10 Biggest Deaths in DC Comics History
10 Biggest Deaths In DC Comics History
The Man of Steel is laid to rest in ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Or is he?
Find it difficult to take comic deaths seriously when they’re normally back fighting fit next month?
Well many deaths in DC Comics do count for something.
With Superman dead at the end of ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’, does anyone really believe he’ll stay dead? With two Justice League films on the way, I think we all know he’ll be coming back swinging pretty darn soon. This is a recurring theme in the world of superheroes, to the point no deaths are taken seriously. Well, over the years, some characters have died with such fanfare, or stayed dead for so long, it restores some faith in the comic book Reaper.
1) Golden Glider/Lisa Snart
The Golden Glider character was revived with DC Comics’ 2011 reboot ‘The New 52’.
'The Flash' #113 (1996)
The sister of Rogues leader Captain Cold, Lisa ‘Golden Glider’ Snart first appeared in the pages of ‘The Flash’ in 1977. After escaping from Iron Heights in 1996, Glider recruited a dim-witted thug boyfriend and re-fashioned him as the villain Chillblaine, fully equipped with one of her brother’s cold guns. Unfortunately, Glider became possessed on their first outing and ended up killing her new muscle.
Tragedy befell another two incarnations of Chillblaine, before Chillblaine IV thought ahead and killed Glider first. His moment in the spotlight was cut short rapidly by a vengeful Captain Cold however, who tracked him down, and impaled him on giant icicles.
Staying dead for fifteen years until a company-wide reboot is quite an achievement for any character from the pages of superhero comics.
2) Black Canary/Dinah Drake
Canary was the first character created by legendary artist Carmine Infantino during his tenure at DC.
‘Secret Origins’ #50 (1990)
Two adaptations of the Black Canary character have recently reached a new audience through The CW’s Arrowverse, but the original leather-clad heroine first appeared in 1947. A member of the legendary Justice Society of America, Dinah Drake was the mother of the now better-known Dinah Laurel Lance. (Sara Lance – now the Arrowverse’s White Canary - was created for TV, although a very different White Canary character does exist in the comics).
When the Silver Age of comics came along and Dinah Lance became the premier Canary, it was revealed that she was in fact the daughter of Dinah Drake, tying their continuities together. When the definitive history of the Black Canary was released in 1990, Dinah Drake passed away from cancer, caused by radiation absorbed fighting Aquarius, the living star. Her death was primarily a plot device for the surviving Canary, but a relatable ‘natural-causes’ death, outside of battle, for an aged superhero, is worth noting. Her passing projects a gritty realism more expected in ‘Watchmen’ than mainstream DC lines.
3) Superman/Clark Kent
‘The Death of Superman’ was loosely adapted into an animated feature in 2007 entitled ‘Superman: Doomsday’.
‘Superman’ #75 (1993)
Not a viable entry based on length of time deceased, as Clark Kent was back being neither a bird nor a plane, in less than a year. ‘The Death of Superman’ story does make the list for impact though. Pre-dating many on this list, Superman’s death was a media storm and laid the framework for killing and regenerating big money characters.
His shocking death was delivered by the recently emerged Doomsday (more recently seen battling Supes, Bats and Wonder Woman in ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’), who tore apart large quarters of Metropolis, and several members of the Justice League, along his trail of destruction. The Man of Steel and The Destroyer ultimately wipe each other out in an epic final battle. Four Superman-like characters spend the next few months vying for the title of real Superman, before Clark returns sporting his sweeping 90s locks.
4) Green Lantern/Hal Jordan
More recent incarnations of the Green Lantern include Middle-Eastern Muslim Simon Baz, and Latino Jessica Cruz, the first female Green Lantern of Earth.
‘The Final Night’ (1996)
Hal Jordan is normally considered the definitive Green Lantern. He was preceded by a slightly different version of the character in the Golden Age Alan Scott, and followed by several strong contenders for the title of ‘best Lantern’ in John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. Hal, however, championed the Green Lantern ring throughout the Silver Age of comic books.
In the 90s, after being consumed by the yellow essence of fear named Parallax, Jordan became evil and obliterated all but one of the Guardians (alien creators of the Green Lantern Corps), as well as co-Lantern Kilowog. He would proceed to terrorize the Lanterns for years, all unable to combat the force of his yellow fear with their green will. Hal eventually makes up for the carnage he’s committed while under the influence of Parallax. In 1996’s ‘The Final Night’ he fends off a Sun-Eater and sacrifices his own life to re-ignite the Sun. He would remain in the background until late 2004 when dipping sales of ‘Green Lantern’ spurred a full-time return for Jordan.
5) Green Arrow/Oliver Queen
Oliver Queen would be replaced by a new Green Arrow, Connor Hawke.
‘Green Arrow’ #100-101 (1995)
Currently alive and well on The CW’s ‘Arrow’, in 1995 on the printed page, Oliver Queen made a fatal mistake. After getting romantically involved with an eco-terrorist femme fatale, Ollie ends up aboard a plane headed for Metropolis. It turns out that she’s an angry brat whose father built a tennis court on her garden. Oh, and the plane is carrying a massive exploding genetic device, to level the industrialist’s paradise that is Metropolis to the ground.
After being tricked into having to hold down one of the detonation pressure pads, it looks bad for Metropolis and Mr. Queen. However, Superman arrives, and after running through some useless ideas, decides to heat vision Ollie’s arm off, keeping the pressure pad weighted, but creating an armless archer. Ever the martyr, Ollie is having none of it and settles for being blown sky high.
6) Batman/Bruce Wayne
The body Superman was carrying turned out to be an android replica.
‘Final Crisis’ (2008-9)
Following the series Batman ‘R.I.P.’ and ‘Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?’, after ‘Final Crisis’ Batman was finally believed dead, at the hands of galactic dictator Darkseid. He’d disappeared from the streets of Gotham, leaving a vacuum of power. The rest of the Bat-Family, along with other Gotham-based vigilantes, scrabbled to pick up the pieces. The original Robin, Dick ‘Nightwing’ Grayson stepped up as the Batman, with Bruce Wayne’s son Damian becoming Robin.
DC without Bruce Wayne is like Netflix without chillin’ though, so Bruce was back in just over a year, launching his Batman Incorporated international campaign, notably introducing Batwing, the Batman of Africa. It is also revealed that Darkseid didn’t kill Bruce per se, but send him back in time, so the term ‘death’ may be loosely applied here.
7) Blue Beetle/Ted Kord
A version of Maxwell Lord has been a recurring character on CBS/The CW’s ‘Supergirl’.
‘Infinite Crisis’ (2005-6)
The original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, was created in 1939. The character was sold by a struggling Fox Comics to Charlton Comics and underwent major character changes. After being replaced by his successor Ted Kord, Beetle eventually ended up in the hands of DC Comics, along with The Question, Captain Atom and others, when they purchased a bunch of Charlton Comics characters (who would inspire Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’).
In the Infinite Crisis arc, Kord discovers a metahuman database built by industrialist billionaire Maxwell Lord. Refusing the opportunity to join his new evil organisation, Beetle gets shot through the head, putting a blunt end to an historic character’s existence. Despite references and resurrection as a zombie, Kord has done an impressive job of staying dead. He has in more recent years made minor appearances, but the younger Jamie Reyes has taken on the mantle proper.
8) Robin/Jason Todd
Todd could never replicate the popularity that Dick Grayson had as Robin.
'A Death In The Family' (1988)
In one of the most famous story arcs in comic book history, Jason Todd was supposed to be the hero that stayed dead. After a reader’s phone-in vote - by a small margin - elected to let the second Robin die, he was tortured and beaten with a crowbar by The Joker, then blown to pieces in a warehouse, alongside his estranged mother.
Todd’s death always stands out because of the controversial phone-in vote, and because he actually stayed dead. For a relatively long time anyway. He would eventually be resurrected as the Red Hood in 2005, and seek vengeance on Batman for not executing The Joker for his crimes. He has since become a frequent ally of the Bat, working with fellow ‘Robins’ Nightwing, Red Robin, and Damian Wayne, as well as heading his own comic line ‘Red Hood & The Outlaws’.
9) Supergirl/Kara Zor-El
Linda Danvers would take over the Supergirl moniker from Kara Zor-El in the late 90s and early 00s.
‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ (1985-6)
By the 80s, DC’s lines of continuity had got messy as hell. With various versions of characters, of varying ages, on varying Earths, the accessibility to new readers was a concern. I would imagine a good portion of the casual ‘Arrowverse’ viewing public are currently struggling with similar issues. To try and clean things up a bit, a massive crossover event featuring basically every character ever conceived was proposed.
Enter ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, essentially a trans-galactic struggle between two alien overseers called the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, that drags the entire metahuman world into its conflict. As the arc reaches its climax, Supergirl leaves her weakened cousin, Superman, in the hands of Dr. Light, and deals a huge blow against the Anti-Monitor’s plans by destroying his machines that are merging Earths into each other. Unfortunately, the battle was too much for Kara Zor-El. It would take until 2004 for the original version of Supergirl to return permanently to the pages.
10) The Flash/Barry Allen
The former ‘Kid Flash’ Wally West took over the mantle in Barry’s absence, as well as Bart ‘Impulse’ Allen, his grandson.
‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ (1985-6)
Shortly after the death of Supergirl, Barry ‘The Flash’ Allen comes across the power source of all the Anti-Monitor’s dimension-bending plans. Running around the core at such a speed he manages to breach the outer-casing, he also begins to travel back in time. Near the beginning of the story, Barry had popped up in unexpected places, warning his friends of impending doom via rips in the time continuum. As he runs faster and faster these moments are re-visited. This concept was recently revitalized by The Flash’s cameo appearance in ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice’.
While saving the world, the Silver Age, and most popular Flash, pays the ultimate price. It would be 23 years before Barry returned to regular publication, after the revelation he wasn’t dead but within the Speed Force itself.
Head over to the comments section if you have some other big deaths to add to our list!
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