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Nightmare Fuel / Superman

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The storylines

The supporting cast



  • Kryptonians with inspection can be terrifying as a species. They appear like humans but under yellow sunlight become near-invincible Flying Brick People of Mass Destruction with an assortment of various other powers that make them more like a race of Gods than aliens. Their scientifically advanced culture is notoriously xenophobic and they have a tendency to look down on other species like humans by virtue of being the Superior Species and that's without their yellow sun powers. It only takes one to be hailed as the strongest superhuman on a planet of metahuman beings such as Superman and an army like that of the offshoot Daxamites have been shown to be able to fry entire worlds in seconds. Other stories have shown evil Kryptonians basically making whole worlds barren and slaughtering populations by the billions, and even the Superman demonstrates apocalyptic levels of danger when he cuts loose. Not to mention their terrifying expression of Red Eyes, Take Warning that they have when they get pissed due to prepping to fry their offender with their heat vision. Note this expression has been seen plenty of times by good Kryptonians enough to make them highly feared by even other supeheroes. Lor-Zod, a heroic Kryptonian, said it best when he managed to easily defeat some attackers with high-tech gear.

    Lor-Zod: You should've left us alone. Without your toys, you're just meat. I could cook you with heat vision, or turn you into ice simply by breathing hard. We could swat you like bugs.
  • The Phantom Zone is an interdimensional realm outside the normal space/time continuum where Krypton locked up their worst criminals. It is a barren and insubstantial null area where the laws of physics are nonexistent. People who travel into the negative zone become virtually immortal ghosts. Once in a while, rifts open between the Zone and the real world, though... letting a bunch of super-powered mass murderers (Zod, Jax-Ur, Faora Hu-Ul, Ursa, Non...) loose.
  • Kryptonian Thought-Beasts. They're rhino-sized, triceratops-like, carnivorous critters. And they're more powerful than a Kryptonian human. Plus, a weird bony neck frill around their necks displays their thoughts and intentions... usually eating whoever they're facing.

Golden Age

  • In Superman #65 (1950), the Man of Steel comes upon Kryptonian survivors for the first time... three outlaws who attempted to blackmail their way into ruling the planet by making the atmosphere unbreathable.

Bronze Age

  • In Action Comics #402 "Feud of the Titans", Superman and Supergirl are accidentally exposed to a bio-chemical weapon which makes them hate each other. This story is both hilarious (both cousins are incredibly and ridiculously petty) and scary (imagine they—two Earth-1 Kryptonians—decide to fight seriously. They would tear the planet apart).
  • Adventure Comics #408 -titled "The Face At The Window"- is a bona fide ghost story: an old mansion owned by a trigger-happy old man who hates visitors, a mysterious little girl wandering over the halls in the dark and requesting to help her find her parents, and corpses murdered and hidden in the basement by the house-owner several decades ago. Reviewed here.
  • In Superman Family #178 "The Girl with the Heart of Steel", Lois Lane is given bionic body parts, and as an unintended side-effect her entire body slowly becomes entirely robotic; the results are unsettling, to say the least.
  • In Superman (Volume 1) #414 "Revenge Is Life — Death To Superman!", Superman takes his cousin's body to Rokyn. When he lands, his uncle and his aunt usher him in asking what is that cloth-wrapped bundle he's carrying. Readers don't see their reaction but they can hear their cries.


  • The Alternate Zod's genocide of the entire planet at the end of The Supergirl Saga. We only see bits of it in flashback, but it's just as horrific as one can imagine.
  • Action Comics #775: "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?": The Elite are, indeed, Anti Heroic assholes who have no problem killing their enemies and blow off Big Blue for being so behind the times. Superman appears to agree with them, and proceeds to take them out one by one in some incredibly chilling methods, before using a very restrained use of his powers to de-power Manchester Black. And show him that he actually didn't kill The Elite, just made it look like he did to prove a point — if he allowed himself to adopt '90s Anti-Hero tactics, the whole world would be screwed and never trust caped heroes at all.
  • After the events of New Krypton, Supergirl has a nightmare in which she's fighting Superwoman again. Then Superwoman's flesh melts off her face and she becomes a skeleton. All of sudden, Kara finds herself in a hellish landscape, surrounded by flames and skeletons. Her dead mother accuses her of letting them die, and her murdered father wants to take her with them.
  • Shortly later Bizarrogirl threatens to eat Jimmy Olsen. She may not understand the implications of this threat, but the sight of a defective, irrational Kryptonian grabbing your collar, pulling closer to her face and showing her glowing-red eyes and her flame-spewing mouth while she announces that you're going to be her meal...
  • The fact that Lex Luthor has a point: in Real Life, having a super-duper-powered extraterrestrial being hovering around, of whom we know only what he wants us to know however generous, with exclusive access to alien technology and capable of imposing his will upon humans at very least is actually frightening, no matter whatever good will Superman has towards Earth. The guy can even destroy the planet by accident. As Superman: Red Son and Injustice: Gods Among Us can attest, if he wanted to Take Over the World, it would be very, very, hard to stop him. Triple points when we take into account that Luthor is not even considering that Superman hides among us...
  • Everything about Doomsday, including but not limited to...
  • The Elite from "What's So Funny About Truth Justice And The American Way?" Captain Ersatz of The Authority, they are a trio of bloodthirsty 90s Anti Heroes who state they are to remove all the evil in the world, not answering to any governments or laws. They do what they please and refuse to answer for any consequences.
    • Their first outing has them stopping a giant Killer Gorilla, and in the process destroyed a chunk of the city it was attacking. Their powers mean they could have easily stopped the gorilla without causing any collateral damage, but as demonstrated any time they respond to villains in the rest of the issue, they don't care. It doesn't to matter to them how many people die as long as they win.
    • The group leader Manchester Black wants to kill villains who Superman has already detained without resorting to lethal force, he also tells his teammate the Hat to murder the villains and their families as a warning to future villains.
    • When Superman has enough of the Elite, they challenge him to fight, the members eagerly claiming which body part they want to damage. They only eager to take the fight outside of Metropolis when Superman requests it, afterwhich they inflict a brutal beatdown on him while Manchester Black gives a speech about how Elite will being doing this. He boasts that Might Makes Right, and anybody who defies the Elite will be killed. Thankfully it turns out that Superman was just messing the Elite before defeating them and demonstrating how terrifying he would be if he did things their way, as the Elite swore they would kill anyone who came to avenge Superman's death.