Top 5 Superhero Hunters

The Only Good Hero is a Dead Hero

[a hero is fighting a superhero hunter to avenge his brother]
Ingenium: “I’ll never forgive you! I’ll kill you!
Hero Killer Stain: [points to a wounded victim] Save that guy first. You’re so busy with your grudge, you forgot about him. You plan on using your Quirk only for yourself, completely blinded by a selfish desire for revenge. You’re about as far from a hero as I can imagine. That’s why you’ll die tonight. [raises his sword] Goodbye, child. May your death bring about a better world.

My Hero Academia “Midoriya and Shigaraki” (Season 2, Episode 15)

Everyone loves superheroes, right? These champions fight the bad guys, protect innocents, and save the day. But what if they go off the rails? What if Earth’s greatest champions decided that they should call the shots? That the only truth, justice, and way that mattered was theirs? Cops and the military couldn’t do diddly squat against them. Supers happen, so who you gonna call when someone has to stop them?

That’s when a superhero hunter enters the game. They have the skills, gear, and cunning to take down a rogue superhero. They could belong to an organization that has planned contingencies against heroes for years or be a lone wolf with a chip on their shoulder and a mad-on for superpowered types. So who are the top 5 superhero hunters? Let’s find out.

#5 X-Factor

Universe: Marvel
Target: Mutants

[X-Factor has gotten a tip about a Mutant being attacked]
Warren:That poor kid, chased by the likes of Freedom Force? Let’s hope we find him before they do.”
Bobby:No kidding, but the park’s a big place, where can he be?
Jean:Scott, look over there! That crowd!
Scott:I hope he’s not there. He has some control over his powers, but if he’s threatened I have fantasies of Fifth Avenue in flames!

X-Men: Mutant Massacre

Have you suffered due to Mutants? Was your home damaged in the ongoing gang war between the X-Men and the Brotherhood? Did Juggernaut throw a car you had almost paid off through a building? Do you want a solution to the mutant problem? Then you need our number 5 superhero hunters: X-Factor!

X-Factor was a team of adventurers with high-tech weapons and gear that could counter Mutant powers. For a modest fee, they would incarcerate dangerous Mutants or kill them if they couldn’t be contained. The public lauded these human heroes who didn’t rely on freaky powers or hide behind costumes.

Unknown to the public, X-Factor were the original X-Men. They were on the outs with the main team because Magento had become the leader and chose to split off. They smuggled Mutants to safety while pretending to hunt them and used their powers to fake the gear. If X-Factor needed a distraction, they would use their X-Men identities and make a show as the X-Terminators.

X-Factor was good at their job, but their superhero hunters gimmick didn’t last long. The team realized that their actions were emboldening bigots and radicalizing young Mutants. Even worse, their biggest sponsor was revealed to be a villain who wanted to commit genocide on Mutantkind. The X-Men abandoned the X-Factor title and returned to normal heroics.

#4 Project Cadmus

Universe: DC Comics
Target:
The Justice League

Batman:Whatever you think you’re doing, if you present a threat to the world, the Justice League will take you down.”
Waller:If we present a threat?! You’ve got a spaceship floating over our heads with a laser weapon pointing down. In another dimension, seven of you overthrew the government and assassinated the President! We’re the good guys, protecting our country from a very real threat: you.

Justice League: Unlimited “The Doomsday Sanction” (Season 2, Episode 3)

Many superhero hunters are solo acts or small groups. A few crazies are easy enough to stop, but what about a black ops organization uniting several factions to eliminate superheroes with extreme prejudice? Then you get the DC Animated Universe’s premier superhero hunters, Project Cadmus.

The U.S. government became afraid of Superman after he was brainwashed into trying to conquer the Earth for Darkseid. The Justice League’s formation worsened their relations, but the tipping point came when they learned about a parallel universe where the League took over the Earth. The government created Project Cadmus, a top-secret organization meant to destroy the Justice League and every other superpowered being.

Cadmus tried many tactics, including tricking Superman into destroying a housing project and creating their own superhero team: The Ultimen. They also recruited or created threats such as Doomsday, The Suicide Squad, and a Supergirl clone called Galatea. Worst of all, Cadmus had access to nukes and took possession of a Gray Goo superweapon called the Dark Heart.

Cadmus and the League fought a cold war, neither side willing to pull the trigger as they inched ever closer to a superhuman World War III. Luckily, Lex Luthor was revealed to be manipulating both sides and tried to conquer the world with the Dark Heart. The League stopped him and convinced Cadmus’ leaders to take a “trust, but verify” stance with them.

#3 Marshal Law

Universe: Epic Comics
Target: All Superheroes

[Several superheroes are being torn apart by hooks in Hell]
Pinhead: No doubt you’re enjoying this, Marshal?
Marshal:No. They’re not suffering enough! Give them more pain! They’re meant to be superheroes. They can take it!

Pinhead vs. Marshal Law: Law in Hell

The ancestor of several superhero hunters began as a parody of Judge Dredd and was written to tear apart the superhero genre by writers who loathe it. Introducing Marshal Law.

In the near-future, hundreds of people have been given superpowers via genetic engineering. Most of these superheroes devolve into hedonistic sadists, leading to the formation of the Cape Killers, superpowered police tasked with killing any hero who goes too far.

Marshal Law is a Cape Killer who participated in a superpowered equivalent of the Vietnam War. The atrocities he saw gave him PTSD and an utter hatred of superheroes. He gleefully slaughters his targets while ranting about how horrible they are. Ironically, his powers and uniform make him very similar to the heroes he hates.

Marshal Law is lenient with younger heroes, admires cops and soldiers, and occasionally seems to have a heart. Unfortunately, these good traits are overshadowed by his massacres and position as a mouthpiece for the writers’ cynical filibusters.

The clearest picture of Marshal Law came from a crossover with the Hellraiser franchise. The protagonist allowed several heroes to be trapped in Hell while bonding with the demon Pinhead over their hatred of superheroes. Best of all, the heroes’ crime was trying to save Marshal from Hell. I’d say keep it classy, but the guy walks around in an SS uniform and restraint mask. Class choked to death on its own vomit long ago.

#2 The Boys

Universe: The Boys
Target: The Seven

Frenchie: [comparing the team to Wile E. Coyote] “Always chases Road Runner, always with an elaborate plan, always fails. You know, I always say “Why go this crazy?” All you need is an AR15 and “Meep Meep” no more.
Butcher: Exactly! See, we’re just gonna’ shoot Road Runner in the f***ing head.

The Boys, “What I Know” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Marshal Law isn’t the only superhero hunter created by a writer who hates the genre. Luckily, our penultimate pick was cleaned up significantly in the Amazon Studios adaptation. So who are The Boys?

In The Boy’s world, almost every superhero is sponsored by a company called Vought International. Heroes are groomed from birth to be stars, with Justice League knockoff The Seven being Vought’s magnum opus. All collateral damage, casualties, and general sleaziness are swept under the rug. While the public lauded The Seven, several outcasts saw through the bread and circuses routine and decided that they needed to be stopped.

Billy Butcher leads The Boys. This Cockney Punisher wannabe loves two things, killing supers and cursing as much as possible. His teammates include Mother’s Milk, a medic and voice of reason, Frenchie, a criminal who supplies them with gear, and his mute partner Kimiko, the token girl and superhuman. An everyman named Hughie rounds out The Boys. Hughie wants to avenge his wife after one of The Seven accidentally killed her.

The Boys mostly lack superpowers, but make up for it with brutal tactics, ingenuity, and enough guns to make Deadpool blush. They’re fighting a hero with unbreakable skin? Shove a bomb up his butt and detonate it. Hughie confronts the super that killed his wife? Exploit his drug addiction while Kimiko sneaks up on him with a lead pipe. There’s little The Boys won’t do to kill heroes.

#1 “Hero Killer” Stain

Universe: My Hero Academia
Target: Professional Heroes, Villains

[A group of heroes have cornered Stain]
Endeavor: [Charging in] “Hero Killer!”
Stain:Endeavor… you false hero! [everyone freezes up in fear] I’ll make this right. These streets… must run with the blood of hypocrites. Hero! I WILL RECLAIM THAT WORD! COME ON, JUST TRY AND STOP ME, YOU FAKES!

My Hero Academia “Climax” (Season 2, Episode 17)

Most superhero hunters hate heroes. Their grudge may be from a previous wrong or fear of what they could do, but our number one superhero hunter loves heroes. Anyone who besmirches that title will cower before the Hero Killer: Stain. 

Chizome Akaguro was a teenager who wanted to become a professional hero like his idol, All Might. He attended an academy to study heroics, but was disgusted to realize that his classmates only cared about fame and fortune instead of helping people. Chizome failed to convince his class to follow his ideals and dropped out. If words wouldn’t convince people, he’d force them to adapt.

Chizome trained as an assassin for years and became a serial killer called Stain. Any pro hero who he deemed a fake was isolated and ambushed. He racked up seventeen kills and twenty-three crippled heroes. These attacks were made easier by his Quirk, Bloodcurdle, which temporarily paralyzed anyone whose blood he drank. Combining his Quirk, fighting skills, and plenty of blades made Stain a deadly threat.

Stain’s ideals are black-and-white, but he can recognize when people have potential to become true heroes. He also has utter faith in his beliefs, to the point where his rage at a group of false heroes trying to capture him became an aura that paralyzed everyone present. That explicitly wasn’t part of his Quirk, it was caused by sheer hatred.

Stain is our number one is superhero hunter because of his convictions. He tears apart superhero society to the point where the main characters acknowledge he made several valid points and unwittingly inspired dozens of villains. Stain killed plenty of heroes, but his ideals and charisma are even more dangerous.


Who is your favorite superhero hunter? Is there one more dangerous than these five? Tell us in the comments.

Image: Karl Urban as Billy Butcher in The Boys. Copyright Amazon Studios. Credit Jasper Savage.

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