In July 2014, the publishers of Archie comic books announced they will kill off 73-year old Archie Andrews, making the perpetual teenager the latest comic casualty.
People take their comic book characters seriously. Readers spend a lot of time investing in them when they read comic books. Some of their deaths have been totally unexpected. Some of the deaths have caused outrage and anger among fans, but don't get too bent out of shape, comic book fans – nobody truly stays dead in comic books.
1The X-Man who killed 5 billion people
During the classic Dark Phoenix saga, Grey's powers got the best of her as she struggled to contain the power of the Phoenix force. She eventually became Dark Phoenix and ended up destroying a star in a distant, inhabited solar system and killed over 5 billion people.
Momentarily free from the grip of Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey committed suicide in front of the love of her life, Scott Summers/Cyclops in the landmark issue of Uncanny X-Men #137. The third X-Men film,X-Men: The Last Stand, was loosely based on the Dark Phoenix saga but with Wolverine instead of Cyclops as Grey's love interest. (More Hugh Jackman screentime?) Grey dies at the hands of Wolverine's adamantium claws in the film.
Grey eventually did make a return in the Avengers series years later. It was explained that the real Grey was never actually Phoenix. While Jean Grey was in a cocoon, the Phoenix Force essentially took her place and was so convinced it was the real Jean, it even had taken on her sense of morals and personality when it came to sacrificing her own life.
2Did Spider-Man kill his girlfriend?
When writer Gerry Conway took over the writing duties on Amazing Spider-Man, he wanted to ditch Stacy. Some have said that he wanted to get rid of the character in retaliation.
Much to the shock of readers, Gwen Stacy died in 1973, in The Death of Gwen Stacy.
High atop a tall bridge in New York, while Spider-Man tussles with his arch-foe The Green Goblin, Goblin's flying machine hits Stacy and knocks her into a free-fall. Just before Gwen hits the ground, Spidey's webbing catches her, but the comic panel is also accompanied by a “Snap!” as Spider-Man pulls her up. He whispers, “I saved you,” but soon discovers she's dead. Goblin flies over and shouts, “Romantic idiot! She was dead before your webbing reached her! A fall from that height would kill anyone — before they struck the ground!”
The debate has raged ever since. Did the Green Goblin kill Gwen Stacy or did Spider-Man kill her by accidentally breaking her neck?
You can't kill a great story though. The death of Gwen Stacy was a major part of 2014's Amazing Spider-Man 2 plotline.
3DC Comics killed one of its biggies, the fastest man alive
With years of comic book stories being told, that also means lots of clutter. By 1985, there were so many alternated earths and realities, DC Comics decided to start fresh by getting rid of some of them, resulting in the wildly popular mini series Crisis On Infinite Earths starring pretty much every known character in the DC universe.
Hot on the heels of Supergirl's death in the mini series, Barry Allen/Flash dies while protecting earth in a fight with the time-erasing Anti-Monitor. This was a big deal, folks. Barry's Flash was one of DC's biggest superheroes just under the pantheon of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
In the wake of Barry's death, Kid Flash (Wally West) takes up the mantle of being the Flash. What's really shocking is that Barry remains dead for 20 years! That's a lifetime in comic book years.
Barry Allen is currently the Flash again in the DC universe and has stayed that way even through the company's New 52 revamp.
4DC killed off the Man of Steel, 2-3 million copies are sold
In Superman #75, it seemed Superman met his match. In that issue, Superman fought the seemingly unstoppable war machine known as Doomsday. With each opponent not holding their punches, both died pretty much at the same time. In one of comicdom's most historic panels, Superman dies in Lois Lane's arms.
In Superman's absence, four different Supermen appear – a cyborg Superman, Superboy, an African American Superman (known as Steel) and the Eradicator, a visor-wearing, energy powered alien.
You can't keep the oldest and perhaps most iconic comic book character down for long though. The one, true Superman returned to the pages of comics after recovering in the Fortress of Solitude. Superman returned as strong as ever and sporting longer hair. He didn't cut his hair until just before he married Lois Lane.
Superman #75 garnered extensive media coverage. The issue, which included a black armband, was a massive success, selling between 2.5 and 3 million copies.
5Holy crap, Batman! Robin is dead!
After years of being Batman's original Robin, Dick Grayson grew up and flew the coop so to speak. Batman trained a new lad by the name of Jason Todd to become the second Robin. Apparently, this new Robin had a short fuse and in a fight against Two-Face, tried to strangle him. Jason Todd's overall mood swings and violent behavior didn't go down with the readers too well.
In 1988, DC Comics decided it was time for the Batman to fly solo again. The comic book company made one of their most widely publicized and controversial decisions: a 1-900 phone number was used to poll fans to decide if Jason Todd should live or die. Fans voted for Jason's demise by a tiny 50.34% majority in a vote of 5,343 to 5,271.
At the hands of the Joker, Jason Todd bit the dust. Or did he?
In 2002, during the Hush storyline, Robin III, Tim Drake was kidnapped. Batman confronted the kidnapper only to discover that it was a grown-up Jason Todd. It turns out Jason was pissed that Batman never truly avenged his “death” and has been a thorn in the side of the Caped Crusader ever since as protagonist Red Hood.
6Marvel Comics killed off their biggest superhero, Spider-Man!
Although Spidey's body doesn't die in the issue, his consciousness apparently does. One of his arch enemies, Dr. Octopus, has his consciousness invade Spider-Man's body.
Lee explained how he dealt with the death of one of his most beloved creations by telling the New York Daily News, “That's one helluva birthday present for me, but then, a little voice in my head whispered, 'never say never.'"
Earlier this year, Peter Parker returned to the land of the living in the revamped Amazing Spider-Man #1 just in time for the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film. You gotta love tie-ins!
This isn't the first time ol' Web-head died. In 2011, in the Ultimate version of the series Peter Parker/Spider-Man died only to be replaced by a half Latino/half African American teenager.
7The superhero who stayed dead for over 50 years...or did he?
Turns out, Bucky didn't die. He was discovered by the Russians and brainwashed. Barnes was reprogrammed to become a Soviet assassin called the Winter Soldier.
Captain America and the Winter Soldier fought each other while Barnes tried to attain an object of great power, the Cosmic Cube. Once Captain America tracked the Winter Soldier down, he used the Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky's memories. Bucky then destroyed the cube and fled.
After a while, Bucky resurfaced and asked Director Fury for a job. Following the Superhuman Registration Act (developed in the Civil War series event), Fury assigned him to protect Captain America and to get involved as an agent. After Rogers is seemingly assassinated, Bucky took his place as Captain America. Later, it's revealed that Rogers is still alive, but Rogers gives Bucky his blessing to continue on as Captain America, and hangs up his uniform. Since then Bucky has gone back and forth between being Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
The whole Winter Soldier story (albeit with differences from the comic book version) is the subject of this year's kick-ass film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
8America's favorite comic book teenager gunned down?
In Issue 36 of Life With Archie, Archie dies while foiling an assassination attempt against best friend, Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie world. Archie takes a bullet for Keller and supposedly dies.
Says Archie Comics publisher, John Goldwater of the event: "He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale, but the best of all of us."
Maybe it's time for Jughead to don a cape and cowl and kick some ass.
9The relatives whose murders created the most iconic crime-fighters ever
After exiting a theater, Thomas, Martha and young Bruce Wayne were confronted by Joe Chill. In attempting to mug the couple, Chill shot and killed Thomas and Martha in front of Bruce, but spared his life. That event transformed Bruce Wayne into Batman.
On the other side of the coin, the murder of Spider-Man's Uncle Ben made Peter Parker use his powers more responsibly. This story was capped off with one of comics' most famous phrases, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Wiser words are hard to find, crime fighters!
10The girlfriend of a superhero that got chopped up and put into a fridge
Rayner had a girlfriend named Alexandra DeWitt (no relation to Joyce) who actually helped him get his life together.
The couple's bliss came to an abrupt end when Major Force came looking for Kyle. Major Force murdered DeWitt, cut her up into pieces and put her in the couple's refrigerator. Oh, and he left Kyle a note that read: “Surprise for you in the fridge.” The creep.
Surprise, surprise, years later, she came back as a Green Lantern herself. DeWitt recently appeared as Black Lantern.