Follow TV Tropes


Death Is Cheap / The DCU

Go To


  • 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 anyway, right? You missed the zombies, by the way." When he does reappear, she slaps him. And then freaks out and runs away.
    • Batman (Grant Morrison): 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 Final Crisis Legion of 3 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 believe him. (Superboy does believe 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 that 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 whoever "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 3 Worlds by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Final Crisis: Batman and Martian Manhunter die, and both come back later.
  • Genął: 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 JLA (1997); 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. Hell, the same scene featured statues of the Justice Society of America members killed by Extant — including the original Hourman, who likewise also didn't stay dead!
  • 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 shapeshifter 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 super-heroics 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 Darkseid who thinks that taking her powers from her is a horrific punishment when instead of 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: Crisis in Time! 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.