Let's face it, comic book reader — death in the fantastical world of superhero comic books is somewhat akin to real world jury duty. <p>It's certainly annoying and inconvenient, and something everybody is eventually called to do (sometimes even more than once). But it's temporary at best — resulting in only minor upheaval of your life — and sooner or later after the service has been performed you're released and things are back to normal before you know it. <p>Most recently, Catwoman’s much-hyped bullet-to-the-head turned out to be Martian Manhunter using his shape-shifting powers; the death that served as a catalyst for DC’s “Trinity War” turned out to D-lister Doctor Light; and even someone claiming to be Jean Grey has turned up in the current X-crossover “Battle of the Atom.” <p>In other words, comic books rather capricious attitude towards death doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon. <p>But once every blue area of the moon, whether you perceive a return to the mortal plane is in the offing or not, a comic book death sticks with you. These are instances that can define a character, an era, or even become a pop-cultural touchstone. Here is our countdown of 10 Comic Books Deaths That (Mostly) Still Matter. <p><i>Original article by Troy Brownfield</i>.
After Hal Jordan went batsh*t crazy, became Parallax and killed off the Corps, Kyle Rayner became the Green Lantern of Earth. Remarkably, here was one guy that had his relationship improve when he became a superhero. <p>Kyle's girlfriend, Alexandra (Alex) DeWitt had had about enough of his irresponsible crap, but when Kyle got the ring and stepped up his game, things improved between them. <p>Unfortunately, Major Force came looking for Kyle, and callously murdered Alex and stuffed her in the refrigerator — a pivotal moment in Rayner's life that survived the altered continuity of The New 52. <p>The method of Alex's death set off a firestorm, making the phrase "women in refrigerators" an industry rally cry and causing people to take notice. <p>Though Alex has never returned, per se (outside of a couple of ring-related teases), her very brief life in the DCU still causes waves, both in the real world and within the fictional DC Universe.
Spoiler had a tough time of it. Her dad was a supervillain, she got pregnant in her teens, and her relationship with Tim Drake was never smooth. <p>What's worse, when she got the chance to take over for Tim as Robin, it was really part of a plan by Batman to force Tim back into the role. <p>Desperate to win approval, Stephanie made a major mistake that led to "War Games," and her eventual, apparent, death at the hands of Black Mask. <p>Though it turned out that Stephanie didn't actually die, Stephanie's fate and the lack of a memorial case in the Batcave became a huge sticking point for a vocal group of fans, leading to movements like Project Girl Wonder. <p>Stephanie was later revealed to be alive, and served as Batgirl in the pre-New 52 era. Nevertheless, the impact of her non-passing was seismic, and she's one of many characters still in limbo in DC's current continuity.
We know we shouldn't be shocked when anyone dies in <i>The Walking Dead</i>. However, it was hard to not be left standing in open-mouthed shock when Lori met her fate during the battle between the survivors (led by Lori's husband Rick) and the insane Governor. <p>As the Governor's forces overran the prison that had been home to the Grimes family and their friends, many of the tight-knit band of survivors died. <p>During a scramble for freedom, Rick, his son Carl, and Lori (carrying baby Judy) ran for it under heavy fire. In a startling full-page image, Lori took the full brunt of a shotgun blast to the back, killing her instantly. <p>While many thought that Judy was killed by the blast as well, the text of the character guide miniseries elaborates that Judy was crushed when Lori fell on her. Man, Kirkman, that's harsh even for you. <p>This stark moment reminded us that no one, <i>no one</i>, is safe in this world (something readers were reminded of once again in last year's issue #100), and we've seen Rick and Carl grapple with the fallout ever since.
In 1980, we kinda thought that the good guys were always going win. Sure, there had been losses (check out No. 6), and Thunderbird had died, but we honestly didn't think that things would ever go so badly that a hero would take their own life to save the universe. Then there was Jean Grey. <p>In the final issue of "The Dark Phoenix Saga," the X-Men fought the Imperial Guard on the Blue Area of Earth's moon to prevent them from executing Phoenix, whom they (rightly) regarded as a danger to the galaxy. Even though Professor X had installed a series of psychic circuit breakers in Jean's head to prevent her from becoming Dark Phoenix, the danger was there. <p>In the midst of combat, Cyclops went down, and Dark Phoenix returned. Professor X forced his defeated X-Men awake, and they raced to stop Jean. Colossus found himself unable to deliver a death blow, but his shot to Jean's jaw shook her up. <p>She ran, and Cyclops followed. Jean froze Scott with her powers, then killed herself with a Kree laser cannon to ensure that she couldn't endanger the universe. <p>Let us assure you: this was a stone cold shock. The death of Jean resonated in the X-titles for years. It would be five years before Jean returned, and its impact has been diminished by repeat performances (including a maybe new one) but this was a stunner, and one with lasting effects seen as recently as <i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i> and <i>All-New X-Men</i>.
Aquababy? Yeah, Aquababy. <p>As we noted, heroes have lost family members before. They've lost parents, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, best friends, sidekicks... but their children? <p>That taboo was broken in 1978 at the hands of Black Manta. <p>Aquaman and Mera's enemy kidnapped their son and put him in a device that would eventually suffocate him. Though Mera went back to her home dimension in pursuit of tech that could save Arthur Jr., she got back too late. <p>This was a hard one to take, and it precedes the also-shocking DC death of Iris Allen by a year. If Lori's death reminded us that no one in Robert Kirkman's universe is safe, then Arthur Jr.'s death clued us that there was always the possibility of darkness in superhero tales.
His arrival sparked the Silver Age, and his death helped usher in the Post-Crisis DCU. <p>One of the most startling and visible character deaths in comics, the sacrifice of The Flash put even more real weight on <i>Crisis on Infinite Earths</i>, coming as it did on the heels of the death of Supergirl. <p>The most obvious and lasting effect of Barry Allen's passing was that Wally West became the Flash. Wally came into his own under several talented writers, and became the Flash that a generation of fans know from animated series <i>Justice League</i> and <i>Justice League Unlimited</i>. <p>Barry's death stuck for over 20 years, which is pretty amazing for comics. Though he's back in action these days — and once again "the" Flash, with Wally West yet to be seen in The New 52 — that doesn't change the fact that his death amazed us while allowing a legacy character to take the place of his mentor and shine.
In the "Which actual hero stayed dead longest?" sweepstakes, Bucky wins. <p>Sure, other supporting characters have taken longer dirt-naps, but Bucky went down in flames at the end of World War II (well, in flashback) and stayed dead. For a long, long time. <p>So certain was this demise that "only Bucky stays dead" became a catchphrase relating to the revolving door of death in comics. <p>Captain America always had a dependable source of angst when it came to Bucky, and no one was ever crazy enough to bring him back. <p>Enter Ed Brubaker, who brought him back and made it, well, awesome. Now he's alive, and after a brief brush with presumed death in the pages of 2011's <i>Fear Itself</i> (as pictured here), he's starred in an ongoing series <b>Winter Soldier</b>, and is serving as a major inspiration for the 2014 <i>Captain America</i> movie sequel, subtitled <i>The Winter Soldier</i>.
Some characters get created with the intended purpose of dying. Take the parents of Superman, for example. When your lead comes to Earth because his parents rocketed him from their dying homeworld, then said parents really don't have much of a life expectancy. <p>However, Superman's parents have cast a long shadow and had visible roles in the life of the hero not only in comics, but across all media. <p>Jor-El's presence was deemed important enough to land Marlon Brando for the part, after all. We believe that the thing that makes Jor-El and Lara matter is the idea of sacrifice; they're both laying down their lives so that their son might live and improve the lives of others elsewhere. <p>Though we've seen them across comics, film (including the recent <i>Man of Steel</i>,, with Ayelet Zurer as Lara and another Oscar winner, Russell Crowe, as Jor-El) and television plenty of times, their absence still matters to Superman.
With great power comes great responsibility. <p>Peter Parker learned the cardinal lesson of Spider-Man's life due to the inaction that led directly to the death of his beloved Uncle Ben. Everything that Peter does (umm, did) still carries the urgency of how his uncle raised him. Had Uncle Ben lived, Peter might have learned his lesson, but it wouldn't carry the same elegiac resonance. <p>As it is, the death of Uncle Ben put the realities of power into sharp focus for Peter (and now to some degree Dr. Octopus), and Ben's death continues to be a crucial piece of the hero's psyche to this day, and adaptations like 2012's <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i> film. <p>Of course, Uncle Ben was only the first major loss of Peter Parker's superheroing career, with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy's murder at the hands of the Green Goblin also leaving a profound impact on the character over decades. Neither one has been brought back to life at any point, and are among the least likely to get that treatment in mainstream comics — along with No. 1 on our list.
Did we mention casting a long shadow? The loss of the Waynes led to the creation of Batman. Batman's crusade, his hatred of guns, his desire to protect others from the loss that he experienced ... it all goes back to his parents. <p>The Waynes aren't the only characters whose deaths presaged the creation of a heroic identity, but the notion of being suddenly orphaned touches that keystone fear in all of us. Whether we became Batman fans as children or later in life, we still find identification with that kind of terror and loss. Young Bruce kneeling next to his slain parents has become one of the iconic images in comics. <p>And while we've never seen much of the Waynes while they were alive (though 2011's <i>Flashpoint</i> offered an unexpected take on what could have been), their passing framed essentially every element of the personality of one of the most important characters in the medium.