As Ben Franklin said, the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Of course, if you are a superhero, all you have to worry about is taxes. Comic book deaths are more like a long vacation in a remote mountain hut: it can be rough, and you may not be able to contact loved ones, but you know you will eventually go home.
I have already covered cases where a character’s family has been magically erased without the creators explaining it in search of sales. This list is all about characters who have gone missing and believed dead just to dig their way out of their graves to get another shot into life (some more literal than others). How do you deal with it as a surviving family, most of whom mourned their death and moved on years ago? Let’s find out!
Kill them harder this time
After a car accident, young Heather Douglas and her father Arthur assumed the other had died. Instead, they were both rescued by various aliens who transformed them: Heather became Moondragon, a self-proclaimed “goddess of the spirit,” and Arthur became Drax the destroyer.
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In Avengers # 219-220, we see that father and daughter have finally reunited. However, the circumstances are far from favorable: Moondragon has used her powers to take over a planet – for her own good, she claims. To stay in control, she mentally manipulates the entire population, the Avengers and her own father. When Drax breaks away from Moondragon’s mind control and tries to kill her, she strikes first, with fatal consequences.
Give her up (and make her your mate)
Superman’s status as the sole survivor of the planet Krypton has become increasingly shaky since its debut in 1938. One of the first blows to this picture was when his cousin Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl, debuted in Action Comics # 252.
At first, Supes was delighted to discover he had a cousin and even promised to “take care of you like a big brother”. Three panels (no pages – PANELS) later he pushes her to an orphanage with the vague promise that if she tries really hard she too can be a superhero one day. Kara doesn’t want to wait that long and soon starts to accompany Superman on his various adventures. He still wasn’t going to let her out of the orphanage.
Start an awkward love triangle
She is a mutant with inexplicable hex powers. He is a synthetoid made of plastic and the brain patterns of a dead avenger. Together, the Scarlet Witch and the Vision made a strange but happy couple – until he inevitably died. Even after his return, Vision considered their marriage.
Enter Wonder Man. He, too, was dead (for the second time!) Until Scarlet Witch resuscitated him with the power of her suppressed love for him in Avengers # 11. They immediately started dating, much to the disaster of the vision. Making things funnier is the fact that Wonder Man was the dead avenger whose brain patterns modeled one’s mind of vision, and Wondy considered him and Vizh to be brothers. Talk about awkward off-the-charts!
Fight, Fight, Fight!
The death of Jason Todd, Batman’s second Robin and adopted son, was controversial from the start. Not only was it terribly violent (the Joker hit him with a crowbar and then blew up the building), but also the result of a now infamous publicity stunt that required readers to call a specific number and decide his fate. Even so, Jason managed to stay dead from 1988 to 2005. At this point, some retcon gadgets made him burst out of his own coffin.
Annoyed that Batman had not avenged his death, Jason took the name Red Hood (formerly one of the Joker’s aliases) and went to murder the Joker himself. Obviously, DC Batman couldn’t allow this to happen, resulting in years of hostility. Jason has toned down a bit since then and is currently closer to the angels’ side than not.
To get used to something
Cyclops may be Marvel’s reigning supporter if he finds out his family is secretive. First, he was reunited with his brother, Alex, after they were separated as children. (Cyclops didn’t necessarily think his brother was dead, but he hadn’t seen him in years and had no idea what had happened to him, so I’m counting it.)
Later, in Uncanny X-Men # 154, he learned that the space pirate Corsair was his not-dead father. (That didn’t go over well.) Even later, in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Cyclops found out that he had another brother, Gabriel. Professor X had erased Cyclops’ memories of Gabriel after his supposed death, only to be forced to reveal the truth when an extremely moody Gabriel returned. (That REALLY didn’t go down well.) And of course there are times when his wife, Jean Gray, sometimes dies and is resurrected. The fact that Cyclops is still being surprised by every revelation is evidence of … something.
Previous #superhero problems
So your family was erased from reality
So you got connected with a scumbag again
So you have been deprecated against your will
So your best friend wants you dead
So your girlfriend is also a super villain
So you are the token minority of your team
So your gods turned against you