In the world of comics, supposedly dead characters returning from the grave is a pretty common occurence. On top of that, with all the clones and alternate reality versions of people running around, it’s almost impossible to ever know if the characters who perish are really the genuine article. However, despite the frequency of apparent resurrections or the interference of meddlesome doppelgangers, there are a select few comic book characters who have managed to stay permanently dead for years. And now we’d like to honor them here for their continued dedication to remaining deceased.
12. Vulcan (Gabriel Summers)
During a war between Shi’ar and the Kree, Vulcan engages in a titanic battle with Black Bolt, the leader of the Inhumans. During the course of the battle, Black Bolt detonates a weapon of incredible power known as the T-Bomb and the resulting explosion is so powerful that it rips a hole in the fabric of space time and leaves no trace of Vulcan anywhere to be found. Gabriel Summers has never been seen or heard from since the event.
11. Silver Fox
Ok, so maybe Silver Fox did appear again after she was first thought dead at the hands of Sabertooth, but, years later when she gathers Wolverine and the other remaining Team X members to seek answers for their fabricated memories, she gets killed again and does a much better job of staying dead.
After their search leads them to Aldo Ferro, the same man who engineered Team X’s memory implants decades ago, Silver Fox is slain again by Sabretooth. Wolverine is seen putting her body to rest near the cabin where they once shared a life together.
10. Blue Beetle (Stephen Ted Kord)
Leading up to the DC mega event Infinite Crisis, Blue Beetle discovered a secret organization run by Maxwell Lord, the former bankroller of the JLA. While held captive in a castle fortress, Lord reveals to Blue Beetle that he intends to use the organization to ensure that all superheroes are kept under surveillance and controlled by normal humans. Lord then gives Beetle the ultimatum to either join his organization or perish. When Kord refuses, Lord murders him with a bullet to the head.
Although Ted Kord did come back as the Black Lantern during the Blackest Night story arc, since all Black Lanterns are really just reanimated corpses, he was technically still dead the whole time.
9. Maxwell Lord
Speaking of Maxwell Lord, he’s actually dead too. In the events before Infinite Crisis, Maxwell has Superman under mind-control leaving Wonder Woman to deal with the situation on her own. In the midst of her battle with Superman, Wonder Woman realizes that even if she defeats him, he would still remain under Maxwell’s absolute mental control. After demanding that he tell her how to free Superman from his control, Lord replies, “Kill me.” Wonder Woman then promptly grants his request by snapping his neck.
In comic books, it’s not all that uncommon to for writers to create characters for the sole purpose of dying. Heck, having dead parents is practically a prerequisite for becoming a superhero. So, of course Superman’s parents — Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van — fall in this category.
Jor-El was the scientist who foresaw the destruction of Krypton. He decides that the only way to preserve the future of Kryptonian race is to send his infant son away to another solar system so he’ll survive the coming cataclysm.
Though Jor-El has appeared in a few flashbacks over the years, he’s never risen from the dead and Superman has never managed to find a way to save his parents from their fate. But, much like Spider-Man, the fact that Superman lost his parents when he was very young is a central part of his character, so it wouldn’t make too much sense if the writers suddenly decided to resurrect him.
7. Goliath (Bill Foster)
In 1966, Bill Foster made his first appearance in Avengers #32. He was presented as the only scientist in America who was smart enough to be Henry Pym’s lab assistant, which was pretty progressive move considering he was a black character introduced during the civil rights movement when most black people in the U.S. couldn’t even be assured of their voting rights let alone leading positions in the field of biochemistry. But such was the forward-thinking nature of Stan Lee and the rest of the creative talent at Marvel Comics.
Fast forward 40 years to Marvel’s Civil War story arc and you’ll find Goliath’s last moments as he battles alongside Captain America to oppose the U.S. government’s Superhuman Registration Act. During the battle, a rogue clone of Thor named Ragnarok kills Goliath with a lightning bolt straight through the heart. His death wasn’t in vain though as it resulted in some heroes having a change of heart and switching sides. More importantly though, Bill Foster actually stayed dead following Civil War; cementing the fact that the Civil War conflict really was an epic clash of ideologies that put superheroes lives on the line.
6. Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)
After being exposed to toxic nerve gas, Captain Marvel developed malignant cancer. He spent the last days of his life on Saturn’s moon, Titan, surrounded by friends and allies who came to visit him. Even an ambassador of the Skrull empire came and awarded Mar-Vell with the Skrull medal of valor, stating that Captain Marvel was considered to be the greatest single enemy the Skrull Empire had ever faced.
Following his death, Captain Marvel was granted a posthumous honorary membership in the Avengers, and a monument was erected in his memory on Titan.
Though it was once thought that Captain Marvel had come back from the past via a wrinkle in space-time created during the construction of the Negative Zone prison, it was later revealed that this was actually a Skrull sleeper agent who had been programmed to believe he was the real Captain Marvel. Apparently, the programming had so completely overtaken his original personality that he killed the Skrull agents who were sent to terminate him and then destroyed several Skrull ships, ending his own life in the process. Though the real Mar-Vell surely would have been proud to see his imposter give his life to defend Earth during the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion, he’s still never actually been brought back.
5. Ant-Man (Eric O’Grady)
As Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady was probably one of the least likeable superheroes ever. He repeatedly used his shrinking powers for personal gain and even became a practicing villain for a brief period after stealing the Ant-Man suit. However, he eventually got the chance to redeem himself when Steve Rogers overlooked his past crimes and invited him to join the Secret Avengers — a team he was still a part of when he met his untimely end.
In a mission against the supervillain group known as the Descendants, O’Grady attempted to save a child and his mother. Unable to save the mother, he took the child and fled. But a group of android-like creations found them and demanded that Ant-Man hand over to the child. Even when his powers failed, O’Grady refused, choosing instead to single-handedly face down the Descendants so he could give the boy a chance to escape. He was killed in the battle.
For a time, it was thought that O’Grady survived to help Beast and Hawkeye escape, but that Ant-Man was later revealed to be a robotic decoy under the control of an evil scientist.
4. The Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)
Ben Reilly was the most famous of all the Peter Parker copies created during the Spider-Man Clone Sagas. Originally going by the superhero name Scarlet Spider, after Peter temporarily gave up being Spider-Man so he could focus on his personal life, Ben stepped in to take his place as the premier web slinger. However, his run as the official Spider-Man didn’t go so well. In a confrontation with the original Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), Reilly was impaled and killed by the Goblins Glider when he stepped in front of it to save Peter who had been drawn into the battle.
Although he always believed himself to be the real Peter Parker, Ben Reilly’s body degenerated into dust immediately after his death, proving that he was really a clone after all. After ceremoniously scattering Reilly’s ashes to the wind, Peter resumed the responsibilities of Spider-Man once more.
Despite fans expressing a lot interest in seeing Ben Reilly somehow reincarnated, the writers at Marvel have never resurrected him. However, the legacy of the Scarlett Spider has at least somewhat survived. Most recently, the mantle was taken up Peter’s former evil clone Kaine.
3. The Shredder (Oroku Saki)
Contrary to the beliefs of many, The Shredder from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics wasn’t exactly the long lasting villain he was portrayed to be in a lot of his other media incarnations. In fact, he dies at the end of the very first issue after being run through by Leonardo and knocked off a rooftop by Donatello.
Though The Shredder would apparently return to seek revenge on the turtles several issues later, it was later discovered that the returned Shredder was actually some sort of weird clone created by worms that fed on his dead body and mutated into a facsimile. The real Oroku Saki hasn’t posed a real danger to the heroes in a half shell since 1984 — the same year they were created.
2. Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy’s death in Amazing Spider-Man #121 marks one of the biggest moments in the entire history of comics. She was Peter Parker’s first true love and her death not only shocked fans, it became a crucial part of Spider-Man’s development as a character.
When the Green Goblin threw Gwen of a bridge, Spider-Man tried to save her by catching her leg with a web-line but, in doing so, he accidentally gave her fatal whiplash. This accident haunted him for years so if the writers ever went back on it they would probably incur a firestorm from fans. So, rather than resurrecting her, Marvel has recently introduced a number of alternate universe and alternate timeline Gwen Stacy’s. In one of the more popular iterations, Gwen is the one who actually gets bitten by a radioactive spider and transformed into a superhero. Thus far, no attempt has been made to revive Gwen in the main timeline. Let’s just hope it stays that way.
1. Uncle Ben
Jeez, in terms of people that are seemingly gone for good, Peter Parker sure has lost a lot of loved ones. And you might think that him losing his parents or his girlfriend would have the biggest impact on his life but you’d be wrong. If the world has learned anything from Spider-Man it’s that with great power comes great responsibility, and the man who taught him that hard-learned life lesson was, of course, uncle Ben.
Uncle Ben’s death is made all the more tragic by the fact he was shot by a criminal that Peter could have stopped earlier. However, had his death never occurred, Peter might have gone on using his powers solely for personal gain rather than for the betterment of society.
But even though uncle Ben might be gone for good, his presence has echoed through the years. After Spider-Man played a pivotal role in preventing the resurrection of Dormammu, Doctor Strange came in to possession of a small box that he felt he had to give to Spider-Man as a reward for his role in events. When Peter opened the box on the roof of his apartment building, he found it contained a note saying “You have 5 minutes. Spend them as you will”, followed by a spectre of uncle Ben appearing on the roof. It was revealed that this “ghost-Ben” was transported through time from the moment before his death. In their talk, Ben told Peter that the only way he could ever be a disappointment would be if he settled for something less just because he was too afraid to reach for more. This poignant moment helps Peter to realize that he still has a good life despite all the hardships he’s had to endure and pushes him to continue shouldering the responsibilities that will always accompany his superpowers.