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Death Is Cheap / Comic Books

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Comic books: The foremost purveyor of Death Is Cheap in media.

When it comes to mainstream comics, nobody believes in death anymore. Marvel and DC spend most of their time assuring us over and over that the characters they killed off are dead FOR REALLY REAL THIS TIME, YOU GUYS! No one ever believes them. For example, no matter how many times the Marvel editors stated outright that Captain America wouldn't be coming back, most fans were just making wagers on how long it would take. Turns out it's about a year. As the old saying goes, "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd." Of course, since that saying was coined, all three characters found themselves resurrected (though for Uncle Ben it wasn't permanent). Uncle Ben is joined by fellow comic-book luminaries Thomas and Martha Wayne (unless you count Flashpoint). It seems that Death by Origin Story is the last plank that comics writers - at least, where the Big Two are concerned - will even remotely respect anymore.


    DC Comics 
  • The skepticism has reached a point where comic writers need to keep it in mind when they really are faking a character's death, since they know that everybody will guess exactly right that they were just trying to fool the readers. In 52, Booster Gold is apparently killed in a grand display of heroism. This was not meant to be a permanent (or even semi-permanent) death, as it was an in-universe scheme to trick the villain, but the writers still wanted it to look like he was really dead, and they could think of no way to actually do this, since every reader would automatically know he was not dead. They went through several sketches of having his dismembered body fall to the ground in several different places (since that way readers would say "Well, with that kind of damage he can't just be 'in a coma,' he might actually be dead"), but it ended up just looking ridiculous. Surprisingly, their eventual decision—to have his burned, blasted body fall to the ground—actually did fool the readers in a way, since many of them thought he was at least out of this story completely, even if they expected him to come back sooner or later.
    • It didn't help that 52 was a prequel to the "One Year Later" books, i.e., other stories taking place after it but released before it had already shown Booster Gold. It was still possible to justify those sightings since he was a time traveler.

  • Action Comics: In issue #687-690, it turns out Superman never died in The Death of Superman. Superman's body, still showing signs of life, was inhabited by The Eradicator, placed in a regeneration matrix, and left to recover at the Fortress of Solitude.

  • Batman:
    • While the Lazarus Pits could not originally bring the dead back to life (only working in such a capacity for Ra's Al-Ghul because the madman marinates himself in the poisonous but physically healing things) these days the Pits are a go to simple fix for bringing a character back from the dead, even if they're usually left with a bit of Pit Madness to work through.
    • Batgirl (2009): Stephanie Brown spends a lot of time thinking about what would happen if Bruce Wayne ever returned as Batman. "I've just been worried that if you ever popped up again - and I mean, who really stays dead nowadays anyways, right? You missed the zombies, by the way." When he does reappear, she slaps him. And then freaks out and runs away.
    • Grant Morrison's Batman: In Batman and Son, The Joker is shot in the forehead by a cop dressed as Batman, and survives. In the final issue of Batman Incorporated, Damian Wayne was killed by his brainwashed evil clone-brother. Even though Bruce grieved, the comic went out of its way to lampshade that people from the al-Ghul family never stay dead. It took just over a year in real-world publishing chronology.
    • Remember how devastating it was for Tim Drake when Superboy, Impulse and Spoiler died? Well now the first two are both back thanks to Legion of Three Worlds and Steph's death has been revealed via retcon to have been faked without her consent. At one point Tim was desperate and unstable enough to try resurrect Stephanie Brown, Kon-El, Bart Allen and his father using a Lazarus Pit. In a Fridge Logic moment, imagine if Tim did put Steph's DNA into the pit liquid, seeing that she was actually alive...
    • In Red Robin Tim's assertions that Bruce isn't actually dead is brushed off as him being in denial and losing it due to how many of his loved ones had died in the previous two years. He's not wrong and manages to find Batman lost in the timestream even though Dick and Cassie don't belive him. (SB does belive him after his own return).

  • The entire Blackest Night event of 2009 seems to be this trope played out in the grandest, darkest way imaginable.
    • Additionally, it does some Lampshade Hanging on death being cheap; the whole reason it seemed to have started is because Nekron was pissed at having been cheated so often. But then in issue #5 it's revealed that this was all bullshit; Nekron was responsible (or at least allowed) for all of the resurrections in the DCU so far. Thanks to their previous deceased status everyone who ever "cheated" Death is vulnerable to Black Lantern ring possession.
    • The ending is essentially one giant burst of Death Is Cheap bringing back most of the characters DC killed over the last several years, but also some characters whose resurrections will cause problems. In spite of this, the series ends with one of the characters saying "I think death is death from now on" since Nekron was defeated.
      • On that very same page, though, they observe that another character who had been presumed dead (Batman) probably wasn't. So DC superheroes will still have to deal with Comic Book Death in the form of deliberately faked deaths, Disney Villain Deaths, deaths of clones, deaths of Alternate Universe copies, death followed by being cloned with memory implants in the clone, being saved at the last second by Time Travel... just not true resurrection. Meaning they'll wait two or three months before they start bringing people back to life for real again.
    • Amusingly inverted by the resurrection of Deadman, who has been a ghost since the character was introduced forty years ago. Since Status Quo Is God, he was soon killed off and back to normal.
    • The Anti-Monitor is resurrected, after being destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths, used as a multiversal tuning fork in Infinite Crisis, and being resurrected and killed in Sinestro Corps War, and still hangs around in Brightest Day.
    • One of the followup storylines saw Lex Luthor meet Death of the Endless — who is supposed to be the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, period — and ask her about how cheap death is. She answers that a few years or decades isn't much to her; everyone will meet her eventually.
      Death: You know, people do come back from the dead. It's not a big deal. I am kind of busy.

      Lex Luthor: The dead have come back to life! Several of them!
      Death: It happens! In the end, they all come back to me.
    • Predictably, despite supposedly closing the door on resurrections, the second-to-last Secret Six storyline and the post-Flashpoint reboot brought back several deceased characters.

  • Convergence: Kara Zor-El, Supergirl of Earth-One, made a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and she returns. With the crisis prevented and the multiverse restored, an infinite number of people didn't really die. This includes Kal-L, Superman of Earth-Two, who was retrieved from the past timeline, and does not get to experience his death in Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night.

  • Darkseid can revive the people he kills with his Omega Beams using those same Omega Beams. This just means that Darkseid can kill underlings that annoy him without any worries, since he can bring them back if he needs them again. He can also kill and revive people over and over again for fun.

  • The entire concept of Comic Book Death is explored in Eternity Girl, in which a washed-up old superheroine seeks to die but the universe simply won't let her.

  • The Flash:
    • As mentioned below, Barry Allen died in 1985 and for a long time was notable for being one of the character deaths that stuck. He eventually returned 23 years later. Due to both himself and his successor Wally frequently time traveling (along with alternate universe stories and flashbacks), Barry managed to appear in many stories in the intervening time.
    • Bart Allen's superhero name was changed from Impulse to Kid Flash, then he was aged up and called Flash before being beaten to death. He was brought back alongside Kon-El during Legion of Three Worlds by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Final Crisis: Batman and Martian Manhunter die, and both come back later.

  • Gen¹³: The entire team dies in volume 2, and comes back in volume 3.
  • Green Arrow: In the 'Quiver' story arc Oliver Queen comes back from the dead after being resurrected by Hal Jordan, as Parallax, before Hal's own death. Queen later meets Hal Jordan on a trip to the after-life, although Jordan has since taken on the role of The Spectre. When later mentioning to Batman of Jordan's involvement, Batman replies, "It seems none of our former allies know how to stay dead."
    Green Arrow: So when you are you really coming back?
    Hal Jordan: (smiling) I'm working on it.

  • Justice League:
    • The Justice League has actually enacted a plan that involved the entire team dying with the assumption that they'd come back to life. They did it to deal with being trapped in the distant past and hunted by foes they couldn't defeat by letting the foes kill them after first arranging for an ally to cast a spell that would resurrect their skeletal remains in the present day.
    • Lampshaded in an issue of Grant Morrison's JLA; after Metamorpho died in the pages of the first arc, Superman is attending Metamorpho's funeral and notes how there are little people gathered, as opposed to his own. The priest tells him that no one cares about superhero funerals anymore because everyone knows they come back all the time. And history proved the priest right as a few years later, Metamorpho did come back — as did Tomorrow Woman, who debuted and died the same issue. To emphasize the point that death is permanent, the panel also showed off a few statues of superheroes who died and stay dead. Every single one of them (Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Ice) ultimately weren't killed off for real. Metamorpho has in fact died and come back at least three times, depending on how you count.
  • As the first ever Super Team the Justice Society of America has brushed against this trope time and again.
    • All-Star Comics: The entire team sans Wonder Woman is killed at the start of issue 38. Di and Black Canary cart their bodies to Paula von Gunther who then revives them so that they can track down their murderer. Black Canary's help leads to her becoming the second woman to officially join the JSA.
    • JSA Classified plays with the idea. Vandal Savage seemingly brings back Wesley Dodds (Sandman) only for it to turn out to be a shapshifter posing as Alan Scott's deceased friend to throw Sentinel off his game.

  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • Despite being somewhat famous for averting this trope more often than not, the eventual return of the first ever Legionnaire to die (Lightning Lad) was telegraphed before his corpse was even cold.
    • A brilliant quote from Fabian Nicieza after fans attacked him for apparently killing off two members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: "In that case, I want to take this opportunity to formally apologize to all the readers for having killed off a shapeshifter and a teleporter in a superhero comic book."
    • L.E.G.I.O.N. (DC Comics): Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) is raped and murdered by the otherwise nameless alien "Stealth". His memories are revealed to have been preserved by the Durlan and they are quickly transplanted into a clone body.

  • In Martian Manhunter, a government agent discussing the Martian's "death" with the Justice League is openly skeptical about superheroes really dying, much to the annoyance of The Flash, whose predecessor and former partner did stay dead... for an unusually long time by superhero standards, at least. (And of course, we the readers already knew J'onn had faked his death as part of a plan.)
  • When Martian Manhunter was killed in Final Crisis, Superman gave a eulogy that amounted to "Let us honor his memory. And pray for a resurrection." Then Blackest Night came along and the Manhunter became a zombie Black Lantern. Perhaps Supes should have been more specific. (Don't worry, he got better.)

  • Our Worlds at War: Aquaman, Steel, Guy Gardner, Hippolyta, Sam Lane, and Jonathan and Martha Kent all die, but not really. In Steel's case, he was resurrected during OWAW.

  • Supergirl: In issue #23 of her Post-Flashpoint series, Supergirl gets killed and her soul thrown into a Hive Mind. Later her soul is reattached to her rebuilt body.
  • Superman: Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman, survives death enough to become a Death Seeker. After trying to save his crew from the effects of radiation that lead to a space shuttle crash, Hank's body dies and his consciousness goes to LexCorp, then Superman's birthing matrix. After Hank tried to frame and kill the Eradicator, and convert Metropolis into an Engine City, Hank's body was destroyed in a fight with Superman in Superman #82. Hank transfers his consciousness to a device he had planted on Doomsday, travels to Apokolips, transfers his consciousness to an Apokolips trooper, and is destroyed by Darkseid. But Hank's consciousness was really transferred in an orb by Darkseid, and was set free. After being convicted of genocide by an intergalactic tribunal, Hank's consciousness is transported into a black hole. But the black hole really sent him to the Marvel Universe, where he had a crossover with the Silver Surfer, and then returned to the DC Universe, where he was attacked by Parallax and dispersed into the Godwave by Hal Jordan. Hank survived by constructing a world from part of the Godwave, and was defeated by Superman on New Genesis, and transferred his consciousness to Superman's containment suit and constructed a new body on Earth. His new body was destroyed by Superman, and Hank's consciousness transferred to a toy, and a machine that could destroy Superman, but Hank was defeated by Superman Red. Then, Hank had another crossover, this time with Galactus, who turned him into a metal slab. But he survived, was defeated by Superman, and sent to the Phantom Zone. He returned and was destroyed on the Manhunters homeworld, then returned and joined the Sinestro Corps, with a promise to be destroyed once and for all. Hank is mostly destroyed after Power Girl and Supergirl throw him at Superboy-Prime, then in an explosion meant to destroy the Anti-Monitor. But Hank survives, resurrected by the Manhunters, and works with the Alpha Lanterns to become mortal again and be destroyed, but is destroyed by the Green Lantern Corps. Hank transfers his consciousness to Boodikka, who destroys his essence, but his consciousness survives, motivated to destroy Doomsday. Hank destroys Doomsday, who survives.

  • Teen Titans:

  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Paula modified the Amazon's Purple Healing Ray to the point where any time someone was killed without being disintegrated or having their brain badly damaged Diana just chucked them in her plane and flew them to Paradise Island or Paula's lab in Washington DC to be revived.
    • In the gods traditionally could only be truly killed by other gods or special weapons, meaning Wonder Woman was free to kill them at will without feeling like she'd broken the Amazon's technical pacifist code as they'd pop back up somewhere eventually unless they chose not to or were already fading away.
    • Artemis was killed after she replaced Wonder Woman for a time in Volume 2, she ended up dragging herself out of hell and crawling out of her coffin as she'd been far more popular with fans than editorial initially expected.
    • Steve Trevor was resurrected twice during the Bronze age. Specifically, he was killed by Doctor Cyber, causing Wonder Woman to relinquish her powers. Seeing her grief, the god Eros inhabited the lifeless body with his spirit and operated as Steve Howard, until his spirit was extracted from the body and Steve "died" again. Several years later, Aphrodite extracted Steve's essence from her son's memory and implanted it in the body of a Steve from another universe, overriding that Steve's (already altered) personality.

  • Young Justice:
    • Empress' parents are both killed by her grandfather, and then resurrected as infants forcing her to all but retire from superheroics to raise them.
    • Secret was murdered by her brother before the team ever found and rescued her ghostly Psychopomp form from the D.E.O., she's brought back as fully human by Darkeseid who thinks that taking her powers from her is a horrific punishment when instead getting to live out her life is what she wants most.
    • Slobo spends pretty much the entire run slowly dying of Clone Degeneration. In the end his Heroic Sacrifice to save Secret from Darkseid gets him trapped frozen and statue like in the far future where the locals eventually figure out what he is and have the technology to save him from Darkseid's cruelty and his own body slowly failing.

  • Zero Hour saw pretty much everyone in the DC Universe die at some point during the event outside of Parallax and Damage and—outside of the Justice Society of America—they came back to life at the end of the story.

    Marvel Comics 

  • Agents of Atlas: According to Namor, the Sub-Mariner #50-51, Namora had been dead for decades. It turns out her corpse was just a hologram hiding her comatose body. Then she wakes up and joins the team.
  • All-New, All-Different Marvel: After everyone in the multiverse dies in Jonathan Hickman's Avengers, Time Runs Out and Secret Wars (2015), the multiverse is restored, and everyone gets better.
  • Alpha Flight:
    • Guardian died and survived by being transported to Ganymede, but this was a a story made up by Delphine Courtney, which turned out to be true anyway.
    • Northstar dies in Wolverine: Enemy of the State, gets resurrected, gets brainwashed twice, and gets better.
    • Marrina Smallwood is killed by Namor in Avengers #293, returns in Dark Reign, is again killed by Namor, and returns in Chaos War, along with the rest of the team killed by The Collective in New Avengers, except Puck, who returns in Alpha Flight vol 4 #2, claiming to have fought his way out of Hell.
  • The Avengers:
    • Clint Barton dies in Avengers Disassembled, and wakes up at the Avengers Mansion after M-day, shown in New Avengers #26.
    • Deathcry is killed in Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord, and returns in Chaos War: Dead Avengers.
    • Hank Pym dies in Avengers: Rage of Ultron, and returns in Uncanny Avengers Vol 3 #4.
    • Immortus is reduced to a skeleton, and revived by the Forever Crystal, in Avengers Forever.
    • Jack of Hearts appears to die in Avengers vol 3, returns and dies in Avengers Disassembled, and returns in Marvel Zombies Supreme.
    • Scott Lang dies in Avengers Disassembled, and returns in The Children's Crusade.
    • Swordsman Jacques Duquesne was killed by Kang, and returns in Chaos War: Dead Avengers #3.
    • Ultron has returned often after being destroyed.
    • Vision dies in Avengers Disassembled, returns and dies in Chaos War, and returns in Avengers vol 4 #19.
    • Wonder Man dies in Avengers #9. His body is buried in a grave, stolen by Grim Reaper, temporarily revived as part of the Legion of the Unliving, and revived as a zombie by Black Talon, but it turns out he was in a death-like catatonic state the entire time. Wonder Man dies again in Force Works, and is revived in Avengers vol 3 #3.
    • Wonder Man's brother, the ironically-named supervillain Grim Reaper, has himself died no less than six times. Four of those deaths happened in the same six year stretch, to boot.
    • Like the Justice League over at the Distinguised Competition the The Avengers have actually enacted plans that involved the entire team dying with the assumption that they'd come back to life. The Avengers did it to rescue teammates from the Grandmaster who'd arranged their deaths so he could use them as pawns in the afterlife (being dead himself at the time) by drinking poison and more-or-less assuming they'd figure out a way to get back to life once they'd sorted everything out on the other side.
    • In Avengers Undercover, Arcade dies in issue #3, until issue #7 reveals it was actually a clone that had died.
    • Secret Avengers had an issue where Black Widow interrogated a group of gossip columnists after they published a story claiming that Bucky Barnes survived his apparent death in Fear Itself. She soon discovered that the columnists fabricated the story because they figured Barnes would be resurrected soon enough anyway, given how frequent such returns are in the Marvel Universe.
      • Though there was a bit of additional Lampshade Hanging. It was pointed out that while a lot of heroes do return from the grave, Black Widow still has numerous friends and fellow Avengers that died and were not granted the luxury of a resurrection.
      • This was a triple-somersault Lampshade Hanging, since the real reason Widow was interrogating them, was because she knew that Barnes had faked his death, and was worried the story had leaked. The two "big deaths" of Fear Itself (Barnes and Thor) were both immediately shown to be temporary, since the creators knew no one would believe they were permanent.

  • Captain America:
    • Captain America: Winter Soldier: Bucky didn't die, but fell into the freezing ocean, was found by a Russian submarine, kept in cryostasis, and was brainwashed to become the Winter Soldier. The Red Skull is assassinated, but being in contact with the cosmic cube allowed his consciousness to be transferred.
      • He'd previously died of old age, but Arnim Zola place his mind in a clone of Captain America's body.
    • Hitler died from the android Human Torch, but several clones were made. Arnim Zola transferred Hitler's mind to the clone that became Hate-Monger.
    • Sharon Carter died in Captain America #237, but really her death was staged by SHIELD. She died from an explosion in Captain America vol 7 #10, and ended up having survived in Captain America vol 7 #23.
    • Lampshaded in an issue of Captain America where The Falcon claimed that unless you made sure to recover the body of a dead supervillain, they were sure to come back to life at some point. He then pointed out that such resurrections happen with "alarming regularity" in the Marvel Universe.
  • The final issue of Captain America And the Mighty Avengers takes place just prior to the destruction of the Marvel Universe during Secret Wars. While several other characters are upset about dying, Luke Cage takes a very measured attitude and says that this likely isn't the end for real, just the start of a new chapter.
    Wait and see what comes next.

  • Daredevil:
    • Elektra died in Daredevil #181 and was resurrected in Daredevil #190. She had appeared to have died in New Avengers #29, but that was a Skrull.
    • Bullseye died in Shadowland and was resurrected by Lady Bullseye.

  • Dark Reign: Swordsman Andreas von Strucker is killed by Norman Osborn, and returns in Illuminati #2.
  • Marvel Comics' Dracula returns often, even from "permanent" death.

  • The Eternals: Ajak dies in "The Herod Factor" and returns in Eternals vol 3. Virako made a Heroic Sacrifice in Thor Annual #7, and returns in New Eternals #1. Zuras dies in Thor #300-301, returns, and dies in Iron Man Annual #6, and returns in Eternals vol 3.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Reed Richards died, but actually was teleported to another dimension.
    • Galactus died. But not for long.
    • Ben Grimm died while fighting Doctor Doom, and returned in "Hereafter".
    • Johnny Storm died, but was actually teleported to another planet.
  • Lampshaded in the Fantastic Four tie-in to Age Of Ultron:
    Johnny Storm: Death is part of a journey and... and I know what I'm talking about here...death isn't the end. Of anything. Don't sweat this. We'll be back.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax, Phyla-Vell, Warlock/Magus, Nova, Star-Lord, and Thanos all died, but didn't die.

  • Mr. Immortal is a parody of this. He's a Marvel Comics superhero with no special powers except immortality, who has been killed in ways including crushing, burning, self-impalement on giant novelty scissors, bear trap, cannon, chainsaw, piranhas, ferrets, spear, and python, and alcohol poisoning (three times).
  • Incredible Hulk:
    • General Ross died from fighting Zzzax, but his body was stolen by The Leader and resurrected by the Troyjan.
    • Betty Ross died of radiation poisoning, but she didn't really die. She washed up on a beach, was experimented on by Thaddeus Ross, became Red She-Hulk, lost her She-Hulk powers, got shot & died again and came back with her Harpy powers.
    • In issue #345, The Hulk is killed by a bomb from The Leader, in Middletown, and returns in issue #347.
    • The Leader is killed in an explosion in Incredible Hulk #400, returns as the leader of the Home Base organization, which never happened due to being part of a plot by Nightmare, shows up at a trial in She-Hulk, was killed by the Punisher, revived, killed again by the Punisher, which turned out to be an LMD, was given a permanent Penance Stare by Ghostrider, got sent to Hell by Mephisto, and is now fine.
    • Lampshaded endlessly in Incredible Hulk issues #397-#400. When a distraught Rick Jones goes to Doctor Strange so that he can resurrect his girlfriend Marlo, Strange explains how it's impossible. Rick goes on to point out how many other characters have died and come back, asking if Strange' assistant had (responding "Actually, yes"). It gets to the point where Marlo does get brought back to life by a magical priest and a crystal chamber simply called the "Deux Ex Machina." She comes back... but is left a complete shell from the experience. (She gets better before issue #418 [their wedding], though.)
    • And lampshaded again in another issue during Nick Fury's funeral, where his friends laugh and crack jokes, saying things like "What d'ya think it is this time, aliens?" By the end of the story they realize that he's not coming back, and look genuinely mournful. Of course, as we all know, he did come back anyway.
    • Someone even called Marvel out on their frequent use of comic book death in the letters pages of that very same issue, to which the response was "Okay, okay, we won't kill Nick Fur—Oops."
    • This is explained in the Immortal Hulk series when it comes to Gamma Beasts as there is a strange green door that can be crossed, bringing Gamma Beasts back from the dead. For Banner, he's more than happy to just die, but it's suggested one of his Hulk identities charges back through.
    • One story in She-Hulk's run had her move to have a dead man's ghost testify in his wrongful death case against the company he worked for. When the other side objected, Shulkie called Ben Grimm to testify about how he came back from the dead. When counsel objected the dead person in this case was an ordinary human and not a super-being, she then asked by a show of hands how many people in the courtroom had been resurrected from some cataclysmic event. About half the people in the room (including one of the other defense attorneys) raised their hand.

  • A "Legion of the Unliving" has been created by several villains in Marvel Comics, composed of those who had previously died. When it turns out those characters had been alive, the group members are usually considered to be clones or temporal copies.
  • In Marvel The End, Thanos discovers that the universe is unraveling because of all the heroes coming back from death. He specifically blames things on Wonder Man, who was arguably the first resurrection in the Marvel Universe. Thanos then unmakes and remakes the universe, and states, "This time, dead is dead." Sh-yeah, right.
    • Quite ironic in that Thanos himself has died some of the most times of any character, as he is literally in a relationship with Death.
  • Onslaught: The heroes die, but are really transported to a pocket dimension in Heroes Reborn, have strange adventures as their alternate selves, and return just fine in Heroes Return. Tony Stark died in The Crossing, replaced by Tony Stark of Earth-96020, who went to the Heroes Reborn pocket dimension and returned to Earth-616. Franklin Richards patches up Tony Stark's death by merging the version of Tony Stark of Earth-616 that Franklin Richards remembers, with Tony Stark of Earth-96020, who becomes a fading memory.

  • The Punisher:
    • Frank died from an electric chair but didn't, became a zombie and got better, and then became a zombie and got better.
    • In Punisher Vol. 7 #5, The Hood resurrects sixteen C-List Fodder villains who had been killed by Scourge of the Underworld.
    • Two villains make major comebacks: the Russian (just as a head at first, the state he died in, then later with a Brawn Hilda female body. His head was revived thanks to stolen SHIELD tech, the body was an unavoidable part of the resurrection. He asks to have even bigger breasts), and Ma Gnucci actually a series of body doubles who accepted having losing all four limbs like Ma did, organized by a different villain.

  • Secret Invasion: The Wasp appeared to die, but became the infinite avengers mansion or something, and is now fine.
  • The Sentry: In vol 2 #1, The Sentry beheads Attuma, who is revived by Doctor Doom in Dark Reign: Made Men #1.
  • Shadowhawk: In volume 1, Shadowhawk dies. Shadowhawk: Resurrection is about Shadowhawk no longer being dead.
  • Silver Surfer dies in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #46, and returns in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #49.
  • Spawn: Angela dies in Spawn #100, and returns, having always been part of the Marvel Universe, in Age of Ultron.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Once, when Spider-Man was asked if the villain of the day was dead, Spidey said "Probably. Half the guys I know have been dead once or twice. Usually did 'em a world of good."
    • Spider-Man himself has been killed off twice in the past decade. The first time in 2005's Spider-Man: The Other, when he gets killed by new villain Morlun. Peter stays dead for a single issue before his resurrection. He got killed again in 2012 in issue #700 of Amazing Spider-Man after switching bodies with a dying Doc Ock. But then a relaunched Amazing Spider-Man series with Peter Parker debuting in April of 2014, around the time of the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, after being dead for a little more than a year.
    • Jackson "Big Wheel" Weele appears to die in Amazing Spider-Man #183, but ends up surviving.
    • Aunt May dies in Amazing Spider-Man #400, but that was someone pretending to be her.
    • Norman Osborn kills Spider-Man once and for all in The Spectacular Spider-Man #263, revealed as a hallucination in Spider-Man #98.
    • Mary Jane dies in an exploding airplane in Amazing Spider-Man vol 2 #13, but she was really kidnapped.
    • Doctor Octopus was killed by Kaine in The Spectacular Spider-Man #221, and is later resurrected by the Hand.
    • Doctor Octopus died in Superior Spider-Man, and had his consciousness transferred to the Living Brain in The Amazing Spider-Man vol 4. In just the slightest bit of a subversion, the original Otto Octavius really does die at the end of Superior Spider-Man , and the one that survives is an artificial copy made shortly before Otto's death. As such, the "resurrected" Otto lacks the memories of the original one's final days, including his Villainous Breakdown and Heel–Face Turn.
    • Hammerhead has been resurrected from a nuclear explosion, and survived a shot in the head with an adamantium bullet.
    • Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn died, but were really kept alive by the healing factor of the goblin formula.
    • Roderick Kingsley was considered dead, but had replacements take on the Hobgoblin identity while he retired.
    • Kraven the Hunter committed suicide in Kraven's Last Hunt, and is resurrected in Grim Hunt.
    • Mysterio committed suicide in Daredevil vol 2, shows up alive with a hole in his head, and is now fine, aside from being run over by Deadpool.
    • Carnage has survived death by sprouting new symbiotes, has survived being ripped apart by The Sentry in New Avengers, survived a deadly explosion by The Wizard, was suffocated to death and revived, and made a Heroic Sacrifice in AXIS and survived.
    • Eddie Brock appeared to commit suicide when the Venom symbiote went to Mac Gargan, but Brock was hospitalized, and survived.
    • Rhino and Silver Sable die in Amazing Spider-Man #687. In Amazing Spider-Man #690, Silver Sable is said to still be alive. Rhino shows up alive in Amazing Spider-Man Vol 4 #2.
    • Lampshaded with the death of Marla Jameson. Peter is so wracked with guilt over his failure to save her that he suffers a nightmare where he runs into her, and the following exchange occurs:
      Marla: Don't worry, Peter. I'll be back.
      Peter: Wha? How?
      Marla: I used to build Spider-Slayers. That makes me a super villain. And super villains always come back.
    • Scarlet Spider: Kaine dies in Amazing Spider-Man #634-635, returns in Amazing Spider-Man #637, dies in Amazing Spider-Man Vol 3 #13, and returns in #15.
    • In Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, the Jackal tries convincing Spider-Man, the Rhino and the Lizard that their families and love interests can be brought back to life through cloning, but they will only return as clones, and clones aren't the real deal, unlike Ben Reilly, who died in The Clone Saga, and returns as the Jackal. What a twist.
    • During Mark Millar's Spider-Man run, Mary-Jane briefly mused that the mystery villain that had been ruining Peter's life might be Harry Osborn. When Peter pointed out that Harry had been dead for years, MJ retorted by saying that his dad used to be "dead" as well, and we all know how that worked out...
    • Lampshaded by Hammerhead in Ultimate Spider-Man. His first appearance ended with his skull being exploded by Gambit. When he returns a Mook remarks, "Geez, Hammer, I thought you were dead". Hammerhead responds with, "I was. It sucked. I came back".
    • This trope was seemingly subverted with Peter Parker from Ultimate Spider-Man, who was killed in battle with the Green Goblin, paving the way for Miles Morales. Peter not only returned from the dead, but if Norman Osborn is to be believed, he's now immortal.

  • In Thor, Odin is killed by Mangog in #198, and revived by Hela in #201. Odin and the Asgardians die when their life-force is used in the Destroyer armor in #300; Thor revives them, with the help of the other pantheons, in #301. In vol. 2 #40, Odin dies battling Surtur, and is wiped from existence in the Ragnarok in Thor vol. 2 #85. The realms of Yggdrasil and its inhabitants, including the Asgardians, are destroyed, permanently, and gradually return in Thor vol. 3. Odin returns in Thor #618.
    • Given death in Thor generally just means "moves to Hel (or Valhalla)" it's generally even cheaper than in superhero comics in general. Up to one issue joking about the 9th death Thor that's undone in a pageturn.
  • Thunderbolts: Baron Zemo was beheaded by Nomad, and transferred his consciousness to a computer, and a new body.

  • The Ultimates (2015) has the Arc Words "Everything Lives", that ultimately imply that Death Is Cheap as a cosmic principle of the Marvel universe. This even applies to the universe itself. Six of the seven previous iterations of the universe arrive in the climax to save the current one from being assimilated by The First Firmament.

  • This is discussed in Valkyrie Jane Foster. In issue #7, Jane discovers Death on life support and the Grim Reaper explains that between the Green Door and the Krakoan resurrections, there really seems to be no need for a Death and requests she convince him otherwise. She does so by explaining that, without Death, everything would keep living on a cellular level, creating a Cancerverse.

  • What The—?!: In issue #25, Forbush Man dies, spoofing The Death of Superman, but the citizens are too apathetic to care. Forbush Man shows up in Nextwave, and returns to become a zombie in Captain America: Who Won't Wield the Shield.
    • Fittingly, this idea was mocked in the very same issue of Nextwave where Forbush Man came back:
    Elsa: Didn't Tabby also say that Magik was dead?
    Monica: Like that matters. X-Men come back more than Jesus.

  • X-Men:
    • The X-Men death frequency is spoofed here.
    • Ariel died in X-Men: Legacy #235, and returned in X-Men: Legacy #259.
    • After Banshee dies, during X-Men: Deadly Genesis, his daughter, Siryn remains convinced it's a trick, pointing out all the other X-Men who have been reported dead, only to return. Her less savvy teammates believe she's in denial. When Banshee died, Siryn was in a different comic, X-Factor, and nobody thought to tell those writers that Banshee had been killed off, so she never responded to his death. When the writers finally found out, they decided, since Death Is Cheap, instead of trying to retcon her grieving in, to have her just be in denial. Eventually, she accepts his death. Banshee shows up in Hades, gambling to come back, returns and dies in Necrosha, and returns and dies again in Chaos War. In Uncanny Avengers, Banshee is back, but evil, and spends some time recovering. Also returning with him are Daken, who died in Uncanny X-Force #34, and The Sentry, who died during Siege. They are now just fine.
    • Blink died fighting Harvest in X-Men vol 2 #37, but really teleported herself and survived.
    • Colossus made a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Legacy Virus. Then an alien warlord brought him back, swapped his body for someone else's, and used him as a lab rat for years.
    • Cyclops died, but his consciousness actually merged with Apocalypse. The two were separated, and Cyclops was fine. Then Apocalypse died once and for all when Cable pierced his astral form with his Psimitar, but it turned out Apocalypse knew how to regrow his own body in a vat.
    • Cyclops dies in Death of X, returns and dies in Phoenix Resurrection, and returns in Extermination and Uncanny X-Men (2018) Annual #1.
    • Dazzler has died in Eve of Destruction, New Excalibur, and A-Force vol 2 #3, lampshading her deaths in issue #4.
    • Gateway died in X-Men vol 2 #202 and came back in Secret Warriors #4, but did not survive dying in Uncanny X-Force #27-28.
    • Depending on how you define "death" (depends on who you ask) Jean Grey has died anywhere from once to twenty times, possibly a record for Marvel. The first time was when she appears to die from solar radiation in X-Men #101, but is saved by the Phoenix Force. In The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean appears to die by getting in the way of a laser cannon and saving Scott, but this was really the Dark Phoenix impersonating her. That was only the first two. Jean resurrects and dies multiple times in Phoenix Endsong. A comprehensive list is here. Jean Grey returns once more in Phoenix Resurrection. She's alive and well in X-Men: Red.
    • Laynia "Darkstar" Petrovna dies in New X-Men #130, returns and dies in Necrosha, has her essence passed around to two agents and a Dire Wraith, and is revived in Darkstar & the Winter Guard.
    • Magik died from the Legacy Virus in Uncanny X-Men #303, and returned by New X-Men #40.
    • Magneto died when Asteroid-M was destroyed in X-Men #3, but it turns out he did not die. Magneto died in New X-Men, but that wasn't Magneto. That was after he was presumed dead after the bombing of Genosha. In Uncanny X-Men Vol 4 #19, Magneto is killed by Psylocke and revived by Elixir.
    • Moira MacTaggert died from an attack by Mystique while researching the Legacy Virus, and returned from the underworld in Chaos War.
    • Mr. Sinister has returned from death by transferring his consciousness to a cloned body.
    • Nightcrawler died in X-Force Vol 3 #26, and returned in Amazing X-Men Vol 2 #5.
    • Psylocke was killed and stuffed by Vargas in X-Treme X-Men, and is now fine.
    • Professor Xavier died fighting Grotesk in X-Men #42, but that was really Changeling who impersonated him and died. Professor Xavier is erased from existence due to a Grandfather Paradox in Legion Quest, but survives. Professor Xavier survives being defeated as Onslaught. Professor Xavier is shot in the head in Messiah Complex, and survives. He does not survive Avengers vs. X-Men, but his brain survives and is used as part of Red Onslaught. In the Astonishing X-Men story "A Man Called X", Professor X returns in a new body, now calling himself X.
    • Wolverine died in Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2 #3, but that was a Skrull.
    • Taken to its extreme in Jonathan Hickman's X-Men. The mutants now have a reliable method for resurrecting their own in cloned bodies and with recent backups of their memories. So takes on average about one issue for the recently killed characters to be brought back, and they are steadily working on the backlog of long-deceased mutants as well. Only two mutants cannot be brought back so far ( Destiny and Kate Pryde), for different dramatic reasons.
    • New Mutants:
      • Doug Ramsey dies in Fall of the Mutants, and returns during Necrosha.
      • Warlock dies in X-Tinction Agenda, and returns in Excalibur #77-80.
      • Vanisher dies in New Mutants Vol 3 #13, and returns in Astonishing X-Men Vol 3 #48.
    • Old Man Logan is a Bad Future story set 50 years after most of the world's superheroes have been killed off. At one point, Wolverine and Hawkeye eventually come to Hammer Falls, a place where tourists pray for the resurrections of various superheroes. When Wolverine points out that the heroes aren't coming back, Hawkeye states that people still remember the old days, when heroes would die and then simply return with cool new costumes.
    • In Uncanny X-Men #325 Marrow has her heart torn out. She survives, due to having a second heart.
    • Wolverine:
      • Sabretooth was beheaded by an enchanted sword, but that was a clone. Wolverine still fought and beheaded his soul in Hell, with a sword that does not allow a soul to be resurrected from Hell when cut. But presently, Sabretooth is just fine.
      • Cyber died when his flesh was eaten by scarab beetles. He returned when his astral form possessed a new body.
      • Wolverine dies in Death of Wolverine, and miraculously stays dead while alternate reality counterparts have shown up. Ultimately played straight; as of Marvel Legacy, Logan's broken out of his adamantium cocoon and is back to the land of the living.
    • X-Factor: Jamie Madrox died from the legacy virus, and it was not a duplicate that died. But it turned out to be a duplicate that died. (Jamie later said he always keeps a few duplicates around for just such an emergency, making this something of an Author's Saving Throw for him.)
    • X-Force:
      • Pete Wisdom is killed in X-Force #103, but not really; then the whole team gets killed in #115, but not really.
      • Stryfe's body is destroyed in X-Cutioner's Song. His consciousness infects Cable, and is expelled to Blackheart's realm and defeated by Warpath. Stryfe returns and attacks Latveria, is killed by an explosion, returns and attacks the Xavier Institute, makes a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Bete Noir, and returns in Messiah War.
      • Boom-Boom was shot and killed in X-Force Vol 3 #13, but her death was prevented in X-Force Vol 3 #17.
      • Cable made a Heroic Sacrifice in X-Force vol 3 #28, and returned in Avengers: X- Sanction.
    • X-Man: Nate Grey became pure energy that dissipated across the surface of the Earth, and returned in Dark Reign.

    Other Publishers 

  • Defied by 2000 AD: One of the issues the staff had with contemporary comics was the prevalence of this trope, and they set out as a ground rule that resurrection does not happen, unless it is a key component of the character (a vampiric character, for example, would be an exception, as would a character with regenerative immortality as part of their power set). While this rule hasn't remained completely inviolate over 35 years of publishing, for the most part it has been followed, and several beloved characters have ended up permanently and irrevocably dead.
  • The old Image comic Bloodstrike was about a very iron age series about a government sponsored team of psychopathic heroes whose corpses could be brought back to life by some kind of Applied Phlebotinum. Naturally, this was an excuse to turn the comic's Bloodier and Gorier quotient Up to Eleven, as the characters got to die in obscenely violent ways again and again and again.
  • In The Boys, the stuff that gives people super powers can even resurrect them from the dead... but not in a good way.
  • Subverted in ElfQuest. When One-Eye is killed, Leetah manages to revive him, more or less. When his lifemate learns that his breathing, living body is just an empty shell, she has it put in wrapstuff for magical suspended animation and swears to protect it until his soul (which is hanging around) returns to it. Eventually she comes to terms with the fact that he does not want to come back, frees the body, and lets it die.
  • In Invincible the appropriately named Immortal always comes back after dying. Aside from that, though dead = DEAD. The only other characters to come back had some obvious way for readers to see that they might not have actually kicked the bucket.
  • Though it doesn't display it as much as Marvel or DC, Les Légendaires makes a heavy use of this trope as well: the titular protagonists got all killed at least twice each ones of them, but they always are resurrected at the end of the arc, whether it's through an Eldritch Abomination's doing, Time Reset, reincarnation... in a surprising subversion of the trope, however, the Legendaries' Arch-Enemy Darkhell was actually Killed Off for Real.
  • Love and Capes lampshades the frequency of the trope in comics; when a member of the book's superteam is killed, there's a procedure for inspecting that body to make sure it's really that person and they're really entirely dead. In this case, the character really is dead—though even then, the other characters allow for the possibility that he might come back in some unforeseen way.
  • Notably averted in Paperinik New Adventures, in the case of droids: if a droid has taken too much damage, their personality can never be recovered. It is possible to build another droid with the same appearance and base personality, but it's negatively portrayed, since you'd be treating an irreplaceable person as if they were an easily replaceable object.
  • In Pocket God, the pygmies can resurrect from any death thanks to the powers of their Gem of Life. Unfortunately for them, they die often.
  • Star Wars: Dark Empire: It turns out Boba Fett survived being devoured by the Sarlacc, and Palpatine survived his death from Return of the Jedi, transferring his consciousness to a clone.
  • Too Much Coffee Man: Lampshaded in the origin of Too Much Coffee Man. A person undergoes an overly elaborate origin story, and appears to die. The narrator informs us No One Could Survive That!. And he was correct.
  • Happens every now and then in The Transformers. Optimus Prime himself manages to die three times in the original run. And that's not counting all the near-misses, fake-outs, faked deaths and nasty injuries everyone else gets. Heck, at one point several characters get disassembled right down to their component parts, but a few hours of repair later, and they're completely fine. Of course, given that this was one of the early Transformers mediums some of the rules of their 'biology' hadn't been made up yet, so bringing a dead Transformer back usually just required getting the necessary parts.

  • Interesting exception in comic aimed for children: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie had several characters killed during its run. When the Mighty Mutanimals were killed off prior to a certain major story arc, they stayed dead. Not even their notable popularity among readers would bring them back. The scene of them in Hell was fortunately just an illusion conjured up by a villain. The same applied to all dead characters. (Hitler's brain was surprisingly resilient, though.)
  • Vampirella: Dynamite stopped to bother with counting or explanations. She's a vampiress, you can expect that she comes back, right?


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