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Comic Book / Resurrection Man

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Urban legend tells of a drifter wandering the side roads and back streets of the USA, a man who can't stay dead. A Resurrection Man.

The legend is true. His name is Mitchell Shelley, and he's wandering the Earth, trying to do good by others where he can. Every time he dies, he comes back with a new superpower.

Mitch was originally the star of his own DC Comics ongoing back in the 1990s, created and written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (later known for Annihilation, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy). His first appearance was actually Resurrection Man vol. 1 #1 (May, 1997). The series lasted for 27 issues, from May 1997 to August 1999. Focusing on his search to discover the truth about himself and his powers. Since the end of his original series, Mitchell has had guest appearances in various titles. He returned to the spotlight in a new Abnett/Lanning series as part of DC's New 52 relaunch in September 2011. This series only lasted for 13 issues, ending with a Zero Issue where Mitch learned his origin.


Notable appearances of Resurrection Man

    Comic Books 
  • Resurrection Man Vol 1 (1997-1999)
  • Resurrection Man Vol 2 (2011-2012)

Tropes in Resurrection Man and related works:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance:
    • Turned out Mitch wasn't a very nice guy in his pre-Resurrection Man life, a corrupt lawyer deep in mob business. He seems to have been better in previous incarnations.
    • The New 52 version was even less of a nice guy in his former life; he was running the nanobot project, and conducting illegal human testing.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Body Doubles are Mitch's most frequently reoccurring foes. Also, Vandal Savage, as he and Mitch have constantly clashed in the long span of their lives, up until the 853rd Century.
  • The Atoner: A touch of this after he finds out who he used to be.
  • Advertisement:
  • Back from the Dead: Again, and again, and again...
  • Badass Longcoat
  • Body Surf: The Rider.
  • The Cameo: Two panels of Abnett and Lanning's Elseworlds oneshot The Superman Monster, feature an (unnamed) actual resurrection man (i.e. a grave robber), with Mitch's shoulder-length hair and broad-brimmed hat.
  • The Cape: Pretty much, even though he normally doesn't wear one.
  • Civvie Spandex: Typically doesn't wear a costume, favoring a black hat, black coat, black shirt and whatever trousers he can grab.
  • Discard and Draw: Every time he dies.
  • Divinely Appearing Demons: An Inverted Trope in The New 52 version, where the angels that Mitch runs into sometimes look (and act) a hell of a lot like demons.
  • The Drifter
  • Evil Counterpart: Hooker, initially.
  • Exiled from Continuity: An aversion in Mitch's first ongoing (when the Vertigo embargo was still in force), as the Dreaming's Cain and Abel show up in one issue.note 
  • First Episode Resurrection: Subverted. Mitch's resurrection abilities were already in place by the time we first met him.
  • Future Badass: His DC One Million self takes him from a relative nobody with famously unreliable powers into one of the strongest heroes of the 853rd Century. Not only has he developed tons of experience and prestige, but he's completely mastered his powers to resurrect immediately and gain the powers he needs, which he even exploits by poisoning himself for an instant whenever he wants to switch powers.
  • Gender Bender: One resurrection had Mitch come back as a woman. This is actually a plot point. As a woman, Mitch's pain tolerance is higher, allowing him to bypass a gate that normally emitted so much pain it caused him to pass out.
  • Ghost Memory: Mitch used to get flashes of his previous incarnations when he was little (and again when possessed by the Rider).
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: When Mitch asks the demon what its interest in him is, it replies "I could tell you that, but then I'd have to kill you. Repeatedly."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Hooker.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Naturally. One issue has a confused Batman trying to figure out why the same guy keeps getting murdered by Gotham City criminals. A crossover with Hitman sees Hitman repeatedly shooting him over and over until he gets a useful power. In the 853rd century, even Resurrection Man himself gets in on the act, wearing a gauntlet that lets him commit instant suicide.
  • Inner Monologue
  • Lovely Angels: The Body Doubles, a pair of bounty hunters.
  • Meaningful Name: In Mitch's very first issue, the town where he discovers his powers, and decides how he's going to use them, is called Crucible.
  • Missing Mom: Mitch's mother died when he was young.
  • Mistaken Identity: Mitch, and the Forgotten Heroes, conclude he's the long-lost Immortal Man. As it turns out, he's not.
  • Mythology Gag: In the original series, Mitch's quest for his past life culminated at the old Soder Cola plant in Viceroy, Carolina. In the New 52 series, the plant is a cover for The Lab.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: It may be possible to kill Mitch permanently. No one's succeeded.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Suriel. And a bit peeved that Mitch refuses to stay dead so she's decided to play Mitch's personal Psychopomp, a.k.a Angel of Death, to collect his soul as punishment for cheating death too many times.
  • Perma-Stubble: Mitch.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Happens at issue 3 of his New 52 title.
  • Quest for Identity: The first ongoing, and now the second.
  • Rasputinian Death: Occasionally gets this from people trying to make sure he stays dead. It never works.
    • In a Crossover with Hitman, Tommy Monaghan kills Mitch over and over and over again until he comes back with a power useful to their situation.
  • Reality Warper: Mr Skism.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Via resurrection, apparently thanks to nanotechnology. Mitch's soul has been around at least since Ancient Egypt (and he finds an image of Vandal Savage's origin familiar...). In DC One Million, Mitch survives until the 853rd century.
  • Superpower Lottery: Anything from creating holographic butterflies, to shapeshifting, to pyrokinesis, to astral projection - typically, the circumstances of his death will shape the power (e.g. getting blown up in a nuclear explosion turned him into a living shadow).
    • One issue had Hitman repeatedly shoot Mitch in the head for multiple lotteries, until he finally got a power that Hitman decided was good enough.
  • Two First Names: Mitchell Shelley. On an interesting note, the name he goes by depends on his current gender.
  • Walking the Earth
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Mitch certainly believes this, having died more times than he can count and being hounded by all manner of supernatural horrors that want to make sure he stays dead. Even worse is he's destined to live at least until the 853 century!