Reality Ensues / Comic Books

  • A common situation with superheroes since the end of the Silver Age. It's resulted in some great stories, but falls flat a lot of the time. The problem being that some of the basic tenets of superheroes, namely the ones that require a greater suspension of disbelief, have to be kept in order for the genre to work.
  • Mark Millar does this a lot:
    • An issue of The Ultimates had Batman clone Nighthawk break his ankle trying to pull off a Dynamic Entry by jumping off a building to attack some mooks. The same issue deconstructs the concept of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits by showing how badly a group of people (The Defenders), inexperienced at superheroing, with the exception of one, perform during their first outing as superheroes.
    • Old Man Logan revolves around a Legion of Doom wiping out the superheroes with sheer numbers after all the villains are able to finally put aside the personal differences that keep them apart in the mainstream continuity.
    • A similar 'villain army' plot is central to the comic book series Wanted.
    • Kick-Ass:
      • A teenager with no powers or special training decides to become a superhero. Especially when Kick-Ass fights crime for the first time he ends up getting stabbed by one of the thugs. Then subverted by...most of the comic after that point. To start with, getting stabbed and hit by a car gave him just enough, very specific nerve damage to stop feeling almost any pain.
      • The Tykebomb-turned-superhero Hit-Girl is clearly damaged by her upbringing, escalating into disturbing hallucinations of her father still giving her orders and advice.
      • Dave's pretending to be gay in order to get close to the girl he likes ends very badly. The girl is extremely pissed off to have been lied to and manipulated by what she thought was her Gay Best Friend, has her boyfriend beat the crap out of Dave in retaliation, and then later taunts him with pictures of her giving her boyfriend a blowjob (that Dave promptly masturbates to).
      • In the second volume, the Motherfucker goes on a rape/murder spree through a suburb so extreme even the gang of supervillains he hired to act as his enforcers are disturbed, all in order to get at Kick-Ass. He thinks he's firmly cemented his villainous cred, only to learn next issue how big of a mistake he just made; his monstrous actions have caused the corrupt police to no longer be able to turn a blind eye to his crimes, half of his gang to abandon him, and all the other mobs in the city to want him dead. And without the mobs and police covering his back, the Motherfucker is just a normal guy with a few hired guns who has an army of superheroes barging down on his position, most of whom are now looking for blood. There's a very good reason Real Life mobs work on Pragmatic Villainy.
    • The second issue of Superior has a kid testing out the superpowers of his favorite Superman Expy. He attempts to use his "super-breath" to put out a house fire, only to demolish the house and spread the fire over a much larger area.
  • Hitman has a memorable scene where a group of supervillains are hired to confront Tommy; Tommy takes advantage of the leader's dramatic and overly-long introduction speech to pull his gun and shoot the villains before they can get near him.
  • Ultimate X-Men invokes this trope a lot. A major theme in the series is to showcase the X-Men's youth and general lack of experience in working as a superhero team and how said group of inexperienced teenagers would fair in a more real world setting.
    • A mission to rescue the President's kidnapped daughter from the custody of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants goes horribly wrong very quickly. The X men's lack of experience in working as a team leads to many miscommunications during their fight with the Brotherhood. And then things get really bad when a local militia decides to jump into the fray. Resulting in Beast suffering a near fatal injury at the hands of an explosion and Cyclops bleeding out from a gunshot wound. The X-Men are only able to escape thanks to an intervention by Magneto of all people.
    • The climax for the World Tour arc has the reality warping Proteus going on a rampage across Berlin, destroying countless landmarks while massacring thousands of innocent civilians, defeating the X-Men with ease, and severely injuring Iceman— only for his rampage to end abruptly after Colossus crushes him with a car, killing him instantly. However, the fallout resulting from such a destructive battle leads to the X-Men falling out of favor with the general public along with Iceman's parents taking their son out of Xavier's school and suing the professor for willful neglect. All of this combined with the grief for his dead son leads to Xavier suffering a momentary Heroic B.S.O.D..
  • Similarly, the villain in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers event. Time-travelling jellyfish-totem Gothic Queen versus runaway car. The result is messy but suitably awesome.
  • Daredevil in his civilian identity as attorney Matt Murdock makes a point of only ever defending those that, thanks to his Living Lie Detector powers, he knows to be innocent. As such his practice is constantly in danger of shutting down from lack of money, since the majority of criminal defendents are guilty.
  • One of Wolverine's greatest vulnerabilities is drowning, particularly as he is so heavy with his metal skeleton. If his brain suffocates, his healing factor can't do anything about that.
    • Speaking of Wolverine, it was shown that the reason why he got abducted by Weapon X in the first place was because he went binge drinking (even with his healing factor he's not immune to large amounts of alcohol). Sure, he may not have been drunk enough to fall over but the amount of alcohol in his system was enough to dull his normally fast reaction time. By the time he fought back against his abductors he was overwhelmed rather quickly and got cuts, bruises and a dislocated jaw out of it. In a What If? scenario involving Weapon X Logan managed to fight back and successfully flee his would-be abductors because he wasn't as drunk at the time.
  • During Warren Ellis' Ultimate Fantastic Four run, the team traveled to Denmark to capture Doctor Doom and turn him over to the U.S. military. The story ended with the Danish military not only protecting Doom, but then forcibly ejecting both the Fantastic Four and the American soldiers from their country. Governments don't respond well to foreign groups barging onto their property to take an affluent citizen.
    • Mainstream Doom is protected by a similar case of reality, only he's even better protected since he's the ruler of Latveria. Being in charge of a major, first-world country means that he can cover-up or get away with his attacks on the Fantastic Four pretty easily. Most governments aren't willing to start a war with someone just because they keep harassing four people. That said, this example flouts and ignores international law so much it starts to go in the other direction...
  • This was the basic creative impetus behind Christopher Priest's take on Black Panther. Priest argued that past depictions of the wider world's relation to Wakanda made no sense, as the U.S. would not sit back and let a country that advanced refuse to share its resources and technology, and they certainly wouldn't just allow a place like that to exist without constantly trying to invade it or get spies inside. Black Panther's very presence on U.S. soil often has the government walking on egg shells, since him being part of the Avengers is an international incident waiting to happen. It's also shown that he's viewed as a divisive figure, with some accusing him of being an "Uncle Tom" for palling around with people like the Avengers while refusing to help out the African-American community.
  • In an early issue of New Mutants, Dani Moonstar injures her hand after punching out a pair of Viper's guards. While escaping, she notes that they never show you that part when someone punches a bad guy on TV.
  • Every time Wonder Woman and Batman go up against each other and Batman isn't prepared. These incidents typically end in Batman getting flung off a rooftop or knocked out with a rock, simply because he can't carry weaponry capable of hurting an Implacable Woman like Diana on him all the time, and his agility can only help him so much.
    • Not that Batman is immune to this when it comes to Superman. During "A Death In The Family", he tries to punch Superman without the use of Kryptonite. Superman has to roll with the punch to keep Bruce's arm from being broken, and even then his hand is left aching from the effort because he decided to punch a man who treats nuclear explosions as a non-threat. During "Hush", with the Kryptonite ring, he still risks breaking his hand and notes he can't give Superman more than a few slugs, because the kevlar in his gloves only provide so much protection against punching an invincible man.
  • In an issue of Avengers World, Shang-Chi draws strength from the tales of three warriors from Chinese history: A monk who fought off a squad of his emperor's warriors, a lawman who managed to defeat the assassin who poisoned him, and a peasant girl who single-handedly defended her village from a group of bandits. Despite the inspirational nature of the stories, Shang-Chi later notes that they all come with very unfortunate epilogues: The monk died of a broken heart after realizing he'd been betrayed by the emperor, the lawman defeated his attacker but succumbed to the poison while in a hospital bed, and the peasant girl was murdered after the bandits returned and attacked her while she slept.
  • Famously, when Gwen Stacy was thrown off a bridge and Spider-Man caught her. The sudden stop made her neck break. Word of God says that she was already dead from the shock, and the long fall into the water would have killed her just as well, averting Soft Water too.
    • One Spidey issue had the Vulture try to rob the Daily Bugle. However, he finds that their safe is full of paychecks, and the actual money is in the bank.
    • Also in "Back in Black" storyline, once Peter learns that The Kingpin is the one who hired the assassin that shot his aunt, he goes straight to the prison where the Kingpin is, but the Kingpin already expected that and is prepared to challenge Spider-Man in combat. While the Kingpin has faced Spider-Man before and often battled him to a draw, the problem is that Spidey always holds back in fear of accidentally killing him, but this time, he doesn't! The result: Kingpin is quickly and badly beaten. As it turns out, no matter how skilled hand-to-hand combatant or how strong Kingpin is, challenging someone who is superhumanly strong and agile, has experience in fighting far stronger opponents and is really mad at you can't possibly end well.
    • Spider-Man was built on a deconstruction of superhero tropes. Because of his superhero activity, Peter Parker has a hard time keeping a regular job or staying current at school, and constantly is hurting for money as a result. Even sales of his photos to the Daily Bugle are subject to the needs of the paper. Peter also has to deal with the emotional stress of being The Unfavourite in his everyday life and (thanks to J. Jonah Jameson's smear campaign against Spider-Man) as a superhero, as well as caring for his elderly Aunt May (who is vulnerable both because she is old and sickly, and because she is Peter's—and therefore Spider-Man's—closest emotional tie). A lot of Spider-Man's missteps in his early years (bad publicity, failed attempts at networking with other superheroes) are the result of what happens when a young teenager tries to be a superhero without a mentor or anyone else to help him, while also dealing with other stresses mentioned above.
    • Spidey's enemy Sandman has an adoptive daughter named Keemia, who ended up being taken away from him by CPS because of his criminal activities. Evil may have loved ones but the authorities don't exactly consider the homes of violent criminals to be suitable living conditions for minors.
    • During Mark Millar's run (Man, that guy pops up a lot on this page, huh?), the Vulture manages to capture and unmask Spider-Man. He's instantly outraged to discover that Spider-Man is just some random dude with a generic, untraceable face, rather than a recognizable celebrity like Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. He Lampshades this by saying for all he knows, Spider-Man could just be a gas station employee somewhere.
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter is knocked out while trying to take out Kingpin in the second story arc. Rather than tying him up or killing him, Kingpin has his mask removed to see his face, then has him thrown out a window. This bites Kingpin in the ass later, since he has no idea who Peter Parker is, and so seeing Spider-Man without his mask (and not bothering to take a picture) only leaves him with "white, brown-haired teenager" to go on.
    • Also in the Ultimate Spider-Man title, Kraven the Hunter was featured on a TV show where he hunted and wrestled wild animals with nothing but his wits and bare hands. When arriving in New York, he announces that for the stunning opener of his new season, he intends to enter the urban jungle and murder Spider-Man.... Unfortunately fighting an intelligent human is far different from a wild animal, especially since this version of Kraven has no super-powers. Peter just dodges him for a while before getting fed up and knocked him unconscious with a single punch. Immediately after Kraven is arrested; while he could make threats on his show and possibly protect it under free speech, once he really tried to attack Spidey for utterly no reason it became illegal.
  • In Common Grounds, a fight between a superhero and supervillain ends up killing a civilian caught in the crossfire. The result is both hero and villain getting arrested and sentenced to prison for manslaughter. After they get out, the hero ends up homeless and struggling to find employment, as it's difficult for ex-cons to get jobs.
  • In Über, the American superhuman Colossus goes up against his Nazi counterpart Sieglinde. Colossus hasn't been fully enhanced yet, but he's brave, clever and determined... and the fully-enhanced Sieglinde rips him to pieces in a matter of seconds.
  • This trope occurs frequently in Irredeemable. Justified, as it's a very deep deconstruction of superheroes.
    • The Plutonian's tragic childhood where he was shuffled and bounced between numerous foster homes was caused by the simple fact that Muggle Foster Parents really wouldn't know how to deal with a kid with superhuman abilities.
    • Another flashback from Plutonian's early teen years showed that he heard his foster mother was about to commit suicide, and got there in a fraction of a second, intending to stop her. But sound takes almost ten seconds to travel two miles. She had already been dead when he heard her.
    • When Plutonian revealed his Secret Identity to his Love Interest, instead of being awestruck by his awesomeness, she's freaked out that he deceived her like that and wants nothing more to do with him.
    • The series' resident Badass Normals are very swiftly killed off by the Plutonian after his Face–Heel Turn. After all, if a Flying Brick with Super Senses who can destroy a full-sized city in less than an afternoon wants you dead, martial arts, nifty gadgets and money won't do jack to save you.
  • In Uncanny Avengers, Rogue absorbs Wonder Man's fantastic strength during a battle with the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately, she lacks any sort of discipline or training when it comes to these new abilities, so she ends up accidentally killing the villain with a single punch (which is a little weird considering that she had the old Ms. Marvel powers for years, which gave her both super strength and stamina as well as flight, but apparently she's rusty with those powers - apparently she can't absorb the knowledge to use such powers properly, Depending on the Writer).
  • The Runaways at one point have to fight a supervillain barely a week after they last caught him because they stupidly left him tied to a lamppost with a note for the police after the first battle. The guy easily got away the second the Runaways left. This is why most heroes like Spider-Man directly hand over villains to police or at least make sure they're securely trapped before leaving.
  • Amusingly one of the first times Empowered comes across as actually being badass. She points out, quite effectively, that driving an SUV at 75 miles an hour into a villain's back is much more effective than hitting him with a thrown one at about 5 miles an hour. This allows her to defeat a villain that the entire superhero squad she's a Butt Monkey for was defeated by. Unfortunately, the car is totaled, leaving her tied up and unable to brag, and her superhero squad walks off, assuming they and the villain knocked each other out. (Forgetting about Empowered in the process.)
  • In the first Sam and Max comic, they're tied up on top of an active volcano and a husky cult leader intends to kill them. The large amount of heat from the volcano causes the cult leader to spontaneously combust. However, the comic decides to play it off as a Deus ex Machina for the sake of humor.
  • In his first battle, Freedom Ring faces the Abomination, Arch-Enemy of the Hulk. The boy manages to land a few decent blows, before the villain ends the battle with a single punch. It's later stated that were it not for his Reality Warper abilities, Freedom Ring would never have been able to walk again.
  • In an issue of X-Factor, a group of mercs capture Monet by sneaking up behind her and chloroforming her, since having super strength doesn't affect your respiratory system.
  • This is the central premise of Watchmen: what happens to superheroes when Reality Ensues? What becomes of people who dress up in costumes but 1: They have no proper training or resources, 2: They're all at least a little unbalanced, and 3 (most importantly): They are taking the law into their own hands in a world just as full of political and social complexities as the real world? They die. They go insane (presuming they weren't insane already). Or they become monsters.
    • The first Nite Owl was a police officer during his day job, so he actually was properly trained and had official authority if he chose to use it. This is why he's the Only Sane Man among either generation of superheroes.
    • In his autobiography, he casually mentions that once the "costumed hero" phase hit its peak, most costumed villains simply gave up entirely or became regular criminals because, honestly, what's the point?
    • One hero was killed ignobly after his cape got caught in the revolving door at a bank. The robbers then simply walked right up to him and shot him point blank.
    • The first chapter mentions a sadomasochist who enjoyed getting beaten up by Super-heroes, so he'd dress up like a villain and pretend to commit crimes. Unfortunately, the heroes all know each other and gossip about their jobs, so soon enough they all know about him and just do their best to ignore him. He finally makes the mistake of trying this on Sociopathic Hero Rorschach, who simply shoves him down an elevator shaft.
    • Doctor Manhattan takes Laurie to Mars in Chapter IX. She nearly dies of asphyxiation before he remembers that humans need to breathe.
  • In The Boys the Seven find out very quickly that having superpowers doesn't automatically mean they know how to fight crime. Cue September 11.
  • In Ultimate Avengers the Nerd Hulk challenges a vampire named Anthony to a fight. Anthony agrees, and Nerd Hulk decapitates him with one punch. Hulk has Super Strength and doesn't have any reason to hold back against a vampire so...
  • In one of the Secret Invasion tie-in issues, Shanna the She-Devil tries to mug a female SHIELD agent for her uniform. Unfortunately, the karate chop Shanna uses to knock the woman out (often portrayed as non-lethal in most uses of this trope) ends up accidentally breaking her neck and killing her instantly. However, it turns out the agent was actually a Skrull.
  • Ant-Man: Season One tries to portray the realistic dangers behind an untrained person using Size Shifter powers. For instance, on his first outing, Pym is nearly killed and eaten by a spider.
  • The Transformers: A "virus" of smaller robots is released on earth, which quickly infect the Autobots and Decepticons stationed there. Several expendable Autobot prisoners are sent to earth by the Decepticons to spray acid on the infected. Instead, a cure is discovered, water. The water causes the small bots, Scraplets, to fall off of the transformers. The Scraplets then merge into a larger creature with a Hive Mind. Spraying it with water just makes the creature fall apart, but it easily reassembles itself. So the Autobots just free the Decepticons, who use their weapons to butcher, blast, and set the creature on fire. Miracle cure or not, shooting the damn thing was pretty effective. One of the formerly infected Autobots then grabs the acid and douses the creature with it, killing it for good.
  • As a result of his high exposure to radioactive Kryptonite, Lex Luthor eventually got cancer. Hey—human or superhuman, a radioactive rock is a radioactive rock. The irony is that it was thought to be without any effect on humans, except that Lex was exposed to more Kryptonite than any other human alive. Batman has the sense to carry his tiny piece of Kryptonite in a concealed lead-lined box. Lex, being an arrogant tool, just had to flaunt his Kryptonite on a ring. (Pre-Crisis, however, Kryponite had no effect on anyone but Kryptonians. Somewhat justified as it wasn't radioactive, per se.)
  • Hawkeye
    • The very first issue opens with this. Clint falls from a great height and manages to catch himself with a grappling arrow... but still suffers some pretty severe injuries and ends up in the hospital for six weeks.
      • Similarly, throughout the series Clint is constantly covered in bandages and injuries from his fights, and while a Badass Normal with experience fighting the likes of Ultron and Loki, he often ends up being taken down by mooks when they Zerg Rush him. Of course, it doesn't really matter how badass you are; being hit hurts and you can't always rely on Mook Chivalry.
    • In another issue, Kate tapes up and gags Madame Masque and steals her costume. It's shown that she needs to use padding and a wig to complete the disguise, since her body type doesn't really resemble Masque's.
      • The incident with Madame Masque, minor as it was at the time, leads to her becoming Kate's Arch-Enemy and devoting all her time and resources to destroying her as slowly and painfully as possible. Most superhero stories would ignore the fallout of such a minor confrontation, but this one goes to great lengths to show why pissing off a deeply disturbed individual like a costumed supervillain is probably not a good idea.
    • That same story shows the risk of breaking into a room through the window. All of those glass shards lying around hurt.
    • Another issue has Kate having to swim across a flooded street. She dives underwater with her eyes open expecting to be able to see semi-normally like people do in movies. Unfortunately for Kate, movies do that for audience benefit and she quickly realizes her mistake when all she sees is vague blurs and gets bad eye strain. Upon exiting the water she lampshades this trope.
    • More Kate Reality Ensues: When Kate moves to the West Coast, she ends up going against Masque's personal mooks, all by herself. Kate is a seasoned Avenger having worked with the Young Avengers and the main Avengers, and trains regularly with Clint. She's also a rather short, slimly built young woman who generally either fights enemies alongside a team or at least with Clint by her side. Just like Clint, she doesn't escape many fights without a lot of bruises and is quick to succumb to Zerg Rush tactics.
    • In an old Avengers Spotlight story, Clint went up against a local gang. He laughed them off as a threat, but his cop friend informed him that street punks can be just as dangerous as any costumed baddie, since unlike supervillains, gangbangers don't make a habit of announcing their crimes beforehand or taking on opponents one-on-one. Clint finds out this is all too true when the gangbangers lure him into an ambush and riddle him with bullets, which later leads to him adopting an armored costume. This incident provides another Reality Ensues example: Badass Normal or no, all the skills and training in the world won't help you against a hail of gunfire.
  • Dilbert joined a society dedicated to the preservation of an endangered squirrel. The idea was to tranq the last male and mate it with the last female.note  Dilbert's team get to work, they fire the tranq from the rifle from a few feet away, there's a Reaction Shot of their Oh Crap! faces, and then one of them points out that, perhaps, they should've used a smaller dart.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, the plot revolves around the fact that there will be a difficult peace process following a century-long war in which many people died and some land changed hands. Even if both sides are headed by well-intentioned individuals, there remains the potential for conflict to reopen.
  • Short-lived Marvel hero NFL Superpro's bulletproof costume was built by a brilliant inventor/sports memorabilia collector, who designed it to be the safest and most durable football uniform ever built. When Superpro asks him why every player doesn't have one, the inventor explains that the superstrong materials needed to make it cost millions of dollars, making it totally impractical for mass production.
  • During the Batman Hush storyline, at the start of the story Batman's rope for his grappling gun is cut, causing him to fall toward the ground. He manages to grab onto a nearby statue... except that just causes his arm to snap like a twig due to the inertia of the fall. Then the old, worn-out statue breaks under Batman's added weight and Batman plummets into the alley below. He breaks his fall somewhat but still ends up fracturing or breaking half the bones in his body.
  • There's a very similar example in "Marshal Law Takes Manhattan", in which a psychotic parody of Daredevil is falling to his death from a skyscraper and manages to grab hold of a flagpole protruding from the building... whereupon the inertia rips his arms off.
  • In an issue of Superboy from the New 52, Superboy offers to fly a woman home. Shown from Superboy's perspective, it seems to be a normal trip, but when they arrive, the woman throws up and is extremely upset. Superboy then realizes that he flew at super speed without any thought to the fact that people aren't invulnerable or used to such things.
  • A similar scene takes place in Ultimate Comics: Wolverine when Quicksilver grabs onto Jimmy and then runs at superhuman speeds. Quicksilver is protected thanks to his mutation, but the wind speeds tear Jimmy's body to shreds, with only his Healing Factor saving his life.
  • The final run of Punisher MAX shows us exactly what kind of a toll a 30+ year war on the criminal underworld can have on your mind and body. It makes you old, slow, arthritic, unable to shrug off injuries that would barely faze you years before, and that much more prone to slipping up. And the more you slip up, the less intimidating you are to the criminal underworld you hunt.
    • A big emphasis is placed throughout the series on how The Punisher's success rate is at least partly owing to the fact that a majority of those he targets are just low-level hoods and street thugs. Intimidating to the average joe, but completely out of their depth when it comes to actual combat. So in The Slavers, where he attempts to attack what he later realizes are a group of Bosnian war veterans who do know what they're doing, he quickly realizes he's made a mistake and is forced to retreat.
    • In Garth Ennis' first Punisher maxi-series, there's a subplot about a trio of vigilantes who are similar to the Punisher, but with a more realistic slant. Elite is a racist (and borderline Nazi) who primarily kills minority criminals and thinks that people of color are a drain on society. The Holy is a raving lunatic and serial killer who provides a vague justification for his crimes by claiming that he's doing "God's work" and punishing the wicked. Mr. Payback is probably the most likable of the trio, but he's also an idiot without any real military training or combat experience, and as a result, one of his rampages results in an innocent woman getting killed in the crossfire. The message seems to be that real world vigilantes are not as noble or improbably accurate as the Punisher, and that real vigilantism doesn't attract the smartest or most morally upstanding people.
    • A mini-series, The Punisher's Arsenal, although being mostly about the Technology and Gun Porn of the many weapons Frank Castle uses during his war on crime, still showcases some small but very important details: in order to maintain his skills sharp, Castle uses a lot of time for training and goes through a lot of rounds in order to familiarize with said weapons' performance when shooting. Also, Dual Wielding isn't easy: he trains a lot, tries to use a lesser-powered gun on his off hand whenever he can, and he makes mention that several Real Life guns are designed with right-handed shooters in mind, and wielding them left-handed means that he has to withstand hot brass flying right into his face. Also, a couple of Cool Guns he exhibits he mentions he will ditch afterward, because they are literally Too Awesome to Use—they had very short production runs or were highly customized right out of the factory, and thus are highly traceable.
  • In Forever Evil issue 1, Ultraman pushes the moon into the sun to create a solar eclipse. In Black Manta's Villain's Month issue, Ultraman's act causes tides to go wild; flooding coastal areas. This includes demolishing the graveyard where Black Manta's father is buried, and he's not happy about that.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man viciously subverts the idea of Punisher-style anti-heroes somehow being better at fighting supervillains simply because they're willing to "do what it takes". In the finale Shocker launches the Punisher into the horizon in a single panel. Frank might be The Dreaded but he's still a normal man who found himself up against a guy who could blow apart buildings with a squeeze of his fist. Earlier in the comic the other members of the Sinister Six effortlessly blast their way through the Owl's henchmen, as they're armed with high-tech weapons and superpowers and the mooks are just normal guys. How's a pistol or crowbar supposed to help you against potential lunatics wielding things like sonic gauntlets and super speed?
    • Likewise the story also rather casually destroys the notion of the Lovable Rogue. The Sinister Several, for as lovable or pathetic as they may seem, are ultimately vicious criminals, and rather than stick together they instead backstab each other at almost every turn. The fact that he can't trust the people on his own team because of their greedy opportunism disillusions Shocker greatly.
    • Just because a supervillain may be regarded as a loser out-of-universe or in-universe, doesn't change the fact that they're a supervillain and thus exceedingly dangerous.
  • Superman by his very nature avoids most of these tropes, but his official authority is often an open question. The Man of Steel averts this by having the mayor of Metropolis (as fallout from a challenge to his authority by Lex Luthor) commission Superman directly as a special deputy, which at least gives Superman jurisdiction within Metropolis city limits.
    • In the earliest Golden Age stories, Superman would take on normal criminals and the corrupt and was more lax with death threats and property damage. However, in Superman in the slums even he's initially stumped as to how to fix juvenile crime in a dilapidated neighborhood since there isn't someone who's directly responsible. Of course he finds the solution and demolishes the neighborhood, after the people evacuate of course, once he learns that the government will build modern housing projects to replace the old buildings, but still.
  • A more recent example for Supes is Superman: Super League, where several consecutive arcs of him slamming down on the "Deadly Upgrade" button (and one Disney Death, for added seasoning) ends up giving him an incurable, fatal disease... which kills him off for real. Rest In Peace, New 52 Supes.
  • In Spider-Man's "Death of Jean DeWolff" story, Spider-Man gives the Sin-Eater a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. The next time the Sin-Eater appears, he's a stuttering, limping wreck as a result of the severe injuries he suffered. Adding to Spider-Man's guilt even further, the Sin-Eater's Insanity Defense led to successful psychotherapy, so the Sin-Eater is a genuinely remorseful stuttering, limping wreck.
  • In the first issue of All-New Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes tries to stop three gang members from stealing his brother's wheelchair. One of them pulls out a gun. You would expect Robbie to show what a Badass Normal he is, dismantle the thug with the gun and beat them all up. Instead, he stands still and the thugs beat him up and steal both the wheelchair and his shoes. This shows that, despite growing up in a bad neighborhood, Robbie isn't some sort of impossibly tough delinquent, but just a regular guy.
  • A few years ago X-Men character Fantomex saved the world from a monster brainwashing people into worshipping it as their god by revealing he is programmed to be incapable of conceiving anything greater than himself, therefore he cannot believe in any god. A 2014 issue of X-Force reveals that whenever he is outdone at anything, the same ability causes so much cognitive dissonance he ends on the verge of mental breakdown.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
    • An issue has the Mane Six get a warning about a giant monster. Eventually, they encounter... the remains of said monster. It turns out, monster or not, if you don't feed a creature for a long time, it tends to die.
    • In a strange twist, the same issue showed that when one of the deities is away for a week, someone had to fill in for her so the world doesn't go into chaos. Luna had to instead raise the sun every morning for a week, because according to the reality of their universe the Sun doesn't raise itself. She also finds out that it wasn't as easy as it appeared.
    • In the Equestria Girls holiday special, Anon E. Miss is revealed to be the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who were posting details about students' personal lives out of jealousy that Sunset Shimmer was getting more attention from their sisters than they were. Even after the apology of the guilty party is accepted by Sunset Shimmer, the things that Anon E. Miss posted online don't just disappear, and the students don't magically forget the things that were posted. Rarity even tells Sweetie Belle that what Anon E. Miss posted will be up forever. Earlier in the story, Sunset laments to Twilight Sparkle how easy it is for someone's reputation to be destroyed with a few online posts.
  • In FoxTrot, Jason spends the cash prize from a chess tournament on gumballs. The next time he goes to the dentist, he has cavities.
  • A Scrooge McDuck comic had Scrooge and his family venturing into the ruins of an ancient civilization to look for the secrets of their Lost Technology. They find scrolls with all the necessary blueprints and they immediately go home where Scrooge shows them to his engineers...who proceed to tell him that these designs are nearly identical to their latest project. After all, just because technology is lost, doesn't mean it can't be independently redeveloped later, especially over the course of centuries. Scrooge then destroys the ancient blueprints in anger...and Huey, Dewey and Louie decide not to tell him that he just destroyed ancient documents that prove the high advancement of an ancient civilization that any museum would pay a fortune to purchase.
  • The Marvel NOW! relaunch of Uncanny X-Men shows a neat subversion of the typical Fantastic Racism. While mutants are still facing a lot of bigotry, they're getting a lot of support now thanks to the progress made over all the time the X-Men have operated, and while hated by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other X-Men for nearly taking over the world and killing Xavier while under the influence of the Phoenix Force, Scott Summers/Cyclops is now getting a lot of Hero Worship because of his other actions, namely nearly solving world hunger, stabilizing the climate, and forcing peace between warring nations. As it turns out, it doesn't matter if you're part of a hated minority, when you nearly solve a lot of the world's problems, it nets you some serious brownie points (even if you were possessed by a big scary space bird at the time and your reasons for doing all these good deeds were at best questionable).
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: For the longest time, there were many factions and individuals that, based on their respective showings, could've defeated Dr. Robotnik/Eggman very easily. In particular, the echidna civilizations would've delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle if they fought him. Instead they allowed him to continue since he wasn't a serious threat to them and he kept the other minor threats under control, even though his schemes have endangered them one way or another and he was aware of them from his time in the royal court of Mobotropolis. He was able to to improve his technology to the point that, with some minor help, he could attack them directly and raze their civilizations to the ground. And now with the reboot, all of these people have been neutralized.
  • In The Beano's 60th anniversary issue, Tim Traveller goes back in time to 1938 to try and get a cheap copy of issue 1. Unfortunately, it turns out they had different money in 1938.
  • In one The Avengers story by Jonathan Hickman a group of supervillains take over a country and then send one of their members to UN to make a case for their new regime to be acknowledged. Because of circumstances he actually had a chance to convince them, when Steve Rogers attacked him. Instead of stopping the villain by beating him, the villains got what they wanted - starting Blood on the Debate Floor makes your side look unreasonable and politicians more likely to side with your opponent.
    • The same group of villains shows up more in his New Avengers run. Their leader Namor gathered them to basically do horrible things for greater good. However, when you have dangerous supervillains and criminals doing things, they tend to go overboard. And the fact that Namor has standards makes them incredibly difficult to control, as the villains aren't afraid of him. Instead it just makes them betray him even quicker than usual.
  • In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, we have several in the finales of various villains of Earth-40.
    • Doctor Faust uses his high grade of magical prowess to make his way through to fight Doc Fate, and prepares himself for a Wizard Duel. Unfortunately for him, that is all he brought to the table, whereas Doc Fate brought his magical prowess, underhanded tactics, and a gun. He manages to hold off the zombies that come at him with the gun, and summarily defeats Faust with a Groin Attack.
    • Lady Shiva, upon losing her plane, prepares to fight the Blackhawks with her sword, her close combat skills things of legend. Unluckily for her, the Blackhawks have handguns, and prove that bringing a sword may not have been the best idea.
  • During the first arc of Ms. Marvel (2014), Kamala brags about fighting crime in the classic, "politically incorrect" (her words) costume that Carol Danvers used to wear before she became Captain Marvel. She quickly finds out that despite looking cool, heels are not practical to run or fight in, and that Carol's sexy leotard gives epic wedgies. Carol had Required Secondary Powers like flight that dealt with the impracticality of the costume for her and even then she ended up ditching it after a while. Kamala doesn't have those. She switches to a new, more practical suit a short time later.
  • In Batman, Mister Freeze's ice-gun was the Trope Codifier of Harmless Freezing in the Silver Age. Post-Crisis however, Freeze has killed plenty of people using it and whenever Batman and company get hit by, the story tends to make a point about how quickly they have to escape; turning somebody into a block of ice is pretty fatal to say the least.
  • An issue of New Avengers showed a realistic downside of super durability. Luke Cage's incredible durability means that he's extremely hard to injure but also means that if something actually does manage to hurt him, doctors aren't able to operate on him to properly repair internal injuries or even give him a shot; his skin is so strong that scalpels and needles just break when pressed against it. This results in Cage nearly dying from his injuries and spending the next several issues out-of-action as he heals the slow, hard way.
    • A similar situation occurred in Justice League Europe when Power Girl was seriously injured and required surgery: they had to call in Superman whose heat vision was the only thing that could act as a scalpel.
  • In Flash comics set before the Flash gained a full connection with the Speedforce, he struggled with a bunch of realistic weaknesses caused by his superspeed. His upper limit was about the speed of sound as any faster would tear his body apart, he had to eat constantly (his body now required massive amounts of calories to fuel his enhanced metabolism), and his uniform had to be made of special low friction materials to keep it from being incinerated by his vibrations (and required frequent repairs or replacements). When Flash finally forged a full connection with the Speedforce, he gained all the Required Secondary Powers he needed to make his superspeed completely useful rather than Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Mark Waid's Empire revolves around a Lex Luthor-style supervillain named Golgoth finally managing to unite his fellow supervillains and taking over the world. After he does so, he proceeds to learn the hard way that his supposed allies are far more of a threat to him than the heroes ever were. They all wanted to take over the world to and are all just as amoral as Golgoth, so he's now constantly fighting off rebellions and assassination attempts, all while hopelessly trying to keep his court under control.
  • In Batman Eternal, Commissioner Gordon is framed for a crime he didn't commit. He ends up being denied bail and placed in a maximum security prison while awaiting trial, as he's a known associate of a vigilante with major resources.
  • In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Nancy instantly sees through Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi's Paper Thin Disguises, and recognizes them as her classmates, Tomas and Ken. When Squirrel Girl expresses shock, Nancy asks how could she possibly have fallen for the ruse when all the boys use to hide their identities are Domino Masks. Plus, when your roomie is obsessed with squirrels and then you meet a female superhero who calls herself "Squirrel Girl?" It's easy to make the connection.
  • In the X-Men story God Loves, Man Kills, the villainous Reverend Stryker is preparing to execute Kitty Pryde in public on national television to make his statement against mutantkind... at which point he gets shot and detained by a nearby cop. Mutant bigotry or not, famous televangelist or not, no non-corrupt police officer would let someone shoot an unarmed teenage girl in cold blood.
  • Another X-Men example occurred after the events of Decimation, where a bunch of mutants lost their powers. Due to the inexact nature of the Scarlet Witch's hex power, some mutants kept their primary mutations but lost the Required Secondary Powers that kept reality from ripping them a new one. Amongst other things, we see a bird-like mutant fall to his death because his wings are just a placebo and can't actually support a human being's weight, and a pyrokinetic woman burns herself to death because she was no longer immune to her own flames.
  • The first issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson opens with Sam taking a commercial flight from Arizona to New York, despite being an Avenger. As the issue progresses, it turns out that he has to fly commercial since the Avengers are currently on hard times, meaning that they have to be smart with their money. The Quinjets are so advanced that they require a prohibitively expensive amount of fuel to run, and Sam has already spent so much money on his own crime fighting operation that he doesn't have any cash left over to buy his own plane.
    • In the first issue of All-New, All-Different Avengers, Sam has to buy some girl scout cookies, with one seller being black and the other being white. He realizes picking the black kid over the white kid or vice versa would be a PR nightmare, and ends up defusing the situation by tricking the girls into doing a photo op with Iron Man instead. He later says that everything he does is heavily scrutinized and viewed as a racial issue by the press and social media, something that often happens to high profile people of color in real life.
    • The Quinjet issue returns in All-New, All-Different Avengers #4 when a villain starts causing trouble in nearby Atlantic City. Ms. Marvel instantly suggests that they're going to take the Quinjet, but Tony shoots that idea down, pointing out that they have five flyers (him, Sam, Thor, Vision and Nova) and can easily carry the non-flyers (her and Spider-Man)
  • Afterlife with Archie:
    • Everyone (except for Reggie) easily accepts Kevin's sexuality. Nancy is convinced she and Ginger wouldn't be as accepted as a well-off white boy and that's largely why they are closeted.
    • Sabrina ignoring her aunts' warnings and using her magic however she pleases is usually treated lightly in her source series. Normally there's no lasting consequences and she simply gets a minor punishment, if any at all. Here it causes a Zombie Apocalypse and her Aunts respond by turning into horrific monsters and banishing her to purgatory while taking her mouth away so she couldn't plead with them. Moreover, it's revealed that her reckless use of magic summons Cthulhu.
  • Paperinik New Adventures:
    • Before this series, Paperinik started out as a vigilante who avenged himself committing what were effectively crimes, and never lost his sadistic streak or habit to ignore the rules to do the right thing. With a past like this one, a charismatic and cunning journalist like Angus Fangus can ruin his reputation with ease, and the Time Police, who knows he's a hero, doesn't trust him anyway because they expect him to screw up the space-time continuum to do what he believes is the right thing (and they're right).
    • The job of the Time Police is to prevent alteration to the space-time continuity. This means that not only they won't lift a finger to prevent a cold fusion experiment from going awry and nuking Duckburg, but when it's actually prevented they send an assault squad to cause it anyway, only relenting when attempts at causing it anyway start risking to cause even more alterations.
    • Altering history by changing a single event almost invariably has unforeseen consequences. Examples shown are the Organization sending an operative to kill Paperinik while ruining his reputation spiraling out in the Time Police being disbanded and the Organization being taken over by two artificial intelligences, an attempt at preventing an experiment that could destroy the entire space-time continuum getting it to start earlier so the mysterious saboteurs won't ruin it, Paperinik preventing the destruction of Duckburg apparently gave the Evronians a chance to recover from the destruction of their empire, and, in the reboot, a group of Evronians stealing a time machine and preventing the founding of their arch-enemies Guardians of the Galaxy spiraling out in the Evronian Empire demilitarizing, with the only alteration that does exactly what is supposed to be is Odin Eidolon kidnapping Trip, the son of the Raider, so he won't grow up in the Organization operative that ruined Paperinik's reputation and nearly killed him, and that's because kidnapping him at the precise time he did got the Raider to abort the mission in which he died to track his son down. In fact time criminals are wary of altering history precisely because they know the risks (even inventing a device to change history without unforeseen consequences for when they decide they have to), as the owner of the time machine stolen by the Evronians gloated about when they found out of the consequences of their actions.
    • The Evronian invasion appears to be prevented entirely by Paperinik. It's later shown that the interstellar empire with vast armies and advanced technology simply has bigger fishes to fry (including Xadhoom) and can't spare the resources to assault Earth directly and its massive nuclear arsenal, and all Paperinik is doing is (barely) preventing them from establishing a bridgehead. In fact, in one of the few times the Evronians play for keeps an antiquated and run down cruiser decimates the full force of Earth's most advanced military, and doesn't finish the job only due the antimatter alternator breaking down again.
    • The Evronians power many of their machines with emotional energy. This means they have to continuously invading new worlds to keep their civilization running, and even then their energetic situation is so desperate that their plan to deal with Xadhoom's vendetta against them is to try and turn her in an energy source.
    • The Evronians are Emotion Eaters who use guns that fully drain the emotions of a victim, turning it in an emotionless slave, but Earthlings are so emotionally rich that a single shot often isn't enough, and they can fully recover if given time. To the Evronians, this means that Earth is a plentiful banquet and an alternative solition to their energy crisis.
    • When Everett Ducklair invented what would become Paperinik's PKar he made it run on monomethylhydrazine, the same fuel as the Space Shuttle. When Paperinik has to leave the Ducklair Tower and loses One's support, usage of the PKar diminishes because he can't make it at home and doesn't have the kind of support network to buy it. Ultimately Paperinik switches back to the 313-X in the PKNE revival stories, as that one runs on gas.
  • Much of the humour of Rat-Man relies on this:
    • Superheroes aren't all there with their mind due to the toll taken by both training and actual superheroing.
    • Valker divides superheroes into two kinds: those who think they can grab speeding bullets out of thin air and those who think he won't shoot. Valker has a collection of superhero masks and gloves with bullet holes in them.
      • On the above, turns out that letting a Combat Pragmatist superhero come close was a bad idea on Valker's part, as Rat-Man stole his gun.
    • If you're a lab assistant for a murderous sociopath like Valker, showing your colleagues a card trick during work hours results in Valker using the cards to predict the future and then calling your widow to inform her of your imminent death.
    • When the authorities outlaw superheroes, some give up, some are captured, and the rest form a resistance movement that the authorities just can't stop, as they all have superpowers.
  • Diabolik examples:
    • Kidnappings are almost always incredibly traumatizing, even when the victim knows they'll get out without a scratch.
    • Diabolik is incredibly feared, to the point he earned such fully justified names as King of Terror, Murderer with a Thousand Faces, and many others. When he's arrested, the terror he caused leads to a Kangaroo Court by complete accident, as the judge and the public are terrified and want a scapegoat (even if he's actually guilty) and his court-assigned lawyer too is too scared to do a good job, and he's sentenced to death even if there wasn't enough evidence yet.
      • Also, having a famous criminal being sentenced to death in a Kangaroo Court is liable to be a formidable occasion for activists to demand a retrial to have him sentenced to life in jail... But, considering the evidence that popped up after the trial, the judge refuses.
    • Elisabeth Gay's descent into madness is all about this: spending months with your fiancee, then getting him arrested and finding out he's the King of Terror by accident took a heavy toll on her psyche, and finding out he was about to dump her like all her previous boyfriends pushed her over the edge.
    • Diabolik only uses knives and various gadgets, but finds guns too noisy for his stealthy modus operandi. A man with a gun could easily kill him, and the only reason nobody did it yet is that he's smart enough to know it and make sure nobody gets a clear shot.
    • Diabolik never reuses a gadget or plan, with the only exceptions of his knives, needle launchers for poisoning or putting someone to sleep and his trademark perfect masks. That's because he knows that the next time the police will be ready for it... As shown by the police having the habit of pinching someone's face to check for masks once they found out about them and often wearing protective knife and needle-proof vests and gas masks.
      • Also, the police only recycles their own anti-Diabolik schemes only when they have reason to believe Diabolik didn't realize what happened, as they know that the next time Diabolik will be ready, as shown by the many times Diabolik waltzed though a mask check (always with different tricks of course, as the next time the police will be ready for that one).
    • In a world where only one man can create Latex Perfection, that man is a target for everyone.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • The Guardians of Kandrakar have an easy time against Mooks because of this: their enemies use middle ages meelee weapons, and they wield powerful magic that can strike at distance. For obvious reasons, it's very rare to find a soldier who comes back for a rematch.
    • In a What If? issue they attacked a police van to rescue a friend, thinking it would be no different from the many battles against normal mooks they won, especially as this time it's five of them against two cops... Who have guns. The Guardians are nearly killed.
  • The prologue to Darkseid War opens on a man named Wilson Morgan, who has recently developed electrical abilities after surviving the Amazo Virus. Using his new powers, he sets out to rescue his neighbor's daughter from a kidnapper. The narration notes that in spite of his incredible new abilities, Wilson is still just an overweight laundromat owner who has no combat training or crime-fighting experience to speak of. He rushes in and tries to zap the kidnapper, and is immediately shot to death.
  • The nature of the Tyke Bomb superhero is brutally deconstructed with X-23. The torture, physical and emotional abuse, and Training from Hell it took to turn her into one of the world's most deadly assassins before she was thirteen virtually destroyed her emotionally, leaving her a PTSD-ridden wreck prone to falling into Heroic BSODs at the drop of a hat. Because she was denied the emotional support and socialization a child needs for normal development, she's often lost in social interactions, easily confused by her emotions, and often experiences bouts of severe and possibly suicidal depression. At least one analysis of her character suggests she suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, and a significant focus of her Character Development has been spent on repairing the damage done to her.
    • Contrasted with her own clone, Gabby. Gabby received much of the same training, but unlike Laura was largely spared from the savage physical and emotional abuse, and had her elder "sisters" to look after her and provide her the parental guidance Laura lacked. So while she's still Wise Beyond Their Years, it's balanced by genuine childish naivete. She still falls directly under this in issue 5 of All-New Wolverine: When attacked by the substantially larger Captain Mooney (a man who has to bend down to be One Head Taller than 5'1" Laura), Gabby jumps on him and delivers a ferocious headbutt in an attempt to stun him. Unfortunately, however well-trained she is Gabby is still a tween even shorter than Laura, and Mooney quickly recovers and effortlessly tosses her aside.
  • Sex Criminals: The Sex Police aren't actually police. On the one hand, this means that they have no real power to arrest anyone or any kind of legal authority, but on the other hand, they're essentially vigilantes who have no reason to play nice and nobody to hold them responsible for anything.
    • When Susie and Jon tell Ana that they're bank robbers, her response is to tell them to get out- after all, they'd just made her an accessory after the fact, why would she want anything more to do with them?
    • Susie and Jon's crime spree gets a lot of people with orgasm-powers very pissed off at them. Sure, their motives might be good, but they're committing crimes, potentially exposing everyone, and they have little if any sense of restraint- they're a disaster waiting to happen.
  • In the Mickey Mouse story "Topolino e il serial-ladro", an FBI agent arrives to help the Mouseton police with a particularly high-profile investigation. When she learns that Mickey is not a police officer, she is shocked that the chief of police would allow a random civilian to participate in the investigation and freely roam the police depot unsupervised. She immediately has him thrown out of the building.
  • Paper Girls: As part of the Deliberate Values Dissonance pertaining to The '80s setting, Mac smokes constantly, despite being a kid. When her friends time travel to 2016 in a later issue, they find out that Mac ends up dying of leukemia in The '90s, almost certainly brought on by her fondness for cigarettes.
  • The Wicked + The Divine: The power and adoration one gets by becoming a god is enough to convince people to do some very horrible things in order to get the chance to ascend. It convinces two fans to try to kill Lucifer, shooting innocents in the progress, and convinced 1830's Inanna to agree to murder her sister's children in exchange for ascension.
    • Most of the gods are not at all happy with their drastically-reduced lifespan, especially poor Minerva, who's 12.
    • Being a god does not mean that you're above the law, as Lucifer finds out. Also, when Laura/Persephone kills Ananke, the other gods' first thought is how they'll stop her from getting convicted for murder.
    • The gods are all teenagers of various ages who have been given vast amounts of power and adoration, who can do almost whatever they want, and who have to deal with the shock of their new identities, their reduced lifespans and their responsibilities on top of all their other problems and already-existing insecurities. The result? Sure, some of them are nice, but a few are complete douchebags.
    • The gods are viewed as entertainers, and most people consider their original personalities to not really matter. As a result, when Tara tries to play her own songs and recite her own poetry instead of just performing like everyone else, the crowd turns on her and she gets so much hate that she gives up and commits suicide by Ananke.
    • Laura becomes Persephone, achieving her every wish, and then has to watch as Ananke, a woman she trusted, kills Inanna- Laura's good friend- and Laura's entire family. The poor girl is so shocked and traumatised that she does almost nothing for days afterwards.
    • Ananke has known the gods for millennia, is the one who helps them ascend, and is trusted absolutely. So she's in the perfect position to stab them all in the back.
  • In Grimm Fairy Tales, Mercy Dante is a young woman whose parents were killed by a hitman when she was a child. Years later, she tracks down the hitman and finds out that he's retired and now has a young daughter named Trisha. Mercy kidnaps Trisha and then forces her father to watch as she shoots the girl in the head, killing her. When Mercy next appears many issues later, we see that revenge has brought her absolutely no comfort, as she's now wracked with guilt over having slain an innocent child. She ends up being given a second chance after being sent back to the day she killed Trisha, and this time, she opts to let her go.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/RealityEnsues/ComicBooks