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That Man Is Dead / Comic Books

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That Man Is Dead in comic books.

  • Watchmen:
    Rorschach: It was Kovacs who said 'Mother' then, muffled under latex. It was Kovacs who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again... The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice and shattering them. Was clear then. Free to scrawl own design on morally blank world. Was Rorschach.
    • Dr. Manhattan subtly invokes this trope after being disintegrated by Ozymandias, and before describing just how much more than Jon Osterman he has become.
      Dr. Manhattan: Restructuring myself after the subtraction of my intrinsic field was the first trick I learned. It didn't kill Osterman... did you think it would kill me?
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  • Rebis does this in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, when Cliff insists on calling him/her 'Larry'. For those who haven't read the comics, Rebis is an alchemical fusion of a man, a woman, and a "negative spirit" - Cliff knew the man, Larry, when the three were still separate. In a later version of Doom Patrol, the incarnation of the Negative Man insists that he is Larry, even though he secretly suspects he's just an energy being who happens to have Larry's memories.
  • Gotham City Garage: Harley Quinzel used to work for Lex Luthor in the past. After defecting she renames herself Quinn and claims she doesn't know anybody called "Harley Quinzel".
    Harley: Harley Quinn, by the way.
    Kara: Harley... Quin-zel?
    Harley: Never heard of her, sounds like a real piece of garbage!
  • In the climactic volume of The Sandman, right after Daniel becomes the new Dream, he responds to a character addressing him by his old name with, "No. Not anymore." He also refuses to go by the name "Morpheus", the name of the previous Dream. He is simply Dream of the Endless now.
    The mortal parts of Daniel Hall were burned away. What was left was... Transfigured. I am Dream of the Endless.
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  • In a Bronze Age story, Supergirl's college advisor Barry Metzner tests an evolutionary machine in himself and accidentally creates a twisted, evil personality which takes over his body. When Supergirl tries to reach him out, he shouts Barry Metzner doesn't exist anymore.
    Supergirl: You don't believe that, Dr. Metzner!
    Metzner: Do not call me that, girl! I warn you|
    Supergirl: You can't kill me, Dr. Metzner! You're not bad... You're no killer!
    Metzner: I am Barry Metzner no more, curse you!
  • The Punisher:
    • "Frank Castle is dead. I'm the Punisher now", or "Castle died with his family" or some variant has always been one of the character's stock lines.
    • In the "Nightmare" miniseries, a former soldier named Jake Niman loses his family in an apparent mob hit in Central Park, exactly like Frank did. He teams up with Frank to track his family's killers. It's revealed that at war, Jake developed another personality named "Johnny Nightmare", who reveled in killing. He eventually quit the army because he was afraid that he couldn't keep himself from permanently becoming Johnny. He also gained regenerative powers because of an army experiment, and after he's shot in the head, he returns as his psychotic alter ego. Frank eventually lures him to Central Park where their families died, and in the ensuing fight, Niman takes apart the entire concept of the trope and forces Punisher to confront the fact that as much as he might wish otherwise, Frank Castle never died.
      Johnny: Like the attempt at psy-ops, Frank. This is the place where you "died". Ha. You wish. Really. It's what you want. It's why you're here today. It's why you're here every day. You got a war, and that's your objective, buddy. You want to be gone. But here's the thing, Frankie...I can't kill you. No one can. Jake and me, we were two guys. But Jake's dead. I'm alive. Now, you...that's a whole different snafu. Frank Castle is The Punisher. He didn't get killed here with his family. He just got his priorities switched up, that's all. No more little league, you know? You see, Frank, you survived the war. You came back. And you came back from here, from what happened in this park...And you just...keep...coming...back...Frank Castle is alive. You grew up and had parents and first dates and movies and perfect nights and football and screw-ups and laughs and love...Not hate. Love. You went to Jake in the hospital to tell him you were gonna kill the Kozlowskis, right? 'Cause you flinched. 'Cause for one second, you didn't pull the trigger. You feel every kill. You feel it, and it shreds you. That's why you want to die. Your old weapons. Your bacon and eggs. Your cot. Your bandages and your boot instead of Quick-Clot and a door ram. You know you're not playing to win...You're making a good show. What's your prep? What's your strategy? You fly by the seat of your pants. The skin of your teeth. You've been in it. That's not how we roll, Dutch. Prep, intel, execution. P.I.E. or we die. But not you, huh? There you go! Look at this guy! Getting up after that apocalyptic beatdown! Right there! That's the cosmic joke! Even with his epic half-assery...Frank Castle lives! You want to be the monster, but you're a human being. You want to kill, but every time you do, you want to die so much more. So you get shot. You get blown up. You get thrown out of buildings. And you always drag yourself away...because you're just like me, Frank...You. Can't. Die.
    Frank: I see them again. The next three seconds last three hours. Maria. Barbara. Frank Jr. This is where it happened. I loved them. I still love them. I'm still there. I'm here. I told Jake that I didn't use that shotgun because "It was already over". It's not. It never is. This is my life. This is my entire life. And it just keeps going. I still feel things. Even if it's just disgust and rage. At a child dying. At women abused. At evil unpunished. I'm not a monster; Johnny Nightmare is. I'm something else.
  • During the Zero Hour! Crisis Crossover in 1994:
    Green Arrow: Green Lantern!
    Hal Jordan: Not Green Lantern, Arrow. Not anymore. I've taken the name Parallax.
  • From Spider-Man:
    Spidey: "Brock..."
    Venom: [Actually covers Spider-Man's mouth with his hands. It was cooler than it sounds.] "Stop calling us that! We are Venom now!"
    • At one point, shortly before The Clone Saga, after Spider-Man's parents had been revealed to be fakes and Aunt May had a stroke and went into a coma, Spider-Man tried to kill his Peter Parker persona. He then considered himself The Spider, and claimed to hate Peter Parker when referred to by that name.
  • Former Green Lantern Guy Gardner discovers that his tattoo artist is the notorious Silver Age villain, the Tattooed Man, Abel Tarrant. The artist informs him that Tarrant is dead, and should stay that way.
  • Usagi Yojimbo
    • A samurai getting revenge for his father by killing his four murderers encounters the last guy on his list, who has become a monk and abandoned his old life completely ("that shameful person I was is dead"). After a lot of convincing from Usagi, the vengeful samurai spares the monk and takes his topknot (the last vestige of his old life) instead.
    • A technical case: Usagi meets the son of one of his comrades, who died in the battle that made him a ronin. Inspired by his father's life, the son is training to become a samurai. During a fight with bandits the son is knocked unconscious and is rescued by his father, now a lame begger. The father reveals he's been following his son with pride for years; Usagi wants to reveal this to the son, but the father refuses to let his son see him now, "a parody of [the warrior] he once was."
    • And again in The Patience of the Spider, in which a general, fleeing a failed rebellion against his Lord, hides in a peasant village. Over the years, he grows to like his life there, so when one of his subordinates returned to tell him the time was right to seek revenge, he sent the messenger away, saying the man he was looking for was "Someone who is no longer alive"
  • In one Detective Comics story, a Cris Angel-esque magician named Art Weiner claimed that he would only go by his stage name, Loxias, because he had "Buried the simple magician knows as Art Weiner." Subverted, in that the person saying this was actually the Joker impersonating Weiner. And he had, in fact, murdered and buried the real one.
  • Happened to Avengers member Hank Pym, though in his case, it was a little more complicated, as the person claiming Pym was dead was an actual separate personality cultivated by his mental breakdown.
  • Fantastic Four - The Trapster, a long time Frightful Four member used to be called Paste Pot Pete. Call him anything related to that and you'll trigger his Berserk Button.
  • Adrian Chase also used a variant of this phrase in his reminiscence in Vigilante #50, feeling as if the bomb that slew his family and triggered his emergence as the Vigilante also slew him. However, Chase partially subverted the usual intent of the phrase, in that he maintained his work as New York district attorney and his dual identity as Adrian Chase during much of his tenure as the Vigilante.
  • In Ultimate X-Men Yuri says this to Storm.
    "Yuri is dead, Ororo. My name is Deathstrike."
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier:
    M: "Jim, you can call me M. Behind my back, you can even call me Mother. But Harry...Harry died a long time ago in the sewers under Vienna. Let's leave it like that, shall we?"
  • Harvey Dent in Batman doesn't respond to his birth name much, and will often correct people depending on who's in charge.
  • Black Mask's "false face" gang: "...the largest organization in the history of Gotham's underworld... common criminals 'slain' and reborn behind masks, each with greater power and all as members of the False Face Society of Gotham." They wear cheap Halloween masks at first, then switch to more intricate face-coverings after robbing the mask exhibit at the Gotham Museum. Black Mask himself no longer wears a mask at all, his original face was destroyed in a fire, truly destroying Roman Sionis in the process.
  • In The Darkness, when The Angelus possesses Lauren Franchetti, at one point, she decides to spare Lauren's daughter Appolonia, but says that is her final act as Appolonia's mother.
  • In Mega Man issue #2, Mega Man begins to refuse to go by Rock, feeling that he is no longer the same robot. A pep talk from Roll helps him snap out of it.
  • New Warriors: Speedball's grimdark transformation after Civil War left no cliche unturned, including this one. "Robbie Baldwin is dead. Speedball is dead. Now it's time for Penance."
  • In IDW Transformers #125, Optimus Prime "dies"... and Orion Pax is reborn.
  • Near the end of Preacher, Jesse summons the Saint of Killers using the Saint's mortal remains. When the Saint shows up, he's not impressed and shatters the corpse, saying that the man he was is long dead and what Jesse dug up was just bones and nothing more.
  • Inverted in Les Légendaires in the backstory of Razzia; as he was a kid, his village, including his own sister, were seemingly slaughtered by an Elite corp of soldiers known as the 1000 Wolves Army. Out of rage after this, the so far pacifist bookworm Razzia gave up his identity and took the alias Korbo, which he then used as he found and killed the 1000 Wolves and eventually joined Big Bad Darkhell as The Dragon. Then, during an invasion, he finds out he just fought and killed his own sister, who had actually survived and reveals to him in her dying breath that it was Darkhell who destroyed their village while framing the 1000 Wolves. Infuriated, he then leaves Darkhell's forces, stating that "Korbo is dead and Razzia from Rymar is reborn".
  • In the graphic novel: “Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place”, Sargent Rock explains his silly custom of assigning nicknames to their tropes chillingly invoking this trope: The men these soldiers were as civilians must be dead now, and all they are (must be) now are soldiers completely willingly to cross the Moral Event Horizon because War Is Hell.
    Sargent Rock: "Look... who you were, you left stateside. You're lucky, you'll get to be that person again. In Easy, who we are now is all that matters. This war, you're gonna do some things the person you were might find damn hard to live with. So I'm doing him a favor, and leavin' 'im home."
  • In Spirou and Fantasio, Zantafio, in his second appearance (The Dictator and the Mushroom) became General Zantas, the dictator of Palombia. When his cousin Fantasio and Spirou meets him once again, Zantafio states that "There is no 'Cousin Zantafio' no more! He disappeared for good in the jungle, and none must say his name in front of General Zantas". This symbolizes Zantafio's full descent into villainy and the permanent loss of his redeeming qualities after being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in his first appearance (Spirou and the Heirs).
  • Nikolai Dante's half-brother Viktor Romanov takes the name Dante after his father Dmitri, resurrected via Weapons Crest transfer in the body of Viktor's brother Arkady, kills his wife Galya. Also Nikolai himself, finally taking the name Romanov when civil war breaks out and he sides against the Tsar, Vladimir Makarov the Conqueror, and his daughter Jena whom Nikolai loves passionately.
  • The more verbal versions of The Incredible Hulk will respond to people calling him Dr. Banner with "The doctor is out."
  • In The New 52 Nightwing Annual #1, when Cindy Cooke calls Firefly "Garfield", he replies "Garfield Lynns is dead." Turns out he means it; Firefly is Ted Carson, who was believed to be one of Firefly's victims. He killed Lynns and used the fact Lynns was a known pyromaniac to frame him.
  • In Thanos, Thanos is surprised to see Star Lord and says "Rumor had you dead, Peter". Peter Quill replies "The Star Lord is dead. Dead by my hand, understand?"
  • In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doc Fate's greatest fear lies in how he fears nothing because his superhero persona has gradually made him more detached and ruthless, replacing the man he originally was.
  • After her brothers death, which may or may not be her fault, Cheryl states that's no longer her name and she goes by "Blaze" now in Afterlife with Archie.
  • In Convergence: The Atom #1, Pre-Flashpoint Deathstroke has been living under a fake name and is trying to make sure his past as Slade Wilson stays dead, but Ray Palmer repeatedly bringing up how Slade mercilessly slaughtered Ryan Choi pisses him off enough he decides to come out of hiding and silence Ray.
  • This is the fate of Bruce Wayne post Batman: Endgame. Dioneseum is a mineral that heals wounds, and Bruce's trauma that caused him to become Batman is essentially healed and he has no memory of ever being Batman, essentially being a new man. Alfred outright says that the Bruce that returned is " the boy none of us could save."
  • The Death of Clark Kent: At Superman's lowest point, not only does he dump his Clark Kent identity, but he also tears off and incinerates his costume to proclaim Superman dead, too.
  • She-Hulk exploits this trope when assigned to help a "Danger Man" sue Roxxon for an accident that gave him Awesome, but Impractical superpowers. She argues that when the accident gave birth to Danger Man, the ordinary person he used to be, "Dan Jermain", died, and Roxxon should provide Dan's family compensation for the loss.
  • While not dead, in issue 18 of All-New Wolverine Laura forever severs ties with her past as the Facility's experiment and Kimura's personal punching bag, and declares that she is not X-23.
    Laura: I'm not X-23. I'm not your experiment. I'm not your @#$%ing property! You are the last person who will ever think they can own me. No one owns me! I'm not a thing. I'm Laura Kinney! I'm the daughter of Sarah. I'm the daughter of Logan." (Laura shatters the Iron Man armor she's wearing) I'm Wolverine!!!
  • The Spirit had a storyarc where The Spirit was facing becoming permanently crippled due to some bad knee injuries that hadnt healed properly, and this being published in the late 1940's meant that the medical knowledge to fix his injuries didnt exist yet - except possibly through the work of a Jewish doctor who had been missing for years. Unfortuantly, a surviving Nazi scientist reveals to Chief Dollan's daughter than the doctor had died in one of the concentration camps back in Germany. However, unknown to her, Sands Sareef is conducting her own investigation on the doctors work in the hopes of saving Spirit, and meets a drunken vagrant who agrees to lead her to the doctors remaining notes in return for payment. At the end, it's revealed that the vagrant IS the doctor, who was so broken after his experience in the camps that he belived that he had lost his ability to perform surgery because of damage to his hands. He hadnt, he was just so mentally scarred from his experience that he abandoned his previous identity. In the end, after performing the Spirit's operation, he is set to possibly resurrect his former identity someday, after he has learned to lot go of his trauma.
  • Arawn: Although he keeps his old name, once he becomes a godlike Evil Overlord, Arawn makes it clear to Siahm that he is no longer the mere mortal that she once bore.
  • Batman Vampire:
    • At the end of Red Rain, Batman is turned into a vampire by Dracula, and Bruce Wayne is declared Legally Dead. Batman even says something to this effect to Alfred:
      Batman: Bruce Wayne may be gone, but the Batman will go on... forever.
    • In Crimson Mist, Batman has fully succumbed to his vampire nature and eagerly slaughters his Rogues Gallery for their blood. Everyone in the story, including Batman himself, openly acknowledge that the man they knew is gone, because Batman would never kill.
  • In the mid-90s, Spider-Man hit a massive low point between learning that the return of his parents was actually a scheme by the Chameleon and Harry Osborn followed by Aunt May suffering another stroke, this one possibly life-threatening. He declared himself "the Spider" and claimed that Peter Parker was dead. Thankfully, that phase didn't last long.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): When Adriana, Veronica Cale's advanced virtual assistant, is destroyed, Cale manages to recover some of her neural map in order to recreate her. The AI states that Adrianna is dead, and asks to be called Doctor Cyber instead.
  • Swamp Thing: This happened when Swamp Thing he was never Alec Holland, a scientist turned into a humanoid plant creature, but actually an original plant creature from the beginning unconsciously trying to be an approximation of that dead man while it absorbed his self-identity and memories.


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