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Top 10 most heart-wrenching superhero comic book deaths

THE DEATH OF FREEDOM: The cover of

Marvel Comics

THE DEATH OF FREEDOM: The cover of "The Death of Captain America" depicts Agent Carter standing over a fatally-wounded Captain America. His death was one of the most shocking and heart-wrenching deaths in all of comic book history.

Areeba Zafar, Staff Writer

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Marvel and DC Comics are known for their marvelous characters, specifically their untimely and heart-wrenching deaths. Usually their deaths are not permanent; heroes are revived to keep the plot of the comics going, but they leave a lasting impression nonetheless.

This list will contain spoilers for the comics, but most of them are not in sync with the movies.

10. Jason Todd is the second character to assume the role of Robin, Batman’s sidekick and son-like figure. The interesting part about Todd’s death in “A Death in the Family” was that it was not written in by writer Jim Starlin, but rather voted on. DC comics asked their readers what they would rather have — killing off Todd or keeping him alive. Out of 10,614 votes, 5,343 votes were in favor of Todd’s death.

Batman (Bruce Wayne) relieves Todd of his duties as Robin due to his impulsive behavior, causing him to angrily storm off on his own. Using the detective skills he picked up from Batman, he learns that his mother is not his biological mother and tries to hunt his real one down. Todd tracks her down to Lebanon and learns she is an aid worker there. Wayne learns of this plan and follows him, secretly keeping an eye out for him.

Along the way, the Joker, working with a black market-selling operator, manipulates his biological mother, Sheila Haywood, into handing Todd to the Joker. The Joker restrains him and his mother and tortures Todd with a crowbar. However, they did not succumb to their injuries: the Joker set off a bomb that caused the warehouse he kept them in to explode, killing them both just before Wayne could arrive.

9. The Flash (Barry Allen) in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was a cryptic, but still honorable death. The Flash and his comic storylines dabble mostly in the concept of alternate realities and there being more than one possible Earth. A cosmic being referred to as the Monitor catalogues these realities, but has an evil counterpart, Anti-Monitor, who comes from an antimatter universe. Anti-Monitor uses antimatter to wipe out other realities in hopes of being the sole ruler of all realities.

To combat this, Monitor recruits several superheroes across time and space to stop Anti-Monitor, but is killed by his own mind-controlled protégée. The energy from his death causes the last five remaining Earths to cross, allowing there to be gaps and cross-sections between them.

The Anti-Monitor assembles a new body for himself and tries to create an antimatter cannon to penetrate the limbo universe, but the Flash is there to stop it, dying in the attempt to save everybody.

8. Superman (Clark Kent) in the “Death of Superman: Doomsday” comic was especially touching because of the after-effect. Kent arrives to fight an evil monster named Doomsday. They wear each other out, punch after punch, until the shockwaves from their hits start breaking windows. They break their stalemate in front of the Daily Planet newspaper building where Superman kills Doomsday, but is mortally wounded in the process. He succumbs to his wounds and dies in the arms of his love, reporter Lois Lane.

The world is traumatized after his death; they create a mausoleum in Metropolis for him, which eventually leads to the creation of a Superman clone. Lex Luthor, his mortal enemy, said that if he could not kill Superman, he at least wanted to bury him.

Freshman Victoria Rocha said, “The death of Superman was really hard-hitting because he was such an iconic character in the DC universe. It made it even sadder that his mortal enemy came to bury him.”

7. The death of Wolverine (James Howlett) was an ironic one. Wolverine is known for his adamantium-infused skeleton and claws. Adamantium is a fictional metal alloy, one of the strongest in the world. Along with that, Wolverine has a healing factor in his body that helps regenerate his wounds. When a virus from the microverse turns off his healing factors, he loses his remarkable ability and learns to cope with it.

A doctor by the name of Abraham Cornelius, founder of the Weapon X program, wishes to replicate what he did to Wolverine, but he is missing the healing factor. When Wolverine reveals that he does not carry the factor anymore, Dr. Cornelius desperately lets the adamantium bond to the other test subjects loose. Before this happens, Wolverine slashes the adamantium container, encasing himself and eventually suffocating in the adamantium.

6. The Wasp (Janet van Dyne), featured in the new movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” met a traumatic death. While most of the other Marvel superheroes were being mind-controlled, she and a few other heroes tried to save them, including her ex-husband Ant-Man (Scott Lang). In the process, she learns that the villain implanted a bomb in her. Thor has to summon lighting from his hammer Mjolnir to strike her down and save thousands of civilians and heroes alike.

5. Jean Grey from the X-Men is a subregion of human called a mutant and has gone under the names Phoenix, Marvel Girl, and Dark Phoenix. During the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” she is overwhelmed by her first taste of evil and consumes a star, killing all planetary life. Grey, herself, manages to control Dark Phoenix and commits suicide in order to save the universe.

4. Elektra Natchios was Daredevil’s long-time lover. She was an assassin who was assigned to a man named Kingpin. She and fellow assassin Bullseye fought to the death as to who deserved the position of Kingpin’s assassin. She was fatally stabbed by her own sai. While slowly bleeding out, she finds Daredevil only to die in his arms.

3. The death of Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell aka Dr. Walter Lawson) was especially hard to read about. He is one of the most well-known characters in the Marvel Comics, as well as being one of the most powerful. He defeated Thanos, one of the toughest villains of the Marvel Universe and center stage of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The irony is that he did not die in a violent battle, but rather a personal one. Captain Marvel died of cancer. It was one of the most-visited funerals of the universe, as well as the saddest. He is visited on his planet by many friends and foes to say goodbye. Even Thanos comes to talk to him about his death, and he and Mistress Death lead him into the afterlife.

2. Gwen Stacey was the most ironic death of the Marvel comics. She was Spider-Man’s first love and is captured by Green Goblin. He throws her off of the George Washington bridge to prove his aggression to Spidey, but Spider-Man reacts quickly and shoots a web to stop her from dying. Unfortunately, the deceleration from the fall and the sudden jerk from the web-shooter snaps her neck, and she dies in the process.

Sophomore Ashir Ahktar said, “Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero. The pain he was going through after Gwen’s death made it really hard to read about because you empathize with him.”

1. The death of Captain America (Steve Rogers) was devastating, especially considering what he represented: freedom. His then-girlfriend, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter, was mind-controlled into posing as a S.H.I.E.L.D. psychiatrist and helping villain Red Skull kill Rogers. Although villain Crossbones sniped the Captain, Carter delivered the killing shot. Taking full blame, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man (Tony Stark) and Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) decide to hunt his killers down, with Falcon going on his own journey to find them. Rogers’ best friend and war companion Bucky Barnes decides to kill Stark, blaming him for Captain’s death.

What were some comic book character deaths that were not mentioned?

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About the Writer
Areeba Zafar, Staff Writer

Areeba Zafar is a Lin-Manuel Miranda enthusiast who spends a majority of her time traveling the world and taking photos of things that make her smile....

1 Comment

One Response to “Top 10 most heart-wrenching superhero comic book deaths”

  1. Mr. Esteves on May 25th, 2018 12:47 PM

    Though I have huge issues with the ordering of some of these deaths (i.e. Superman at #8), I appreciate the thoughtful nature of the writing. I also appreciate the death of Captain America heading the list as it had such huge ramifications throughout the entire Marvel universe, including seeing Bucky don the shield and ultimately paved the way for Sam Wilson to become Captain America.

    Ok, now that I said something nice… back to the problems. Janet van Dyne at #6 and Elekra at #4?!?! Ahead of Jason Todd, Superman, and Wolverine? I can’t reconcile either of those.

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