Marvel announced last week that they are going to kill Wolverine this year. It isn’t a spoiler because the storyline it happens in is called Death of Wolverine.
The first issue hits stores on Sept. 3, 2014 and he will die three weeks later, on Sept. 24. Now, this is comic books, so no one stays dead, but killing Wolverine might hit fans harder than most character deaths, maybe rivaling Spider-Man and Superman. According to writer Charles Soule, the Death of Wolverine story will focus on a different aspect of Wolverine’s persona in each of the three issues. Marvel also claims that they are making this death a “finality” and that the repercussions will rock the entire Marvel Universe.
With Wolverine dying this year, here is a look at ten other superhero deaths that rocked the world.
The first big superhero death that really shook up the world was the death of Jean Grey in the pages of The X-Men. By this time, Jean had been possessed by the Phoenix and the Dark Phoenix rose and destroyed a star, killing five billion people, becoming the biggest mass murderer in comic book history. Of course, Jean never died and the Phoenix that destroyed the sun was just pretending to be Jean Grey. Despite the retcon of Jean Grey’s death, she was believed to be dead for six years.
The Flash (Barry Allen)
One of the longest superhero deaths in comic book history was that of Barry Allen, The Flash. The death occurred in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Barry gave up his life to save all the heroes and the inhabitants of Earth-1. It was said that Allen’s soul remained in the Speed Force and Wally West graduated from Kid Flash to The Flash. Allen was dead for 23 years, the longest of the superhero deaths in comics, before he returned in Final Crisis.
While Flash’s death was what stopped the Anti-Monitor in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was Supergirl’s death that was the most tragic and heartbreaking. Despite her popularity and the fact that they just made a movie about her, editors wanted Superman to be the only survivor of Krypton after that storyline and that meant killing Kara. It was Supergirl’s greatest moment. In the post-Crisis world, Supergirl eventually returned.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Hal Jordan was one of the greatest heroes in DC Comics history, but he was just one of many Green Lanterns. He had been replaced by Guy Gardner and John Stewart on occasion, but when he had his nervous breakdown, it marked the beginning of the end of Hal. When the Cyborg Superman destroyed Hal’s hometown of Coast City, he tried to use his ring to resurrect everyone, a clear violation of his oath. When he was denied, he flew to the Guardians and killed all of them but one, snapped Sinestro’s neck and became the universe’s greatest villain Parallax. Kyle Raynor took over as the new Green Lantern and eventually Hal Jordan regained some of his senses and sacrificed himself by flying into the sun to reignite it and save the earth. He returned nine years later.
In one of the most unique deaths in comic books, Jason Todd died thanks to a fan vote, asking if they wanted him alive or dead. Years later, it was rumored that someone rigged the votes to kill Todd and most fans wanted him alive. Todd, a punk even as Robin, ended up beaten to death by The Joker, a murder that plagued Batman’s conscious for years. However, the superhero death was retconned when Superboy-Prime altered reality in Infinite Crisis.
What can really be said about the Death of Superman that hasn’t already been said? At the time of his death, it was the most shocking superhero death in the history of comics. Superman was all powerful and no one could hurt him, but less kill him. Then Doomsday came to earth, and not only killed Superman, but the two characters beat each other to death. It was brutal and the image of Lois Lane holding a dead Superman and crying is one of the most iconic panels in comics. A number of Supermen tried to take his place, but soon the real Superman returned to reclaim his position.
Speaking of Captain America, most of the world in comics thought he was dead after World War II, but the real superhero death that shocked the world came after the Civil War storyline. Cap fought against Iron Man as the entire population of superheroes was split down the middle during the Registration Act. When Captain America saw how their war was tearing society apart as well, he surrendered and agreed to face trial. Before this could happen, a sniper’s bullet hit Captain America and he died. It didn’t last, though. Bucky took over Captain America’s role but it turned out Steve Rogers was never killed and it was just caused him to phase in and out of time during his long lifespan.
That sounds very similar to what happened when Batman died. His death came in Final Crisis, where a warped bullet he fired fatally wounds Darkseid, but not before Darkseid kills Batman. While the death of Captain America lasted a decent time, the death of Batman was shown to be a farce very quickly, as Batman was not killed, but sent back in time where he needed to figure out how to get back to the present day. However, this superhero death resulted in Dick Grayson finally taking on the role of Batman, something that remains a high point.
Maybe the most ridiculous resurrection of a superhero death came in the pages of The Punisher. During the Civil War storyline, Punisher tried to join up with Captain America, but his cold blooded murdering ways caused him to get kicked out. He started fighting more super villains at this time and made an enemy of Norman Osborn, who sent Wolverine’s son Daken to dismember and murder Punisher. Chopped up, it didn’t look like he could ever come back, but he was revived by Morbius as a Frankenstein styled character back from the dead.
The most recent superhero death that shocked the world came in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus was dying and ended up in one last battle with Spider-Man after somehow swapping bodies with him. With Peter Parker in Doctor Octopus’ cancer ridden body and Doc Ock in Spider-Man’s body, the two battle one last time. Peter, unable to win this battle, sends all his memories and emotions into Ock using the bots Doc Ock used to swap bodies and then died, hoping that his memories could turn Doctor Octopus into a hero. It worked, with Doctor Octopus calling himself the Superior Spider-Man, with Peter’s memories and Octopus’ scientific genius.
To show how out of touch some comic book fans are with reality, writer Dan Slott received death threats for writing the story. It turned out Peter’s spirit was still in his body, although Octopus controlled it. 16 months later, Peter Parker finally returned to the body of Spider-Man.
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