Here, There, and Back Again...1 of 12It's no secret that death and resurrection are two of modern comics' most popular 'gimmicks'. Characters come and go with such frequency that the impact is rarely felt by the characters anymore, let alone the readers. Everyone from Hawkeye to Superboy has done the resurrection tango.
But what about the times it really made an impact? With the return of Peter Parker on the horizon in Amazing Spider-Man #1, we decided to take a look at several of our previous explorations of resurrection in comics, and boil those down to the ten most important super-hero resurrections. These are the ones that really made an impact, whose deaths hit hard, and whose returns hit even harder.
We know Peter Parker is coming back in April, but we'll have to wait to see how he comes back before we consider adding him to the list.
Colossus2 of 12
After being one of the most beloved X-Men team members for years, Colossus had a tough time for most of the '90s. He became evil-ish and joined Magneto and his Acolytes, then spent some time with the UK-based X-Men spinoff team Excalibur.
At least he got to die a noble death, volunteering as the initial, doomed test subject for Beast's Legacy Virus cure, which ended the malady and potentially saved the mutant race. He was then cremated and, hey, there's no way you can come back from that, right?
Except this is X-Men comics, so of course you can. Turns out, his body was actually switched with a duplicate by an alien named Ord, who was able to resurrect him as revealed in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's popular Astonishing X-Men run.
Colossus has since returned to his former prominence, and as a member of the flagship Uncanny X-Men team, he became one of the Phoenix Five in Avengers vs. X-Men. After the Phoenix Five were dispatched, Colossus, now free not only of the Phoenix Force but of Cyttorak, the demon that once also possessed Juggernaut, Colossus joined Cable and X-Force. With Cable's team now in conflict with the Uncanny X-Force, Colossus's future remains uncertain.
Green Arrow3 of 12
Oliver 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.
No, the real wow factor is just what Jackie did to bring Jenny back. Jackie, after fighting a war over the thirteen mystical artifacts (The Darkness, The Witchblade, The Angelus, and The Rapture are just a few), gathered all of them together to unmake the Universe, remaking it how he saw fit. That included bringing Jenny back as his now-living wife, and making Hope, his daughter with Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini, now become the daughter of Jenny.
One more time, Jackie rewrote the entire universe to bring Jenny back. Now that's love.
Barry Allen4 of 12Barry Allen could probably claim the most glorious, heroic death in the history of comics, 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 at the hands of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, who also brought back a certain emerald knight, and remains no less than the main Flash of the DC Universe, with his New 52 solo title's reins soon passing to a new team after a two-year run by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
Jason Todd5 of 12Jason Todd, like Uncle Ben and Bucky (we'll get to him in a bit), was, for years, one of those "never coming back" characters that fans accepted would surely stay dead forever. Readers called a 1-900 number to kill him after, all surely there couldn't have been too many folks clamoring for his return.
But he did return from his brutal death at the hand of the Joker, in 2005's Judd Winick-written "Under the Hood" story. Though the actual mechanism of Jason's return has been criticized - Todd's resurrection came from the infamous "Prime Punch," in which Superboy Prime punched reality into bending to his will - the character has become a valued addition to the extended Batman family, as a Punisher-esque antihero called the Red Hood.
The story was adapted into the well-received direct-to-DVD animated feature Batman: Under the Red Hood, and currently Jason Todd co-stars in DC's New 52 series Red Hood and the Outlaws, having also played a role in the acclaimed "Death of the Family" story, and a pivotal role in the last few issues of Batman, Inc.
Bruce Wayne6 of 12Well if you've learned anything from this countdown, it's that you can't keep a good Bat-family member down, and as the patriarch, Bruce Wayne is certainly no exception to that rule. Bruce came close to the ultimate sacrifice more than once, but when he got zapped by Darkseid, the end result was Superman carrying his skeleton (still in cape and cowl of course) with tears in his eyes.
Further tests revealed that yes, this was Bruce Wayne's skeleton, and yes, that meant he was dead. Except... it wound up being a Bruce Wayne's skeleton, from a clone of the Batman.
"Our" Bruce was transported back in time, forced to live multiple lives as he traveled back forward through time. This resulted in us getting Caveman Batman, Pirate Batman, Old West Batman, and more, which officially made it the coolest event of all time. It was comic book craziness at its finest, and a wild, if sometimes slightly incomprehensible, ride.
When Bruce actually returned, his gratitude to his adopted son Tim, who never gave up on him, was plain and simply one of the most touching moments ever seen in superhero comics, and really was reason enough for his return.
Captain America7 of 12For decades, Captain America was the stalwart of Marvel comics. Having faced death once, in the arctic waters outside a secret Nazi base, Steve Rogers's initial return was one of the most important moments in the history of Marvel comics. The moment the newly formed Avengers found Cap floating, preserved in a block of ice, the story of Marvel comics was forever altered.
While his first resurrection may have been THE first resurrection of a major super-hero - after decades of real time absence, no less - Cap's second death and return marked another major shift in Marvel Comics lore. Seemingly assassinated on the steps of the courthouse where he was awaiting trial for treason after rebelling against government mandated super-hero registration in the landmark event Civil War, Cap was actually thrown into a strange timeloop where he was forced by the Red Skull to helplessly relive his darkest moments over and over.
During his absence, Rogers's former sidekick Bucky Barnes - himself the recipient of a resurrection - took up Cap's mantle. When Rogers finally returned, it was while Bucky himself was once again out of commission, with Rogers reclaiming his identity and leading the Avengers against Sin, the daughter of his arch-enemy, the Red Skull. Steve Rogers remains the de facto leader of the Avengers, and one of Marvel's premiere heroes.
Hal Jordan8 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 seen on screen in 2011's mostly-maligned live-action film.
Bucky Barnes9 of 12Bucky was more than Captain America's sidekick, he was his best friend and partner; while Cap was certainly Bucky's mentor in many ways, in some the heart and drive to fight against all odds, for example Bucky led the way. When he died in the same explosion that sent Cap into a decades-long hibernation, that was the end of Bucky's story, and was long seen as one of the few "untouchable" deaths in comics history, right up there with Peter Parker's Uncle Ben.
Then Ed Brubaker came along and said, "Well... no."
Turns out, Bucky didn't die. He too was preserved in cold storage, though his was artificial. The Russians captured the injured war hero, brainwashed him, gave him a cybernetic arm, and used him as their own super secret agent ("Winter Soldier"), assassinating high profile targets from the shadows then being thrown back into cold storage.
Cap and Winter Soldier's paths were bound to cross some day, and did, resulting eventually in Bucky's redemption (and Bucky taking on the Captain America identity for a short time). Though his first solo title recently ended, Bucky is slated to return in Winter Soldier: The Bitter March, which explores his time as a Soviet assassin, and in this year's Captain America film sequel, The Winter Soldier, as one of the primary antagonists.
Superman10 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. Superman recently also received a film resurrection with last year's Man of Steel, which rebooted his on-screen universe, and paved the way for an upcoming sequel that looks to be aiming to introduce several more super-heroes, including Batman and Wonder Woman, to DC's interlocking film continuity.
Jean Grey11 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 All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men).
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