Comic book characters who died… and stayed dead

The world of comic books follows different rules to ours. There are alien invasions. Time travel. Nobody ever seems to get stuck with train delays. Very unrealistic stuff. The fact this ‘rules don’t apply’ is the status quo for comic books means that those rare times when they actually do keep in step with reality are particularly shocking.

Moments like when a character dies. It’s always bold for writers to decide to bump off a character. But it’s particularly surprising when these characters actually stay dead because, truly, across Marvel and DC Comics, the dead don’t tend to stay dead.

Here are 10 times comic books proved that sometimes even heroes fall…

#10 – Gwen Stacey – died in 1973

The Night Gwen Stacey Died, Marvel comic cover
(Picture: Marvel)

When Spider-Man’s girlfriend at the time Gwen died, it wasn’t just their lives that changed, but the lives of every comic book and their fans. Gwen Stacey’s death is often marked as the end of the Silver Age of comics (thought to run between 1956 and around 1970). The Silver Age of Comics were a time of whimsy and fun. But Gwen Stacey changed all of that.

The Green Goblin abducts Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, and she is killed during the battle.

Spidey couldn’t save her. There were suddenly real consequences for people in a superheroes radius.

Died in The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, June-July 1973

#9 – Captain Marvel (the original) – died in 1982

The Death of Captain Marvel comic book cover
(Picture: Marvel)

Before Captain Marvel was better known as kick *** Carol Danvers played in the movies by Brie Larson, Captain Marvel was, well, first of all, a he. And he was part of the alien species known as the Kree, and he ends up being one of Earth’s mightiest heroes.

That wasn’t enough to keep him alive, though. His infamous death in 1982 is noteworthy for two reasons. For one, the Captain’s death was surprisingly relatable. He dies from cancer after being exposed to chemicals.

Ms Marvel took over the mantel, and became the Captain Marvel we see in the MCU today.

Died in The Death of Captain Marvel, February 1982

#8 – Dove (Don Hall) – dead since 1985

Hawk and Dove, DC Comics
(Picture: DC)

This is what it sounds like… when Dove dies – a reference for the Prince fans to soothe the ache of Dove’s death.

Dove was part of Hawk and Dove, a superhero duo appearing in DC Comics.

The original Dove – Don Hall – died in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths while saving a young boy who was being attacked by the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons. The creature that killed Dove came from behind while he was saving a kid from a falling building and Hawk was too far away to intervene.

Gone but not forgotten, Dove is mentioned in DC Comics’ Teen Titans, and a statue of him is part of the memorial at Titans Tower in San Francisco.

Died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1985-86

#7 – Rorschach I – dead since 1987

Rorschach, Watchmen
(Picture: DC)

One of the most complex characters from Alan Moore and DC Comics’ Watchmen, Rorschach was a street-level hero who played by a strict set of rules – and refused to compromise or cooperate. He wanted justice, even if it meant behaving in a way the other Watchmen deemed wrong.

His unwillingness to compromise is what eventually led to his demise. Refusing to abide by the lie at the end of Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan was forced to evaporate him in order to keep Ozymandias’ illusion that led to world peace.

His superhero identity was later taken over by Reggie Long, the son of the therapist that was trying to help Rorschach.

Died in Watchmen (1986-87).

#6 – Thunderstrike – died in 1985

Thunderstrike, Marvel comics
(Picture: Marvel)

Eric Masterson was a normal man before he merged with the Mighty Thor and gained the powers of a god. He would later temporarily be the new Thor himself before he gained the mace named Thunderstrike and became the hero of the same name.

Thunderstrike had a warmly received solo comic series in the mid-90s, but the Thunderstrike was soon to pass. He died trying to purge himself of a curse. Briefly revived by the Grim Reaper, The Scarlet Witch returned Thunderstrike to the afterlife for a peaceful ever after.

Died in Thunderstrike 24, 1985

#5 – Karen Page, Daredevil’s first love

Karen Page and Daredevil, Marvel comics
(Picture: Marvel)

Daredevil might be known as the Merc with a Mouth, but he was also the Hitman with a Heart for a while.

Karen Page was Daredevil’s first love and was a fixture on the comics for decades. The character goes through a lot through the years, initially starting out as a secretary before becoming a drug-addicted actress.

She eventually went on the straight and narrow, before being roped in a grand scheme constructed by Mysterio to break Daredevil’s spirit.

In a very risqué storyline, Karen was made to believe she was HIV positive as part of the plan to manipulate Daredevil. After which, she got impaled by Bullseye with Daredevil’s own billy club, dying in Daredevil’s arms.

A truly memorable death.

Died in Daredevil vol. 2 #5, (March 10, 1999)

#4 – Pantha

Pantha, DC Comics
(Picture: DC)

Pantha’s time in the DC Comics universe was short and most definitely not sweet. Her death remains the thing she’s most remembered for, and is one of DC’s most violent storylines.

Pantha was something of DC’s answer to Wolverine – a feral hero, with animal-based powers and abilities.

She developed a cult following before she was brutally slain by Superboy-Prime within the pages of Infinite Crisis. She had her head knocked clean off by the unstable Superboy from an alternate universe.

A literal decapitation. Right in the pages of DC Comics.

Died in Infinite Crisis #4 (March, 2006).

#3 – Starman

Starman, DC Comics
(Picture: DC)

The original Starman, Ted Knight, got to pass his powers on to his son Jack, but not before meeting a real heroes end.

Ted passed the baton to his son Jack after discovering that he had cancer. The thing is, it wasn’t the cancer that killed him. He got his hands on another cosmic rod when his old nemesis Mist attempted to bomb Opal City. Starman teleported the bomb, Mist, and himself to a safe location for the bomb to detonate, killing them both in the process.

Died in Starman Vol 2 #72 (December, 2000)

#2 – Goliath

Black Goliath, Marvel comics
(Picture: Marvel)

Marvel have been known to have featured several black comic book heroes earlier on, and one of them was Goliath. Dating back to the 70s, William ‘Bill’ Foster started his career as a hero with the codename Black Goliath. He had the power to increase his size, becoming a human giant.

His death by the hands of Thor’s clone in the Civil War event comic is ripe with controversy. He was the first major casualty of the conflict, and many fans took umbrage at the fact that the first person to die was one of Marvel’s black superheroes.

Died in Civil War #4 (September, 2006)

#1 – Uncle Ben

Spider-Man and Uncle Ben
(Picture: Marvel)

Of course we had to list Uncle Ben’s death in the number one spot. Without Uncle Ben’s death, we quite literally wouldn’t have Spider-Man.

The most important death in all of Marvel comics – and perhaps all comic books ever – Uncle Ben’s passing could never be reversed by Marvel because it’s too important to Spidey’s backstory.

With great power comes great responsibility, and with a great comic book death, an even greater hero was created.

Died in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)

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