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Start Of Darkness / Comic Books

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  • X-Men:
    • Magneto has had a truly long and harrowing SOD that was revealed in snippets throughout the years following his debut. It would be truly over-the-top if everything about it wasn't mostly grounded in reality. It's also far too long to fully recount here, but let's just say that it isn't too surprising that someone who witnessed first hand the evils of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust (as a Jew not only sent to Auschwitz but forced to be a Sonderkommandonote ), the Soviet Union, and Red Scare-stricken America while losing his whole family, a girlfriend, a wife, and a daughter along the way as well as finding out he's a mutant in the Marvel Universe would end up a Well-Intentioned Extremist. And if that wasn't bad enough, he kept running into more Nazis during the postwar but pre-X-Men period when he and Charles Xavier became friends in Israel.
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    • After decades of speculation, First X-Men showed readers Sabretooth's start of darkness. While Victor Creed was never that nice a guy, what finally pushed him over the edge into full-blown villain territory was the death of his girlfriend Holo. Holo was a member of a ragtag rebel band of mutants that Wolverine and Creed had put together, and after a while, Creed wanted the two to throw a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! before the final fight to keep Holo safe, but she would not have it. Sure enough, she dies. What probably made it worse is that, while she was dying, she used her powers to show Creed the life they could've had, with the two growing old and happy together, before cutting the illusion to reveal that she was in fact mortally wounded. Creed ends up blaming Logan, and to this day, makes it a tradition to kill any woman Logan is involved with.
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    • Madelyne Pryor was originally a pilot who ran into Scott Summers after the death of Jean Grey, and caught his attention because she looked exactly like Jean. After a fairly long run with the X-Men and a stable relationship with Scott that resulted in the birth of Nathan Summers (a.k.a. Cable), Madelyne discovered two things in rapid succession that had a major effect on her; first, that she was a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister to bear Scott's child so that he (Sinister) could have a weapon to defeat his nemesis Apocalypse, and second, that Jean was still alive and that Scott had left her to go find her and return to the X-Men. This was combined with her house being invaded by Sinister, her son being kidnapped, her being shot, and a dream that involved Scott stealing all of her facial features to create Jean, then leave with their baby, and leaving a faceless, mouthless Madelyne to walk through a desert until she ran into a demon that offered her a Deal with the Devil. Thinking (or hoping) that it was All Just a Dream, Madelyn agreed... and was promptly subjected to Demonic Possession, leading to the events of Inferno (1988). Oh, and afterwards her son was sent into the future, and came back as an adult, meaning she missed most of his life. She never really recovered. Being resurrected by as a psychic vampire by an alternate counterpart of said son, Nate Grey, did not help.
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    • Professor X has had problems with suppressing his emotions and ending up creating a Superpowered Evil Side, but the most famous instance, Onslaught, has his roots in Fatal Attractions, when Magneto was at his most violent, Illyana Rasputin "died" due to the Legacy Virus, and Colossus had a brief Heel–Face Turn as a result of the fight breaking out at Illyana's funeral. After Magneto rips out Wolverine's adamantium and nearly kills him doing so, Xavier had enough and Mind Rapes Magneto — but in the moment, a piece of Magneto's mind attached itself to Xavier's, causing the seed of what's become Onslaught. The final push for Onslaught came in the X-Men: Prime one-shot that restored things to normal after the Age of Apocalypse event, when a mutant was murdered by a mob right outside of Salem Center and Xavier in astral form was there to see it happen.
  • Arawn is a whole comic about how the titular protagonist became an Evil Overlord after his friends and family's betrayal and the loss of the women he loved.
  • The DC Comics storyline Armageddon 2001 had Matthew Ryder become the hero Waverider to go back to the past to hunt down the superhero who would turn evil, wipe out the heroes and take over the world. We later learn, in something of a Stable Time Loop, that Hank Hall, Hawk of Hawk and Dove, becomes Monarch after killing the original when he kills Dove.
  • Batman:
    • The Killing Joke has a Start of Darkness story for The Joker. Just one of several, in fact. Even in this story, he says that he remembers different versions of his "one bad day", but just one is presented in the flashbacks: he used to be an unsuccessful stand-up comedian struggling to support his pregnant wife. To get money for her sake, he agreed to take part in just one robbery, at a chemical factory he used to work at. His wife died suddenly in a freak accident, but his criminal accomplices wouldn't let him back out on the deal. Once they got to the factory, they found there were security guards that hadn't been there before, and the others got shot. Then Batman showed up and chased the future Joker, who fled by jumping into water that turned out to be chemically contaminated. When he got out and found he had been disfigured (or discolored), he finally snapped and went Laughing Mad.
    • Relatedly, and addressed in universe, Batman himself counts as he was confronted with the very same darkness most of his enemies had to face when his parents died. The darkness is always there, influencing everything Bruce does, but stays trapped behind iron discipline.
    • The issue "Mad Love" of The Batman Adventures is also partially a Start of Darkness story, this time for Harley Quinn. It explains who she was and how she ended up with the Joker.
    • The start of Knightfall shows Bane's evolution from a sweet innocent kid made to serve out his father's prison sentence from birth to the Man Who Broke the Bat.
  • Shazam!: Black Adam's turn to darkness was explored in a trip to the past. He used to be a champion to his people called Mighty Adam and was every bit the hero. Then a supervillain killed his family. He hasn't been the same since. History repeated itself in 52.
  • The gradually unfolding back story of Winnowill and Two-Edge rather took over the second major arc of ElfQuest. We got to see exactly how and why both ended up such raging twisties.
  • Fantastic Four, Annual #2, showed the Start of Darkness for Doctor Doom. Reprised in a mini in recent years called "Books of Doom", with added hardcore edge.
  • A large portion of Gold Digger's 75th issue was dedicated to Gina and company discovering the origins of both Alfred Peachbody (who was less noble in his beginnings) and Dreadwing, who fits this trope to an absolute T. Though Dreadwing's origins are detailed as mentioned above, it's further fleshed out in the Dreadwing's Myomior special, which is essentially Dreadwing's past narrated by himself. Arguably effective despite the repetition, as the unbiased depictions of events from earlier serve to highlight the twisted perspective Dreadwing views his past through. It manages to make him sympathetic and tragic, while simultaneously keeping him a Magnificent Bastard in the present.
  • Friday the 13th: Pamela's Tale by Wildstorm, as the name implies, is the story of Pamela Voorhees and how she came to become the first killer of the Friday the 13th franchise.
  • "Tales of the (X) Corps" strips in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps show the Starts of Darkness of various Sinestro Corpsmen and Red Lanterns, as well as Agent Orange. Some of them have tragic pasts, others (including Larfleeze) just aren't very nice people.
    • All Red Lanterns have tragic backstories—at the very least they were betrayed by their fellow gangmembers—because the red power comes from rage, hate, and resentment.
  • The Judge Dredd supervillain Judge Death has his origin given in "Young Death — Boyhood of a Superfiend". This shows (with some incredibly black humour) how a nasty and psychopathic child develops into a monster that wipes out his whole world. Although, to be fair, the reoffending rate is to all intents and purposes negligible. Darkness hardly begins to describe it... it's one of those rare origin stories that serves to completely dehumanize a villain as opposed to adding a layer of tragedy. Death was always evil, even before he willingly threw away the last of his humanity.
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck starts out with a innocent but hardy scottish lad by the name of Scrooge Mcduck, who sets out into the world for adventure and fortune to show the world what he could do... But as we both know, the Scrooge Mcduck we know are by no means innocent. The comic actually starts out as a traditional hero's journey, but just as our titular protagonist is at his strongest and most capable, he slips up, unknowingly creating a dark path that makes him into a villain, alienates his family and destroys the last parts of the innocent adventurer... Before a certain duck and his three nephews reminded him of his old days, of course.
  • My Friend Dahmer is about Jeffery Dahmer's high school years as recounted by a former classmate of his and deals with Dahmer's troubled home life as well as him struggling with being a gay necrophiliac, both of which would be contributing factors into him becoming the infamous cannibal serial killer that terrorized Milwaukee.
  • The My Little Pony comics' first annual details Sunset Shimmer's SOD, from her tutelage as Celestia's student, to her abandonment of the path of friendship for power.
  • Purgatori: Originally a Egyptian slave named Sakkara, she caught the eye of Queen Ostraca and became her favorite concubine in her all-female Royal Harem. Unfortunately, political instability lead to Ostraca marrying her general Ramses to restore order in her kingdom on the condition that her entire harem was put to the sword. Sakkara became the sole survivor and ended up crossing paths with a Celtic vampire who offered to turn her to get revenge against her former lover. She accepted but unknown to either of them, she had the blood of fallen angels running through her which transformed her into a demonic vampire hybrid who returned to Egypt and massacred everyone at Ostraca's wedding - that is how Purgatori's reign of terror began.
  • Preacher:
    • The Saint of Killers miniseries, which explained how the titular killer became the Implacable Man he is in the series proper. When he first appears, we know he was already a killer in the Civil War, but not how he got that way. Part of the miniseries shows his softening and becoming a family man. However, after a delay due to ruffians led to his family dying of fever, he returned to his killing.
    • Herr Starr, the Big Bad, has his own issue of this, as well, showing how he rose to the position that readers see him in. He gets a Pet the Dog moment and a legitimate claim to having been a good guy at one point—and quickly shows the predilections that make him such an outstanding villain for the rest of the series.
  • The Flash: Reverse Flash: Rebirth tells the origin story of Professor Zoom, the Silver Age Evil Counterpart of the Flash. The story manages to showcase, via time travel, both what a nutter he was, and what a nutter he became. Long story short — he was a child of the Bad Future where The Earth Is Never Doomed, so he kind of started... acting out.
  • Star Wars Legends: While the Knights of the Old Republic comic series is mostly Zayne Carrick's story, in its background it deals with the Jedi duo of "the Revanchist" and Alek, showing their gradual transformation into the Darth Revan and Darth Malak we see in the game. In fact, this trope is so pervasive that Zayne himself and his Master Lucien were speculated to be a past version of every Sith Lord from the two games at some point. And everything was being set up by The Man Behind the Man for Lucien to become a new Sith Lord, even suggesting the name Darth Sion. But he refused the role.
  • Transformers:
    • In IDW's Transformers material, Megatron: Origin details the origins of... guess who. Well, in theory, at any rate. The story lacks an awful lot of context, and makes it look like Megatron just decided to start a war for the hell of it. Later stories gave him an actual origin: Megatron started off as a miner on a stratified Cybertron, writing poetry and political treatises on his off-hours, but generally being a quiet, harmless sort. Then, one day, while having a drink with his friend, two guards throw someone at their table just because the guy had knocked over their drinks. Megatron's buddy gets up and beats the crap out of them. Megatron gets arrested, and while in holding one of the police officers tries to beat him to death, apparently in revenge for the guys Megatron's friend hurt. This event causes Megatron to realise peaceful protest isn't going to cut it, and over the next several hundred years, he starts getting increasingly angry at the system, as his writings circle around Cybertron.
    • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has the Shadowplay arc, which is being told to a comatose Rung to help Jog his memory. It's about Orion Pax (Optimus Prime) fighting down the corrupt Pre-war senate who seek to kill a bunch of bots, with the help of a non-corrupt senator and ragtag police crew. At the very end of the arc it's revealed that it's the Senator's start of Darkness, taking the fall so Optimus and his partner get out, and having his emotions destroyed and appearance altered forever, and this was the story of how Shockwave came to be who he is now.
  • Thanos Rising shows how Thanos of Titan developed from a young mutant boy with purple skin into the Omnicidal Maniac Emperor Scientist he is in the present day. From the day he was born he starts seeing visions of Death who subtly manipulates him into becoming first a serial killer, then a space pirate, and finally a nihilistic mass murderer who ends up destroying his own homeworld, though it's left ambiguous whether this was truly Death or a figment of his imagination.
  • The prequel one-shot El Cazador: The Bloody Ballad of Blackjack Tom details the origin of the series Big Bad.
  • Battle Chasers: The last published issue begins Sebastius' flashback about his childhood idolizing his absent father, until his hero reveals feet of clay in two of the saddest ways possible:first, by having a child with another woman after leaving Sebastius and his mother behind. And then, by leading his men to slaughter everyone in Sebastius' village (including his mother), only sparing Sebastius to sell him as a slave (after taking the pendant that his mother orignally received from Aramus long ago — a pendant frighteningly like the one Gully keeps as a keepsake of her parents).
  • Superman
    • How Luthor Met Superboy: When he was a teenager, Pre-Crisis Lex Luthor was arrogant and glory-hungry but genuinely affable and well-meaning. He even befriended Superboy. However, when a fire destroyed his lab, Lex unjustly accused Superboy of starting the fire out of jealousy. From that point on, Lex started blaming everything bad happened to him on Superboy until he got obsessed with getting revenge on that "treacherous, glory-stealer alien who was ruining his life"... and the rest is history.
    • Since she was a child, Lucy Lane sought her father's approval and was jealous of her older sister Lois, who was clearly Sam's favorite. Determined to follow his footsteps after his apparent death, and feeling growing resentment towards Lois, Lucy joins the army. Shortly later Lucy finds out her father is alive and wants her help, and she has become so obsessed with getting "favorite daughter" status she's willing to do anything for him: becoming a voluntary guinea pig, murdering innocent people... anything. By the time Who is Superwoman? begins and Lucy is ordered to kill Supergirl, she's become a completely amoral psychopath.
    • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman thrust his hand through the Joker's abdomen, after the Joker used kryptonite infused fear toxin, that he stole from Scarecrow, to trick him into killing Lois who was pregnant with their child, and whose death also triggered a nuke that destroyed Metropolis. Right there and there he formulated a plan that from now on any villain who causes trouble, rather than being locked up in jail, from which they would be released or escape from, they would be summarily executed by him or members of the Justice League, or villains who decided to join to avoid execution. After a falling out with Batman, Superman turns the Justice League and assorted villains into the One Earth Regime.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Princess Gita is completely heartbroken because of his father's lies. She thinks that Mortimer seduced her for a pastime and attempted to kill her to protect his eventual marriage (he never intended to marry Agatha) and fled to England. This lead to her attempting to murder Mortimer.
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