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Go Mad From The Revelation / Comic Books

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People going mad from the revelation in comic books.

  • In All-Star Superman Lex Luthor acquires all of Superman's powers. All of them. In the end, he is stopped not by anyone, but Superman's Super Senses. Luthor sees the universe as Superman does and realizes that Superman isn't a villain - his altruism comes from his understanding of how interconnected the universe is. Luthor went sane from the revelation!
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  • Alpha Flight: Dr. Lionel Jeffries started out as a doctor with Healing Hands who could cure nearly any wound, and used his powers as a military doctor. But when he attempted to put dead, dismembered soldiers back together and failed to revive any of them, he went insane and started using his powers to inflict Body Horrors on anyone and everyone within arm's reach, calling himself Scramble the Mixed-Up Man. It was up to his brother Madison, a technopath, to use his powers to trap Scramble in a containment suit and have him committed. Madison later gets Scramble to use his powers on his own brain, apparently curing him, but Lionel relapses when his attempt to use a cadaver's legs to restore those of a double amputee fails, and Madison is forced to kill him in order to save the rest of Alpha Flight.
  • Batman:
    • The Joker is like this at least some portrayals, more so than most Batman villains. More than one interpretation (including the 1989 movie) has shown him bursting into maniacal laughter after seeing his disfigured reflection for the first time (depending on the interpretation, it was the result of falling into a chemical vat, getting shot in the face, or both). His fellow Rogues Gallery members are listed alongside him under Freak Out.
      • For instance, The Killing Joke. Averted by Commissioner Gordon's resistance to Joker's attempts to drive him crazy in the same graphic novel.
      • Then we have the Joker from Flashpoint: Martha Wayne watched her son Bruce die before her and was so overcome with grief, she snapped. She snapped even worse when her husband, Thomas Wayne, revealed that, in another timeline, he'd be Batman, not Thomas.
      • Inverted in Going Sane, where Batman's apparent death causes Joker to lose his insanity.
      • Played with in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, where Batman's disappearance causes the Joker to go catatonic for years. Upon Batsy's return he makes a seemingly-miraculous recovery, but of course he's just faking it to get out of Arkham and the moments he gets the chance he goes back to his Ax-Crazy ways with relish.
      • In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, it is revealed that the defining moment where Jack Napier became the Joker was when he discovered the "joke" that Laffy wrote on the walls in his dying moments. When Jack Napier has a Moment of Lucidity and tells Harley about it, he makes her promise not to tell Batman for fear that the same thing would happen to him.
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    • The Lazarus pits of Ra's Al-Ghul seem to have this effect on anyone they resurrect. How long this effect lasts varies Depending on the Writer, swinging from a few minutes of cackling lunacy in Batman: The Animated Series to permanent damage in more than one storyline of the comics themselves (Ra's egomania is attributed to his repeated resurrections, as is Jason Todd's shift from troubled kid to murderous Punisher clone.)
  • In Captain Britain, the precognitive Cobweb goes mad when she makes the mistake of looking into the very near future, which has just been invaded by a cybernetic nightmare from another dimension and is steadily being dominated by an insane reality-warping Prime Minister by the name of Mad Jim Jaspers. Naturally, after puking her guts out and mumbling a few garbled prophecies, she tries to swallow her tongue.
    • Captain Britain himself had his own brush with this trope when he was first confronted with a supernatural occurrence he couldn't dismiss or explain away - in this case, extradimensional beings contacting him in the middle of a Trans-Atlantic flight. He promptly freaked out and jumped out of the plane. At this point in time, Brian got his powers from an amulet and scepter given to him by Merlin and Arthur. (Yes, them). This has been retconned at some point to Brian getting his brains rattled by a psychic attack and jumping to protect the plane's passengers (At this point he couldn't fly yet).
  • Astrid Mueller of Clean Room has gathered a body of knowledge about the demons threatening the world, their past interactions with humanity, and their plans. Promotion in the Mueller Organization earns access to larger parts of this knowledge. It's relatively common for the promoted to commit suicide in bizarre ways from the sheer horror.
  • Enigma features a villain called The Truth who has the ability to look someone in the eyes and remove all the comforting lies they tell themselves. It generally results in either suicide or mass murder.
  • In an issue of Fall of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep reveals his true form to the inhabitants of a biker bar: by the time he's left, everyone in the bar is sporting Milky White Eyes and catatonic with shock, except for the bartender, who is busily setting himself on fire.
    • Cy has had the dubious honour of Going Mad From The Revelation twice in the same series. The first bout of insanity occurs when Nyarlathotep whispers his true name in his ear; after spending the rest of the evening and the next morning in shock, and attempting to commit suicide, Cy finally descends into catatonia for the next year. The second time is some time after Cy's recovery, when he manages to save the world by sending Nyarlathotep back to the court of Azathoth; unfortunately, he manages to catch a glimpse of its main occupant. Cy doesn't survive this next brush with insanity.
  • After reading the last page of a Great Big Book of Everything in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, Ultraman turns into a nihilistic follower of Mandrakk.
    Ultraman: There is a God...and he hates us all.
  • During the original Galactus storyline in Fantastic Four, the Human Torch fell into a brief Heroic BSoD moment after traveling to the far reaches of space to find the Ultimate Nullifier. The Watcher assured the Fantastic Four that the state was only temporary, as his brain would soon purge itself of the memories of his travels for the sake of its own sanity.
    Human Torch: I traveled through worlds so big...there..there aren't words..! We're like ants..just ants..ants..!
  • One issue of Hellblazer features a Well-Intentioned Extremist priest who gets into the habit of calling the police when teenagers start confessing their misdeeds to him- and at one point, he goes so far as to physically assault a girl who confessed to having sex with her brother. And then the Devil shows up; after letting him know how badly the teenagers have suffered, he ushers the priest back into the confessional and lets him hear his confession. Minutes later, the priest burns the church to the ground; from then on, he's straight-up Ax-Crazy, murdering people from one end of the country to the next, culminating in his attempt to rape a young John Constantine- which results in him getting a razorblade wedged in his face, being arrested, and committed to an asylum. After being released over twenty years later, he bumps into Constantine again at a local church; by now completely lucid, he explains everything, then jams a pencil in either eye and headbutts the pew in front of him.
    • John himself was pretty horribly traumatized by what happened in Newcastle in '79, and had to go in and out of institutions for several years afterword.
    • Prior to this, in Swamp Thing Constantine leads a mentalist to make contact with heroes and villains battling what appears to be a giant, black shelled mollusk that even defeats the Spectre, implied to be an aspect of God. Though the entire experience has been traumatic, Constantine's patsy gets a good look at the shell on the creature to snap his mind: It's not a shell, it's a fingernail. The entire battle had been fought on a scale so alien, whole armies had been assaulting just the fingertip of their foe without realizing.
    • The being in question was The Great Darkness, basically the leftover primodium after God created the Universe. No wonder everyone was having such a hard time.
  • This is what causes the murderer to go on a rampage in the facility Sanctuary in Heroes in Crisis: Wally West, grieving at the fact that Linda Park does not remember him and that, without her, that means he doesn't have his kids, had been sent to Sanctuary to help recover. He had spent the entire time there thinking that the place was designed for him and him alone, that there was absolutely no way the other heroes could be suffering as bad as he was. He ended up finding out a way to reconstruct and watch numerous confessionals of virtually ever hero who stepped into Sanctuary and the fact that he wasn't alone caused him to snap and lose control of his powers.
  • From King City: The sight of the Demon King, even in its incomplete state, is known to have driven some people over the edge of sanity.
  • Happens in Power Pack when the kids' parents learn that the kids have superpowers. They're ultimately saved by being led to believe that the superpowered kids were fakes switched for their real kids.
    • The reaction was later revealed to be the result of a misguided attempt by an ally to help keep the kids' secret; he used his Healing Hands to alter their parents' brains in a way that would make them believe virtually any cover story they were told about their kids' activities. Their mental break was due to being confronted with a truth that their brains were biologically reconfigured to deny.
  • From The Sandman: "Not knowing everything is all that makes it okay sometimes." Delirium epitomizes the trope in a little speech to Destiny in Brief Lives where she expresses a chilling moment of complete clarity:
    Delirium: Do you know why I stopped being Delight, my brother? I do. There are things not in your book. There are paths outside this garden. You would do well to remember that.
  • Secret Warriors ultimately reveals this to be the driving motivation of the Gorgon, a HYDRA leader and Wolverine villain who up to that point mostly seemed to be in the villainy game For the Evulz. Revealed in flashbacks to have been born with a mutant-level Improbably High I.Q., the young Tomi Shishido distinguished himself in his youth by working out and publishing an equation proving the existence of God. Unfortunately, this led to some very quick Sanity Slippage and a Rage Against the Heavens that would consume him for the rest of his life.
  • In the Tintin book Tintin: The Shooting Star, scientist Philippulus goes mad from the news that an asteroid is about to destroy Earth, and starts calling himself "Philippulus the prophet" while rambling about divine punishment.
  • If you think Humongous Mecha can't have an Eldritch Abomination of their own, you'd be wrong. The original Marvel run of The Transformers featured Unicron, a Planet Eater and Physical God disguised as a giant robotic planet. His appearance in that run of the comics causes Brainstorm, an otherwise quiet, sensible, and reasonable Autobot who is looked up to by the others as a paragon of forethought and planning, to utterly lose his shit and simply start babbling a Rapid-Fire "No!" while trying to shoot the planet sized monstrosity with a dinky laser pistol. It doesn't end well for him. For comparison, it's a bit like if you were suddenly attacked by Satan if he were the size of the Earth; the realization that the threat is real and the monster has a form far outside what you were ready to deal with could break even the most level headed individual.
    • And then it happens to Shockwave, as well, who for the first time ever can't figure out what he's seeing, and just stands and stares at what's happening. He has to rely on Starscream for help.
  • According to Transformers: Shattered Glass Optimus Prime's bio, he discovered something so shocking from Cybertron's past that it made him to go insane, and to the present day no one knows what it was he found.
  • Much of the plot of TRON: Ghost in the Machine runs on this trope. The story opens with the protagonist of the game being so paralyzed by what he saw inside the computer system that he went from being an avid programmer to being a shut-in afraid to touch electronics. From there, the whole comic spirals into a genuine Mind Screw.
  • The Ultimates (2015): When Connor Sims gained his powers, he was cast into the Neutral Zone, which exists right on the edge of all existence, and attained a state of hyper-awareness that allowed him to the cage surrounding all existence, along with whatever made it. He spent the next several decades going increasingly mad, which didn't help his efforts to convince people that what he saw was true.
    • The titular team of heroes also received a (slightly redacted) glimpse at the nature of the sliding time scale of the Marvel Universe. Captain Marvel in particular didn't take it well.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: The Kree in general are not ready to learn about Gah Lak Tus. Only high-ranked officials may do, after an extensive training. And yet, Yahn-Rahg went mad anyway after reading the Gah Lak Tus files.
    • The Ultimates: When Cap hears that he has been frozen for fifty-seven years, he starts attacking everyone, thinking that it must be a trick of the nazis.
  • The Comedian appears to go medium-mad when he stumbles on the secret island prior to the events of Watchmen, although his behaviour (breaking in to the home of an ex-villain whom "he knew wouldn't understand," weeping uncontrollably, and expressing remorse for all the horrible things he's done which nonetheless pale in comparison to the plot he's uncovered) may be attributable more to a massive attack of conscience and ethical sensitivity, thus arguably making him more, not less, sane. A more straightforward example from this work would be Rorschach's Despair Event Horizon, upon discovery of a little girl's butchered remains, which transforms him from a relatively rational crimefighter into a pathologically obsessed Nietzsche Wannabe intent on imposing his own brutal, uncompromising justice on what he sees as an uncaring, meaningless world.
    • Dr Manhattan also deserves a mention, having been through something very like the Total Perspective Vortex and then acquired the power of God. He doesn't exactly go mad, but he certainly wasn't the same person after his experience.
  • An issue of Marvel's What If? ends with Rogue (after killing Mr. Sinister) discovering the ULTIMATE TRUTH behind the Marvel Universe. The last picture of said issue has her (looking quite rattled and/or mentally shattered, take your pick) sitting down amidst a handful of Marvel comic books strewn around the ground.
    • Deadpool ends up doing this to Carnage in Deadpool vs. Carnage, revealing that they are all just little pawns in a writer's game that drives Carnage so out of his mind, he refuses to leave his cell. And his cell door is unlocked.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): As Donna Milton the ancient immortal witch Circe learned for the first time to empathize with humans, and even became close friends with a handful of them. Once her full memories returned however she could not reconcile her new experiences with the literal milleniums she's spent horrifically torturing, transforming, enslaving and eating humans and her next confrontation with Wondy leaves her Laughing Mad on the ground without even trying to properly defend herself.
  • X-Men:
    • During The Dark Phoenix Saga, this is Mastermind's fate when Jean Grey realizes he was manipulating her to get her to join the Hellfire Club. She uses her psychic powers to give him awareness of the entire universe, leaving him a catatonic wreck.
    • Mystique gets a taste of this in Uncanny X-Men (2015) when she makes the mistake of thinking her natural resistance to telepathy is enough to let her go head to head with Exodus. Long story short, it isn't. He not only leaves her a catatonic wreck, but in the aftermath she suffers from Power Incontinence and schizophrenic episodes until Psylocke forcibly stabilizes her by way of some impromptu Psychic Surgery.


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