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With Great Power Comes Great Insanity / Comic Books

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Power causing insanity in comic books.


  • Batman:
    • An interesting case concerning pre-Flashpoint Azrael. When Jean-Paul Valley was born, he was implanted with a brainwashing trance of sorts known as The System, which would grant him amazing strength and agility when he donned the gear of Azrael, though it made him Brainwashed and Crazy, pushing him to want to kill the guilty. When he first abandoned that role, he functioned pretty well... until the Scarecrow doused him with Fear Gas when JP took up the Mantle of the Bat in Bruce Wayne's place. The entirety of the subsequent Knightquest storyline has Jean-Paul constantly fighting The System until he lets Abattoir die. When he does, he finally submits to The System and becomes a fearful mixture of Batman and Azrael and forces Bruce to take back the Mantle.
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    • Happens to Batman when he gets Superman's power during a battle with the Silver Banshee in a Superman/Batman story. Batman uses his new powers to bring complete fear and order to Gotham's criminal underworld, and eventually sets his sights on the world, but he becomes increasingly aggressive. With the aid of the Justice League, Superman is able to bring himself and The Dark Knight back to normal. Admittedly this was a Be Careful What You Wish For Artifact of Doom.
  • Interesting case with Black Adam. His powers don't drive him crazy (he went crazy on his own, and sometimes comes back from that insanity...partially), but he can share them, and anyone who would take them on immediately turns evil. Anyone, including the goddess of love.
  • Doom Patrol: Mento wasn't the most stable/mentally healthy guy to begin with. Then he starts tinkering with a helmet that cranks his Psychic Powers Up to Eleven and takes up superheroing. But his wife and her team die, and it REALLY sent him downhill until he's doing stints as a supervillain and trying to kill his own adopted son! When that heroing team was led by a fellow retconned into a Mad Scientist and Magnificent Bastard, it was damn near inevitable.
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  • Firestorm: The curse of the werehyena causes anyone suffering it to gradually go insane. It is theorised that the madness suffered by the werehyenas is one's bestial side taking over, coupled with an exaggeration of negative emotions.
  • The Flash: Hunter Zolomon spent his life in a Trauma Conga Line, but he remained a good cop until Gorilla Grodd crippled him and the Flash, whom Hunter considered a friend, refused to use time travel to undo the damage. Hunter attempted to use the Flash's cosmic treadmill himself, but it blew up in his face. The resulting super powers had the side effect of scrambling his thought processes, until he decided that the best way to help his friend the Flash was to make him a better hero through tragedy as Zoom. Hunter still thinks he's helping the Flash, although he gets occasional flashes of My God, What Have I Done? when Wally foils his plans.
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  • Retconned for Doctor Magnus, the leader of the Metal Men. He needs a careful application of medicine in order to stay stable and good. He's kidnapped along with genuine mad scientists and they cancel his meds, intending for him to regress to his previous level of insane creativity, in which he created a horrific weapon of mass destruction, the Plutonium Man. Though he does recreate the Plutonium Man, he destabilizes very quickly, and with the help of several sentient mini-Metal Men he'd managed to cook up in his lab, invents a gun with living ammo and goes on a rampage (against evil men only), screaming about how he really needed his meds.
  • The Psycho-Pirate, a villain with the emotion-changing Medusa Mask, actually had three of them, one for a single emotion, before deciding to combine all three to control all emotions. Unfortunately, continued use ended up driving him insane — he's first seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths locked away in an insane asylum.
  • Superman:
    • Inverted in All-Star Superman: Lex Luthor temporarily gains Superman's powers, and while he predictably rampages, he finds himself stopping to examine the amazing perspective his newfound powers and super-senses give him. He eventually concludes that having the level of power and insight that Superman does would make people care for their fellow human beings, and mellows out considerably after losing the powers.
    • Superman: Up, Up and Away!: One Kryptonite Man is a scientist who thinks Kryptonite can be used as a safe energy source. When he himself becomes that energy source, he decides to show the world how effective it can be by... a murderous rampage. Later, another scientist goes cuckoo bananas when he gains control over an oversized amoeba. Or so it seems. Superman subdues the guy, who says he didn't want to do it, but Intergang, a powerful criminal organization, made him.
    • In A Mind Switch In Time, Euphor becomes more powerful and more insane as he mass-absorbs negative emotions until he has become a crazy overlord who can give Superman a hard time.
    • Livewire, experiencing some Adaptational Heroism after immigrating to the comics, has her status as a Psycho Electro justified by the observation that, as an Energy Being, taking on more energy affects her equivalent of brain chemistry. In her case more power is literally more insanity. Putting her in Superman's suit from his blue period to regulate her form snaps her to sanity immediately and she becomes a hero at the end of Superman: Grounded.
  • Matthew Cable from Swamp Thing. His Psychic Powers and his spiraling alcoholic insanity both stem from the same illicit electroshock treatments.
  • Invoked but eventually subverted in the 1990s "Postboot" of Legion of Super-Heroes. Livewire is often spoken of not using his lightning powers to their utmost. He also keeps warning sister Sparks of misusing their abilties. It turns out Livewire is convinced that the lightning drove their older brother Mekt insane and into the criminal Lightning Lord. Even when Mekt is killing cops and attacking, Livewire begs him to stop so they can get him help. Sparks is amazed as she says that Garth looked up to Mekt too much as he was always this corrupt and twisted figure. After Mekt blows of his arm, Garth finally accepts the lightning did nothing but make an already psychopath Mekt worse to defeat him. This allows Garth to overcome his own problems and be able to use the full potential of his power.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • This is an issue for gods, and the Greek pantheon actually split themselves in two in antiquity to create the Roman pantheon because the influx of worshipers was too much for them. In modern times they don't worry about it as much since they have far fewer worshipers and they've actually rejoined with their Roman counterparts. Some of the gods have trouble with it anyway, like Ares, Aphrodite and Dionysus because their power doesn't just come from worshipers and their attributes influence their mindset and actions.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Hypnota goes off the deep end at the same time as they gain their powers, though if this was a side effect of their new mild telepathy or due to the damage left behind by the bullet through their head which activated their powers is not clarified.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Once the White Magician's Black Magic use starts affecting him physically his mind goes right out the window and he becomes a twisted demonic thing before his death.
    • Wonder Woman: Odyssey: With every unjust death, Nemesis' power grew until she could reign alone above all other Greek dieties, whom all fled to the mortal plan in terror and went into hiding to escape her wrath. It also drove her completely mad.
  • In the New 52 arc Darkseid War, members of the Justice League end up becoming the New Gods after the death of Darkseid and others caused a power vacuum. Batman becomes the New God of Knowledge, taking Metron's chair for his own, and intends to his all-powerful knowledge to bring order to Gotham, even if preventatively. Superman becomes the New God Of Strength when Luthor throws him into a Fire Pit in a deeper attempt to recharge Superman's solar cells. It Goes Horribly Right since while it does make him much more powerful, Superman's temper is temporarily out of control (because, well, it is fire from Apokolips). The Flash becomes the new Black Racer after he kills the old one (namely, he was trying to convince Barry to take his place and required him to offer one life. When Barry initially refuses, the Black Racer threatens to give it to Reverse Flash or Grodd, thus Barry uses Exact Words and kills the Black Racer... before offering himself as said life.) Subverted with Hal Jordan. He becomes the New God Of Light at behest of the Mother Lantern (the Mother Box fusing with the Green Lantern core, but lacking a vessel for will to use). Hal brings back everyone killed during Apokalips' invasion of Oa, but he gives up godhood when he realizes it would mean giving up will.
  • Dr Manhattan in Watchmen is a subtler and relatively benign variation of the trope; it's implied that he was more at home dealing with elementary particles than other people even before the Freak Lab Accident turned him into an immortal Physical God who can see the future but not change any of it, even his own actions. However, instead of suffering a spectacular Heroic BSoD and subsequent Face–Heel Turn, he's one of the least emotionally damaged people in the entire cast, whilst still being almost entirely disconnected from normal human thought patterns.

Marvel Universe

  • The evil and non-evil versions of insanity pop up in a lot of the Marvel Universe's more powerful human characters, apparently as a way of Holding Back the Phlebotinum. Scarlet Witch, Phoenix, The Sentry, or anyone else like that being able to use their maximum power levels while fully themselves would remove all drama. Scarlet Witch is currently the most powerful and resultantly has it the worst. We haven't seen her mind in stable condition for quite some time now that her power's gone from "I point and my opponent slips on a banana peel" to "whatever I decide simply is." She'll never get to have that kind of power and the ability to think "Wouldn't it be nice if the Skrulls (okay, except Xavin, Lyja, and Cadre K, and the Super Skrull if he keeps playing nice) turned into rice pudding?" at the same time.
  • When the Canadian government was looking for people to join Alpha Flight, they initially had trouble finding recruits. The people in charge of the program decided to try creating their own superbeings, and they got the bright idea to experiment on a Serial Killer who got a pardon in exchange for agreeing to participate. The result was a crazed monster with deadly psychic abilities calling itself Bedlam. Wolverine had initially signed on to join Alpha Flight, but this debacle was what caused him to leave the group in disgust. Fortunately, Guardian left an emergency protocol that would automatically call Wolverine should Bedlam be freed, which proved necessary when a government official unfamiliar with the backstory ended up setting him free.
    • Madison Jeffries, a Technopath, and his brother Lionel, a doctor with Healing Hands, fought in a war together, where Madison could forget about his mutant powers, while Lionel used his to heal wounded soldiers. Then one day, some soldiers were brought back in pieces. Lionel attempted to put them back together, and when he couldn't bring them Back from the Dead, he went insane and started using his powers to mutilate everybody within arm's reach, becoming Scramble the Mixed-Up Man. Madison had to use his powers to create a containment suit for his brother, and had him locked away, completely isolated from human contact. Scramble was eventually able to seemingly fix himself by using his powers on his own brain, but it was a temporary fix at best, and his lack of ethics helped to push him around the bend again, forcing Madison (now using the Box robot) to put him down for good.
  • All attempts to replicate the Super Serum that gave Captain America his powers have either made people go crazy or been used on someone who was already crazy. In fact, in the Ultimate universe, this seems to be the origin for all of Ultimate Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery. One of the rare good endings for someone getting the Super-Soldier serum is Isaiah Bradley, grandfather of Patriot from the Young Avengers. While he was stable, he would end up gradually suffer brain damage over time despite not aging much physically. Yes, that's what passes for a good ending when trying to reproduce the Super-Soldier serum (though granted, Isaiah's condition was exacerbated by the horrific conditions he was kept in after his mission.) One wonders why they keep trying.
  • Deadpool was probably messed up before developing terminal cancer, but the Weapon X program (which initially failed to give him a Healing Factor) gives him a hard shove in that direction. Then Dr. Killebrew experiments on and tortures him to the point of having visions of (and falling in love with) Death. What finally demolishes his sanity is when Killebrew orders him killed, his healing factor finally kicks in, saving his life, making his disfigurement permanent, and causing Death to reject him. Depending on the writer, he's a mix of Ax-Crazy, Deadpan Snarker, gleeful Genre Savvy, and Medium Awareness. Another issue is that the Healing Factor is connected to his cancer — he's basically an immortal living cancer. The constant state of flux and strain this places on him (including his brain) is why he's so unstable.
  • Incredible Hulk. The gamma bomb gave Bruce Banner huge power and exacerbated his multiple personality syndrome. Plus, the madder he gets, the stronger he becomes.
    • Interestingly, for both The Mask and Marvel's gamma ray mutants, what happens to the subject's mind depends on what part of their personality they had dissociated themselves from. Most people who get the Mask unlock their evil side, but the fellow in The Movie didn't have an evil side, only a chaotic side, so he essentially became a Looney Tunes character. Marvel goes into more detail — Banner suppressed the rage that came from being abused as a child, She-Hulk suppressed her sexuality, Doc Samson suppressed his desire to be a hero, and the Abomination suppressed his self-hatred.
  • Handled interestingly with Sentry. His powers are like some ridiculous combination of Superman and Franklin Richards, making him technically unstoppable and all-powerful. He's also a paranoid schizophrenic who managed to convince himself that there was an evil galactic power called The Void that would destroy the earth if he stayed a superhero... and then actually created it out of thin air, making a problem for The Avengers to handle while Emma Frost gave him some emergency psychotherapy. During this time, he also managed to Retcon himself out of his own universe, so that his Golden Age exploits all became some comic writer's fantasy. In something of a subversion, Sentry's not a villain: in current canon, he works to use his powers for a great deal of good. Unfortunately, his psychosis still isn't fully under control, and it's a disability that is sometimes just impossible to work around.
    • Later developments suggest that the Sentry is an inversion of this trope. Robert Reynolds was already a mentally unstable drug addict before taking the serum that gave him his powers, so it's more like someone with great insanity given great power. Furthermore, Reynolds didn't become the Sentry and create the Void, it was the other way around...
      • An alternate interpretation is that Reynolds splits into the Sentry and the Void, neither of which are more physically or psychologically real than the other.
      • In Uncanny Avengers, he returned as the Horseman of Death (the Void apparently got bored and wandered off), even crazier than ever. Eventually, Doctor Strange managed to cure him, and by their mutual agreement, created a pocket dimension inside his head where he could live so his body could float in deep space and be no trouble to anyone. Unfortunately, Loki tricking his way into becoming Sorcerer Supreme meant that Strange hit his Godzilla Threshold and called on the Sentry's help... which, while in a superficially indirect fashion, accidentally unleashed the Void. The Sentry was not pleased.
      • Most recently, he ended up merging his nature as Robert Reynolds with the Sentry and Void personas, becoming even more powerful than ever, with ominous black hair and wearing an unnerving red and black costume. However, he's not strictly evil, more like a fairly hardcore Anti-Hero.
  • Spider-Man:
  • Apparently, Chris Claremont likes this one, or used to. In X-Men, The Phoenix being a cosmic entity was a Retcon to satisfy the then-editor-in-chief's requirement for bringing Jean Grey back: she had to be innocent of her crimes as Phoenix. (The destroyer of five billion lives couldn't very well be welcomed back to the team with open arms. In fact, her original Heroic Sacrifice was mandated for that very reason.) The original story portrayed Jean's cosmic powers as the ultimate expression of her abilities, and the change from hero to Anti-Hero to cosmic-scale threat as simply the result of having the sort of powers she now possessed. Storm also began a similar change upon maxing out her powers, but thankfully was able to return to her previous self (her power level returning to normal with it) within that issue and before she did anything particularly heinous.
    • The 'return' of Jean Grey in the X-Factor retread of the original X-Men was so badly done that it left permanent damage to the storylines of the Marvel Universe. The obvious moral cop-out of 'it wasn't really her' not only undid the basic point of one of the landmark storylines of the MU, but was done in a half-assed way, because they tried to claim that Jean deserved the credit for the self-sacrifice of the Phoenix entity, but not the blame for its crimes, even though both supposedly derive from the human element from Jean. Sorry, folks, you can't have that both ways.
    • To make it even worse, Claremont clearly hated the idea that the Phoenix entity was not Jean, he kept trying to sneakily re-retcon it back, and the story got into the hands of other writers and mutated further, eventually becoming a total, unworkable, self-contradictory Continuity Snarl. Nowadays, it's mostly ignored.
    • Oddly enough, though, Jean's time traveling daughter Rachel, who already had ample reason to have gone insane (but didn't) before acquiring the Phoenix power, managed to wield it for years without going crazy. And then lost the power (despite the Phoenix itself insisting that it had permanently merged with her).
    • Long story short, Jean's power level, mental state, and the effect these have on each other all depends on where Jean ends and the Phoenix begins. Too bad no two mentions of the Phoenix in a row give the same answer on that score. However, the cosmic critter isn't malevolent. Mastermind screwing with her head was what turned Phoenix into Dark Phoenix, and to suggest it might happen again much later in Phoenix: Endsong took a botched resurrection to again put the Phoenix out of whack. Poor Jean will Never Live It Down, despite this.
      • Speaking of Mastermind and his plan to gain power through unleashing the Dark Phoenix, as Jean lost her mind and became the Dark Phoenix for Mastermind's evil means, she turned on him and ironically, gave Mastermind more power than he could ever comprehend, sending him into a coma (and insanity when he came to).
      • Oddly enough, Jean and her relatives actually tend to handle vast/cosmic scale power pretty well, Phoenix saga aside. Jean spent most of the 90's and early 2000's being incredibly powerful under her own steam, and her teenage counterpart has largely kept her powers in hand too. Meanwhile, her children, Rachel, Nate, and Cable, are all vastly powerful (intermittently, in Cable's case, and sometimes Nate's) and entirely sane. Usually. Cable seemed to undergo this when his Techno-Organic virus went into remission and he created the floating island of Providence, jacking him up to the point where he could fight the Silver Surfer on even footing, hold Providence in the air, and repair the landscape around them as they fought. As it turned out, however, it was a Genghis Gambit to get the world to unite against him. Nate, meanwhile, lived in mortal terror of a combination of this and lethal cosmic scale Power Incontinence, but largely held it together pretty well - which, for a Living Weapon who had no functional childhood, grew up in the hell that was the Age of Apocalypse, had to live with the knowledge that he was slowly dying, and had just about everyone trying to manipulate or destroy him once he got to 616, is really quite impressive. As for Rachel, of the lot of them, she's by far the sanest.
      • Then in Uncanny X-Men (2018), Nate appeared to a) regain his powers and then some, b) lose his marbles and declare his status as a god/messiah. Considering his status as a Messianic Archetype and raw power, it's a bit hard to argue with. However, it's revealed at the end of the arc that he got his powers back, but at the price that he's dying, again, and he's desperate to do something good with his powers while he can.
      • He then created the Age of X-Man, a plane of existence meant to be directly opposed to the dystopia he grew up in, an attempt at utopia (specifically, he wanted to help the X-Men by breaking them out of their constant cycle of conflict and grief). Unfortunately, through a combination of his Control Freak tendencies, attempts to disassociate himself from humanity, and screwed up background, it instead drifted far too close to a creepily cheerful 1984 clone. At the end of the arc, he conceded his mistakes and realised that he was Not So Above It All (though the comic noted that Both Sides Have a Point) and let the X-Men go, before rewriting the reality with the assistance of AOX!Magneto to improve it and remove the Orwellian aspects.
      • While Stryfe and Maddie Pryor are worth noting, both were clones - Stryfe remains in denial about this, while Maddie did not take it well - and Stryfe was raised by Apocalypse, while Maddie was created by Sinister as his weapon with cobbled together memories from Jean Grey. Their insanity was not exactly of their making.
      • This trope as related to the Summers family is further deconstructed in the character of Tyler Dayspring, son of either Cable or Stryfe (raised by Cable, but it's heavily implied that Stryfe is his true father). Like Stryfe and Maddie above, Tyler lost his sanity through means not of his own making (he was brainwashed in the future by one of Stryfe's minions) — but unlike them, he has very weak mutant powers, to the point of needing to augment himself with Apocalypse's technology just to stand a chance against the heroes. In a way, Tyler got the rawest deal out of the entire Summers line — all the insanity of this trope without any of the power.
    • Claremont also established that classic X-Men adversary Magneto's magnetic powers damage his sanity over time. This explains rather a lot; wouldn't being able to control one of the four fundamental forces of the universe screw you up, too? This is also why he's generally a lot weaker at times when he's a good guy: he's got to hold back in order to avoid having another case of megalomania.
      • Some writers have tried to pull the same thing with Havok (Cyclops' brother), who controls (or at least, has a degree of access to) the Power Cosmic, another fundamental force of the Marvel universe. This is made apparent with the introduction of the long-anticipated third Summers brother Vulcan, who has near-Phoenix level command of the Power Cosmic (and would be near-Phoenix level dangerous if he had more than two brain cells to rub together) but at the cost of being completely off his rocker.
    • Magneto comes close to saying this trope by name in issue two of the nineties X-Men series. When Moira MacTaggert explains how his powers played havoc with his mind, he states: "What, with great power comes mental instability?"
      • Magneto's daughters, Polaris and the Scarlet Witch, suffer from similar sanity-damaging "cursed" powers. Insanity might be In the Blood where this family's concerned.
      • It's implied that the Scarlet Witch's crazy came from the Mind Screw the Avengers did so she'd forget her maybe/sort-of/magic children rather than from her powers themselves. Similarly, Polaris is only crazy when outside influence is involved... it just happens to her more often than it does to anyone else.
    • While not part of Magneto's family per se, a special mention should be made for his Dragon and intended successor from the 90s, Exodus. He has psychic Combo Platter Powers ramped up to Superpower Lottery levels, but unlike most mutants, who manifest by puberty, his powers didn't manifest until adulthood, and then not until being forcibly awakened by Apocalypse. The result is a character who projects constant wide-band Psychic Static where he goes, was implied to always be speaking telepathically and physically simultaneously, and at one point was even implied to suffer from a psychic variant of schizophrenia because his telepathy was so strong. He's developed greater control of it over the years, but even as recently as 2012 it was stated that he had never actually pushed the upper limits of his powers.
      • In the Age of Apocalypse this trope is inverted, as the Exodus there is shown as wearing Power Limiter devices and not being aware of a good chunk of what he can do until a Godzilla Threshold forces Magneto to reveal some of it to him. When questioned by Bishop, Mags stated outright he limits Exodus's knowledge of his powers to keep him from being corrupted by them.
    • This was lampshaded in the Assault on Weapon Plus story arc, where the Weapon Plus files stated that super soldier experiments on criminals and psychopaths yielded less than reliable results, prompting them to find a different method of creating anti-mutant super soldiers.
    • Another X-related example has to do with Omega Red, the USSR's attempt to engineer its own Captain America-like super soldier. The brain trust in charge of the program chose a Serial Killer who'd been shot by his fellow soldiers for murdering children in his hometown. While initially a loyal operative, he eventually became too Ax-Crazy even for the KGB and was put in suspended animation, at least until the Hand freed him. He now functions as a Psycho for Hire and one of the X-Men's deadliest foes.
  • In newuniversal, which is also by Warren Ellis, John Tensen gains telepathic powers that let him "see" a person's misdeeds or ignoble intentions. The first time he used these abilities, he discovered that his own nurse was planning to poison him. Tensen, not surprisingly, became Ax-Crazy and is now the "worst serial killer in New York City history," to quote a minor character. It doesn't help, though, that Tensen had been shot in the head before he got his powers, and as a result starts to think he's in Hell.
  • Nova: The Nova Force is dangerous in large amounts. At one point Garthan Saal takes on the entirety of the Nova Force, and goes completely bug-nuts. It's because of this that several years later, during Annihilation Richard Rider is extremely reluctant to do the same. The Xandarian Worldmind has to assure Rich it'll be helping to prevent that happening, and aside from a brief, trauma-induced rampage, Rich remains mercifully un-insane. But as it transpires, the strain drives the Worldmind mad. When asked, a saner part of it just shrugs and figures Rich is too human to go nuts.
  • For a long time, it was explained that original Ant-Man Hank Pym's various mental issues were the result of the Pym Particles he used for his powers in the first place affecting his brain chemistry. While it was carryed over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is no longer the case in the comics, as it was later retconned that even before becoming Ant-Man, Hank was bipolar — and this wasn't the only retcon as the much-reviled The Crossing (the story that tried to say Iron Man was a Manchurian Agent for Kang) earlier attempted explain Hank's issues by saying that Hank was really Kang's first choice before he moved onto Tony and the various issues Hank suffered were really the result of this brainwashing not taking hold. However, much like retconning that it was really Immortus who enthralled Tony since only the events of Operation Galactic Storm, Avengers Forever revealed that Immortus lied and really did nothing to Hank's mental state.


  • Inverted (or not) in The Authority, where the Doctor gives up his powers to a previous Doctor, who was relieved of his duties for being a psychotic maniac. As soon as the full extent of his powers kicked in, he was overwhelmed by the empathy for every living thing in existence. Super-empathy being part of the Doctor's role as the world's shaman, makes you wonder why this guy was psychotic in the first place.
    • Every Doctor gets a new power, added to the ones the previous Doctor who had the job had all the way back to the first one. After he went psycho, the next guy got super empathy, which he used A LOT of heroin to deal with.
  • Warren Ellis' Global Frequency not only invokes this, but explains it in terms of the surgical alterations required to keep the superstrong bionic arm or whatever from physically tearing the body apart. "They gave him a mirror."
  • In Gold Digger, dragon hybrids between the tribes (Platinum, Gold, Copper, and Iron) are extremely rare and extremely powerful. Every single one has gone insane, however, with the sole exception being one of the comic's supporting cast, D'bra. And then, most dragons believe her temper is a sign that it's only a matter of time.
  • In Hellboy, losing control of one's powers and/or humanity was a major theme of the series, especially for Liz Sherman and Hellboy himself. That is to say: Liz burned her family to death by accident as a kid, and Hellboy doesn't and can't and won't use his flashier superpowers, since they mostly involve ending the world, but occasionally they get stolen, one way or another. His crown, his Name, his right hand, ALL THE BLOOD IN HIS BODY...
  • A rather mundane case of this appears in Incorruptible. Max Damage becomes stronger and more invulnerable the longer he stays awake. If he stays awake for say, a week, his powers reach Physical God levels. However, he is still vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation. The result is someone who is mentally exhausted and strong enough to topple buildings — an unnerving combination. Dealing with the numbness his invulnerability brings with it for years has also taken its toll on Max's sanity. Given that the premise of the story is Max's attempt at a Heel–Face Turn to save the world from an evil Superman Expy, this causes even more problems. He needs to be strong enough to fight the Plutonian yet not let his insanity push him back toward a life of evil.
  • The Mask is this trope. Summary of every Mask story: Person finds the mask, puts it on, discovers they're a Nigh Invulnerable Voluntary Shapeshifting Reality Warper, starts using their powers in pursuit of some logical goal, loses sight of their goal and engages in wanton violence For the Evulz, is either tricked into removing the mask or removes it after a What Have I Become? moment.
  • In Powers, a naturally occurring variant occurs in "The Sellouts" storyline, in which a never-aging Captain Ersatz of Superman gradually loses his connection with humanity and goes insane, declaring himself to be a God. It's discussed that this may partly be a result of his ever-increasing level of superpowers, which go way beyond anything seen before (to the extent that the government has lied about exactly how powerful he is in order to prevent hysteria about him), and partly because, despite the fact that he doesn't look very old, he's at least over a hundred years old and has gone senile.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Knuckles' ancestor Dimitri ends up becoming the insane Enerjak after absorbing 11 Chaos Emeralds worth of power, one of the most powerful and evil villains in the series. A later retcon revealed that Enerjak was an echidna who grew mad with power after ascending to a higher plane of existence and, unable to destroy him, scattered his essence throughout the Chaos Force, allowing him to inhabit future echidnas who used Chaos powers.
    • Knux's dad Locke, obsessed with the prophecies surrounding his son, genetically engineered himself and infused Knux' egg with energy from the Master Emerald in an attempt to fulfill those prophecies. They're more or less estranged, now, because of this.
    • Knuckles himself isn't safe from this:
      • After appropriated Dimitri's mantle of Enerjak to avenge his race's decimation at Eggman's hand, he quickly degenerated into "technology = evil" and attempt to wipe out all cybernetics from the planet, including those of the Dark Legion and his own girlfriend Julie-Su. This was caused by Dr. Finitivus, a scientist who tried to drain Knuckles' Chaos power earlier, only to have it backfire and transform him. He then decided to go and screw over the entire echidna race by deciding everyone needs to die in a fire.
      • In the (non-canon) "25 Years Later" storyline, Knux ends up becoming "Chaos Knuckles" (a form he took up in the normal canon without much ill effect), and ends up trying to change the world, as well. The result was the almost complete destruction of his friendship with Sonic and the loss of his right eye.
      • In the future of an alternate universe, Knuckles not only tried to change the world, but he succeeded in conquering it after harnessing the power of all the emeralds. He ripped the souls out of nearly all the main characters (Eggman, Sonic, Shadow, Tails, his own mate, etc.), sunk a continent, and then decided to try and amuse himself by conquering other dimensions. He uses the souls of his victims to create his Prelate Army. Oh, and he took on the name Enerjak in this timeline because "Enerjak the Hero" sounded cool.
    • Sonic's evil Mirror Universe counterpart Scourge gets noticeably more unhinged upon going super. Once seeing that his own world (which he conquered) nor Sonic's own will accept him as King, says he's going to spindash both worlds in half just because he can, and will do this to one world after another until one gives him "the respect he deserves."
    • On Mobius Prime, when Amy Rose used the Ring of Acorns on herself, she became her older Sonic Adventure self. On the Mirror Universe world of Moebius, when Anti-Amy did it, she went certifiably insane.
  • Sonic the Comic: Super Sonic, unlike the benign Super Mode seen in the source material, is Sonic's Superpowered Evil Side who can wipe the floor with nearly any threat to his wellbeing... but will just as readily attack his friends as well.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has the Heart of Kandrakar, an artifact of immense power that may drive its Keeper mad just by being that powerful. While the protagonist, Will, is a sane and well-adjusted person and her extreme jealousy has a good Freudian Excuse, the Big Bad of the second story arc was the previous Keeper and has been driven mad, and Will has the occasional moment of slight (and useful) madness.
  • In Zenith, the alternate Earth Maximan, who had been superpowered since the 40s, ended up going completely insane and killing everyone on his version of Earth. That said, most of the '60s superheroes became somewhat less than rational by the time of the early '90s.
  • In the original WildStorm continuity, Grifter spent several years suffering from mental illness after being exposed to Gen Factor before Zealot helped him regain his sanity.


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