Superheroes and heroines…they hold a special place in our hearts. For many people, the heroes in the comics have helped in get through some difficult times. We’re pretty darn attached. So when one of them dies (even if they’re going to be reincarnated later, which is pretty likely), it hits us right in the feelings. Sometimes it’s expected like when a publisher releases a series called “THE DEATH OF (insert character here),” and other times it’s an unexpected punch in the gut. So has your favorite superhero met his/her demise? Here are 25 Biggest Superhero Deaths In Comic Book History.
In case this needs to be said: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ant-Man (aka Scott Lang) was an electronics expert and ex-con until hired by Stark International where he uh…stole the Ant-Man suit. To be fair, he stole the suit to try and save his sick daughter. (If you say you wouldn’t do the same, you’re lying.) This resulted in the suit being given to him. After this, Ant-Man fought with The Avengers until his death while attempting to stop Jack of Hearts. They both blew up.
Hawkman (aka Katar Holl/Carter Hall) was from the planet Thangar, and he had WINGS. He also had Nth Metal, which physically conforms to the wearer’s wishes, and between wings and his anti-gravity flight harness, he could fly. Add in an epic mask, and he’s gloriously terrifying. This goes to follow as he’s also a reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian prince Khufu.
Originally introduced in the 1940’s, Hawkman died in a series aptly named, “Death of Hawkman” released in 2016/17. In typical Superhero fashion, he sacrificed himself to save others. In this case, specifically sacrificing the Nth metal in his body and being vaporized.
Superboy (aka Kon-El/ Conner Kent) was not Superman’s son – he was Superman’s clone who appeared after his death. He was beaten to death by ANOTHER version of Superman called Superboy-Prime in a long and convoluted story-line crossing realities. Soon afterwords, a cult dedicated to resurrecting Superboy – called the Cult of Connor – started up.
Colossus (aka Pyotr”Peter” Nikolayevich Rasputin) is a Russian mutant and a member of the X-Men. He died in order to provide a cure for the Legacy Virus – the virus that killed his little sister, Illyana Rasputin. His ashes were taken back to Russia.
Krypto (The Superdog!) was Kal-El’s puppy back on Krypton before he came to Earth. Krypto was put in the test shuttle to Earth but got knocked off course by a comet and didn’t arrive on Earth until years after Kal-El. Having all the powers of Superman, Krypto was a perfect and lovable companion for a super..uh..tween. And to this end, he shows up again as the companion of Johnathan Kent, Superman’s son. When The Eradicator comes to “Purify” Johnathan of his “Human” side, Krypto jumps between them and is consumed by The Eradicator. Which just goes to show you, from Earth or Krypton, dogs are basically the same everywhere.
Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk) actually…commits suicide via Hawkeye. While being interrogated by a bunch of other Superheroes about experiments with Gamma Radiation, he’s shot by a purple arrow. He had given said arrow to Hawkeye with explicit instructions to end him (Banner) before he could Hulk-Out. Noble, but sad.
He-Man (aka Prince Adam) was stabbed by Mumm-Ra with the Power Sword, but thankfully, he was able to get out “BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL” in time to transform into He-Man and not die. Later, Skeletor ate Mumm-Ra’s ashes, gained the power to use the Power Sword, and when Skeletor says the magic words, “By The Power Of Greyskull!” He-Man becomes just Prince Adam again and dies.
Cyclops (aka) Scott Summers died during “Death of X,” but it’s an M Night Shamalan kind of plot twist to find out when and where he died. The Cyclops you actually read about for most of the series isn’t actually Summers, but rather a really good psychic projection from Emma Frost. Summers actually died in the FIRST ISSUE of the series…in Emma’s arms, begging her not to let his cause end. So she didn’t.
War Machine (aka James Rhodes, aka Rhodey) was killed during a fight that involved many Superheros vs Thanos, Thanos literally punched him so hard his War Machine Armor couldn’t protect him. The punch killed him. One punch. Dude, Thanos is no joke.
Supergirl (aka Kara Zor-El) is the cousin of Superman. Like the Man of Steel, the Woman of Steel is from the now exploded Krypton.
So…in the mid-80’s, DC comics had a problem…and that was continuity. DC confused readers so much with their multi-universe story arcs and several versions of the same character that readership dropped. To help solve this, they ran a 12-issue series called Crisis on Infinite Earths. The series used basically every DC character ever and killed many of them. The main villain, Anti-Monitor, was destroying the parallel universes where the alternate versions of DC heroes lived. While attempting to save Superman and other members of the Justice League, Anti-Monitor hits Supergirl with so much raw energy that her body cannot handle it and she dies.
The Flash (aka Barry Allen) was also involved in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In a battle against the Anti-Monitor and his cannon that will destroy the multiple Earths that Marvel had created at this point, The Flash runs so fast to destroy the weapon that he…disintegrates.
The death of Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) in Final Crisis brings us perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching images from modern comics: Superman holding the body of Batman. The story arc of Final Crisis is long and convoluted, but in the end, Batman is literally fried by Lord of Apokolips, aka Darkseid.
Published by Marvel in 2007/2008, “The Death of Captain America” was an 18 issue story arc that ends with Captain America’s death. After Civil War (the COMIC not the movie), Captain America is assassinated under orders from Red Skull while in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. Before his death, Steve wrote a letter to Tony Stark asking him to watch out for Bucky and make sure Captain America’s legacy lives on. After being shown this letter, Bucky Barnes then takes up the Shield and becomes Captain America. Excuse me, I have something..in my eye.
Rorschach (aka Walter Kovacs) was a member of Watchmen. He was the son of a prostitute, and had a very difficult childhood that led him to eventually becoming Rorschach. In the end, he was killed by Dr. Manhattan. He insisted, in fact, that Dr. Manhattan do it, in order to keep a secret without lying.
Phoenix / Jean Grey
Phoenix/Jean Grey had an interesting life, to say the least. She was married to Cyclops, but she and Wolverine totally made googly eyes at each other sometimes (depending on who you ask). Charles Xavier saw her as his daughter. She gained cosmic powers over which she lost control for a bit and had a Dark Phoenix phase. Thankfully, it worked out later that Pheonix and Jean Grey were separate entities. However, Dark Phoenix could still return and take over Grey’s body, so ultimately, she sacrificed herself so that no one else would die by her hands. She ended herself to save the universe. That’s pretty heroic.
Spider Man (aka Peter Parker) dies in battle against Doc Ock. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that Doc Ock suddenly has a change of…heart? Character? and possesses Spider Man’s mind and body, becoming the new Spider Man. Doc Ock’s last words to Parker were, “You may be leaving this world, but you are not leaving it to a villain. I swear. I will be Spider-Man.” Parker dies, but Spider Man lives on, as do the monthly issue sales.
Wolverine (aka James Howlett or Logan) was killed off in a series called “Death of Wolverine” published by Marvel in 2014. The series starts with Wolverine’s healing ability having been stopped by a virus. Instead of accepting help to try and restart it, Logan decides to accept his mortality and move on. Soon a bounty is placed on his head, and he tracks the bounty to Dr Cornelius. While attempting to defeat Dr Cornelius, Wolverine gets covered in Adamantium that was being used for experiments on other mutants. Without his healing factor, he dies from the Adamantium hardening around him.
Charles Xavier, founder of Xavier’s Home for Gifted Youngsters and also of the X-men, is arguably one of the coolest dudes in the MARVEL universe. Possibly also one of the most powerful. He has also died, not once, but several times. In fact, just in comic cannon, he’s completely vanished, been killed, or nearly killed at least 13 times. Perhaps the most disturbing death, though, is in X-Men vs. The Avengers. Xavier is killed by none other than Cyclops in a fit of rage. In a few years, you can probably look forward to a list on “25 ways Charles Xavier has died or been wounded so badly he wished he was dead.”
Captain Marvel died of cancer. It seems a little bit anti-climactic, a Superhero dying of such a human disease, until you realize that in the Marvel universe, a bunch of superheros watching their friend die a slow, painful, and very human death is a heavy thing. Whilst saving the day, Captain Marvel is exposed to a toxin called Compound 13, which results in his cancer. On his deathbed, even some of his former enemies came to pay their respects.
Green Lantern/Hal Jordan doesn’t always make the best choices. In fact, in “Emerald Twilight” he destroys the Green Lantern Corps and kills some of his friends, attempting to gain power. In doing so, he became a villain known as Parallax. He also tried to restart reality. He had a rough time and had lived long enough to see himself become the villain in the most literal sense.
In later comics, a different villain basically drains the power of the sun, and most of the heroes were at a loss. Luckily, they came up with a plan. Unfortunately for this plan to work, in order to restart the Sun, a super being would have to die. Hal Jordan sacrificed himself and used the power he had obtained from destroying the Green Lantern Corps to restart the sun and save the Earth.
Nightcrawler (aka Kurt Wagner) is a mutant in the X-Men universe/series who is able to teleport. While attempting to save Hope Summer from the villain Bastion, he is mortally wounded. Before he dies and as a devout Catholic, however, he begs God to let him use his powers one more time to get Summer to safety, which he does.
Green Arrow (AKA Oliver Queen) kicks butt and takes names without superpowers…much like Batman. He uses martial arts, arrows, and technology. Also like Batman, he’s super rich, and his parents died tragically. He also grew up to be a drunken playboy for awhile, before turning to a life of vigilante crime fighting. He’s kinda like dude-bro Batman. Green Arrow died in a plane explosion, saving thousands of people from Eden Corps (Eco-Terrorists) in the process.
Blue Beetle was a character that was first published by Charlton Comics, a now defunct US comic company. Blue Beetle was created by a Blue Scarab being grafted onto a person’s spine. (There is more than one Blue Beetle, like Thor, The Green Lantern, etc). When the host is in danger, the “Blue Beetle” activates, covering them in armor which can take many forms and include blades and energy cannons. When the Blue Scarab deactivates, it’s quite painful.
Blue Beetle was later picked up by DC Comics and had his own series at DC from 1986-1988. In a large special issue called “Countdown to Infinite Crisis,” published in 2005, Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle at the time, refused to join Maxwell Lord’s evil organization. He said, “Go to H#%^, Max,” and Maxwell shot him in the head. (As most superheros do, he came back later.)
Robin (Jason Todd)
The Jason Todd incarnation of Robin was not a particular fan favorite. In fact, fans actually played a huge roll in his death! They were given the chance to vote by phone if he should die or not, and he died by around 70 votes. So…despite being introduced in 1983, he was killed off in 1988 by the Joker himself. The most interesting part of the series was watching Batman struggle with the guilt over Robin’s death. No word on if any fans struggled from sleepless nights.
As a side note, Todd’s character is later resurrected in a different series, and he becomes the Red Hood. He became so popular as Red Hood that he was voted one of the “50 Sexiest Male Characters in Comics” in 2013. Hey, sometimes life is just about finding the costume that fits.
The Death of Superman was an entire storyline of comics released by DC in 1992. Justice League made an appearance, but the real showdown came to Superman vs. Doomsday. They cause explosions, destroy overpasses, throw some semi-trucks around, cause an explosion at a sci-fi convention, and ultimately, beat one another to death. Which, I suppose, is the only way to kill the Man of Steel.
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Photo Credits (All images used here are meant to illustrate the narrative subject, images used are of low quality and is believed that they may be exhibited under fair use provisions of Untied States copyright law: 25. Image from the comic book Avengers: The Children’s Crusade 06 (2011), 24. Image from the comic book Justice League: Throne of Atlantis #17 23. Image from the comic book Superboy: The Beginning of Tomorrow. 22. Image from the comic book The Uncanny X-Men #390. 21. Image from the comic book Superman Rebirth #3. 20. Image from the comic book The Incredible Hulks (2009) #621. 19. Image from the comic book He-Man/Thundercats #4. 18. Image from the comic book Death of X #2 17. Image from the comic book Civil War II #0 16. Image from the comic book Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. 15. Image from the comic book Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. 14. Image from the comic book Final Crisis #6. 13. Image from the comic book The Death of Captain America, Vol.1: The Death of the Dream. 12. Image from the comic book The Watchmen. 11. Image from the comic book Phoenix: The Untold Story #1. 10. Image from the comic book The Amazing Spider-Man Issue 700 9. Image from the comic book The Death of Wolverine 8. Image from the comic book Avengers vs. X-Men Vol.1 No. 11 (2012) 7. Image from Jim Starlin’s The Death of Captain Marvel. 6. Image from comic book Converegence – Green Lantern, Parallax 01 (2015). 5. Image from comic book X-Force: Second Coming Vol 3 #26 4. Image from comic book Green Arrow #101 3. Image from comic book Countdown to Infinite Crisis 2. Image from the comic book Batman #683 1. Image from the graphic novel The Death of Superman