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Sanity Slippage / Comic Books

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DC Comics

  • Batman:
    • Azrael: Jean-Paul Valley's stint as Batman during the "Knightquest" portion of the Knightfall storyline was this. After being doused with the Scarecrow's Fear Gas, the hypnotic trance known as The System kicked in, haunting Jean-Paul with images of his father and of Saint Dumas, the "creator" of the order he once was part of. As he's haunted by these apparitions, The System drives him to be more brutal and continuously modify the Bat-Costume, the pinnacle being when he allowed Abattoir to die, condemning his captive to death, modifying the Bat-Costume to the point where it was less Batman and more Azrael and outright kicking Robin out of the Batcave and working against him, alienating Commissioner Gordon, and Bruce Wayne and deciding that all criminals need to be put out of their misery. It's at that point that Bruce decides enough is enough and sets out to take back the Mantle of the Bat.
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    • In the Batman Vampire trilogy, although Batman is a straightforward hero in the first book, by the second book in the series he begins to lose his mind as he becomes increasingly tempted by his new need for human blood, culminating in the former hero ranting about how he will drain the blood of his old friend James Gordon if Gordon won't kill him.
    • The Killing Joke is one take on the Sanity Slippage that eventually led to the origin of The Joker. But the Joker admits he's an Unreliable Narrator and could be remembering wrong or making the whole thing up. He attempts something similar to crack Commissioner Gordon. He doesn't succeed.
  • In Convergence: The Atom #1, Pre-Flashpoint Ray Palmer has been hearing a voice in his head that may or may not be Ryan Choi's and has been acting considerably loopy ever since he was trapped in Gotham.
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  • In the sixth volume of Supergirl, Krypton's destruction and his inability to save Argo City and his own family have deteriorated Zor-El's sanity to the point he strikes a bargain with Brainiac of all people and becomes Cyborg Superman. Supergirl wonders what happened to his father after hearing about some of his actions in Supergirl (Rebirth).
  • Superman:
    • In Krypton No More, super-villain Radion got radioactive powers because of an accident. His sanity has been deteriorating since, and he has become a raving, murderous, megalomaniac lunatic.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man During the climax, Superman thinks his ex-friend Lex Luthor was always about to lose it... and he's finally lost it.
      Superman: Luthor's slipping — the pressure is beginning to get to him! He's always walked a fine line between genius and insanity — and this time, I think he's taken the fatal fall!
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  • Wonder Woman (1987): After Circe recovers her memories following a Memory Gambit that left her with memories of liking humanity and befriending Diana she tries to rebel against the new things she'd acclimated to by allying herself with a new villain in what was presented as, to her, a little nihilistic throwback to old times, the next time she shows up with her own plan it's incredibly flawed and she's hardly paying attention to what she's doing. By the end of her confrontation with Wondy she is outright goading Diana to beat her to death and laughs without defending herself or trying to escape when called out on it. The implication is that she both hates and likes humans and can't reconcile her new feelings with her past (and present) actions.

DC Vertigo, DC Wildstorm, Other Inprints

  • Jackson Georges from Ex Machina, Mayor Hundred's former NSA handler fits this trope. In flashbacks the reader is shown how the cryptic shard that Mitchell found when he got his powers slowly drives Jackson to levels of extreme paranoia. He develops an unfounded contempt for Mitchell, claiming that without Mitchell's appearance and the mystery of the shard, he could have foreseen and prevented 9/11. He becomes obsessed with protecting his family from dirty bombs and the like, buying a Hazmat Suit and making tally marks on the wall to represent god knows what. It's clear he's a step away from the deep end. Darkly subverted when in desperation to save their failing marriage, his wife breaks into his work shed and steals the shard. A few seconds near a TV are enough to drive her completely and utterly insane, leading her to kill her daughter, husband, and dog. She even chops off her own arm with the shard itself. It was an incredibly jarring and brutal twist on the slow burn of paranoia the reader had been witnessing for months.
  • Rorschach from Watchmen is clearly mentally unstable even before the event that causes him to slide off of the slippery slope.

Marvel Comics

  • J. Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man suffered a nervous breakdown late in Marv Wolfman's run, to the point where he believed Spider-Man was stalking him. However, Wolfman left the book before long, and Roger Stern retconned the whole thing away as mind-control.
  • Thunderbolts: Norman Osborn has now taken over Tony Stark's job of national security, and is in charge of a group of superpowered villains that work for the government and capture unregistered superheroes. Every once in a while he is asked about his previous alter ego the Green Goblin, every time that name comes up, Osborn begins to crack a little. Every time he hears the name Spider-Man he cracks even more. Also it doesn't help that his second in command Moonstone is gaslighting him (leaves his Green Goblin mask in his desk), and switching out his medication, just to drive him over the slope, just so she can get his job. It works.

  • After Optimus Prime dies (the first time, that is) in The Transformers, Megatron takes it poorly, and becomes convinced Optimus is still alive and planning something. His madness eventually winds up causing him to shoot at the Space Bridge, which promptly explodes and apparently kills him. Or not, as it turns out Megatron was just Obfuscating Insanity, and using his 'death' as a cover to return to Cybertron. He just miscalculated when shooting the Space Bridge, resulting in a spot of Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Happens to Shockwave in the UK comics, when he learns he dies in the future. Determined to prevent this, he finds Megatron and sets him on Galvatron (well... it's complicated). Then the two start working together. Shockwave, who didn't expect this, just snaps, and kills anyone who approaches him.

Other

  • Issue #5 of Hit-Girl shows Mindy having Hallucinations of Big Daddy, who advises her to go out and slaughter Ralph Genovese and the rest of his men in the horrifying ways that she'd been planning.
  • Though the titular character of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac starts out by no means sane, he somehow manages to get worse over the course of the story, as his telling of the story gets steadily less believable, he gets talkier, less predictable and increasingly suicidal. It helps that he's being targeted by The Corruption (maybe), lives in a Mobile Maze, and regularly murders people.
    • However, toward the end of the story, Johnny does kill himself and comes back (maybe), after which he stops hearing compelling voices and seems much saner. He does, however, still murder people.
  • Teddy of Plutona slides from hero-worshipping the capes to wanting to become one to pursuing some pretty icky attempts to fulfill that dream.
  • Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues first shows Dark Annisia as a slave alongside Sonja, then as a high skilled military commander. As the plague's true nature is revealed she goes from Well-Intentioned Extremist down to bloodthirsty and indiscriminate murderer.
  • In Sonic the Comic in the events leading up to the Sonic Adventure adaptation, Robotnik begins to lose it, first trying to destroy Mobius, and later gathering the Chaos Emeralds, the Freedom Fighters, and Chaos itself to his retreat so they would all die together. After this fails, he becomes little more than a catatonic, drooling mess in Sonic the Comic – Online!.
  • In the same vein, Dr. Eggman in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog goes into a slow burn Sanity Slippage after Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy are able to rescue the captured citizens of Knothole, set them up in the nanite-built city of New Mobotropolis, and defeat the machine that defeated Sonic earlier. Things get worse when Knuckles-as-Enerjak destroys Eggman's city and sky fleet and, by the time issue 200 rolls around, Sonic delivers one last defeat that causes Eggman to flip out, tear his mustache apart and devolve into a blabbering mess.
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