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Off My Mind: Can Gods in Comics Actually Die?

No one really dies in comics but should gods be able to die in the first place?

Death in comic books is becoming almost as common as heroes wearing spandex. It's become sort of a right of passage. A superhero can't claim that ultimate level of greatness until they've gone through a story that's resulted in their deaths. Over the years, we've seen Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, Superman, Hal Jordan and many many others sacrifice their lives for the fight against evil. And when they come back, they're seen with a new level of respect.

It's impressive when a human superhero dies and manages to beat death but gods are a different story. Just from who and what they are, they play by a different set of rules. They aren't bound to the same laws of physics or of the universe that humans are. But often, we do see gods die in comic books.

With the recent deaths of characters such as Thor, Hercules and Ares, are their deaths immediately inconsequential? Characters return from the dead all the time but because they're gods, should it even be possible for them to die in the first place?

== TEASER ==

In last week's FEAR ITSELF #7.2, we get to see the aftermath of the death of Thor. He was destined to die as a result of defeating the Serpent. There was a big ceremony held for Thor and everyone, Odin included, were all sad. Death for Asgardians isn't the same as deaths for humans. How many times has Thor already died? Odin died and came back. Loki was killed during Ragnarok and returned as a women then killed by Sentry during Siege and is now in the form of a child.

Click to enlarge!

In that issue, we also hear the words of a teen who Jane Foster assumes is high on something. He rants about gods being like stories. Gods and stories can't die or end because you can always start them again. This is similar to how the characters in FABLES have their immortality. Neil Gaiman also wrote about this in his novel American Gods. As long as there are people (humans) that believe, worship or follow the stories about the gods (or Fables), they will have their lives.

Look at some of the different gods in history and in comics. It's the ones with a bigger following that have greater power. There could be some connection between how much faith people put them and the energy they are able to channel back into their being. It could just come down to a matter of people believing in them in order to allow them to come back or be reborn.

In FEAR ITSELF #7.2, we also saw the introduction of a different thunder god named Tanarus. What was odd about that is we saw some of his past as the thunder god with the Avengers. "His story started today, a millenia ago, and he stands surrounded by friends and fellow warriors in celebration."

While extremely confusing, it was like his story made him into a hero on Earth and the power of the Asgardian gods is able to take those stories and change the fabric of history. I\

If Sentry could have a complete history with characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Hulk but their memory/history doesn't recall any of it, it's easy to believe a god could do the same thing.

What about Ares? He was torn in half by Sentry during Siege but did he really die? He was later seen talking to his son Phobos when he was killed. He explains to his son about the death of gods. Are they in limbo? Is this what 'heaven' is like for gods when they 'die'?

So is Thor dead? Hercules also died and look where he's at now. If you're wondering about Thor's fate, there is a clue at the end of issue #7.2. There's basically two ways to look at death in terms of gods. They should be beyond the concept of death. They are often depicted as pure energy and can do miraculous things. They shouldn't necessarily be able to die but if it does happen, coming back shouldn't be a problem. The other way to look at them relies on how they get their powers. If they do gain strength from the beliefs of humans, it just takes some happy thoughts (or worshiping) to channel the energy needed to bring them back.

If human superheroes can come back from the dead then it shouldn't even be possible for gods to die in comics.

97 Comments
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Posted by ssejllenrad

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Posted by The Myth

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Exactly!

Posted by InnerVenom123

@The Myth said:

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Exactly!

Ben Parker was resurrected by Dr. Strange temporarily in Amazing Spider-man #500 as a birthday present for Peter.

Posted by Neverpraying

No one in comics ever stays dead

Posted by ssejllenrad

@InnerVenom123 said:

@The Myth said:

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Exactly!

Ben Parker was resurrected by Dr. Strange temporarily in Amazing Spider-man #500 as a birthday present for Peter.

Maaaaaaaan! Not even he can stay dead...

Posted by DarthShap

You forgot Lian Harper. :'- (

And an article about the Death of Gods but no mention to the obvious : THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED?

Posted by Gokujam

Technically Thor and the Asgardians aren't gods. Merely long lived "aliens" with god like attributes that caused man to worship them as such.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

The minute they started going on about a serpent I knew Thor was going to die.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

Wait, what? They killed Thor....again? Seeing how they couldn't stick to the death of Johnny Storm for a year. I wouldn't expect this to last.

God is sort of a loose term when it comes to comics. It can mean a lot of different things.In some series, gods are just beings with powers that are looked at as gods. Just as this points out with Hercules. Death in Greek mythology works differently. Just odd how they work that mechanic into reality.

Happy thoughts bring gods back? Since when were god's Tinkerbell.

My writing teacher in high school always told me that you never want to have your hero to face a god. That's because god implies being all powerful. If you hero can overcome that level of threat, then it's hard to think of a new one that will be a credible threat. If the hero can overcome a god, why can't they beat this weak person? That's probably why Batman is always so much more compelling a character. Despite everything he can do. He's still a mortal human. Any thug can get lucky and shoot him.

Posted by Chibio

Good article! If you think about it, then Sentry killed a lot of gods, lol! But yeah, most of the comic characters don't stay dead for all too long. I'm sure we will see Thor soon again!

Posted by NXH
Posted by jubilee042

only gwen stacy is gonna stay dead i mean even batman is fed up with it

Posted by Eyz

I would say yes, gods can be killed in comics. It happened lots of time already (Odin in Marvel, Zeus in DC...)

But they seem to always come back, not stay dead.

But I guess the same could be said of most characters - non-gods - as well :P

@The Myth said:

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Exactly!

So true..

I remember when we used to say "Only Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne's parent stay dead in comics"...then a Gwen clone was back in the comics as well as some awful revelations about the original one (with Norman Osborn!), Barry came back,... Thomas Wayne became Batman for a whilei n Flashpoint... we're only missing good ol' Unc' Ben now :P

Posted by ssejllenrad

@Eyz: Wanna be disappointed?

@InnerVenom123 said:

Ben Parker was resurrected by Dr. Strange temporarily in Amazing Spider-man #500 as a birthday present for Peter.

Posted by BritishMonkey

thor isn't dead

what i saw of the final panel in 7.2 and what i've seen of the next set of thor issues is enough to tell me that thor will be back, just have to wait and see what happens

Posted by frochez

I think they need to get Neil Gaiman to write a series based around Thor/Tanarus and maybe some other gods. This article only mentions it, but a lot of American Gods, Anansi Boys, and The Sadnman were based around the idea that belief in a god makes them stronger, and gods being like stories in that they can never really die. It would be interesting to see someone like him take over for a bit; i've never been a massive Thor fan, but he could actually get me excited about it. Basically, Gaimain's an absolute legend, so the more stuff he writes, the better the world becomes.

Posted by ApatheticAvenger

Aren't Norse gods supposed to be mortal anyway?

Posted by kingjoeg

ultimate spider-man is still dead and so is the human torch

Posted by PowerHerc

Gods, as they are shown to be in comics, are usually super-beings with very high levels of durability and longevity.

As such, and considering how they've been depicted in comics over the past several decades, I'd say it's reasonable for gods to die but only due to wounds inflicted by beings as or more powerful than they themselves are.

Posted by GothamRed

wasn't the whole backstory for the New Gods that a bunch of Old God's died and they replaced them?

Posted by emperorznb

Not to worry, Brian Michael Bendis will save the day.

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

"Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil in another dimension."

Posted by TDK_1997

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

That's true

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt

The New Gods are all dead. 

Posted by pspin

Thor can't be dead he still has to be in Thor 2 and the Avengers!

Posted by Outside_85
@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Well, Marvel haven't had a Blackest Night yet.
Posted by MetropolisKid41

I say why not, gods can kill other gods. Like previously stated, the New Gods were killed in DC. Why can't Hercules (who's only half), Ares, and Thor die? Will they be back? THor atleast yes, but I still think they can perish, they may have a higher tolerance and be harder to kill but imo they can still die as well.

Posted by doordoor123

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Apparently also Ted Kord, Ralph and Sue Dibny.

Posted by NyxEquitis

If people can't die(well, atleast die and stay dead) then gods shouldn't even be able to die.

Posted by Larkin1388

I'm sure Thor will be back, but I'm still not happy about his death. And I'm not sure I like this Tanarus guy. Anyone know anything about him at all other than He's the new god of thunder (which is extremely LAME, since Thor is the one and only rightful God of Thunder).

Edited by Vitality

"Technically Thor and the Asgardians aren't gods. Merely long lived "aliens" with god like attributes that caused man to worship them as such." This is how I always looked at it. I thought we all knew this. You're trying to act like these are "gods" in the biblical sense just to have an "off my mind". Come on 'vine...you're better than this.

Posted by LordRequiem

Gods by definition are everlasting. But Asgardians are not are they? They're longevity is simply far greater than that of a human, among other differing characterstics. Thor will return. Spawn: God Killer took a different perspective though, one which I quite liked.

Posted by Kairan1979

I don't see the problem. If the Gods can die in the myths and legends, why not in the comic books?

Posted by venomoushatred1001

@Neverpraying said:

No one in comics ever stays dead

Zactly.

Posted by Edgeworth_11

WAIT!!! Thor died?? how?? when??

Posted by redbird3rdboywonder

@ssejilenrad The only reason why Ben and the Wanyes stay dead is bc they're the motivational forces that drive both Spidey and Batman and to bring them back would not only undermine their motivation for bth of those characters but it also defeats the purpose to ever create the two in the first place. So i remember a conversation i had with a friend of mine who absolutly loves marvel and hates DC and we were discussing Superman.And his response was that of most ppl that love marvel exclusively he said he hates Superman bc he's overpowered. Now Superman has also been classified with the nickname of being a GOD among Men now while Superman may have all thse powers and things but has it ever occured to those particuar people that Thor is/was an ACTUAL god among men meaning that his powers were nearly limitless so really who overpowers who. How we perceive gods is as sentient beings with almost limitless powers who also have te powers to destroy and create words and death does not pertain to. Someone above said that Zues died in the DCU and that bc hercules died its possible that Gods should be able to die, however if everyone would be so kind as to remember the disney themed Hercules movie it estabished some facts about Gods in how when the Fates tried to cut Hercule's thread they were unable to bc He'd came into full Godhood meaning that he could live on mount olypus as well as being immortal bu he declined that offer to be with his wife and with that he chose to make himself mortal in which the rules of death nce again applied but as for Zues he shouldnt have been able to die, Hercules however could die due to the fact that he was half human but Thor wasnt he was pure God and as such shouldnt have been able to IMO but n comics writers often create various ways and events to kill characters in which Death normally doesnt apply to to create a diffrent story only to have them come back defeating thee purpose of killing them in the first place

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

The entire idea of death is something that is at best a rudimentary and barbaric concept to a god. While they can perish, it merely means that their essence goes on until a new 'husk' can be developed to house them. Its something that we see in comics but also to a lesser extent in our mythologies. The real question then we are faced with then is, is there a way gods die and remain gone forever? And that is something we have hardly ever seen except in perhaps a few circumstances in comics and fiction. I myself can only recall two...one being Darkseid shot to death by the radion bullet at the climax of Final Crisis; the second being the slaying of Morgoth by Turin Turambar during the Dagor Dagorath (End of Days) in Tolkien literature. Those are extreme cases of course and have never been replicated as far as I'm aware in literature.

Posted by The Stegman

@Outside_85:

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Well, Marvel haven't had a Blackest Night yet.

They had X men- "Necrosha" which was like a smaller scale Blackest Night

Posted by GraveSp

Well the New Gods didn't stay dead so it kinda makes sense that the old ones don't.

Posted by Outside_85
@The Stegman: True, but like you said...that was almost a mutant only affair.
Posted by Fantasgasmic

Nice to reference American Gods because it predominantly featured Asgardian Gods, but those gods were VERY MUCH AFRAID of dying when nobody remembered them.

I like to think of Gods in comics as somewhat similar to the Endless in that they get reborn with all the memories but may slightly change in appearance and personality.

Posted by victoriancuckoo

It actually makes a lot of sense for a God in comics (or a regular superhero in comics that often has the same social functions as God's in folktales in the past) to die, and then get reborn. It's not just a right of passage, it tells people the story of a period in your life coming to an end so a rebirth is possible.

Posted by dewboy01

Why not?, They're not our Gods.

Posted by WonderBoy1132

@Neverpraying:

That's the beauty of comics!

Comics are one of the only forms of literature that can kill off main characters and bring them back at the same time.

Thor will not stay dead.

Look at Psylocke.

Posted by marvel_chic

what about all the gods being killed in Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates? are they really dead too?

Posted by Saren

@doordoor123 said:

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Apparently also Ted Kord, Ralph and Sue Dibny.

All came back in BN.

Moderator
Posted by sladewilson30

Well, there's the Godkiller, then there's Amatsu-Mikaboshi. And what about Darkforce or Hellfire, can these hurt Gods?

Posted by NightFang

@ssejllenrad said:

Pffft! Only Ben Parker and the Waynes can stay dead in comics.

Online
Posted by Iridium

I was more surprised to find that people, seemingly, still read Marvel comics. I thought Fraction scared them all away.

Huh, who knew ...

Posted by Norusdog

this is a rather silly article. Being as death, as a whole, is a trite concept in comics for ANYONE.

I'd like to see an "off my mind" about why "mutants" are hated so much but Thor, Thing, Capt Amer, etc are all loved....to the general populace they wouldn't know a mutant from an alien from an asgardian...etc...I mean the entire "hatred towards mutants" thing only works in a world where the only super powered being ARE mutants..once you throw in Asgardians, Olympians, Super Soldiers, Gamma beings, Cosmic Entities, etc etc etc, the whole thing becomes completely asinine.

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