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Superhero No More: Three Heroes Who've Given Up the Craft

Matt asks an important question: what happens when a hero doesn't want to be a hero anymore? Is there any hope of them retiring with a bit of dignity?

Though we'd all like to think it, not everyone is cut out for having superpowers. There are numerous risks to both yourself and the people you care about, as well as the communities you live in. As we've seen, the public can turn on heroes at a moment's notice, providing them with an untold legion of stress that we can only we don't experience.

However, retirement never seems to be permanent in comics. There always seems to be that moment where a creator needs a character to fill a role, but doesn't want to create a new one; instead, they'll take a hero out of mothballs, have them put on the tights and go out for one last blaze of glory.

Is there any hope for heroes wanting out of "the game?"

== TEASER ==

I did some research and found three characters who have, surprisingly, been able to walk about from the hero world with their dignity relatively intact. These are their stories.

Cissie King-Jones, "Arrowette"

Cissie had anything but a normal super-heroing career. Driven to "the game" in order to supplant her mother's legacy, Arrowette was featured in issues of Implulse, Supergirl and perhaps most prominently in Young Justice.

Cissie's powers were simple: she was an archer with a number of trick arrows, similar to Green Arrow. Her natural talent made her a valued member of Young Justice, where she battled supervillians like the maniacal Harm. However, after coming extremely close to murdering a criminal for killing someone close to her, Cissie retired, disgusted with herself. On her way out, however, she did take the chance to plant one on Tim Drake.

"Chicks dig the cape"

Since leaving hero-ing, Cissie became an Olympic Gold medalist in archery and maintained a close friendship with Young Justice teammates Wonder Girl and Secret. She also attended school with them and provided Wonder Girl with emotional support, serving as a "real world" anchor to Cassie. She still acts as a member of Cassie's supporting cast, firmly believing that being a hero was not a good choice for her, despite her former teammates' urging.

Abigail Boylen, "Cloud 9"

Cloud 9 was first introduced to us during the opening pages of Civil War: The Initiative, flying on her controlled cloud. From the outset, it was explained to us that she loved flying, and part of the reason why she got her hero license was to keep doing it. She attended Camp Hammond with a number of other recruits, showing her self-conscious side while changing among her other female recruits and a possible attraction to MVP due to a misunderstanding involving a shower.

However, this childish innocence was torn away quite abruptly, as she witnessed MVP's graphic death at the hands of inexperienced recruit Armory; this was compounded by the fact that MVP had been rescuing her before he died, giving Abby a sense of guilt that never really went away.

Zombie crushes: always a problem

She was molded into a capable soldier during her time with the Initiative, learning to shoot a gun with deadly accuracy. She found in the war against the Skrulls during the Secret Invasion.

However, as soon as Osborn's regime was ousted from power and the Super-Human Registration Act was revoked, she tore up her hero's license (in front of Steve Rogers, no less), flew away on her cloud and stated she's be doing anything she wanted from now on. She was recently seen in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt, rejecting an invitation into crowd control units.

Jack Knight, "Starman"

A reluctant hero, Jack Knight owned an antique shop until his brother's murder drove him into "the game." Jack's father, Ted, was the original Starman, and his brother, David, took up the mantle as well.

Jack fought a number of supernatural and science-fiction threats, wearing street clothes and a pair of tank goggles. His approach to hero-ing was very practical, and James Robinson's run on Starman was lauded as a realistic approach to superhero-ing. He also spent time in the JSA for their first adventure, aiding in their search to find the child that would become Doctor Fate.

After a number of adventures, Jack was drugged and raped by the sister of David's killer. The sister, named Nash, gave birth to Jack's son in seclusion and informed him via post.

Jack's relationship with a woman named Sadie Falk also resulted in her pregnancy, leaving Jack to consider how his superhero-ing would affect his new family. After Nash was killed by her father, the supervillian known as The Mist, Jack took custody of his son and moved to San Francisco, to be with Sadie. He passed on his Star Rod to Courtney Whitmore, the heroine that would come to be known as Stargirl.

The Point

Each of these former heroes has done something incredible: they have gotten out of the superhero profession with dignity, grace and all of their limbs intact. Even with the terrible habit of heroes being killed off once their "use" has been run out, these characters have managed to resume normal lives.

I think it was Tony Stark who once said something to the tune of a superhero's retirement plan being their grave. This was during Bill Foster's funeral during Civil War, an event which still resonates through the Marvel hero community today.

I think a major factor in their ability to retire is that they served a purpose after they hung up the tights: Arrowette still had a role in Wonder Girl's life, Jack Knight passed the torch to Stargirl and Cloud 9 looks to have a role in Youth in Revolt. In my eyes, that's the true retirement plan, in a figurative sense - being able to fade into obscurity with dignity, knowing that their characters have closure and without any controversy.

Instead of having Arrowette be part of the revolving door known as the Teen Titans, or having Jack Knight be in the background of a giant crossover, we know that their stories are complete, and that they're happy where they are.

If anything, we should be happy that they got at least that.


Matt Demers is a Toronto columnist and a staff writer for ComicVine. You can follow him on Twitter, or his personal Tumblr. He always loves new followers!

38 Comments Refresh
Posted by Baddamdog

Firestar retired for a while as well!

Posted by longbowhunter

God I miss Starman!!
Posted by Sobe Cin

You know Deadpool's been retired too- all his adventures are just him reliving his memories in a psych ward in Canada somewhere.
Posted by Malhavok

This is a great article.  In real life, don't we all hope to retire one day and enjoy our lives?  Why can't superheroes hope to do the same thing? 
If more heroes would just retire, instead of having a grisly death or being shunted off to another dimension, then we wouldn't be so "shocked" when their replacements show up.
Posted by dorsk188
@Sobe Cin said:
You know Deadpool's been retired too- all his adventures are just him reliving his memories in a psych ward in Canada somewhere.
Alternatively, all the adventures in the Marvel universe are just Deadpool's imagination as he stares longingly into a snow globe...
Posted by CrimsonInuTears

I recognize that Cissie Robin kiss~ ^_^
Glad ya brought er up what with the new Young Justice show just up an replaced er all together with the knock-off Artemis. Then again they did knock Wonder Girl an Secret right out of the show all together. ^_^

Posted by Chane

Cracking article. 

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Wow I like this a lot. Very interesting subject matter! Shows that maybe a good alternative to the death approach is to retire with dignity.  For some though I'd imagine its harder than others unfortunately (i.e. Bruce Wayne).  I had almost forgotten about Jack Knight's retirement and how well it was for him.  Too bad more retirements can't happen similar to his.

Posted by Devias

Well-written article. Good read. 
Also, Ralph Dibny.

Posted by Kairan1979
Firestar had cancer. Plus she is back in the game, so she doesn't count.
Posted by Midnight Monk

Really miss Cloud 9, no I cared for more in the Initiative than her. If she ever comes back, I prefer in a major series like Avengers Academylike was suggested by Steve Rogers and not Youth In Revolt, a book where all those character will likely disappear after its done
Posted by Mr. Dead Pool

I must say that they are luck to get out of it alive. Seriously how many other heroes can you think of that have retired permanently? And I don't mean retired for a while and come back.

Posted by Billy Batson

This was a great article! Keep up the good work. 


Posted by Niko1356

nick fury needs To Retire ... soon hell be holding his gun with one hand and a cane with the iother
Posted by Herx

I'm supprised that the number of permanatlly retired heroes is so low. I would have thought that there were at least a few more than three who had been able to turn away from the capes and tights for life ( and not because the "lost their powers" or any of the other circumstances that involve the heroes being taken out of the game against their will ). 
@dorsk188 said:

@Sobe Cin said:
You know Deadpool's been retired too- all his adventures are just him reliving his memories in a psych ward in Canada somewhere.
Alternatively, all the adventures in the Marvel universe are just Deadpool's imagination as he stares longingly into a snow globe...

well that would explain all of the bad stories that appear in the marvel universe. Deadpool cant remember the details correctly.
Posted by AirDave817

The nice thing about Jack Knight is that James Robinson controls his fate completely...unless or until DC finds a way to change that and bring him back. As much as I miss Jack, I'd rather go on missing him than have someone other than Robinson bring him back. And then somebody else decide to kill him off in a "crisis".

Posted by Baddamdog
@Kairan1979: She didn't retire because she had cancer though
Posted by Eyz

I'd love to see Arrowette again...sigh...
As for Jack Knight, it was a much required end. Continuing it now with some random authors wouldn't help out the character. It was great while it lasted, but at least the STAR torch is carried on by a well deserving Courtney!

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

I want to see Soul Power! remeber!

Posted by leokearon

Nice article, I would like to add the 2nd Tumbler, he quit and never came back
Posted by Duo_forbidden

I miss Arrowette. Since Mia been Speedy, I'm undecided on who's my favorite between the two. Maybe one day we could see a team-up with the two? Wishful thinking.
Good read.

Posted by Last_Guardian
@dorsk188 said:
Alternatively, all the adventures in the Marvel universe are just Deadpool's imagination as he stares longingly into a snow globe...
the last page of the last marvel comic will reveal this...
Posted by -Vigil-

Kudos for having Cissie in this. People tend to (unfairly) overlook Young Justice. Hopefully the (amazing) new animated series will spark some interest.

Posted by dewboy01

never say never. heroes are heroes, no matter what we do at heart.
Posted by JonesDeini

When your retirement plan's death, it's time to look into another career. If I had powers I probably wouldn't be "hero". 

Posted by Crazy Pan

Yeah I was bummed that Cissie wasn't in the cartoon on TV but there is a definite formula to these types of shows when you have a group of 4+ teens. Since they decided to go with Miss Martian as the cute innocent one, they had to have a darker meanish one and perhaps out of RESPECT for Arrowette, they decided not to use her name and make her something she is not.

Edited by NightFang

Being a superhero should be like being the mob "Once you're in, you're in and the only way out is a body bag".  

Posted by Out_of_Space

This is a good article and a good read for me.
Posted by haydenclaireheroes

Arrowette is one of my favorite heroes and I wish she was still a hero but glad she had a satisfying ending 

Posted by Grim
@Duo_forbidden said:
I miss Arrowette. Since Mia been Speedy, I'm undecided on who's my favorite between the two. Maybe one day we could see a team-up with the two? Wishful thinking.  Good read.
agreed. that would be sweet. I loved the few times bart and Conner were able to trick her back into action. I wish they would do more of that with her.... 

@Matt Demers: 

 that team cemented my love for comics, and i hate that now its all but forgotten, the memory replaced with this stupid farce of a show...
Posted by lokiofmidgaard

Sometimes it's not so easy to quit. Hector Ayala, the White Tiger, tried to do so after Gideon Mace murdered most of his family and nearly killed him too, but he was forced to return to costume and ended up dying because of it.
Posted by Kairan1979
remember Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond? He was badass even with a cane.
Posted by -chapel-

Jack Knight  was the man, if someone gave me a star rod and said be a hero, I'd be like wtf too. XD

Posted by Violet-Eyed Dragon

arrowette didnt have any powers.  in a universe with red lanterns and evil kryptonians, she had to keep a low profile or she was gonna die.   
i think its wrong for heroes with actual powers to retire (barring a few exceptions).  cloud 9 was one of my favorites, her retirement was a real disappointment.   
also, professor spends his whole life practically retired.  he is unable to walk, that doesnt mean he's a freaking vegetable.  i know all sorts of people who cant walk and it doesnt mean they stay in their mansions all day.  and they dont live in universes with goblin gliders they could just ride that makes a physical disability like Xavier's a mere inconvenience.   
in the movies he is worse.  a total useless moron who doesnt do anything even though his powers are good enough to challenge the brotherhood and x-men at once.  

Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

Ahh..Arrowette. I loved her I remember thinking she would return at any time...yep any...time. NO? Next issue DANG! 
And Jack will always be the man, I would like to see his appear once in awhile thouh, say Stargirl's rod breaks, and needs Ted's notes to repair it. Something where you can see how the family is doing, and yet he would not be put in a situation he dies helping Courtney lol


I have a hunch that Cloud 9 was featured in the first place because she's going to ultimately change her mind.
Really in comic book time she stepped down for what, a story arc? I get appreciating a character, as I do her's 
as well, but she's no more bound to retire than the Loners were for that matter, imo.

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir
@mattdemers: That's one of the things I love about Starman, is that Jack actually gets a happy ending.
Edited by BlackArmor

But that's the great thing about being a super hero you dont have to retire because your 30 forever yay 
Nightwing: happy 56th 30 birthday batman blow out the candals and make a wish 
Batman: I wish to die 
DC executive: No 
Batman: Then i wish for a friggin wheel chair 
Oracle: Uhhhh hey guys 
Nightwing: AAAAAAAAAAAkwaaaaaard 
Batman: I hate you tim 
Nightwing: It's Dick 
Batman: Whatever go get me some viagra damn whipper snapper