Life and death are fluid elements in comic books. The minute you accept a character is gone for good is when creators plot their revival. The reasoning for this is the iconic appeal of comic book heroes. Generations of comic book fans grew up with Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and many other superheroes. If superheroes stay dead, the upcoming comic book fans will miss out on what made them famous in the first place.
That doesn't mean there haven't been comic book deaths of epic proportions. The more a household name a superhero is, the bigger deal their death will mean to the larger population. Nowadays, it's harder to count on your hands the heroes who haven't been killed compared to the ones who have. If you haven't met the grim reaper, you're missing a notch on your superhero utility belt.
The following is a list superhero deaths fans will never forget. We're going to stick to the Big Two of comics - Marvel and DC. The names you read will be familiar to novice comic book fans and the Wednesday Warriors (a name for comic book fans who head to their local comic book store every Wednesday for New Comic Book Day).
14 Colossus Sacrifices Himself To Find Cure for Legacy Virus
13 Barry Allen Can't Outrun A Crisis On Infinite Earths
12 The Fantastic Four Becomes The Fantastic Three
11 Hal Jordan Meets His Emerald Twilight
10 Ultimate Spider-Man Meets His Ultimate Fate
9 The Student Surpasses The Teacher When Cyclops Cuts Down Professor X
8 Wolverine Is The Best There Is At Dying
7 Batman Bites The Omega Bullet
6 Civil War II Adds Bruce Banner To Death Toll
Civil War II has a number of problems, the least of which is the delays in its scheduling that have the finale hitting stores near the end of the year. Another problem is how it's handled fan-favorite characters like War Machine, Captain Marvel, and Bruce Banner.
In the lead-up to Civil War II, Banner was replaced as The Hulk by his friend, Amadeus Cho. Marvel must have decided with Cho as the Totally Awesome Hulk, keeping Banner around wasn't necessary anymore. The Inhuman Ulysses had a vision that Banner would destroy his friends and allies in a Hulkian rampage. A group of heroes went to confront Banner, and he declared he'd found a cure to turning into The Hulk. With a parade of superheroes in attendance and tensions rising, Hawkeye put Banner out of his misery with an arrow between the eyes in Civil War II #3.
5 Doctor Octopus Dies, Takes Spider-Man With Him
Try to stay with me, because this might get a little confusing. Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus, learned he was dying from all the abuse his body has taken over the years at the hands of the Amazing Spider-Man. Knowing he was nearing the end, he devised a diabolical plan to save himself while one-upping Spider-Man.
Doc Ock gained the ability to transfer his consciousness into the metallic body of his Octobots. He then used one of the bots to swap his brain into the body of his arch-nemesis. Octavius retained all of Spider-Man's memories, while Spidey's brainwaves went into the villain's dying body.
4 Fans Vote To Kill Off Jason Todd Robin
It's rare that comic book fans get to have a say in how a storyline plays out. In 1988, DC Comics decided to allow fans to vote via the telephone on whether Robin, The Boy Wonder, would perish at the hands of the Joker in A Death in the Family. The Jason Todd iteration of Robin wasn't well received by fans, so in a close vote, the verdict came down to kill Robin. This was unprecedented in the world of comics - fans being allowed to vote for one, and the result of that deciding if a character lives or dies.
3 Captain America Is A Casualty Of The Superhero Civil War
Captain America may not have died in the blockbuster film Captain America: Civil War, but he did bite the big one immediately following the comic book mega-event of the same name.
The comic book and movie Civil War both saw Captain America and Iron Man on opposing sides of superhero registration. After battle lines were drawn and blood was shed, Steve Rogers decided to surrender rather than continue to fight his friends. As he's being led up a set of steps, it appears he's shot down by a sniper. What really happened is while Crossbones shot from above, a brainwashed Sharon Carter delivers the fatal shot right next to Cap.
2 A Phoenix Shall Rise Again... And Again..... And Again
The X-Men's Jean Grey may be the poster child for comic book resurrections. She has died and been brought back to life more times than any other high profile comic book character. Her first "death" took place while the X-Men were in space battling the Shi'ar Empire.
Jean took on the power of the Phoenix Force, which is a cosmic entity with enormous powers. The Phoenix Force basically turned Jean into a God, with the power to wipe out planets with a single thought. It started to corrupt her, which led to the infamous Dark Phoenix Saga where Jean destroyed a solar system while under the influence of the Phoenix Force. Galactic empires like the Kree and the Shi'ar wanted Jean to perish for her actions, but the X-Men and specifically her boyfriend, Cyclops, stood beside her. In a battle on the dark side of the moon, the X-Men took on the Shi'ar Imperial Guard with Jean's fate resting in the balance. In the end, Jean sacrificed herself rather than see more people die at her hands.
1 The Man of Steel vs. The Ultimate Killing Machine, Doomsday
The Death of Superman in 1992 rocked the comic book landscape. The Man of Steel was believed to be unbeatable, and the thought of him somehow dying was crazy. DC Comics proved this to be false by creating a brand new threat for Superman named Doomsday. Doomsday had no backstory upon his introduction. He simply showed up and started running through the Justice League International until Superman arrives. The two brawl across the country, ending with the final fight at Superman's home city of Metropolis.
Superman and Doomsday deliver killing blows to one another, ending their path of destruction. The DC Universe mourns the loss of their most heralded sign of truth, justice, and the American way. The fallout of The Death of Superman was the emergence of four new replacement Supermen - The Man of Steel (John Irons as the armored hero Steel), The Man of Tomorrow (Cyborg Superman), The Metropolis Kid (a teenage clone of Superman that later became Superboy), and The Last Son of Krypton (Eradicator, former villain of Superman). It was during this Reign of the Supermen that Coast City, home of the Green Lantern Hal Jordan, was destroyed.
The real Superman is revived when the Eradicator steals his body and takes it to the Fortress of Solitude. He then harnesses Superman's powers using a regeneration matrix, which Superman escapes from.
Sources: Wikipedia, Marvel Wikia, DC Wikia.
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