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Moral Event Horizon / Marvel Comics

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An action so despicable it changed comics forever.
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  • Captain America
    • For the Red Skull in the main universe it's hard to pin down when he crossed it. It actually seems like he was born in the Moral Event Horizon. He is consistently portrayed as the one supervillain that all other supervillains loathe.
    • Another baddie who fits this trope is the Scarecrow (not to be confused with the Batman villain). While he was always a criminal who enjoyed scaring and robbing people, when he's captured by Captain America he goes completely over the edge and becomes a sadistic murderer, impaling innocent people with his pitchfork as a means of trying to draw Cap out to stop him. He gets the attention of Ghost Rider instead, and ends up impaled on his own pitchfork in the ensuing battle. Things went further downhill when the Scarecrow was revived as an undead zombie with the ability to cause fear in his enemies.
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  • Civil War had Tony Stark putting the unregistered superheroes into the Negative Zone which cause Spiderman to have doubts and eventually leave the pro-registration side. And there's also Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym using Thor's DNA to make a clone of him which resulted in said clone killing the hero Goliath.
  • During one of the side-stories for Marvel's original Civil War arc, Carol Danvers attacks a single mother at the woman's home, and gives the mother in question an No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in front of the woman's daughter, all the while taunting the daughter that she (Carol, that is) is going to throw Mommy in jail and take the little girl away so that the two will never see each other unless Mommy does everything Carol orders her to do. For a lot of fans, this pretty much destroyed any possibility of Danvers being seen as a hero.
    • In Civil War II, Carol Danvers crosses this line when Tony Stark reveals that Ulysses' precognitive powers aren't predicting the actual future but a possible future, has this confirmed by the Beast and she still opts to continue to believing the predictions and pushing her "Change the Future" stance. The thing that kicks off the fight is when she and S.H.I.E.L.D. arrests a woman with the only evidence of something bad she could have done being Ulysses' vision of her and an empty suitcase. Many fans who were apparently unaware of her earlier portrayal as a pragmatic hard-ass willing to hurt innocent people to accomplish the mission consider this portrayal "character assassination."
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  • The Purple Man started out as a low-grade Daredevil villain. Then came Alias (not to be confused with the TV show), in which he humiliated, abused, and tortured Jessica Jones in every non-rape way available. But he does rape people as well. Just in case there was any doubt he's a total scum bag. He kidnapped women and raped them in front of her as a way to mock her for being an ineffective superhero.
  • Marvel's Loki finally achieved one of these in Journey into Mystery #645. Even the fiercely loyal Loki/Tom Hiddleston fandom was revolted when he, apparently, forcefully assimilated kid!Loki into himself so that he could achieve his plan of "changing" his role in the universe himself.
    • As later revealed in Young Avengers things were a lot more complicated. Technically the Loki who took over the kid's body wasn't past Loki to begin with, that version truly seems to have died in the Siege, but a personality copy created by him for this purpose as a Cloning Gambit of sorts. The copy, however, had a conscience (among other differences), and was haunted by guilt over this. By Loki: Agent of Asgard this new Loki actively tried to pull a Becoming the Mask, against pretty much everybody. No they (other differences: like not strictly being he) haven't succeeded in that... but they did manage to avert becoming evil again. It takes some special kind of talent to screw over two versions of yourself from the grave.
    • Speaking of past Loki. Some might say he crossed the moral event horizon long ago, in The Mighty Thor Annual #14, where he kills a man named Theoric, pretends to be him to manipulate his betrothed, Sigyn, and marry her, taking advantage of Asgardian law, which has no annulment or divorce agreements, to keep being married to her.
    • Loki once held Eric Masterson's son, Kevin, hostage to goad Thor to fight him. When he expressed reluctance at killing his brother, Loki showed him he was very willing to kill by blasting at Kevin and his mother; while the Enchantress altered events by having Kevin's guardian Susan be vaporized instead, Kevin saw everything that happened. This act was so heinous that Thor did kill him for it.
  • Marvel rogue Mr. Hyde was always a violent, brutal thug of a villain, but his true MEH crossing would have to be in Avengers #275 and #276, when he beat the Avengers' butler Jarvis half to death while Jarvis was tied up and helpless. Hyde did this just to hurt Captain America, who could only watch as the horrible scene played out.
    • In an earlier story, Captain America #251 and #252, Hyde wanted revenge against the Cobra for betraying him, but wasn't sure where in New York he was. He decided to cut the knot by blowing up the entire city with an oil tanker even after Captain America gave himself up as per his request.
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner was always one of Marvel's darker Anti Heroes, but he finally crosses this threshold in the "Game of Worlds" storyline in New Avengers when he destroys the home Earth of the Great Society and all its billions of inhabitants. It can be argued that his reason for doing so was sympathetic, due to that Earth being about to collide with the main Earth, which would doom both, but the narrative clearly paints him as now beyond redemption, for two reasons: first, the Great Society's Earth was far better off than the main Earth, to the point that several of Namor's comrades seriously considered destroying their own world, and second, the very next thing he does is to join up with Thanos, Maximus the Mad, Terrax, and several other supervillains to make pre-emptive strikes on other alternate Earths.
  • In Runaways, Nico cast a spell on the time-travelers Dale and Stacey Yorkes that forced them to live the rest of their lives knowing that their whole family would be wiped out and unable to do anything about it, as a punishment for their attempt to nuke Manhattan in 1907. In-universe, her decision to use the "Settle Down" spell on Klara is regarded as a grave offense by Molly, due to its similarities to the things Molly's evil parents used to do to her.
  • Sabretooth is well-known in the MU for his hideous cruelty and boundless sadism and has done far, far too many awful things in his career to list, but his worst example involved his befriending Daken and playing the role of the father figure that Daken so desperately yearned for, all the while slowly grooming him for a confrontation with Wolverine. That confrontation did indeed occur, and Wolverine was forced to kill his own son as a result. Why did Creed do this, again? Simple: he just wanted to hurt Logan on the absolute deepest level possible, and forcing Logan to kill his own son accomplished just that. Oh, and it probably goes without saying, but Creed feigned every single bit of affection and saw Daken as nothing more than a means with which to hurt Logan, and he made it clear that he would have unceremoniously murdered Daken himself had he sensed that his manipulations weren't taking.
    • It wasn't just Daken. This storyline involved Sabretooth manipulating Daken into abusing and torturing the teenage clone of Apocalypse, who, again, was a thirteen-year-old boy. Note the only reason Sabretooth did any of this was to screw with Wolverine. He risked creating another Apocalypse and destroying the world as we know it just to screw with Wolverine.
  • Secret Invasion has the Skrull Queen Veranke making Wasp into a bio-bomb which would kill everyone around her, forcing Thor to Mercy Kill her. All the heroes and villains want to get Veranke's head for this with Norman Osborn, of all people, going for the kill shot.
  • Either The Sentry or Void, as we don't know for sure which side of his mind was in charge, crossed the MEH when he ripped Ares, God Of War in half — suddenly all discussions over the Internet about if he should be a member of Avengers after the end of Dark Reign were replaced with discussions about how he should be killed or why having him anywhere near Avengers is a bad joke.
  • Spider-Man
    • Green Goblin very famously crossed it when he killed Spidey's girlfriend Gwen Stacy.
    • Doctor Octopus and the rest of the Sinister Six, Spider-Man's recurring Villain Team-Up, have all murdered a few times over the decades, but it usually happened to Asshole Victims, so most readers could shrug it off and continue to at least partially root for them. Then came the early 90's storyline, Revenge Of The Sinister Six (not to be confused with the novel of the same name). As part of their plan to take over the world, they invade another dimension and steal the highly-advanced weaponry they find there. And to test it out, they kill over 143,000 of that dimension's natives. Spidey himself is stunned, noting that the Six rarely if ever kill. Their bloody campaign continues when they return to Earth, killing at the bare minimum four dozen people (an explicitly given body count), and Octopus threatens to blow-up the world with orbiting weapon satellites if the assembled heroes don't stop fighting him. By the time it's over, a clearly soul-weary Spidey notes that way too many people are heading to the hospital or morgue.
    • An interesting example for another villain, Kraven the Hunter. Kraven claimed to have a code of honor, and didn't (usually) pursue enemies he believed to be beneath his prowess. When he killed himself at the end of "Kraven's Last Hunt", he seemed to validate his claims of being an honorable (if unhinged) man. Years later, when his previously unknown family starts showing up, we get a different image of Kraven, particularly after they resurrect him in "Grim Hunt". Specifically, he kills his wife, and was implied to have abused her in the past. The worst, though, has to be what he did to his remaining children, Alyosha and Ana. He pits them against each other in a battle to the death, and it's revealed that Ana won. Although Ana initially seems fine with this, when she gets into a rematch with the Scarlet Spider, she's shown to have a death wish from the guilt she carries of murdering her older brother. Father of the Year, Kraven certainly isn't.
      • Kraven still looks like a saint compared to his family. He never asked to be resurrected, and in fact that resurrection entailed a whole slew of murders, including Madame Web, Mattie Franklin, Kaine, the wife of the original Rhino, a mentally ill man who wanted to become the Rhino, and Bill Connors, the son of the Lizard.
    • The Lizard crossed the Moral Event Horizon when it ate Billy Connors, Curt Connors's son. This sent Curt's personality flying across the Despair Event Horizon into outright oblivion, leaving only the Lizard personality intact even when he was restored to human form. Even the Lizard seems to realize that it crossed the line and is plagued with guilt over Billy's death.
      • Connors appeared to cross the line himself in an earlier story, when he revealed that he'd always been in charge of the Lizard's actions (which included killing a lot of people). However this story also had him act like he knew that Peter Parker was Spider-man, something he'd never known, and was so poorly received that it's been ignored by every subsequent author.
      • Also, his MEH crosses with another : the aforementioned Kravinoff family manipulated Lizard into killing Billy, as part of a larger, sicker scheme to corrupt Spider-Man.
    • Mysterio was an egotistical, second tier villain with Large Ham tendencies. Then came Kevin Smith's Daredevil arc "Guardian Devil", where Mysterio tries to drive Daredevil to madness in a scheme that involved the murders of an innocent teenage girl, her parents, a prostitute, and (indirectly), DD's girlfriend Karen Page. To top it all off, Mysterio planned to push Daredevil over the MEH himself by getting him to kill a baby Mysterio had set up as The Anti-Christ. At the end of the arc, Mysterio commits suicide, so we don't know if this new status would have stuck. To implicate the baby as the Anti-Christ, he impregnated the aforementioned virgin teenage girl while she was doped up to see angels. Fortunately the exact method was not specified. And his motive for all of this? He was dying of cancer at the time, and wanted to die fighting a superhero. At the time he came up with the scheme his real nemesis Spiderman was AWOL and he didn't think fighting a clone was satisfactory. So he picked Daredevil instead because Daredevil had stopped one of his insurance fraud schemes in the past. His real goal in the end was to get Daredevil to kill him and give him the death he wanted.
      • An exquisitely cruel one in the Old Man Logan non-canon miniseries: he tricks Wolvie into seeing all the other X-Men as an invading army of supervillains. Wolvie kills them all. You could argue the real MEH crossing is the illusion being lifted in time for him to see the dying Jubilee saying, "Why?"
  • The Ultimates: Ultimate Red Skull was shown to be a typical evil bad guy, and then he threw a baby out the window. Immediately afterward it's heavily implied he had his henchmen rape the mother. Immediately before this he had told the mother that he'd let the baby live if she would be so kind as to kill her own husband with a pair of dull scissors. And he shot JFK.
  • Ultron was always a threat, but he crossed this line in Ultron Unlimited when he laid waste to the country of Slorenia, killing every living creature in it. Among others are mind controlling Victor Mancha and killing his mother, conquering and assimilating the Kree empire with his sights on Earth.
  • In Uncanny X-Force, Archangel, corrupted by the "Death Seed" Apocalypse placed in him way back in the original run of X-Factor, crosses when he kills Autumn Rolfson, a frail, likely sexually-abused anorexic woman, and one of his own followers, for objecting to him raising her son, a radiation-powered mutant, to be a mass-murderer. This somehow ends up having more gravitas than when he depopulated a town 2 issues earlier.
  • Miek of the Warbound crossed it during World War Hulk when he stabbed Rick Jones. Also, he is the one responsible for the destruction of Sakaar (he didn't cause the explosion, but he knew it would happen and said nothing) so that the Hulk would go back to being the Worldbreaker.
  • The X-Men books have a problem with having key members of its titular band of mutant heroes cross the MEH for the purpose of cheap shock value. Read the following examples and make a note of how many of them are produced by X-Men:
    • Some time during the X-Men Messiah Complex crossover for Bishop. The major incidents are recounted here allowing you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions. It could be that the whole crossover event is one giant Moral Event Horizon for Bishop.
      • He waited until the other adult X-Men were away from the mansion pursuing the new mutant baby, the Marauders, and the Purifiers. He then stole some of Cassandra Nova's nano-sentinels and had them take over the O.N.E. Sentinels and set them against the mansion. The kids had to defend themselves against an attempted genocide. Bishop blamed that on Cable.
      • Then he, in secret, made it to Dallas, attacked Forge, stole time travel tech, attacked Cable, and blamed Cable for the attack. The attack on Cable is directly responsible for the Marauders getting baby Hope. The panels imply that had the Marauders not attacked, he would have killed baby Hope right then and there.
      • Bishop also lied to the X-Men and blamed Cable for his actions, and tried to murder Cable and the baby again and again on Muir Island. His last attack (just after Cable and Hope time-slid away) nearly killed Professor Xavier. And in the subsequent Cable and X-Force titles, He Got Worse.
    • Cassandra Nova sending the Sentinels to destroy Genosha. This act instantly made Nova one of the most heinous mass murderers the X-universe has ever seen, with over 16 million mutants dying because of it.
    • In one of the most famous stories the franchise has ever produced, Dark Phoenix crossed the Horizon by accident. The original story plan had been for her powers to drive Phoenix mad so she would have to lose them—but when she blew up a star, one throwaway panel happened to mention that this destroyed an inhabited planet. Rather than let a galactic mass-murderess off the hook, the Marvel team changed her arc to Heroic Sacrifice as an Author's Saving Throw.
    • Similar to Jean above, the Avengers vs. X-Men event did this for Cyclops by having him follow in his longtime lover's footsteps, going mad with the power of the Phoenix Force and then surpassing Jean by causing cataclysmic destruction around the world, and, oh yeah, murdering the X-Men's founder in cold blood. Unlike with Jean, the Marvel editorial didn't initially realize what a problem this would create for them down the line and tried to keep Scott around, but there was no coming back from an MEH like that and he was eventually Killed Off for Real and replaced with a younger counterpart.
    • In the Planet X storyline, Grant Morrison tried to do this with Magneto, whom he considered a "mad old terrorist twat." Not surprisingly, it didn't take, and was quickly retconned away. Morrison at least had the decency, however, to explain Magneto's Out of Character behavior: possession by John Sublime. Discounting this, however, he still has his interplanetary EMP strike in the Fatal Attractions story, which shut down electronics around the world and killed thousands if not millions of people (planes crashes, life-saving devices failing, etc).
      • In the Ultimate Universe Magneto crossed it for good when he brings about the events of Ultimatum and kills millions of innocent people, including numerous mutants. Just to make it clear to the audience that he's too far gone to be redeemed, he callously kills Multiple Man when Multiple Man tries to stand up to him. His actions are so atrocious that Cyclops snaps and breaks his no killing rule for the first and only time and blows his head off out of disgust.
    • If Vulcan didn't cross the Horizon when he killed Banshee as well as a lot of other people, then he definitely crossed it when he murdered his own father Corsair..
    • Ironically enough given the above, the Deadly Genesis story that introduced Vulcan revealed that Professor X had a hell of a MEH he was hiding: Way back during the events of Giant-Sized X-Men #1 (1975), Xavier sent a secret third squad of mutants to save his earlier students when throwing just two squads at the problem wasn't enough. Unlike the first two squads, these mutants were barely trained (having received only an hour-long "psychic Danger Room" cram session from Chuck) and when they (seemingly) died, Charles decided to wipe the memories of all the other X-Men to forget the third squad existed, which in the process wiped all Scott's memories of meeting or even having a third brother. This fateful act was the first step that led Cyclops and Vulcan to their own MEH moments, and it tainted Xavier forever after. Part of why he was killed off in Avengers Vs. X-Men was that his Big Good cred was forever destroyed by the events of this story.
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