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Posted by G-Man (30213 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic Book Deaths. It used to mean something. There was a time we rarely saw anyone actually die. Superheroes were untouchable. They could lose fights but they always came back to defeat the villain in the next issue. Over the years, we've started seeing more and more deaths occur in comics. It's at the point where we'll see major characters die in order to boost comic sales or to spice up a story.

Regardless of how the character dies or even who they are, chances are they will come back. This week we saw a major X-Men character get killed and it's actually not the first time either. We all know somehow this character will make their way back to the land of the living. Readers might feel the emotional impact of a beloved character biting the big one but we're all pretty sure we'll see them come back.

This week's question is, how long should a dead comic book character remain dead before they return to comics? Captain America and Batman were technically dead for a couple years. Jean Grey's been dead since 2004. Does death make superhero battles more credible knowing it's possible? Is there a good amount of time that's acceptable for the character to remain dead? Should we not have deaths since they pretty much never stick?

Let us know how you feel about comic book deaths. Which ones were executed well?

Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter @GManFromHeck. He's still waiting for the return of Dr. Guerrero from the dead. It might be a long wait.

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#1 Posted by ssejllenrad (12847 posts) - - Show Bio

Barry's length of "death" is the best. Hal had a decent length of death but feels a bit short. But that's ok. Superman and Conner, on the other hand, were dead just waaaaaaay too short... Same goes with Torch and the likes...

#2 Posted by Trodorne (2569 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah there are characters that should just stay dead. Bruce wayne for one and Jean Grey.

#3 Posted by Inverno (13015 posts) - - Show Bio

Give them 10 to 20 years. Jason Todd got killed in the 80s and he returned just fine in the 2005.

#4 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

who's person shooting in the pic in the scan above and who is he talking to ?

#5 Posted by ComicMan24 (147032 posts) - - Show Bio
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#6 Posted by NightFang (9810 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it depends on the character.

#7 Posted by ahgunsillyo (113 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm really amused by the fact that everybody is trying to make a big deal about Professor Xavier dying in Avengers vs. X-Men as if it didn't just happen a few years ago at the end of Messiah CompleX. And that time, he was brought back immediately (a fact which you can use to argue that he didn't actually die at the end of that storyline, but whatever. He got shot in the head and they had to reconstruct his brain. Not much difference at that point)

I guess the problem is more that that death (and the entire storyline, for that matter, but that's probably another issue entirely) just feels incredibly contrived, especially since this character didn't really do anything at all throughout the story except die.

#8 Posted by Squalleon (4028 posts) - - Show Bio

At least a decade,so the death doesn't lose it's impact!

#9 Posted by guttridgeb (4831 posts) - - Show Bio

It all depends on the character, how they died and how they would be brought back, I wouldn't want Nightcrawler back any time soon because they gave him the death he deserves (probably not the best choice of word but oh well)

#10 Posted by ARMIV2 (8271 posts) - - Show Bio

I honestly they think they should stay dead. It actually has story depth to have the character stay dead then when one can think of some convoluted way to bring them back to life and nullify any serious impact a heroes death would hold.

#11 Edited by cmaprice (808 posts) - - Show Bio

I say don't kill a character, unless you have the balls and conviction to keep them dead.
 
Otherwise it's just a cheap marketing gimmick.

#12 Posted by JamDamage (1106 posts) - - Show Bio

this is a good question. I don't have an answer. i think it depends on the character. Some characters should stay dead. The way Ted Kord died, I would say he should stay dead. I would have said the same for Jason Todd and Bucky, but both were brought back in cool ways, so I don't know.

#13 Posted by Outside_85 (7993 posts) - - Show Bio

I would say until someone comes up with a story of the characters resurrection that can match the story of the characters death.

Like say the Titans Superboy Prime murdered during Infinite Crisis would need less of an epic tale to tell of their return than Barry needed (which we didnt get).

#14 Posted by DJ1107 (243 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sorry to be a stick in the mud but didn't we already have this debate like a hundred times?

In terms of deaths handled well

Captain Marvel had a really good one.

Superman despite it being short has stood the testament of time

Barry Allens was great

Angel/Archangels was heartreching during UXF just to name a few

#15 Posted by kid Apollo (705 posts) - - Show Bio

@cmaprice said:

I say don't kill a character, unless you have the balls and conviction to keep them dead. Otherwise it's just a cheap marketing gimmick.

this

#16 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2218 posts) - - Show Bio

I was just thinking, sure characters being brought back to life all the time in comics makes it hard to make readers believe a character is dead or for that death to have impact, but what about when a character is meant to come back right away. Maybe that was the point, to have the character die one issue only to come back two issues later.

I don't mind comic death and resurrections. Its part of the medium of comics. if you want to bring back a character why not. Its part of the fun. Its one of the nice things about it, in the real world people can't return from the dead but they can in fiction. If you like a character its nice to know that their death will probably not last long... except Ted Kord's. Its a security thing, you also know that good will triumph.

I was just thinking, when a character in the comics dies what happens to the life insurance? Like for the Avengers. Do they hold off on paying it for a few years to wait and see if he/she comes back? And what happens when they do come back 4 years later? Does the family have to repay the money?

#17 Edited by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

At least one year so you know, the readers can be somewhat surprised(they really aren't know know.)

#18 Edited by NightFang (9810 posts) - - Show Bio

@cmaprice said:

I say don't kill a character, unless you have the balls and conviction to keep them dead. Otherwise it's just a cheap marketing gimmick.

The problem with that is fans get outrage when you kill off certain characters and leave them dead, just look at Ted Kord. Anytime there was talk about Blue Beetle it turned into 'I wish Ted was still alive'.

#19 Posted by ComicMan24 (147032 posts) - - Show Bio

@cmaprice said:

I say don't kill a character, unless you have the balls and conviction to keep them dead. Otherwise it's just a cheap marketing gimmick.

This

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#20 Posted by lorex (939 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic book characters dying and coming back happens so much thats it not even a surprise anymore, its just assumed that sooner or later a character will return.

#21 Edited by GalacticPunt (77 posts) - - Show Bio

I think that EVERY character death should be permanent. I really respect that in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, they've killed off cash cows like Wolverine and Peter Parker and moved on. It's great when you commit to that, and tell the stories of the world left behind.

The whole approach of killing/reviving every major character over the last 20 years for temporary sales boosts is gross. This soap opera gimmick is a recent trend that comics writing shouldn't stoop to. There would be a lot fewer hero deaths, if they were forever. I won't make any friends by writing the following, but Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, and Jason Todd should have all remained buried. Nothing I've read since their revivals really justifies reviving them. There were always more interesting stories to tell with Wally West, Kyle Rayner, and the various other Robins/ex-Robins. The most interesting thing about those three was that they were dead, and how their survivors would continue to deal with that.

How long will Jordan's "new" death last? Six months? Three months? It's so routine now, like going in for a teeth cleaning.
#22 Posted by Lvenger (17814 posts) - - Show Bio

Barry's length of death was the best. Hal's time dead/as the Spectre was good too. Basically my view is keep time spent dead as long as conceivably possible and have their resurrection make sense.

#23 Posted by modunhanul (398 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Barry Allan's time is too long.

#24 Posted by leokearon (1748 posts) - - Show Bio

Don't bother killing them since they just come back, put them into a coma or suspended animation it's the same thing

#25 Posted by The_Roman (3297 posts) - - Show Bio

Stay dead until everyone forgets what killed them in the first place.

Resurrect when they have a decent - I repeat DECENT - explanation as to why they should be resurrected.

#26 Posted by telepathic666 (227 posts) - - Show Bio

Unless it is psylocke leave them dead.

#27 Posted by nappystr8 (1014 posts) - - Show Bio

This shouldn't even be a question. The dead should stay dead. Sure there have been a few notable examples of characters who it makes sense to bring back, or who have been used very well since their return from an untimely demise, but if death doesn't mean anything, which it clearly doesn't right now, then when a death occurs it has no weight. I don't even think Bucky should have been brought back the first time.

If a character absolutely needs to be brought back, at least 10 years should have passed. These days they don't even wait six months.

A very short list of the most notable characters who have been resurrected from the dead: Captain America, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Green Lantern, roughly 20 members of the Green Lantern Corps, Flash, Colossus, Magneto, Human Torch, Black Panther, Jean Grey, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Daredevil.

Characters who have been resurrected MULTIPLE TIMES!!!: Bucky, Thor, and last but not least...PROFESSOR X!!!

That's several high profile X-Men, most of the founding members of the Justice League and most of the movie cast of the Avengers. If I had gone on to list B and C-listers I would probably have run out of space on the page. Tell me, how am I supposed to be moved by any death scene I see in a Marvel or DC comic? (Excluding Ultimates, that universe is a great example of what a death can mean if the writers stick to their continuity).

#28 Posted by TheMess1428 (2176 posts) - - Show Bio

Well before the New 52, all 7 of the original Justice League had each died and came back to life at some point. I always found that interesting...

I just think it depends on the story. If they story dictates that a character must die to work, then he must die. If a later story dictates he must come back from the dead to work, then he must come back.

I wrote my first story where a character died and came back to life but it was because the point of the story was to bring him back to life and prove how important of a character he was because when he died, the other characters had to go back in time and change the past so that he could revive in present day. And I think other writers should only do it if the story requires it to work. Don't just kill and resurrect for kicks and giggles.

#29 Edited by kapitein_zeppos (341 posts) - - Show Bio

1) Don't kill them off for dramatic effect if you use the trick every even-numbered issue and they are back on the next panel.

2) Don't resurrect if somebody else can take up the mantle instead. Give them plenty of time to establish themselves. If the readers sound positive about the change, then forget about resurrection.

3) There are variants to death, trapped in another dimension, vanished without trace, coma, trapped in a crystal, memory loss, depowered, goes apathetic etc ...

4) If you do bring somebody back, make it epic, show the consequences, don't make it cheap, there is always a price to be paid, the grieving have moved on, the mantle-taker has been doing a great job and doesn't give the cape/shield/face-shooting bazooka back.

5) A % of death should be permanent so that it retains some kind of impact, and don't give in to the sherlockists who write every day for their favourite version of Superbatwhammyman to come back.

6) If a dead character remains popular, write flashback stories.

#30 Posted by DocFatalis (1419 posts) - - Show Bio

They should remain dead permanently. Give their death a meaning and let them rest.

You want to reuse the character? Then just tell us untold stories of things that happened to them before their death. But for god's sake, leave them dead!

I can understand the occasional ghost of someone coming back for a warning or to deflect a killing blow, but that is the max that should be authorized according to me.

I say no resurrection, once dead they should stay dead. Telling new pre-death stories yes, resurrection NO!

#31 Posted by SpeedForceSpider (902 posts) - - Show Bio

Nova's death was tragic.

#32 Posted by Zenistar (26 posts) - - Show Bio

Dead should stay dead, unless we are talking about a zombie book!

#33 Posted by Maxman3 (57 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it depends on what the writer does with it. Mind you a characters return indicates 90% of the time they we're never dead to begin with like Superman. Ir writers did what Morrison did with the return of Bruce Wayne I wouldn't mind these character deaths as much. Not only did his supposed demise make for amazing new dynamics within the Bat family. It lead to an introspective revelation by Batman. "That he had never been alone" and made for Batman Inc.

#34 Posted by Jackson_Hartley (186 posts) - - Show Bio

I call for at least a five year minimum and even then, you can't just poof them back into existence with some convenient BS Time Travel/Magic/Clone reasoning; give a good reason why and how this person is back from the dead.

#35 Posted by RedX9 (75 posts) - - Show Bio

Its not about how long they should be dead before coming back, its about the fact that if they die, they should never ever return. I say before deaths became popular, it was a nice touch to a story where Superman died or Jean died and returned. Seeing them resurrect was something we all truly could appreciate as these were basically gods in teh books. But we've seen less powerful people in comics return left and right to the extent that death virtually means nothing anymore. And sometimes when its advertised a person will die, there's some loop hole explaining that they never died to begin with that loses the effect and message of the story.

When Captain America "died" it was a big moment. Civil War showed us how big the issue of brother vs brother was. when he was shot, it really was a kind of passing the torch moment for Bucky who assumed the role afterwards. But after that, when Steve came back, it was revealed he was never killed but rather frozen in time that made us think he was killed. That one moment took away from the entire death of Captain America story for we all knew it was a matter of time before he took up the role again and they would kill Bucky off. which they did in Fear Itself...same with Thor as well.

when they let Darksied kill Bruce and allowed Dick to take up the role of Batman, we knew eventually he would return to the role, but we never wanted Dick to give up the Batman mantle because it was something that was already earned by him through all the training he went through under Bruce's teachings. Whats the point of killing someone and having someone take up their mantle or learn from their teachings if we are going to bring them back soon? Its just a waste of time.

Dead needs to stay dead in comics. No matter what. Just because the industry doesn't know how to tell compelling stories doesn't mean resurrect dead characters, it means find the talent that's capable of moving stories forward without resorting to an old concept of resurrecting.

#36 Posted by CitizenJP (588 posts) - - Show Bio

Definitely one of the things that bothers me most in comics are the death/resurrection moments. It really eliminates the whole point of killing off a character. It just makes entire story arcs irrelevant because HEY...GUESS WHAT...they're back! Lol. :p

#37 Posted by RedX9 (75 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheMess1428:

The thing is that most writers bring back characters and there usually isn't consequences to their return at all. Superman comes back and its like "oh great to have you back big guy!" but there should be a fall out from that. I wrote a book a few years ago and I had two characters die. The emotional weight behind those deaths were brought to the other characters in full force. They questioned what they should do and where to go from there as they continued to look back before they moved forward. This is why death is important in comics.

I digress though, Dick did a lot of this when he took up Bruce's mantle, but when Bruce returned, Dick was like "well I guess you're gonna be Batman again. See ya!" and it made the whole story of Dick as Batman kind of irrelevant.

#38 Edited by hyenascar (192 posts) - - Show Bio

No return's no matter who they are. Remember, NO MEANS NO.

As for people throwing fits. Do I need to illustrate that there are fits being thrown on here every day for every topic. Let them throw a fit, let the mantle be passed on, let writers have a chance for new origins (which are always big sellers anyway) and for pity's sake keep the dead, dead.

With certain character's deaths it would actually add closure. The story now has a beginning and end. Know what would be clever; if certain characters would retire and new characters would take over. Then the character isn't dead but could be brought back after a couple of years.

#39 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

just let them die... you don't see Uncle Been, Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy, Thomas Wayne, Jean Grey or Elektra running around anymore, do ya?

If you just want to use those characters again..simply come up with new ones similar enough/related/sort of filling the same roles!

#40 Posted by Crimsonlord53 (1290 posts) - - Show Bio

Never or if the character has a history of been able to come back from death eg Jean don't us them as a story teaser thus turing fan's hope into hate,

#41 Edited by Decept-O (7274 posts) - - Show Bio

Bit of a loaded question. Hmm. Well, I do love the pun usage here, so mad props,

#42 Posted by MinkoAk (38 posts) - - Show Bio

Two possibilities :

-Being resurrected immediately, as Andrew Bennett in I, Vampire. Him being immediately resurrected was okay because they immediately told us "He's not dead for long, we have to resurrect him. Of course, this kind of things must not happen every other weeks.

-Resurrect them at the very least five years later. Very, very, very least. So they stay dead for a while and all is good.

-Third possibility is also to sometimes, just don't resurrect a character. Just so we remember that when a character dies, he might remain dead and we're not just like "well, I'll wait a few [Insert appropriate amount of time here]"

#43 Posted by DarthShap (874 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the answer is quite obvious. Publishers should not kill characters in the first place unless they are going to commit to it. Otherwise, it just looks ridiculous.

#44 Posted by wowylied (238 posts) - - Show Bio

A decade is a minimum.

Rigth now death in the marvel universe mean nothing so all the arc are useless because we know nothing important will happen to the heroes. I am really tired of death like thor or daken who are alive some month after their death (and with no explanation for daken).

#45 Posted by wowylied (238 posts) - - Show Bio

@Eyz said:

you don't see Uncle Been

Well...ben was alive when strange gave peter is 5 min gift and he was alive too in the 2012 annual...

#46 Posted by Gonzo33 (111 posts) - - Show Bio

A war is raging between the Avengers and the Xmen and so far, one person has died. Nobody else find that weird?

#47 Posted by russia599 (93 posts) - - Show Bio

Some 'deaths' are too short but others (Jean Grey, Batman) are great lengths of time

#48 Edited by abeyance (238 posts) - - Show Bio

Death in comics really has become repetitive and annoying to me. I think certain characters that have been around since the 50's and 60's *cough*Superman*cough* should remain dead when they die. Marvel and DC have created massive rosters consisting of backup heroes and villains. Let's take Hulk as a recent example. There is now the Hulk's son Skaar (prime candidate of replacement), the Hulk's daughter Lyra (She-Hulk could go), there is a Red Hulk (Hulk's longtime nemesis), Red She Hulk (Bruce/Hulk's longtime love interest also victim of Jesus-Jutsu). Personally I don't want Bruce and Jen to be killed off. They could be depowered permanently since they have not one but two people to pick up their slack. So if there is a suitable replacement don't bring them back. Other characters that can't be replaced should be dead for 5-10 years at least. I mean let people mourn and miss for christ's sake. Two years goes by like nothing. Captain America and Spiderman had the most rapid ressurections that I can think of. Spiderman had all new powers in his return, BUT THEY GOT TAKEN AWAY. So what was the point of him dying and coming back. So I guess that's another thing. Let the deaths serve a purpose since they are icons.

#49 Edited by SnowyMountain (125 posts) - - Show Bio

Considering the recent string of resurrections, I think that the comic companies should simply take the whole revolving door of death easy for crying out loud! Death used to be a fairly serious matter but now it's like done for the temporary boost of comic book sales.

I mean even the old Bucky and Jason Todd's deaths--characters whom I believed that Marvel and DC would NEVER bring back, ultimately lacked permanence and they're back in the saddle and it's annoying me.

Before too long you realize, they're going to have to do stuff like ...

Bring Back Uncle Ben!

Or something else to totally invalidate some of these comic book characters. What made Captain America great was the fact that he never forgot Bucky, he mourned him for years. Same thing with Batman. He lost Jason Todd. He lost Robin. Those were some major and pivotal moments in their history. They were real characters who had lost someone important to them. But they didn't quit, they didn't hang up their shield or cowl, but soldiered on. Now it's like ... what's the point?

They should stop these resurrections and let these characters stay dead and buried.

#50 Posted by Liara (421 posts) - - Show Bio

They should at least give enough time to actually miss those characters.

I think it's alright if they come back after a few years and with a good story.