The frequent deaths, and almost inevitable resurrections, of superheroes has become so noticeable that it’s now constantly used as a talking point whenever someone wants to deride the medium. The fleeting nature of death in the average comic book universe is now an industry-wide shame, right up there with Aquaman’s ability to talk to fish or Powergirl’s costume. With seemingly every big event or crossover almost guaranteed to include at least one heroic sacrifice or dramatic return from the dead, it’s hard for comic fans to argue against this criticism.
However, the temporary nature of the afterlife does not necessarily apply to every character, and to state that death is a revolving door in either the Marvel or DC universe would be a disservice to those individuals who had the dignity to die and actually stay dead. In fact, the lengthy absences of some of these characters, in world where almost everyone gets to come back to life, has led many fans to question why they haven’t yet been given a second chance. We’re not talking about the Uncle Bens or Batman parents of the world, who should definitely stay dead, but legitimate superheroes who bit the dust and never got to respawn.
- 1300 VOTES
Casual comic fans will see Jean Grey’s name on this list and roll their eyes. To be fair, Jean was killed, resurrected, killed, and resurrected again in very quick succession during the Dark Phoenix saga and surrounding storylines. However, she was killed yet again at the end of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men in 2004, and has since stayed dead, other than the standard dream sequence-type stuff. Yes, a teenaged version of Jean was brought to the future along with the other four OG X-Men, but that’s beside the point. The mainstream version of Jean, who became the Phoenix and married Cyclops, hasn’t been seen in over a decade.
- 2255 VOTES
Only the most hardcore of X-Fan will have heard of Thunderbird. He’s the guy on the famous cover of Giant Sized X-Men #1 that makes most people ask “Who?!” Thunderbird was a part of Marvel’s concerted effort to create a more diverse team of X-Men, but he wasn’t exactly a proud moment in Native American history. Thunderbird lasted only a few issues before he died in a plane explosion, in a move created to shock readers with the sort of thing that was unheard of in 1975. Thunderbird’s younger brother would eventually join the X-Men, but why hasn’t the original received another chance in the last 40 years?
- 3197 VOTES
Balder The Brave
Casual fans usually think that Loki is Thor’s only brother, but true hardcores know the family tree is actually pretty large. The third most famous son of Odin is undoubtedly Balder the Brave, who is basically a smarter but less powerful version of Thor. Balder wielded a sword instead of a hammer, and never really sought the throne, but was a consistent and valuable defender of Asgard before dying on a quest with Tyr, the God of War. Death isn’t really the end for Asgardians, so Balder has since been chilling in Hel, but it’s high time this son of Odin returned to battling the living.
- Photo: DC Comics4273 VOTES
Rorschach, one of the protagonists in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal work, Watchmen, has been dead longer than many comic book fans have been alive. Dr. Manhattan exploded Rorschach like a microwaveable burrito at the culmination of the mini-series in 1987, and that’s the last we’ve seen of Rorschach.
But in July 2020, DC announced it would debut a 12-issue comic book series called Rorschach in October 2020 by writer Tom King and artist Jorge Fornés, "set 35 years after Dr. Manhattan turned Rorschach to dust." King said in a DC news release:
Like the HBO Watchmen show and very much like the original '86 Watchmen, this is a very political work. It’s an angry work. We’re so angry all the time now. We have to do something with that anger. It’s called Rorschach not because of the character Rorschach, but because what you see in these characters tells you more about yourself than about them.