::Comic book death


Death::comic    Comics::which    Killed::season    Deaths::comics    After::later    Return::being


Cover to Uncanny X-Men #136 (August 1980, art by John Byrne), the penultimate issue of the "Dark Phoenix" saga. Jean Grey would sacrifice herself in the following issue, but Marvel later had the story retconned to allow Jean to appear in the new X-Factor series.

In the comic book fan community, the apparent death and subsequent return of a long-running character is often called a comic-book death. While death is a serious subject, a comic-book death is generally not taken seriously and is rarely permanent or meaningful. Commenting on the impact and role of comic book character deaths, writer Geoff Johns said:<ref>IGN Geoff Johns: Inside Blackest Night</ref>

Death in superhero comics is cyclical in its nature, and that's for a lot of reasons, whether they are story reasons, copyright reasons, or fan reasons.

The phenomenon of comic-book death is particularly common for superhero characters. Writer Danny Fingeroth suggests that the nature of superheroes requires that they be both ageless and immortal.<ref>James R. Fleming, Review of Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society, ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, Winter 2006.</ref>

A common expression regarding comic book death was once "The only people who stay dead in comics are Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben,"<ref name="opinionjournal2007">Captain America, RIP, para. 5, Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2007</ref> referring to the seminal importance of those characters' deaths to Captain America, Batman, and Spider-Man respectively. However, after the former two were brought back in 2005, the phrase was changed to only recognize Uncle Ben.

Some comic book writers have killed off characters to gather publicity or to create dramatic tension. In other instances, a writer kills off a character for whom he/she did not particularly care, but upon their leaving the title, another writer who liked this character brings them back. More often, however, the publishing house intends to permanently kill off a long-running character, but fan pressure or creative decisions push the company to resurrect the character. Still other characters remain permanently dead, but are replaced by characters who assume their personas (such as Wally West taking over for Barry Allen as The Flash), so the death does not cause a genuine break in character continuity. At other times, a character dies and stays dead simply because his or her story is over.

The term "comic book death" is usually not applied to characters such as DC's Solomon Grundy and Resurrection Man or Marvel's Mr. Immortal, who have the ability to come back to life as an established character trait or power; rather it is usually applied when one would normally expect death to be permanent but the character is later resurrected through a plot device not previously established.

The majority of comic-book deaths are due to premature deaths such as being killed in action. The so-called floating timeline of the major comic book universes generally precludes the death of most characters from age-related causes. This holds true even for supporting non-superhero characters such as Aunt May who is consistently depicted at being of an advanced age and has had at least two comic book "deaths" in the course of the Spider-Man comics run.

Comic book death sections
Intro  Notable examples  Outside comic books  Common retcons  See also  References  Examples  

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