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Drawing Crazy Patterns – Off With Their Heads!

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics).

Today we look at the somewhat oddly popular act of decapitation within comic books.

Be forewarned, there are a couple of fairly graphic scenes to follow – so if you don’t want to see that sort of thing, be sure to skip today’s installment!

Otherwise, enjoy!

The king of decapitation stories has to be Crime SuspenStories #22, which featured the infamous Johnny Craig decapitated head cover that was made such a fuss about in the months leading up to the Comics Code being established.

I’m sure you’ve seen the cover, but have you seen the story itself?

The twist in the story is excellent. I won’t spoil it for you in case you track down a reprint of the story (there are plenty of them out there).

Next we have Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Big Fat Kill #2, and deadly little Miho…

That is possibly the least graphic way Miho kills somebody in The Big Fat Kill, so yeah, it is not a comic for all readers.

In New X-Men #150, in one last act of defiance, a drug-addled Magneto (who is wearing his Xorn helmet once again) has just killed Jean Grey. Wolverine does not take kindly to this…

Wolverine is at it again in Wolverine (second ongoing) #55, where he puts Sabretooth out of his misery…

(click on the double-page spread to enlarge it)

Finally, here is the scene where Superboy Prime went from being misguided into being one of the deadliest villains in DC history (Clock King will always be the #1 deadliest villains in DC history)…

If you have a suggestion for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns installment, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com


Travis Pelkie

July 16, 2011 at 3:20 am

Oh, sweet.

I do so like the incongruity of “otherwise, enjoy!”

As annoying as Superboy Prime is there, it’s a pretty funny scene, but I don’t think it was intended to be.

“Leave me alone!” Whack! Pantha’s haid flies off. “I didn’t mean to do that!”

Give that boy some cheese with his whine. (Actually, Captain Marvel should have stepped in and kicked his ass there. “Here’s some Big Red Cheese for that WHINE!” I would buy 10 copies.)

Clock King? CLOCK KING?!?! I see your Clock King and raise you Angle Man, sir!

McKeever’s version of the Clock King actually has a good claim to being one of the deadlier villains in DC history.

In TMNT #21, Leonardo decapitates Shredder after an epic rooftop duel. It’s hard to spot, though – you have to look carefully for a thin line of severance on Shredder’s neck.

Ethan Shuster

July 16, 2011 at 6:49 am

Yeah, there’s one of the scenes from that series that made me not want to read it anymore. Just too… icky.

Brian- thank you. I saw the title and, the EC fan that I am, immediately thought of Crime SuspenStories #22. I agree, the twist is pretty good. Some of the best stories took place during the later issues of the New Direction titles, rather than the early on. The three other stories in that issue are pretty good too.

Sigh. *Everyone* is so dumb in that Superboy Prime scene. But I do think that an early lesson in DC superhero training camp needs to be “If there’s an angry/ possessed/ corrupted/ villainous Kryptonian, Daxamite, Martian, or Marvel Family member around, and you’re a street-level hero or low-level, non-invulnerable meta without any powers that especially target them (e.g. a magic-user vs possessed Superman, a fire-user vs a Martian), get the hell outa Dodge and let Dr Fate or some Green Lanterns handle it. You’re probably in a Geoff Johns scene and you’re decapitation or dismemberment bait.”

That Wolverine and Sabertooth scene looks dreadful.

Those last two examples are pretty bad, but damn, those EC pages are hardcore.

I was just reading Chaos War: God Squad, which was not a particularly good comic but the creative team did a good imitation of the Incredible Hercules sound effects throughout it. One cute one was DKAPPPP! when the Silver Surfer’s board sliced through some Japanese dragon’s neck.

Looking at that stupid Infinite Crisis page again, I half-expected the sound effect to be NOKDERBLOKKOFFFF! or something like that.

During Peter David’s first run on the Hulk, he introduced a villain named Speed Demon who sliced off a poor mook’s head so quickly that he continued to have thought balloons for the next few panels.

Here’s something that links two of these examples: an alternate cover to Wolverine #55. You may even want to include it in the article above:


I never read that Wolverine/Sabretooth scene, but I imagine Sabretooth is still around, which means he probably regenerated somehow, which means mutant books are just too silly nowadays.

(apologies if I’m wrong and “dead meant dead” in this case, but I can’t help but be skeptical).

Hey, Cap decapitating Baron Blood was a pretty big deal (but I guess they didn’t show that on-panel, did they?)

oh, and that Peter David/Hulk/Speed Demon decapitation scene sounds hilarious, and right up Mr. David’s alley. What issue was that?

oh, and that Peter David/Hulk/Speed Demon decapitation scene sounds hilarious, and right up Mr. David’s alley. What issue was that?

The character was actually called Speedfreek, introduced in Incredible Hulk #388, which is usually more remembered for a major revelation about the Hulk’s former companion Jim Wilson. The unrelated Speed Demon has been kicking around Marvel since 1969, but I don’t think he ever appeared in a Hulk series.

One of my favorite decapitation scenes has to be from Cable/Deadpool where Wolverine cuts off Deadpool’s head, and Bob is forced to chase it as it gets kicked around and attempt to re-attach it before the lack of oxygen prevents Deadpool from regenerating when it is attached.

Gotta give a shout-out to Andy Helfer and Kyle Baker’s old Shadow series for DC, where the Shadow gets his noggin sliced off and somehow survives to build a ridiculously over the top robot body for himself:

But yeah, the first one I thought of was Cap using his shield (in both hands, not throwing it) to cut off the prone Baron Blood’s head. Gnarly, Cap!

I guess Ultron doesn’t count, but he’s been decapitated more times than I bet he cares to remember! *SHRAKKK!!*

Yes the character is called Speedfreak. Speed Demon is a whole different Marvel character.


Travis Pelkie

July 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

See, I see the name Speed Demon and I think of the Amalgam character.

Ah, the ’90s kicked ass!

I stopped reading X-Men after MORRISON’s run ended. Can someone tell me how Magneto’s decapitation was explained away since he is obviously still alive? Thanks!

It was revealed that Magneto wasn’t actually Xorn/Xorn wasn’t really Magneto.


So then who was it?

My first thought was the decapitation of a Mutant Liberation Front member (Snapdragon or something?) by Archangel in X-Tinction Agenda. That’s around the time I started reading comics and it was HARD CORE at the time.

And of course nowadays, it’s all about Michone beheading zombies in the Walking Dead, but I think that’s a different animal than you were going for here ;) .

Man, that EC story has got a TON of redundant captions. Must’ve been written full script.

Cretien Hughes

July 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

@Rob III

Are you mad?! Okay the the story telling is a little difficult but the draftsmanship is is exceptional.

Sabretooth recently turned up in Wolverine. He was however in hell and still quite dead. Though I seem to remember that he’s been dead before when he was a part of the Marauders and Sinister revived him so I suppose its still possible. (though I believe Sinister is currently dead)
Also that Johnny Craig art is bloody good.

So far, Sabertooth has stayed dead. I’m expecting the recent ‘Wolverine in Hell’ storyline is a way for him to ‘get better’.

Shame, because I like the Exiles Sabertooth much better.

Dead Sabretooth, um, looks traced. From . . . not a guy.

Jonathon Riddle

July 25, 2011 at 4:27 am

God damn it, Johns…

Archangel decapitated Cameron Hodge in X-Factor after his girlfriend was killed. Unfortunately for the X-Men (and logic in general), Hodge had made a deal with a demon which kept his head alive and his head was later attached to a cyborg body. He was decapitated again in the X-Tinction Agenda storyline and his head buried under a pile of rubble. His head later went on to have even more adventures.


Go figure.

should have added Mr Gone from the Maxx. one of the most famous removal of heads in comic history !!!!

I think the first decapitation I can remember was Balder taking off Loki’s head in Thor #344. Walt Simonson’s sound effects “SHLIKKK! THUD” were just as awesome as the scene.

Jonathon Riddle

July 31, 2011 at 11:52 am

Ah, and lets not forget Liefeld’s magic bullet that both tore a guy’s head off and dislodged an eye at the same time in Darker Image. It was number 19 of Progressive Boink’s “40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings” countdown! To see it for yourself, go to: http://www.progressiveboink.com/archive/robliefeld3.html

Jonathon Riddle

July 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Wasn’t Wesley Winston keeping a grain silo full of severed heads in Rick Veitch’s Maximortal? I think it was in issue #2…

Wonder Woman decapitated two enemies during Vol. 2. The first occurred in the finale of her battle against Deimos & Phobos. The “snakes” of Deimos’ beard ensnare Wonder Woman and inject her with venom from multiple bites. Desperate, Wonder Woman takes off her tiara, hurls it and slices off Deimos’ head in a dynamic, unexpected use of her tiara!

Greg Rucka’s stunning showdown between Wonder Woman and Medousa culminated in Diana’s astonishing act of self-blinding to save herself from petrification. Then, a blinded Wonder Woman swings her battle axe and chops off Medousa’s head! Pity that these kills by such a high-profile superhero were ignored.

comics need MORE decapitations bc they are AWESOME

Archangel did accidentally slice off Kamikaze’s head in one of the Peter David issues of X-Factor during the X-Cutioner’s Song cross-over (#83 I think). Boom-Boom/Boomer/Meltdown whatever-her-name-is-these-days even makes a joke about it.

DUDE!!! Du-hu-hu-HUDE!! I have seen that Crime SuspenStories #22 cover a jillion times and never read the tale…. BALLSY! Thanks.

Emanuel Ravelli

November 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

How about Chief from the climax of Morrison’s Doom Patrol run – becoming Head?

Hm. Two of the example decapitations were drawn by Phil Jimenez, who is just about the sweetest guy around.

Is it strange I have a headache after reading this?

OBSCURE DECAPITATION: Silver Sabre, in the back of one of the X-Annuals in the 90’s — it was a four-part story told in four of the X-Annuals but I can’t remember the linking story…hm.

Anyways, Sabre and the rest of Freedom Force are sent to the Middle East and are attacked by some evil Middle Eastern Avengers or something. One of them (with a big sword) lops off Sabre’s head. As a kid, I was kind of shocked and super-concerned about Freedom Force, whom I loved.

Sabre ended up slipping out of hell or something a couple years ago. I think he’s running around again.

Oh, and a not-surprising update: Sabretooth is just fine these days, head intact.

“In TMNT #21, Leonardo decapitates Shredder after an epic rooftop duel. It’s hard to spot, though – you have to look carefully for a thin line of severance on Shredder’s neck.”

Surprisingly, this also happens in 4Kids’ animated TMNT series from the early 2000s, but this time it’s not “hard to spot” at all. (There’s a twist, though, which I don’t want to spoil.) I heard later that someone was fired for allowing this into the show.

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