremacist groups like the Human Defense League and the Metahuman Protective Association.
  • A match up that nearly every Danny Phantom fanfic writer dreams of is Vlad Plasmius vs Dark Danny, seen in stories such as the Facing The Future Series, where Dark Danny usually comes out the winner due to being Eviler Than Thou.
  • Harry Potter And The Power Of The Dark Side has Sith versus Death Eaters.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, The SUEs are not only in conflict with the Himes, but have mutually exclusive agendas with the canon antagonists and each other. In A Common Enemy Without A Common Cause, the forced alliance between the SUEs quickly breaks down and results in them killing each other.
  • Zero vs Kira begins with Kira versus the Brittanian Empire.
  • The premise of The Cadanceverse is that both Celestia and Luna were corrupted (becoming Burning Sun and Nightmare Moon, respectfully) and eventually waged war on each other, forcing Cadance to seal them both away. They eventually get loose in the present (in the first fic of the series) and go right back to fighting each other for dominance. Though, once they realize that the Musical 6 are on the verge of retrieving the Elements of Harmony to use on them, they briefly team up to destroy them (they both lose).
  • Shadows Awakening happens to have two Big Bad Duumvirates (Daolon Wong and The Phantom, The Queen and Tarakudo) that are as opposed to each other as they are to the heroes.
  • Fallen King has Maximillion Pegasus versus Yami Bakura; it works out much better for Pegasus than in Yu-Gi-Oh! canon, as he forces Bakura to retreat.
  • Mega Man Recut has Wily's forces vs. the Steel Crescent Syndicate.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has the Conduit's plan to take out Wily; their forces get into a fight in episode 12.
  • In God of the New World Light, Mikami, and Matsuda struggle to survive in "Harold Saxon's" world.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos has the Metarex versus Tsali, Maledict versus the Metarex, and Dark Tails against everyone. The overarching conflict between Maledict and Allysion can be seen as this too.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: The true villains of the story, the Church of Majora, engineer Ganondorf's resurrection in Equestria rather than Hyrule so that a) his presence in Hyrule won't interfere with their plans, and b) hopefully Vaati and the Mane Six will eliminate him for them. Somewhat downplayed, in that neither the heroes nor Ganondorf himself are aware of the involvement of Majora's minions.
  • In the Star Wars / Harry Potter crossover The Hidden Empire, the True Sith Order despises Darth Bane's Sith Order to the point of considering them heretics.
  • This happens a lot in The Bridge, arguably even more often than traditional Hero/Heroine vs. Villain(ess) duels. Most times its between two villains who are on different levels of Black and Gray Morality, with the more Gray moral characters going up against those closer to Black moral ones; or it can occur between two villains that have conflicting interests, such as the fight between the Big Bad Bagan and Out Of Context Villain RED. One story arc in the human realm relies on Monster X and the Sirens being the realm's best defense against Enjin.
  • Happens in Venus Flash, as the goals of the Dark Kingdom and Panther Claw happens to be mutually exclusive. That, and Jadeite is disgusted by what some Panther Claw members are willing to do For the Evulz. That said, they don't fight that often, as Panther Claw doesn't even register on the Dark Kingdom's radar due the presence of the Sailor Soldiers (in fact the encounter between Jadeite and Panther Claw happened because the Dark Kingdom general had originally chosen Jewel Princess' shop for his jewel shop scheme, and took offence when he discovered what the Panther Claw minion had in her basement).

    Films — Animation 
  • Despicable Me. But given that both Gru and Vector are kid-friendly Harmless Villains, it's played strictly for laughs.
  • Minions: Scarlet's last attempt to steal the crown fails because Gru takes it from her.
  • Megamind, when he battles Titan.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Though less common than Face vs. Face, and FAR less common than Face vs. Heel, sometimes happens in pro wrestling, particularly when Vince Russo is at the helm. Making one a success can be difficult though, since one of the cardinal rules of any match is that the audience should be rooting for someone. That said, it can work if the match is a prelude for one of the Heels to turn Face.
    • It is a fairly common result of "parejas suicidas" match ups, where the losing pair must then fight each other for the right to keep their mask\hair.
    • The two most famous stables in American pro wrestling ended up waring in WCW when Ric Flair returned. The nWo vs The Four Horsemen.
    • One major example would be The Corporation vs. The Ministry feud, where both sides were portrayed as bad guys. Though in the end those two groups would merge together to form the Corporate Ministry, and it was revealed Vince McMahon was the mastermind behind both stables all along. It still works as not every member was in on the plan, though those members left prior to the merger and turned face. Though even in the Corporate Ministry there was fighting within the group, especially between The Undertaker and Triple H.
  • Very common with Shawn Michaels whenever he was a heel. In addition to feuding with both mostly-heel Hart Foundation and theoretical heel Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn also feuded with heel Rick Martel over the affections of Sensational Sherri. Beyond that, he was involved in a three-way feud with Chris Jericho and Batista in 2008, where of the three only Batista was really a face (Shawn eventually turned face after Batista left the feud and Jericho beat up his wife).
    • Happened a weird way a couple of times when Shawn, mostly a face, would be allied with another face (John Cena, Chris Benoit, Goldberg, Austin) against a common (heel) foe, but with everyone involved painfully aware of Shawn's eventual inevitable betrayal… which, sure enough, always came. Almost always via Superkick.
    • Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at Survivor Series 97 is the most infamous example. While Bret had the crowd behind him because it was Canada he was still in storyline a Heel. It's interesting considering it was Face vs. Face last time.
    • He also spoofed the trope when forced to defend his European Title against then-ally Triple H, overdramatizing the buildup, throwing the match, and then cutting a tearful promo about the loss.
  • On Raw 1/24/11 The Nexus was confronted by The Corre and later the leaders, Wade Barrett and CM Punk faced each other with the loser and his group out of the Royal Rumble. Which led to a Crowning Moment of Funny when John Cena was appointed special guest referee, and disqualified both Barrett and Punk for 'excessive use of profanity on a PG show', eliminating both factions from the Rumble. He was overruled.
  • Any Triple H vs. Kurt Angle match from 2000-2002 was this essentially. Triple H was the sledgehammer-wielding Villain Sue against the pompous Smug Snake Kurt Angle who wanted to take the guy's wife. Though they were both heels, they were tenuous allies at best and vicious enemies at worst. They would feud on and off from year to year, with neither really turning face at all (the closest being their No Way Out match where Triple H was running off of Determinator face heat). During this period Triple H even paused during his catchphrase to allow the audience to finish it — a way of hinting to the smart marks that he was going to turn face. He didn't.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Hart Foundation could be viewed as this, had it not been for the overwhelming crowd reaction in Austin's favor. When Austin had to forfeit the Intercontinental Title due to Owen Hart injuring his neck, the finals in a tournament for the vacant title featured Owen against Faarooq. Austin helped Owen win the match, so he could beat him for the title.
  • Undertaker vs Big Bossman in a Hell In A Cell match was this. This one wasn't so successful, mostly because they had no real chemistry or feud, so the crowd had nobody to root for.
  • During the "Kayfabe" era, the only time villains typically fought were in battle royals. However, there were at least two "heel vs. heel" matches in the WWF, both in 1986, and one in NWA two years later:
    • The Hart Foundation vs. The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Bret Hart and Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart – with Jimmy Hart absent – were enthusiastically cheered.
    • Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event (a match that bore no resemblance to their matches five years later, where Savage was the face and Roberts the worse-than-evil heel. Both were heavily booed and neither showed much respect for the other. In fact, somewhat foreshadowing Roberts' behavior toward Miss Elizabeth during the 1991 feud, he once tried to counter Savage's then tactic of pulling Elizabeth in front of him to shield off an attack by pulling Damien from his bag and nearly throwing it on Elizabeth!
    • The WWF was indirectly responsible for the 1988 heel vs heel match as well. When Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard signed with Vince, they were World Tag Champions. NWA was not going to let the belts go with them. Due to their status in The Four Horsemen the only team with as much heat as Tully & Arn was Jim Cornette's Midnight Express. The fans cheered for Beautiful Bobby and Sweet Stan, who became the first team to simultaneously hold the US and World belts.
  • During the early 1990s in EMLL\CMLL, there was the Los Infernales vs Los Intocables feud, revolving around Masakre, who had been booted from the former and formed the latter, as well as the both desiring to hold the prestigious world trios title belts. Los Infernales would later split into two groups calling themselves Los Nuevos Infernales.
  • King of the Ring matches that qualify include Marc Mero vs. Jeff Jarrett in the quarter-finals in 1998 and Test vs. Brock Lesnar in 2002.
  • Kurt Angle vs. Steve Blackman at Armageddon 1999.
  • Face and Heel aside, the various feuds and matches between The Undertaker and Kane can count as this. Both wrestlers, even when portraying Faces, maintain a gimmick of being pure evil. At best, they can be in the Noble Demon category. This means that any match between them is literal evil vs evil.
  • Nikki Strychnine's The Ministry Of Hate vs Diabolic Khaos, a group of demonic vagabonds, in Gateway Championship Wrestling.
  • Ring of Honor saw a four way race for the tag team titles between Hangmen 3, The No Remorse Corps, The Age Of The Fall and The Vulture Squad. Of the four, only the latter group were faces.
  • After the Main Event Mafia had dumped Sting, defeated the TNA Front Line and pacified Samoa Joe with Jenna Morasca's money, there seemed to be no one left to save the promotion from them, except for World Elite, who turned out to be even worse.
  • The two biggest stables in earlier 2014 The Shield and The Wyatt Family are both heels, and after several teases, have wrestled at Elimination Chamber. Throughout the feud, both teams were heavily cheered by the fans, due to them all being interesting and well-developed characters.

     Stand-up Comedy 
  • Comedian Juston McKinney mused about a hypothetical ride between a Serial Killer picking up a rapist. Both keep trying to psych each other out over who should be the victim then Gilligan Cut to a police station where one of them files a report.

    Serial Killer: Yeah, I'd like to report a rape.
    Police Officer: Do you know who did it?
    Serial Killer: Yeah, he's right here. (puts a dufflebag full of remains on the desk)

    Web Comics 
  • Sluggy Freelance: Bun-Bun, being a Sociopathic Hero, tends to get this whenever an arc focuses on him. Particularly the "Oceans Unmoving" arc where he's pitted against a naval empire out to enslave everyone in their dimension. It's not that Bun-Bun's got any ethical objections to slavery (he takes a few himself), he just doesn't want to be the one enslaved. He still comes out as the sorta good guy, because, unlike the Navy, he's evil in a cool way. He's a frickin' Space Pirate, after all.
    • Oceans Unmoving plays it even straighter with Bun-Bun against his treacherous former first mate Blacksoul, aka the Bun-Bun we'd been following throughout the comic as it turns out that Captain Bun-Bun was from before the comic started.
    • Likewise the R&D Wars, a conflict between amoral corporations employing mad science which is fixing to turn the world into either a bare rock with a single nightmarish city on it or a literal living hell.
  • The "Midnight Crew" Intermission in Homestuck pits the eponymous Midnight Crew against The Felt. The Midnight Crew is a small yet dangerous gang that effectively rules their city and turn out to be Alternia's versions of the Big Bad and his cohorts though they aren't nearly as evil. The Felt is a rival gang whose members possess time related powers and take orders from an Eldritch Abomination called "Lord English".
  • Ansem Retort. There's only a couple people that are actually good: everyone else is a murderer, psychopath, Jerkass or all of the above, no matter which side you look at.
  • Vexxarr instigates a war which is essentially this.
    Webcomic/Vexxarr: Which side do you pity the most? The side that attempts to enslave anyone it meets or the side that attempts to eat anyone it meets?
  • Mac and Shmeerm live up this gloriously in one of the longer more epic Voodoo Walrus storyarcs titled Meatnecks and Boomsticks
  • In The Order of the Stick, there's occasionally conflicts of interest between villains. They include:
    • Belkar Bitterleaf, the Token Evil Teammate of the titular D&D adventuring party, is in this almost all the time. Party leader Roy notes that he uses Belkar in this fashion because a) Belkar has proven able to escape from jail before and b) without a minder he would probably be inflicting his skill at murder on innocents and Good-aligned people; at least while he's in a benign adventuring party, he'll be pitted against people who actually need to/deserve to get killed.
    • Nale and his father Tarquin have been in scuffles before, though they temporarily agree to bury the hatchet when it becomes apparent Nale needs help with his plans.
      • Tarquin's right-hand man Malack has it out for Nale because the latter killed his three children. Aware that Malack will never forgive him or let it slide, Nale kills him first.
      • Vampire!Durkon is now working with the Order again. When Nale offers him a membership, the vampire necksnaps his friend Zz'dtri, an Evil Sorcerer who admittedly had it coming.
      • When he finds out about Nale killing Malack, Tarquin offers him one last chance to fix things between them; Nale foolishly declines it, Tarquin stabs him in the gut, pointing out that after killing his father's best friend he should have seen that coming.
      • Tarquin prefers to avoid this trope when possible. While he obviously doesn't want Xykon to succeed in his plans, villain vs villain conflicts tend to be "a toss-up", in his words.
    • The three Archfiends are a mixed example. They don't like the blood war that exists between the Devils, Daemons and Demons of the setting and are working to end it; meanwhile, they happily manipulate conflicts between people from all over the moral spectrum. They aren't big fans of the heroes, but they don't believe in the idea of "Evil Is One Big Happy Family" — all villains in the comic are pawns to be manipulated, just the same as the heroes, and that includes Xykon and his followers.
    • The Western Continent technically has this by default, since its ever-changing political landscape consists of hot-shot young conquerors rolling over each other's kingdoms in successive waves. It's become so normal that people have basically stopped caring about it.
    • Played for Laughs here, when two Mooks from different villains fight over who gets to kill Hinjo.
  • This is how the Insurrection views the war between the Covenant and the UNSC in Halo: A Fistful of Arrows.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Some potential matches, particularly Cell vs Dabura Winner is Cell and U13 Nappa vs Frieza Winner is Frieza, but not without being one-upped by Nappa so far. There's also upcoming matches - U13 Vegeta vs Dr. Raichi, and Cell vs Bojack Cell kills Bojack and wins.

    Web Original 
  • In Kickassia, It is decided that "The only way to deal with a madman is to send in another madman", despite the fact that being ruled by Dr. Insano would be even worse than being ruled by The Nostalgia Critic.
    • Suburban Knights: On one side, there's the Big Bad, Malachite, who intends to use the Gauntlet to rid the world of all technology. On the other side, there's Jaffers and the various folks he recruited to keep the Gauntlet safe and hidden. While Malachite is obviously dangerous (he rips a guy's heart out for watching too much television!!!), Jaffers and his crew attack the reviewers and even try to shoot them several times.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, both Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer are evil, only the latter has enough good PR that he has everyone convinced he's The Cape.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, we have Marik and Florence versus Melvin and Team FourKids.
  • The Hitler Rants videos usually pit Hitler against antic masters, other dictators, other Nazis, and even other Hitlers!
  • The Salvation War: Both Yahweh, the being worshiped as God in the Judeo-Christian community and Satan, fought over the world. They regarded human beings as weaklings they could torment or demand unyielding obedience from. The former turned damned humans into his playthings and meals. The latter turned loyal humans into his abused servants. In 2008, both decided that humanity's time was up. Humanity responded rather violently.

Alternative Title(s):

Black And Black Morality, Evil Vs Evil