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Good Is Not Soft / Comic Books

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  • Superman, being a Flying Brick and all, tries to exert the least amount of force he can to resolve a situation. But if a villain crosses the line, they're in for a world of hurt. In one issue, Major Force (trope-namer for Stuffed into the Fridge) mocked Superman for being "too polite". In response, Superman melted him into a pileofslag. He lived through it, but that's not much of a comfort.
    • Superman's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the Elite in What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way? and its film adaptation, Superman vs. the Elite, is a horror to behold. And the Elite were nominally on his side before they started taking things too far...
  • Supergirl's kind-hearted, caring and compassionate. This causes a lot of villains to underestimate her. Then they learn the hard way that she's also a short-tempered, fierce, vicious fighter with power to crush mountains and little patience for evil guys.
  • Spider-Man is an example in that he does want to help because it's his responsibility. That responsibility does not extend to his fighting style, which is fairly brutal. Some storylines revolve around him becoming more vicious, usually after donning the black suit.
    • Though it's often mentioned that when dealing with people like Kingpin or Doctor Octopus or just everyday criminals, he has to decrease his strength considerably as he could kill someone with little effort. The events that lead to Ends of the Earth, and later, Superior Spider-Man, started because even holding back, constantly engaging in physical combat with Spider-Man over the course of years had damaged Octopus' body so much that it eventually just started shutting down completely.
    • Then came the day that he explained to Kingpin that his web-shooters in fact do have lethal applications, and he's been using them as non-lethal tools for his entire career entirely conscious of the fact. There is a remarkable difference between a faceful of webbing and a lungful of webbing.
  • Some members of the X-Men fall into this category; those who are firmly idealistic or genuinely want to do good also use their mutant powers to shoot Eye Beams or Mind Rape.
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  • Shazam/Captain Marvel is basically one of the nicest guys in comics, possibly the biggest nice guy there is, even in a universe that includes Superman. He often takes great pains to offer his enemies a chance to surrender, try to talk them down first, and when he has to fight, usually opts for the least amount of force possible. And if after all of that, if you still insist on endangering innocent people, then he is going to fight as hard as he can to stop you, and feel no guilt about the shape you're in afterwards. He gave you every chance to avoid it, after all.
  • Death from The Sandman is the best person you want to be with at a time of, well, death. A really sweet, caring person, she's also The Grim Reaper and when the need arises she can be really scary.
  • Some interpretations of Batman, specifically Batman and Batman: The Animated Series, have Batman\Bruce Wayne as this. The various Robins however, and the original Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) fit closer.
    • Nightwing is this trope straight up. He acquired his attitude from Superman, but he learned how to deal with criminals from Batman.
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    • Though usually The Cape, Cassandra Cain can be absolutely terrifying if angered. In one instance, a hired assassin kills one of his own allies to get a clear shot at her. This angers her so much that she stops his heart for several seconds, to give him a good idea of what he had just done.
  • Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm, the Thing, both figuratively and literally; he is one of the 4's most popular members, and is good with kids. But if anyone dares to harm his family and friends he'll pummel them to paste.
  • Doctor Strange is noble and a good judge of character, which means he will often spare villains whose intentions aren't wholly evil, particularly when they merely got in over their heads. But for the irredeemable? He won't offer them the chance to try again. The only ones he spares are the ones he can't permanently De-Power or kill.
  • Wonder Woman has always been an icon of kindness and nobility, preferring peace and diplomacy to war and aggression. Yet, of all of the members of the Justice League of America, she alone has never hesitated to use lethal force when it was needed, reminding everyone the Amazons are, at heart, still a proud warrior race.
  • Miyamoto Usagi from Usagi Yojimbo is kind, courteous, and soft-spoken, and he will try to talk his way out of bad situations before they turn violent. That is a principle of bushido, albeit one that isn't very widely observed in the world Usagi inhabits. But those who oppress the weak or try to harm Usagi's friends or family will discover that he's just as diligent about following the martial code of bushido as well. A regular deliverer of the Curb-Stomp Battle or even Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Most of the protagonists in Fables have adopted this view, given the cynical nature of the setting and their desperate circumstances. While none of them are really cruel, there's very little any of them would not do for the safety and survival of their loved ones.
  • Nova: Richard Rider is one of the most idealistic heroes Marvel has, and a very firm believer of Thou Shalt Not Kill, for example when dealing with a violent assassin who is trying to catch him and re-assimilate him, he refuses to kill her, instead just knocking her out. However, he is not above killing when there is literally no other option, as Annihilus learned the hard way.
  • The Avengers, as a whole, strictly practice Thou Shalt Not Kill, not Thou Shalt Not Maim. During his stint as Captain America, Bucky Barnes's preferred tactic for dealing with Mooks was Knee-capping. Hawkeye once ricocheted an arrow so it hit a villain in the back of the neck, paralyzing him.
    Hawkeye: "He'll live. Not well, but he'll live."
  • Old jungle saying: "The Phantom is rough with rough-necks." Another one: "When the Phantom is rough, he is very rough." These are typically cited when he's beating people up. He's a Technical Pacifist who likes to get criminals to a proper trial, and nice and helpful towards friends and innocents, but he gives out plenty of brutal beatings. (Of course, they don't leave people actually injured much, so he gets off easily.) One of the cruelest things he does could be the fact that he tattoos people he punches with his Skull Mark — a bit of a snap judgement against everyone who opposes him, who are never innocent but could be Punch-Clock Villain mooks — but this seems to be more about the Rule of Cool than any consideration of the long-term effects.
  • Believe it or not, when in the general public or just interacting with people who aren't criminals or scumbags, The Punisher, Frank Castle, can be fairly civil and even polite. It seems he only goes full on scary, nightmare vigilante with the people he's either shaking for information or actively hunting. Honestly, outside of his Punisher work, Frank is actually a pretty decent guy.
  • Laura Kinney demonstrates even from her first appearance in X-Men: Evolution that she's this: first going on a utterly understandable Roaring Rampage of Revenge due to her abuse by forcing Logan into a confrontation, then realizing Hydra is her real target she foregoes Non-Lethal K.O. and attempts to drive off Wolverine so he won't be caught in the crossfire. She puts up with the abuse Zebra Daddy deals out to her and his girls and it's only when she is gunned down and he tries to kill her friends that she acts. Bred to be a Living Weapon Laura exhausts every other option first, no matter how inane it may be. Trying to buy one of her old pimp's girls so she won't be abused anymore for example, then when the issue is forced not only kill him and his goons, but everyone linked to said abuse.
    • All-New Wolverine has her as more or less the moral center of the Marvel universe, with even the likes of Strange and Steve Rogers being antagonistic, as well as for the most part a complete softie to the point when Fin Fang Foom attacks her solution is to use herself as Distracted by the Sexy. For the most part Laura is a complete softie: when attacked her beating the Alchemix soldiers after her to near death is her holding back. She slices the Taskmaster's hand off. She wipes the floor with Old Man Logan. And has no problem fighting Cap, Fury, SHIELD, or anyone else that threatens her.
  • In Empowered the Maidman (one of Empowered's very few friends) is one of the few nice-guy vigilantes in a field dominated by douchecapes, but he says, "I find that severe physical and emotional trauma works wonders for disincentivizing even the most dedicated miscreants.... If necessary, career-ending injuries are a helpful tool for dissuading continued supercriminality."
  • My Little Pony is a prime example of this. No, really! In the original series comics, the ponies' leader Majesty had the power of transmutation, and though she didn't do it to everyone who displeased her, there were several occasions on which the enemy's punishment was being Taken for Granite. Some were left in And I Must Scream condition. (Chalk that up to the writers being hesitant to have an enemy killed outright... most readers agreed, though, that showing the villains as still sentient and cursing their defeat doesn't count as softening their sentence when they've been left in the form of bubbles that will endlessly float around the moat of their castle.)

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