THE (RE)BORNE IDENTITY1 of 12
Superheroes - they seem to die all the time these days.
But then, they come back to life just as often.
Given the supernatural and unrealistic parameters in which superhero stories exist, the revolving door nature of death to serve the medium's publishing needs makes some sense.
Still, there are comic book deaths that mattered - and still matter - even though the hero that died has come back to life.
A recent string of high profile resurrections starting with Wolverine in Marvel Legacy and then Hawkman and Martian Manhunter in Dark Nights: Metal and culminating most recently in the resurrection of the original Cyclops have us thinking once again about comic books' revolving door policy towards death.
Imagine all the deaths in Heroes in Crisis - will they all stick?
Here are the ten most significant superhero deaths that didn't stick.
WOLVERINE2 of 12
At one point, Wolverine was arguably Marvel’s most popular character – but by the time he was actually killed in continuity, his star had faded somewhat.
Still, it’s hard to argue that the death of Wolverine didn’t send a seismic ripple throughout the Marvel Universe, with his role in the X-Men and at the publisher split among multiple alternate versions and legacy characters – with the “Best There Is” himself relegated to a memory for several years.
But now, the original Wolverine is back, with the mysterious circumstances just recently coming to light in The Return of Wolverine. And, he’s about to be back among the X-Men alongside fellow resurrect-ee Cyclops in the new volume of Uncanny X-Men.
COLOSSUS3 of 12
Colossus 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 after a long on-again-off-again rekindled romance, it seems their time together may be done for good - seeing as how Kitty left Piotr at the altar in 2018.
MARTIAN MANHUNTER4 of 12
Martian 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 after a long period getting shuffled around, he's now back in action alongside the Justice League.
IRON MAN5 of 12
Tony 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.)
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 12
Unlike 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 the star of his own solo series Red Hood: Outlaw.
SUPERMAN7 of 12
Death. 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.
The Death of Superman is the basis of a recent two-part DC animated film.
JEAN GREY8 of 12
Jean 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. Again. But with her latest resurrection, Jean seems to have eradicated the Phoenix Force from her life - so the cycle may be over once and for all, with Jean thankfully winding up on the side of the living.
BUCKY9 of 12
Bucky 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 second death didn't last, either — though, to be fair, he was never technically "dead" in the first place.
BARRY ALLEN10 of 12
Barry 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.
HAL JORDAN11 of 12
In 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 and Jessica Cruz, Hal's been the de facto Green Lantern for the past few years, and is the lead character of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's current series The Green Lantern.
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