Between seeing millions die and suffer, people losing faith in their heroes, and the Man of Steel reduced to a maniacal dictator, the short answer is the entire game. To wit:
Moments pages are Spoilers Off. You Have Been Warned.
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- The whole prequel series so far. They start with Superman about to have a kid with Lois, Batman and Superman being buddies, Batman being told Superman and Lois want him to be the godfather of their child in a string of Heartwarming Moments... and then Jimmy Olsen is murdered by The Joker, Joker manipulates Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child and then Joker nukes Metropolis. How can one not cry over that?
- Superman is affected by Kryptonite-induced Fear Toxin, which makes him envision Lois as Doomsday. He grapples her, and flies her out into the upper atmosphere whilst Batman desperately tries to get through to him. The moment he does manage to tell Superman that he's with Lois and not Doomsday, Superman has shaken off the effects of the Toxin, whilst in space and with tears in his eyes, sees Lois's dead body floating away from him. And to make things worse, Joker rigged a nuclear bomb to her heartbeat, which detonates and blows up Metropolis. What really sells it, is when Superman hears the heartbeat of Lois and their unborn child stop just as the Toxin wears off. The narration that accompanies it is heartbreaking.
And then two heartbeats coming from one person — stop beating.
- And just to drive the point home: After all the misery, all the suffering, all the deaths...the Joker won. His punishment for his crimes was exactly what he wanted.
- Even five years afterwards what happened still drives Regime!Superman well into Knight Templar territory:
Regime Superman: I could have prevented Metropolis! Saved my family!
Insurgency Batman: Crime took my family too, Clark.
Regime Superman: But you weren't the gun!
- The sight of Superman broken and crying makes it painfully clear how he was able to masquerade as Clark Kent for so long. When he loses that spark, he just ceases to be the Man of Tomorrow.
- Just when it seems it can't get worse for Superman, the US government kidnaps his adoptive parents.
- "Heroes weren't the only ones lost, you know?" It's strangely sad seeing supervillains wondering about their place in the world and missing other villains and loved ones...
- Bruce lost both of his sons. He had to renounce Damian when he betrayed him and then killed Dick Grayson.
- Issue #16 reveals that Damian killed Dick completely by accident. While fighting the inmates of Arkham released by Harley, Nightwing was berating him for attacking opponents who were already down. Damian, irritated by both this and the Bat-Family's "lackluster" take on dealing with criminals, threw his stick at him in anger. Dick got hit in the head and while stumbling, he fell over and broke his neck on debris. The look on Damian's face and everyone's else, especially Batman, is simply heartbreaking. Even the criminals stopped at that moment and Harley shed tears as well.
- Batman's monologue he was thinking about the night his parents died.
- The next issue shows Alfred drinking away his troubles and Bruce pounding a post until his fists were bloody trying to cope, until Selina showed up. To see them so broken was sad.
- And before that, there's the reason Selina showed up at Wayne Manor: Superman told her of Dick's death and asked her to stay close to Bruce, because he couldn't after all that happened. It's one of the last bits of the old Superman we see.
- In the prequel comic, Galaxor being crippled and broken by the heroes he once idolized is really heartbreaking.
- Issue #30 of the comic doesn't advance the main plot, instead it focuses on a teenager named James who reminisces about Superman once helping him when he fell off his bike (and being generally cheerful), in contrast to the Knight Templar he later became.
Kid: I miss Superman. I miss the guy who actually inspired people. The Superman who had time to help a kid who fell off a bike. Before he was changed. Before he gritted his teeth and looked angry all the time. Before he became all hard and dark because people, supposedly, needed him to. I miss the City of Tomorrow — and the man of yesterday.
- Not only is it a very sad speech, but also a very good comment on how the Nineties and some of the public today wanted heroes in DC to be grittier and darker than before, which made them lose their innocence and subjected them to all the bad stuff that happened lately, like rapes, deaths and so on and so forth.
- It could also be seen as a pretty open Take That! at the New 52, which similarly features heroes who had long been paragons of virtue made darker and more aggressive.
- Issue #33: Green Arrow's death. His death was because an arrow rebounded from Superman and hit Johnathan Kent in the shoulder, causing Superman to kill him in a rage. His last thoughts were of Black Canary, who knew the moment she found his tracer that he wasn't coming.
This should hurt. I know it should. But I can't feel anything.
I'm trying to speak but my mouth doesn't work anymore.
I'm so sorry, pretty bird. I thought we'd have more time.
The prettiest girl in the whole damn world.
I was so lucky. (vision fades)
- Even worse, in Year Two we learn that Black Canary was pregnant with his child.
- Then when Superman confronts Batman in the Batcave...
Batman: Go on, justify Ollie's death. I'll call Dinah and you can tell her why he had to die for the greater good.
- Superman tried to apologize to her at his funeral. It didn't go well. In a flash, he covers her mouth...
Let's see the real you. Show me the last thing Ollie saw before you killed him.
- How about the cause of it? He accidentally hit Superman's father with an arrow. All this happened over such a small mistake...
- The issue after has Clark's parents and Jor-El try and reason with him to no avail, showing he is long gone. Jor-El and the Kents then console each other, the Kents lamenting how their parenting failed Clark and Jor-El apologizing for what he has loosed upon the world.
Pa Kent: I'm sorry we didn't raise your son right.
Jor-El: I am sorry I unleashed this upon your world.
- The Wham Episode in Year Two that reveals Commissioner Gordon according to Superman, has lung cancer from smoking.
- There's a point in Year Two, when Superman is asked to give children some words. His response? Be good.
- Year Two #5: A flashback is shown to Krypton's final moments, where Superman's parents send him away in his spaceship with only his mother's amulet for comfort. In the present day, Superman still has that amulet. And then you learn the reason behind Jor-El's cryptic comments about "the outsiders" abandoning them: the Guardians left their planet to die. Made even worse when you realize that according to the sequel, they left them at the mercy of Brainiac.
- Year Two #19: Though it's a Foregone Conclusion, it's still sad: Regime!Green Lantern was kicked from his Corps, and joined Sinestro's.
- Year Two #20: Commisioner James Gordon is dead. More gripping is his final words to a tearful Barbara and then to Batman.
Batman: It's Bruce.
Gordon: No. It was never "Bruce."
Batman: It was an honor serving Gotham with you.
Gordon: Batman...I...think....for once...I'm going to...disappear on you...
- In Year Two #22, the following: Black Canary wounds Superman with a Kryptonian bullet, telling Guy to capture him ... and then Sinestro Corps Ring arrives, saving him, after what Superman burns Dinah, most likely to death....
- Year Two #23: Sinestro kills John Stewart... and lies to Hal Jordan about his death, in order to make him murder Guy Gardner. It works... What makes it worse is that Guy didn't give up trying to save Hal from becoming a villain, and ended up getting his arm torn off by HAL JORDAN and dropped to his death.
- If you like the Year Two comics, we know that the Insurgency will fail. This time.
- While most heroes who stay sane try to appeal one way or the other to their fallen friends, Guy Gardner is a particularly painful example. This guy isn't even one of the paragons of virtue, he's rude and likes to boast, but once he found out how bad things were, he never stopped trying to save his friends from crossing the line. In vain. First Superman shot him down rudely, then Hal attacked him for little reason, and finally Hal killed him off in a rage, manipulated by Sinestro. When one of the jerkiest heroes stops fighting just to appeal to your higher nature, you know how bad you look.
- End of Year Two. The Green Lanterns' mission has failed. Ganthet and Mogo are killed by Superman. It seems that all or at least most of the Green Lanterns Corps are dead too. But Dinah is saved by Dr. Fate, and transferred into Alternate Universe with her son, where she meets Oliver Queen, whose Dinah has died. So, it's more of Bittersweet Ending... The aftermath of it was felt around the world. The fighting had casualties on the ground as lanterns fell to the ground, taking out whole neighborhoods and people, including the mother of Rose Constantine.
- Clayface using his powers to lay a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip on the members of the resistance on Superman's orders so they "see what I see everyday" in the Year Two annual. He changes into Barbra's mother and Nightwing to hurt both her and her father.
- Harvey Bullock and Jason Blood are killed by Spectre, which is followed by Etrigan's mourning for Blood.
- Superman allowing Sinestro to continue torturing a police officer in ways that were inhumane despite knowing he knew nothing on the off possibility that he was hiding something from him. You can see him throwing away a piece of his humanity right there.
- Year Three #6: John Constantine calls Batman a hero unlike himself, that he destroys the lives of his friends, then tells him that Batman lacks empathy and can't understand why villains do what they do, for if he will, he'll see himself in them, which will prevent him from fighting evil. Jerkass Has a Point.
- Year Three #12: Phantom Stranger gets killed off trying to hold off the Spectre.
- Year Three #13: In a What-If issue in Superman's dream, he saves Lois and his child, then gives Joker Batman's first name by accident, meaning he learns his identity. On the drive over to Arkham Asylum, Joker talks, keeping at it incessantly until Batman snaps his neck, killing him so he can't kill anyone else. Batman then de-masks and surrenders to the police reporting his murder. Remember, this is Superman's dream, meaning that he wanted, more than anything else, for Bruce to break his no-killing vow, knowing what it would do to him. He's passing the pain of what he felt onto Bruce because he blames him and feels that if he had done this everything would have been better.
- Batman is seen later, having passed his term. Remember that this future is a lie...
- And, what is more tragic, Superman has a point...
- But consider also their different reactions. After breaking his vow not to kill, Superman has become a cold, distant tyrant, losing his humanity and his morals, becoming feared and hated by the world that once looked up to him as a hero and inspiration, and inflicting his pain and guilt on others under the pretence of fixing everything. In his dream, however, after Batman breaks his vow not to kill, he surrenders himself to the police and takes responsibility for his crime rather than causing anyone else to suffer. A point he may have, but deep down on some level Superman knows how far he's sunk, and suspects that Batman, in the same circumstances, would not sink as low as he has.
- Year Three #14: Superman's dream future with his daughter is so wholesome. It's a tragedy it's not real and what's more the end of the issue implies Superman know it's fake. Unlike in 'For The Man Who Has Everything' he can't bear to pull himself away from it.
- Year Three #15: Batman addresses a speech to captured Regime members, trying to convince them to make a HeelFace Turn. They seem to be sad. And then, Damian says Screw you. Batman is so upset.
- Year Three #21:
- During a battle, Wonder Woman ends up breaking Huntress's neck with her lasso, killing her. Even she reacts with shock, with the indication that she didn't mean to. Considering how she acts in two years, it makes it even worse.
- Batwoman's utter hatred of Wonder Woman in particular after the above event becomes a tearjerker when one remembers how respectful and admiring of each other they are in the main continuity.
- Year Three #22: While Flash managed to save all combatants from being dragged to Hell, Swamp Thing refused and was destroyed. Another shock to Flash.
- Year Three #23: Batwoman silently weeping as she cradles Huntress's corpse in her arms.
- Year Three #24: Doctor Fate disappeared to the void with the other two, which John says there's no way for any of them to get out of.
- Don't you want to know what happened to Teen Titans? The annual Third Year story will tell you. Beast Boy and Superboy were flying just before the Metropolis's destruction... so Beast Boy was the one killed. After Dick told the team what happened, Superboy didn't take well the fact that Superman killed Joker. He decided to put him into Phantom Zone. Sadly, it ended badly as Superman injured Superboy too much and HE had to be put in Phantom Zone. But Superman agreed only on a condition that his fellow Titans will be put there too...
- Year Four #1: Superman begins to have Bad Boss tendencies, as he threatens Yellow Lantern with his Heat Vision when the latter rebukes him for being threatened and criticized at for having no progress at finding Batman.
- Diana referring to Hal as 'soldier'' means that friends are becoming subordinates, or even servants.
- Which is followed by Diana telling Clark about a Heel Realization, as Huntress called them 'tyrants'. And as we know, eventually nothing will happen.
- Year Four #2: Renee Montoya is drunk as she remembers the late Huntress. Selina leaves, and Batman seemingly does nothing. Worse, Montoya seems to go into He Who Fights Monsters territory, as she captures Damian and threatens to kill him if Superman will not come to fight her.
- Year Four #3
- We see that Clark's own parents are afraid for him, if not of him.
- A flashback reveals that Renee overdoses on durability pills after tearfully confessing her love to Maggie Sawyer over the phone; she never goes as far as saying thatshe never really loved Kate, but it's still pretty heart-wrenching. Furthermore, she seems resolved to die if it means doing what she thinks needs to be done.
- Year Four #4 Renee overdoses and has a heart attack, dying in Superman's arms. When Batman arrives, the death is enough that Superman allows Batman, who has come as Bruce Wayne, to take away her body. Though Wonder Woman tells him to capture Batman, he lets him go, on the condition that Batman doesn't don the costume again (which he does later, because he doesn't know how to give up). This is possibly the last time the two of them are willing to avoid hostilities, showing the last traces of good in Superman at the moment.
- Year Four #5: Renee is confirmed to be dead when Kate visits her grave and those of the other fallen Insurgents.
- Year Four #6: Goddess Hera demands that Queen Hyppolita, mother of Diana, gave her army to Olympian gods against Regime. Though Hyppolita obliges, she unwittingly pushes Hera's Berserk Button when reminded Hera about Zeus's parentage of Diana. Angered, Hera shouts at her, and while Hyppolita refuses to participate in attack, attacks, stating that her army will march without her.
- Year Four #13: Superman kills Hercules.
- Year Four #14: Shazam asks why Superman murdered Hercules when he had already been beaten. Supes simply replies, "Because you wouldn't."
- Bruce tries to make up for his earlier Jerkass behavior towards Damian by admitting that he wasn't at fault for Dick's death and that unfairly blaming Damian only drove him to Superman's side. Damian refuses to return to the Batfamily and tears the Robin emblem off his costume, casting his lot fully with Superman.]
- Shazam becomes more brutal in his fight with the Olympians and ends up stripped of his powers by Zeus as a result.
- Year Four #15: Harley Quinn tries to stop Zeus from attacking Shazam and gets vaporised. Yes, she'll return, but...
- Year Four #17: After dying, Hippolyta, Harley Quinn and Billy Batson are sent into the Greek underworld and learn that their destination is Tartarus (Greek mythology's answer to Hell). You get why Harley would end up in Tartarus, but Billy Batson — still a child, mind you — is being sent there for something that was Shazam's fault and not his own. It gets even worse when we see the damned spirits in Tartarus reaching through a portal to grab Harley and Billy.
- Year Four #24: With the previous year's war of magic at an end and the conflict with the Gods also concluded Superman and Batman speak over a private transmission and Superman asks to meet with Batman in person. He calls on their shared losses and old history as friends, along with the fact that Ares manipulated both during the events of Year 4, to convince Batman that the two of them together can sit down and come to some solution about things, even asking that Batman pick the time and place. Batman apparently does, but never shows up. It's then revealed afterwards that Superman, though he promised he wouldn't, had set a trap for Batman in the event that he did show up. This is heartbreaking on two major levels in terms of what it says about both characters and how they relate to one another. Batman, who once trusted Superman with his life and believed him to be the best of the heroes, now sees him as the exact opposite. Superman in turn has become a person who would break his word in order to accomplish his goals. There is actually a third level, when you remember that back in Year Four #4 Superman let Batman go on the condition that Batman would stop. Batman did say it was over - and promptly resumed plotting against the Regime. Since Bruce didn't keep his word, Superman now doesn't feel obliged to keep his. It really shows how despite his good intentions, Batman's actions are escalating the conflict, pushing Superman even further off the deep end than he already is.
- Year Four Annual: Though prisoners escape, using Plastic Man's and his son's help, Sinestro killed Kilowog.
- Year Five #2:
- Selina openly doubts if Bruce will be able to defeat Superman.
- As the battle rages, Superman and his servants don't care about collateral damage or saving people, only how to capture their foes.
- Year Five #3: Superman makes it clear that he doesn't see his accomplices as friends anymore, only as servants. Even Diana.
- Year Five #7:
- Superman fights Batman, and the comic reminds us again that they used to be best friends.
- Batman reminds Clark about Oliver and Renee's deaths. He then dares Superman to kill him if he wishes. Superman doesn't.
- After being rescued from Bane and his companions, Selina leaves Batman and the Insurgency, because she has lost all hope in the Regime's defeat.
- Hawkman goes to Earth to meet with Shiera. And we already know how it will end...
- Year Five #8: Hawkman battles Cyborg and Wonder Woman in an attempt to retrieve Hawkgirl, but what is actually sad is that he ends up dueling his own wife in a brutal, bloody fight, all because she "disobeyed" him by staying on Earth instead of returning to Thanagar. After defeating him, Hawkgirl promises to kill her husband if he ever touches her again.
- Year Five #9: Smallville citizens built a statue in honor of Clark Kent... and his parents didn't come to the dedication ceremony.
- Year Five #10: Bizarro incinerates Heat Wave and Weather Wizard.
- Year Five #16: Superman burns to death two-hundred fifty members of a pro-Joker resistance group. Batwoman and Harley leave only moments before the massacre and are totally shocked and angered at the sight of it.
- Year Five #17: After Trickster and Bizarro finish eating at a restaurant, Bizarro tosses his trash away, accidentally hitting a nearby mercenary. When the merc and his buddies attack the duo, Bizarro kills the first merc. When Trickster tells him not to do that when there are witnesses around, Bizarro interprets it as "leave no witnesses" and proceeds to massacre the whole restaurant.
- Year Five #18: Trickster is shocked after Bizarro destroys the restaurant. He blames himself for not being specific. And then, when both are flying, Bizarro sneezes and brings his hands to cover his mouth, ... and unwittingly releases Trickster, who falls from the height to his death.
- Bizarro's anguish and his desperate tries to "fix" his friend. Firstly he comes to a man who helped him to dress up, threatening to kill him, when the latter told Bizarro about Trickster's death, and then to Lex Luthor, his "father".]
- Lex manipulates Bizarro to fly to the Fortress of Solitude, where he finds Doomsday, controlled by Luthor, ending in poor clone's death.
- Year Five #19: A brainwashed Doomsday kills Bizarro, after Lex manipulates him into going to the Fortress of Solitude to tie loose ends, though Lex is clearly grieving that he has to do that.
- Year Five #21: Golden Glider and Mirror Master are mourning the the Rogues killed by Bizarro. Even the Flash shows up to pay his respects to them. The eulogy that Mirror Master makes to his fallen teammates is pretty depressing:
- Year Five #23:
- Alfred gets attacked and murdered by Victor Zsasz. Some time after that, Damian comes to give presents to Alfred and finds his corpse. RIP, Alfred Pennyworth.
- Before that, Bruce begins to doubt if his actions are necessary. He points out that world is safer now with Superman, many of his allies are dead or not powerful enough to stop Regime, and there are only a few of them left, anyway. Alfred reassures him that the world needs Batman, and that he'll find a way. It is Heartwarming Moment too.
- Year Five #25: Batman delivers a beating on Regime!Superman in No-Holds-Barred Beatdown way, clutches his neck in grip and questions Damian if this is he wanted "to become a killer like Clark." The difference is that he was bluffing, whereas Damian doesn't when he tries to kill Bruce. If you think about it, Clark was holding back in that fight. He didn't use his speed, heat vision or any extra abilities and one could interpret him allowing Batman to win, out of guilt over Alfred's death.
- Year Five #27: Superman tries to kill Barry after he explained he let Bruce go because he was honoring Alfred's legacy and had just lost his family and was grieving, a feeling that Clark should know. Even Wonder Woman calls him out on this. Later, when Flash escapes, he goes to see Iris, who's enraged due his abandoning of her and not living up to his promise stopping Superman if he went too far. And what's more, she and her colleagues later get arrested by the Regime's goon squad due to being Barry's friends...
- Year Five #28: Remember Galaxor? The superpowered boy from Year One who tried to stand up to Superman and whose spine was broken by him and Wonder Woman? He committed suicide soon after. It's the most tragic fate, and the most tragic moment here.
- It was Iris who told that to Flash. Basically, that's why he is a Broken Pedestal to her - he hadn't saved the boy, though he could've.
- The worst of all is that Barry was having a serious conflict of loyalties, and may have been even considering going back in time to stop all of it, but unfortunately finding the people he love losing their faith in him convinces him that what happened was something they deserved.
- Year Five, #29: Superman decides to destroy Kahndaq, Black Adam's country, if the latter won't join Regime. And other Regime members support him. It very pretty shows how far Superman has gone to evil, just as other Regime members.
- Injustice 2 ends up retconning his death, revealing it was just a rumor and he is still alive, but he merely lost the will to walk.
- At a convention, a fan asked Tom Taylor what character he'd like to write. He answered that he wanted to write a non-evil version of Superman. Why? Superman is his favourite character, but due to all the Injustice material he has at his home, his young son is afraid of Superman and thinks he's a bad guy.
- Year Five, #31: The conversation between Hal and Barry
Hal: Did you hear about the Joker underground? Two hundred protestors found dead. At first I thought it was the Bizarro-Superman...
Barry: The timelines don't add up.
Hal: I talked to Cyborg, but he won't admit anything. Barry...what the hell have we become?
Barry: Unless you're going to do something about it...maybe you should stop asking.