The REBORN Identity1 of 12
As writer Matt Fraction once told us, "Killing the character is never the point. It's, 'How do they come back? How does that experience form them into an even greater, even stronger kind of hero?'"
Hopefully whoever takes a dirt nap in the upcoming Civil War II #3 (and we think we have a pretty good idea who it’s gonna be ) will get a second ride on the merry-go-round eventually, as well as James Rhodes, who already died in a previous issue.
Comic book superheroes and villains die a lot more frequently these days – but they also come back from the dead … a lot. But would readers really want it any other way? Here's a list of the top 10 most significant times characters have cheated death — sometimes more than once.
OLIVER QUEEN2 of 12Oliver Queen heroically took the dirtnap on an exploding plane. And Ollie was really, actually, totally dead. Then again, it helps to have friends like Hal Jordan (unless he's calling you an ethnically insensitive nickname).
Just before Hal went to reignite the sun in Final Night, he paid Ollie's grave a quick visit. Soon, Oliver was back prowling alleys and taking on villains. True, he was as soulless as a teen pop song for a while, but he got better.
Right now, the character might be more visible than ever — as the main focus of CW's Arrow and the lead in an ongoing series that's run since the launch of the "New 52." But there was a time when he was not only dead, but hanging out in Heaven (or something to that effect) with Barry Allen — more on him soon.
COLOSSUS3 of 12Colossus was once nearly destroyed when the Brotherhood heated him white hot and smothered him in molten material, freezing and cracking him. Rogue and the Morlock Healer fixed that. During the Mutant Massacre, he sustained heavy, paralyzing damage, but eventually recovered.
What actually did him in came much later, as Colossus nobly chose to rid mutantkind of the Legacy Virus by injecting himself with the cure. What's that mean? Well, the cure would spread to the whole world and cure everyone only if some poor bastard injected him or herself with it. Everyone would live, but they would die. Petey took it upon himself, and the Russian farmer purchased the arable ground.
It's OK; he got better. Colossus reappeared during Joss Whedon's Astonishing run and reunited with his Katya, though Colossus's time as one-fifth of the Phoenix Force was the final irreconcilable difference. She's currently the new Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he is a core member of the Extraordinary X-Men.
MARTIAN MANHUNTER4 of 12Martian Manhunter got to run a long time without buying the farm. However, J'onn got punked at the opening of the Grant Morrison-written Final Crisis event, killed by Libra with the help of his cronies.
At the close of Blackest Night, J'onn was one of a dozen characters to come back to life at the turn of the tide. During the Brightest Day, J'onn went all rocky as the Earth elemental from the Parliament of Stone, but The New 52 brought him back to his recognizable form; first in Stormwatch and now in Justice League of America. He has also subbed in for Catwoman in a fake death for his teammate, "appeared" to have been dead again (didn't last), and faked his death for a third time in his solo title, though his personality was actually split into multiple bodies.
His whereabouts moving into Rebirth are unclear, but he was seen alongside DC's other major heroes in preview art for the new relaunch.
IRON MAN5 of 12Tony Stark is a killer in the service of Kang! That's what happened in The Crossing back in the '90s. (Sort of. Later retcons made Kang into a disguised Immortus. and now possibly someone else in Uncanny Inhumans #2.)
Nevertheless, at the time, Tony killed the female Yellowjacket, Avengers ally Amanda Chaney, and Marilla (the nanny of Luna, Quicksilver and Crystal's daughter — watch your back, Squirrel Girl).
How do you beat Tony Stark? Apparently not by pelting him with Scotch, but by going back in time and grabbing a teenage Tony Stark to... out-Stark him?
During the final battle with Not Kang, Not Mantis (this Mantis was a brainwashed Space Phantom; damn, they hated The Crossing after the fact), two guys who might have been the sons of the Scarlet Witch (not now; see Young Avengers), and adult Tony, adult Tony had a moment of clarity after nearly killing his teen self and laid down his life to save the day. Teen Tony became Iron Man, but he later disappeared with the Avengers and the FF during the Onslaught event.
However! Thanks to the Heroes Reborn universe created by Franklin Richards, Teen Tony became a new adult Tony, and that's the Tony that did the returning-to-our-Earth in "Heroes Return." It should be noted that Tony also frequently tries to die from his original injuries that led to the birth of Iron Man, but not as frequently as Aunt May tries to die.
So, there you have it: One of the most popular multimedia superheroes in the world once became evil and was placed by his teenage self. (Iron Man 4, anybody?)
JASON TODD6 of 12Unlike the other characters on this list, Jason Todd's death was voted by popular demand (specifically, and somewhat infamously, via a 1-900 number).
The second Robin was brutally murdered by the Joker during 1988-1989's "Death in the Family" story, and remained a symbol of one of Batman's greatest failures, with his tattered costume on display in the Batcave. Teases — like a famous one during "Hush" — were made here and there that Jason might come back, but he never actually did.
Until he did, of course, specifically as a result of 2005's Infinite Crisis, when Superboy Prime punched the walls of reality (wouldn't you?) and ended up rewriting history a bit — with one of the outcomes being Jason's return.
Taking up the mantle of the Red Hood, Jason is now a violent vigilante that has both worked with and against Batman (turns out he held a bit of a grudge upon resurrection). He's set to star in a new Rebirth iteration of Red Hood & The Outlaws.
Another Robin, Damian Wayne, was also killed in action, and has also since returned to life - and active duty.
SUPERMAN7 of 12Death. Funeral. Return.
That's got to be the most literal-minded set of titles applied to any of the Deaths That Would Not Last. (OK, "Batman R.I.P." and "The Return of Bruce Wayne" are pretty on-the-nose too.)
For the sake of completeness: Superman's alive. Superman fights Doomsday. Superman's dead. Four Supermans show up. Surprise! None of them are Superman. One is a bad guy. No more Coast City. Superman is back! Superman defeats the bad Replacement Superman. Sorry about Coast City, Hal (see you in a minute).
Though Superman's death didn't last — who would expect it to? — it received an unprecedented-for-comics amount of mainstream publicity at the time (1992), when such a thing was pretty rare in the industry.
Now, in Rebirth, it looks like the Superman of the New 52 might also be dead - and this time, it may just stick.
JEAN GREY8 of 12Jean Grey is like the library book of comic book characters; it's her whole job to be taken out and returned.
Obviously, the big moment was X-Men #137 from 1980, where Jean sacrificed herself so that the Phoenix Force wouldn't destroy creation.
But. . . GOTCHA! That wasn't Jean! It was the Phoenix Force looking like Jean, and Jean was healing in a pod at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. Anyone who's ever been to Jamaica Bay can only laugh at the idea of healing waters. But with the help of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, she came back to life just in time for X-Factor #1 in 1985.
And yes, she died again. And came back(ish). And made Scott make out with Emma Frost on her grave. Or something. It happens. But despite teases, Marvel has stuck with the adult Jean Grey's death for nearly a decade now (though the teenage version is currently starring in Extraordinary X-Men).
BUCKY9 of 12Bucky died when he and Captain America attempted to stop that ill-fated rocket back in World War II... or so we were led to believe!
Bucky later returned as the brainwashed Winter Soldier, in a story that was adapted as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. After tangling with Cap and getting his memory back, Bucky went on to assume the mantle of Captain America and join the New Avengers.
Talk about failing upward. Of course, Bucky seemingly died again in Fear Itself, to be replaced by, yes, Steve Rogers, who also appeared to have died before being "reborn" a few years ago.
And, as subsequent developments showed, that most recent death didn't last, either — though, to be fair, he was never technically "dead" in the first place. Now alive, he's appearing in Captain America: Sam Wilson as well as the upcoming limited series Avengers: Standoff.
BARRY ALLEN10 of 12Barry Allen could probably claim the most glorious, heroic death in the history of comic books, literally racing to his demise to prevent the destruction of the remaining worlds of the multiverse at the hands of the Anti-Monitor.
No one would resurrect the self-sacrificing savior of all living things, would they? Why, that'd almost make Barry Allen like...
No, no. We aren't going there.
But he did return, and remains no less than the main Flash of the DC Universe, as well as the star of his own hit TV show. His resurrection was handled courtesy of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver in Flash: Rebirth, and that very same creative team brought back someone else...
HAL JORDAN11 of 12In one of the most controversial comic book stories of the '90s, Hal Jordan lost Coast City, went a little nuts, rampaged through the Corps leaving some floating in space (and actually killing Kilowog... that didn't stick either), tore up Oa, destroyed the Guardians and the battery, and "became" Parallax.
As Parallax, he was behind Zero Hour and other nasty machinations until he save the Earth during Final Night when he died reigniting the sun. Hal got the chance to be at the center of another crossover with Day of Judgment, wherein he became the new Spectre.
In Green Lantern: Rebirth (and where did you think that story was going?), many revelations about the nature of Parallax are made and Jordan comes back to life.
Despite the continued prominence of characters like John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner and the introduction of Simon Baz, Hal's been the de facto Green Lantern for the past few years, and was the version of the character seen on screen in 2011's mostly-maligned live-action film.
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